This weekend I began a verse by verse series based on the Book of Acts. Those of us who grew up in church may recall that the King James Version titled the book The Acts of the Apostles. I think that it would have been more appropriate to have titled the book The Acts of the Holy Spirit, or The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles.
Acts was written by a physician named Luke, and functionally serves as volume 2 of a two volume work that completes his gospel account. Scholars believe that the two books, Luke and Acts, were divided as such because the scrolls upon which they would have originally been penned were only about 35 feet long. Luke and Acts are the second and third longest books in the New Testament and together account for approximately one fourth of its material.
The book spans the first thirty years following the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you take the most generally accepted date of Jesus’ birth to be 4 BC, that would place the events of Acts around 30 AD to 60 AD.
We don’t know much about the occasion of writing, other than Luke clearly addresses both volumes to a person named Theophilus. Theophilus means “one who is loved by God.” Other than that, we really don’t know much about him or how he functions in relationship to the larger picture. At the turn of the century, some scholars began to suggest that Luke-Acts was a trial brief prepared by Luke for the Apostle Paul’s defense in Rome. While that is a romantic notion, the truth is that we really don’t know. We can be certain, however, of Luke’s meticulous writing style and attention to detail. His compilation has served the Christian community for two millennia, providing a wonderful source of information regarding dates, places and events.