Acts of the Apostles

Acts of the Apostles

The Acts of the Apostles is a book of the Bible, which now stands fifth in the New Testament. It is commonly referred to as simply Acts. The title "Acts of the Apostles" (Greek, "Praxeis Apostolon") was first used by Irenaeus in the late second century, but some have suggested that the title "Acts" be interpreted as "the Acts of the Holy Spirit" or even "the Acts of Jesus," since 1:1 gives the impression that these acts are set forth as an account of what Jesus "continued" to do and teach, Jesus himself being the principal "actor".Carson, D. A., Moo, Douglas J. and Morris, Leon "An Introduction to the New Testament" (Leicester: Apollos, 1999), 181.]

Acts tells the story of the Apostolic Age of the Early Christian church, with particular emphasis on the ministry of the Twelve Apostles and of Paul of Tarsus. The early chapters, set in Jerusalem, discuss Jesus' Resurrection, his Ascension, the Day of Pentecost, and the start of the Twelve Apostles' ministry. The later chapters discuss Paul's conversion, his ministry, and finally his arrest and imprisonment and trip to Rome.

It is almost universally agreed that the author of Acts also wrote the Gospel of Luke, see also Luke-Acts. The traditional view is that both books were written "c." 60, though most scholars, believing the Gospel to be dependent (at least) on Mark's gospel, view the book(s) as having been written at a later date, sometime between 70 and 100. [Refers to Markan Priority as "The Dominant View". The Making of Mark By Harold Riley, pg vii]

'Scholars are about evenly divided on whether [the] attribution to Luke [the companion of Paul] should be accepted as historical ...'. [
**called "gods ... in human form"
**Before the people and the Sanhedrin (22-23)
**Before Felix-Festus-Agrippa II (24-26)
**Trip to Rome (27-28)
***called a god on Malta ), until his conversion to Christianity later in the chapter when he encounters the resurrected Christ. His own account of his conversion, ) and he was subsequently blinded for three days (). It is commonly believed that Saul changes his name to Paul at this time, but the source of this claim is unknown, the first mention of another name is later, (, however, due to the differences, some argue Gal 2 is a different meeting. Members of the Jerusalem church have been preaching that circumcision is required for salvation. Paul and his associates strongly disagree. After much discussion, James the Just, leader of the Jerusalem church, decrees that Gentile Christian converts need not follow all of the Mosaic Law, and in particular, they do not need to be circumcised.

The decision of the Council came to be called the "Apostolic Decree" () and instead see ). Near the end of the seven days of the vow, Paul was recognized outside Herod's Temple and was nearly beaten to death by a "mob", "shouting, 'Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple area and defiled this holy place'" (). Paul asserts his right, as a Roman citizen, to be tried in Rome. Paul is sent by sea to Rome, where he spends another two years under house arrest, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching the "Lord Jesus Christ" (), his praying all night before choosing the twelve (), Stephen's death prayer ( to mean that the evangelist was male, but the prominence of women throughout Luke has led a small number of scholars, such as Randel McCraw Helms, to suggest that the author of Luke-Acts may have been female. [Randel McCraw Helms (1997) Who Wrote The Gospels? ISBN 0-9655047-2-7, Millennium Press] In particular, compared to the other canonical gospels, Luke devotes significantly more attention to women. For example, Luke features more female characters, features a female prophet (), and Mary, the mother of Jesus (ch. . If they are meant to refer to the same occasion, as is usually assumed, it is hard to see why Paul should omit reference to the public occasion of the visit, as also to the public vindication of his policy. But in fact the issues of the two visits, as given in Galatians 2:9f. and Acts 15:20f., are not at all the same. Nay more, if Galatians 2:1–10 = Acts 15, the historicity of the "Relief visit" of ); and he performs his vows in the temple (). There is no reason to doubt that Peter largely agreed with him, since he acted in this spirit in Galatians 2:11f., until coerced by Jerusalem sentiment to draw back for expediency's sake. This incident simply did not fall within the scope of Acts to narrate, since it had no abiding effect on the Church's extension. As to Paul's submission of the issue in Acts 15 to the Jerusalem conference, Acts does not imply that Paul would have accepted a decision in favor of the Judaizers, though he saw the value of getting a decision for his own policy in the quarter where they were most likely to defer. If the view that he already had an understanding with the "Pillar" Apostles, as recorded in Galatians 2:1–10, be correct, it gives the best of reasons why he was ready to enter the later public Conference of Acts 15. Paul's own "free" attitude to the Law, when on Gentile soil, is just what is implied by the hostile rumors as to his conduct in ] Guthrie notes that the absence of any mention of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 would be unlikely if the book were written afterwards. He also suggests that since the book does not mention the death of Paul, a central character in the final chapters, it was likely penned before his death. cite book| last = Guthrie
first = Donald | authorlink = Donald Guthrie | title = New Testament Introduction| origyear = 1970| origmonth = December| edition = third| publisher = InterVarsity Press| location = Downer's Grove, IL | isbn = 0-87784-953-6 | pages = 340-345| chapter = Nine
] Further, the traces of it in Polycarp and Ignatius when taken together are suggestive of a date in the late 1st or early 2nd century. The resemblance of Acts 13:22 and First Clement 18:1, in features not found in Psalms 89:20 quoted by each, can hardly be accidental. That is, Acts was probably current in Antioch and Smyrna not later than circa 115, and perhaps in Rome as early as circa 96. cite book| last = Guthrie| first = Donald| title = New Testament Introduction| origyear = 1970| origmonth = December| edition = third| publisher = InterVarsity Press| location = Downer's Grove, IL| isbn = 0-87784-953-6| pages = 347-348| chapter = Nine]

