The Book of Acts is Part 2 of Luke's gospel. In fact he states this at the start of Acts. The gospel, obviously,
deals with the life of Jesus culminating in his death and resurrection. The Book of Acts carries on from there to give
an account of what happed after this. There is an interesting literary technique that Luke uses so that references or
at the beginning of Acts. The first one matches the end of the gospel. Then a second one steps backwards
into the gospel. A third references matches the third last reference in the gospel and so on. |
The Book of Acts (as it is known) appears to be more loosely written than the tightly packed stories about the life of
Jesus. The first part of the book largely deals with the very early church. Then in Ch 15 there is an account of a Church
in which the Church leaders try to work out how to integrate the many gentile (non-Jew) people who want to join them.
The leaders, namely James, decide on a formula to avoid blood, fornication and strangulation. It appears (and to many then
now) that this was about dietary rules the new converts needed to follow - instead of the intricate rules of Judaism,
But if viewed in another way, the three rules could refer to the avoidance of cruelty of any kind
(something rife in the Roman Empire of the time). They meant to avoid sexual relations without commitment (Temple prostitution was
one example of this). The rule about strangulation could also mean to avoid unjust business
practices (and not just obvious stealing). In this way the rules were a "raising of the bar" of the three commandments of
"thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal" |
After the Church council in Ch 15 the book of Acts mainly has a focus on the adventures of St Paul (i.e. Saul who was renamed Paul).
out into the Gentile Communities and founded churches around Asia. He set out a model of church for future generations
of Christians to follow.
In the Book of Acts there are themes, for example about "the Word," which are picked up in the gospel of John.
This theme for instance
has much to teach about democracy and the voice of the people which is a model of society that comes from the Roman Empire
Greek philosophy and which is continued today.