AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT by A H McNeile. Copyright A H McNeile - first published at the University Press, Oxford 1927. 2nd Edition revised by C S C Williams 1953. - This Edition prepared for Katapi in Arial Unicode MS by Paul Ingram 2003.


Lindisfarne Gospels: Folio 137b: Luke


HOME | Contents | Introduction | The Purpose of the Acts | The Arrangement | The Sources | The Authorship and Historical Value | Bibliography | (pages 92-103)

the historical and literary problems of the book of the Acts are as great as any in the New Testament.
There is practically universal agreement that it was written by the author of the Third Gospel,
[Contrast A. C. dark. The Acts of the Apostles, 1933, pp. 393 ff.
His linguistic arguments have been convincingly refuted by W. L. Knox, The Acts of the Apostles, 1948, pp. 1-15, 100-9.]
but the agreement is not at all universal as to who the author was.
And the question of authorship is bound up with nearly every other problem that meets us in the two books.
The traditional view, unquestioned till the close of the eighteenth century, but seriously questioned in the nineteenth, was that St. Luke, the companion of St. Paul mentioned in Col.iv.14; Philem.24; 2 Tim.iv.11, was the author, and that he wrote it in Rome at the point of time at which the narrative ceases, when St. Paul had been a prisoner for two years and was still preaching unhindered to all who came to him.



This was the first question to which historical criticism of the book turned its attention.
It was noticed that the contents did not really answer to the title 'The Acts of the Apostles'.
Chapters i- contain a few early scenes in the Church's life, in which, apart from St. Paul's conversion, attention is directed chiefly to St. Peter; and chapters i-xxviii contain accounts, some in full detail, others slight and rapid sketches, of some of St. Paul's movements.
The variety of suggestions made as to the purpose and nature of the book may be seen in McGiffert's useful survey of 'Historical criticism of Acts in Germany' in The Beginnings of Christianity, ii. 363 ft.
The theory of the Tiibingen school of F.C. Baur and his followers that the early Church was rent asunder by Pauline and Judaizing factions, and that both the Third Gospel and the Acts were attempts to reconcile them, has now been generally abandoned, at least in its earlier and more uncompromising form.
Under the influence of it Bruno Bauer held that Acts was a quite unhistorical description, in the form of narrative, of the condition of peace and harmony between the two factions, which developed [as] Judaism had evolved.
And Overbeck's view was a variation of this - that the Church never accepted pure Paulinism; it was influenced from the first by Judaism; and Acts represents not Paulinism but a rationale of the conceptions about the Apostle which were formed by Christian Judaism.
It was not an eirenicon, but the work of one who knew of no condition of things except the developed Christian Judaism of his day.
Speaking generally, the view, which was widely held fifty years ago, was that the author reproduced the idealized picture formed by the Christians of his time of the origin and early years of the Catholic Church.
But the work done since J. B. Lightfoot, especially by English-speaking scholars, has made it increasingly clear that the author intended to write history, and that an injustice is done to him if his own words about himself are not taken in their prima facie meaning.
There is little doubt that the preface prefixed to his Gospel was intended to cover both Gospel and Acts, and that Acts i opens with a secondary preface introducing his second volume.

It is necessary once more to remind the reader that it was the custom in antiquity, on account of the purely physical conditions of writing, to divide works into volumes, to prefix to the first a preface for the whole, and to add secondary prefaces to the beginning of each later one.
The impression made on the English reader by Acts i.1, that the author is making a new start or at least preparing a kind of sequel to his gospel, would not occur to an early reader.
The book of Acts is no afterthought.
The word 'treatise' implies a more complete work than does λόγος - (logos).
The reference to the preceding book, and the renewed address to the patron, are typical of these secondary prefaces in Greek and Latin literature, and are intended to recall the original preface to the reader.
Luke i. 1-4 therefore is not merely of indirect value to the student of Acts as an introduction to another work written by the same author and addressed to the same patron.
It is the real preface to Acts as well as to the Gospel, written by the author when he contemplated not merely one but both volumes.'
[Cadbury, in Beginnings of Christianity, ii, 1922, 491 f.
In the opening of the Acts a resume is given of the contents of the
πρῶτος λόγος - (protos logos) which might naturally have been followed, as commonly in such cases, by a statement of how much the δεύτερος λόγος - (deuteros logos) was intended to embrace. And it is a likely conjecture that such a statement (in which the μέν of v. i found its answering δέ has been lost after ἀνελήφθη - (anelephthe). See Norden, Agnostos Tluos, pp. 311 ff.]

In v. 4 he states that he is writing that Theophilus may know the certainty concerning the things of which he has been informed.
Claiming accurate acquaintance with the facts by careful research and inquiry, he can give him information that he can safely accept as trustworthy.
What is not so certain is the purpose that he had in view in giving him this information.
Cadbury's notes on the passage show that there are hardly any words in it whose exact significance is beyond dispute. There is no good reason for thinking that Θεόφιλος - (Theophilos) is an adjective, symbolical of 'the Christian reader', 'the God-lover' in general.
But we cannot be sure whether the person addressed was a high official, in which case κράτιστε - (kratiste) is a recognized title of respect and Theophilus perhaps a prudential pseudonym, or simply a friend or acquaintance of St. Luke to whom he wished to be polite.
Perhaps the formality of the address is merely a literary convention.
The word κατηχήθης - (katechethes) does not necessarily imply that he was a Christian who had received catechetical instruction; it can have the same force as in Acts xviii.25, where it is used of receiving information that was accurate but incom?plete, and in xxi.21, 24 where the information is inaccurate.
If Theophilus was a Roman official, St. Luke appears as the first Christian apologist, and his work in two parts had an object similar to that of the Epistle to Diognetus. It was to show him, and all others whom it might concern, what Christianity really was, its origin and character, and the nature of and reasons for its expansion from its Jewish nucleus till it embraced Gentiles as far as the capital of the empire.
Its origin and character are shown in the first volume by an account of Him from whom it sprang; its development in the second, together with indications of the friendly, or at least neutral, attitude towards it which had been taken by one Roman official after another.
But if Theophilus was an official he cannot have been a pagan.
At least he must have been very favourably disposed towards Christianity to have been influenced by the detailed accounts of our Lord's words and deeds in the Gospel, or, indeed, to have read them at all.
The characteristics of the Gospel noted on pp. 14 ff. go far beyond anything required for merely apologetic purposes.
And only one who had breathed, to some extent, the Christian atmosphere could have appreciated the thought which runs through the whole of the Acts, that what Christ had said and done on earth He was continuing to say and do through His Spirit in the Church (see ii.4. 33; v.9, 32; vii.55; viii.15 f., 39; x.44 f.; xi.12, 28; i.2; xv.28; xvi.6 f.; xix.2-6; xx.28; xxi.11).
It is easier to suppose that Theophilus was a Christian or inclined to the Christian faith; perhaps an official, but at any rate someone in a good social position at Rome.
And we know that in the reign of Domitian Christianity may have begun to penetrate to the Roman aristocracy.
[See Lightfoot, Clement, i. 29 ff.; Streeter, op. cit., pp. 535-9. Cf. R. L. P. Milburn, Church Quarterly Review, cxxxix, 1945, pp. 154-64.]

