Bible ConcordanceActs (271 Occurrences)
Matthew 6:1 "But beware of doing your good actions in the sight of men, in order to attract their gaze; if you do, there is no reward for you with your Father who is in Heaven. (See NIV)
Matthew 7:24 "Every one who hears these my teachings and acts upon them will be found to resemble a wise man who builds his house upon rock; (WEY NAS)
Matthew 18:15 "If your brother acts wrongly towards you, go and point out his fault to him when only you and he are there. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (WEY)
Mark 7:22 The taking of goods and of life, broken faith between husband and wife, the desire of wealth, wrongdoing, deceit, sins of the flesh, an evil eye, angry words, pride, foolish acts: (BBE)
Mark 14:7 For you always have the poor among you, and whenever you choose you can do acts of kindness to them; but me you have not always. (WEY)
Luke 1:51 With his arm he has done acts of power; he has put to flight those who have pride in their hearts. (BBE)
Luke 1:72 To do acts of mercy to our fathers and to keep in mind his holy word, (BBE)
Luke 3:8 Make clear by your acts that your hearts have been changed; and do not say to yourselves, We have Abraham for our father: for I say to you that God is able from these stones to make children of Abraham. (BBE)
Luke 3:14 And men of the army put questions to him, saying, And what have we to do? And he said to them, Do no violent acts to any man, and do not take anything without right, and let your payment be enough for you. (BBE)
Luke 6:47 Everyone who comes to me, and hears my words, and does them, I will show you who he is like. (See NAS)
Luke 17:3 Be on your guard. "If your brother acts wrongly, reprove him; and if he is sorry, forgive him; (WEY)
Luke 17:4 and if seven times in a day he acts wrongly towards you, and seven times turns again to you and says, 'I am sorry,' you must forgive him." (WEY)
Luke 23:41 And with reason; for we have the right reward of our acts, but this man has done nothing wrong. (BBE)
Luke 23:51 (He had not given his approval to their decision or their acts), of Arimathaea, a town of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God: (BBE)
Luke 24:19 And he said to them, What things? And they said, The things to do with Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet, great in his acts and his words, before God and all the people: (BBE)
John 3:19 And this is the test by which men are judged: the light has come into the world and men have more love for the dark than for the light, because their acts are evil. (BBE)
John 3:20 The light is hated by everyone whose acts are evil and he does not come to the light for fear that his acts will be seen. (BBE)
John 3:21 But he whose life is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his acts have been done by the help of God. (BBE)
John 7:4 For no one acts in secret, desiring all the while to be himself known publicly. Since you are doing these things, show yourself openly to the world." (WEY NIV)
John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister, Martha. The Acts of the Apostles (WEB)
Acts 8:13 and Simon also himself did believe, and, having been baptized, he was continuing with Philip, beholding also signs and mighty acts being done, he was amazed. (YLT)
Acts 9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which when translated, means Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and acts of mercy which she did. (WEB BBE YLT RSV)
Acts 10:2 pious, and fearing God with all his house, doing also many kind acts to the people, and beseeching God always, (YLT)
Acts 10:4 and he having looked earnestly on him, and becoming afraid, said, 'What is it, Lord?' And he said to him, 'Thy prayers and thy kind acts came up for a memorial before God, (YLT)
Acts 10:31 and he said, Cornelius, thy prayer was heard, and thy kind acts were remembered before God; (YLT)
Acts 10:38 It tells how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, so that He went about everywhere doing acts of kindness, and curing all who were being continually oppressed by the Devil--for God was with Jesus. (WEY)
Acts 19:18 And a number of those who had faith came and made a public statement of their sins and all their acts. (BBE YLT)
Acts 24:17 And after many years I came, about to do kind acts to my nation, and offerings, (YLT)
Romans 1:27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error. (See NAS RSV NIV)
Romans 4:7 Happy they whose lawless acts were forgiven, and whose sins were covered; (YLT)
Romans 8:35 Who will come between us and the love of Christ? Will trouble, or pain, or cruel acts, or the need of food or of clothing, or danger, or the sword? (BBE)
Romans 12:8 or he who exhorts, to his exhorting: he who gives, let him do it with liberality; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (See RSV)
Romans 13:13 Let us walk properly, as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and lustful acts, and not in strife and jealousy. (WEB)
1 Corinthians 5:8 Let us then keep the feast, not with old leaven, and not with the leaven of evil thoughts and acts, but with the unleavened bread of true thoughts and right feelings. (BBE)
2 Corinthians 2:8 For which cause my desire is that you will make your love to him clear by your acts. (BBE)
2 Corinthians 11:6 But though I am rough in my way of talking, I am not so in knowledge, as we have made clear to all by our acts among you. (BBE)
2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an Apostle were done among you in quiet strength, with wonders and acts of power. (BBE)
Galatians 3:5 He, therefore, who is supplying to you the Spirit, and working mighty acts among you -- by works of law or by the hearing of faith 'is it'? (YLT)
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, a quiet mind, kind acts, well-doing, faith, (BBE)
Ephesians 4:6 and one God and Father of all, who rules over all, acts through all, and dwells in all. (WEY)
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitter, sharp and angry feeling, and noise, and evil words, be put away from you, with all unkind acts; (BBE)
Ephesians 5:3 But evil acts of the flesh and all unclean things, or desire for others' property, let it not even be named among you, as is right for saints; (BBE)
Ephesians 6:6 Let it not be in acts of eye-service as if you had but to please men, but as Christ's bondservants who are doing God's will from the heart. (WEY)
Philippians 2:13 For it is God who is the cause of your desires and of your acts, for his good pleasure. (BBE)
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, be obedient in everything to your earthly masters; not in acts of eye service, as aiming only to please men, but with simplicity of purpose, because you fear the Lord. (WEY)
1 Thessalonians 1:3 Having ever in mind your work of faith and acts of love and the strength of your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father; (BBE)
1 Timothy 1:13 Though I had said violent words against God, and done cruel acts, causing great trouble: but I was given mercy, because I did it without knowledge, not having faith; (BBE)
Titus 1:16 They say that they have knowledge of God, while by their acts they are turning their backs on him; they are hated by all, hard-hearted, and judged to be without value for any good work. (BBE)
Hebrews 2:4 God bearing, besides, witness with them to it, both by signs and wonders, and various acts of power, and distributions of the Holy Spirit, according to his will? (DBY)
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the teaching of the first principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection-not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, (See NIV)
Hebrews 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (See NIV)
Hebrews 10:17 "I will remember their sins and their iniquities no more." (See NIV)
Hebrews 10:33 In part, in being attacked by angry words and cruel acts, before the eyes of everyone, and in part, in being united with those who were attacked in this way. (BBE)
James 1:25 But he who goes on looking into the true law which makes him free, being not a hearer without memory but a doer putting it into effect, this man will have a blessing on his acts. (BBE RSV)
James 2:12 Let your words and your acts be those of men who are to be judged by the law which makes free. (BBE)
1 Peter 1:17 And if you give the name of Father to him who, judging every man by his acts, has no respect for a man's position, then go in fear while you are on this earth: (BBE)
2 Peter 3:11 All these, then, being dissolved, what kind of persons doth it behove you to be in holy behaviours and pious acts? (YLT)
1 John 2:29 Since you know that He is righteous, be assured also that the man who habitually acts righteously is a child of His. (WEY)
Jude 1:15 To be the judge of all, and to give a decision against all those whose lives are unpleasing to him, because of the evil acts which they have done, and because of all the hard things which sinners without fear of God have said against him. (BBE NIV)
Revelation 15:4 Who wouldn't fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you only are holy. For all the nations will come and worship before you. For your righteous acts have been revealed." (WEB ASV YLT NAS NIV)
Revelation 17:2 with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality, and those who dwell in the earth were made drunken with the wine of her sexual immorality." (See NAS)
Revelation 18:9 The kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived wantonly with her, will weep and wail over her, when they look at the smoke of her burning, (See NAS)
Revelation 19:8 It was given to her that she would array herself in bright, pure, fine linen: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (WEB ASV YLT NAS NIV)
Revelation 22:11 He who acts unjustly, let him act unjustly still. He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. He who is righteous, let him do righteousness still. He who is holy, let him be holy still." (WEB)
Genesis 18:21 I will go down now, and see if their acts are as bad as they seem from the outcry which has come to me; and if they are not, I will see. (BBE)
Genesis 32:10 I have been unworthy of all the kind acts, and of all the truth which Thou hast done with thy servant -- for, with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. (YLT)
Exodus 6:6 Therefore tell the children of Israel,'I am Yahweh, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments: (See RSV NIV)
Exodus 7:4 But Pharaoh will not listen to you, and I will lay my hand on Egypt, and bring forth my armies, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. (See RSV NIV)
Exodus 21:14 If a man schemes and comes presumptuously on his neighbor to kill him, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die. (See NAS)
Leviticus 5:15 "If anyone commits a trespass, and sins unwittingly, in the holy things of Yahweh; then he shall bring his trespass offering to Yahweh, a ram without blemish from the flock, according to your estimation in silver by shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering. (See NAS)
Leviticus 6:2 If anyone does wrong, and is untrue to the Lord, acting falsely to his neighbour in connection with something put in his care, or something given for a debt, or has taken away anything by force, or has been cruel to his neighbour, (See NAS)
Leviticus 6:4 Causing sin to come on him, then he will have to give back the thing he took by force or got by cruel acts, or the goods which were put in his care or the thing he came on by chance, (BBE)
Numbers 5:12 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: If any man's wife go aside, and act unfaithfully against him, (See RSV)
Deuteronomy 3:24 "Lord Yahweh, you have begun to show your servant your greatness, and your strong hand: for what god is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to your works, and according to your mighty acts? (WEB JPS ASV BBE NAS RSV)
Deuteronomy 11:3 And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land; (KJV DBY WBS)
Deuteronomy 11:7 But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did. (KJV WBS)
Deuteronomy 17:12 And the man who acteth with presumption, so as not to hearken unto the priest (who is standing to serve there Jehovah thy God), or unto the judge, even that man hath died, and thou hast put away the evil thing from Israel, (See NAS RSV)
Deuteronomy 25:16 For all who do such things, even all who do unrighteously, are an abomination to Yahweh your God. (See NAS)
Deuteronomy 34:12 And in all the acts of power and fear which Moses did before the eyes of all Israel. (BBE)
Judges 5:11 Far from the noise of archers, in the places of drawing water, there they will rehearse the righteous acts of Yahweh, Even the righteous acts of his rule in Israel. "Then the people of Yahweh went down to the gates. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE WBS YLT NIV)
1 Samuel 2:3 Say no more words of pride; let not uncontrolled sayings come out of your mouths: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, by him acts are judged. (BBE)
1 Samuel 12:7 Now therefore stand still, that I may plead with you before Yahweh concerning all the righteous acts of Yahweh, which he did to you and to your fathers. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
1 Samuel 19:4 And Jonathan gave his father Saul a good account of David, and said to him, Let not the king do wrong against his servant, against David; because he has done you no wrong, and all his acts have had a good outcome for you: (BBE)
2 Samuel 23:20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow: (KJV BBE WBS)
2 Samuel 23:22 These were the acts of Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, who had a great name among the thirty men of war. (BBE)
1 Kings 10:6 She said to the king, "It was a true report that I heard in my own land of your acts, and of your wisdom. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE WBS)
1 Kings 11:41 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, aren't they written in the book of the acts of Solomon? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 14:19 The rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 14:29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 15:7 The rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? There was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 15:23 Now the rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities which he built, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? But in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 15:31 Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 16:5 Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 16:13 Because of all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, which they did and made Israel do, moving the Lord, the God of Israel, to wrath by their foolish acts. (BBE)
1 Kings 16:14 Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 16:20 Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and his treason that he did, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 16:27 Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and his might that he showed, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 22:39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he built, and all the cities that he built, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
1 Kings 22:45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
2 Kings 1:18 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV)
ThesaurusActs (271 Occurrences)...
Easton's Bible Dictionary Acts
of the Apostles. The title now given to the
fifth and last of the historical books of the New Testament. .../a/acts.htm - 101k
Sailing (23 Occurrences)
...Acts 18:18 And Paul having remained yet a good many days, having taken leave of
the brethren, was sailing to Syria -- and with him 'are' Priscilla and Aquilas ...
/s/sailing.htm - 13k
Sailed (28 Occurrences)
...Acts 13:4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia. ...Acts
15:39 Then the contention grew so sharp that they separated from each other. ...
