THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
1. The Genre of Acts 3
2. The Plan of Acts 11
3. The Speeches of Acts 18
4. The Spirit in Acts 33
5. The Christology of Acts 39
CHAPTER ONE: THE GENRE OF ACTS
The first essential question to be
addressed before beginning to take seriously any document is the genre
of that document. Is this piece of paper in my hands a love-letter, a thank-you
letter, an advertisement, a ballad, a police report, a chronicle, an
historian’s assessment, a cooking recipe? Until the authorial intent has been
established no attempt can be made to interpret or understand the document.
Conveniently, Luke has
provided us with a Preface to each volume, which gives useful clues. A first
datum established by the Prefaces
is that these two books in fact form a pair, the second volume a continuation
of the first, each roughly the same length, the conventional length of a scroll
in the ancient world, and each dedicated to Theophilus. Like other such pairs
of volumes in the ancient world, there is a slight overlap or interlock, for
both volumes describe the Ascension and the return of the disciples to
A large number of short treatises, of about the length of Lk's work, have been examined in Loveday Alexander’s authoritative work (Alexander 1993). She establishes that it was a convention to begin with a preface similar to his, including such matters as name of author and recipient, his aim, the sources of his information, the importance of the subject, and a claim to personal competence for the task. Luke's preface accords with these conventions, though in detail it is more similar to medical, mechanical, military and mathematical treatises than to historical works.
There is, however, a major difference between the two works, Luke and Acts, in that the gospel is dependent for its outline and much of its content on Mark’s gospel. Where Luke is independent of Mark, for example in the Infancy Narratives, the Resurrection Appearances and a large number of Parables, he spreads his wings remarkably and shows his own style, versatility and theology. For Acts it is quite unclear whether he is dependent on any written source. Is it necessarily of the same genre as the gospel?
A travel document?
Certainly there is a whole range of material which would be counted as good history by modern standards. It has long been recognised that Acts shows a convincing knowledge of material elements, such as magistrates and legal details. The constitutional details of different cities around the mediterranean differed widely; their magistrates had different names and different powers, and all of these Acts gives correctly, mentioning the 'proconsul' as governing Cyprus, the 'generals' as magistrates at Philippi, the 'Asiarchs' and the 'town clerk' as officials at Ephesus. These details suggest that the author made use of a travellogue, perhaps a diary suggesting journey-times and places to stay, garnered for the benefit of future travellers. It meshes well with the ‘We-passages’ (stretches of narrative recounted in the first person plural, implying the presence on the journey of the author of an underlying document), which appear in the later part of the book.
Two hesitations should, however, be expressed with regard to the historical force of these data. Firstly, there is a considerable difference between the fairly dry, factual details of travel (e.g. 16.11-14) and the more elaborate set-pieces (e.g. 16.19-40), which are far more dramatic and often contain considerable improbabilities (Why does Paul not disclose his Roman citizenship earlier? How does it happen that the earthquake merely shakes free the bonds of the prisoners without harming them? Why does the gaoler think he will be held responsible? Why are the magistrates unaware of the earthquake?). Secondly, careful research is not the same as accurate reporting. The vigour of Dickens’ writing derives from his disturbingly detailed knowledge of the underworld of Victorian London, but this ‘authenticity’ does not imply the existence of a real Oliver Twist or Mr Jagger.
Not all elements, however, may be assumed to be literally exact in the way expected of a modern historian. Since the time of Thucydides, 500 years before Lk, it had been the convention that if a historian did not know what a speaker had said on a particular occasion, the historian would put in the speaker's mouth what it would have been appropriate for him to say.
In this history I have made use of set speeches, some of which were delivered just before and others during the war. I have found it difficult to remember the precise words used in the speeches which I heard myself, and my various informants have experienced the same difficulty; so my method has been, while keeping as closely as possible to the general sense of the words that were actually used, to make the speakers say what, in my opinion, was called for by each situation.
Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, I.22
This became an important means for the historian to convey his view
of events. Before the description of a battle it became the convention for
historians to put in the mouth of the opposing generals a speech to their
troops, explaining the issues at stake, how things had come to such a pass, the
likely consequences of defeat and victory. (An excellent example is the speeches
of the Roman and Scots generals before the battle at the Mons Graupius
[?=Grampians] which finally secured
Similarly, ancient historians were less meticulous about checking individual facts. Quintilian, the contemporary arbiter of all style, allows the inclusion in a history of details typical of an event (e.g. the sack of a town, in which buildings are always burnt to the ground, children slaughtered in the street and women brutally raped), even if they are not recorded in this particular case. The same convention appears in those great works The Conquest of Peru and The Conquest of Mexico by Pearson.
A recurrent element in Acts is the attempt
to show the compatibility between Christianity and the
The classic form of the apologia-theory was that Luke wished to show the Romans that they had nothing to fear from Christianity. More recently, however, it has been seen that this theory is more comfortable on its head: to show the Christians that they had nothing to fear from the Roman authorities. Each theory would fit the times of persecution towards the end of the first century. The decisive factor is that Acts is clearly intended for reading by a Christian, not a Roman audience.
An important question raised by this theory
is the extent to which it has formed the story. In particular, did Luke create
Paul a Roman citizen for this purpose? On two occasions in the story Paul
produces his Roman citizenship like a rabbit out of a hat to get himself out of
a sticky position – and on each occasion rather too late (16.37; 21.39).
Instances of Jews being Roman citizens can certainly be produced (e.g.
Josephus, Antiquities 14.228, 231-40), and scenarios can be devised for
how Paul achieved this rare and expensive honour;
but none of the Jews instanced is known to have held the strict Pharisaic
religious tenets of Paul, which might well be considered incompatible with
Roman citizenship. Worship of
The two most difficult points of all are
that Paul nowhere in his letters makes mention or hint of this Roman
citizenship, not even when he is introducing himself to and vigorously currying
favour with the Christians of Rome (Rm 1.1-15; 15.14-16.20). A final
uncomfortable illogicality is the appeal to
A Succession Narrative?
There are a number of cases in the Bible where a great leader passes his leadership on to another, such as Moses passing his leadership to Joshua (Numbers 27.15-23; Jos 1.1-5) or Elijah passing his cloak and spirit to Elisha (2 Kgs 2). In the sphere of Hellenistic history the Lives of Diogenes Laertius provide further examples. C.H. Talbert, in Talbert 1974, argues that such is the case with Luke and Acts. By a series of parallels the author sets out to show that the era of the apostles corresponds to and continues the era of Jesus, carrying on his work. Only now it is not through the physical presence of Jesus, but rather through the presence of his Spirit.
1.1-4 Preface dedicating to Theophilus 1.1-5 Preface dedicating to Theophilus
3.21 Jesus praying at his baptism 1.14 Disciples praying in Upper Room
3.22 Spirit descends in visible form 2.1-13 Spirit descends in visible form
4.16-30 Jesus’ opening sermon: 2.14-40 Peter’s opening address:
Prophecy fulfilled, Jesus rejected Prophecy fulfilled, Jesus rejected
5.17-26 Lame man healed by Jesus 3.1-10 Lame man healed in Jesus’ name
5.29-6.11 Conflict with religious leaders 4.1-8.3 Conflict with religious leaders
7.1-10 Centurion invites Jesus, finds faith 10 Centurion invites Peter, finds faith
7.11-17 Dead raised to life, sits up 9.36-43 Dead raised to life, sits up
9.7-9 Death of John, witness to Jesus 8.60 Death of Stephen, witness to Jesus
10.1-12 Mission of 70 to gentiles 13-20 Missions of Paul to gentiles
9.51-19.28 Jesus journeys to death in Jerus 19.21-21.17 Paul journeys to death in Jer
13.33 His awareness of impending death 21.23 His awareness of impending death
22.21-36 Jesus’ farewell discourse 20.18-35 Paul’s farewell discourse
22-23 Jesus’ trials (Sanh, Roman, Herod) 23-26Paul’s trials (Sanh, Roman, Herod)
Jesus slapped by HP’s servant Paul slapped at HP’s command
Roman thrice declares innocent Romans thrice declare innocent
Jews cry ai`/re tou/ton Jews cry ai`/re auvto,n
This, claims Talbert, is an instance of the record of the life of a founder of a philosophical school plus a record of his successors and selected other disciples. Luke’s purpose, as he says in Lk 1.4, is to provide Theophilus with avsfalei,a or certainty. Against a background of uncertainty and controversy about true and reliable doctrine, such as we see in the Pastoral Letters, it ‘would enable him to say that the true tradition in his time was located in certain successors of Paul (Ac 20:17-35)’ (Talbert, p. 135) The parallels are certainly there for all to see, and must have been stated consciously in order to show that the life and work of the Church carries on that of Jesus. It is, however, doubtful whether the Sitz im Leben of controversy between different Christian tendencies envisaged by Talbert is necessarily is the main motive force behind the author.
The most exciting recent suggestion is that of Richard I. Pervo in his book Profit with Delight (Pervo 1987). The title of his book (no doubt also intending a pun) is drawn from Horace’s Ars Poetica 343-4, ‘He who has joined utility with charm, entertaining at the same time as edifying the reader, carries off the prize in one’. Pervo argues that there is no necessity for Acts to belong to the same genre as the gospel, and claims that, though of course its chief purpose is to edify and instruct, Acts uses many of the techniques of the contemporary novel to make this instruction and edification entertaining. Thus he lists 33 episodes of exciting and miraculous escapes, imprisonment, martyrdom, mob-scenes, trials and shipwreck. Plentiful use is made also of irony, mockery and burlesque. All of these are standard features of novels of the period.
