In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
With this prologue, the action begins in this historical work that chronicles the early church for roughly its first 30 years of existence. This then is the story of how 11 young and dazed men became 12 Apostles who challenged the existing order both in Judea and throughout the known world of their time. When all was said and done, they had overthrown the whole order of things, based on the teachings of a relatively obscure Jewish carpenter/teacher, a work that still has a massive impact on the world of today. Oh yes, this is nothing if not an unlikely story, in fact in human terms it is essentially an impossible story, yet these young men had something within them that was the quintessential game-changer, for they quickly became the very embodiment of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The author of this account did not identify himself in his writings, but we know who he was because of another New Testament book that he wrote, one that bears his name. Actually the prologue to that book provides us an interesting parallel to the one found in Acts:
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Tradition holds that Luke was a physician, and whether this title would have meant quite the same thing in his day as it does today is probably a matter of conjecture, but one thing is certain; whoever Luke was or whatever his profession may have been, he was certainly a well-educated man, as evidenced by the quality of his Greek. It is also clear that he was an associate of Paul, as we will see later on in the story, and an eyewitness to many of the things he describes here.
The theme and overall context of Acts rings clearly through the ages:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (1:8)
Acts has multiple phases and deals with many trials, tribulations… and triumphs, but this will remain the major theme, that they will receive power with the Holy Spirit, power to be the very witnesses of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Thus, we might accurately consider Acts to be the book of Genesis for the Church itself, for what was begun way back in Luke’s day, is an ongoing story from that time until this very day, a story in which both you and I have a part to play.
Our journey through this epic story begins today right here at The Life Project; I hope you’ll decide to join us for the entire ride!