A medical doc wrote this anonymous book, if early Christian writers in the AD 100s got the story right. They say Acts is Part Two of a two-part history of how the Christian religion started. The Gospel of Luke is Part One.
The story started with Jesus. And the Gospel of Luke is a well-written account of highlights from the life and ministry of Jesus, from his birth in what amounts to a barn, to his death on a Roman cross, followed by his resurrection and his ascension into the sky.
Acts is the story of what happened next. Jesus told his followers to wait in Jerusalem for God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, who would give them the motivation and the power to launch the movement that became Christianity.
When that happened, the disciples were suddenly able to speak in foreign languages. They boldly used that gift to tell the story of Jesus to the thousands of Jews who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest festival of Pentecost.
Peter preached a sermon laced in prophecies and miracles. He convinced some 3,000 Jews to join the movement, embracing Jesus as the Messiah.
Most of the book tells the story of Paul, an intolerant Jewish traditionalist who converted to Christianity after he saw a vision of Jesus. Paul went on to spread Christian teachings to cities throughout what is now Syria, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
If a physician named Luke wrote the book, as most Bible scholars agree that he did, some of the stories are eyewitness reports. Luke traveled with Paul on some of the trips, as Paul reports in his letters.
Anonymous. Early Christian writers say Luke wrote this book along with its prequel, the Gospel of Luke. Luke, who wasn’t Jewish, traveled with the apostle Paul on mission trips. Paul said Luke was a dearly loved doctor (Colossians 4:14). And Luke may also have been the only non-Jew to write anything that ended up in the Bible.
Acts covers about 30 years, from the time Jesus left the planet in the Ascension (about AD 30-33) until Paul finds himself under arrest in Rome in the early AD 60s. Many Bible experts say Luke wrote his story of Jesus and the birth of the church about the time of Paul’s arrest. The book ends with Paul under arrest and waiting for his trial in Caesar’s supreme court. Others say Luke wrote a decade or two after that.
The story starts in Jerusalem where Christianity emerges as a movement within the Jewish religion. Paul takes the story of Jesus on the road where he converts Jews and non-Jews alike in cities throughout what is now Syria, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and its sequel, Acts, to a man known only as Theophilus. For more about him, see the related footnote in the Casual English Bible and the first discussion question in the Leader’s Guide.