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Saturday, September 1 2012

The Epistles: Acts

Studies in this complete Epistles series:
What Is An Epistle? Luke Acts Romans First Corinthians
Second Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians
First Thessalonians Second Thessalonians First Timothy Second Timothy Titus
Philemon Hebrews James First Peter Second Peter
First John Second John Third John Jude Revelation


As explained in the first study of this series (see The Epistles: What Is An Epistle?), an epistle was a letter, sent by an apostle or evangelist, to a individual, a congregation, or the Church of God in general. Luke is famous for his writing of the "Gospel of Luke" and the "Book of Acts," however both of them were actually produced as epistles, letters, sent by Luke to a man named Theophilus.

"1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 1:4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed." (Luke 1:1-4 KJV)

"1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 1:3 To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." (Acts 1:1-3 KJV)

The Roman Empire

Other than his identifying himself as the author of the two epistles, Luke is not further mentioned in either Luke (see The Epistles: Luke) or Acts. Luke was however very much involved and present, as attested by the apostle Paul in his epistles - that were written to, or from, the places recorded by Luke in Acts. Here, in the closing of his epistle to the Colossians, Paul refers to Luke as "Luke, the beloved physician" who was among those with Paul (as was "Marcus," who later wrote the Gospel book of Mark).

"4:10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) 4:11 And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God [see The Church In The Kingdom Of God and The Constitution Of The Kingdom Of God], which have been a comfort unto me. 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 4:13 For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea [see also Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?] and them in Hierapolis. 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. 4:15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. 4:16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

4:17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

4:18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen." (Acts 4:10-18 KJV)

The King James Version uses "Lucas" for Luke (most other translations use "Luke" in that verse) in Paul's epistle to Philemon, a Colossian.

Paul In Athens

"1:22 But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.

1:23 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus [see Christianos]; 1:24 Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.

1:25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen." (Philemon 1:22-25 KJV)

Luke was not just a "fair weather friend," as attested by Paul's statement "only Luke is with me" - after the others had either departed in the LORD's work (e.g. "Titus unto Dalmatia"), or betrayed Paul (e.g. "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil" and "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world").

"4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead [see The Quick and The Dead] at his appearing and his kingdom [see What Is The Day Of The LORD?]; 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears [see Is Your Religion Your Religion?]; 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [see The Messiah's Warning About Christian Charlatans]. 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing [see The Two Signs Of Christ's Return].

4:9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. 4:12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. 4:13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.

4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: 4:15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (2 Timothy 4:1-18 KJV)

Fact Finder: Luke was a "Gentile." At what point did "Gentiles" become involved in salvation?
See The Worldwide Church of God and What Did The Messiah Say About Gentiles?


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This Day In History, September 1

891: Arnulf defeated the Vikings from Scandinavia at the Battle of Louvain in Belgium.

1159: Pope Adrian IV died at age 59. Born as Nicholas Breakspear, he was the only Englishman to become pope.

1557: Jacques Cartier died at age 66. During his 3 voyages between 1534 and 1543, the French explorer discovered the St. Lawrence River and other major findings throughout eastern North America.

1666: The Great Fire of London began in a bakery on Pudding Lane. Over the course of 4 days, the fire destroyed 75% of the British capital.

1676: Nathaniel Bacon led an uprising against English governor William Berkeley at Jamestown, Virginia, resulting in the settlement being burned to the ground. "Bacon's Rebellion" came as a result of the governor's refusal to defend the colonists against the Americans (i.e. the "Indians").

1707: The Treaty of Altranstadt was signed during the Great Northern War (1700-1721) by Swedish king Charles XII and Holy Roman emperor Joseph I.

1715: King Louis XIV of France died after a 72 year reign - the longest of any major European monarch.

1870: Prussia defeated France at the Battle of Sedan in the last battle of the Franco-Prussian War. Napoleon III surrendered himself to the Prussians.

1904: Helen Keller, 24, graduated from Radcliffe College. Blind and deaf from the age of 2, she became a champion of those with disabilities.

1905: Alberta and Saskatchewan joined Canada.

1914: The last-known passenger pigeon died, at the Cincinnati Zoo.

1923: A magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck Japan. Yokohama and Tokyo were destroyed, killing over 140,000 people and destroying the homes of 2.5 million people.

1939: Adolf Hitler's massive (52 army divisions) invasion of Poland. The Second World War (1939-1945) began that day in response to Germany's invasion of Poland.

1941: The Yellow Star was made obligatory for all Jews in Hitler's "Third Reich" to wear (see also Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).

1945: Within months after the war ended in Europe, the official statistics of the Jews murdered in the Satanic Nazi "Final Solution" were 2,800,000 Polish, 800,000 Soviet, 450,000 Hungarian, 350,000 Romanian, 180,000 German, 60,000 Austrian, 243,000 Czechoslovakian, 110,000 Dutch, 25,000 Belgian, 50,000 Yugoslav, 80,000 Greek, 65,000 French, 10,000 Italian.

1962: The United Nations announced that the population of the world had reached 3 billion. It has since more than doubled.

1969: A coup in Libya established Muammar al-Gaddafi as leader.

1980: Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope (a cross-Canada run by Fox, who had lost a leg to cancer) ended near Thunder Bay, Ontario.

1983: Korean Air Flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet warplane after the commercial airliner strayed into Soviet airspace. All 269 passengers and crew were killed.

1985: Divers located the wreckage of the Titanic on the ocean floor, approximately 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of Newfoundland. It sank on April 15 1912 with a loss of 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers.

1991: Uzbekistan declared independence from the Soviet Union.



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