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Answered 2015-07-16 17:45:14

Luke does not specifically state his reasons or intent in writing Acts. However, he does make it clear in the Acts 1 prologue that he was continuing from where he left off in the Gospel of Luke. So the same approach would apply seeing it is the same author following a chronology in time having covered the life of Jesus and now moving into the life and history of the early church.

It has been said by a number of commentators that Acts could well be titled 'The Acts of the Holy Spirit' and this is one of Luke's reasons. He is intending to show how the work begun by Jesus in terms of His acts and His teaching was continued on by the Holy Spirit after Jesus' return to heaven. This is clear also from the prologue and opening verses in Acts.

Luke was also clearly seeking to highlight some clear scriptural principles relating to the church both then and now. The Holy Spirit came when' they were all of one accord in one place' (Acts 2:1) and in so doing were in a state of obedience to their master who had told them to 'wait for the promise of the Father which...ye have heard of me.' (Acts 1:4) Thus there are blessings upon unity and 'problems' and a definite grieving if the Holy Spirit in disunity. This theme recurs in the story of Ananias and Sapphira and when Paul and Mark parted company. Even the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 was an important step in curbing disunity.

Certainly Luke intended to give a history of the early church and how the Gospel message spread in the early years from the day of Pentecost onwards. He shows the role persecution played in helping spread the message as Christians being scattered actually spread the Gospel more than they did before. This emphasis comes through in a number of places from the very first where 3000 were saved under the preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost and another 5000 after the healing of the lame man.

The significant thing about the day of Pentecost being the Jews present 'out of every nation under heaven' (2:5) who were present for the rituals surrounding the Feast of Pentecost. These when converted would have taken the message home with them at a very early date. Luke also deals with the first spread of the message to non-Jews in Cornelius (chapter 10) and the first recorded African conversion in the Ethiopian eunuch (chapter 8).

Paul's 4 missionary journeys of course play a very prominent part in the evangelism theme and form a major part of the whole work.

Luke also intends to give an account of key events and key people in the life of the early church. This is in line with standard practice among ancient authors, who, having limited space on their writing media could not cover as much as we can today and so only tended to deal with essentials. He covers a number of martyrdoms such as Stephen and James the Apostle. The incidental historical details which occur throughout the work have led a number of skeptical archaeologists to faith when they discovered the accuracy of Luke's work at first hand. So not only does he cover important details, but he does it with accuracy and attention to detail.

Thus we have:

1. The ongoing work of Jesus Christ in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

2. The spread of the early church, the first converts and how the Gospel message spread.

3. A history of the early church -people, places and sequential events.

4. The theme of unity/disunity.

The prologues of both works are included here.

Luke 1:1-4 (King James Version)1Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

2Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

3It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

4That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

Acts 1:1-3 (King James Version)1The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

2Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

3To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

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