/s/sailed.htm - 14k
Surname (11 Occurrences)
... In the New Testament the word is used in the case of Peter-Simon whose surname is
Peter (Acts 10:5, 32; Acts 11:13); of Mark-John whose surname was Mark (Acts...
/s/surname.htm - 12k
Sect (10 Occurrences)
... hairesis, usually rendered "heresy", Acts 24:14; 1 Chronicles 11:19; Galatians
5:20, etc.), meaning properly "a choice," then "a chosen manner of life," and ...
/s/sect.htm - 13k
Visit (97 Occurrences)
... (See NIV). Acts 7:12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt,
he sent out our fathers the first time. (See NIV). Acts 7 ...
/v/visit.htm - 36k
Armed (147 Occurrences)
...Acts 12:4 And having taken him, he put him in prison, with four bands of armed men
to keep watch over him; his purpose being to take him out to the people ...
/a/armed.htm - 38k
Space (98 Occurrences)
...Acts 1:3 To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs,
appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things ...
/s/space.htm - 37k
Spent (76 Occurrences)
... (See NIV). Acts 9:19 He took food and was strengthened. ... (See NAS NIV). Acts 14:28
They stayed there with the disciples for a long time. (See NAS). ...
/s/spent.htm - 28k
Kindred (41 Occurrences)
... Chronicles 16:28 Job 32:2 Psalm 22:27; Psalm 96:7). In the New Testament (several
times), genos, "kindred by birth," so, of same family, tribe or race (Acts 4:6 ...
/k/kindred.htm - 21k
Greek2321. Theophilos -- "friend of God," Theophilus, the addressee of ... ...
<< 2320, 2321. Theophilos. 2322 >>. "friend of God," Theophilus, the addressee of
Luke and Acts
. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: Theophilos ... /greek/2321.htm - 6k
11. Abraam -- Abraham, the Heb. patriarch
... Abraham. Of Hebrew origin ('Abraham); Abraham, the Hebrew patriarch -- Abraham.
(In Acts 7:16 the text should probably read Jacob.). see HEBREW 'Abraham. ...
/greek/11.htm - 6k
808. aschemosune -- unseemliness
... proper). Word Origin from aschemon Definition unseemliness NASB Word Usage
indecent acts (1), shame (1). shame, that which is unseemly. ...
/greek/808.htm - 7k
4160. poieo -- to make, do
... word Definition to make, do NASB Word Usage accomplished (1), act (4), acted (3),
acting (1), acts (2), appointed (3), away* (1), bear (5), bearing (1), bears ...
/greek/4160.htm - 14k
5195. hubrizo -- to run riot, to outrage, insult
... This expresses the work of "one whose insolence and contempt of others breaks
forth in wanton and outrageous acts" (K. Wuest,, 34). ...
/greek/5195.htm - 7k
5113. tolmetes -- a bold, daring man
... Cognate: 5113 -- literally, darers, very bold people who what make them afraid,
ie as they blatantly (boldly) practice their vile, disrespectful acts. ...
/greek/5113.htm - 6k
1345. dikaioma -- an ordinance, a sentence of acquittal or ...
... righteous deed NASB Word Usage act of righteousness (1), justification (1), ordinance
(1), regulations (2), requirement (1), requirements (2), righteous acts (2 ...
/greek/1345.htm - 8k
476. antidikos -- an opponent, adversary
... acts as such an adversary, bringing the "(law)suit" of darkness against believers
for their eternal damnation (cf. 1 Pet 5:8). this is (Jn 19:30)! ...
/greek/476.htm - 8k
4118. pleistos -- most, very great, much.
... 4118 (" many," " much") means (). : Mt 11:20: " (4118 ) powerful acts" -- "Literally,
'His mighty works' -- if (Moulton, , 79; Robertson, , 670)" (, 1, 90). ...
/greek/4118.htm - 7k
2714. katenopion -- over against
... Zodhiates, ). 2714 ("in the presence of") refers to God -- the one who
always acts in conjunction (which is always ). Word Origin ...
/greek/2714.htm - 7k
International Standard Bible EncyclopediaACTS OF SOLOMON
"The book of the acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:41), probably a history based on the state documents kept by the official recorder. See 1 Kings 14:19, 29; 1 Kings 15:23, 31; 16:5, 14, 20, 27; 22:39, 45, etc.
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
a-pos'-ls: I. TITLE II. TEXT III. UNITY OF THE BOOK IV. THE AUTHOR V. CANONICITY VI. DATE VII. SOURCES USED BY LUKE VIII. THE SPEECHES IN THE ACTS IX. RELATION OF ACTS TO THE EPISTLES X. CHRONOLOGY OF ACTS XI. HISTORICAL WORTH OF ACTS XII. PURPOSE OF THE BOOK XIII. ANALYSIS LITERATURE
It is possible, indeed probable, that the book originally had no title. The manuscripts give the title in several forms. Aleph (in the inscription) has merely "Acts" (Praxeis). So Tischendorf, while Origen, Didymus, Eusebius quote from "The Acts." But BD Aleph (in subscription) have "Acts of Apostles" or "The Acts of the Apostles" (Praxeis Apostolon). So Westcott and Hort, Nestle (compare Athanasius and Euthalius). Only slightly different is the title in 31, 61, and many other cursives (Praxeis ton Apostolon, "Acts of the Apostles"). So Griesbach, Scholz. Several fathers (Clement of Alex, Origen, Dionysius of Alex, Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom) quote it as "The Acts of the Apostles" (Hai Praxeis ton Apostolon). Finally A2 EGH give it in the form "Acts of the Holy Apostles" (Praxeis ton Hagion Apostolon). The Memphitic version has "The Acts of the Holy Apostles." Clearly, then, there was no single title that commanded general acceptance.
(1) The chief documents. These are the Primary Uncials (Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, Codex Bezae), Codex Laudianus (E) which is a bilingual Uncial confined to Acts, later Uncials like Codex Modena, Codex Regius, Codex the Priestly Code (P), the Cursives, the Vulgate, the Peshitta and the Harclean Syriac and quotations from the Fathers. We miss the Curetonian and Syriac Sinaiticus, and have only fragmentary testimony from the Old Latin. (2) The modern editions of Acts present the types of text (Textus Receptus; the Revised Version (British and American); the critical text like that of Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek or Nestle or Weiss or von Soden). These three types do not correspond with the four classes of text (Syrian, Western, Alexandrian, Neutral) outlined by Hort in his Introduction to the New Testament in Greek (1882). These four classes are broadly represented in the documents which give us Acts. But no modern editor of the Greek New Testament has given us the Western or the Alexandrian type of text, though Bornemann, as will presently be shown, argues for the originality of the Western type in Acts. But the Textus Receptus of the New Testament (Stephanus' 3rd edition in 1550) was the basis of the King James Version of 1611. This edition of the Greek New Testament made use of a very few manuscripts, and all of them late, except Codex Bezae, which was considered too eccentric to follow. Practically, then, the King James Version represents the Syriac type of text which may have been edited in Antioch in the 4th century. Various minor errors may have crept in since that date, but substantially the Syriac recension is the text of the King James Version today. Where this text stands alone, it is held by nearly all modern scholars to be in error, though Dean Burgon fought hard for the originality of the Syriac text (The Revision Revised, 1882). The text of Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek is practically that of Codex Vaticanus, which is held to be the Neutral type of text. Nestle, von Soden, Weiss do not differ greatly from the text of Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek, though von Soden and Weiss attack the problem on independent lines. The text of the Revised Version (British and American) is in a sense a compromise between that of the King James Version and the critical text, though coming pretty close to the critical text. Compare Whitney, The Reviser's Greek Text, 1892. For a present-day appreciation of this battle of the texts see J. Rendel Harris, Side Lights on the New Testament, 1908. For a detailed comparison between the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) Acts see Rackham, The Acts of the Apostles, xxii.
(3) In Acts the Western type of text has its chief significance. It is the meet of the late Friedrich Blass, the famous classicist of Germany, to have shown that in Luke's writings (Gospel and Acts) the Western class (especially D) has its most marked characteristics. This fact is entirely independent of theory advanced by Blass which will be cussed directly. The chief modern revolt against theories of Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek is the new interest felt in the value of the Western type of text. In particular Codex Bezae has come to the front in the Book of Acts. The feeble support that Codex Bezae has in its peculiar readings in Acts (due to absence of Curetonian Syriac and of the Old Latin) makes it difficult always to estimate the value of this document. But certainly these readings deserve careful consideration, and some of them may be correct, whatever view one holds of the Codex Bezae text. The chief variations are, as is usual with the Western text, additions and paraphrases. Some of the prejudice against Codex Bezae has disappeared as a result of modern discussion.
(4) Bornemann in 1848 argued that Codex Bezae in Acts represented the original text. But he has had very few followers.
(5) J. Rendel Harris (1891) sought to show that Codex Bezae (itself a bilingual MS) had been Latinized. He argued that already in 150 A.D. a bilingual manuscript existed. But this theory has not won a strong following.
(6) Chase (1893) sought to show that the peculiarities were due to translation from the Syriac.
(7) Blass in 1895 created a sensation by arguing in his Commentary on Acts (Acta Apostolorum, 24) that Luke had issued two editions of the Acts, as he later urged about the Gospel of Luke (Philology of the Gospels, 1898). In 1896 Blass published this Roman form of the text of Acts (Acta Apostolorum, secundum Formam quae videtur Romanam). Blass calls this first, rough, unabridged copy of Acts (beta) and considers that it was issued at Rome. The later edition, abridged and revised, he calls alpha. Curiously enough, in Acts 11:28, Codex Bezae has "when we had gathered together," making Luke present at Antioch. The idea of two editions is not wholly original with Blass. Leclerc, a Dutch philologist, had suggested the notion as early as the beginning of the 18th century. Bishop Lightfoot had also mentioned it (On a Fresh Revision of the New Testament, 29). But Blass worked the matter out and challenged the world of scholarship with his array of arguments. He has not carried his point with all, though he has won a respectable following. Zahn (Einl, II, 338, 1899) had already been working toward the same view (348). He accepts in the main Blass' theory, as do Belser, Nestle, Salmon, Zockler. Blass acknowledges his debt to Corssen (Der cyprianische Text der Acta Apostolorum, 1892), but Corssen considers the alpha text as the earlier and the beta text as a later revision.
(8) Hilgenfeld (Acta Apostolorum, etc., 1899) accepts the notion of two edd, but denies identity of authorship.
(9) Schmiedel (Encyclopedia Biblica) vigorously and at much length attacks Blass' position, else "the conclusions reached in the foregoing sections would have to be withdrawn." He draws his conclusions and then demolishes Blass! He does find weak spots in Blass' armor as others have done (B. Weiss, Der Codex D in der Apostelgeschichte, 1897; Page, Class. Rev., 1897; Harnack, The Acts of the Apostles, 1909, 45). See also Knowling, The Acts of the Apostles, 1900, 47, for a sharp indictment of Blass' theory as being too simple and lacking verification.
(10) Harnack (The Acts of the Apostles, 48) doubts if Luke himself formally published the book. He thinks that he probably did not give the book a final revision, and that friends issued two or more editions He considers that the so-called beta recension has a "series of interpolations" and so is later than the alpha text.
(11) Ramsay (The Church in the Roman Empire, 150; Paul the Traveler, 27; The Expositor, 1895) considers the beta text to be a 2nd-century revision by a copyist who has preserved some very valuable 2nd-century testimony to the text.
(12) Headlam (HDB) does not believe that the problem has as yet been scientifically attacked, but that the solution lies in the textual license of scribes of the Western type (compare Hort, Introduction, 122). But Headlam is still shy of "Western" readings. The fact is that the Western readings are sometimes correct as against the Neutral (compare Matthew 27:49). It is not necessary in Acts 11:20 to say that Hellenas is in Western authorities (AD, etc.) but is not a Western reading. It is at any rate too soon to say the final word about the text of Acts, though on the whole the alpha text still holds the field as against the beta text. The Syriac text is, of course, later, and out of court.