One example of
such a novel must suffice.
Pervo’s approach has been fiercely criticised. C.K. Barrett in his great commentary on Acts is tolerant: ‘There is nothing un-Christian in getting pleasure from telling a good story. Or in reading one; and we may suppose that Luke was pleased that readers should enjoy reading his book’. David Aune is more critical; among his chief criticisms are that in history truth need not be sacrificed to entertainment, and that novels do not contain historical prefaces. His solution (p. 141) is that Paul treats Christianity as a nation separate from either Jews or Greeks (Phil 3.20, ‘our citizenship is in heaven’) and that ‘Luke-Acts provides a historical justification for the theological concepts of Christianity’s “national consciousness”’. The contrast with Callirhoe as well as the comparison is instructive. Although many of the techniques and machinery of narration are similar, a simple reading shows the absurdity of calling Acts a historical novel. At least Callirhoe is romantic fiction, where love triumphs over all odds, though with a strong moral tinge, while Acts is the account of the spread of a religious belief and ideal, where God, the Lord Jesus and the Spirit triumph over all odds.
If this is accepted, however, it must also
be allowed that different criteria for historical truth were admissible.
Polybius coined the expression ‘dramatic history’, into which the reader is
drawn in by a certain amount of drama and emotion. Polybius criticizes
excessive use of drama and emotion, but can still write such purple passages
as, ‘when some recalled Arsinoe’s orphanhood and others the insults and
outrages inflicted on her, the people fell into such a state of affliction that
the whole town was full of groans, tears and ceaseless lamentation’ (Histories,
15.24.9) or ‘he himself spent the greater part of the day and night in drinking
and the debauchery which commonly accompanies it, sparing neither women in the
flower of their age nor brides nor virgins’ (15.25.22) – passages which reflect
rhetoric more than would be acceptable in modern historical writing. Lucian, in
his second-century work How to Write History, criticises equally florid
praise and u`po,mnhma tw/n gegono,twn
gumno.n (bare rehearsal of what happened)’ (7-16); a
certain amount of embellishment is not out of place. Clearly Luke sometimes
dramatizes (the riot at
At this point it may be useful to instance as examples of different techniques three incidents described in Acts in ways which violate, or at least differ from modern canons of historical writing.
Luke Timothy Johnson, author of one of the best recent commentaries on Luke and Acts (Johnson 1991 and 1992), maintains that the double volume is a theodicy, that is, that its chief purpose is to justify the ways of God. How is it that the Jews, to whom God had promised a Messiah, rejected their Messiah, and that the message turned to the gentiles? How can there be any avsfalei,a here, any safety either that this is the case or that God’s promises will not in turn desert the gentiles who have responded to them? ‘The question posed both by the inclusion of the Gentiles and the exclusion of the Jews is: does God keep his promises? If God is not faithful then the Gentiles who now enjoy God’s favor are really no better off than the Jews’ (Johnson 1992, p. 8). This again is a frequent preoccupation with the author, but it is doubtful that it is his whole interest in the story.
CHAPTER TWO: THE PLAN OF ACTS
The plan of Acts may be considered in several different ways. The framework may be seen in a geographical way or a liturgical way, or as a balance of apostolates of Peter and Paul, or finally as an analysis of the relationship of Jew and gentile within the framework of those who ‘call on the name of the Lord Jesus’.
This is suggested by the Risen Lord’s
authoritative pronouncement before the Ascension, ‘You will be my witnesses not
The central role
Once the Acts
They remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the
brotherhood and to the prayers. And everyone was filled with awe; the apostles
worked many signs and miracles. And all who shared the faith owned everything
in common; they sold their goods and possessions and distributed the proceeds
among themselves according to what each one needed. Each day, with one heart,
they regularly went to the
Here are the model elements in the Christian life. Prayer had been a factor stressed by Luke in Jesus’ own life; he shows Jesus more constantly at prayer than do the other evangelists, at the Baptism, at the testing in the desert, before choosing the Twelve, before teaching them his own Lord’s Prayer, at the Transfiguration. Now prayer is the constant basis of the life of Jesus’ disciples. The gospel has also stressed the danger of individual wealth (the Rich Young Ruler, Lk 18.18-23; the dreadful parable of the Rich Fool, Lk 12.16-21; the Rich Man and Lazarus, Lk 16.19-31). Now the disciples are seen putting into practice community of goods. The eucharist is also a staple part of the life.
As the spread of
the gospel proceeds
The spread of
the gospel to these two areas, sparked by the persecution in
Earth’s remotest end
One of the
puzzles of Acts is its ending. It does not conclude with the death of Paul or
his release to continue his mission. One explanation is that ‘earth’s remotest
end’ is a deliberate expression signifying
The first instance in Luke’s writing of the Christian apostolate occurs in the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. This has been characterized as ‘the myth of the Christian apostolate’. It is another of Luke's beautifully told stories, and one vital for explaining the process of evangelisation. Jesus himself explains the resurrection, as Luke will do in the Acts, in terms of the Old Testament prophecies; which make sense of and give meaning to the events of Jesus life, ministry, death and resurrection. Only after this explanation do the disciples recognise the stranger for what he is. The explanation leads on to the shared meal, at which the recognition of Jesus actually takes place. This in its turn is the forerunner of the community meal, the sacrament of the eucharist.
The story is told with all Luke's skill of characterisation and surprise. The disciples are depressed, 'their faces downcast', and tell their story with a dull wistfulness in their disappointment at the failure of their hopes. This turns to excitement as they agree 'Did not our hearts burn within us...?' and they 'set out that instant'. The element of suspense so prominent in hellenistic novels, is woven into the gospel message in a masterly fashion.
Exactly the same process of scriptural instruction leading to sacrament as was initiated by Jesus on the road to Emmaus comes to view in the story of the baptism of the Ethiopian in Ac 8.26-40. This, too, has the explanation of Jesus' role by means of scripture, leading to enlightenment and a sacrament (baptism) - an example of the kerygma in action. It, too, has the lively dialogue and the surprise elements of sudden appearance and disappearance. Each begins with a journey, for Luke-Acts is full of journeying, a metaphor for and the mode of evangelisation. Each has a meeting, and ends with a separation and a further spread of the good news. Each story has the same pattern, built on a chiasmus to emphasise the centre, which immediately leads to the enlightenment:
Luke 24: a. journey from
b. unenlightened conversation
c. Jesus comes up
d. disciples declare their ignorance
e. Jesus explains the good news
d’. enlightenment in the breaking of bread
c’. Jesus departs
b’. delight of the disciples
a’. further spread of the good news
Acts 8: a. journey from
b. unenlightened reading
c. Philip runs up, urged by the Spirit
d. the Ethiopian declares his ignorance
e. Philip explains the good news of Jesus
d'. enlightenment in baptism
c' Philip taken away by the Spirit
b' delight of the Ethiopian
a'. further spread of the good news.
There are of course two major differences between the two scenes.
The first is that in the gospel, before the Ascension, Jesus is the moving
force, whereas in Acts, after the Ascension, it is his Spirit. The second, that
the sacrament is different. It is a sort of pardigm of conversion, especially
important – and therefore, perhaps, most fully set out – at the beginning of
the spread of the faith from
The pattern of instruction leading to conversion and the coming of the Spirit, so fully set out here, is repeated consistently through the Book of the Acts. It has already occurred at Pentecost (2.41), will follow in the case of Paul (9.17), Cornelius and his household (10.44), the converts at Pisidian Antioch (13.46-51), Lydia and her household (16.14-15), the disciples of John at Ephesus (19.5-6). It is the theme-song of the missionary stage of Acts.
3. The Balancing Apostolates of Peter and Paul
The title ‘Acts of the Apostles’ is slightly misleading, for the spotlight falls on only two figures, Peter and Paul. Of these Peter disappears after his miraculous escape from prison: ‘Then he left and went elsewhere’ (12.17). He reappears briefly in the composite account of the ‘Council of Jerusalem’ (15.7-11), but thereafter leaves the stage entirely to Paul, who is quite definitely the hero of the second half of Acts.
The balance between the two figures is strongly stressed by the parallel structures. This technique is a favourite of Luke, used in his Infancy Narrative to compare and contrast the persons and origins of John the Baptist and Jesus. In each case the faithfulness of John’s parentage, the angelic message, his special vocation, the family joy at his birth is shown, and contrasted with the sanctity of Jesus’ parentage, the angelic message, his unique vocation and the heavenly joy at his birth (Talbert 1974, p. 44). Again in Acts the parallel between Peter and Paul, the obvious main articulation of the story, is shown in detail (cf. Talbert 1974, p. 23):
2.1-4 Gift of the Spirit 13.1-3 Gift of the Spirit
2.14-40 Peter’s apostolic preaching 13.16-40 Paul’s apostolic preaching
3.1-10 Peter heals man lame from birth 14.8-13 Paul heals man lame from birth
3.12-26 Peter’s explanation, V,Andrej 14.15-17 Paul’s explanation, V,Andrej
8.19-24 Peter confounds magician Simon 13.6 Paul confounds magician Elymas
9.36-42 Peter raises Dorcas from dead 20.9-12 Paul raises Eutychus from dead
10-11 Peter’s mission to gentiles 13-21 Paul’s mission to gentiles
10.25 Peter restrains attempt to worship 14.13 Paul restrains attempt to worship
12.4-11 Peter’s imprisonment and release 21-28 Paul’s imprisonment and release.
