In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up to heaven after giving His chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after His crucifixion, He appeared to the apostles from time to time, and He proved to them in many ways that He was actually alive. And He talked to them about the Kingdom of God.Acts 1:1-3
I have discussed the matters surrounding Theophilus’ name already. I don’t intend to discuss it again here. If you missed it you can look at Gems 727, 1329 and 1338. I leave you with the challenge of deciding for yourself what you think about it all. Who Luke was writing to and why? However, notice how Luke links the two books together. Clearly Acts is a continuation of Luke’s Gospel. The recipient is the same for both books. The first book is clearly all about what Jesus did and taught until the day He was taken up to heaven. Clearly Luke’s focus in the Gospel was all about Jesus. We know already that Luke and Matthew’s focus is on what Jesus taught: His Words. That is consistent with the content of Luke’s Gospel. But of course, along with the words must come the background of what Jesus was doing while He was speaking the words. What is interesting about the words in this opening burst of Acts, is the wordiness of what Luke writes. “… about everything Jesus began to do and teach until . . .” Luke could have said simply, “all Jesus taught before He ascended”. But we have the use of erxato (from archo) from the first, in the beginning, first, beginning with . . . until. There is a redundancy about it but Luke clearly wants to make that point clear. Why? Either it is a long-winded way of saying, “what Jesus did and taught” or it is emphasising the all-encompassing-nature of what Luke is trying to get across here. “I am trying to give you the full overview of all He said and did, Theophilus.” A little like John’s, “If all the things Jesus said and did were recorded the world couldn’t contain the books”. Or this is all to emphasise that Luke’s second work is a continuation of the first. It is interesting that Luke doesn’t just say, “taught”, but rather “do and teach”. Although his focus on what Jesus taught is inseparable from what He did as well. Many times what He taught was directly linked to what He was doing at the time. Note, none of us can separate our words from our deeds.
Luke’s focus is clearly that defining day when Jesus ascended from the gathering of the disciples and disappeared into heaven. Yes, of course that was a defining moment. If you were present you would well remember the day. The day he appeared, teaching that he was from the Father, that he had come from the Father and was going back to the Father. There was a moment when He would return to where He had come from. This was the moment. Luke tells Theophilus and all of us lovers of God that this was the moment. But note that He gave further instructions to the disciples before He ascended – “after giving His chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit”. What are those instructions? In the immediate context, Luke has to mean all he recorded for us post-resurrection. But by virtue of the open line, he could also mean all of Jesus’ teaching from beginning to end. It is all relevant and included here. I am in the middle of teaching the Deeper Bible students that we must learn to interpret the Bible from the perspective of the whole Bible. In part, that is what Luke is meaning here. However he also narrows it down to the post-resurrection – – > pre-ascension period. I.e during the 40 days after the crucifixion until He ascended back to heaven.
Remember the way Luke arranged the end of his gospel. We had a series of appearances stacked up one after the other. Go back and look at Gems 1291, 1318 and 1322 if you don’t believe me. Jesus strengthens all of the shaky disciples with a series of appearances to some of them and all of them, and then some of them again and then all of them. Jesus was firstly proving to them that He was alive while also reassuring them that what He had said about His resurrection was true. He took the two on the road to Emmaeus through all the Scriptures which spoke about this. It was all planned from the beginning. Then He appeared and told them all the same things that Cleopas and his mate had told them. Talk about re-emphasizing the message through repetition. Following that, Luke tells us, “And He talked to them about the Kingdom of God.”
Are we to think that Jesus just simply told them the answer to their question about the Kingdom of God? If that is the case then Luke hasn’t told us that information yet. It is coming in the next few verses (Acts 1:6-8). Is that the only thing Jesus said about it? I don’t think so. Clearly there was a lot more said about it. I imagine if I were one of the disciples with Jesus post-resurrection, I would be full of questions,in the light of the resurrection. I would be scanning back through all I remembered Him saying and reinterpreting it in the light of this new information. Talk about a paradigm shift, this was a major one. I can imagine them re-evaluating Jesus comments and parables about the Kingdom of God and the signs of the end times etc. SO MANY things to get straight. As I said above, it is not all recorded for us. But in the next verses, Luke gives us a summary of what was discussed at the end, given through the inspiration of the Spirit, before He was taken up to heaven. There is much that could be said of that but what I have said will have to suffice.Many books could be written (John 21:25), the result of which would be wearying to the soul (Eccl 12:12) .However, Luke takes all that was said and summarisesit for us.
It is clear in what he writes that all Jesus discussed with the disciples from the beginning until the ascension was in focus. However, in particular focus were the things recorded by Luke post-resurrection to the time He ascended. Mull over those things again as you seek to pull all this together. We will continue with the Kingdom of God focus in subsequent Gems. Remember the Book of Acts is all about the extension of the Kingdom of God. It is also all about the nature of God’s reign on earth. The evidence we see is in the ACTS of true Apostles and not just their words – for Jews ask for signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified. (1 Cor 1:22-23)
My message and my preaching were not accompanied by clever words of wisdom, but by a display of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power. (1 Cor 2:4-5)
Isn’t that what the extension of the Kingdom of God is all about? Could that be the purpose of the Acts of the Apostles? Food for thought.
A conversation – Ian: Don’t aim for shallow Josh, always go for deeper.
Josh: There’s a long way to go.
Ian: But you are on the way.
Josh: I will catch up with you then.
Ian: Yes by all means catch up to me. Now there’s a challenge.Ian ` Josh
A life making mistakes is not only honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.George Bernard Shaw
No Bible study is ever a waste of your time. If it doesn’t bring you what you want specifically, it teaches you more on the macro level.Ian Vail
And it made you get into the Word of God; now that has to be good for you.Anon
You never lose? Either you Win or you Learn!Rick Godwin