Purpose of Acts of the Apostles Term Paper

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¶ … Book of Acts of the Apostles

The book of Acts has a great canonical importance evident from the fact that at no time did the early church dispute it. However, there are exceptions such as the Macionites, Ebionites, and Manichaeans, who were sects that were against the book based on assertions of principles that could not be proved. The apostolic fathers showed that they were acquainted to the book by a large extent. In addition, early Christians quoted from this book too. The book is part of the Muratorian canon, as well as the Syriac and the old Latin Version, which are adequate testimonies to prove the acceptance and usage of the book of the Acts of the Apostles

Given that it is an inherent section of scripture, the book seems to have an indelible connection with the Gospel accounts, and hence it offers insight into the embedment of the Gospel in life and institution of the Church. It is widely believed that the book Acts written by St. Luke for outlining the history of the early Christian Church. This seems to amass backing from the historical information presented in the book

. On the other hand, the purpose of the book seems to be in an entirely different direction from the perceived one. To date, there still seems to be more contention on the clear purpose of this book. This is the case when we consider the fact that the book says nothing about a number of areas where the apostles preached the gospel. Similarly, it does not capture some of the instances characterizing the early Church such as the early Christians who were martyred in various parts of the world

Looking at the book in its context, one realizes that the only historical information presented regarding the advance of the gospel between Jerusalem and Rome, when this part of the world constituted civilization in the West. The author of the book has the core purpose of showing how the spread of the gospel cannot be hindered by anything whatsoever, and he reveals the zeal of early Christians in fulfilling the Great Commission as witnesses of Christ in Judea, Samaria and the rest of the World (Acts 1:8).

The book is not simply concerned with recording the spreading of the Gospel. Instead, the book is one of the factors that influence the spread of the gospel. A study of the Greek used by the author shows that it is the informal version (Koine), which was essentially inevitable in order to simplify its meaning to as many people as possible. It is shown that Saint Luke was more interested in informing, confirming, and strengthening the faith of Christ's followers who would acquaint themselves with the story of the church as outlined in the book of Acts. It was supposed to be a tool that would make it easy for other Christians to win souls into the faith as presented in the book

The other reasons that prompted Saint Luke to write the Acts of the Apostles included his desire to express the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. He had to dispel the notion that Christianity was against the Jewish religion. He wanted to show that Christianity brought about fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and that God's promises to Israel would only be inherited through Christianity. Just as the Roman Empire supported Judaism, Saint Luke was advocating for the support and protection of Christianity. In relation to this, the author also wanted to assure the Roman government system that Christianity was not an opposition movement to the government. Although at the time of crucifixion, Pontius Pilate as the Roman procurator of Judea put a sign on the Cross referring to Christ as the King of Jews. It was ironical that Peter and Paul were seen as rebels in the government on several instincts and this made them to face several arrests and charges

. Various decisions made by Roman government officials in the book of Acts were to bring bare the fact that Christians did not have any political affiliation, and that they were not political revolutionists.

The book of Acts of the Apostles reveals the spread of the gospel, which, being a responsibility entrusted to the apostles, multiplied and caused the church to expand to the three centers of race all over the world, namely Jerusalem, Antioch, and Rome. A study of the Gospel accounts reveals the works of Jesus Christ and his teachings while the book of Acts demonstrates the continued work of Christ factoring in the ministry of men. It is evident that the apostles underwent a metamorphosis and were able to understand things that they were initially unable to comprehend

. In the Gospel accounts, the disciples are fearful of the threat not to mention Jesus as the Messiah. This is so much to the extent that Peter denies him three times, while in the book of Acts they are able to preach the risen Christ boldly despite the fact that they face massive opposition from different forces. An exhibition of Christ as the King of Glory and Prince of Glory becomes more evident in the book of Acts, and they preach with undisputable evidence of the renewing power of Christ who was declared the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead.

In light of the discussion above, it is understood that the major purpose of the book of Acts of the Apostles is adequately captured in the gospel. St. Luke states in Luke 1: 3-4 that he was writing to Theophilus so that he could be acquainted with the truth regarding those things that he had been instructed. He begins by describing to him the works and teachings of Jesus Christ till the time of His ascension (Acts 1:1). The second part, which is the book of Acts, illustrates the different stages of the spread of Christianity right from Jerusalem in a.D 29 up to the point when Theophilus would be able to connect with the story. It is unknown whether Theophilus (a name meaning friend of God) is an individual's name or not, then the book offers a powerful account of the spread of Christianity, allowing Grecian Christians to use their knowledge in connecting the story

As earlier stated, the book of Acts does not give a full account of the spread of Christianity and does not give much on the history of churches Jerusalem, Palestine, or Antioch at the time. The book offers sketchy details enough to show the different steps that brought the gospel as close as possible to Theophilus. Peter and Paul as the major characters in the book were significant in developing the mission to Antioch and other areas

The extensive plan of the book is also characterized by other auxiliary plans that indicate the special interests of Saint Luke. The book is considered as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit and acts as an Apology presented by Christians to the authorities of the Roman Empire

. Evidently, Luke's writing seems to have been affected by the desire to reveal the works of the Holy Spirit among the early Christians. He was also driven by the need to portray Christianity as being compliant to the law although questions arise as per the extent by which this shapes the flow of the book. There are also speculations that, in a way, pondered the harshness regarding the harshness of controversies that surrounded the church, especially that of Paul's opinions regarding the need of putting emphasis on unity of the body of Christ

Considering the generalized plan of the book of Acts, there are other underlying plans that are speculated to bring out Saint Luke's special interests, whereby he was out to author the book as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. In addition, Christians consider the book as an apology to officials of the Roman Empire. Evidently, the story of the book draws a lot of inspiration from his ultimate desire of highlighting the works of the Holy Spirit among the early Christians as well as his burning desire to portray Christians as being within the constraints of the low. However, questions may arise regarding the extent by which the story is shaped on this ground. Nevertheless, it is evident that St. Luke may have also drawn some inspiration from the harshness regarding the controversial stands in the church. A practical example is that of Paul's opinion about the need to uphold the unity of the body of Christ

There are, however, various challenges pointing towards the author of the book of Acts with regard to the relative scantiness of the material he presents and the state and approach of most of these materials. The author is speculated to have been the first to come up with a chronological account of the growth of the church, which seemed to have come from his own encounters and recollections of past events. Evidently, few Christians in Greece as of a.D… [END OF PREVIEW]

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