In addressing him St. Luke no doubt wrote for a wider public, as was commonly the case with Greek writers who addressed their work to individuals.
And the apologia in the Acts would be useful in the circumstances of the time.
Theophilus and many others had heard Jewish-Christian doctrine and also specifically Pauline doctrine.
Did this mean that the Jewish apostles and St. Paul had been at variance?
The tension that existed between pro-Jews and pro-Gentiles in the Church could still be felt, although the leaders on both sides had done their best to allay it.
They knew that the Church of that day embraced Gentiles throughout the empire, and that it had not always done so.
Was this universalism a new Pauline departure, or could its roots be traced back into the regime of the first Apostles?
And if so, farther still into the action and teaching of Jesus?
Rome had begun to persecute Christians, but everyone knew that she had not always done so; before the latter part of Nero's reign the Romans had not distinguished them from Jews, whose religion was officially recognized.
On all these and many other points St. Luke felt himself able to provide reliable information, which would show how the Church of his day stood in relation to the Church at the beginning, and he therefore wrote an account of 'the engines of the Christian "way"' (Burkitt).
He had no wish to write biographical notices of the first Apostles or of St. Paul; and to relate the death of the latter or of St. Peter was foreign to his purpose.
That purpose led him to bring the narrative down to the point when Christianity had grown from its embryonic Jewish form till it embraced Rome itself in its catholic embrace; so he concluded with the triumphant account of the greatest of missionaries preaching in the heart of the empire 'unhindered'.
'I believe that the Gospel and the Acts form the two halves of a simple and connected scheme, and that in order to understand it we have only to attach to the two books some such labels as these: Λόγος α´ - (Logos 1).', 'How Jesus the Christ preached the Good News to the Jews, and how after His Death and Resurrection He commissioned His apostles to preach it to the Gentiles'; Λόγος β´ - (Logos 2), 'How they brought the Good News from Jerusalem to Rome'.
'With the two years' unhindered proclamation of the Kingdom in the capital of the world, the evolution of the Jewish-Christian sect into the Universal Church was symbolically accomplished'.
(Turner [The Study of the New Testament 1883 and 1920, p. 30. An inaugural lecture, Oxford.])
'In a word, the title of the Acts might well have been "The Road to Rome"' (Streeter [The Four Gospels, p. 532.]).
A third volume [πρότον - (proton) (i.l) should more strictly have been πρότερον - (proteron), but that is a word which St. Luke never uses. Cf. vii. 12, where πρῶτον[adv.) means 'the first time' followed by καὶ ν τῷ δευτέρω -[kai en to deutero).] of up-to-date history, such as some writers think that he contemplated, could add little to the practical, instructive value of what he had written; and in itself is very unlikely if, as is highly probable, no release of St. Paul and travelling and preaching and second imprisonment intervened before his death (see pp. 196 f.).
To suppose that St. Luke wrote with one chief purpose or tendency is to misunderstand his work.
It is an attempt to describe, in its essentials, his conceptions of Christianity as it was, in order that Theophilus, and others, may rightly understand it as it is, i.e. Judaism in its true form, the Judaism of the true Messiah such as God intended it to be; to show that Christianity as it is results from the continuation in the Church by means of the Holy Spirit of what Jesus 'began both to do and to teach' when He was on earth.
How much of the history is accurate according to modern standards must be decided point by point.
The trustworthiness of many of its details has been abundantly vindicated in recent years.
[Especially by Sir William Ramsay in Saint Paul, the traveller and Roman citizen (1895) and The bearing of recent discovery on the trustworthiness of the New Testament (1915).]

But the writer's object was not to draw up a chronicle of events; he wrote aetiological history, in the sense of a selection of narratives such as seemed to him to account for and substantiate the Christianity of his own date.
'His theme was the advance of Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome as the result of the work of his hero Paul, and the form which imposed itself on him was that of a travel story' (W. L. Knox, op. cit., p. 55).


If the Acts sketches the expansion of Christianity from Jew to Gentile and from Jerusalem to Rome, it is natural to expect a writer as careful and artistic as St. Luke to give some indication of a methodical treatment of his material.
And he does not disappoint us. He cuts the history into 'panels', [Professor C. H. Turner uses this descriptive word in his valuable article 'Chronology of the New Testament' in Hastings's D.B. i.421.] each concluding with a remark that looks back over the events just related and sums up the success attained.
Turner finds six such panels, with the following result:


First Period, i.1.

The Church in Jerusalem and the preaching of St. Peter: summary 'And the word of God was increasing, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem was being greatly multiplied, and a large number of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith',


Second Period, vi.8.

Extension of the Church through Palestine; the preaching of St. Stephen; troubles with the Jews: summary in ix.31 'The Church', then, throughout all Galilee and Judaea and Samaria was having peace, being built up, and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the con?solation of the Holy Spirit was being multiplied',


Third Period, ix.32.

Extension of the Church to Antioch; St. Peter's conversion of Cornelius; further troubles with the Jews: summary in .24 'And the word of the Lord was increasing and being multiplied',


Fourth Period, .25.

Extension of the Church to Asia Minor; preaching of St. Paul in 'Galatia'; troubles with the Jewish Christians: summary in xvi.5 'The Churches, then, were being confirmed in the faith, and were abounding more in number daily',


Fifth Period, xvi.6.

Extension of the Church to Europe; St. Paul's missionary work in the great centres, such as Corinth and Ephesus: summary in xix.20 'So forcibly was the word of the Lord increasing and prevailing',


Sixth Period, xix.21.

Extension of the Church to Rome; St. Paul's captivities: summarized in xxviii.31 'proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching the things con?cerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness unhindered'.

Of these six sections the protagonist in the first three is St. Peter, in the last three St. Paul; and the two halves into which the book thus naturally falls make almost equal divisions at the middle of the whole period covered.
That the 'panels' comprise chronological periods is accepted and elaborated by C. J. Cadoux [J.T.S. xix, 1918, pp. 333 ff.] and Bacon. [Harvard Theol. Rev., April 1921, pp. 137-66.]
The former notes an earlier summary statement in ii.47b ('and the Lord was adding those that were being saved daily together'),
[᾽Επὶ τὸ αὐτό - (Epi to auto).
This difficult expression led to the reading of E P, τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ - (te ekklesia) followed by ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτο δὲ Πέτρος κτλ - (epi to auto de Petros ktl)., adopted in the Tyndale, Cranmer, Geneva, and Authorized Versions.
See Burkitt, J.T.S. xx, 1918-19, pp. 321-4. Cf. F.J. Foakes Jackson, Harvard Theol. Rev. x, 1917, reviewing C. C. Torrey's The Composition and Date of Acts (1916).
Luke's ignorance of Palestinian Aramaic probably made him take לחדא 'greatly' as if it were יחרו and so he translated it ἐπὶτὸ αὐτό - (epi to auto).]

from which the chronological series starts.
[Jackson and Lake (Beginnings of Christianity, ii. 177) further suggest xi.21, but that is not so clearly a summary of a period intended to articulate the history.]

And by identifying the visit of St. Paul to Jerusalem of Gal.ii with that of Acts xi (see pp. 118 ff.), and making use of the Gallic inscription found at Delphi (seep. 124), which was published seven years later than Turner's article, he dates the summaries as follows:



immediately after Pentecost ad 29;



in the middle or early part of 34;



between 36 and the early months of 41;



after Nisan 1st, 44, and before the beginning of 47;



a few weeks before the Passover of 49;



between Jan. 53 and March or April 55;



in the early part of 59.

He further makes the ingenious (perhaps over-ingenious) suggestion that St. Luke splits the history into six periods of five years each, beginning with the Pentecosts of 29, 34, 39, 44, 49) 54) thus covering a total period of thirty' years, which was about the length of time covered by his Gospel.

Bacon agrees with the quinquennial arrangement, and strives to substantiate it with some drastic criticism of St. Luke's accuracy, both in facts and in the order of events.

These periods correspond to some extent with stages in the geographical progress of Christianity, as Turner points out.
[So Moffatt, Introd. Lit. N. T., pp. 284 f.]
The geographical steps, however, are not strictly distinct.
The extension through Palestine (2nd period) is partly parallel to the extension to Antioch (3rd period); and xvi.5 occurs in the middle of a journey in which St. Paul revisits places already evangelized.
Moreover, there were Christians in Damascus (ix.10 ff.), Ephesus (xviii.19 f., xix.i f.), Troas (xx.7-12), Puteoli (xxviii.3 f.), Rome ( xviii.2 f., xxviii.14 f.) before St. Paul is recorded to have preached in those towns.
Goguel [Introduction au Nouveau Testament, iii, 1922, p. 154, n. i, pp. 148-53 providing his grounds for his first point.], however, questions the views of Turner, Cadoux, Moffatt, and Bacon on the grounds that the development of the narrative of Acts is not at all 'rectilinear' and that an author intending to divide his account into equal chronological periods would have left more precise indications of his intention than the author of Acts does.

This is not the place to discuss the chronology of the Acts; but it seems possible that St. Luke arranges and divides his narrative according to a deliberate plan, which heightens the impression of a steady and regular forward movement, even if he goes back sometimes to pick up the threads of his story.


That St. Luke gained from others information about events in the first years of the Church is evident; and if the Preface (Lk.i.1-4) was intended to cover the Acts, as has been said, as well as the Gospel, he states that he did.
And if he used written sources for the Gospel, it is natural that he should do so for its sequel, though it cannot be demonstrated in the latter case in the same way as in the former because we possess no documents analogous to Mark, with Matthew for comparison.

