Personal angel

When Peter comes to the door of the house where the disciples are praying for him, they think it’s Peter’s “angel” (Acts 12:15). The thing at the door is recognizably Peter, but they don’t think it’s Peter in the flesh. It’s still the person, but not the . . . . Continue Reading »

Church is mission

At the conclusion of an intriguing overview of the haphazard form of the church’s mission in Acts, John Howard Yoder concludes ( Theology of Mission: A Believers Church Perspective ) that “the church is not simply a vehicle” of mission. Rather, in Acts, “the events of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Witness to deliverance

The story of Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus is recounted several times in Acts: First when the event happens (ch. 9), and then twice retold by Paul, once before Jews and once before Agrippa and Festus (chs. 22, 26). In the final retelling, Paul quotes Jesus’ words: . . . . Continue Reading »

Preaching Chronology

As Stephen recounts the history of Israel to his persecutors, he refers in passing to several chronological details. Abraham’s descendants were slaves for 400 years (Acts 7:6), God appeared to Moses after 40 years of sojourn in Midian (7:30), and another 40 years passed with Israel in the . . . . Continue Reading »

Death and Rescue in Acts

Jesus is tried by three courts - the Jewish Sanhedrin, the Herodian, and the Roman. In imitation of Jesus, Paul too is tried by the same three courts. So too is the church as a whole. The early chapters of Acts describe the Sanhedrin’s opposition to the early church’s witness and . . . . Continue Reading »

One mind

The Jerusalem Council described in Acts 15 presents “a winning picture of open-ended discussion, leading to consensus, through the ‘facilitation’ of a leader and a faith in God’s more primary direction through the Spirit.” It is “a true ‘coming together of . . . . Continue Reading »

Winking at sin

Summing up a survey of the Bible’s use of combat myths, Jon Levenson ( Creation and the Persistence of Evil , 24) says: “God’s visible victory over the enemies of order is in the past. The present is bereft of the signs of divine triumph. It is a formidable challenge to faith and . . . . Continue Reading »

Stephen, Saul, and Structure in Acts

A student of mine, Brian Marr, has produced a fascinating study of the literary and structural features of Acts 6-9. One of the things that emerges from Brian’s study is the way Luke highlights parallels between Stephen and Saul, making Saul/Paul a new Stephen, destined for a future martyrdom . . . . Continue Reading »


Angels are active in the book of acts, opening prisons (5:19; 12:7-11), directing preachers (8:26), assuring the Roman centurion Cornelius that his prayers are heard (10:3; 11:13). After chapter 12, angels virtually disappear. There are references to angels in 23:8-9, and Paul says that an angel . . . . Continue Reading »