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Biblical Illustrator Acts 1

Biblical Illustrator Acts 1

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 13, 2011
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BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR ACTS 1ITRODUCTIO TO THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.I. The title of the Book. — The title " Acts of the Apostles," although notgiven to it by its author, is of high antiquity, being found in the oldest MSS. andversions either as it stands, or with the articles omitted (" Acts of Apostles ").The book is often quoted by Early Fathers as " Acts " ; but apparently as acompen-dious form for a well-known title. The propriety of the designation has been oftenquestioned. The book does not profess to record the acts of all the apostles, norall the acts of those most prominent in the narrative, St. Peter and St. Paul. Onthe other hand, it gives full notices of disciples, who were not apostles. But, takingthe title in its earliest form, we find in it a certain fitness. As the Gospel recordsacts and words of our Lord, so this book records acts of the apostles by which Hislast injunction and promise were fulfilled. But the Gospel is one of four, whereasthis work stands alone, and is the only source from which we derive knowledge of the most momentous facts which belong to the foundations of the Christian faith.Without it the first twenty years would be a blank as regards the history of thefirst Christians — a blank with some rays of scattered light from the Epistles, of which the earliest was written a.d. 52. Of the events on which two great Christianfestivals — Easter and Pentecost — are based, we have the record of the latter inthisbook alone. (Canon Cook.)II. Its Authorship. — 1. Its author was the same who wrote the Gospel accordingto St. Luke. (1) The literary style is the same. This is observable in the use of the Greek language, which differs materially from that found in the other books of the ew Testament. It is more classical, especially in those portions where thewriter speaks in his own person, or narrates events not recorded elsewhere ; andwhere the style is less classical, it supplies another proof of curious and interestingresemblance. The writer of the Gospel inserts large portions either common to theSynoptists, or taken from written documents or oral traditions. The writer of theActs as certainly uses documents or traditions, which he adopts without anymaterial alteration. This is a striking peculiarity, and without any near parallelin ancient writers. It was reserved to one of our own time (M. Thierry) to givelife and variety to his narrative by the insertion of long passages differing in styleand local colouring from his own composition. "What is not less striking is the factthat in these portions the language is full of Hebraisms and pecuUar forms of ex-pression common to the Gospel and the Acts, but found not at all, or rarely, inotherbooks of the ew Testament. The idioms peculiar to both are most numerous. Tc
 
take a single instance, the word x«s'e is especially significant. It does not occur ataU in the first two Gospels, and in St. John it only occurs thrice (chap. i. 14-17) ;but in Si. Luke it occurs eight times, and in the Acts seventeen ; in St. Paul'sEpistles it comes before us hundreds of times, being the keystone of his teaching.The verb xati^ovai is found twice in the Goppel, thrice in the Acts, often in St. Paul,and nowhere else. Another characteristic of the Gospel is the peculiar stress whichthe author lays on all notices of physical suffering, and his hearty sympathywith the deep tenderness which breathes in the words and acts of the Saviour, asvi ITRODUCTIO TO THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.shown in his selection of parables and miracles. The same is observable in theActs. The poverty and sufferings of the first Christians, contrasting with aliberalityso far transcending all ordinary manifestations of charity as to have given rise tocavilling and perplexity, occupy a foremost place in the narrative. The frequentmiracles of healing are described with the care natural to a physician, and in eachcase accompanied vith words and acts expressive of liveliest sympathy. (2) Thedoctrinal system is the same. The Pauline character of the Gospel is a matter of general notoriety ; that of the Acts is equally demonstrable — a point which willcomeout more distinctly when we consider the relations of the book (Ibid). (3) Bothwere wriiten to the same person (c/. Luke i. 3 ; Acts i. 1), and the latter distinctlyrefers to the former. (4) Both are parts of one continuous history. The latterportion of " the former treatise " deals with an event (the Ascension) with whichthe Acts begins, the one narrative exactly dovetailing into the other. Moreover,the Gospel is an account of what " Jesus began to do and teach " — and the Acts isobviously the story of what Jesus continued to do and teach. Some expositors,not without reason, have regarded the abbreviated title of the book given byPatris-'tic authors to be the true one — " the Acts " — i.e., not so much of the apostles asof the risen and glorified Christ through the apostles. At any rate, the speeches of the apostles are on the same lines as the teaching of our Lord, and their miraclesare of a similar character. The promised Spirit of Christ endowed the apostleswith the requisite qualifications to perpetuate the work which Christ had begun.(J. W. Burn.) 2. Its author tvas " the beloved physician" the companion of St.Paul. (1) Its author was a physician. There are abundant indications of this,both in tBe Gospel and in the history, from the way in which he notes diseases andtheir cure. He describes more minutely than the other evangelists physical
 
ailments, and in doing so employs precise and technical words. " A great fever"(Luke iv. 38) is the same expression as that used by Galen. The word denoting" blindness" (Acts xiii. 11), is used in a similar way by the old medical writers.There is, again, a correctness indicative of one versed in surgical knowledge in his"account of the healing of the lame man (Acts iii. 7). ote also the technical accuracyof his account of the illness of Publius (Acts xxviii. 8). (2) This physician was themedical attendant of St. Paul. The first direct intimation of his being in Paul'scompany occurs (chap. xvi. 10) at Troas. ow, at this time Paul had beenapparently detained in Galatia by sickness, and had just passed through thatcountry and Phrygia. It is hardly probable that he had visited Colossa, as it layso far out of his route, but he may, in the then uncertainty of his destination, havedone so ; because it is remarkable that in sending Luke's salutation to the Colos-sians (iv. 14) he calls him " the beloved physician." This designation mightrecall to their minds the relation in which Luke had stood to Paul when in theircountry ; or, more probably, may have been an effusion of the warm heart of Paul,on recollection of the services rendered to him on that journey by his loving care.We find him in the apostle's company no further than Philippi, the object of hisattendance on him having been then fulfilled. If we seek for any previous connec-tion we have only the slightest hint in chap. xiv. 21, 22, where the " we" may beindicative of the writer's presence. Certainly, in the account of the events in thatplace (Acts xiii) there is remarkable particularity, and one little notice in ver. 52looks very like the testimony of one who was left behind at Antioch. Traditionsays that Luke was born at Antioch in Syria. Was he converted in Antioch inPisidia? After the second junction with Paul and his company we find himremaining with the apostle to the end. It would not be necessary to suppose this.second attachment to him to have the same occasion as the first. That whichweakness of body at first made advisable, affection may have subsequentlyrenewed.And we have every reason to believe this was the case (Col. iv. 14 ; 2 Tim. i. 15,ITRODUCTIO TO THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. viiiv. 11). See also St. Luke and St. Paul in their mutual relations in the Expositor(vol. iv. p. 134). 3. Other notices of St. Luke. Though the name (Aoj;icac, the con-tracted form of Aovicavog) is not a sufficient indication that he was of Greek parent-age, since it was not unusual for Jews to bear Greek and Roman names, yet he isenumerated by St. Paul among those who were not of the circumcision (Col. iv. 14).Many circumstances, each small in itself, but the whole weighty, as accumulativeproof, add support to this. He was evidently acquainted with classical literature.

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