All narratives, of course, are ultimately traceable to the places where the actors lived and moved.
In the infancy of the Church these were principally Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Antioch. It does not necessarily follow that written accounts emanated from each of these centres.
Harnack [The Acts of the Apostles (trans. Wilkinson), 1909, pp. 175-202.] finds a Jerusalem source,
A, in iii.1-v.16, and parallel to it a series of (less trustworthy) Jerusalem narratives,
B, in ch.i (possibly), ii.1-47; v.17-24.

He ascribes viii.5-10; ix.31-xi.18; .1-23 to a Jerusalem-Caesarean source or group of traditions, which is perhaps to be identified with A; vi.1-viii.4; xi.19-30; .25-xv.35 to a Jerusalem-Antiochene source based on the authority of Silas; and ix.1-30 to a Pauline source.
The remainder of chs.i-xv, and the whole of xvi-xxviii are the work of St. Luke.

The history of the source-criticism of Acts has been summarized by Goguel, op. cit., pp. 51-57.
To his bibliography on the subject must be added W. L. Knox, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 19-21, 23-25, where Harnack's theory meets with searching criticism. Knox writes:

I would suggest that apart from the speeches, representing a more or less fixed pattern of preaching, which may have been reduced to writing, we have in these chapters (i-) no written sources with the possible exception of chapters i-v inclusive, but excluding most of the speeches.
This source may have duplicated the trials before the Sanhedrin and included a miraculous escape from prison of dubious historical value; but it reached Luke with the doublets already in it.
It remains possible that the whole section represents what Luke collected by way of oral tradition for himself [p. 39].

Schutz, [Apostel und Junger, 1921.] proceeding upon Harnack's lines, finds two sources emanating from Jerusalem and from some Hellenistic quarter, perhaps Antioch.
The former upholds the Jerusalem (Ιεροσόλυμ) tradition of the twelve apostles, with their claim to supreme ecclesiastical authority and to the sole prerogative of dispensing the gift of the Spirit.
The latter represents the position of the followers of the Lord outside Jerusalem (Ιεροσόλυμα), in Galilee, the Gentile Decapolis, and Syria; and the apostles are not twelve, but a larger, undefined body of missionaries, as St. Paul understood them, for whom 'disciples' is the description chiefly used; Christianity does not 'emerge peacefully from the bosom of Judaism', but with conflict between the equally original Judaic and Gentile elements.
In accordance with this theory the sources are distinguished as follows: A and M (for Apostoloi and Mathetai) are the 'Apostle' source and the 'Disciple' source.

A: chs.i-v; vii.2-47; viii.1 (the words 'except the apostles'); viii.14-25 (Peter and John in supreme authority in Samaria); ix.27 f. (St. Paul with the Jerusalem apostles); ix.31-xi.18, 19b (St. Peter and the Gentiles); xv.1-33 (34) (the decision of the apostles concerning Gentile converts); xvi.3b, 4 (St. Paul circumcises Timothy.
The apostolic decrees); xix.2-7 (the baptism of John's disciples); xxi.20-27a (St. Paul's Nazirite vow).

M comprises all the rest of the book.

Briggs [New Light on the Life of Jesus, pp. 135 f.] and Blass [Acta Apostolorum, 1895, pp. iv f.; Philology of the Gospels, 1898, pp. 141 f.] are content with a single Jerusalem source due to John Mark; and they suggest that he wrote it as a continuation to his Gospel, which they think ended at xvi. 8, and that St. Luke made the same use of it as he had made of the Second. Gospel.

Torrey broke new ground, [The Composition and Date of Acts (Harvard Theological Studies, 1916) Contrast de Zwaan, Beginnings of Christianity ii. 50 ff., C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching, p. 35, n. i, and W. L. Knox, op. cit., p. 20 f. Torrey has not proved his case for more than the speeches and chapters i-v.16.] maintaining that i.2-xv.35 is St. Luke's translation of a single Aramaic document emanating from Jerusalem, whose 'chief interest was in the universal mission of Christianity', and which was intended to show 'how Antioch became the first great Gentile centre of Christianity'.
It was written in ad 49 or early in 50, for its author did not know (see xv.32 f.) that Silas had started on a new missionary journey in company with St. Paul.
It came into St. Luke's hands after his arrival in Rome in 62.
Two years later he added to it the second half of the work, thus forming our present book, as a sequel to his Gospel, which was already written before 61 and probably in 60. Burkitt [J.T.S. xx, 1918-19, pp. 320-9.] and others have criticized the linguistic argument, but Torrey has at any rate made clear the strong Aramaic colouring of the narratives.
It is quite possible that they rest on Aramaic documents; but what he has not satisfactorily proved is that they rest on a single document.
All written sources that had their home in Jerusalem would naturally be in Aramaic; and if written sources were used, translators might sometimes mis?understand their idiom.

Jackson and Lake [The Beginnings of Christianity, ii, 1922, pp. 145 ff.] hold a theory of sources on lines similar to Harnack's, together with the recognition that some of them were in Aramaic; but they are inclined, with Ramsay and others, to connect the local traditions more closely with individual persons -Peter, Philip, John Mark.
And they make the suggestions:
(1) that the John who accompanies St. Peter in the early scenes was, in the original form of the tradition, not the son of Zebedee but John Mark, who afterwards associated with St. Peter;
(2) that Harnack's source B is a continuation of the Jerusalem source used by St. Luke in his Passion and Resurrection narratives;
(3) that the story of Stephen contains a duplicate account of the accusation brought against him:
(a) vi.9-11, and (b) 12-14, and of his death: (a) vii.54-58a, and (b) 58b-60.
They admit, however, that the doublets may have been accidental.

The theory of a written Aramaic source as propounded by Torrey is strongly opposed by Goodspeed.
['The Origin of Acts' in Journ. Bibl. Lit. xxxix, 1920, pp. 83-101.]
He thinks that in the earliest days the expectation of the immediate coming of the End would prevent Jewish Christians from writing histories.
And the writing of history by using detached stories from different sources required an 'insight and restraint and historical scent' which were distinctively Greek.
There was a 'general Aramaic indisposition to literary composition at the time in question'.
Moreover, the purpose of the Acts was to trace the emergence of Greek out of Jewish Christianity; and 'that there should have been a Palestinian Christian Aramaic reading public about a.d. 50, interested to read how the Gospel was already feeling its way past them into the Greek world, seems very near the height of improbability'.
'What Palestinian circle of Aramaic readers reacted to this up-to-date pro-Gentile historical sketch, and scattered copies of it as far as Rome?'
But while this has some weight against Torrey's single document, which came into St. Luke's hands at Rome, it has little against the theory of shorter Aramaic narratives.
They contained accounts of events startling enough for even Jewish Christians to record; and it was St. Luke who arranged them and worked up the pro-Gentile historical sketch.

It is unnecessary to enlarge upon more complicated theories of sources traceable through the whole book with additions by one or more redactors. Some of them may be seen in Moffatt's Intr. Lit. N.T., pp. 286-9 and Goguel, op. cit., pp. 51-72.


The 'We' Sections | The Physician | Miracles | Parallelisms | Comparison of Acts & Epistles

These two questions are so closely bound together that they cannot easily be treated apart.
Hitherto the author has, for convenience, been called St. Luke.
But if he was St. Luke it cannot be assumed, without testing of the evidence, either that he was a companion of St. Paul during any of the apostle's movements that he relates, [We know that he was with St. Paul when Col.iv.14, Philem.24, and probably 2 Tim.iv.11 were written; but that is the only direct evidence that we possess. His name occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.), or that his narratives, even in the latter half of the book, must be in all respects accurate.
It might be expected from a companion of St. Paul, who wrote his history after the apostle reached Rome, that he would show an intimate knowledge of his epistles, and therefore both of his doctrine and of those events of his life that the apostle himself records.
But none of these is the case.
Some of the most difficult problems in the New Testament are occasioned by the divergences between his narratives and St. Paul's accounts of events.
And it is doubtful if he gives any sign of having read one of his epistles.
Here and there he uses Pauline language:

'In this Man every one that believeth is justified from all the things from which ye could not be justified in [the system of] the law of Moses' (i.39); 'faith in Me' (xxvi.18); 'the Gospel of the grace of God' (xx.24); 'the word of His grace' (v.32); the reference to redemption by Christ's death (v.28), and to the day when He would judge the world (xvii.31).
If he received accurate reports of St. Paul's speeches, in which these occurred, he needed no knowledge of his epistles.
But anyone who had heard St. Paul's doctrine preached or discussed by others could rightly attribute such phrases to him. The Acts contains very little trace of distinctively Pauline thought.
On the other hand there are marked differences, which show that the writer's thoughts moved on a plane nearer to that of the primitive Church than St. Paul's.
This would be natural if the writer was using a pattern of the Apostolic kerygma as his model, inserting remarks appropriate in the mouth of the speaker.

