The Acts of the Apostles. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
THE AUTHOR of Luke related in that gospel the story of the life and teachings of Christ, culminating in his rejection and crucifixion by the Jews. In his continuation, The Acts of the Apostles, the same writer narrates the establishment of the religion of Christ among both Jews and Gentiles, and the beginning of its conquest of the western world. The question of authorship has been touched on in the introductory note to Luke. The date of composition of the Acts is later than that of the gospel, perhaps between 80 and 90 A. D.
Though called The Acts of the Apostles, this book describes in detail the careers of only two of the apostles, Peter and Paul. The first twelve chapters deal with the founding of the Church in Judæa, Samaria, and Syria, and the beginning of the evangelization of the Gentiles. The main figure in this part is Peter, but his career is not followed to its close. The second part is chiefly occupied with accounts of the missionary journeys of Paul, and the spread of Christianity in the Græco-Roman world. It closes with the establishment of his ministry in Rome.
In chapters xvi, xx, xxi, and xxvii will be found passages in which the use of we seems to imply that the author was himself a member of Pauls party, and it is in this so-called Diary that the hand of Luke is most generally acknowledged, even by those critics who do not hold that Luke was the compiler of the gospel and the Acts as a whole.
The interest of this book is not confined to the narrative of the travels and work of organization performed by the two apostles; it is enormously increased by the accounts of their preaching. In the reports of the addresses to believers and unbelievers of Peter, Stephen, and Paul, we have an invaluable picture of what the earliest Christian missionaries regarded as the essentials of the new religion, and of the form in which Christianity began its victorious contest with Judaism on the one hand, and paganism on the other.