III. Unity of the Book.
It is not easy to discuss this question, apart from that of authorship. But they are not exactly the same. One may be convinced of the unity of the book and yet not credit it to Luke, or, indeed, to anyone in the 1st century. Of course, if Luke is admitted to be the author of the book, the whole matter is simplified. His hand is in it all whatever sources he used. If Luke is not the author, there may still have been a competent historian at work, or the book may be a mere compilation. The first step, therefore, is to attack the problem of unity. Holtzmann (Einl, 383) holds Luke to be the author of the "we" sections only. Schmiedel denies that the Acts is written by a companion of Paul, though it is by the same author as the Gospel bearing Luke's name. In 1845 Schleiermacher credited the "we" sections to Timothy, not to Luke. For a good sketch of theories of "sources," see Knowling on Acts, 25. Van Manen (1890) resolved the book into two parts, Acta Petri and Acta Pauli, combined by a redactor. Sorof (1890) ascribes one source to Luke, one to Timothy. Spitta also has two sources (a Pauline-Lukan and a Jewish-Christian) worked over by a redactor.
Clemen (1905) has four sources (History of the Hellenists, History of Peter, History of Paul, and a Journey of Paul), all worked over by a series of editors. Hilgenfeld (1895) has three sources (Acts of Peter, Acts of the Seven, Acts of Paul). Jungst (1895) has a Pauline source and a Petrine source J. Weiss (1893) admits sources, but claims that the book has unity and a definite aim. B. Weiss (1902) conceives an early source for the first part of the book. Harnack (The Acts of the Apostles, 1909, 41) has small patience with all this blind criticism: "With them the book passes as a comparatively late patchwork compilation, in which the part taken by the editor is insignificant yet in all cases detrimental; the `we' sections are not the property of the author, but an extract from a source, or even a literary fiction." He charges the critics with "airy conceit and lofty contempt." Harnack has done a very great service in carefully sifting the matter in his Luke the Physician (1907). He gives detailed proof that the "we" sections are in the same style and by the same author as the rest of the book (26-120). Harnack does not claim originality in this line of argument:
"It has been often stated and often proved that the 'we' sections in vocabulary, in syntax, and in style are most intimately bound up with the whole work, and that this work itself including the Gospel, in spite of all diversity in its parts, is distinguished by a grand unity of literary form" (Luke the Physician, 26). He refers to the "splendid demonstration of this unity" by Klostermann (Vindiciae Lucanae, 1866), to B. Weiss, who, in his commentary (1893, 2 Aufl, 1902) "has done the best work in demonstrating the literary unity of the whole work," to "the admirable contributions" of Vogel (Zur Charakteristik des Lukas, etc., 2 Aufl, 1899) to the "yet more careful and minute investigations" of Hawkins (Horae Synopticae, 1899, 2nd edition, 1909), to the work of Hobart (The Medical Language of Luke, 1882), who "has proved only too much" (Luke the Physician, 175), but "the evidence is of overwhelming force" (198). Harnack only claims for himself that he has done the work in more detail and with more minute accuracy without claiming too much (27). But the conversion of Harnack to this view of Acts is extremely significant. It ought not to be necessary any more to refute the partition theories of the book, or to set forth in detail the proofs for the unity of the book.
Perhaps the compilation theory of Acts is nowhere set forth more cogently than in McGiffert's The Apostolic Age (1897). See a powerful refutation of his argument by Ramsay in Pauline and Other Studies (1906, 302-21). "I think his clever argumentation is sophistical" (305). Harnack is fully aware that he has gone over to the rode of "Ramsay, Weiss and Zahn": "The results at which I have arrived not only approach very nearly to, but are often coincident with, the results of their research" (The Acts of the Apostles, 302). He is afraid that if these scholars failed to get the ear of critics "there is little prospect of claiming the attention of critics and compelling them to reconsider their position." But he has the advantage of coming to this conclusion from the other side. Moreover, if Harnack was won by the force of the facts, others may be. This brief sketch of Harnack's experience may take the place of detailed presentation of the arguments for the unity of the book. Harnack sets forth in great wealth of detail the characteristic idioms of the "we" sections side by side with parallels in other parts of Acts and the Gospel of Luke. The same man wrote the rest of Acts who wrote the "we" sections. This fact should now be acknowledged as proven. This does not mean that the writer, a personal witness in the "we" sections, had no sources for the other parts of Acts. This aspect of the matter will be considered a little later.
IV. The Author.
Assuming the unity of the book, the argument runs as follows: The author was a companion of Paul. The "we" sections prove that (Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:6-16; 21; 21 27; 21 27 28). These sections have the fullness of detail and vivid description natural to an eye-witness. This companion was with Paul in the second missionary journey at Troas and at Philippi, joined Paul's party again at Philippi on the return to Jerusalem during the third tour, and probably remained with Paul till he went to Rome. Some of Paul's companions came to him at Rome: others are so described in the book as to preclude authorship. Aristarchus, Aquila and Priscilla, Erastus, Gaius, Mark, Silas, Timothy, Trophimus, Tychicus and others more or less insignificant from the point of view of connection with Paul (like Crescens, Demas, Justus, Linus, Pudens, Sopater, etc.) are easily eliminated. Curiously enough Luke and Titus are not mentioned in Acts by name at all. They are distinct persons as is stated in 2 Timothy 4:10 ff. Titus was with Paul in Jerusalem at the conference (Galatians 2:1) and was his special envoy to Corinth during the time of trouble there. (2 Corinthians 2:1, 12:18.)
He was later with Paul in Crete (Titus 1:5). But the absence of mention of Titus in Acts may be due to the fact that he was a brother of Luke (compare 2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 12:18). So A. Souter in DCG, article "Luke." If Luke is the author, it is easy to understand why his name does not appear. If Titus is his brother, the same explanation occurs. As between Luke and Titus the medical language of Acts argues for Luke. The writer was a physician. This fact Hobart (The Medical Language of Luke, 1882) has demonstrated. Compare Zahn, Einl, 2, 435; Harnack's Luke the Physician, 177. The arguments from the use of medical terms are not all of equal weight. But the style is colored at points by the language of a physician. The writer uses medical terms in a technical sense. This argument involves a minute comparison with the writings of physicians of the time. Thus in Acts 28:3 ff kathapto, according to Hobart (288), is used in the sense of poisonous matter invading the body, as in Dioscorides, Animal. Ven. Proem. So Galen, De Typis 4 (VII, 467), uses it "of fever fixing on parts of the body." Compare Harnack, Luke the Physician, 177. Harnack agrees also that the terms of the diagnosis in Acts 28:8 "are medically exact and can be vouched for from medical literature" (ibid., 176). Hobart has overdone his argument and adduced many examples that are not pertinent, but a real residuum remains, according to Harnack. Then pimprasthai is a technical term for swelling. Let these serve as examples. The interest of the writer in matters of disease is also another indication, compare Luke 8:43. Now Luke was a companion of Paul during his later ministry and was a physician. (Colossians 4:14). Hence, he fulfils all the requirements of the case. The argument thus far is only probable, it is true; but there is to be added the undoubted fact that the same writer wrote both Gospel and Acts (Acts 1:1). The direct allusion to the Gospel is reinforced by identity of style and method in the two books.
The external evidence is clear on the matter. Both Gospel and Acts are credited to Luke the physician. The Muratorian canon ascribes Acts to Luke. By the end of the 2nd century the authority of the Acts is as well established as that of the Gospel (Salmon, Introduction to the New Testament, 1885, 366). Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, all call Luke the author of the book. The argument is complete. It is still further strengthened by the fact that the point of view of the book is Pauline and by the absence of references to Paul's epistles. If one not Paul's companion had written Acts, he would certainly have made some use of them. Incidentally, also, this is an argument for the early date of the Acts. The proof that has won Harnack, the leader of the left in Germany, to the acknowledgment of the Lukan authorship of Acts ought to win all to this position.
The use of the Acts does not appear so early or so frequently as is true of the gospels and the Pauline epistles. The reason obvious. The epistles had a special field and the gospels appealed to all. Only gradually would Acts circulate. At first we find literary allusions without the name of book or author. But Holtzmann (Einl, 1892, 406) admits the use of Acts by Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Polycarp. The use of the Gospel according to Luke by Tatian and Marcion really revolves knowledge of the Acts. But in Irenaeus frequently (Adv. Haer., i. 23, 1, etc.) the Acts is credited to Luke and regarded as Scripture. The Canon of Muratori list it as Scripture. Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria attribute the book to Luke and treat it as Scripture. By the times of Eusebius the book is generally acknowledged as part of the canon. Certain of the heretical parties reject it (like the Ebionites, Marcionites, Manicheans). But by this time the Christians had come to lay stress on history (Gregory, Canon and Text of the New Testament, 1907, 184), and the place of Acts is now secure in the canon.
1. Luke's relations to Josephus.
The acceptance of the Lukan authorship settles the question of some of the dates presented by critics. Schmiedel places the date of Acts between 105 and 130 A.D. (Encyclopedia Biblica). He assumes as proven that Luke made use of the writings of Josephus. It has never been possible to take with much seriousness the claim that the Acts shows acquaintance with Josephus. See Keim, Geschichte Jesu, III, 1872, 134, and Krenkel, Josephus und Lucas, 1894, for the arguments in favor of that position. The words quoted to prove it are in the main untechnical words of common use. The only serious matter is the mention of Theudas and Judas the Galilean in Acts 5:36 ff and Josephus (Ant., XX, v, 1). In Josephus the names occur some twenty lines apart and the resemblance is only slight indeed. The use of peitho in connection with Theudas and apostesai concerning Judas is all that requires notice. Surely, then, two common words for "persuade" and "revolt" are not enough to carry conviction of the writer's use of Josephus. The matter is more than offset by the differences in the two reports of the death of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:19-23; Josephus, Ant, XVIII, vi, 7, XIX, viii, 2). The argument about Josephus may be definitely dismissed from the field. With that goes all the ground for a 2nd-century date. Other arguments have been adduced (see Holtzmann, Einl, 1892, 405) such as the use of Paul's epistles, acquaintance with Plutarch, Arrian and Pausanias, because of imitation in method of work (i.e. parallel lives of Peter and Paul, periods of history, etc.), correction of Galatians in Acts (for instance, Galatians 1:17-24 and Acts 9:26-30 Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15:1-33). The parallel with Plutarch is fanciful, while the use of Panl's epistles is by no means clear, the absence of such use, indeed, being one of the characteristics of the book. The variation from Galatians is far better explained on the assumption that Luke had not seen the epistles.
2. 80 A.D. Is the Limit if the Book Is to Be Credited to Luke.
The majority of modern critics who accept the Lukan authorship place it between 70 and 80 A.D. So Harnack, Lechler, Meyer, Ramsay, Sanday, Zahn. This opinion rests mainly on the idea that the Gospel according to Luke was written after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It is claimed that Luke 21:20 shows that this tragedy had already occurred, as compared with Mark 13:14 and Matthew 24:15. But the mention of armies is very general, to be sure. Attention is called also to the absence of the warning in Luke. Harnack (The Acts of the Apostles, 291) admits that the arguments in favor of the date 70 to 80 are by no means conclusive. He writes "to warn critics against a too hasty closing of the chronological question." In his new book (Neue Untersuchungen zur Apostelgeschichte, etc., 1911, S. 81) Harnack definitely accepts the date before the destruction of Jerusalem. Lightfoot would give no date to Acts because of the uncertainty about the date of the Gospel.
3. Before 70 A.D.
This date is supported by Blass, Headlam, Maclean, Rackham, Salmon. Harhack, indeed, considers that "very weighty considerations" argue for the early date. He, as already stated, now takes his stand for the early date. It obviously the simplest way to understand Luke's close of the Acts to be due to the fact that Paul was still in prison. Harnack contends that the efforts to explain away this situation are not "quite satisfactory or very illuminating." He does not mention Paul's death because he was still alive. The dramatic purpose to bring Paul to Rome is artificial. The supposition of a third book from the use of proton in Acts 1:1 is quite gratuitous, since in the Koine, not to say the earlier Greek, "first was often used when only two were mentioned (compare "our first story" and "second story," "first wife" and "second wife"). The whole tone of the book is that which one would naturally have before 64 A.D. After the burning of Rome and the destruction of Jerusalem the attitude maintained in the book toward Romans and Jews would have been very difficult unless the date was a long times afterward Harnack wishes "to help a doubt to its lust dues." That "doubt" of Harnack is destined to become the certainty of the future. (Since this sentence was written Harnack has settled his own doubt.) The book will, I think, be finally credited to the time 63 A.D. in Rome. The Gospel of Luke will then naturally belong to the period of Paul's imprisonment in Caesarea. The judgment of Moffatt (Historical New Testament, 1901, 416) that "it cannot be earlier than 80 A.D. is completely upset by the powerful attack of Harnack on his own previous position. See also Moffatt's Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament (1911) and Koch's Die Abfassungszeit des lukanischen Geschichtswerkes (1911).