The speeches, which he records, stand in two different categories.
The Petrine speeches (i.16-22, ii.14-40, iii.12-26, iv.9-12, x.34-43, xi.5-17) were derived from sources (see 3); and we have no means of knowing what opportunities were open to the writers of the sources of obtaining trustworthy accounts of what St. Peter said.
It is clear that we possess only their substance, since six speeches comprise only seventy-six verses; but it is very likely that their substance is adequately represented.
It is noticeable that they reflect an early stage of Christian thought, such as might be expected in St. Peter's earliest preaching, which provides an early instance of the Apostolic kerygma.
On the other hand the Pauline speeches (i.16-41; xiv.15-17; xvii.22-31; xx.18-35; x.1-21; xxiv.10-21; xxvi.2-23), which cannot with anything like the same probability be traced to written sources, can hardly be said to contain what might be expected from the apostle.
'We cannot imagine St. Paul preaching a mission sermon to Jews or pagans without the fire of appeal to the Cross, or of warning of the Judgement to come.
The latter appears once (xvii.31; cf. xxiv.25), but the former never.'
And though there are echoes of Pauline phrases, there are ideas about Christ's Resurrection (xvii.31, xxvi.23) and that of other men (xxiv.15; i.32; xxvi.6-8), and a few expressions, which are not found in his epistles.
[See A. H. McNeile's New Testament Teaching in the Light of St. Paul's, 1923, pp. i18-35.]
The speech at Miletus (xx.18-35), the only one addressed to Christians, is probably the nearest in substance to St. Paul's words.
The writer of the 'we'-sections (see below) seems to have been present; and in any case the elders to whom it was spoken could hand down much of what was said.
But for the most part we must probably be content with the conclusion that St. Luke, who wrote several years after the apostle's death, and who probably was not present at any of the speeches that he records except that at Miletus and the speech, begun in Aramaic, to the crowd in Jerusalem (x.1-21), followed a common custom of ancient historians in writing the Pauline speeches himself.
He gives them in the form of brief summaries, seven speeches occupying 111 verses.
In those of them that he heard his own distant reminiscences would play a part, and in some, probably, reports from other.
A confused report may have been the cause of the obscurities in the self-defence before the Sanhedrin (xi.1-8), and of the duplication, which is noticeable in that before Felix (xxiv.10-21).
[See below, p. 117.
The Pauline speeches are discussed by P. Gardner, Professor of Classical Archaeology, Oxford, in Cambridge Biblical Essays (1909), pp. 381-419; also by W. L. Knox, op. cit., pp. 70-78; cf. p. 84 on the Petrine speeches, pp. 23 f. on St. Stephen's. E. Norden (Agnostos Theos, 1913) tried to prove that the speech at Athens (xvii.23-31) was consciously modelled on a speech περὶ θυσιῶν - (peri Thusion) of Apollonius of Tyana at Athens, preserved in his Life (vi.3) by Philostratus.
This was severely handled by Burkitt, J.T.S. xv, 1914, pp. 455-64. And see Harnack, Texte u. Unlersuchungen, xxxix.1-46.)

The 'WE'-Sections.

This title is usually given to the following passages:


(from Troas to Philippi on the second tour),


(from Philippi to Miletus on the third tour),


(from Miletus to Jerusalem),


(from Caesarea to Rome).

These are generally held to be the most trustworthy portions of the book from an historical point of view.
The author, whether St. Luke or not, is thought to have incorporated material from a travel narrative or diary written by an eyewitness who used the first person plural.
[In xi.27 also, after the word 'Antioch', D has 'And there was great exultation.
And when we were gathered together one of them named Agabus signified saying, &c.'
This is not part of a travel-narrative.
The passage may not be genuine, but it is interesting as reflecting the tradition that St. Luke was a native of Antioch (see p. 40).]

The remaining narratives in chs.xvi-xxviii, with which the 'we'-sections are combined, are composed of a variety of material as to the historical value of which very different opinions are held.
And opinions differ even more widely in respect of chs.i-xv. Jackson and Lake [Beginnings of Christianity, ii, 1922, 158 f.] speak of four possibilities, which have received considerable assent:
(1) The traditional view is that the diarist is identical with the compiler of Acts and uses the first person to show that he was present during these parts of the events narrated.
(2) The diarist is not the compiler of Acts, but added to his own diary the intervening sections of narrative, thus producing a connected whole, which was later taken over by the compiler of Acts and formed the main source of Acts xvi-xxviii.
(3) The diarist wrote nothing except the 'we'-sections; another writer added the intervening parts in Acts xvi-xxviii, and the final editor added this composite work to Acts i-xv.
(4) The diarist wrote nothing except the 'we'-sections, and the compiler added the intervening sections as well as Acts i-xv from other information.
They are sceptical as to the diarist being St. Luke.
And the Third Gospel and Acts being anonymous, Cadbury [Ibid., pp. 250 ff.] discounts the whole of the early and undisputed attribution of both volumes to St. Luke on the ground that it arose solely by inference from their contents.
Many will feel this to be unduly cautious.
'The wide area over which our evidence extends seems to imply that the ascription to St. Luke is a genuine tradition, and not a mere critical deduction.' [Bp. Headlam in Hastings's D.B. i. 27a.]
But as regards the diary, if the writer of it was a companion of St. Paul, the name Luke is as good as any other. [Epaphroditus, for example (Blaisdell, Harvard Theol. Rev. i, 1920, pp. 136-58); cf. Goguel, op. cit., pp. 158 f. for this and other suggestions.).
A companion who wrote a diary or travel-notes probably gives the nearest approach to historical accuracy to be found in the New Testament.
The important thing is to decide the relation of the 'we'-sections to the rest of the book.

It has been clearly shown, by Hawkins [Horae Synoptical, ed. 2, pp. 182 f.] and Harnack [Luke the Physician (trans. Williamson, 1907), ch.ii.] among others, that the style and vocabulary of these sections and of the rest of the book are closely similar.
But this is not in itself a proof that the whole book was a homogeneous work rather than a compilation.
The author, whoever he was, was quite capable of revising his sources, so that his style and vocabulary predominate throughout.
This is seen by the way in which he incorporated in his Gospel the material drawn from Mark, Q, and elsewhere.
But, as Harnack points out, his revision or rewriting of his Marcan material was not carried out to the extent of obliterating all signs of its Marcan origin.
His parallels to Mark are not, in fact, so distinctively 'Lucan' in style and vocabulary as the 'we'-sections.
If this is accepted it tells against the view that the compiler of Luke-Acts incorporated and revised sections from another person's diary.
See V. H. Stanton [J. T.S. xxiv, 1923, pp. 374-81.), in opposition to Cadbury [Beginnings of Christianity, ii. 161-6.]and others, who tend to discard the evidence of style and vocabulary as of no weight at all.

The second of the alternatives mentioned above has little to commend it.
It sharply divides the Acts into two portions, denying chs.i-xv to St. Luke, but assigning to him the bulk of the remainder.
But if he wrote the latter, there is no sufficient reason for denying to him the former.
Chapters i-xv contain narratives of events at which it is practically certain he was not present, and he was therefore dependent - as in his Gospel - upon sources.
Any difficulties that may be found in those chapters were difficulties in his sources, which even a companion of St. Paul was not in a position to avoid; he could only make use of them as he made use of Mark and Q.

The third alternative is in no way preferable to the second.
There is nothing that clearly suggests the hand of a third person.
The decision must lie between the first and the last - the Lucan authorship of Luke-Acts as a whole or the Lucan authorship of the diary alone (or possibly the diary plus some of the narratives which immediately border on it).
The former is the conclusion reached in the course of this chapter.
And if it is accepted, the only remaining question with regard to the 'we'-sections is whether they were, after all, parts of a diary or not.