This table is somewhat bland, and neglects important differences between the two apostles. Nor does it illustrate straightforwardly the division of spheres of influence which Paul announces in Ga 2.7-8, ‘Once they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been entrusted to me, just as to Peter the gospel for the circumcised, for he who empowered Peter’s apostolate for the circumcised also empowered mine for the gentiles’. This schema is neater than the story of Acts would suggest. In fact the part played by Peter in preparing for the entry of the gentiles into the Church was vital and receives emphatic coverage. Similarly, Paul is often seen preaching to Jews; indeed, he makes a principle of it before he is turned by their stubbornness to the gentiles.
The preparation for the major expansion beyond Judaism begins with two incidents, one involving Paul (his conversion/vocation), the other Peter (the Cornelius incident). This forms a sort of overlap, knotting the two figures together. The importance of each is shown by their triple repetition in the course of the story. In both cases Luke is anxious to show that the action is not initiated personally by Paul and Peter, but that each is acting against his previous intentions. The inclusion of the gentiles is no human initiative; the hand of God is at work. Paul’s experience is recounted three times, once on the occasion, once in the Temple (Ac 22.6-21 , with stress appropriate to the audience on Ananias’ devotion to the Law and high standing with the Jews of Damascus, on the title ‘the God of our ancestors’, and a nice little supplement on Paul receiving confirmation in the Temple) and once before the governor and King Agrippa (Ac 26.12-18, with due deference to ‘Your Majesty’ and a nice little classical quip about ‘kicking against the goad’). Similarly, Peter’s sheet comes down three times (Ac 10.16), and the divine justification for Peter’s welcome to Cornelius is thrice told, once on the occasion at the time, when the wonders of Pentecost are repeated to the astonishment of Peter’s companions (Ac 10.44-45), once when Peter justifies himself to the apostles and brothers in Judaea (up a key, ‘I had scarcely begun speaking when…’! Ac 11.15), and once in summary at the Council of Jerusalem (Ac 15.7-9). After the end of the Jerusalem-section it had already been shown that discipleship of Jesus was not to be confined to those approved for Judaism. The hated Samaritans, whom Luke favours so notably in his gospel, had already welcomed the message (8.5), and a further dimension of expansion been initiated by the inclusion of the Ethiopian. Now follows the major preparation for the expansion to gentiles.
The Road to
The full significance of this incident can be understood only against its biblical models, used by Luke with his consummate skill. As already suggested, the story of the conversion of Heliodorus in 2 Mc 3 is one biblical model, showing that the import of the happening is that the persecutor of God’s people has become its protagonist. It can, however, be disputed whether the correct title is conversion or vocation. Did Paul himself consider that he had been converted from one faith to another, or simply that he had reached a deeper understanding of his Jewish faith in seeing it brought to its fulfilment in Jesus? Another biblical model is indeed the vocation-narrative formula, a quadruple formula of divine call, human response, divine identification and divine command:
Saul Jacob (Gn 46.2-3) Ananias (Ac 9.10-11)
Double call Saul, Saul Jacob, Jacob Ananias
Reply Who are you, Lord? Here I am Here I am, Lord
Identification I am Jesus I am El The Lord said,
Command Get up and go Go down to Egypt Get up and go
This suggests that the heart of the narrative is not so much a conversion as the conferment of a task to be carried out. The deft and dramatic hand of Luke is unmistable; the account mirrors the annunciations to Zechariah and to Mary, with their introduction of the characters, their divine dialogue and their conferment of the task. In both this story and the following story of Peter’s vision on the roof we see Luke’s device for a really important divine message, a tally-vision: as Ananias has his vision, Paul sees him coming (Ac 9.12); Cornelius has a divine message about Peter and Peter about Cornelius’ messengers (Ac 10.6, 19). Yet, with Luke’s usual prosopoiea, the narrative about Saul is skilfully accommodated to his theological themes: Paul conceives his ministry in terms of a ministry of blinding divine light (2 Cor 3.6-18, cf. Ac 9.3), and the identification of the Christian with Christ is one of his most pervasive insights (Rm 6.1-11; 1 Cor 6.15, cf. Ac 9.4).
The Road to
Again a delightfully told tale. Cornelius’ devotedness and generosity prepare for his astonishment and his militarily swift obedience. Peter dozes off at his midday prayer and, dreaming about lunch, explodes his disgust at the ‘unclean and impure food’ with the vivid Mhdamw/j (‘No way!’), apologetically joined with the respectful ku,rie, and the alliterative koino.n kai. avka,qarton (saying the same thing twice, for both words mean the same). With gentle wit the divine voice takes up the two words in reverse order, ‘What God has made pure (evkaqa,risen) don’t you make unclean (koi,nou)!’, which leaves Peter gob-smacked. Peter is so nonplussed that, when the messengers, having perseveringly asked all over the place (dierwth,santej), turn up at that moment, the Spirit has to coax him along, ‘Hey, there’s a couple of guys looking for you. Now move! Go down and get going with them! Don’t hang around! You see, I’m the one who sent them.’ Colonel Cornelius knows exactly how long it takes to get from Joppe to Caesarea, and has his relations and close friends assembled ready to witness his dramatic gesture (sunanta,w is normally used of going out in procession to meet a monarch) of going out and falling flat on the ground (the Roman commandant before a provincial nobody!). Cornelius makes the most of the vision too, adding in the ‘shining robes’ (10.30), unmentioned in 10.3. Luke wickedly suggests a touch of resentment, too, when ‘the faithful from the circumcision’ (10.44) are left staring open-mouthed at the charismatic gentiles. The reader is left in no doubt of the Spirit’s wishes.
After these two unforgettably dramatic episodes of Paul and Peter to set afoot the mission to the gentiles, the two leaders partner again at the Council of Jerusalem, after which Peter is heard of no more. The reader is, however, constantly reminded of their partnership by the parallel details of their ministries. It would, nevertheless, be a mistake to erect the prominence of these two apostles into a sort of aretology or laudatory biography. We are not informed of the death of either of them, and an account of their martyrdoms would surely be required to keep them on a level with James and especially Stephen. Nor is there any trace of personal description, character study or discussion of motives, though Hellenistic writing is not averse to such matters:
a daughter named Callirhoe, a marvel of a girl and the idol of all
The editor of the novel remarks, ‘It is tempting to regard the novel less as a love story than as a female character study…. Chaereas is not a satisfactory hero, for in the first half of the work he is culpably intemperate and given to self-pity, while in the second his war exploits are too fantastic and out of character to be other than those of a cardboard Alexander.’ (p. 14)
CHAPTER THREE: THE SPEECHES OF ACTS
A large proportion of Acts consists of speeches, principally by Peter and Paul, but on one important occasion by Stephen. Practice in writing speeches was an important part of training in rhetoric, of which history-writing was considered a branch, and Luke excels in it. In accordance with the conventions of Greek historiography, it is through the speeches that we hear the author’s comments and understand how he sees events. Just so, in Callirhoe roughly 40% of the text consists of speeches, and many of the most exciting events are conveyed through speeches rather than by direct narration. It is in these speeches that we may find much of the author’s theology, his views and teaching on Christ, the Christian community and salvation. As a preliminary, therefore, it will be necessary to examine each of the speeches in turn. Part of Luke’s skill is that there is little repetition between the speeches by different people, to different audiences, in different circumstances – and what repetition there is stands out all the more – so that attention to all the speeches is required for a rounded picture of the lessons Luke wishes to convey.
2.14-36, plus 38-39 Peter’s address to the crowd at Pentecost
The most striking feature of this speech is the method: it selects two phenomena, namely the coming of the Spirit and the resurrection of Jesus, and explains their significance as the fulfilment of scripture. To an audience for whom scripture is the divine word this makes a great deal of sense. In fact it is virtually true to say that the quotation from Joel contains the whole theological message of Acts. This is also the method of using scripture now well known from the scripture commentaries of Qumran, though necessarily in reverse: the Qumran scripture commentaries start from the text and apply it to current (or recent) events, whereas Peter takes recent events and explains them as fulfilment of the texts.
For example, the
Commentary on Isaiah (4Q161-5), after quoting Is 10.33-34, continues, ‘Its
interpretation concerns the Kittim [the Greeks, Alexander the Great and his
successors] who shall crush the house of
The first phenomenon which Peter takes up is the speaking in tongues. This seems to be understood not as the overflowing of prayerful praise in sounds unintelligible unless an interpreter is present, of which Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Cor 14), for at Pentecost the disciples speak in ‘other tongues/different languages’ (2.4) which are intelligible to the listeners.
Lk 2.11 ‘Today is born to us a saviour’; Lk 2.30 ‘My eyes have seen my salvation. Swth,r = ‘saviour’ occurs in the other gospels only Jn 4.42, but twice in Lk and twice in Ac, and 10 times in the Pastoral Letters, which come at the end of the development of the New Testament, and evidence a period when Christianity was settling down into the hellenistic world. Swth,rion = ‘salvation’ occurs in the gospels only in Lk, once in Ac and once in Ephesians. Swthri,a = ‘salvation’ occurs in the other gospels only Jn 4.22, but four times in Lk, six times in Ac and five times in the Pastorals.
