I. "THE FORMER TREATISE HAVE I MADE O THEOPHILUS"
A. Reference to the gospel of Luke.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
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,
B. Who was Theophilus?
1. There are many suggestions.
2. Some believe that he was once Luke's master. In those days physicians were often slaves. The suggestion has been made that he accepted the gospel through the preaching of Paul, and was so grateful that he sent Luke to be a companion of Paul because of Paul's sickly condition.
3. Some believe that there really was no Theophilus. The name comes from two Greek words, "Theos" and "phileo". Theos is God and phileo is lover. So that Luke is writing to all lovers of God.
4. I do believe that Theophilus was a real person, but I like the idea that the books were written to all lovers of God.
C. Who was Luke?
1. We know that he was a physician. In COL 4:14
, Paul calls him, Luke, the beloved physician.
a. He was a careful researcher.
b. In describing those who Jesus healed, he uses the proper medical terms to describe their conditions.
c. He evidently joined up with Paul and became a part of the missionary team when Paul was in Troas, for this is where the narrative changes to the personal pronoun.
Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
2. We know that Paul was sick as he was going through Galatia.
Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, [even] as Christ Jesus.
3. It is possible that Luke was called to come to minister to Paul in his sickness, and that is how they became acquainted.
II. "OF ALL THAT JESUS BEGAN TO BOTH DO AND TEACH, UNTIL HE WAS TAKEN UP."
A. The key word is "began."
1. The gospel of Luke is the story of the beginning of the ministry of Jesus Christ in the earth. His teaching, His works.
2. The idea conveyed here is that the ministry of Jesus Christ did not end with His ascension into heaven. But He continues to work and teach, only now, it is through His apostles.
3. Notice the words "After that." After what? After He was taken into heaven, "He through the Holy Spirit, gave commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen."
4. What Luke is saying is that the works of Jesus and the teaching of Jesus continues. He continues to work and teach, only now it is through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the lives of the believers.
a. Thus the book of Acts of the Apostles is an open ended book. It continues to the present day, and will continue until He returns.
b. The work of Jesus continues today throughout the world.
c. Jesus said in John 14
, "He that believeth on Me, the works that I do, shall He do also, and even greater works than these shall He do, because I go unto My Father."
B. The book of the Acts of the Apostles is a continuation of the gospel of Luke. It is like the second chapter of Luke.
III. THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES TAKES UP WHERE THE GOSPEL OF LUKE ENDS.
A. We have a few crossover verses.
1. Luke's gospel ends with Jesus on the Mount of Olives up into heaven.
2. Acts begins with Jesus on the Mount of Olives ascending into heaven.
3. Luke's gospel ends with Jesus telling of the promise of the Father.
4. Acts begins with Jesus speaking of the promise of the Father.
5. Luke's gospel ends with Jesus telling them to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the promise of the Father.
6. Acts begins with Jesus telling them to wait in Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high.
7. Luke's gospel ends with Jesus telling them that the gospel is to be preached to all nations beginning at Jerusalem and that they would be witnesses of these things.
8. Acts begins with Jesus telling them that they will be witnesses unto Him both in Jerusalem, all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.
9. Luke's gospel ends with Jesus telling them that the power from on high would enable them to preach the gospel to be witnesses to all the world.
10. Acts begins with Jesus telling them that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit had come upon to be His witnesses to all the world.
IV. "TO WHOM HE SHOWED HIMSELF ALIVE AFTER HIS PASSION BY MANY INFALLIBLE PROOFS."
A. Paul gives a partial list of the appearances of Jesus after His crucifixion in his first letter to the Corinthians.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
B. Many infallible proofs:
1. The eyewitness accounts of those who saw Him.
2. If there is any validity to our system of jurisprudence, then you must accept the fact of the resurrection.
a. Facts are determined on the basis of the testimony of witnesses sworn to tell the truth.
b. The testimony of two or three witnesses is sufficient to determine the facts of the case.
c. You may argue that the witnesses of the resurrection were not cross-examined.
d. You do not have all of the facts, they were cross- examined in ways that are not legal today.
e. They were threatened with death, and were put to death by the hundreds because they would not recant their testimony.
3. Do I believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States?
a. On what premise do I base my belief?
b. The written record of many witnesses.
c. I never saw him, I have to believe that those who wrote of him were telling the truth.
d. It is no stretch from believing in George Washington to believing in Jesus Christ.
e. My beliefs are based on the same premise.
f. If I do not believe in Jesus Christ, it is because I have chosen not to believe on Him.
g. Why would I make such a choice? Because I love evil, and He has condemned evil.
4. The changed lives of His followers after seeing Him after His resurrection.
a. Peter before the resurrection for fear of the council denied that he ever knew Jesus.
b. After the resurrection he boldly proclaimed to the same council that:
If we this day are be examined because of the good deed done to the lame man, by what means he is made whole;
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, they marvelled.
c. Their boldness in preaching the gospel.
d. Their undaunting faith in the face of death.
e. The great miracles that they did.
f. The 180-degree transformation of the life of Paul.
V. "HAVING BEEN SEEN OF THEM FOR FORTY DAYS."
A. He was three days in the grave, seen of them for forty days, that means their waiting for the promise was only about a week's time.
B. What was the purpose of His being around for that length of time?
1. I believe that He was getting them accustomed to the notion that He was with them even though they did not see Him.
a. When the disciples were declaring to skeptical Thomas that Jesus had risen, and he declared that he would not believe until he could see positive evidence. He wanted to see His hands. He wanted to see His side that had been pierced by the sword.
b. The following Sunday night as Jesus appeared to the disciples again, Jesus told Thomas to look at His hands, feel His side. Where was Jesus when Thomas was expressing his doubts.
2. I believe that it was a time of intense study of the scriptures.
a. To the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He expounded to them from Moses through the prophets all the scriptures concerning Himself.
b. Luke tells us He was speaking to them of the Kingdom of God.