(1) If they were, two things require to be noted:
(a) We obviously do not possess the whole diary, and therefore the writer of it may have been in St. Paul's company over a longer period than the extracts cover.
If, for example, the introduc?tion of the first person in xvi.10 is felt to be abrupt, it is because the diary must originally have related how St. Luke came to be with St. Paul at Troas.
In xx.5 it is generally assumed that the first person reappears at Philippi because it ceased at Philippi, and that St. Luke had stayed on there in the intervening time. [Ramsay even argues (St. Paul the Traveller, pp. 202 ff.) that he was a native of Philippi.]
But this is quite uncertain, and, if he belonged to Antioch, improbable. In any case the diary must have contained some statement to the effect that he and St. Paul met again, wherever it was (?Corinth), before the remark 'And these went before and awaited us at Troas'. [D (not d) reads αἀτόν - (auton) for ἡμᾶς - (hemas) - apparently an attempt to smooth the abruptness.]
He must also have been with the apostle in Jerusalem, taking part in many of the events that follow xxi.17, and in Caesarea in the period preceding xxvii.1.
(b) The exact extent of the extracts is uncertain.
Did they include the story of Eutychus, for example (xx.9-12), or anything of the events at Miletus (xx.17-38) or Jerusalem or Caesarea (xxi.18-xxvi.32)?
The writer of the 'we'-passages would appear to have been present on these occasions; and where he had no reason to mention St. Paul's companions, and himself among them, it does not follow that the narratives did not form part of the diary. Still, a diary would not be likely to contain extended narratives; it would rather be a journal, daily notes of the writer's movements with St. Paul.

(2) If they were not, we must conclude that the introduction of the first person did not feel as abrupt to St. Luke as it does to us. He uses the words 'I' and 'me' in Lk.i.3, Acts i.1; both parts of the work are addressed to Theophilus, and purport to contain information given to him personally.
And thus 'we' might come in quite naturally, indicating somewhat loosely that he was present at several of the scenes that he describes.
[So Stanton (op. cit.) following Harnack. Norden, Agnostos Thesis, 1923, pp. 318-27, cites parallels, such as Cicero to Atticus (v. 20) and to Cato {ad Fam, xv. 4); cf. Goguel, op. cit., pp. 157 ff.]

That he made extracts from his own diary seems to the present writer on the whole rather more probable.
Several details, for example, especially the itinerary of xx.13-15, are more likely to have been written on the spot than recorded from memory twenty years or more afterwards.
But to those who accept the Lucan authorship of the whole book the ques?tion is not very important.

The Physician.

One argument for the Lucan authorship of the Gospel and Acts must probably be allowed less weight than has usually been given to it - that of the medical language found in the two writings.
St. Paul speaks of 'Luke the beloved physician' (Col.iv.14).
Erasmus thought that this description was for the purpose of distinguishing him from the evangelist, but he is generally identified with him.
Hobart made an elaborate attempt [The Medical Language of St. Luke, 1882.] to show that the vocabulary of the Gospel and Acts is so rich in medical terms, and words found in medical writings, that only a physician is likely to have written it.
Most English writers have accepted his main results without close examination.
Some scholars however [e.g. Plummer, St. Luke, pp. Ixiv f.; Moffatt, Introd. Lit. XT"., pp. 298 ff.; Zahn, Introd. JV.T. iii. 146 ff., i6off.; Harnack, Luke the Physician (trans. Williamson), pp. 13-17 and Appendix I; Goguel, op. cit., pp. 142-6.], recognize that Hobart, with his array of more than 400 words, tried to prove too much, and offer more modest lists; but they think that they are conclusive.

But Cadbury drastically sifts the evidence, ['The Style and Literary Method of Luke', Harvard Theol. Stud. vi, part i, 1919.] and points out the following facts:
(1) Many of Hobart's words are so common that their appearance in Luke-Acts and in medical writings was inevitable.
(2) More than 80 per cent. of his words (as Plummer says) are found in the LXX; 300 of them also in Josephus; 27 in the LXX but not in Josephus; and 67 in Josephus but not in the LXX.
That is, 90 per cent. are covered by these writings.
(3) More than 90 per cent. are covered by Plutarch and Lucian.
(4) Several of the medical words cited, not only by Hobart, but by Zahn, Harnack, and Moffatt, are used by St. Luke in non-medical senses.
(5) Sixteen medical words can be cited from Matthew and Mark, which are not found in Luke-Acts.
(6) St. Luke shows a higher degree of culture and education than the first two evangelists, and naturally has command of a larger vocabulary, and so uses words found in the writings of medical men, who were also cultured and educated.
Greek medical terms did not make up a technical vocabulary such as the medical profession employs today; they were genuinely Greek, and spoken Greek. Galen, who wrote later than St. Luke, claims for the sake of clearness to 'employ those terms which people in general ([οὶ πολλοί- (hoi polloi)) are accustomed to use'. [Quoted in op. cit., p. 64, n. 91.]
And in Harvard Theological Review, 1921, p. 106, Cadbury notes that Galen makes a similar claim for his predecessor Hippocrates (who wrote six centuries earlier): 'he appears to me to use the most usual and therefore plainly intelligible terms, such as rhetoricians are accustomed to call politikav -(politica).' [i.e. used by the ordinary citizen, the plain man.)
Cadbury concludes his inquiry by an examination of Lucian on Hobart's lines, and produces results very similar to those, which the latter claims for St. Luke.
He tends, as said above, to reduce the significance of Lucan style and vocabulary to a minimum, believing that 'the beloved physician' did not write Luke-Acts.
But he has certainly reduced the strength of the case for the medical language.
[Stanton (op. cit. ii. 262 f.) expresses the utmost that can be said for it: 'It seems to me probable that one who in former years had had some medical knowledge, but whose main interest in the miracles could no longer be in any sense a scientific one, and who was writing a narrative intended simply to set forth to general readers the facts as to that New Faith and its spread among men, to the progress of which he had come to be wholly devoted, might not improbably show signs of early training agreeing with what we notice in the "Lucan" writings.'
It is worthy of remark that Jerome (De vir. illustr. 7) could speak of 'Luke a physician of Antioch as his writings indicate'.]


Many think that the narratives in the Acts, especially in chs. i-xv, contain matter that is legendary and unhistorical, e.g. the story of Pentecost, the deliverance of the apostles from prison, and of St. Peter, and the raising of Dorcas from death.
This is not the place to discuss the perennial problem of miracles.
[See A. Richardson, Miracle-stories of the Gospels, 1941, and Christian Apologetics, 1947, pp. 154-76.
Given an outburst of religious enthusiasm in Palestine in the 1st century ad, it would have been a miracle if no miracles had happened.
It would also have been a miracle if some miracles were not exaggerated; but if on other grounds we see reasons to believe that the Incarnation represents a unique act of God in history, we may be inclined to suppose that miracles attended it.
In any case, belief in miracles goes back to the earliest stages of the tradition and cannot be used as evidence that a particular story is 'late' or 'secondary'. ' Hastings's D.B. i. 31 a.]

Nor can all the accounts of miraculous happenings be treated as standing on the same level.
Here it is necessary to point out that there is no justification whatever for thinking that if these accounts are legendary and unhistorical St. Luke could not have incorporated them, while another compiler could.
Miracles were not an obstacle to faith, but the reverse.
Records of miracles were the expression of a profound conviction of the truth that Christianity is itself miraculous; and when such records reached St. Luke, he did not criticize them; he delighted in them, and published them for his contemporaries as an important element in his apologia for the Christian Church, illustrations of its true inwardness and character and power.


More or less striking parallelisms are pointed out between events in the two halves of the Acts.
St. Peter and St. Paul 'both began their ministry with the healing of a lame man; both work miracles, the one with his shadow, the other with napkins.
Demons flee in the name of St. Peter and in the name of St. Paul. St. Peter meets Simon Magus:
St. Paul Elymas and the Ephesian magicians.
Both raise the dead.
Both receive divine honours.
Both are supported by Pharisees in the council.
St. Paul is stoned at Lystra, Stephen at Jerusalem.
St. Paul is made to adopt the language of St. Peter, St. Peter of St. Paul, and so on' (Bp. Headlam").
If this is detrimental to the historical value of the narratives, as some have held, it is the second half of the book that suffers rather than the first, if the first half came to the author in the form of written sources.
As Dr. Headlam says, 'Because the writer finds parallels between the lives of two men, it does not prove that his narrative is fictitious'.
The idea that it does arose from the Tubingen conception of the book as a tract for the times mediating between the Judaic and the Pauline factions; many of St. Peter's deeds and words were similar to many of St. Paul's, and each was as good as the other.