The interests and preoccupations of Ac often match those of the Pastoral Letters (see especially Paul’s farewell speech in Ac 20), thereby attesting Luke’s involvement in the hellenistic world. In this world there were many cults of oriental Saviour-Gods such as Mithras and Isis, into whose mysteries worshippers could be initiated in the hope of achieving salvation. The characterisation of Jesus as Saviour is a direct challenge to such hellenistic Saviour-Gods and their mystery religions. In the Infancy Narrative of the gospel (Lk 1.47; 2.11) the appellation of Jesus as Saviour is full of hope; in the two speeches in Acts it is full of power (5.31; 13.23).
The second phenomenon taken up by Peter is the resurrection. A keynote of the speech is the contrast between ‘you killed’ and ‘God raised’ (2.23), fastening the blame on the whole people, not only their leaders, and not – as in later speeches – giving them the excuse of ignorance. The explanation is again given as a fulfilment of scripture, this time using two texts.
Peter’s speech ends, as do so many of the missionary speeches in Acts, with an appeal to repentance. This is not merely an appeal to sorrow, still less to morose consideration of sinfulness. In accordance with the Hebrew concept bwv it means a change of life, a total change of direction, the only appropriate response to the eschatological coming of the Sovereignty of God (Mk 1.4, 15). This is especially clear at the end of the next speech (3.26).
3.12-26 Peter’s address to the people in the Portico of Solomon
The speech at Pentecost was, of course, to
Jews. But its purpose was to explain the coming of the Spirit. It is a formal
appeal to the people of
Now, however, a new element is introduced as an encouragement: the excuse of ignorance (3.17). For the reader who knows that this part of the Acts is going to end with Stephen’s summing up and martyrdom, this only intensifies the painful irony. It is also a sad irony that, before any reaction can take place, the officials come bustling up and hustle the speakers off. Only after that are we allowed to know that another couple of thousand joined the believers (4.4).
The speech gives a rich Jewish Christology, centred on Jesus as prophet and pai/j (see p. 40).
4.8-12 Peter’s Speech to the leaders of the Jews
This little speech of three sentences intensifies the previous situation, addressed directly to the ‘Rulers of the people and elders’, seeing their stubborn blindness now as a mirror-image of that stubborn blindness which led to their condemnation of Jesus. They recognise the fact of the cure (they can hardly deny it, as the cured man is still standing beside the apostles), the association of the apostles with Jesus and their astonishing outspokenness. Peter repeats directly to them the same contrast between their killing of Jesus and God’s raising him from death as in the previous speech to the people, the same attribution of the cure to the Name of Jesus. A new element is the new proof-text about the corner-stone, also used in the Matthew/Luke addition (Mt 21.42; Lk 20.17) to the Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers. The principal issue is the uncompromising refusal to recognise the truth on the one side, and the uncompromising proclamation of the truth on the other. The unreason and culpability of this stance will be further stressed at the second appearance of the apostles before the Sanhedrin by the intervention of the highly-respected Rabbi Gamaliel
Now (4.13) appears the first full instance (there is a non-controversial use of the word in the Pentecost speech, 2.29) of parrhsi,a, fearless outspokenness, which will become more and more important, the object of the prayer of the persecuted community (4.29) and the result of the new mini-Pentecost which follows (4.31). It is characteristic of the outspokenness of Paul – always to the Jews - in Acts (9.27, 28; 13.46; 14.3; 18.26; 19.8; 26.26; 28.31) and in his own letters (2 Cor 3.12; 7.4; Phil 1.20; Phm 8).
7.2-53 Stephen’s Speech
Luke Timothy Johnson exaggerates not unreasonably when he writes that the speech is ‘the key Luke provides his readers for the interpretation of his entire two-volume narrative’ (Acts, p. 119). It sums up Luke’s treatment of the Jews, but hardly covers his attitude to the gentiles. There is considerable dislocation between Stephen’s trial and his speech, for Luke is doing two different things.
In presenting Stephen’s trial Luke is preparing the ground for his speech by presenting it, mutatis mutandis, as a mirror of Jesus’ trial (see footnote 5). Stephen has already been shown to be a prophetic figure: like the other members of the Seven, he was filled with the Spirit and with wisdom (6.3). Like Jesus, he was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people (6.8). When he begins his speech, however adverse their reaction is to be, the onlookers are forced to recognise his face as the face of an angel (6.15). Since in his speech he makes no attempt whatsoever to rebutt the charges made against him, we can only conclude that this presentation is angled to lend authority to the speech itself.
In accordance with the conventions of
history-writing, ancient and modern, the speaker conveys his lesson by a
re-telling of the history of the people, selected and designed to bring out the
important points. This was the practice of speeches in ancient Greek
historians, in Josephus (giving his own version at length [five columns in
Whiston’s translation], shouting up at the walls of
1. was sent as leader and redeemer.
2. worked miracles and signs.
3. was a prophet and foretold a prophet to come.
4. was entrusted with words of life.
5. was rejected a second time.
In all these
ways he showed himself a type of Jesus, and the rejection of Moses by the
10.34-43 Peter’s address in the house of Cornelius
Peter’s brief catechesis of Cornelius and his household, once Cornelius has confirmed to Peter that the Spirit is at work by recounting his vision, is marked by three features, one negative and two positive. Negatively, there is of course no argument from scripture and hardly an allusion to scripture; they would cut little ice with gentiles. Positively:
13.17-41 Paul’s preaching to the Jews
This speech is again thoroughly Jewish and
clearly directed towards Jews, with constant stress on
At the same time, with a masterly piece of prosopopoiea, Luke has accommodated the speech to the speaker. In connection with the resurrection Jesus is given the title ‘God’s son’ so characteristic of Paul’s theology (13.33, cf. Rm 1.3-4, ‘constituted son of God in power at the resurrection’; Ga 1.16; 2.20; 4.4, 6); this title of Jesus occurs only once else in Acts (9.20), again as part of Paul’s preaching. The speech also builds up to the typically Pauline thought that the Law cannot justify and that justification is by faith (13.38-39).
15.1-29 The Council of
This Council is in many ways the
turning-point of Acts. As a formal meeting of ‘the church, the apostles and
elders’ to consult with delegates of the community at
Yet historically the scene bristles with
difficulties. Paul gives an account of a meeting at
It is arguable that ‘both sources are
partial and tendentious’ (Johnson 1992, p. 270). If preference is given to Paul
as an eye-witness and major actor in the scene, it would be reasonable to hold
that Luke knew that the question had been raised at Antioch and that a positive
decision about the inclusion of the gentiles given at Jerusalem, but did not
know in which order these occurred. In his function as a hellenistic historian Luke
constructed the two speeches
on the assumption that question came before answer. The speeches are, after
all, what should have been said to facilitate the religious and social
symbiosis which Luke knew and wished to promote. Knowing the difficulties which
arose about Jewish and gentile Christians living together, he added the formal
letter which settled the dispute. This letter (15.23-29) is itself a puzzle. It
is addressed to the gentile Christians in a narrowly-defined corner of the
mediterranean (Antioch, Syria and Cilicia, the north-east corner), and Paul
shows no knowledge of it when writing about the same problems, the burden of
the Law (the subject of dispute in Galatia) and food sacrificed to idols (a
crisis of conscience both at Corinth and at Rome). The very particular address
suggests that it was not invented by Luke, for it is too narrow to serve his
purpose well, and that he had some documentary source. Perhaps it was written
only after Paul’s missionary work, and in answer to queries from this
particular area; certainly Paul cannot have known it. On the other hand, if
Paul’s story, and particularly his chronological order, are correct, the
Despite his views on the superfluity of observing the Law, according to Ac 16.3, Paul went so far as to have the half-Jewish Timothy circumcised, to avoid upsetting the Jews. It seems, in fact, that in the early centuries of Christianity a compromise was reached between Jews and gentiles in the Church. Circumcision was not demanded of gentile converts, but C.K. Barrett lists evidence that the decree of Acts 15 was widely observed: in the Churches of the Book of Revelation (Rv 2.14, 20), by the Martyrs of Lyons in the late 2nd century, who refuse to eat blood (Eusebius, Hist.Eccl., 5.1.26), by the Synod of Gangra, c.300 (Canon 2) and by Pacian of Barcelona, c. 397.
17.22-31 Paul’s speech on the Areopagus
This speech is a scintillating climax to a
scintillating scene, in which Luke uses all his wit to make this important
first encounter between Christianity and pagan philosophy entertaining as well
To begin with, Paul in fact acts like the
greatest of their own Athenian philosophers, Socrates, debating in the
market-place (17.17, as Socrates in Plato’s Apology and Xenophon’s Memorabilia
1.1.10). Socrates was also criticised, and eventually condemned, for
introducing new gods (Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.1.1, cf. Ac 17.23).
Their courtesy is elaborate: they invite him to address them, desperate to
learn from him (17.19) – on which Luke has his own satirical comment. Then Paul
replies, politely taking as his starting-point what he has seen of their own
altar ‘To an Unknown God’
(but he will end up by taking up this ‘unknown’ to say that they really are
ignorant, 17.30) and offering to help. He calls them deisidai,monej, which can
mean either politely ‘god-fearing’ or mockingly ‘superstitious’. He points out
that God does not live in a
Beneath the irony, however, there is both literary quality and serious argument. The literary quality is given by the plentiful use of the optative (Luke alone of NT authors has sufficiently sophisticated Greek to use the optative, twice in 17.27), alliteration, assonance and paronomasia. The two schools with which Luke chooses to take issue are the Epicureans and Stoics.
