Monday, May 22, 2017

What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.

The Word for today:
Acts 1:12-26
mark this: Acts 1:1
In the former treatise, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach…
Let's start with a trick question: Who wrote the most words in the New Testament?
If you look at your Bible's Table of Contents, you will see that the Apostle Paul wrote 14 of the 27 New Testament books (1). Obviously, the answer must be Paul.
Wrong. Paul wrote 37,360 words.
Then it must be John. He wrote a gospel, three epistles, and Revelation.
Wrong. John wrote 28,092 words.
The answer to today's trick question is Luke! He is the author of the books of Luke and Acts, which include a total of 37, 933 words. (Sitting on my front porch yesterday, waiting for the Rapture, I had a lot of time on my hands, so I counted every word!)
Luke/Acts should probably be thought of as two parts of a single entity, in the same way that we think of head and body as two parts of a single whole.  (We rarely, if ever, think of one without the other!)
The gospel of Luke is about the Head, Jesus. The book of Acts is about the Body of Christ--the church. The two are one. They must be, for neither can "act" without the other.
In fact, Jesus told them not to even bother trying to act until they were connected to the Head by being baptized into his body (at Pentecost)--
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, he said, "You heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
(Acts 1:4-5)
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
(1 Corinthians 12:13)
And he is the head of the body, the church. (Colossians 1:18)
As the second volume in a two-part work by Luke, this book probably had no separate title. Sometimes you will see it referred to as just "Acts." And sometimes you will see it referred to as "the Acts of the Apostles." Actually both of those titles aren't quite right, because they left out the Head. Unless we put "Jesus" in the title, we decapitate the body!
The key to understanding the purpose of the book is found in the very first verse:
In the former treatise, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach…
The “former treatise” is the Gospel of Luke. In the gospels, Jesus began both to do and teach. In Acts, Jesus continues to do and to teach--through his body, the church.
So the best title for this formally untitled book would be "The Acts of Jesus Christ." Thinking of it that way makes sense of this astonishing scripture:
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
(John 21:25, which directly precedes Acts 1:1 in scripture)
Luke and Acts are one, just as Head and body are one.
So then they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. (Mark 10:8-9)
(1) Biblical scholars disagree over the authorship of the book of Hebrews. For the purpose of our word count, we have assumed that Paul wrote Hebrews.

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