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STUDIES IN ACTS      Studies in Acts

1. THEOPHILUS - an instructed convert

"In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven" (Acts 1:1-2).

Luke dedicates his Gospel and the Book of Acts to a Roman official. Lk.1:1-4 may be considered as an introduction to Luke-Acts (viewed as one book).

Consider the person
Who was Theophilus? From the two given passages which contain his name we may infer a number of things. First, that he was a Roman Christian. Some scholars believe that Theophilus ('lover of God') could be a Christian name chosen by him, or given to him at his baptism. Secondly, 'most excellent Theophilus' (Lk.1:3) indicates that he was a man of high rank. Felix and Festus are given the same title (see Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25). Some authorities suggest that he was Flavius Clemens, Emperor Domitian's cousin. Thirdly, that Luke-Acts is written so that Theophilus might know the certainty of the things he had been taught. Luke-Acts, we suggest, can be seen as a work written to instruct all those new Christians that Theophilus represents.

Study the Scriptures
In alluding to eye-witnesses, Luke stresses the historical nature of the Christian faith (Lk.1:2). The New Testament church preached the gospel in a hostile world with thousands of rival faiths and religions calling for recognition – yet it overcame them all. Why was this? It was because the gospel centres on a living Person, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again according to the Scriptures. Consider Lk.24:25-27, 44-49; 1 Cor.15:1-11.

Ask questions

1. Luke highlights the Lord's miraculous conception and bodily resurrection as real historical events. Why are they important to the person and work of Christ?

2. Is it important to know what we believe? Consider 1 Pet.3:15.

3. Does Luke indicates to Theophilus, and the Roman officials that he represents, that Christians were not trouble makers but law-abiding citizens. Further, Christianity is not politically dangerous. See Acts 16:39; 18:12; 23:29; 25:25; 26:31.

4. How can we apply Romans 13:1-8?

Apply some thoughts

1. Luke-Acts indicates the importance the New Testament church placed on instructing new converts in the faith. We must believe for converts and make disciples (Mt.28:19-20).

2. Pray for the new Christians in your church and neighbourhood.

3. Pray for the conversion of an important official in your community.

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Copyright 2008 Vernon Ralphs

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