Even in this speech Luke manages to achieve his characteristic prosopopoeia by putting things in a specifically Pauline way. In Rm 1.19 Paul claims that the human mind can deduce the existence and power of God from the creation of the cosmos (as Ac 17.27). In Rm 3.26 he writes of the divine forbearance in withholding judgement for sin (as Ac 17.30).
20.18-25 Paul’s Farewell Speech at
With good reason it has been claimed that
this speech is the most significant piece in this part of Acts.
The speech falls into three major sections:
Paul’s Defence Speeches
Paul is now on his way to
the Jewish crowd in the
23.1, 6 Before the Sanhedrin
24.10-21 Before Felix the governor
26.2-29 Before the governor Festus and King Agrippa.
About the basic historicity of the scenes it is difficult to pronounce. Of course the speeches themselves were composed by Luke; the question is whether all these hearings took place. Court scenes were obviously as popular among the ancients as are American court-room drama movies today; the central portion of Callirhoe presents a tedious series of trials before the King of Babylon. Although Luke is far too subtle and artistic a rhetorician to allow any dull repetition, the basic message is always the same: Paul is the true representative of Judaism, and the Jews are too stubborn to recognise this. Two features mark each speech. The ‘God of our ancestors’ is the object of all his attention, and in each defence he proclaims the resurrection more vigorously.
· It fulfills the prophecy that the disciples will have to make their defence ‘before governors and kings’
· It increases the parallel between Paul, who appears before Felix and Agrippa, and Jesus, who appeared before Pilate and Herod.
· It gives the opportunity for yet another of the trial scenes so beloved of a Hellenistic audience (as in Callirhoe).
· It contributes to Luke’s apologia: irrationally hostile though the Jews may be, a properly hellenised Jew will join the Roman in declaring Paul innocent, and so Christianity inoffensive.
Paul’s defence is again a masterpiece, firstly for its hellenistic eloquence. He begins with a nice piece of flattery for the king (26.2-3), and maintains this courtesy right to the end (26.29), neatly picking up Agrippa’s sarcastic jibe and turning it into a prayer for him. He puts a classical quip – the proverb about ‘kicking aginst the pricks’ occurs frequently in classical literature - even into the mouth of Jesus (26.14). The rhetoric is firm and not exaggerated (the triple purpose of 26.18: ‘to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, to grant them forgiveness of sin’). He uses the most delicate understatement (‘not disobedient’, 26.19; ‘ none of this escapes your notice’, ‘not done in a corner’, 26.26). It is a masterpiece secondly for the adjustments of the story suitable to the occasion: Paul’s devotion to Judaism is stressed by the ferocity of his persecuting zeal. Ananias and the Temple-scene which occurred in the two previous accounts would no longer have any purpose and are dropped in order to strengthen the directness of the commission. The brightness of the light is stressed by the occurrence of the scene in the sunlight of ‘the middle of the day’ (26.13) and the awesomeness by the fact that they all fell down. Thirdly the speech is a masterpiece theologically by its focus again on those two central points: the resurrection (the moment at which Festus breaks off the speech with his guffaw) and the fulfilment of prophecy (the challenge which Paul throws at Agrippa, 26.27, only for him cynically to sidestep it). It is a fitting conclusion to Paul’s speeches and to the formal speeches of Acts.
CHAPTER FOUR: THE SPIRIT IN ACTS
In developed Christian theology the Holy Spirit is divine, the third Person of the Trinity, who proceeds from the Father and the Son (or from the Father through the Son). Since it is far from clear that Luke thought of the Spirit in such explicit terms, it will be well briefly to sketch a theology of the Spirit of God in the Old Testament and in those parts of the New Testament which preceed Luke.
The Spirit in the Old Testament
In the most ancient parts of the Old Testament the spirit of God is conceived as a force which seizes on a person, giving wisdom, strength and authority. It falls on the elders in the desert wanderings to help Moses judge and guide the people (Num 11.17, 25). It seizes upon the Judges to give them military leadership (Jg 3.10; 6.34; 11.29) and upon Saul also in the same way (1 Sm 11.6). It fills the prophets so that they may deliver God’s message (Mi 3.8; Zc 7.12; Ezek 2.2; 3.12, 14, 24), whereas false prophets have a lying spirit (1 Kings 22.21-23). On a different level, the spirit of God is also responsible for all life on earth: at the creation the spirit of God hovered over the waters (Gn 1.2), and human life depends on the imparting and withdrawal of God’s spirit (Ps 104.29-30: ‘You send out your spirit and life begins; you renew the face of the earth’).
When the messianic hope begins to be expressed, the spirit of Yahweh is promised to rest on the Messiah.
On him will rest the spirit of Yahweh,
the spirit of wisdom and insight,
the spirit of counsel and power,
the spirit of knowledge and fear of Yahweh (Is 11.2).
This presence of the spirit on Yahweh’s chosen one is re-iterated in key passages of all three sections of Isaiah (42.1; 61.1). In the dark days of the Babylonian Exile this is generalised, and the giving of the spirit to the whole people becomes the sign of the messianic renewal of the last times. Ezekiel, in the vision of the dry bones, sees the people brought to life again by the spirit or breath (the same Hebrew word means both ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’) of Yahweh (Ezek 37.1-14). Joel, as we have seen in the discussion of Pentecost, celebrates the same coming of the spirit as the eschatological event.
The Spirit in Paul
Paul’s letters are, of course, the earliest documents of the New Testament, although the oral tradition behind the gospel goes back further still. It is, however, Paul who gives us our earliest view of Christian teaching on the Spirit. Practically-minded as he is, Paul views the Spirit primarily through its effects. Firstly, the Spirit, dwelling in the Christian, enables the Christian to call God intimately ‘Abba, Father’ and to pray in a spirit of confident sonship, knowing that the Spirit is at prayer within, praying the prayer which cannot be put into words: ‘You received the Spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out, “Abba, Father”. The Spirit himself joins our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God’ (Rm 8.15-16). Secondly, the Spirit empowers Christians to action. This may be in extraordinary activities such as miracles (Ga 3.1-3), healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues (1 Cor 12.4-30), or in more humdrum – though no less extraordinary – ways such as ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (Ga 5.22; 1 Cor 13). ‘The Spirit is for Paul an “energizer”, a Spirit of power’, writes Joseph Fitzmyer.
The basic fact is that the only way Paul can explain the way believers live, living not by their natural inclinations, literally, not ‘according to the flesh’, is that the Spirit of God or the Spirit of Christ has made a home in them (Rm 9.9-10). In his letters Paul gives us glimpses of some of his communities. For instance in the outburst in Galatians, when he challenges the Galatians to explain by the Law the phenomena which he attributes to the presence of the Spirit of the Risen Christ (Ga 3.1-3). These are real, palpable facts for which Paul demands an explanation. The only fairly full and explicit portrait of a community, however, is provided by First Corinthians, which shows a community running – a little uncertainly and with plenty of massive human failings – on the Spirit, permeated and inspired by the Spirit. There is in evidence no human authority or guidance, and certainly no external containment by the Law, but only the internal compulsion and inspiration of the Spirit. The Spirit is the motivating force and the rudder of guidance.
Reflection and analysis of who and what this Spirit is has, by this stage of Paul, not yet progressed too far. The Spirit is both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ, imparting the life of Christ. The distinction and the relationship between Christ and the Spirit has not yet been clarified. At times it seems that the Spirit is to be identified with the Risen Christ. By his resurrection Christ was ‘constituted Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness’ (Rm 1.4), and has become ‘a life-giving Spirit’ (1 Cor 15.45). The veil obscuring the truth ‘will not be taken away until they turn to the Lord. Now this Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Cor 3.17-18). In the midst of a passage about living in Christ (‘Christ will be glorifed in my body… Life to me, of course, is Christ’, Phil 1.20-21) Paul writes also of the support of the Spirit of Christ. God gives us all ‘a sure place in Christ, giving us as pledge the Spirit in our hearts’ (2 Cor 1.21-22; also Gal 4.4). Yet it is also ‘the Spirit of God, the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead’ (Rm 8.9, 11). In short, the Spirit enables the believer to live in Christ, and imparts the divine power of the Risen Christ to act according to the Spirit of God.
The Spirit in the gospel of Luke
From his accent in the gospel on the Spirit it is clear that Luke is familiar with the Pauline communities where the Spirit is so active. It is as though in Acts Luke works back from there, seeing the story of the earliest Church in the light of the activity of the Spirit which he knows from his own experience; and then in the gospel, further back still, the Spirit was at work also in the history of Jesus. So from the Acts it will be clear that the Spirit was active in the communities of believers from the very beginning; they were communities of the Spirit. In the gospel, similarly, Luke wishes to show that from the very beginning of the Good News, the preparation for the birth of John the Baptist and of Jesus in the Infancy Narratives, the Spirit has been at work. Two interlinked features of Luke’s gospel are striking, the importance of the Spirit and the consequent accent on prophecy. Prophecy had always been an evidence of the Spirit of God, and from the start of the gospel it is a feature which shows the Spirit at work. This puts the whole unrolling of the drama under the sign of the Spirit which inspired the scripture and the prophets.
