Welcome to the Book of Acts!

Carl Sandburg had a lot to say (or write) about Abraham Lincoln. In fact, he divided all his writing into six volumes on the former president. He probably surmised that if he put it all into one massive volume, no one would buy it or attempt to read it – much less be able to hold the hefty tome in their laps!

Maybe that’s why Luke’s narratives (the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts) were divided into two books. Perhaps it was thought that people would actually read it and absorb it better in smaller doses. 

Here is Luke’s summary statement about that first volume: I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up, after he had given instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. (Acts 1:1-2)

To put it simply, Luke’s first book was all about Jesus – from the manger to the Mount of Olives. Luke’s second narrative picks right up where his gospel account leaves off – and is all about the Holy Spirit working in the lives of the followers of Christ. 

In the process of reading the above passage from Acts, did you get distracted by the name Theophilus? You aren’t the only one! Unfortunately, we can’t identify who he actually was; but he was probably a real person, since Luke speaks of him as “most honorable Theophilus” (Luke 1:3). This sort of language was used only for the highest of dignitaries, so most likely he was a man of importance. There is some belief that Theophilus was an unbeliever that Luke wanted to tell about Jesus and about the work of the Holy Spirit.

The biblical meaning of the name is actually “friend of God” or “beloved by God.” And because I know God speaks to us through any book of the Bible, I believe both the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are addressed to us too. So, beloved friend of God, let’s settle in and let the book of Acts speak to us uniquely and personally and draw us to a deeper understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, in the early believers, and in us.

By Judy Shrout

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