VII. Sources Used by Luke.
If we now assume that Luke is the author of the Acts, the question remains as to the character of the sources used by him. One is at liberty to appeal to Luke 1:1-4 for the general method of the author. He used both oral and written sources. In the Acts the matter is somewhat simplified by the fact that Luke was the companion of Paul for a considerable part of the narrative (the "we" sections, Acts 16:11-17; Acts 20:5; Acts 21:18; Acts 27 and 28). It is more than probable that Luke was with Paul also during his last stay in Jerusalem and during the imprisonment at Caesarea.
There is no reason to think that Luke suddenly left Paul in Jerusalem and returned to Caesarea only when he started to Rome (Acts 27:1). The absence of "we" is natural here, since it is not a narrative of travel, but a sketch of Paul's arrest and series of defenses. The very abundance of material here, as in Acts 20 and 21, argues for the presence of Luke. But at any rate Luke has access to Paul himself for information concerning this period, as was true of the second, from Acts 13 to the end of the book. Luke was either present or he could have learned from Paul the facts used. He may have kept a travel diary, which was drawn upon when necessary. Luke could have taken notes of Paul's addresses in Jerusalem (Acts 22) and Caesarea (Acts 24-26). From these, with Paul's help, he probably composed the account of Paul's conversion (Acts 9:1-30). If, as I think is true, the book was written during Paul's first Roman imprisonment, Luke had the benefit of appeal to Paul at all points. But, if so, he was thoroughly independent in style and assimilated his materials like a true historian. Paul (and also Philip for part of it) was a host witness to the events about Stephen in Acts 6:8-8:1 and a participant of the work in Antioch (11:19-30). Philip, the of Paul's company (21:8) on the last journey to Jerusalem, was probably in Caesarea still during Paul's confinement there. He could have told Luke the events in Acts 6:1-7 and 8:4-40. In Caesarea also the story of Peter's work may have been derived, possibly even from Cornelius himself (9:32-11:18). Whether Luke ever went to Antioch or not we do not know (Codex Bezae has "we" in Acts 11:28), though he may have had access to the Antiochian traditions. But he did go to Jerusalem. However, the narrative in Acts 12 probably rests on the authority of John Mark (Acts 12:12, 25), in whose mother's house the disciples were assembled. Luke was apparently thrown with Mark in Rome (Colossians 4:10), if not before. For Acts 1-5 the matter does not at first seem so clear, but these chapters are not necessarily discredited on that account. It is remarkable, as ancient historians made so little mention of their sources, that we can connect Luke in the Acts with so many probable fountains of evidence. Barnabas (4:36) was able to tell much about the origin of the work in Jerusalem. So could Mnason. Philip also was one of the seven (6:5; 21:8). We do not know that Luke met Peter in Rome, though that is possible. But during the stay in Jerusalem and Caesarea (two years) Luke had abundant opportunity to learn the narrative of the great events told in Acts 1-5. He perhaps used both oral and written sources for this section. One cannot, of course, prove by linguistic or historical arguments the precise nature of Luke's sources in Acts. Only in broad outlines the probable materials may be sketched.
XIII. Analysis. 1. The connection between the work of the apostles and that of Jesus (Acts 1:1-11).
2. The equipment of the early disciples for their task (Acts 1:12-2:47). (a) The disciples obeying Christ's parting command (Acts 1:12-24). (b) The place of Judas filled (Acts 1:15-26). (c) Miraculous manifestations of the presence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13). (d) Peter's interpretation of the situation (Acts 2:14-36). (e) The immediate effect of the sermon (Acts 2:37-41). (f) The new spirit in the Christian community (Acts 2:42-47).
3. The development of the work in Jerusalem (Acts 3:1-8:1). (a) An incident in the work of Peter and John with Peter's apologetic (Acts 3). (b) Opposition of the Sadducees aroused by the preaching of the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 4:1-31). (c) An internal difficulty, the problem of poverty (Acts 4:32-5:11). (d) Great progress of the cause in the city (Acts 5:12-16). (e) Renewed hostility of the Sadducees and Gamaliel's retort to the Pharisees (Acts 5:17-42). (f) A crisis in church life and the choice of the seven Hellenists (Acts 6:1-7). (g) Stephen's spiritual interpretation of Christianity stirs the antagonism of the Pharisees and leads to his violent death (Acts 6:8-8:1).
4. The compulsory extension of the gospel to Judea, Samaria and the neighboring regions (Acts 8:1-40). (a) The great persecution, with Saul as leader (Acts 8:1-4). (b) Philip's work as a notable example of the work of the scattered disciples (Acts 8:5-40).
5. The conversion of Saul changes the whole situation for Christianity (Acts 9:1-31).
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APOCRYPHAL ACTS, GENERAL
A. GENERAL INTRODUCTION
I. THE MEANING OF "APOCRYPHAL"
2. False and Heretical
II. GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS
2. The Supernatural
3. Sexual Asceticism
4. Heretical Teaching
5. Religious Feeling
1. Reverence for Apostles
2. Pious Curiosity
3. Apostolic Authority Desired
4. Interests of Local Churches
1. Canonical Acts
3. Romances of Travel
V. ECCLESIASTICAL TESTIMONY
4. Ecclesiastical Condemnation
VII. RELATIONSHIP OF DIFFERENT ACTS
1. As History
2. As Records of Early Christianity
B. THE SEPARATE ACTS
I. ACTS OF PAUL
II. ACTS OF PETER
III. ACTS OF JOHN
IV. ACTS OF ANDREW
V. ACTS OF THOMAS
A. GENERAL INTRODUCTION
I. The Meaning of "Apocryphal."
As applied to early-Christian writings the term "apocryphal" has the secondary and conventional sense of "extra-canonical."
Originally, as the etymology of the word shows (Greek apokrupto = "hide"), it denoted what was "hidden" or "secret." In this sense "apocryphal" was, to begin with, a title of honor, being applied to writings used by the initiated in esoteric circles and highly valued by them as containing truths miraculously revealed and kept secret from the outside world. Just as there were writings of this kind among the Jews, so there were in Christian circles, among Gnostic sects, apocrypha, which claimed to embody the deeper truths of Christianity, committed as a secret tradition by the risen Christ to His apostles.
2. False and Heretical:
When the conception of a catholic church began to take shape, it was inevitable that these secret writings should have been regarded with suspicion and have been ultimately forbidden, not only because they fostered the spirit of division in the church, but because they were favorable to the spread of heretical teaching. By a gradual and intelligible transference of ideas "apocryphal," as applied to secret writings thus discredited by the church, came to have the bad sense of spurious and heretical. In this sense the word is used both by Irenaeus and Tertullian.
Short of being stigmatized as false and heretical many books were regarded as unsuitable for reading in public worship, although they might be used for purposes of private edification. Chiefly under the influence of Jerome the term "apocryphal" received an extension of meaning so as to include writings of this kind, stress now being laid on their non-acceptance as authoritative Scriptures by the church, without any suggestion that the ground of non-acceptance lay in heretical teaching. It is in this wide sense that the word is used when we speak of "Apocryphal Acts." Although the Acts which bear this name had their origin for the most part in circles of heretical tendency, the description of them as "apocryphal" involves no judgment as to the character of their contents, but simply denotes that they are Acts which were excluded from the New Testament canon because their title or claims to recognition as authoritative and normative writings were not admitted by the church. This definition limits the scope of our investigation to those Acts which belong to the 2nd century, the Biblical Acts having secured their place as an authoritative scripture by the end of that century. See further, APOCRYPHA.
II. General Characteristics.
The Apocryphal Acts purport to give the history of the activity of the apostles in fuller detail than the canonical Acts.
The additions to the New Testament narrative found in them are highly flavored with romance and reveal an extravagant and unhealthy taste for the miraculous. Wonderful tales, the product of an exuberant fancy, often devoid of delicacy of feeling and always out of touch with reality, are freely heaped one upon the other. The apostles are no longer conceived as living on the ordinary levels of humanity; their human frailties, to which the canonical writers are not blind, have almost entirely disappeared; they walk through the world as men conversant with the mysteries of heaven and earth and possessed of powers to which no limit can be set. They have the power to heal, to exorcise demons, to raise the dead; and while marvelous deeds of that nature constantly recur, there are other miracles wrought by the apostles which remind one of the bizarre and non-moral prodigies of the Childhood Gospel of Thomas. A smoked fish is made to swim; a broken statue is made whole by the use of consecrated a wafer; a child of seven months is enabled to talk with a man's voice; animals receive the power of human speech.
2. The Supernatural:
The romantic character of the Apocryphal Acts is intensified by the frequent introduction of the supernatural. Angelic messengers appear in vision and in dream; heavenly voices are heard; clouds descend to hide the faithful in the hour of danger and lightnings smite their foes; the terrifying forces of Nature, earthquake, wind and fire, strike dismay into the hearts of the ungodly; and martyrs die transfigured in a blaze of unearthly glory. Especially characteristic of these Acts are the appearances of Christ in many forms; now as an old man, now as a comely youth, now as a child; but most frequently in the likeness of this or that apostle. (It is interesting to observe that Origen is familiar with a tradition that Jesus during His earthly life could change His appearance when and how He pleased, and gives that as a reason for the necessity of the traitor's kiss. Compare also Mark 16:9, 12.)
3. Sexual Asceticism:
One must not suppose from the foregoing that the Apocryphal Acts with their profusion of romantic and supernatural details were designed merely to exalt the personality of the apostles and to satisfy the prevalent desire for the marvelous. They had a definite practical end in view. They were intended to confirm and popularize a type of Christianity in strong reaction against the world, in which emphasis was laid on the rigid abstinence from sexual relations as the chief moral requirement. This sexual asceticism is the dominant motif in all the Acts. The "contendings" of the apostles, their trials and their eventual martyrdom are in almost every case due to their preaching the sinfulness of conjugal life and to their success in persuading women to reject the society of their husbands. The Acts are penetrated throughout by the conviction that abstinence from marriage is the supreme condition of entering upon the highest life and of winning heaven. The gospel on its practical side is (to use the succinct expression of the Acts of Paul) "the word of God regarding abstinence and the resurrection."
4. Heretical Teaching:
Besides inculcating an ascetic morality the Apocryphal Acts show traces more or less pronounced of dogmatic heresy. All of them with the exception of the Acts of Paul represent a docetic view of Christ; that is to say, the earthly life of Jesus is regarded merely as an appearance, phantasmal and unreal. This docetic Christology is most prominent in the Acts of John, where we read that when Jesus walked no footprints were discernible; that sometimes when the apostle attempted to lay hold of the body of Jesus his hand passed through it without resistance; that when the crowd gathered round the cross on which to all appearance Jesus hung, the Master Himself had an interview with His disciple John on the Mount of Olives. The crucifixion was simply a symbolical spectacle; it was only in appearance that Christ suffered and died. Allied with the docetic Christology is a naive Modalism, according to which there is no clear distinction between the Father and the Son.
5. Religious Feeling:
In spite of the unfavorable impression created by the flood of miraculous and supernatural details, the pervading atmosphere of sexual asceticism and the presence of dogmatic misconception, it is impossible not to feel in many sections of the Apocryphal Acts the rapture of a great spiritual enthusiasm. Particularly in the Acts of John, Andrew and Thomas there are passages (songs, prayers, homilies), sometimes of genuine poetic beauty, which are characterized by religious warmth, mystic fervor and moral earnestness. The mystical love to Christ, expressed though it frequently is in the strange language of Gnostic thought, served to bring the Saviour near to men as the satisfaction of the deepest yearnings of the soul for deliverance from the dark power of death. The rank superstition and the traces of unconquered heathenism should not blind us to the fact that in the Apocryphal Acts we have an authentic if greatly distorted expression of the Christian faith, and that through them great masses of people were confirmed in their conviction of the spiritual presence and power of Christ the Saviour.
The Apocryphal Acts had their origin at a time when the canonical Acts of the Apostles were not yet recognized as alone authoritative. Various motives contributed to the appearance of books dealing with the life and activity of the different apostles.