The first is
striking especially in the Infancy Narratives, where Luke is composing freely
himself, having no model on which to work, and in the accounts of the Baptism
and the scene in the Synagogue at
At the same
time, however, the Infancy Narratives are wholly coloured by the presence of
the Spirit. The Spirit is mentioned nine times. Zechariah and Elizabeth are
filled with the Spirit. The Spirit will come upon Mary for the birth of her
child. Simeon, on whom already the Holy Spirit rests, is led into the
Luke has transformed the incident of the Baptism to make it not a baptism-scene but the descent of the Spirit on the occasion of the baptism. John the Baptist has been airbrushed out by means of the report of his arrest just before the baptism. Hence it is not at all clear from Luke who baptised Jesus. The baptism is merely the time-marker for the descent of the Spirit ‘in bodily form’ as Luke insists. Afterwards it is no surprise that Jesus goes into the desert ‘full of the Holy Spirit’, making a somewhat superfluous double mention of the Spirit in one line.
the opening proclamation in the synagogue at Nazareth Luke takes the Markan scene
of the expulsion of Jesus from Nazareth, brings it forward in time (Mk 6.1-6
becomes Lk 4.14-30), and expands it by a typically Lukan speech, which has been
characterized as ‘The Nazareth Manifesto’. Again Jesus, ‘with the power of the
Spirit in him’ reads the prophetic text from Isaiah, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is
upon me’, and proceeds to explain that the text is even now being fulfilled. In
what way? He will be a prophet like Elijah and Elisha, mirroring their mission
to gentiles. Thereafter in the gospel, as Luke is principally following the
narrative of Mark, the mention of the Spirit is less frequent, though not
entirely absent (10.21; 11.13; 12.10, 12). Jesus, however, continues to act,
and to be greeted as a prophet (see p, 11, 22). He is greeted as a prophet when
he raises the Widow’s Son. He goes up to
More than this,
the reader is constantly made aware that events are taking the course which was
foretold in scripture: it could not have been otherwise. This is the meaning of
the constant ‘I must’ or ‘it is necessary for me’: to be in my Father’s house
(Lk 2.49), to proclaim the gospel (4.43), to suffer much (9.22; 17.25), to go
on for two days more (13.33, cf. Hosea 6.2), to lodge in Zacchaeus’ house
(19.5), to fulfill the prophecies (22.37; 24.7, 26, 44). Similarly the frequent
use of the verb me,llw (=is destined) underlines the inevitability of what is to happen:
Who taught you to flee from the destined wrath? (3.7); the passing he was
destined to accomplish in
The reader is
also constantly being reminded of the fulfilment of prophecy by the fulfilment
of prophecies internally to the narrative: a prophecy is made and then
fulfilled later in the gospel or in the Acts. The prophecies to Zechariah and
to Mary about the birth of their sons are quickly fulfilled, and the prophecies
about their destinies are fulfilled gradually throughout the gospel. Simeon’s
prophecy, too, about the rejection of Jesus by his own people, is fulfilled
only too painfully. There follow the prophecies of Jesus in the synagogue about
his mission to gentiles, fulfilled by the stress in this gospel on the
invitations to the Samaritans and gentiles. The persecutions of the Acts are
foretold (21.12): ‘You will be handed over to the synagogues (Acts 4 and 5) and
to imprisonment (the apostles, then Paul, frequently) and brought before kings
(Agrippa) and governors (Felix and Festus) for the sake of my name – and that
will be your opportunity to bear witness.’ The fulfilment of the prophecies of
Jesus about the doom impending on
The Spirit in Acts
It has rightly
been said that the Spirit dominates the Acts. Jesus’ last words before his
parting from his disciples are the promise of the Spirit to give them power for
their apostolic work, and the instructions to return to
And so it continues, with Stephen (6.5; 7.55), the Samaritans (8.17), Barnabas (11.24), Paul (11.29) all ‘filled with the Spirit’. The Spirit directs the action: of Philip to and away from the Ethiopian (8.29, 39), to alert Peter to Cornelius’ messengers (10.19), to forestall and direct Peter’s action in baptising Cornelius (10.44), to confirm the crucial decision about fellowship with the gentiles (15.28), to check Paul from preaching in Asia and Bithynia, and then leading him into Europe (16.6-9), ‘binding’ Paul to lead him to Jerusalem and captivity (20.22). Every significant move in the progress of the gospel is explicitly occasioned by the guidance of the Spirit.
The Shipwreck and Paul the prophet
The portrayal of
Paul as prophet reaches its climax in the narrative of the journey to
Opposition to the Spirit
Running through the book of the Acts is the theme of opposition to the Spirit which comes to view in the series of interludes of magic and false worship as each new step is taken in the expansion of the faith. Each encounter has its own story to tell, each has its own local colour; there is no dull repetition. They show the variety of opposition to be encountered by Christianity from religion and magic in the hellenistic world.
Simon Magus (8.18-25). As soon
as the Way spreads beyond
· Bar-Jesus/Elymas (13.4-12). The advance to the next stage of the mission, Paul’s first missionary journey, is also marked by an encounter with magic. Again, the special imparting of the Spirit to Paul for his missionary endeavour (13.1-3) is immediately followed by an encounter with a ‘son of the devil’ (13.10). The magician was presumably the proconsul’s official astrologer, interpreting stars and omens to him, an officer essential to any Roman magistrate. The wit of the story is that, once blinded, he is unable to fulfil his office, which would involve interpreting the stars.
· Idolatry in Lycaonia ((14.11-18). This scene should perhaps be included as an encounter with popular religion, though not with magic, a further instance of the sort of religious competition to the Way, and a further neat little vignette in the best manner Luke’s witty little stories. It has been discussed on p. 9-10.
The soothsayer of
The Sons of Sceva (19.11-19).
Again, the coming of the Spirit upon the disciples of John at
CHAPTER FIVE: THE CHRISTOLOGY OF ACTS
The presentation of Christology in Acts is,
true to Luke’s form as a skilled artist, consistent with his whole purpose, and
indeed makes his purpose even clearer. Luke’s problem was how it could be that
It is impossible, therefore, to view the Christology of Acts without viewing previously the theology of Acts. That is, Luke’s view of Christ is thoroughly dependent on his view of God. The primary source for the theology of Acts is the speeches made by the main characters; they are, after all, designed to direct the reader’s thoughts.
The initiative rests with God
In all the speeches it is God who takes the
initiative in directing the course of
Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God through the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified and killed by men outside the Law. But God raised him to life… (Ac 2.22-23).
Again in Peter’s address to the people in Ac 3.13: ‘It is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus.’ In Stephen’s long summary of Israel’s history it is God who initiates each stage, the call of Abraham, the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham, the exodus, the call of Moses, the settlement in Canaan and permission to build the Temple. Paul too, in his address to the Jews of Antioch in Pisidia, concentrating this time on David, attributes all the impetus to God. Consonantly with this, the resurrection is always described as the action of God. In the three great prophecies of the resurrection in Mark (Mk 8.31; 9.31; 10.34) Jesus will rise (avni,sthmi) from the dead. In Acts, on the other hand, the intransitive ‘rise’ is used only once (Ac 17.3). whereas six times God raises Jesus from the dead (2.24, 32; 3.26; 13.32, 34; 17.31). Similarly, using the verb evgei,rw, Paul often uses the passive ‘he was raised’ (Rm 4.25; 6.4; 1 Cor 15. 4, 12, 13, etc), whereas Acts always has explicitly ‘God raised him’ (Ac 3.15; 4.10; 5.30; 10.40; 13.30, 37). In the account of the Ascension it is again stressed that all the initiative rests with God: the disciples are to await the fulfilment of the promise of the Father (Ac 1.4), ‘the Father decides the times by his own authority’ (1.7), and Jesus is the passive recipient of the divine action: he ‘was lifted up’ (1.9, 11) and the divine cloud ‘took’ him from their sight (1.9).
A Christology within Judaism
Since Luke is stressing constantly that God has brought to fulfilment the promises made to his people, to Abraham, Moses and David, it is consistent that he calls Jesus ‘the Christ’, that is, ‘the Messiah’. For Paul ‘Christ’ had become part of Jesus’ name, no longer consciously a messianic title, but in Acts ‘the Christ’ is used with the article, specifically as a Greek translation of the Hebrew ‘Messiah’ (2.31, 36; 3.18; 4.26; 5.42; 8.5; 9.22; 17.3; 18.5, 28; 26.23), the long-awaited anointed one in whom the promises reach their fulfilment.
The novelty which Luke introduces is that
this Messiah is a suffering Messiah. This is a new conception, for nowhere in
Judaism is it suggested that the Messiah would be a suffering figure. The
Messiah of Judaism is always a powerful representative of God, God’s
representative coming on earth and bringing God’s purposes to completion. Luke
achieves by introducing the word and notion of pai/j (see p. 22). In Deutero-Isaiah
a pai/j, a servant or a son, had been prophesied who would fulfill God’s
In Luke’s Infancy Narrative Jesus is
referred to purely factually, and without any special significance, as ‘the
child Jesus’ when he remained behind in the
Peter’s address to the people: ‘God carried out what he had foretold when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer’ (3.18).
The prayer of
the persecuted Church: ‘Herod and Pontius Pilate plotted together with the
gentile nations and the people of
Paul to the Jews of Thessalonika: ‘It was ordained that the Christ should suffer and rise from the dead’(17.3).
Paul to King Agrippa: ‘What the prophets and Moses himself said would happen, that the Christ was to suffer, and that, as the first to rise from the dead, he was to proclaim a light for our people and for the gentiles’ (26.22-23, a direct allusion to Isaiah 42.6, ‘a light for the gentiles’).