Comparison of Acts and Epistles.

When due weight has been given to considerations of style and vocabulary, and of the author's plan and method, there still remains the larger and more pressing part of the problem.
We have seen that a companion of St. Paul need not necessarily have known his epistles or reflected his distinctive theological ideas.
But did he in his narrative relate or omit things about St. Paul which it is impossible to suppose that a companion of the apostle could have related or omitted?
A comparison must be drawn between narratives in the Acts and statements in St. Paul's epistles, of which, for this purpose, Galatians is the most important.

(1) Is St. Luke likely to have omitted St. Paul's visit to Arabia (Gal.i.17) ?
He certainly seems to leave no room for it in Acts ix.19, 20.
But it would have contributed nothing to his purpose.
The spread of Christianity from Jews to Gentiles, which he wanted to trace, and of which St. Paul's conversion was one of the chief turning-points, was not notably advanced by his retirement for a few days to the regions outlying Damascus.
[This is probably the meaning of Arabia. See Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, p. 380.
But the same, of course, is true if Arabia means the district in which Mt. Sinai stands (Lightfoot, Galatians, loth ed., '1890, pp. 88 f.).]

(2) The accounts of the apostle's first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion are more difficult.
St. Paul is emphasizing the fact that he received his Gospel without any authorization or instruction from men.
On that account he did not go at once to Jerusalem to the original apostles, but to Arabia and back to Damascus.
Not till three years later did he go to the capital (Gal. i. 18-24); and then it was for a purely private visit to make St. Peter's acquaintance.
He spent fifteen days with him, and saw also St. James, the chief presbyter of the Church in Jerusalem; but did not come into contact with the Christians in the towns and villages in Judaea outside the city.
'I was unknown by face to the Churches of Judaea which are in Christ.'
In the Acts (ix. 26-29) the author, writing long afterwards, with no desire whatever to press the fact of St. Paul's independence in his knowledge of the Christian Gospel, but only wishing to carry his account of the spread of Christianity a stage farther, describes Saul's reception by 'the apostles' in Jerusalem, owing to the good offices of Barnabas, and then his vigorous preaching, which included disputings with Hellenists.
The two accounts differ widely; and their difference makes it obvious that the author had not read Galatians.
But though the epistle must be preferred to the Acts, it is possible that both writers may have heightened unconsciously the colour of their respective accounts under the pressure of their respective purposes.
St. Paul no doubt met only St. Peter and St. James, as he says and asseverates; hence 'the apostles' must be taken as a generalization by one who did not know the exact facts.
But the newly converted Saul was not one to keep silence for a fortnight, and very probably preached in the city.
The words 'coming in and going out at Jerusalem' do not mean that he visited places outside the city, but that he moved about freely and fearlessly in and out of houses in the city.

(3) Having embarked upon his ministry, fired with the conviction that he was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles, it might be thought that St. Paul would confine his attention to them, or at least make them his first object.
But according to the Acts his practice, of which the epistles give no hint, was to speak first to Jews when he arrived at a town for the first time.
He turned to Gentiles when Jews proved hostile.
It would be easy to exaggerate this into a fundamental disagreement between the apostle's picture of himself and the historian's conception of the whole purpose and method of his ministry.
But in a strange town it would, in fact, be very difficult for him at once to secure a Gentile audience.
A Jewish audience he could always get where there was a synagogue; and that gave him the opportunity of reaching any Gentiles who were attached, or attracted, to Judaism closely enough to be present.
Having become known in the place (cf. Acts i.44), he would frequently be rejected after a short time by the synagogue, but he would have gained a nucleus of Gentiles to whom he could go on preaching elsewhere.
His deliberate turning from the one to the other may be pictured a little too sharply in i.46, xviii.6; cf. xxviii.25-28; but the divergence between the Paul of the Acts and the Paul of the epistles is not wide enough, in this respect, to preclude the Lucan authorship.
His freedom and charity, and desire to be all things to all men in order to win as many as possible, led him sometimes to speak and act in such a way that he was charged with inconsistency, as we know from his own pen.
And St. Luke's accounts of his preaching first to Jews only serve to illustrate that side of his behaviour which is expressed in the words, 'I became to the Jews as a Jew, that I might win Jews (i Cor.ix.20).

(4) According to Acts xvii.15; xviii.5, St. Paul on arriving at Athens sent back by the Beroeans, who had brought him thither, a message to Silas and Timotheus, who had been left at Beroea, bidding them to 'come to him as soon as possible'.
And after he had gone on to Corinth, they came.
If the Acts stood alone, it would be natural to conclude that their arrival at Corinth was in obedience to the message received.
But in i Thess.iii.1-6 St. Paul states that in order to encourage the Thessalonians in their afflictions he sent Timotheus back to them from Athens: 'Since we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timotheus ... to strengthen you.'
There were, therefore, journeys of Timotheus (1) from Beroea to Athens, and (2) from Athens back to Thessalonica, which are omitted in Acts.
His return to the apostle at Corinth coincides with the words (v.6): 'But when Timotheus just now came to us from you ... we were comforted'; and on that account i Thessalonians may be assumed to have been written at Corinth.
Possibly a double journey of Silas has also been omitted.
If the plural pronoun in 'we could no longer forbear' includes him, he had come without Timotheus to the apostle at Athens, and had stayed with him there, in which case he must afterwards have been sent back to Thessalonica for some purpose and then with Timotheus rejoined St. Paul at Corinth.
But since in v. 5 St. Paul uses the first person singular - 'when I could no longer forbear' - the pronoun in v.i is probably an epistolary plural referring to the apostle alone. Conjectures have been made which exonerate St. Luke from ignorance of the movements of Timotheus.
[See Lake, The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul, p. 75, n. a.]

But his ignorance would be no serious objection to the Lucan authorship of the Acts, since there is no evidence that the writer was with St. Paul at Athens or at Corinth.
And if he was not ignorant, the omission can be accounted for by his wish to trace the rapid spread of Christianity, for which he confines himself mainly to the movements of St. Paul, and omits many details that do not serve his purpose.

(5) St. Paul was at Ephesus for a considerable time in the course of his third missionary tour, and the writer was apparently not with him.
This is enough to account for the fact that he gives a very rapid and sketchy record of the apostle's work there (xviii.18-xix.22), and says nothing of the violent opposition and danger which he encountered, and which he describes in 1 Cor.iv.9-13; xv.32; 2 Cor.i.8; iv.8-12. (For the story of the riot (Acts xix. 23-41) he must have been dependent upon a source other than St. Paul, since, according to his narrative, the apostle was not involved in it.
His reason for relating it was no doubt the tolerant and pacific attitude taken by the civil official, which he takes every opportunity to emphasize.)
The writer's absence will also explain his omission of a visit that St. Paul paid to Corinth from Ephesus in the same period. In 1 Cor.iv.18 f., 21; xi.34, St. Paul states his intention of paying the visit, and in 2 Cor..14; i.1 f., he refers to it as having been paid (see p. 134).
And even if St. Paul, at some time during their companionship, had informed him of all these facts, it was not to his purpose to recount the apostle's personal sufferings of body and mind, or his anxious dealings with the Corinthians.

(6) On the other hand the writer was with St. Paul when he went up to Jerusalem (Acts xxi.15-17) and when he sailed from Caesarea to Rome (xxvi.1-xxviii.16), and therefore was presumably present at the events in Jerusalem which he describes (xxi.17-xi.30).
We have no epistles at this point with which to check his narrative, but some difficulties have been raised.
For St. Paul it was a matter of pressing importance that he should bring the contributions made by several Gentile Churches for the poor in Jerusalem.
In Rom.xv.25-28 he speaks of it as though it were his only object in going thither.
This purpose is just mentioned in the Acts in a speech of St. Paul (xxiv.17), but there is not a word to relate that it was handed over.
This would be surprising if St. Luke's purpose had been simply biographical, and much more surprising if it had been to write an eirenicon to reconcile Pauline and Jewish factions.
Nothing that he could relate about St. Paul could have been more germane to his purpose.
But the importance for him of the events in Jerusalem lay simply in the fact that they were the stage in the apostle's career, which immediately led up to his journey to Rome.