1. Reverence for Apostles:
Behind every variety of motive lay the profound reverence for the apostles as the authoritative depositories of Christian truth. In apostolic times the sole authority in Christian communities, outside Old Testament Scripture, was "the Lord." But as the creative period of Christianity faded into the past, "the apostles" (in the sense of the college of the Twelve, including Paul) were raised to a preeminent position alongside of Christ with the object of securing continuity in the credentials of the faith. The commandments of the Lord had been received through them (2 Peter 3:2). In the Ignatian epistles they have a place of acknowledged supremacy by the side of Christ. Only that which had apostolic authority was normative for the church. The authority of the apostles was universal. They had gone into all the world to preach the gospel. They had, according to the legend referred to at the beginning of the Acts of Thomas, divided among themselves the different regions of the earth as the spheres of their activity. It was an inevitable consequence of the peculiar reverence in which the apostles were held as the securities for Christian truth that a lively interest should everywhere be shown in traditional stories about their work and that writings should be multiplied which purported to give their teaching with fullness of detail.
2. Pious Curiosity:
The canonical Acts were not calculated to satisfy the prevailing desire for a knowledge of the life and teaching of the apostles. For one thing many of the apostles are there ignored, and for another the information given about the chief apostles Peter and Paul is little more than a meager outline of the events of their life. In these circumstances traditions not preserved in the canonical Acts were eagerly accepted, and as the actual history of the individual apostles was largely shrouded in obscurity, legends were freely invented to gratify the insatiable curiosity. The marvelous character of these inventions is a testimony to the supernatural level to which the apostles had been raised in popular esteem.
3. Apostolic Authority Desired:
As in the case of the apocryphal Gospels, the. chief motive in the multiplication of apostolic romances was the desire to set forth with the full weight of apostolic authority conceptions of Christian life and doctrine which prevailed in certain circles.
(1) Alongside the saner and catholic type of Christianity there existed, especially in Asia Minor, a popular Christianity with perverted ideals of life. On its practical side the Christian religion was viewed as an ascetic discipline, involving not only abstinence from animal food and wine but also (and chiefly) abstinence from marriage. Virginity was the Christian ideal. Poverty and fastings were obligatory on all. The Apocryphal Acts are permeated by this spirit, and their evident design is to confirm and spread confidence in this ascetic ideal by representing the apostles as the zealous advocates of it.
(2) The Apocryphal Acts were also intended to serve a dogmatic interest. Heretical sects used them as a means of propagating their peculiar doctrinal views and sought to supplement or supplant the tradition of the growing catholic church by another tradition which claimed to be equally apostolic.
4. Interests of Local Churches:
A subsidiary cause in the fabrication of apostolic legends was the desire of churches to find support for the claims which they put forward for an apostolic foundation or for some connection with apostles. In some cases the tradition of the sphere of an apostle's activity may have been well based, but in others there is a probability that stories of an apostolic connection were freely invented for the purpose of enhancing the prestige of some local church.
In general it may be said that the Apocryphal Acts are full of legendary details. In the invention of these everything was done to inspire confidence in them as historically true.
1. Canonical Acts:
The narratives accordingly abound in clear reminiscences of the canonical Acts. The apostles are cast into prison and are marvelously set at liberty. Converts receive the apostles into their houses. The description of the Lord's Supper as "the breaking of bread" (Acts 2:42, 46) is repeated in the Apocryphal Acts and is strictly apposite to the ritual there set forth in which there is frequently no mention of wine in the celebration of the sacrament. In the Acts of Paul the author evidently used the canonical Acts as the framework of his narrative. This dependence on the canonical Acts and the variety of allusions to details in them served to give an appearance of historical truthfulness to the later inventions and to secure for them a readier acceptance. The fact that the canonical Acts were so used clearly shows that they had a position of exceptional authority at the time when the Apocryphal Acts were written.
The legendary character of the Apocryphal Acts does not preclude the possibility of authentic details in the additions made to the canonical history. There must have been many traditions regarding the apostles preserved in Christian communities which had a foundation in actual fact. Some of these would naturally find a place in writings which were designed in part at least to satisfy the popular curiosity for a fuller knowledge of the apostles. It is certain that there is some substratum of historical fact in the episode of Paul's association with Thecla (Acts of Paul). The description of Paul's appearance given in the same connection is in all likelihood due to trustworthy historical reminiscence. But it must be confessed that the signs of the presence of reliable traditions are very scanty. The few grains of historical fact are hidden in an overwhelming mass of material whose legendary character is unmistakable.
3. Romances of Travel:
Although a formal connection with the canonical Acts is recognizable and reliable traditions are to a slight extent incorporated in the Apocryphal Acts, it is unquestionable that as a whole they are the creation of the Hellenic spirit which reveled in the miraculous. A noteworthy type of popular literature whose influence is apparent on almost every page of the Apocryphal Acts was that of the travel-romance. The most famous example of this romantic literature is the Life of the neo-Pythagorean preacher, the great wonder-worker Apollonios of Tyana, who died about the end of the 1st century A.D. The marvelous deeds reported to have been wrought by him on his travels were freely transferred in a somewhat less striking form to other teachers. It is in the atmosphere of these romances that the Apocryphal Acts had their birth. In particular the Acts of Thomas recall the history of Apollonios. For just as Thomas was a missionary in India, so "Apollonios as a disciple of Pythagoras had traveled, a peaceful Alexander, to the Indian wonderland and there preached his master's wisdom" (Geffcken, Christliche Apokryphen, 36).
V. Ecclesiastical Testimony.
From the nature of his reference to the canonical Acts it is probable that the writer of the Muratorian Canon (circa 190 A.D.) had the existence of other Acts in mind. "The Acts of all the apostles," he says, "are written in a single book. Luke relates them admirably to Theophilus, confining himself to such as fell under his own notice, as he plainly shows by the omission of all reference either to the martyrdom of Peter or to the journey of Paul from Rome to Spain." During the 3rd century there are slight allusions to certain of the Apocryphal Acts, but it is only in the 4th century that distinct references are frequent in writers both of the East and of the West. A few of the more important references may be given here. (For a full account of the ecclesiastical testimony see Harnack, Gesch. der altchr. Lit., I, 116.)
Among eastern writers Eusebius (died 340) is the first to make any clear reference to Apocryphal Acts. He speaks of "Acts of Andrew, of John and of the other apostles," which were of such a character that no ecclesiastical writer thought it proper to invoke their testimony. Their style and their teaching showed them to be so plainly of heretical origin that he would not put them even among spurious Scriptures, but absolutely rejected them as absurd and impious (Historia Ecclesiastic, III, 250.6.7). Ephraem (died 373) declares that Acts were written by the Bardesanites to propagate in the name of the apostles the unbelief which the apostles had destroyed. Epiphanius (circa 375) repeatedly refers to individual Acts which were in use among heretical sects. Amphilochius of Iconium, a contemporary of Epiphanius, declares that certain writings emanating from heretical circles were "not Acts of the apostles but accounts of demons." The Second Synod of Nicea (787 A.D.), in the records of which those words of Amphilochius are preserved, dealt with apocryphal literature and had under special consideration the Acts of John to which the Iconoclasts appealed. In the synod's finding these Acts were characterized as "this abominable book," and on it the judgment was passed: "Let no one read it; and not only so, but we judge it worthy of being committed to the flames."
In the West from the 4th century onward references are frequent. Philastrius of Brescia (circa 387) testifies to the use of Apocryphal Acts among the Manicheans, and declares that although they are not suitable for general reading they may be read with profit by mature Christians (De Haeres, 88). The reason for this favorable judgment is to be found in the pronounced ascetic tendency of the Acts, which was in line with the moral ideal prevalent at that time in the West. Augustine refers repeatedly to apocryphal Acts in use among the Manicheans and characterizes them as the work of "cobblers of fables" (sutoribus fabularum). The Manicheans accepted them as true and genuine; and in respect of this claim Augustine says: "They would in the time of their authors have been counted worthy of being welcomed to the authority of the Holy Church, if saintly and learned men who were then alive and could examine such things had acknowledged them as speaking the truth" (Contra Faustum, XXII, 79). The Acts of John and the Acts of Thomas are mentioned by Augustine by name. He also refers to Leucius as the author of Apocryphal Acts. Turribius of Astorga (circa 450) speaks of Acts of Andrew, of John, of Thomas, and attributes them to the Manicheans. Of the heretical teaching in the Acts of Thomas, Turribius singles out for special condemnation baptism by oil instead of by water. Leucius is mentioned as the author of the Acts of John. The Acts of Andrew, Thomas, Peter, and Philip are condemned as apocryphal in the Gelasian Decree (496 A.D.) and in the same condemnation are included "all books written by Leucius, a disciple of the devil."
The fullest and most important reference to the Apocryphal Acts is found in Photius, the Patriarch of Constantinople in the second half of the 9th century. In his Bibliotheca, which contains an account of 280 different books which he had read during his absence on a mission to Bagdad, we learn that among these was a volume, "the so-called Wanderings of the Apostles, in which were included Acts of Peter, John, Andrew, Thomas, Paul. The author of these Acts, as the book itself makes plain, was Leucius Charinus." The language had none of the grace which characterized the evangelic and apostolic writings. The book teemed with follies and contradictions. Its teaching was heretical. In particular it was taught that Christ had never really become man. Not Christ but another in His place had been crucified. After referring to the ascetic doctrine and the absurd miracles of the Acts and to the part which the Acts of John had played in the Iconoclastic Controversy, Photius concludes: "In short this book contains ten thousand things which are childish, incredible, ill-conceived, false, foolish, inconsistent, impious and godless. If anyone were to call it the fountain and mother of all heresy, he would not be far from the truth."
4. Ecclesiastical Condemnation:
There is thus a consensus of ecclesiastical testimony as to the general character of the Apocryphal Acts. They were writings used by a number of heretical sects but regarded by the church as unreliable and harmful. It is probable that the corpus of the Acts in five parts referred to by Photius was formed by the Manicheans of North Africa, who attempted to have them accepted by the church in place of the canonical Acts which they had rejected. These Acts in consequence were stamped by the church with a heretical character. The sharpest condemnation is that pronounced by Leo I (circa 450) who declares that "they should not only be forbidden but should be utterly swept away and burned. For although there are certain things in them which seem to have the appearance of piety, yet they are never free of poison and secretly work through the allurements of fables so that they involve in the snares of every possible error those who are seduced by the narration of marvelous things." The Acts of Paul, which show no trace of dogmatic heresy, were included in the ecclesiastical censure owing to the fact that they had received a place at the end of the corpus. Many teachers in the church, however, made a distinction between the miraculous details and the heretical doctrines of the Acts, and while they rejected the latter they retained the former. Witness the words of an orthodox reviser in regard to his heretical predecessor: "Quaedam de virtutibus quidem et miraculls quae per eos Dominus fecit, vera dixit; de doctrina vero multa mentitus est."
In the notice of Photius (Bibliotheca codex 114) all the five Acts are ascribed to one author, Leucius Charinus. Earlier writers had associated the name of Leucius with certain Acts. In particular he is, on the witness of several writers, declared to be the author of the Acts of John. As these Acts show, the author professes to be a follower and companion of the apostle, and Epiphanius (Haeres., 51 6) mentions one named Leucius as being in the entourage of John. This notice of Epiphanius, however, is of doubtful value, as it probably rested on the association in his mind of the name of Leucius with the Acts of John. Whether or not there is any truth in the ascription of these Acts to a disciple of John must be left undecided, but the probabilities are against there being any. Be that as it may, when the different Acts were collected, the name of the reputed author of the Acts of John was transferred to the whole collection. This probably happened not later than the 4th century. Although all the Acts are certainly not from one hand (the difference of style is sufficient proof of this), there are so many striking similarities between some of them as to suggest a possible common authorship in those cases or at least a relation of literary dependence.
VII. Relationship of Different Acts.
That some connection existed between the different Acts was clearly recognized in early times, and it was doubtless due to this recognition that they were gathered together in a corpus under the name of one author. It is acknowledged that there is a close relationship between the Acts of Peter and the Acts of John, some holding that they are the work of the same author (James, Zahn), others that the former are dependent on the latter (Schmidt, Hennecke), while others again believe that their origin in the same theological school and in the same ecclesiastical atmosphere sufficiently explains all similarities (Ficker). The Acts of Andrew, too, reveal a near kinship to the Acts of Peter. But however the matter may stand in regard to literary dependence, the affinity between the different Acts in a material sense is manifest. All are pervaded by the ascetic spirit; in all Christ appears in the form of the apostle; in all women visit the apostle in prison. In respect of theological doctrine the Acts of Paul stand by themselves as anti-Gnostic in tendency, but the others agree in their docetic view of Christ's person; while in the Acts of John, Peter and Thomas, there is a similar mystical doctrine of the cross.