Paul also quotes to the Jews of Antioch in Pisidia the Song of the Servant, using it to explain his turning to the gentiles: ‘For this is what the Lord has commanded us to do when he said, “I have made you a light to the nations”’ (13.47).
In other ways
also Luke sees the resurrection as the culmination of
A referential shift The most important change of Christology which has taken place in Acts is that titles which formerly belonged to God alone are now attributed to the Risen Jesus.
Lord Perhaps the most radical statement, relying on the double use of ‘Lord’ in Psalm 110, is the climax of Peter’s speech at Pentecost, ‘Let the whole house of Israel know that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified Lord and Christ’ (2.36). ‘Christ’ we have already discussed. The significance of the title ‘Lord’ here given to Jesus needs careful precision. The word ku,rioj has a wide range of meaning, and especially in the vocative can be no more than a polite address, not implying worship or cult. At the other extreme, it can also be the Greek translation of the sacred tetragrammaton, the name hwhy, so sacred that it cannot be pronounced. In the gospels Jesus is frequently addressed as ku,rie, ‘Lord’ or ‘Sir’, but never in Mark is o` ku,rioj (with the article, ‘the Lord’) applied to Jesus, with the possible exception of Mk 11.3//Mt 21.3, ‘The Lord has need of it’, where it is unclear who this ‘Lord’ is, whether it is Jesus or God. The gospel of Luke is less careful, as though Luke, already aware of the later usage, allows post-resurrection language to slip in. Elizabeth, in her greeting to Mary, asks why ‘the mother of my Lord’ should come to her (Lk 1.43) and the angels at Jesus’ birth sing ‘today is born to you a saviour who is Christ Lord’ (Lk 2.11). So in his own editorial comment Luke occasionally calls Jesus ‘the Lord’: 7.13, ‘seeing her, the Lord had pity on her’; 7.19, ‘the Lord sent to him, saying…’; 11.39, ‘the Lord said to him’, cf. 10.1, 39; 13.15; 17.5, 6; 19.8; 22.61. In the Acts, however, the expression is freely used of Jesus in what is clearly a divine sense. It is, of course, not always immediately obvious what constitutes ‘a divine sense’.
· One set of instances is when a biblical text originally used of the Lord God is applied to Jesus. This occurs three more times in Peter’s speech at Pentecost.
o In Ac 2.20 the ‘great day of the Lord’, mentioned by Joel 3.4, is applied to the day of the resurrection of Jesus, as is made clear in the following verses. The Day of the Lord had been, since the time of Amos 5.18, the eschatological day when Yahweh would visit his people to set everything right. Jesus is put in the position of ‘the Lord’ in what is possibly the earliest writing of the New Testament, 1 Thessalonians 4.13-17. The early date of this referential shift is guaranteed by the retention in 1 Cor 16.22 of the Aramaic formula MARANATHA
o In Ac 2.21 ‘all who call on the name of the Lord’ (Joel 3.5) is, for the first of many times in Acts, applied to those who call on the name of Jesus. Indeed, ‘those who call on the name of the Lord’, meaning the Lord Jesus, invoked as a sovereign power to save, becomes a technical term for the followers of Jesus (Ac 9.14, 21; 22.16, etc, and see p. 19-20).
o A third time, a verse of Psalm 16.8, ‘I kept the Lord ever in my sight’, is applied to Jesus.
o Again, in the prayer of the apostles under persecution, the psalm-verse ‘princes plot together against the Lord and his Anointed’ (Ps 2.2) is applied to the plots against Jesus and his followers, and Jesus is invoked by the title ‘Lord’ (Ac 4.26-29). Invocation of Jesus as Lord in prayer is of special significance, for worship offered is the determining criterion of divinity.
· A singularly striking instance is at the martyrdom of Stephen, in view of the careful parallel delineated between the death of Jesus and the death of Stephen. Whereas Jesus had asked forgiveness from God for his killers and had died with ‘Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit’ (Lk 23.46) on his lips, Stephen dies saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’ (Ac 7.59) and asks forgiveness for his killers, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’. Whereas Jesus before the Sanhedrin had claimed to share the divine throne – as they thought, blasphemously - ‘From now on the son of man will be seated at the right hand of the power’ (Lk 23.69), now Stephen proclaims, ‘I see the heavens thrown open and the son of man standing at the right hand of God’ (Ac 7.56).
the Old Testament God is the Saviour or Redeemer, a title given to God
especially at the time of the Babylonian Exile, notably in the second part of
Isaiah 41.14; 43.14, but also Jeremiah 50.34. In the New Testament also the
title is normally reserved for God: ‘My spirit rejoices in God my saviour’ (Lk
1.47); ‘God’s power for the salvation of everyone who has faith’ (Rm 1.16); ‘by
the command of God our saviour’ (1 Tm 1.1); ‘to God our saviour alone be glory’
(Jude 25). In the gospels both John and Luke once refer to Jesus as saviour (Lk
2.11, ‘today is born to us a saviour’; Jn 4.42, ‘truly this is the saviour of
the world’). It is not until Acts
that this divine attribute is freely applied to Jesus: 4.12 ‘in none other is
there salvation’; 5.31. ‘God has raised him up to be leader and saviour’ – God
himself has given to Jesus the divine prerogative of being Saviour; 13.23, God
has raised up for
It has often been
claimed that Luke has no soteriology, does not regard the crucifixion as a
saving event. This claim is made chiefly because in his parallel to Mk 10.45//Mt
20.28 he omits the phrase ‘and to give his life as a ransom for many’. It is
more accurate to say that Luke has no doctrine of sacrifice or of
blood-atonement than that he has no soteriology. It is, however, true that in
Acts the stress of salvation is on the resurrection rather than the Cross. Only
once does Paul affirm that salvation is by the Cross, ‘…the
Alexander L, ‘The Book of Acts in its Literary Setting’ in The Book of Acts in its First Century Setting, ed Bruce W. Winter and Andrew D. Clarke (Eerdmans, 1993)
Alexander L, The Preface to Luke’s Gospel, literary conventions and social context in Luke 1.1-4 and Acts 1.1 (Cambridge University Press, 1993)
Aune, David, The New Testament in its Literary Environment (Westminster Press, 1987)
Barrett CK, Acts [International Critical Commentary], (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 2 vols, 1994 and 1998)
Bauckham R, The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting, ed. R. Bauckham (Eerdmans, 1995)
Bowker JW, ‘Speeches in Acts, a study in proem and yelammadenu form’, NTS 14 (1967/8), 96-111
Bowker JW, ‘What Minorities?’ in Mighty Minorities, ed. David Hellholm, etc. (Scandinavian University Press, 1995)
Davies WD and Allison, Dale C, Matthew (ICC, Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1997)
Dodd CH, The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments (1936)
Fitzmyer JW, ‘Pauline theology’ in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Geoffrey Chapman, 1989), article 82
Gourgues M, ‘Lecture christologique de Psaume CX’, Revue biblique 83 (1976), 5-24
Hellholm D, Mighty Minorities, ed. David Hellholm etc (Scandinavian University Press, 1995)
Hurtado L, Lord Jesus Christ (Eerdmans, 2003)
Johnson, Luke Timothy, Acts of the Apostles [Sacra Pagina] (Minneapolis, Liturgical Press, 1992)
Johnson, Luke Timothy, Luke [Sacra Pagina] (Minneapolis, Liturgical Press, 1991)
Keck L, Studies in Luke-Acts, ed.
Klauck H-J, Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 2000)
Klauck H-J, Gemeinde – Amt – Sakrament (Würzburg, Echter, 1989)
Kremer J, Les Actes des Apotres (Leuwen UP, 1979)
Lambrecht J, ‘Paul’s Farewell Address at Miletus’ in J. Kremer (ed.) Les Actes des Apotres (Leuwen UP, 1979)
Légasse S, ‘Paul’s pre-Christian career according to Acts’, in The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting, ed. R. Bauckham (Eerdmans, 1995)
Pervo, Richard I, ‘Must Luke and Acts belong to the same genre?’ Society of Biblical Literature 1989 Seminar Papers, ed. D.J. Lull (Atlanta, Scholars Press, 1989)
Pervo, Richard I, Profit with Delight (Philadelphia, Fortress, 1987)
Sherwin-White AN, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (OUP 1963)
Talbert CH, Literary Pattersn, Theological Themes and the Genre of Luke-Acts (Missoula, Scholars Press, 1974)
Tannehill RC, The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts: a literary interpretation (Philadelphia, Fortress, 1986, 1990)
Taylor J, Les Actes des Deux Apotres (Paris, Gabalda, 1994)
Tuckett C, Christology and the New
Vielhauer P, ‘On the “Paulinism” of Acts’ in Studies in Luke-Acts, ed. Leander E. Keck and J. Louis Martyn (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1966)
Wansbrough H, ‘Jewish Methods of Exegesis in the New Testament’, Studien zum neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt 25 (2000), p. 219-244
Winter, Bruce W, The Book of Acts in its First Century Setting, ed Bruce W. Winter and Andrew D. Clarke (Eerdmans, 1993)
 The identity of the author of these two volumes will be discussed below. The only important question is his relationship to Paul. The traditional identification as ‘the beloved physician’ is founded on Col 4.14 (but it is an open question whether Colossians was written by Paul) and 2 Tm 4.11 (and it is highly doubtful that Second Timothy was written by Paul). In any case, Luke is a form of Lucius, one of the seven most common names in the Roman world. These two Lukes may be different people, and neither indentical with the author of the Gospel and Acts. Similarly, it would be a mistake to unify as one person all those named Mary in the New Testament, or Judas or James, for all were common names.