On the other hand, the lack of a mention of the destruction of Jerusalem is also used as an argument for a later date, beyond 70. The prologue to Luke's Gospel itself implies the dying out of the generation of eyewitnesses as a class. A strong consensus supports a date about 80; some prefer 75 to 80; while a date between 70 and 75 seems no less possible. Of the reasons for a date in one of the earlier decades of the 2nd century, as argued by the Tübingen school and its heirs, several are now untenable. Among these are the supposed traces of 2nd century Gnosticism and "hierarchical" ideas of organizationFact|date=March 2007; but especially the argument from the relation of the Roman state to the Christians, which Sir William Mitchell RamsayFact|date=March 2007 has reversed and turned into proof of an origin prior to Pliny's correspondence with Trajan on the subject. Another fact, now generally admittedFact|date=March 2007, renders a 2nd century date yet more incredible; and that is the failure of a writer devoted to Paul's memory to make palpable use of his Epistles. Instead of this he writes in a fashion that seems to traverse certain things recorded in them. If, indeed, it were proved that Acts uses the later works of Josephus, we should have to place the book about 100. But this is far from being the case, although Robert Eisenman makes a strong case for Acts using material from Josephus in his [ Cal State lecture series on the historical Jesus] , his book James the Brother of Jesus (book) and other of his works.

Three points of contact with Josephus in particular are cited. (1) The circumstances attending the death of Agrippa I in 44. Here Acts 12:21–23 is largely parallel to his "Antiquities" 19.8.2; but the latter adds an omen of coming doom, while Acts alone gives a circumstantial account of the occasion of Herod's public appearance. Hence the parallel, when analyzed, tells against dependence on Josephus. So also with (2) the cause of the Egyptian pseudo-prophet in Acts 21:37f. and in Josephus ("J.W." 2.13.5; "A.J." 20.8.6) for the numbers of his followers do not agree with either of Josephus's rather divergent accounts, while Acts alone calls them "Sicarii". With these instances in mind, it is natural to regard (3) the curious resemblance as to the (nonhistorical) order in which Theudas and Judas of Galilee are referred to in both (Acts 5:36f.; "A.J." 20.5.1) as accidental.

