THE BOOK OF ACTS,

THE GOSPEL, AND THE GOSPELS

 

I.  ACTS:  Normative Model of Conversion/Church Growth/Leadership, etc.

Acts is composed of six sections which give the narrative a continually forward movement from its Jewish setting in Jerusalem toward a predominantly Gentile setting, and with Rome, the capital of the Gentile world, as its goal (read Isaiah 6, Matthew 13, and Acts 28)

 

1.  1.1 – 6.7  Description of the primitive Church in Jerusalem.  Section ends with existence of a division between Greek-speaking and Aramaic-speaking believers.

2.  6.8 – 9.31  First geographical expansion.  Stephen’s martyrdom and Paul’s conversion are keys to initial expansion.

3.  9.32 – 12.24  Description of the first expansion to the Gentiles.  Keys are conversion of Cornelius and the Church at Antioch (chp. 13).

4.  12.25 – 16.5   Description of first geographical expansion into the Gentile world, with Paul in leadership.  Keys are the Jerusalem council (chp. 15; compare with Romans and Galatians).

5.  16.6 – 19.20  Deeper expansion into the Gentile world, now into Europe.  Repeatedly the Jews reject and the Gentiles welcome the Gospel.

6.  19.21 – 28.30  Events that move Paul to Rome.  Three accounts of Paul’s trials.

 

Try reading Acts with this sense of movement in view to see for yourself whether this seems to capture what is going on (note especially the last paragraph

 

Then re-read Acts with two features in view:  (1) The growth vocabulary; and (2) Nature of the hindrances to the growth of the Church.

2.42 – prostithemi – were added, aorist tense.

2.47 – prostithemi – kept on adding, imperfect tense (4.4, came to be, aorist tense)

5.14 – prostithemi – kept on adding, imperfect (6.1 – plathunonton, continual multiplication – present participle (see also 5.13, tolma)

6.7 -    aukzano – increased, imperfect tense (inner, quality growth)

                        plathuno – multiplied, imperfect tense (outside, quantity growth)

                        sphodra – greatly, explosively

9.31          oikodomoumena – continually being built up – present passive participle

                        poreuomena – continually walking, a living pattern

                        eplathuneto – kept on multiplying (11.21 polus to arithmos, a great number)

                        epistrepho – turned, aorist (11.24 – prostithemi, was added, aorist 2.41)

12.24      aukzona – grew, kept on growing, imperfect (quality)

                        plathuno – multiplied, kept on multiplying, imperfect (quality)

16.5          atrepho – strengthened continually – imperfect (quality)

                        perisseuo – continued to increase, imperfect (quality) (increased daily)

19.20      kratos – mightily – adverb meaning power with force

                        aukzona – imperfect (qualitative growth, Luke 1.80, Ephesians 4.16, Acts 6.7)

                        iscus – prevailed – imperfect (quality, resistance overcome by power)

28.31     kerusso – continually preaching, present participle

                        didasko – continually teaching – present participle

                        parresias – adverb boldness – with full conviction – RSV, openly

                        akolutos – adverb unhinderedly – used 7 times in Acts, 25 times in the New Testament

 

II.  The Gospel and The Gospels:  Jesus is the Gospel; the four Gospels are written, inspired records about Jesus from his Birth to the Ascension/Commission.

 

1.  The historical context of Jesus (cf. I Cor 7.10; 9.14; Acts 20.35).

 

2.  Historical context of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

 

3.   Inspiration and Word/Grammar, etc. agreement;

 

4.  Old Testament roots of the New Testament concept of euangelion, Hebrew besorah – reward for good news; II Samuel 4.10; euangelizomai – Matthew 11.5; Luke/Acts (25) Paul (21); Hebrews (2); Peter (3); euangelizo – Revelation (2); in Johannine literature, martyreo/martyria used.  In Matthew, Mark, and Luke euangelion is the name given good news about Jesus Christ (Mark 1.1,14).  “The Gospel of the Kingdom” Jesus is the content; the Church passes it on by witnessing in Matthew 4.23; 9.35; 24.14; 26.13; euangelion – Acts 15.7; 20.24; I Peter 1.12; II Timothy 1.10-11; 2.8; Ephesians 2.17; 6.15; 3.1-9; 1.13; Romans 2.16; the New Testament knows only “The Gospel” (Galatians 1.ff); no plural in the New Testament; after the second century the Gospels refers to our written Gospels.

 

                                                                                                James Strauss

                                                                                                Lincoln Christian Seminary

                                                                                                Lincoln, IL 62656