Friday, July 7, 2017

hovering, in the background

St Luke by Vecellio Tiziano
St Luke by Vecellio Tiziano
The Word for today:
Acts 17:16-34
Throughout much of the New Testament, our eyes are fixed on Paul. He's the central character in Acts 13 through Acts 28.
He's also the author of half the "books" of the New Testament. (Immediately after Acts, we'll read a collection of letters Paul wrote to churches and individuals: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians , Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews (1).
But while Paul is the focus of our attention, the person who wrote more of the New Testament (2) than Paul (or anyone else) goes nearly unnoticed in the background.
It's 'Paul did this,' and 'Paul did that' throughout most of Acts. But every once in a while, almost imperceptibly, the narrative slips into the first person plural, reminding us that the author of Acts isn't Paul, but Luke:
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia. They passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (see Acts 16:6-10)
Only in chapters 16, 21, and 28 does a pronoun referring to Luke find its way into Acts. His name never appears--neither in Acts nor in the gospel he wrote. He was reporting throughout the bulk of the New Testament, but you'd hardly know he was in the picture.
How perfect an illustration of the Holy Spirit, who shines a light on Jesus but rarely on himself. And how worthy an aspiration for us--to (along with John the Baptist) become less and less, while He becomes greater and greater (3).
(1) the authorship of Hebrews is uncertain; (2) while Paul wrote the most New Testament "books," Luke wrote the most words; (3) John 3:30

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