Acts of the Apostles in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

The second treatise, in continuation of the Gospel as recorded by Luke. The style confirms the identity of authorship; also the address to the same person, Theophilus, probably a man of rank, judging from the title "most excellent." The Gospel was the life of Jesus in the flesh, the Acts record His life in the Spirit; Chrysostom calls it "The Gospel of the Holy Spirit." Hence Luke says: "The former treatise I made of all that Jesus began to do and teach;" therefore the Acts give a summary of what Jesus continued to do and teach by His Spirit in His disciples after He was taken up. The book breaks off at the close of Paul's imprisonment, A.D. 63, without recording his release; hence it is likely Luke completed it at this date, just before tidings of the apostle's release reached him. There is a progressive development and unity of plan throughout. The key is Acts 1:8; "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me in (1) Jerusalem, and (2) in all Judaea, and (3) in Samaria, and (4) unto the uttermost part of the earth." It begins with Jerusalem, the metropolis of the Jewish dispensation, and ends with Rome, the metropolis of the whole Gentile world. It is divisible into three portions: I. From the ascension to the close of Acts 11, which describes the rise of the first purely Gentile church, at Antioch, where the disciples consequently were first called See CHRISTIAN (see); II. Thence down to the special vision at Troas (Acts 16), which carried the gospel, through Paul, to Europe; III. Thence onward, until it reached Rome. In each of the three periods the church has a distinct aspect: in the first, Jewish; in the second, Gentile with a strong Jewish admixture; in the third, after the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15), Gentile in a preponderating degree. At first the gospel was preached to the Jews only; then to the Samaritans (Acts 8:1-5); then to the Ethiopian eunuch, a proselyte of righteousness (Acts 8:27); then, after a special revelation as Peter's warrant, to Cornelius, a proselyte of the gate; then to Gentile Greeks (not Grecians, i.e. Greek speaking Jews, but pagan Greeks, on the whole the best supported reading, Acts 11:20); then Peter, who, as "the apostle of the circumcision," had been in the first period the foremost preacher, gives place from Acts 13 to Paul, "the apostle of the uncircumcision," who successively proclaimed the word in Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece, and Rome. Luke joined Paul at Troas (about A.D. 53), as appears from the "we" taking the place of "they" at that point in his history (Acts 16:8-10). The repetition of the account of the ascension in Acts 1 shows that an interval of some time had elapsed since writing the more summary account of it at the end of Luke 24; for...

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