EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 1)

After writing his gospel, “about all the things Jesus began to do and teach,” Luke begins Acts by recalling the morning of the Ascension when the Lord gave final instructions to His chosen apostles.

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INTRODUCTION

LESSON 1

ACTS 1:1-3

1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. [Acts 1:1-2]

Luke refers here to the Gospel which bears His name as the first of a two volume work. Though many accounts of the Lord’s life and teachings had previously existed in various forms and lengths from which to draw, Luke set out to write the definitive gospel. He would attempt to write the story sequentially, “in consecutive order,” fill in any gaps, and put the previous accounts into a workable whole. All agree that he did a masterful job. He would do the same with The Acts of the Apostles, though would also act as his own historical eyewitness on many occasions, which was not the case previously.

The “beloved physician” was a man of culture. As he did in the introduction to his gospel, he refers to an eminent associate named Theophilus, who likely lent his assistance and donated funding for the project. This man, whom Luke refers to in his gospel as the equivalent of “your excellency,” was probably a Gentile believer who held a relatively high office. Acts begins as if a letter to a friend recounting the life of the Lord Jesus until His Ascension into heaven. Luke uses the final instructions of the Lord to His close disciples as a starting point for his second volume, which draws in the reader and sets the tone for an energizing new phase of ministry in which all believers would participate in taking the Gospel to the entire world.

3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. [Acts 1:3] [1]

Luke reiterates the vast body of eyewitnesses who experienced the Lord’s living presence for almost six weeks after His resurrection. The apostle Paul said they were at least five hundred in number. These many accounts give conclusive proof of His resurrection as do manifold thousands of Jews embracing Him as Savior and Messiah. He was not a ghost but fully human and able to perfectly relate and communicate as He had before. God became manifest in flesh and remains so today.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on March 30, 2020, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Thank you for this informative post about the historical background of the apostle Luke. When I was in high school I studied both Luke and Acts together. Your post brings back memories.

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  2. thank you RJ!
    “eyewitnesses who experienced the Lord’s living presence”
    changes everything! one taste of the glory and everything changes then we have to work it out with fear and trembling as God works in us and through us; blessed to be a blessing!
    God bless you!

    Like

    • Thanks Yvonne! I remember very early on in my walk an older brother was in an animated discussion with another about some witnessing he had been doing. I’ll never forget the punchline, “You can’t argue with a man with an experience!”

      Blessings to you too!

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      • “You can’t argue with a man with an experience!” so true! no one can change our minds when we know beyond knowledge, beyond understanding, God’s Love, Power, Mind and Thoughts for us! “O how I love Jesus; because He first loved me!”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Luke’s writing is rich, detailed, meticulous–everything one would expect from a medical man 🙂 Looking forward to reading more, trying to catch up today!

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