I love the book of Acts! This post on the book of Acts will be just like the book of Acts–fast paced and quick! I will provide three thoughts for you as you read this wonderful book. First lets take a look at the New Testament Timeline. Pay attention to the book of Acts in Green on the picture below. We know that the Book of Acts was completed before 70AD and most date the book around 62AD. Why you ask? There are many reasons but one important reason is the fact that the Temple is still standing and the destruction of the Temple is never recorded in this history book. This is the seminole event in Jewish history and not recording it as a historian would simply not happen! Moreover, Jesus Christ predicted that the temple would be destroyed in Matthew 24 so not recording a fulfilled prophecy is highly unlikely.
But why date the book of Luke earlier than Acts? Luke wrote Acts and he starts off Acts by saying “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach…” So this puts Luke earlier than Acts.
Acts is an incredibly accurate book especially when you consider the technology and type of traveling done during this time. In His book The Book of Acts in Hellenistic History Colin Hemer confirms that Luke named 32 countries, 54 cities, 9 islands, and hundreds of details without making a single error! Pretty amazing, eh?
Second, look at this chart for context! Notice that the New Testament is being written within the years covered by the book of Acts. This is very important!!!!!!
This book is an action packed history of the church and there is no other book like it in the New Testament. What is often missed however is the fact that this is a history book of the Holy Spirit’s new role on earth as Jewish and Gentile believers come together in one body, the Church. No longer is the role of the Holy Spirit to fill only God’s chosen Prophet, High Priest or King. These offices of old have been fulfilled by Jesus Christ whom is out High Priest, our King of Kings, and final Prophet. As the book of Hebrews puts it:
“In times past God spoke to our forefathers through the Prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son…” – Hebrews 1:1-2
Squirrel Moment: The verse above is an excellent verse to use when a Mormon comes to your door claiming to represent the restored church with a “living prophet”. Show him this verse and ask the missionary of the counterfeit Jesus the following questions:
1. When was the times past that God used the office of Prophet? Answer: Before the arrival of the Messiah Jesus Christ
2. Now all have direct access to God through Jesus Christ, why would God restore the old office of Prophet that pointed to Him? Answer: He wouldn’t!
If you didn’t get the “Squirrel moment” joke click the picture 🙂
Third, God demonstrates to the Apostles and the people around them that the Messiah has come, the old sacrificial system and priesthood is to end. Now the Holy Spirit is establishing a church of Jews and Gentiles together! Even the Apostles had to learn that the old way of doing things was gone as you will see in Acts chapter 1. The book begins with Peter deciding not to wait on God and use old methods to choose the Apostle to take the place vacated by Judas:
Jesus’ Command in Acts 1:4-5 is go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. Peter once again jumps the gun and instead of just waiting for the Holy Spirit he decides to pick Judas’ replacement. Peter points to the Old Testament to justify his actions by quoting Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 in order to demonstrate his need to replace Judas:
“For, said Peter, it is written in the book of Psalms, “May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it” and, “May another take his place of leadership.” – Acts 1:20
Peter then comes up with a criteria that Judas’ replacement must fit:
“Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” – Acts 1:21
Now here is the kicker: Peter is 100% correct in his use of scripture, 100% correct in the criteria above; however he is 100% disobedient! This will become clear in a moment. Jesus said go and WAIT for the indwelling of God! Instead Peter used an Old Testament method of casting lots during a New Testament period to make a choice that was not his to make. I ask you when you list the Apostles do you list Matthais? In fact this is the last time that you will see his name. Peter forgot one very important thing: the choice was not his to make. Jesus personally chose the Apostles and Jesus was going to personally choose Judas’s replacement.
Jesus chose Saul of Tarsus to take Judas’s place. At first The choice Jesus made seemed like trading one traitor for another. I believe that Jesus redeemed this position held by a traitor by filling it with a redeemed traitor. This is truly an amazing story of redemption as Saul the murderer of the first Christian (Acts 8) becomes the Apostle Paul who is himself murdered for being a Christian. Interesting fact that the Apostle Paul is the only Apostle both saved and called by the resurrected Christ. When I think about Paul I am reminded that I also am a traitor redeemed by Jesus Christ! Thanks Lord for redeeming traitors.
Until He Returns,
Peter P. Lackey, Jr.