1. As History:
As a source for information about the life and work of the apostles the Apocryphal Acts are almost entirely worthless. A possible exception in this respect is the section of the Acts of Paul dealing with Paul and Thecla, although even there any historical elements are almost lost in the legendary overgrowth. The spheres of the apostles' work, so far as they are mentioned only in these Acts, cannot be accepted without question, although they may be derived from reliable tradition. Taken as a whole the picture given in the Apocryphal Acts of the missionary labors of the apostles is a grotesque caricature.
2. As Records of Early Christianity:
The Apocryphal Acts, however, though worthless as history, are of extreme value as throwing light on the period in which they were written. They belong to the 2nd century and are a rich quarry for information about the popular Christianity of that time. They give us a vivid picture of the form which Christianity assumed in contact with the enthusiastic mystery-cults and Gnostic sects which then flourished on the soil of Asia Minor. We see in them the Christian faith deeply tinged with the spirit of contemporary paganism; the faith in Christ the Saviour-God, which satisfied the widespread yearning for redemption from the powers of evil, in association with the as yet unconquered elements of its heathen environment.
(1) The Acts show us popular Christianity under the influence of Gnostic ideas as contrasted with the Gnosticism of the schools which moves in a region of mythological conceptions, cold abstractions and speculative subtleties. At the basis of Gnosticism lay a contempt for material existence; and in the Christianity of the Apocryphal Acts we see the practical working up of the two chief ideas which followed from this fundamental position, a docetic conception of Christ's person and an ascetic view of life. In this popular religion Christ had few of the features of the historic Jesus; He was the Saviour-God, exalted above principalities and powers, through union with whom the soul was delivered from the dread powers of evil and entered into the true life.
The manhood of Christ was sublimated into mere appearance; and in particular the sufferings of Christ were conceived mystically and symbolically, "sometimes in the form that in the story of His sufferings we see only the symbol of human sufferings in general; sometimes in the form that Christ who is present in His church shares in the martyr-sufferings of Christians; sometimes, again, in the form that the sin, weakness and unfaithfulness of His people inflict upon Him ever-renewed sufferings" (Pfleiderer, Primitive Christianity, III, 181). The ethical influence of Gnosticism is apparent in the spirit of strict asceticism which is the most characteristic feature of these Acts. It is true that the ascetic ideal obtained not only in Gnostic but also in orthodox church circles, as we gather from the Acts of Paul as well as from other sources.
The prominence of the strict ascetic ideal in early Christianity is intelligible. The chief battle which the Christian faith had to fight with Hellenic heathenism was for sexual purity, and in view of the coarseness and laxity which prevailed in sexual relations it is not surprising that the Christian protest was exaggerated in many cases into a demand for complete continence. This ascetic note in primitive Christianity was emphasized by the spirit of Gnosticism and finds clear expression in the Acts which arose either in Gnostic circles or in an environment tinged with Gnostic ideas. It goes without saying that the influence of these romances which are so largely concerned with sexual morality and occasionally are unspeakably coarse, was to preoccupy the mind with unhealthy thoughts and to sully that purity of spirit which it was their intention to secure. There are, however, other ethical elements in these Acts which are in complete harmony with a true Christian morality.
(2) The Apocryphal Acts are an invaluable source for information about early-Christian forms of worship. The ritual of the sacraments is fully described in the Acts of Thomas. Some of the prayers found in the Acts are pervaded by a warm religious spirit and are rich in liturgical expression.
(3) The beginnings of Christian hymnology may be traced in the Acts of Thomas, in which occur Gnostic hymns breathing the fantastic oriental spirit. (4) Apparent in the Acts throughout is the excessive love for the supernatural and the religious enthusiasm which flourished in Asia Minor in the 2nd century (compare especially the dance of the disciples round Jesus in the Acts of John: chapter 94).
The Apocryphal Acts had a remarkable influence in the later history of the church. After the establishment of Christianity under Constantine men turned their eyes to the earlier years of struggle and persecution. A deep interest was awakened in the events of the heroic age of the faith-the age of martyrs and apostles. Acts of martyrs were eagerly read, and in particular the Apocryphal Acts were drawn upon to satisfy the desire for a fuller knowledge of the apostles than was afforded by the canonical books. The heretical teaching with which the apostolic legends were associated in these Acts led to their condemnation by ecclesiastical authority, but the ban of the church was unavailing to eradicate the taste for the vivid colors of apostolic romance. In these circumstances church writers set themselves the task of rewriting the earlier Acts, omitting what was clearly heretical and retaining the miraculous and supernatural elements. And not only so, but the material of the Acts was freely used in the fabrication of lives of other apostles, as we find in the collection of the so-called Abdias in the 6th century.
The result was that from the 4th to the 11th century literature of this kind, dealing with the apostles, grew apace and "formed the favorite reading of Christians, from Ireland to the Abyssinian mountains and from Persia to Spain" (Harnack).
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APOCRYPHAL ACTS, THE SEPARATE ACTS
B. THE SEPARATE ACTS
The Apocryphal Acts dealt with in this article are the Leucian Acts mentioned by Photius in his Bibliotheca. As we now have them they have undergone revision in the interest of ecclesiastical orthodoxy, but in their original form they belonged to the 2nd century. It is impossible to say how much the Acts in their present form differ from that in which they originally appeared, but it is evident at many points that the orthodox revision which was meant to eliminate heretical elements was not by any means thorough. Passages which are distinctly Gnostic were preserved probably because the reviser did not understand their true meaning.
I. Acts of Paul.
1. Ecclesiastical Testimony:
Origen in two passages of his extant writings quotes the Acts of Paul with approval, and it was possibly due to his influence that these Acts were held in high regard in the East. In the Codex Claromontanus (3rd century), which is of eastern origin, the Acts of Paul are treated as a catholic writing and take rank with the Shepherd of Hermas and the Apocalypse of Peter. Eusebius, who utterly rejects "The Acts of Andrew, John and the rest of the apostles," puts the Acts of Paul in the lower class of debated writings alongside Hermas, Epistle of Barnabas, Didache, the Apocalypse of John, etc. (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 25.4). In the West, where Origen was viewed with suspicion, the Acts of Paul were apparently discredited, the only use of them as a reliable source being found in Hippolytus, the friend of Origen, who however does not mention them by name. (The reference by Hippolytus is found in his commentary on Daniel. He argues from Paul's conflict with the wild beasts to the credibility of the story of Daniel in the lions' den.)
Of the Acts of Paul only fragments remain. Little was known of them until in 1904 a translation from a badly preserved Coptic version was published by C. Schmidt, and the discovery was made that the well-known Acts of Paul and Thecla were in reality a part of the Acts of Paul. From the notes regarding the extent of the Acts given in the Cod. Claromontanus and in the Stichometry of Nicephorus we gather that the fragments amount to about one-fourth of the whole.
(1) Of these fragments the longest and the most important is the section which came to have a separate existence under the name The Acts of Paul and Thecla. When these were separated from the Acts of Paul we cannot tell, but this had happened before the time of the Gelasian Decree (496 A.D.), which without making mention of the Acts of Paul condemns as apocryphal the Acts of Paul and Thecla.
(a) An outline of the narrative is as follows: At Iconium, Thecla, a betrothed maiden, listened to the preaching of Paul on virginity and was so fascinated that she refused to have anything further to do with her lover. On account of his influence over her, Paul was brought before the proconsul and was cast into prison. There Thecla visited him with the result that both were brought to judgment. Paul was banished from the city and Thecla was condemned to be burned.
Having been miraculously delivered at the pile, Thecla went in search of Paul and when she had found him she accompanied him to Antioch. (There is confusion in the narrative of Antioch of Pisidia and Syrian Antioch.) In Antioch an influential citizen, Alexander by name, became enamored of her and openly embraced her on the street. Thecla, resenting the familiarity, pulled off the crown which Alexander wore and in consequence was condemned to fight with the wild beasts at the games. Until the day of the games Thecla was placed under the care of Queen Tryphaena, then living in Antioch. When Thecla was exposed in the amphitheater a lioness died in defending her against attack. In her peril Thecla cast herself into a tank containing seals and declared: "In the name of Jesus Christ I baptize myself on my last day." (It was with reference partly to this act of self-baptism that Tertullian gave the information about the authorship of these Acts: below 3.) When it was proposed to have Thecla torn asunder by maddened bulls Queen Tryphaena fainted, and through fear of what might happen the authorities released Thecla and handed her over to Tryphaena. Thecla once again sought Paul and having found him was commissioned by him to preach the Word of God.
This she did first at Iconium and then in Seleucia where she died. Various later additions described Thecla's end, and in one of them it is narrated that she went underground from Seleucia to Rome that she might be near Paul. Finding that Paul was dead she remained in Rome until her death.
(b) Although the Thecla story is a romance designed to secure apostolic authority for the ideal of virginity, it is probable that it had at least a slight foundation in actual fact. The existence of an influential Thecla-cult at Seleucia favors the view that Thecla was a historical person. Traditions regarding her association with Paul which clustered round the temple in Seleucia built in her honor may have provided the materials for the romance. In the story there are clear historical reminiscences. Tryphaena is a historical character whose existence is established by coins. She was the mother of King Polemon II of Pontus and a relative of the emperor Claudius. There are no grounds for doubting the information given us in the Acts that she was living at Antioch at the time of Paul's first visit. The Acts further reveal striking geographical accuracy in the mention of "the royal road" by which Paul is stated to have traveled from Lystra on his way to Iconium-a statement which is all the more remarkable because, while the road was in use in Paul's time for military reasons, it was given up as a regular route in the last quarter of the 1st century. In the Acts Paul is described as "a man small in stature, bald-headed, bow-legged, of noble demeanor, with meeting eyebrows and a somewhat prominent nose, full of grace. He appeared sometimes like a man, and at other times he had the face of an angel."
This description may quite well rest on reliable tradition. On the ground of the historical features in the story, Ramsay (The Church in the Roman Empire, 375) argued for the existence of a shorter version going back to the 1st century, but this view has not been generally accepted.
(c) The Acts of Paul and Thecla were very widely read and had a remarkable influence owing to the widespread reverence for Thecla, who had a high place among the saints as "the first female martyr." References to the Acts in the Church Fathers are comparatively few, but the romance had an extraordinary vogue among Christians both of the East and of the West. In particular, veneration for Thecla reached its highest point in Gaul, and in a poem entitled "The Banquet" (Caena) written by Cyprian, a poet of South-Gaul in the 5th century, Thecla stands on the same level as the great characters of Biblical history. The later Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena are entirely derived from the Acts of Paul and Thecla.
(2) Another important fragment of the Acts of Paul is that containing the so-called Third Epistle to the Corinthians. Paul is represented as being in prison at Philippi (not at the time of Acts 16:23, but at some later time). His incarceration was due to his influence over Stratonice, the wife of Apollophanes. The Corinthians who had been disturbed by two teachers of heresy sent a letter to Paul describing their pernicious doctrines, which were to the effect that the prophets had no authority, that God was not almighty, that there was no resurrection of the body, that man had not been made by God, that Christ had not come in the flesh or been born of Mary, and that the world was not the work of God but of angels. Paul was sorely distressed on receipt of this epistle and, "under much affliction," wrote an answer in which the popular Gnostic views of the false teachers are vehemently opposed. This letter which abounds in allusions to several of the Pauline epistles is chiefly remarkable from the fact that it found a place, along with the letter which called it forth, among canonical writings in the Syrian and Armenian churches after the second century. The correspondence was strangely enough believed to be genuine by Rinck who edited it in 1823. The original Greek version has not been preserved, but it exists in Coptic (not quite complete), in Armenian and in two Latin translations (both mutilated), besides being incorporated in Ephraem's commentary (in Armenian translation). The Syriac version has been lost.
(3) Besides the two portions of the Acts of Paul mentioned above there are others of less value, the Healing of a Dropsical Man at Myra by the apostle (a continuation of the Thecla-narrative), Paul's conflict with wild beasts at Ephesus (based on the misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 15:32), two short citations by Origen, and a concluding section describing the apostle's martyrdom under Nero, to whom Paul appeared after his death. Clement of Alexandria quotes a passage (Strom., VI, 5, 42)-a fragment from the mission-preaching of Paul-which may have belonged to the Acts of Paul; and the same origin is possible for the account of Paul's speech in Athens given by John of Salisbury (circa 1156) in the Policraticus, IV, 3.
