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LUKE - ACTS      Luke Acts



INTO ALL THE WORLD


This paper compares three ministries - that of Jesus, Peter and Paul. We seek to demonstrate that Luke makes a comparison between the Lord and the apostles with the intention of demonstrating that Jesus expected (and expects) his ministry to continue - and be expanded - through his church.

1. A LUKE-ACTS MOTIF

The Acts of the Apostles is really the acts of two apostles - Peter, the apostle to the Jews, and Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. The former features in the opening of Acts - the latter in the end chapters. Obviously, in focusing on these two ministries, Luke is relating how the gospel reached both Jew and Gentile. However, there seems to be another reason. G.W.H.Lampe gives a clue when he says, "In the Pauline mission the works which attested the preaching of Peter and his associates have their counterparts". [1]

Comparing ministries
The Lucan account of the ministries of Jesus, Peter and Paul leave the strong impression that he seeks to demonstrate that the ministry of Jesus in the Gospel is duplicated by the apostles in the Acts. The theological lesson is obvious Jesus is continuing his work through his church.

R.Stronstad believes that Luke's designed his two part history with great care and precision using a paradigmatic narrative such as is found in the OT. He says about Luke-Acts:

The thematic structure of the first book has the following elements: a beginning, specifically the birth and anointing of Jesus, a subsequent inaugural sermon at Nazareth, followed by the complementary confirmatory miracles of casting out demons and healing the sick, success and widespread popular acclaim, growing opposition from the Pharisees and leaders of the Jews, travel throughout Galilee, Perea, and Judea, arrest and threefold trial before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and Herod, and the consummation of his redemptive ministry on the cross. Luke's second book, the history of the spread of Christianity, follows the same design. [2]


Acts reflects the Gospel. It records Peter's inaugural sermon and the healing of the lame man, success and popular acclaim, the growing opposition of the Sanhedrin and Jews, the missionary journeys of Peter and Paul, the arrest of Paul and his threefold trial before Felix, Festus and Agrippa, and consummation by Paul's arrival and ministry at Rome. The hypothesis can be supported further by comparing the ministry of Jesus with the two apostles (see below). Each ministry features preaching, exorcisms and healing. There are comparisons - the apostles performed no nature miracles and, unlike Paul, Jesus and Peter had no dealing with snakes (Acts 28:3 6; cf., Mk.16:17f.). The paradigm may be developed by adding other items and passages. [3]

Consider the ministries of Moses and Joshua (Dt.34:9; Num.27:18-23), Elijah and Elisha (1 Kgs.19:19-21), Jesus and John the Baptist and Jesus (note Jn.10:41). Can we consider a Lucan transfer motif here?

2. THE MINISTRIES OF JESUS, PETER AND PAUL

Luke makes us aware that the Lord Jesus purposed to continue his ministry through his church by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus anticipated his ministers continuing his ministry (see Jn.14:12). In the Lucan writings this can be demonstrated by comparing the ministry of Jesus in the Gospel with that of Peter and Paul in the Acts. Note this paradigm:

The Ministry

Jesus in Luke

Peter in Acts

Paul in Acts

Anointing by the Spirit

Testing

Preaching

Healing a sick-paralytic

Exorcisms

Raising the dead

Extraordinary miracles

Teaching and miracles

Ministry to Gentiles

Court appearances

Healing at a distance

Ministry to women

3:21-22

4:1-12

4:38-44

5:17-26

4:31-37

7:11-17

8:43-48

4:14ff.

7:1-10

22:66-23:25

7:1-10

10:38-42

2:1-49

4:3-22

2:14-41

3:1-10

5:16

9:36-42

5:15

3:1-26

10:1-48

5:27-41

5:15

9:36ff.

9:17-18

9:23-25

9:20; 13:13-4:1

14:8-10

16:16-18

20:7-12 [4]

19:11-12

14:1-14

13:1-14:28

22:30-23:10

19:11-12

16:11-15


References are taken from Luke (for Jesus) and Acts (for the apostles) respectively.

3. ACTS - AN OPEN-ENDED BOOK

The way that Acts ends is still a mystery. Did Luke fail to complete his work? Is the ending lost? Does Acts finish as Luke intended it to? In support for a finished work it may be argued that Luke is saying two things: first, "mission accomplished" the gospel has reached Rome; second, the Holy Spirit is still writing the final chapters of the church age, the age leading to the parousia, or return of Christ. Acts may be viewed as an open-ended work.

Miracles in the Epistles
The open-ended nature of Acts invites us to look elsewhere in the NT for evidence that the ministry of the church was one where miracles accompanied the preaching of the word - and continued into later church history.

In the Pauline Epistles. In Romans, Paul states that his preaching was accompanied "by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit" (Rom.15:19). In 1 Corinthians Paul lists gifts and ministries including "workers of miracles, gifts of healings and speaking in different kinds of tongues" (12:28). All these gifts find their source and inspiration in the Spirit (1 Cor.12:4-11). Galatians asks the rhetorical question, "Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law?" (Gal.3:5).

In Hebrews and James. Hebrews speaks of a salvation confirmed by the Lord and those who heard him "by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit" (Heb.2:4). James 5 speaks of the "prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; and the Lord will raise him up" (Jam.5:15). The evidence supports the conviction that the church saw miracles continuing to confirm the preaching of the gospel - prayer was encouraged for for sick believers.

4. QUESTION

Missionary Map



What do you know about the places featured on this map of Paul's first missionary journey?







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Copyright 2008 Vernon Ralphs

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