 It will not be discussed here, but will become increasingly obviously irrefutable in the course of the work, especially from the similarity of literary techniques and of theological approaches. See Tannehill, 1990.
 A theology student of mine once did this so perfectly that he was arrainged for plagiarism until he pointed out that the letters of the melody were those of his music teacher’s name.
 The case from Pliny cited by A.N. Sherwin-White 1963, p. 68, of transfer of a hearing from one city to another of his province is no parallel. The idea of a provocatio in which no charges are preferred (Ac 25.26; 26.32) is unhelpful.
 There is a whole series of links here between the martyrdom of Stephen and the trial and death of Jesus. There is the accusation of blasphemy, the false witnesses, the charge of speaking against the Temple the hearing before the Sanhedrin, the unjustified sentence, removal from the city, forgiveness of the killers, the final words (‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’ and ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’), burial by pious disciples. Highly significant, however, of the difference between the eras is the final commendation no longer to the Father but to the Lord Jesus. Similarly Jesus says at his trial, ‘The son of man will be seated at the right hand of the Power of God’ (Lk 22.69). Stephen, however, proclaims, ‘I can see the heaven thrown open and the son of man standing at the right hand of God’ (Ac 7.56). The son of man is now standing, ready perhaps to receive his witness, perhaps to defend him, at all events, empowered and active.
 Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci
Lectorem delectando pariterque monendo.
 Reinforced in Pervo 1989.
 The flippant style (Paul ‘sipping sherry with the high priests of the imperial cult’, p.10) should not be allowed to alienate.
 International Critical Commentary, Edinburgh, T&T Clark, vol 2 (1998), p.xlix.
 Aune 1987, p. 80.
 H-J Klauck gives valuable background for this in Klauck 1989.
Community of goods had long been a utopian ideal, proposed already in Plato’s Republic
(416, 543B) and mocked by Aristophanes (Eccl. 611-709). It was already
put into practice at
 By this expression nothing is implied about the historicity of the story. The word is used in its original sense of mu/qoj, ‘the story of’, a paradeigmatic or exemplary story, which may be true or false, but vividly conveys the lesson in story form. The perfect example (this claims to be true, but has no pretensions to being historical) is the myth of the Cave in Plato’s Republic, book 6.
 The Greco-Roman world was intrigued by distant
 It is perhaps worth commenting that, according to Acts, the first Christian of Europe is a woman.
 Perhaps too dramatic. The high priest’s writ (Ac 9.2) would
certainly have no authoritative force in
 Vigorous language is used throughout the episode, which disappears in most literary renderings.
 Gourgues 1976.
 De Decalogo, 44
 This is probably an elaborate numerical cryptogram. The Hebrew has ‘t on their foreheads’, a letter written at that time as +. However, t is pronounced ‘taw’, which can also be written wj, which has the same numerical value as the abbreviated name of God, hy. The faithful are to have the name of God plastered on their foreheads (P. Barthélemy, Lecture delivered at Fribourg in 1962).
 The two quotations of the Psalms leave no doubt that the speech was composed in Greek, and with the use of the Greek rather than the Hebrew Bible. Psalm 18.5 in Hebrew reads ‘traps of death’, whereas Peter in 2.24 quotes the Greek ‘pangs of death’. Psalm 16.10 in Hebrew reads ‘you will not allow your holy one to see the pit’, i.e. you will not allow your holy one to be killed, whereas in 2.27 Peter quotes the Greek ‘see corruption’. The argument is not that Jesus was not killed but that his body did not corrupt; it therefore depends on the Greek wording. The speech therefore stems from Luke rather than from Peter.
 This is a most unsatisfactory translation. ‘Upright’ suggests a certain narrow strictness. ‘Righteous’ is no better, for it has no meaning at all outside ‘churchy’ language. The Greek word di,kaioj designates God’s faithfulness to his promises, his total reliability. God does not give me my deserts, as human justice would dictate, but overlooks my infidelity and gives me what he promised in the Covenant. This ‘justice’/‘uprightness’/‘righteousness’ is the heart of all Covenant theology, expressed most clearly in Romans 3.21-26.
 Pai/j is a good deal more intimate, affectionate and closer than ‘Servant’, but – somewhat as ‘Boy!’ could be used in colonial English to a servant – it can mean ‘servant’ as well as ‘child’, and is used in the LXX of these passages to translate the Hebrew db[. These poems might well be more appropriately named ‘The Songs of the Child of the Lord’.
 The allusion is clear only in the Hebrew of Is 53.12 ‘poured out to death’ twml hr[h, a verb used specifically of the sacrificial outpouring of blood. It is obscured by the LXX translation paredo,qh ‘he was handed over’, and consequently does not surface in many English translations. See Davies and Allison 1997, vol 3, p. 474.
 This intervention of the Pharisee Gamaliel is usually considered to represent for Luke a voice dissentient from the Sadducees and favourable to the apostles. He was, after all, Paul’s teacher (Ac 22.3), and his championing of the cause would be for Luke both a demonstration of his wisdom and an instance of support in high places (as 13.1, 12; 16.14; 17.12, 34). Luke Timothy Johnson, however, insists that he was as bad as the rest of them (Johnson 1992, p. 99, 102-3) – perhaps merely more cynical. At all events, it does not divert them from the illogical flogging which gives the apostles ‘the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name’.
 The reconstruction is made by Bowker 1967/8. Since the actual texts are not quoted in the sermon, it must necessariily remain hypothetical. However, some Jewish exegetical techniques are certainly evident: the o`,sia o`,sion in verses 34 and 35 (‘holy things’, ‘Holy One’) are strung together in a manner typical of gezerah shawa, one of the established rules of Jewish exegesis.
 James’ use of Amos 9.12 (Ac 15.17a) requires the Greek rather than
the Hebrew text of Amos. The standard Hebrew text reads ‘
 Bowker 1995.
 Plutarch, Moralia 516C uses the image of a pretentious ignoramus who has picked up a few random ideas from Socrates.
 Loveday Alexander gives a full account of the comparison of Paul to Socrates in Acts in Alexander 1993. She instances the divine call, the accusation of introducing new gods, the catalogue of labours, persecution and mockery, trial and defence, and prison-scenes.
 Commentators from Jerome onwards all point out that all known versions of this inscription are plural, ‘To Unknown Gods’. Luke is surely expressing his own theology, and helping Paul’s position, by putting it in the singular.
 Pi,stin parascw.n pa/sin, v. 31
 Zwh.n kai, pnoh.n, v. 25
 Pa,ntaj pavntacou/, v. 30
 The account of Paul’s stays at
 The frequency of its mention in Paul’s own letters shows his
concern. It was to be the great act of reconciliation, a tribute by the gentile
churches to the mother-church at Jerusalem, recognising their indebtedness to
the source of their faith, persuading the Jerusalem community that the gentile
communities (and, more importantly, their leader and founder, Paul, who had had
such violent and unreconciled disagreements with Peter and with James’ agents
both in Antioch and Galatia) were fully Christian. When Paul reaches
 See my article, Wansbrough 2000.
 Would he have had the authority to convene a meeting of the Sanhedrin, and as a gentile would he have been permitted to be present (22.30)?
 They lived together – in what sense is not entirely clear, but it gave a good deal of scandal.
 Three translations have been suggested for this gibe: ‘You want to persuade me that you have made me a Christian in a moment’ or ‘You are persuading me in a moment to play the Christian’ or ‘You are confident that you are making me a Christian in a moment.’ I find the irony of the last best suits the scene.
 Fitzmyer 1992, #64
 A particularly important clue is given by Ac 16.7, where the Spirit is called ‘the Spirit of Jesus’. This suggests that by the presence of the Spirit Jesus himself is present and guiding the community and its representatives. This gives the lie to Christopher Tuckett’s contention that, by contrast to Matthew and John, the Christology of Acts is an ‘absentee Christology’ (Tuckett, 2001, p. 144).
 Hans-Josef Klauck quotes other examples in Klauck 2000, p. 51.
 This is a convention in hellenistic writing. According to Pliny,
Scipio Africanus was also summoned to Africa by a similar vision of a woman
 Philipp Vielhauer, in Vielhauer 1966, regards such statements as Ac 13.33 as ‘adoptionist’, and comments that ‘the author of Acts is in his Christology pre-Pauline’ (p. 48). I fail to see the force of either comment.
 The Infancy Narratives, where Luke is composing freely, without the Vorlage of Mark, provide a privileged view of Luke’s own theology.
 In the earliest manuscripts there are no divisions between words. If this is read ‘marana tha’ it means ‘Come, Lord!’; if it is read ‘maran atha’ is means ‘The Lord is coming’.
 L. Hurtado, in his excellent discussion in Hurtado 2003, p. 179-183, proclaims enthusiastically, ‘It is, however, an absolutely more stunning move still for early Christians to have taken the biblical expression that means the cultic worship of God as referring also to cultic acclamation/invocation of Jesus’, p. 181.
 See also p. 19 for Luke’s use of the term.
 And in the later writings of the New Testament, where indiscriminately God (1 Tm 1.1; 2.3, 13; Ti 1.3; 2.10; 3.4) and Jesus (2 Tm 1.10; Ti 1.4; 2.13; 2 Pt 1.1, 11; 2.20; 3.2, 18) are called ‘Saviour’.