The book of Acts is very important, as well as, very strategic being a part of the New Testament canon. First, it is very important because it narrates the activities of Jesus’ apostles immediately after the Lord left earth, and this means (for readers and observers) a validation of many of Jesus’ predictions which He promised would transpire soon when He would be gone. Second, the strategic significance of Acts among the New Testament books can also be seen in the fact that it is a bridge that connects to the otherwise undetermined “beginnings” of local churches to which the majority of apostolic epistles were written.
Taking into account these two things about Acts is to consider what biblical scholars would call “internal evidences. ” These (internal evidences) are proofs which are contained within the Bible that, in turn, can validate and establish certain facts about any biblical books. The book of Acts, therefore, can somehow be dated simply by using the available informations contained “internally. ” Having said thus, the question in order would be: when was the book of Acts written? Well, based on the internal evidences, Luke might have written the book approximately around 60-62 A. D. (Constable 2008).
Certain clues suggest this approximation. One strong indication is the fact that the narration ended at a time when Apostle Paul was still in prison in Rome. The great apostle to the Gentiles was, as far as the knowledge of the writer is concerned, not yet freed from his first incarceration (which happened in the year A. D. 62), and for sure, the Apostle Paul was not yet martyred which happened during Nero’s persecution of Christians begun A. D. 64 (Kinnaman, 1995).
If the reverse of these facts were true, Luke would certainly have included all these in his biography of the apostle as recorded in Acts. And since they are not, it is safe to say that Apostle Paul was still alive and still in prison during the writing of Acts. And so, to date the writing of Acts around 60-62 A. D. is neither wild nor baseless speculation. Another consideration which supports this dating includes the historic event of the fall of Jerusalem to the hands of the Romans. It happened in A. D. 70, and highlighted the destruction of Herod’s temple.
If the writer of Acts (Luke) saw and experience this catastrophe for the Jews, he could have included it in his writing. And because Luke has none of the details of Jerusalem’s destruction in Acts, it is therefore accurate (on the part of the scholars) to have dated the book’s writing before Paul’s execution and the Roman’s invasion of the holy city. Luke’s significance as historian, it is argued by scholars today, lies in his reliability. His reliability is such that his work (i. e. Acts) reflects the state of affairs of his day.
His descriptions of certain famous people (like that of Claudius in Acts 18:2), and events, and the environs, betray the time frame he was in. Today, archaeological discoveries and advances are available for every enquirer to pore over to validate or invalidate certain claims of the New Testament writers. Several of those claims are found in the book of Acts. Luke mentioned a “riot” which happened in Ephesus at a certain theater (Acts 19:29). Archaeological facts reveal that there was indeed a “theater” where assembly of people would usually gather for civic purposes at this place in Ephesus.
The place, when unearthed by archaeologists, was discovered to have the capacity to contain as many as “twenty five thousand people” (McDowell, 1999). Luke was found to be accurate. When looked at in its historical and archaeological value, the work of Luke (book of Acts) is very valuable. One may conclude that one of God’s intended purposes in allowing Acts to be included in the New Testament canon of scriptures was to authenticate the historicity of Christianity. Now, why are the issues of authorship and date important for Acts? Are they important for the correct interpretation of Acts?
Definitely, yes. When it is established that the author was Paul’s close companion in his journeys as described in Acts (i. e. Luke), and when the date of its writing is established, two things will inevitably happen: first, the material which Luke provides would stand as authoritative and valuable in its description of the spread of the Christian faith. Second, it will not only render Luke authoritative as eyewitness of the events he mentioned, but also an accurate resource for the dating and interpretation also of New Testament epistles.
What indicators of historical reliability are found in Acts? What role does Luke as author play? Why are the issues of date and author important to a proper interpretation of Acts? References: 1. Constable, Thomas L. 2000. Notes On Acts 2000 Edition. New York: Doubleday. 2. Kinnaman, Gary. 1995. Spirit Filled Life Bible. Thomas Nelson, Inc. 3. McDowell, Josh. 1999. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Published By Here’s Life Publishers (Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. ).