It is worth noting, however, that no ancient source actually mentions Acts by name prior to 177. If it were composed prior to then, no one spoke of it by that name, or at least no one whose writings have survived down to the present day. This being an argument from silence, not withstanding, that just as previously mentioned Saint Ignatius of Antioch ("c." 35-107) quotes from the book of [ Acts] as he also quotes from the gospel of [ Luke] . St Polycarp of Smyrna (birth unknown, death "c." 155) as well quotes from the book of [ Acts]


The place of composition is still an open question. For some time Rome and Antioch have been in favor, and Blass combined both views in his theory of two editions. But internal evidence points strongly to the Roman province of Asia, particularly the neighborhood of Ephesus. Note the confident local allusion in 19:9 to "the school of Tyrannus" and in 19:33 to "Alexander"; also the very minute topography in 20:13–15. At any rate affairs in that region, including the future of the church of Ephesus (20:28–30), are treated as though they would specially interest "Theophilus" and his circle; also an early tradition makes Luke die in the adjacent Bithynia. Finally it was in this region that there arose certain early glosses (e.g., 19:9; 20:15), probably the earliest of those referred to below. How fully in correspondence with such an environment the work would be, as apologia for the Church against the Synagogue's attempts to influence Roman policy to its harm, must be clear to all familiar with the strength of Judaism in Asia (cf. Rev 2:9, 3:9; and see Sir W. M. Ramsay, "The Letters to the Seven Churches", ch. xii.).


Like most biblical books, there are differences between the earliest surviving manuscripts of Acts. In the case of Acts, however, the differences between the surviving manuscripts is more substantial. The two earliest versions of manuscripts are the Western text-type (as represented by the Codex Bezae) and the Alexandrian text-type (as represented by the Codex Sinaiticus). The version of Acts preserved in the Western manuscripts contains about 10% more content than the Alexandrian version of Acts. Since the difference is so great, scholars have struggled to determine which of the two versions is closer to the original text composed by the original author.

The earliest explanation, suggested by Swiss theologian Jean LeClerc in the 17th century, posits that the longer Western version was a first draft, while the Alexandrian version represents a more polished revision by the same author. Adherents of this theory argue that even when the two versions diverge, they both have similarities in vocabulary and writing style-- suggesting that the two shared a common author. However, it has been argued that if both texts were written by the same individual, they should have exactly identical theologies and they should agree on historical questions. Since most modern scholars do detect subtle theological and historical differences between the texts, most scholars do not subscribe to the rough-draft/polished-draft theory.

A second theory assumes common authorship of the Western and Alexandrian texts, but claims the Alexandrian text is the short first draft, and the Western text is a longer polished draft. A third theory is that the longer Western text came first, but that later, some other redactor abbreviated some of the material, resulting in the shorter Alexandrian text.

While these other theories still have a measure of support, the modern consensus is that the shorter Alexandrian text is closer to the original, and the longer Western text is the result of later insertion of additional material into the text. [ [ The Text of Acts] ] Already in 1893, Sir W. M. Ramsay in "The Church in the Roman Empire" held that the Codex Bezae (the Western text) rested on a recension made in Asia Minor (somewhere between Ephesus and southern Galatia), not later than about the middle of the 2nd century. Though "some at least of the alterations in Codex Bezae arose through a gradual process, and not through the action of an individual reviser," the revision in question was the work of a single reviser, who in his changes and additions expressed the local interpretation put upon Acts in his own time. His aim, in suiting the text to the views of his day, was partly to make it more intelligible to the public, and partly to make it more complete. To this end he "added some touches where surviving tradition seemed to contain trustworthy additional particulars," such as the statement that Paul taught in the lecture-room of Tyrannus "from the fifth to the tenth hour" (added to Acts 19:9). In his later work, "St Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen" (1895), Ramsay's views gain both in precision and in breadth. The gain lies chiefly in seeing beyond the Bezan text to the "Western" text as a whole.