3. Authorship and Date:
From a passage in Tertullian (De Baptismo, chapter 17) we learn that the author of the Acts of Paul was "a presbyter of Asia, who wrote the book with the intention of increasing the dignity of Paul by additions of his own," and that "he was removed from office when, having been convicted, he confessed that he had done it out of love to Paul." This testimony of Tertullian is supported by the evidence of the writing itself which, as we have seen, shows in several details exact knowledge of the topography and local history of Asia Minor. A large number of the names occurring in these Acts are found in inscriptions of Smyrna, although it would be precarious on that ground to infer that the author belonged to that city. It is possible that he was a native of a town where Thecla enjoyed peculiar reverence and that the tradition of her association with Paul, the preacher of virginity, was the chief motive for his writing the book. Along with this was linked the motive to oppose the views of some Gnostics (the Bardesanites). The date of the Acts of Paul is the latter half of the second century, probably between 160 and 180 A.D.
4. Character and Tendency:
The Acts of Paul, though written to enhance the dignity of the apostle, clearly show that both in respect of intellectual equipment and in breadth of moral vision the author, with all his love for Paul, was no kindred spirit. The intellectual level of the Acts is low. There is throughout great poverty in conception; the same motif occurs without variation; and the defects of the author's imagination have their counterpart in a bare and inartistic diction. New Testament passages are frequently and freely quoted. The view which the author presents of Christianity is narrow and one-sided. Within its limits it is orthodox in sentiment; there is nothing to support the opinion of Lipsius that the work is a revision of a Gnostic writing. The frequent occurrence of supernatural events and the strict asceticism which characterize the Acts are no proof of Gnostic influence. The dogmatic is indeed anti-Gnostic, as we see in the correspondence with the Corinthians. "The Lord Jesus Christ was born of Mary, of the Seed of David, the Father having sent the Spirit from heaven into her."
The resurrection of the body is assured by Christ's resurrection from the dead. Resurrection, however, is only for those who believe in it-in this we have the one thought which betrays any originality on the part of the author: "they who say that there is no resurrection shall have no resurrection." With faith in the resurrection is associated the demand for strict sexual abstinence. Only they who are pure (i.e. who live in chastity) shall see God. "Ye have no part in the resurrection unless ye remain chaste and defile not the flesh." The gospel which the apostle preached was "the word regarding self-control and the resurrection." In the author's desire to secure authority for a prevalent form of Christianity, which demanded sexual abstinence as a condition of eternal life, we recognize the chief aim of the book. Paul is represented as the apostle of this popular conception, and his teaching is rendered attractive by the miraculous and supernatural elements which satisfied the crude taste of the time.
Books mentioned under "Literature" (p. 188); C. Schmidt, "Die Paulusakten" (Neue Jahrbucher, 217, 1897), Acta Pauli (1904); dealing with Acts of Paul and Thecla Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire (4th edition, 1895); Conybeare, The Apology and Acts of Apollonius. (1894); Cabrol, La legende de sainte Thecle (1895), Orr, The New Testament Apocrypha Writings (introd. translation, and notes, 1903). For further literature see Hennecke, Handbuch, etc., 358, Pick, Apocrypha Acts, 1, 8.
II. Acts of Peter.
A large portion (almost two-thirds) of the Acts of Peter is preserved in a Latin translation-the Actus Vercellenses, so named from the town of Vercelli in Piedmont, where the manuscript containing them lies in the chapter-library. A Coptic fragment discovered and published (1903) by C. Schmidt contains a narrative with the subscription Praxis Petrou (Act of Peter). Schmidt is of opinion that this fragment formed part of the work to which the Actus Vercellenses also belonged, but this is somewhat doubtful. The fragment deals with an incident in Peter's ministry at Jerusalem, while the Act. Vercell., which probably were meant to be a continuation of the canonical Acts, give an account of Peter's conflict with Simon Magus and of his martyrdom at Rome. References in ecclesiastical writers (Philastrius of Brescia, Isidore of Pelusium and Photius) make it practically certain that the Actus Vercellensus belong to the writing known as the Acts of Peter, which was condemned in the rescript of Innocent I (405 A.D.) and in the Gelasian Decree (496 A.D.).
(1) The Coptic Fragment contains the story of Peter's paralytic daughter. One Sunday while Peter was engaged in healing the sick a bystander asked him why he did not make his own daughter whole. To show that God was able to effect the cure through him, Peter made his daughter sound for a short time and then bade her return to her place and become as before. He explained that the affliction had been laid upon her to save her from defilement, as a rich man Ptolemy had been enamored of her and had desired to make her his wife. Ptolemy's grief at not receiving her had been such that he became blind. As the result of a vision he had come to Peter, had received his sight and had been converted, and when he died he had left a piece of land to Peter's daughter. This land Peter had sold and had given the proceeds to the poor. Augustine (Contra Adimantum, 17.5) makes a reference to this story but does not mention Acts of Peter. There are also two references to the incident in the Acts of Philip. In the later Acts of Nereus and Achilleus the story is given with considerable changes, the name of Peter's daughter, which is not mentioned in the fragment, being given as Petronilla.
(2) The contents of the Actus Vercellenses fall into three parts:
(a) The first three chapters which clearly are a continuation of some other narrative and would fitly join on to the canonical Acts tell of Paul's departure to Spain.
(b) The longest section of the Acts (4-32) gives an account of the conflict between Peter and Simon Magus at Rome. Paul had not been gone many days when Simon, who "claimed to be the great power of God," came to Rome and perverted many of the Christians. Christ appeared in a vision to Peter at Jerusalem and bade him sail at once for Italy. Arrived at Rome Peter confirmed the congregation, declaring that he came to establish faith in Christ not by words merely but by miraculous deeds and powers (allusion to 1 Corinthians 4:20 1 Thessalonians 1:5). On the entreaty of the brethren Peter went to seek out Simon in the house of one named Marcellus, whom the magician had seduced, and when Simon refused to see him, Peter unloosed a dog and bade it go and deliver his challenge. The result of this marvel was the repentance of Marcellus. A section follows describing the mending of a broken statue by sprinkling the pieces with water in the name of Jesus. Meantime the dog had given Simon a lecture and had pronounced on him the doom of unquenchable fire.
After reporting on its errand and speaking words of encouragement to Peter, the dog expired at the apostle's feet. A smoked fish is next made to swim. The faith of Marcellus waxed strong at the sight of the wonders which Peter wrought, and Simon was driven out of him house with every mark of contempt. Simon, enraged at this treatment, came to challenge Peter. An infant of seven months speaking in a manly voice denounced Simon and made him speechless until the next Sabbath day. Christ appeared in a vision of the night encouraging Peter, who when morning was come narrated to the congregation his triumph over Simon, "the angel of Satan," in Judea. Shortly afterward, in the house of Marcellus which had been "cleansed from every vestige of Simon," Peter unfolded the true understanding of the gospel. The adequacy of Christ to meet every kind of need is shown in a characteristic passage which reveals docetic traits: "He will comfort you that you may love Him, this Great and Small One, this Beautiful and Ugly One, this Youth and Old Man, appearing in time yet utterly invisible in eternity, whom a human hand has not grasped, who yet is now grasped by His servants, whom flesh had not seen and now sees," etc. Next in a wonderful blaze of heavenly light blind widows received their sight and declared the different forms in which Christ had appeared to them.
A vision of Marcellus is described in which the Lord appearing in the likeness of Peter struck down with a sword "the whole power of Simon," which had come in the form of an ugly Ethiopian woman, very black and clad in filthy rags. Then follows the conflict with Simon in the forum in presence of the senators and prefects. Words were first exchanged between the combatants; then from words it came to deeds, in which the power of Peter was signally exhibited as greater than Simon's in the raising of the dead. Simon was now discredited in Rome, and in a last attempt to recover his influence he declared that he would ascend to God Before the assembled crowd he flew up over the city, but in answer to Peter's prayer to Christ he fell down and broke his leg in three places. He was removed from Rome and after having his limb amputated died.
(c) The Actus Vercellenses close with an account of Peter's martyrdom (33-41) Peter had recurred the enmity of several influential citizens by persuading their wives to separate from them. Then follows the well-known "Quo vadis?" story. Peter being warned of the danger he was in fled from Rome; but meeting Christ and leaning that He was going to the city to be crucified again, Peter returned and was condemned to death. At the place of execution Peter expounded the mystery of the cross. He asked to be crucified head downward, and when this was done he explained in words betraying Gnostic influence why he had so desired it. After a prayer of a mystical nature Peter gave up the ghost. Nero was enraged that Peter should have been put to death without his knowledge, because he had meant to heap punishments upon him. Owing to a vision he was deterred from a rigorous persecution of the Christians. (The account of Peter's martyrdom is also found in the Greek original.)
It is plain from the account given of these Acts that they are entirely legendary in character. They have not the slightest value as records of the activity of Peter.
2. Historical Value:
They are in reality the creation of the ancient spirit which delighted in the marvelous and which conceived that the authority of Christianity rested on the ability of its representatives to surpass all others in their possession of supernatural power. The tradition that Simon Magus exercised a great influence in Rome and that a statue was erected to him (10) may have had some basis in fact. Justin Martyr (Apol, I, 26, 56) states that Simon on account of the wonderful deeds which he wrought in Rome was regarded as a god and had a statue set up in his honor. But grave doubts are thrown on the whole story by the inscription SEMONI SANCO DEO FIDIO SACRUM which was found on a stone pedestal at Rome in 1574. This refers to a Sabine deity Semo Sancus, and the misunderstanding of it may have led to Justin's statement and possibly was the origin of the whole legend of Simon's activity at Rome. The tradition that Peter died a martyr's death at Rome is early, but no reliance can be placed on the account of it given in the Acts of Peter.
3. Authorship and Date:
Nothing can be said with any certainty as to the authorship of the Acts of Peter. James (Apocrypha Anecdota, II) believes them to be from the same hand as the Acts of John, and in this he is supported by Zahn (Gesch. des New Testament Kanons, II, 861). But all that can definitely be said is that both these Acts had their origin in the same religious atmosphere. Both are at home on the soil of Asia Minor. Opinion is not unanimous on the question where the Acts of Peter were written, but a number of small details as well as the general character of the book point to an origin in Asia Minor rather than at Rome. There is no knowledge of Roman conditions, while on the other hand there are probable reminiscences of historical persons who lived in Asia Minor. The date is about the close of the 2nd century.
4. General Character:
The Acts of Peter were used by heretical sects and were subjected to ecclesiastical censure. That however does not necessarily imply a heretical origin. There are traces in them of a spirit which in later times was regarded as heretical, but they probably originated within the church in an environment strongly tinged by Gnostic ideas. We find the principle of Gnosticism in the stress that is laid on understanding the Lord (22). The Gnostic view that the Scripture required to be supplemented by a secret tradition committed to the apostles is reflected in several passages (20 in particular). At the time of their earthly fellowship with Christ the apostles were not able to understand the full revelation of God. Each saw only so far as he was able to see. Peter professes to communicate what he had received from the Lord "in a mystery." There are slight traces of the docetic heresy. The mystical words of Peter as he hung on the cross are suggestive of Gnostic influence (33). In these Acts we find the same negative attitude to creation and the same pronounced ascetic sprat as in the others. "The virgins of the Lord" are held in special honor (22). Water is used instead of wine at the Eucharist. Very characteristic of the Acts of Peter is the emphasis laid on the boundless mercy of God in Christ toward the backsliding (especially 7). This note frequently recurring is a welcome revelation of the presence of the true gospel-message in communities whose faith was allied with the grossest superstition.
Books mentioned under "Literature" (p. 188). In addition, Ficker, Die Petrusakten, Beitrage zu ihrem Verstandnis (1903); Harnack, "Patristische Miscellen" (TU, V, 3, 1900).
III. Acts of John.
According to the Stichometry of Nicephorus the Acts of John in their complete state formed a book about the same length as the Gospel of Matthew. A number of sections which show links of connection with one another are extant-about two-thirds of the whole. The beginning of the Acts is wanting, the existing narrative commencing at 18. What the contents of the earlier chapters were we cannot surmise. In Bonnet's reconstruction the first fourteen chapters deal with John's journey from Ephesus to Rome and his banishment to Patmos, while 15-17 describe John's return to Ephesus from Patmos. The sections given by Bonnet may contain material which belonged to the original Acts, but it is improbable that they stood at the beginning of the work, as it seems clear that the narrative commencing at 18 describes John's first visit to Ephesus. The first extant portion of the Acts (18-25) narrates that Lycomedes "the commander-in-chief of the Ephesians" met John as he drew near the city and besought him on behalf of his beautiful wife Cleopatra, who had become paralyzed.
