Misconceptions about Acts


The book of Acts is seen as the continuation or part two to the Gospel of Luke. One of the main reasons for this is in the introduction. The Gospel of Luke is addressed to Theophilus then the introduction of Acts the writer states it is his second book and again addressed Theophilus.[1] The two books seem to be structured the same and there is a clear continuation from the end of Luke and the beginning or Acts.[2] With that said; Acts is similar to the Gospels in that it is also a theological narrative.[3] This means the book of Acts is similar to the Gospels in that the book is a story or narrative, but it also include theological issues and explanations.[4] The genera Acts is written in is theological history. Historians, like all people, have an agenda when writing. Luke wrote Acts with a belief system and agenda in mind; to advance the Christian faith.[5] This is done by the way Luke handled the events of the early church. Much of Act are speeches or messages from people in the early church.[6] In these speeches Luke wrote what historically what happened, but also includes much of the message of the speeches.[7] this is not a word-for-word report of the speeches, however, many of them show the theological message within the speech.[8] In this way Luke is able to retell events and speeches from many of the church leaders, in order to show theological truths.[9]

The book of Acts is unlike other books, because it is not simply a theological writing or a narrative. This combination means the interpreter must identify all of the parts of this different genre. Throughout the book of Acts is seems clear there are three aspects of this genre: theology, history, and narrative for enjoyment.[10] This creates a different dynamic for the interpreter; because each of these parts of the genre are meant to be interpreted in a different manor. With the different types of genre at work in the book of Acts it is important to answer these two questions, “What is the central message of each episode? What is Luke telling his readers by the way he puts the individual stories and speeches together to form a larger narrative?”[11] In doing this the interpreter is able to utilize techniques for interpreting all of the parts that make up a theological historical book.

The five things to look for when answering these questions are: identify what Luke was telling the readers he wrote too, find the examples of characters in the story both positive and negative, study each passage with regard to the overall story and theology, find ways to connect each session of Acts to clarify their meaning, and identify any patterns or themes that repeat throughout Acts.[12]

I believe Acts should be used for doctrinal purposes. Similarly to the Gospels, the mixture of historical narrative and theology gives Acts a vital place in assisting to make doctrine. The theological messages of Acts are often shown through the characters. One example is when Peter was given a vision with unclean animals and instructed to eat. Then he was called to a gentile’s house. He understood God was leading him to move past the Jewish tradition of holiness and that the Gospel message was for Gentiles also (Acts 10:9-29). In this passage, there is a theological message given to Peter, and the reader, then Peter explains the theological message through a dialogue in the narrative. This is one of many examples for the church to learn from. Using theology through narrative can help the church better understand how to practice it.

[1] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word Workbook (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014) 292.

[2] Ibid (293).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid (294).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] William W Klein, Craig L Blomberg and Robert L Hubbard, Introduction To Biblical Interpretation, 3rd ed. (Zondervan, 2017) 532.

[10] Ibid.

[11] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word Workbook (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014) 299.

[12] Ibid (303).

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