It is believed that the material in the Western text which isn't in the Alexandrian text reflects later theological developments within Christianity. For examples, the Western text features a greater hostility to Judaism, a more positive attitude towards a Gentile Christianity, and other traits which appear to be later additions to the text. Some also note that the Western text attempts to minimize the emphasis Acts places on the role of women in the early Christian church. [ [ The influence on the Textus Receptus and the KJV of the Western Text's "anti-feminist bias"] ]

A third class of manuscripts, known as the Byzantine text-type, is often considered to have developed after the Western and Alexandrian types. While differing from both of the other types, the Byzantine type has more similarity to the Alexandrian than to the Western type. The extant manuscripts of this type date from the 5th century or later; however, papyrus fragments show that this text-type may date as early as the Alexandrian or Western text-types. [Such as P66 and P75. See: E. C. Colwell, "Hort Redivisus: A Plea and a Program," Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1969, p. 45-48.] The Byzantine text-type served as the basis for the 16th century Textus Receptus, the first Greek-language version of the New Testament to be printed by printing press. The Textus Receptus, in turn, served as the basis for the New Testament found in the English-language King James Bible. Today, the Byzantine text-type is the subject of renewed interest as the possible original form of the text from which the Western and Alexandrian text-types were derived. [See: Robinson, Maurice A. and Pierpont, William G., "The New Testament in the Original Greek", (2005) ISBN 0-7598-0077-4]

ee also

*List of Gospels
*List of omitted Bible versesActs of the Apostles (genre)
* Acts of Andrew
* Acts of Barnabas
* Acts of John
* The Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles
* Acts of the Martyrs
* Acts of Paul
* Acts of Peter
* Acts of Peter and Paul
* Acts of Peter and the Twelve
* Acts of Philip
* Acts of Pilate
* Acts of Thecla
* Acts of Thomas


External links

* [ Access to the Acts of the Apostles book]
* [ "Unbound Bible 100+ languages/versions" at Biola University]
* [ "Online Bible" at]
* [;&version=31;9; "Book of Acts" at Bible Gateway (NIV & KJV)]
* [ Acts from the Biblical Resource Database]
* [ The Apostle Paul's Shipwreck: An Historical Investigation of Acts 27 and 28]
* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: Acts of the Apostles]
* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: Gospel of Saint Luke: Saint Luke's Accuracy]
* [ Encyclopedia Britannica: Acts of the Apostles]
* [ Jewish Encyclopedia: New Testament - The Acts of the Apostles]
* [ The Western Text of the Acts of the Apostles (1923) J. M. WILSON, D.D.]
* [ Acts of the Apostles at WikiChristian]

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  • Acts of the Apostles — • The fifth book of the New Testament Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Acts of the Apostles     Acts of the Apostles     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Acts of the Apostles —    The title now given to the fifth and last of the historical books of the New Testament. The author styles it a treatise (1:1). It was early called The Acts, The Gospel of the Holy Ghost, and The Gospel of the Resurrection. It contains properly …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • Acts of the Apostles (genre) — The Acts of the Apostles is a genre of Early Christian literature, claiming to recount the lives and works of the apostles of Jesus. This is considered important mainly because of the concept of apostolic succession.List of acts* Acts of Andrew * …   Wikipedia

  • The Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles — also known as the Sonnini Manuscript , is a short text purporting to be the translation of a manuscript containing the 29th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, detailing St Paul s journey to Britain, where he preached to a tribe of Israelites o …   Wikipedia

  • Acts of the Apostles — The fifth book of the NT. Without the Acts it would be impossible to write an account of the Christian Church of the first generation. With it, historians have interesting problems on their hands because of the apparent discrepancies both with… …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • Acts of the Apostles — Acts′ of the Apos′tles n. bib a book of the New Testament. Also called Acts …   From formal English to slang

  • Acts of the Apostles, The — ▪ New Testament abbreviation  Acts,        fifth book of the New Testament, a valuable history of the early Christian church. Acts was written in Greek, presumably by the Evangelist Luke (Luke, Saint), whose gospel concludes where Acts begins,… …   Universalium

  • Acts of the Apostles — noun a New Testament book describing the development of the early church from Christ s Ascension to Paul s sojourn at Rome • Syn: ↑Acts • Instance Hypernyms: ↑book • Part Holonyms: ↑New Testament * * * a book of the New Testament. Also called… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Acts of the Apostles — noun A book in the New Testament of the Bible, also known as Acts …   Wiktionary

  • Acts of the Apostles — plural noun Bible (construed as singular) the fifth book in the New Testament Also, Acts …  

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