When they came to the house the grief of Lycomedes was so great that he fell down lifeless. After prayer to Christ John made Cleopatra whole and afterward raised Lycomedes to life again. Prevailed upon by their entreaties John took up his abode with them. In 26-29 we have the incident of the picture of John which played so prominent a part in the discussion at the Second Council of Nicea. Lycomedes commissioned a friend to paint a picture of John and when it was completed he put it in bedroom with an altar before it and candlesticks beside it. John discovering why Lycomedes repaired so frequently to his room, taxed him with worshipping a heathen god and learned that the picture was one of himself. This he believed only when a mirror was brought that he might see himself. John charged Lycomedes to paint a picture of his soul and to use as colors faith in God, meekness, love, chastity, etc. As for the picture of his body it was the dead picture of a dead man.
Chapters 30-36 narrate the healing of infirm old women, and in theater where the miracles were wrought John gave an address on the vanity of all earthly things and on the destroying nature of fleshly passion. In 37-45 we read that in answer to the prayer of John the temple of Artemis fell to the ground, with the result that many people were won to the worship of Christ. The priest of Artemis who had been killed through the fall of the temple was raised to life again and became a Christian (46). After the narration of further wonders (one of them the driving of bugs out of a house) follows the longest incident of the Acts, the inexpressibly repulsive story of Drusiana (62-86), which was used as theme of a poem by the nun Hroswitha of Gandersheim (10th century). The following section gives a discourse of John on the life, death and ascension of Jesus (87-105) which is characterized by distinct docetic traits, a long passage dealing with Christ's appearance in many forms and with the peculiar nature of His body. In this section occurs the strange hymn used by the Priscillianists, which purports to be that which Jesus sang after supper in the upper room (Matthew 26:30), the disciples dancing round Him in a ring and responding with "Amen." Here too we find the mystic doctrine of the Cross revealed to John by Christ. Chapters 106-15 narrate the end of John. After addressing the brethren and dispensing the sacrament of the Lord's Supper with bread alone, John ordered a grave to be dug; and when this was done, he prayed, giving thanks that he had been delivered from "the filthy madness of the flesh" and asking a safe passage through the darkness and dangers of death. Whereupon he lay down quietly in the grave and gave up the ghost.
2. Historical Value:
The Acts of John, it need hardly be said, have not the slightest historical value. They are a tissue of legendary incidents which by their miraculous character served to insinuate into the popular mind the dogmatic conceptions and the ideal of life which the author entertained. The Acts however are in harmony with the well-founded tradition that Ephesus was the scene of John's later activity. Very remarkable is the account of the destruction of the Artemis-temple by John-a clear proof that the Acts were not written in Ephesus. The Ephesian temple of Artemis was destroyed by the Goths in 262 A.D.
3. General Character:
The Acts of John are the most clearly heretical of all the Acts. The docetic traits have already been referred to. The unreality of Christ's bodily existence is shown by the changing forms in which He appeared (88-90), by His ability to do without food (93) and without sleep ("I never at any time saw His eyes closing but only open," 89), by His leaving no footprint when He walked (93), by the varying character of His body when touched, now hard, now soft, now completely immaterial (89, 93) The crucifixion of Jesus, too, was entirely phantasmal (97, 99). The ascension followed immediately on the apparent crucifixion; there was no place for the resurrection of One who had never actually died. Gnostic features are further discernible in the disparagement of the Jewish Law (94), in the view which lays emphasis on a secret tradition committed by Christ to the apostles (96) and in the contempt for those who were not enlightened ("Care not for the many, and them that are outside the mystery despise," 100). The historical incidents of Christ's sufferings are sublimated into something altogether mystical (101); they are simply a symbol of human suffering, and the object of Christ's coming is represented as being to enable men to understand the true meaning of suffering and thus to be delivered from it (96). The real sufferings of Christ are those caused by His grief at the sins of His followers (106).
He is also a partaker in the sufferings of His faithful people, and indeed is present with them to be their support in every trial (103). The Acts of John also reveal a strong encratite tendency, although that is not so pronounced as in the Acts of Andrew and of Thomas. Nowhere however do we get a more horrifying glimpse into the depths of corrupt sexualism than in these Acts. The writing and circulation of the story of Drusiana cast a lurid light on the gross sensual elements which survived in early Hellenic Christianity. Apart from this there are passages which reveal a warm and true religious feeling and some of the prayers are marked by glow and unction (112). The Acts show that the author was a man of considerable literary ability; in this respect they form a striking contrast to the Acts of Paul.
4. Authorship and Date:
The author of the Acts of John represents himself as a companion of the apostle. He has participated in the events which he describes, and in consequence the narrative possesses a certain lively quality which gives it the appearance of actual history. The author according to testimony which goes back to the 4th century was Leucius, but nothing can with any certainty be said of him (see above A, VI). It is possible that in some part of the Acts which is lost the author mentioned his name The early date of the Acts is proved by a reference in Clement of Alexandria (circa 200) to the immaterial nature of Christ's body, the passage plainly indicating that Clement was acquainted with the Acts or had heard another speak of them (Hypotyposeis on 1 John 1:1). The probable date is between 150 and 180 and Asia Minor is the place of origin.
The Acts of John exerted a wide influence. They are in all probability the earliest of the Apocryphal Acts and those written later owe much to them. The Acts of Peter and of Andrew show so close affinities with the Acts of John that some have regarded them as being from the same hand; but if that be not so, there is much to be said for the literary dependence of the former on the latter. We are probably right in stating that the author of the Acts of John was the pioneer in this sphere of apostolic romance and that others eagerly followed in the way which he had opened up.
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SPURIOUS, ACTS, EPISTLES, GOSPELS
See APOCRYPHAL ACTS; APOCRYPHAL EPISTLES; APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS.
ACTS OF PILATE
pi'-lat, pi'-lat. See APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS.
a-pok'-ri-fal. See APOCRYPHAL ACTS.
PILATE, ACTS OF
See following article, 4, and APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS.
Easton's Bible Dictionary
Acts of the Apostles
The title now given to the fifth and last of the historical books of the New Testament. The author styles it a "treatise" (1:1). It was early called "The Acts," "The Gospel of the Holy Ghost," and "The Gospel of the Resurrection." It contains properly no account of any of the apostles except Peter and Paul. John is noticed only three times; and all that is recorded of James, the son of Zebedee, is his execution by Herod. It is properly therefore not the history of the "Acts of the Apostles," a title which was given to the book at a later date, but of "Acts of Apostles," or more correctly, of "Some Acts of Certain Apostles."
As regards its authorship, it was certainly the work of Luke, the "beloved physician" (Comp. Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1). This is the uniform tradition of antiquity, although the writer nowhere makes mention of himself by name. The style and idiom of the Gospel of Luke and of the Acts, and the usage of words and phrases common to both, strengthen this opinion. The writer first appears in the narrative in 16:11, and then disappears till Paul's return to Philippi two years afterwards, when he and Paul left that place together (20:6), and the two seem henceforth to have been constant companions to the end. He was certainly with Paul at Rome (28; Colossians 4:14). Thus he wrote a great portion of that history from personal observation. For what lay beyond his own experience he had the instruction of Paul. If, as is very probable, 2 Timothy was written during Paul's second imprisonment at Rome, Luke was with him then as his faithful companion to the last (2 Timothy 4:11). Of his subsequent history we have no certain information.
The design of Luke's Gospel was to give an exhibition of the character and work of Christ as seen in his history till he was taken up from his disciples into heaven; and of the Acts, as its sequel, to give an illustration of the power and working of the gospel when preached among all nations, "beginning at Jerusalem." The opening sentences of the Acts are just an expansion and an explanation of the closing words of the Gospel. In this book we have just a continuation of the history of the church after Christ's ascension. Luke here carries on the history in the same spirit in which he had commenced it. It is only a book of beginnings, a history of the founding of churches, the initial steps in the formation of the Christian society in the different places visited by the apostles. It records a cycle of "representative events."
All through the narrative we see the ever-present, all-controlling power of the ever-living Saviour. He worketh all and in all in spreading abroad his truth among men by his Spirit and through the instrumentality of his apostles.
The time of the writing of this history may be gathered from the fact that the narrative extends down to the close of the second year of Paul's first imprisonment at Rome. It could not therefore have been written earlier than A.D. 61 or 62, nor later than about the end of A.D. 63. Paul was probably put to death during his second imprisonment, about A.D. 64, or, as some think, 66.
The place where the book was written was probably Rome, to which Luke accompanied Paul.
The key to the contents of the book is in 1:8, "Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." After referring to what had been recorded in a "former treatise" of the sayings and doings of Jesus Christ before his ascension, the author proceeds to give an account of the circumstances connected with that event, and then records the leading facts with reference to the spread and triumphs of Christianity over the world during a period of about thirty years. The record begins with Pentecost (A.D. 33) and ends with Paul's first imprisonment (A.D. 63 or 64). The whole contents of the book may be divided into these three parts:
(1.) Chaps. 1-12, describing the first twelve years of the Christian church. This section has been entitled "From Jerusalem to Antioch." It contains the history of the planting and extension of the church among the Jews by the ministry of Peter.
(2.) Chaps. 13-21, Paul's missionary journeys, giving the history of the extension and planting of the church among the Gentiles.
(3.) Chaps. 21-28, Paul at Rome, and the events which led to this. Chaps. 13-28 have been entitled "From Antioch to Rome."
In this book it is worthy of note that no mention is made of the writing by Paul of any of his epistles. This may be accounted for by the fact that the writer confined himself to a history of the planting of the church, and not to that of its training or edification. The relation, however, between this history and the epistles of Paul is of such a kind, i.e., brings to light so many undesigned coincidences, as to prove the genuineness and authenticity of both, as is so ably shown by Paley in his Horae Paulinae. "No ancient work affords so many tests of veracity; for no other has such numerous points of contact in all directions with contemporary history, politics, and topography, whether Jewish, or Greek, or Roman." Lightfoot. (see PAUL.)
Strong's Hebrew4190. moshaah -- saving acts...
<< 4189, 4190. moshaah. 4191 >>. saving acts
. Transliteration: moshaah Phonetic
Spelling: (mo-shaw-aw') Short Definition: deliverances. ... /hebrew/4190.htm - 6k
4603. maal -- to act unfaithfully or treacherously
... or treacherously NASB Word Usage act (1), acted (2), acted treacherously (2), acting
(1), acting treacherously (1), acting unfaithfully (1), acts (2), became ...
/hebrew/4603.htm - 6k
5039. nebalah -- senselessness, disgrace
... Word Origin from nabal Definition senselessness, disgrace NASB Word Usage act of
folly (2), disgraceful act (1), disgraceful acts (1), disgraceful thing (3 ...
/hebrew/5039.htm - 6k
954. bosh -- to be ashamed
... root Definition to be ashamed NASB Word Usage acted shamefully (1), acts shamefully
(3), ashamed (60), ashamed at all (1), became anxious (1), become dry (1 ...
/hebrew/954.htm - 6k
1369. geburah -- strength, might
... from gabar Definition strength, might NASB Word Usage courage (1), might (26), mighty
(1), mighty acts (3), mighty deeds (4), mighty ones (1), mighty strength ...
/hebrew/1369.htm - 6k
3372a. yare -- to fear
... root Definition to fear NASB Word Usage afraid (100), awesome (21), awesome acts
(1), awesome things (4), became afraid (1), became...frightened (2), become ...
/hebrew/3372a.htm - 6k
1697. dabar -- speech, word
... Word Origin from dabar Definition speech, word NASB Word Usage account (2), account*
(2), act (1), acts (52), advice (3), affair (3), affairs (3), agreement (1 ...
/hebrew/1697.htm - 8k
6381. pala -- to be surpassing or extraordinary
... 1), seemed hard (1), show your power (1), things...difficult (1), things...wonderful
(1), too difficult (2), wonderful (4), wonderful acts (1), wonderful deeds ...
/hebrew/6381.htm - 6k
7562. resha -- wickedness
... Word Origin from the same as rasha Definition wickedness NASB Word Usage evil (2),
Ill-gotten (1), wicked (4), wicked acts (1), wickedness (23). ...
/hebrew/7562.htm - 6k
2154. zimmah -- a plan, device, wickedness
... Word Origin from zamam Definition a plan, device, wickedness NASB Word Usage acts
of lewdness (1), crime (1), devising (1), evil intent (1), immorality (2 ...
/hebrew/2154.htm - 6k