The 66 verses devoted to the visit of Peter to Centurion Cornelius tells us that God’s orchestration of the start of Gentile evangelism with the sealing of the ceremonial law, was an epochal event. No wonder it required authenticating angels and visions.
The Acts of the Apostles is an astonishing history of the church up to AD 62, penned by inspiration seemingly to a single soul named Theophilus, a Roman knight or official of some kind.
He is the ‘most excellent Theophilus’ of the Gospel of Luke which is dedicated and addressed to him also. Acts is also the work of Luke, the ‘beloved physician’, and it was clearly inspired and intended by God to be a perfect history of the early church, so it was published and distributed and preserved down the centuries to this day.
It has always been regarded as the most wonderful history of the early church – a masterpiece of narrative containing (even from a literary standpoint) the most brilliant character studies – yet it isn’t just history. It’s a book of doctrine, of comfort, of inspiration, of practical counsel, and of patterns – such as a pattern for the church. There are things that would be refined through the epistles by the instructions of God, but for the most part it has a pattern for the churches of Christ, a pattern for evangelism, a pattern of behaviour. It’s a most practical book.
It is commonly said that Luke in his Gospel traces all that Jesus began, and then in the book of Acts he traces the teaching of Christ. Christ after His ascension wasn’t physically there, but the risen Lord continues to do acts through the power of the Spirit through the church, so it’s as though Luke in his Gospel dealt with what Jesus began to do and now he’s going to deal with what he goes on doing.
The Saviour laid the foundation – He came and purchased the souls of lost men and women by suffering and dying for them, paying their eternal debt of punishment and setting them free. The foundation stage is the most magnificent achievement in the history of the world; by Christ’s incarnation, life, atoning death, resurrection and ascension everything is purchased and everything is secured. Now, in the Acts of the Apostles, comes the implementation.
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