(7) Difficulty has been felt in St. Paul's action in taking upon him a vow, [Apparently a Nazirite vow, and for the period of a week (xxi. 27).] at the request of St. James, and paying the expenses of four men who were completing their vows (xxi.230-26).
The details are somewhat obscure, [See A. H. McNeile's St. Paul: his Life, Letters, and Christian Doctrine, pp. 96 S.; Beginnings of Christianity, iv, 1933, p. 273.] but to behave as a Jew to Jews, especially when the need was represented to him as pressing, was entirely in accordance with his principles of freedom and charity: and this was a good opportunity of illustrating them by an object lesson.

There is, indeed, some difficulty in the parenthetical remark of St. James (v.25), 'But concerning the Gentiles which have become believers we sent [ἀπεστείλαμεν [Westc.-Hort) B ψ D 1898 467 614 Syr.hl Arm. is widely attested. The reading ἀπεστείλαμεν  (Tisch.) 'we enjoined' has some strong support; but it may have been due to harmonization with xv. 20.], deciding that they should keep themselves from that which is sacrificed to idols and blood and [anything] strangled and fornication.'
If St. Paul needed this information he cannot have been present at the Council of Jerusalem, nor have been sent to Antioch with the bearers of the letter from the Council, as is stated in ch.xv, nor have published the decrees in Asia Minor with Barnabas and Timotheus, as related in xvi.4.
It is not impossible, however, to understand 'we sent' as meaning 'we sent, as you know'; in that case St. James says in effect, 'It is not as though I were asking you to show Jewish sympathies in connexion with Gentiles; they, of course, know the decrees that we sent to them; it is only Jews that are at present in question.'
Still the passage is certainly awkward, and v.25 may be gloss.
Goguel, however, finds 'absolutely decisive reasons for not finding a redactional element in this small section' (op. cit., pp. 297-300).

(8) Difficulties increase when we come to St. Paul's speeches at Jerusalem and Caesarea.
In chs.x and xxvi he relates to two different audiences (to the former in Aramaic) his vision on the Damascus road, accounts which agree broadly with the narrative in ch.ix, but differ markedly in some details, showing that the three narratives must have been dependent upon different sources.
[Contrast K. Lake: 'The three accounts of the vision in Acts are almost identical; they clearly represent a single tradition, and probably a single source.
The phraseology in all three is generally similar, but manifests Luke's tendency slightly to vary his phrases when repeating the same story.' Beginnings of Christianity, v (1933), note xv, p. 189.]

If St. Luke had written the Acts in St. Paul's company he could, of course, have gained more accurate information on many points.
But since he probably wrote it several years after his death, he was dependent upon such reports as he had heard, and on their basis wrote up the speeches without making them agree with the account given in his source for ch. ix.
There is no reason for thinking that such a procedure, while possible for a compiler other than St. Luke, was impossible for St. Luke himself.

The speech of St. Paul before the Sanhedrin (xi.1-6) is confused and obscure. In v.6 he says, 'Concerning the hope [i.e. possibly the Messianic hope or that of resurrection] and the resurrection of the dead I am being tried'; but neither of these was the cause of his arrest.
[McNeile's St. Paul, p. 101. Contrast K. Lake, op. cit., note xvii, p. 214, who says that St. Paul was a reformer seizing his chance to preach, and that to St. Paul the Resurrection was central while his claim to be about the only true Pharisee was justifiable.]
Though St. Luke cannot have been present at the trial, he might have learned from St. Paul an accurate account of what he said when he was with him afterwards at Caesarea.
But he probably did not think of writing his book, or of collecting material for it, till long afterwards, when a correct version of the speech was no longer available.

The speech before Felix (xxiv.10-21), at which St. Luke can hardly have been present, falls into two parts, vv.10-16 and vv.17-21, which seem to be duplicate accounts of the same speech.
Four chief points appear in both:
(a) St. Paul's reason for going to Jerusalem was a religious one, in harmony with, and not opposed to, the Jewish religion.
(b) Denial of making a disturbance,
(c) Challenge to the prosecutors,
(d) Admission regarding a resurrection.
As before, it was open to St. Luke, as to any other compiler, to compose the speech on the basis of reports.

(9) Difficulties reach their climax in the narrative of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts xv).
We have three accounts in chs.i-xv and Galatians of visits of St. Paul to Jerusalem later than the private visit (ix.26-30; Gal.i.18 f.) mentioned above:
(i) The Christians of Antioch sent alms during a famine by the hands of Barnabas and Saul (xi.30); and, after an intervening narrative about St. Peter, . 25 appears to conclude the statement that the visit was made: 'So Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem fulfilling (πληρώσταντες - (plerosantes)) their ministry.'
[The aorist participle is so difficult that Westc.-Hort mark the clause as a primitive corruption, and suggest 'from (ἐ
ξ] Jerusalem'. C. D. Chambers (J.T.S. xxiv, 1923, pp. 183-7) thinks that the aorist participle following a verb of motion can express the purpose of the motion: 'returned to J. to fulfil their ministry', and cites as parallels xxv.13; 2 Mac.xi.36; 4 Mac.iii.13; Heb.ix.12 (the last should certainly be excluded).
As the textual evidence favours
εἰς not ἐξ, it may be suggested that St. Luke inadvertently wrote 'Jerusalem' after it instead of 'Antioch'.]
(ii) A visit with Barnabas and Titus, in which St. Paul consulted with the leaders of the Church, James, Cephas, and John, and it was agreed that they should evangelize Jews, and he and Barnabas Gentiles (Gal.ii.1-10).
(iii) A visit with Barnabas for the Council (Acts xv).

St. Paul is describing his movements for the purpose of showing that he did not receive his Gospel from men because he had held no communication with the apostles before they had formally admitted his right to evangelize uncircumcised Gentiles.
And yet he seems to have omitted the famine visit.
If so, it must have been because it involved no communication with the apostles, and did not affect his argument.
The alms were sent to the 'elders', and the apostles are not mentioned.
This is the view of those who, with Lightfoot [Galatians, p. 530.], identify the visit of Gal. ii with the Council visit.
There is much similarity between the two accounts, both being visits concerned with the question of the circumcision of the Gentiles.
Lightfoot thinks that St. Paul describes a private consultation with the leaders, which probably preceded the public meeting.

Others feel the difficulty of St. Paul's omission of the famine visit so much that they identify it, and not the Council visit, with the visit of Gal. ii.
So, for example,
Sir W. Ramsay [St. Paul the Traveller, &c., pp. 55 ff.],
C. W. Emmet [Galatians, pp. xvi ff. Beginnings of Christianity, ii. 277 ff.],
and (formerly) K. Lake [The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul, 1911, pp. 279 ff.].
According to this view St. Luke's object in his narrative was quite different from St. Paul's.
The former was interested in the broad-mindedness and kindly spirit shown by Gentile Christians in the young Church at Antioch, in sending contributions to Jewish Christians, while the sole object of the latter was to record the official recognition of his work among Gentiles given by the Jewish Christian leaders.
And when they asked him only to remember the poor, he could add with special point 'which was the very thing that I was keen to do' (Gal. ii. 10), as his conveyance of the Gentile alms clearly showed.
It is true that the narratives in Gal. ii and Acts xi are entirely different; but there is no reason why St. Paul should not be supposed to have done two entirely different things at Jerusalem.

The difficulty attaches even more strongly to a third sug?gestion that all three narratives (Gal.ii; Acts xi, xv) are accounts of the same visit; and that the two latter, reaching St. Luke from two different sources, were not unnaturally understood by him to refer to two different occasions.
This is the view to which Jackson and Lake [Beginnings of Christianity, ii. 322. Cf. Lake, ibid. v, note xvi, pp. 195 ff.] incline, and Windisch [Ibid. ii. 322.] thinks it possible.

Streeter (p. 557 n.), following Renan, cuts the knot with the suggestion that 'the delegates who brought the famine contribution from Antioch (Acts xi.30) were Barnabas and another; Luke erroneously imagined that other to be Barnabas's (future) colleague, Paul'.

But a further difficulty is felt with regard to St. Paul's account and the decree of the Council.
The decree, besides giving Gentile Christians freedom from circumcision, was fourfold, according to the ordinary reading (xv. 20, 29).
In D and some Latin writers πνικτοῦ - (τῶν]- (pniktou - (ton)), 'things strangled', is omitted, producing the appearance of moral injunctions against idolatry, murder, and fornication.
But this as 'a sort of moral catechism', as Windisch says, 'would be noticeably incomplete.
What mention is made of theft, avarice, litigiousness, lying - prominent vices among the Gentiles - which are combated everywhere else?'
And it may be added that 'abstain (ἀπέχεσθαι - apechesthai) from blood' is a strange equivalent for 'do no murder'.
He rightly adheres to the ordinary text, i.e. four rules bearing on Jewish ritual observance.
[Cf. C. S. C. Williams, Alterations to the Text of the Synoptic Gospels and Acts, pp. 72-75.
The Chester Beatty papyrus P" omits the reference to 'fornication' but not to 'what is strangled'.]

