Between the texts of the two Gospels are written two descriptions of their content.
After the conclusion of the Gospel of Luke, the manuscript contains the words "euangelion kata Loukan," or "the gospel according to Luke. This manuscript evidence indicates that from very early on, it was believed that Luke wrote the third Gospel. And by extension, it points to Luke as the author of Acts as well. Second, the Muratorian fragment, dated around A. After affirming Luke's authorship of the Gospel of Luke, it explicitly points to him as the author of Acts as well.
In lines 34 through 36 we read these words:. This statement indicates that in the second century, it was widely believed that Luke was the author of Acts and had witnessed at least some of the events described within it. Beyond this early manuscript evidence, we also have the testimony of early church leaders indicating that Luke was the author of the third Gospel and the book of Acts. The church father Irenaeus, who lived from around A. Here Irenaeus referred to Acts as the book that recorded the Gospel preached by Paul. His words are important because good historical evidence indicates that Irenaeus had access to firsthand knowledge regarding Luke's authorship of Acts.
Clement of Alexandria, who lived from around A. In Book 5 Chapter 12 of his Stromata, or miscellaneous matters, he wrote these words:. And Tertullian, who lived from A.
Finally, the great church historian Eusebius, writing around A. Listen to what he wrote there:. In addition to these kinds of affirmative statements, it is striking that there is not one indication in the literature of the early church that anyone other than Luke wrote the third Gospel and Acts, even though he was never designated as an apostle. Because of clues like these, we have reason to believe that the early church did not invent the authorship of Luke, but merely passed on what it had received as the truth: that Luke wrote both these books.
So far we have seen that there is good reason to affirm common authorship for Acts and the third Gospel, and that the early church testified that this single author was Luke. Now let's see what inferences we can draw from other portions of the New Testament about Luke himself.
We will examine this evidence in two ways. First, we will note some clues we gain from the New Testament about our anonymous author. And second, we will compare these clues with information we have about Luke himself. Let's look first at clues about our author. As we have already said, the author of Acts did not identify himself by name. Apparently, he felt no need to name himself for the sake of his patron Theophilus. In Luke chapter 1 verse 3 he simply said, "it seemed good also to me to write," and in Acts chapter 1 verse 1 he said, "In my former book I wrote. And while this created no problem for Theophilus, it has created many questions for modern readers.
At the same time, there are a number of things that the New Testament does tell us about our author. First, he was not an apostle. In fact, he probably came to faith after Jesus ascended into heaven. Listen to these details from the Gospel of Luke chapter 1 verses 1 and 2. When the author said that the events of Jesus' life were handed down to us, he indicated that he was not an eyewitness to the life of Jesus.
Second, the style of Greek in Acts and the Gospel of Luke indicates that the author was well educated. Many of the books in the New Testament are written in a fairly common, even unsophisticated style of Greek. But the Gospel of Luke and Acts show more sophistication in their use of the language. Third, the second half of Acts indicates that the author was one of Paul's close traveling companions.
In the early chapters of Acts, the narratives are consistently in the third person. But beginning in Acts chapter 16, the narrative often takes on a first-person perspective, using words like "we" and "us. These passages indicate that the writer accompanied Paul during Paul's later missionary journeys and on Paul's trip from Caesarea to Rome.
Read Acts 16 commentary using Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). it was therefore necessary that in the history of Paul we should have some account concerning him. ): Art thou he that troubleth Israel?. Acts 16 in the Picture Study Bible, with Maps and Background Information on Acts 16 17 - Following Paul and us, she cried out, "These men are servants of the.
Now that we have some clues about our author, we are in a position to see how well these details correspond to what we know about Luke. Let's look once more at the things we know about the author of Luke and Acts: He was not an apostle. He appears to have been well educated. And he was Paul's traveling companion. How do these details compare to what we know about Luke?
Well, first of all, Luke was not an apostle. The apostles served in a foundational role for the church, exercising unique authority on Christ's behalf to establish the church and guard it from error and trouble. And according to Acts chapter 1 verses 21 and 22, apostles had to be trained by Jesus himself. But Luke never met Jesus in person and never claimed the type of authority that belonged to the apostles. Rather, he was simply a faithful supporting member of Paul's missionary endeavors. He was the servant of an apostle, or as Paul described him in Philemon verse 24, a "fellow laborer" of an apostle.
Second, it is likely that Luke was well educated. We can infer this from Colossians chapter 4 verse 14, where Paul identified Luke as a physician. While medicine was not as formal a discipline in the days of the New Testament as it is today, it still required a person with skill and aptitude. Third, Luke was Paul's traveling companion. The apostle Paul mentioned that Luke traveled with him in Colossians chapter 4 verse 14; 2 Timothy chapter 4 verse 11; and Philemon verse We can sum up the issue of authorship for Acts in this way.
There is a great deal of historical evidence that points to Luke's authorship of Acts. Luke and Acts have a common author. The evidence of the early church consistently attributes authorship to Luke. And the biblical data is consistent with this idea. In light of these evidences, we have good reason to believe that Luke was the author of both the third Gospel and Acts. And we should always remember that Luke had excellent access and proximity to the subject matter he described.
Now that we have looked at Luke's authorship, we are ready to turn to the historical setting of Acts. When did Luke write?
We do what God wants. At his arrival in Athens, Paul sees that the city is full of idols, which to him are actually not gods at all 1 Corinthians ; cf. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them. Perhaps he wanted Philip to teach him! His name was Saul. He comments: "The words had scarcely left his lips when she was released from its power. Second, the style of Greek in Acts and the Gospel of Luke indicates that the author was well educated.
And for whom did he compose his book? As we investigate the historical setting of Acts, we will look at three topics. First, we will consider the date of composition of Acts, pursuing the question of when Luke wrote Acts. Second, we will investigate the original audience of the book. And third, we will explore the audience's social context. Looking into these matters will help us to clarify further the proximity of Luke to the narrated events. It will also help us to understand in a deeper and fuller way the impact the Gospel had in the first century A.
Let's begin with the date of the book's writing. Although there have been many different opinions on when the book of Acts was first written, in general terms, we can divide the opinions of New Testament scholars into two basic orientations. On the one hand, some have argued that Luke wrote after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A. And on the other hand, others have argued that he wrote before the destruction of the temple in A. The tragic events of A.
We'll look at each of these outlooks, beginning with the possibility that Luke wrote after A. Scholars who hold that Acts was written after A. For instance, many have claimed that the optimism of the book of Acts indicates a date of A. In this view, Acts is too positive about the early church to have been written early on.
Instead, it is a nostalgic look at the early church requiring many years of separation from the events themselves. But this view overlooks the sober way that Acts deals with all kinds of problems inside and outside the church. For the most part, those who believe that Acts was written after A.
Josephus' relevant writings were composed no earlier than A. So, those who believe that Acts depended on the works of Josephus conclude that Acts was written no earlier than A. While advocates of this position have pointed to many connections between Acts and the works of Josephus, we will touch on just four connections they have mentioned. First, Acts chapter 5 verse 36 refers to Theudas, a Jewish revolutionary who may also have been mentioned in book 20 section 97 of Josephus' Antiquities. Second, Acts chapter 5 verse 37 mentions the revolutionary Judas the Galilean, who appears in book 2 sections and of Josephus' Jewish Wars, and in book 18 sections 1 through 8 of his Antiquities.