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Thursday, February 28 2013
Acts: Luke's Second Letter To Theophilus
The Biblical Books that we know today as Luke (see Luke: The World Of The LORD) and Acts were originally written as two personal and private letters from Luke to a man named Theophilus. We may be very thankful that Theoplilus thereafter released or donated his letters into the public domain.
"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)
The Book of Luke ended, and the Book of Acts began, with the ascension of the Messiah (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Messiah). It seems likely that Luke was intending to write Acts while he was still writing Luke.
The end of the Book of Luke:
"24:50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 24:51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 24:52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 24:53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen." (Luke 24:50-53 KJV)
The same event, at the beginning of the Book of Acts:
"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 shewed 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: 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
The first chapters of Acts focus on the Church of God at Jerusalem. It also documents the establishment of Peter and the others ("Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice") as "one sent" (the actual meaning of apostle) to preach the Gospel.
"2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words" (Acts 2:14 KJV)
During that time, for the same reason that they killed the Messiah, a great persecution began against the people of the LORD. The "leader" of the persecutors was a Pharisee named Saul who participated in the killing of Christ's people, including the martyrdom of faithful and courageous Stephen.
"7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
The remainder of the Book of Acts documents the conversion of the Pharisee Saul, and then his ministry as the apostle Paul (see the studies list below).
"9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Studies For The Book Of Acts
Fact Finder: The apostle Paul became a Christian on the road to Damascus. What Biblical connection did Damascus and Syria have?
This Day In History, February 28
202 BC: Liu Bang became Emperor Gaozu of Han, beginning four centuries of the Han Dynasty of China.
1066: Westminster Abbey opened. Originally an abbey church of Benedictine monks, it became a national shrine of Britain.
1525: Aztec King Cuauhtemoc was executed by the forces of Hernan Cortes.
1638: The Scottish National Covenant was signed in Edinburgh.
1692: The Salem, Massachusetts witch hysteria began.
1759: Pope Clement XIII granted permission for the Bible to be translated into the languages of the Roman Catholic states - provided that it was read and "interpreted" only by Catholic priests.
1784: John Wesley of the Church of England established his "Methodist Church" (also known as "the Wesleyan faith" or "the Methodists").
1825: A treaty was signed between Britain and Russia settling the border between Canada and Alaska. Alaska was then a Russian province.
1843: The Great March Comet of 1843 made its closest approach to the sun, only 120,000 km., less than a tenth of the solar diameter. For a few hours that day, the comet outshone any comet seen in the previous 7 centuries. Burning in the daytime sky like a brilliant, tailed star less than 1 degree from the limb of the sun, the comet's astronomical magnitude may have reached -17, more than 60 times brighter than the full moon. The tail eventually reached a length of 68 degrees, 3 weeks after perihelion, estimated to have stretched 300,000,000 km. across the inner solar system. The last time a comet was seen that close to the sun was in 1106.
1844: On the Potomac River, the U.S. navy was demonstrating its new frigate Princeton when one of its guns exploded, killing Secretary of State Abel Upshur, Navy Secretary Thomas Gilmer and some other government officials.
1917: During the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), total ships sunk for the month by German submarines: 212.
1940: British Colonial Secretary MacDonald terminated all further land sales to Jews in "Palestine" (see A History Of Jerusalem: Zionism). The move was officially intended to prevent arousing the Arabs, thereby destabilizing the region, which would have benefited Nazi Germany.
1940: The superliner Queen Elizabeth was launched in Britain.
1948: The last British troops left India which had then become independent.
1954: The U.S. detonated its second hydrogen bomb, at Bikini atoll. The expected yield of the weapon of mass destruction was 8 megatons; the actual yield turned out to be 15 megatons.
1969: A Los Angeles court refused Robert Kennedy's assassin Sirhan Sirhan's request to be executed.
1974: The U.S. and Egypt re-established diplomatic relations after 7 years.
1993: The siege at Waco, Texas, began after U.S. federal agents tried to serve an arrest warrant for weapons charges on Branch Davidian sect leader David Koresh.
1996: Russia entered as the 39th member of the Council of Europe.
1997: An earthquake in northern Iran killed over 3,000 people.