But he thinks it impossible that the story of the Council which laid down these rules was written by St. Luke, or is historical, because St. Paul makes no mention of the decrees in writing to the Galatian Gentiles about the Law, and shows in i Cor.viii-x that neither he nor the Corinthians knew anything about a decree on idol-foods.
Of those who hold this view some think that the story is pure fiction, but this is improbable from the fact that the writer of Rev.ii.24 ('I lay upon you no other burden'), who could hardly have quoted from the Acts, seems to have known the decrees. Others suggest that a Council was held after Galatians and i Corinthians were written, but antedated in the Acts.
Or that it is related in its right place, but that St. Paul and Barnabas were not present at it.
But do any of these conclusions necessarily follow?
The letter containing the decree was sent only to the Gentiles in Antioch, and generally in the province of Syria and Cilicia (xv.23), i.e. to those who were in immediate contact with the Jewish nation in its own country, and therefore with Jewish Christians with whom a modus vivendi was necessary.
[This throws doubt on the statement in xvi.4 that 'as they passed through the cities' - whether of south or of north Galatia - St Paul with Barnabas 'delivered to them the decrees to keep'.
The decrees were not laid down as binding on every Gentile who should thereafter become a Christian.
It was a provision for a special need arising out of the Antioch mission.
The verse is probably an erroneous addition and was not the work of St. Luke.]

No one can suppose that St. Paul liked the decrees, but - in respect of Gentiles in close contact with a large number of Jewish Christians - he submitted to them in the spirit of charity which he enjoins in i Cor.x.19-33. Enlightened Christians knew that an idol was nothing at all (viii.4, x.20); but 'weak', i.e. scrupulous, Christians felt, as pagans did, that things offered to idols were offered to demons; and in that case they were pollution.
Therefore, while all things were lawful for the enlightened Christian, all things were not expedient.
But he was not under the least necessity, in writing to Corinth, of citing the decrees, of which the Corinthians had probably never heard, and which did not concern them.
In Galatians there was even less reason for citing them, because he was writing from a wholly different point of view.
Even if the decrees were published in Galatia on his second tour, the refraining in a spirit of charity from four things which were displeasing to Jewish Christians, in order to preserve the modus vivendi, was quite alien to his argument against the acquiring of 'righteousness' by obedience to Jewish ordinances.

These difficulties, which many have felt with regard to the decrees, would, indeed, disappear if Galatians was written before the Council (see p. 147) and reflects the beginning of the controversy with the Judaizers at Antioch after the first tour and before the apostle went to Jerusalem.
This has the further advantage of placing St. Peter's action which occasioned St. Paul's rebuke (Gal. ii. 11-14) before and not after the Council, thus exonerating him from what St. Paul felt to be flagrant disloyalty to the agreement which he had taken a leading part in bringing about.
And 'certain persons from James' (v. 12) are thus the same as 'certain persons who came down from Judaea' (Acts xv. i).
Turner [Hastings's D.B, i. 423 f.] and Zahn [Galatians, pp. 110 f.] feel the difficulty of this disloyalty so much that, though they identify the visit of Gal. ii with the Council visit, they think that St. Paul, in giving his account of the rebuke, is referring to an incident of an earlier date.

But 'disloyalty' is hardly a fair word to use.
St. Peter had been broad-minded enough to visit the Gentile Cornelius and baptize him when the Spirit was poured upon him; and he had been able to defend himself in Jerusalem when his action was disputed.
Then he took the further strong step of going to Antioch and eating with Gentile Christians, until, in Streeter's words (p. 547):

Under pressure from 'certain who came from James', Peter at Antioch went back on his pro-Gentile liberalism.
It was doubtless represented to him that if he continued thus openly to break the law he would ruin all possibility of converting 'the circumcision' to Christ. Peter has been much abused for giving way; but in all probability those who urged this judged the situation correctly.
Peter was really face to face with the alternative of, either ceasing to eat and drink with Gentiles, or wrecking that mission to the circumcised which he felt to be his primary call (Gal.ii.9). Is he to be blamed because he declined to take that risk? ...
The fact is that the relations of Jew and Gentile since the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabean revolt had brought things to such a pass that to surrender the obligation of the Law meant the failure of the Jewish mission, while to retain it was to sacrifice the Gentile.
It was one of those tragic situations that do sometimes occur when the best men for the best motives feel compelled to differ upon a vital issue.

Such are some of the problems that arise round the question of the historical value and the authorship of the Acts.
They are many and complex.
But a final consideration in favour of the Lucan authorship must not be lost sight of, namely, that if there are things which it is difficult to believe that a companion of St. Paul could have written, or omitted, it is even more difficult to think, in many cases, that they could have been written or omitted by a later compiler who would presumably be in possession of the epistles, and could keep all his statements in harmony with them.
Though there is little certain evidence that anyone in the sub-Apostolic age quoted Acts (see below, p. 326), yet W. L. Knox1 can argue:

We have to imagine a compiler who is interested enough in Paul to write his life, yet does not know his Epistles, since he has never read Galatians.
Yet he is early enough for his works to be accepted by the author of 2 Tim., who again is early enough for Ignatius to be familiar with it and to treat it as Scripture, while Ignatius was martyred before ad 117.
Yet again he is not early enough to have access to any authentic account of Paul's travels or Paul's theology.

1[The Acts of the Apostles, p. 41.
He compares Ignatius, Trail, vii.2 with a Tim.i.3; Philadelph. ii.2 with Jn.x.l2, Acts xx.29, and a Tim.iii.6; Smyrn.i.l with 2 Tim.iii.15 and ix.1 with 2 Tim.ii.25 and x.2 with 2 Tim.i.16; with 2 Tim.ii.4. He takes 2 Tim.iii.11 to point back to Acts iii.50, xiv.5 and 19.]

That the Acts is a compilation is clear, at least in the earlier half; and it is unsafe to assume that a companion of St. Paul must always have avoided what was inaccurate in the sources from which he drew.
But if St. Luke himself was the compiler at a later date in his life, several years after St. Paul's death, the great majority of the phenomena are sufficiently explained, room being left open for small additions and alterations.
The correctness of a large number of his details in matters of archaeology, geography, and local politics has become increasingly evident in recent years, largely owing to the re?searches of Sir W. Ramsay.
But correct details are only the outward framework of the record.
The historical value of the book as a whole lies, not in the accuracy of the words or actions of the persons in the drama, or the exhaustiveness of its contents, but in the general picture which the author gives of the Christianity of the time, with its endowment of spiritual enthusiasm, the conditions under which it struggled, and its rapid advance from Jerusalem through a large part of the empire to Rome.


F. C. Burkitt, Christian Beginnings, 1924.
M. Goguel, Introduction au Nouveau Testament, iii, 1922.
A. von Harnack, The Acts of the Apostles (transl. Wilkinson, 1909).
F. J. A. Hort, Judaistic Christianity, 1894.
F. J. F. Jackson and K. Lake, The Beginnings of Christianity, vols. i-v, 1920-33.
H. Lietzmann, The Beginnings of the Christian Church (transl. B. L. Woolf, 1937).
A. H. McNeile, St. Paul, his Life, Letters, and Christian Doctrine, 1920.
J. Moffatt, Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, yd. ed., 1918.
Sir W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, 1893, and St. Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen, 1895.
B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels, 1924, ch. xviii.
C. C. Torrey, The Composition and Date of Acts, 1916.
C. H. Turner, The Chronology of the New Testament (in Hastings's D.B; vol. i).
J. Weiss, History a/Primitive Christianity, vols. i and ii (transl. 1937).


A.W.F.Blunt (1922),
F.F.Bruce (1951),
W. M. Furneaux (1912),
H.J. Holtzmann (3rd ed., 1901),
F.J. F. Jackson (1931),
K. Lake and H.J. Cadbury (Beginnings of Christianity, iv, 1933),
A. Loisy (1920), T. E. Page (1918),
R. B. Rackham (loth ed., 1925),
H. H. Wendt (9th ed., 1913).