Giancarlo Biguzzi, «Witnessing Two by Two in the Acts of the Apostles.», Vol. 92 (2011) 1-20
The program of Act 1,8 is carried through by the Twelve only in Jerusalem, Samaria and the Mediterranean coast, — but not «till the end of the earth». Their witness, however, is prolonged by the Seven of Jerusalem, the Five of Syrian Antioch, and the Seven companions of Paul of Act 20,4. Surprisingly, for everyone of the four groups of witnesses, the author narrates then the witnessing of only two of them. The narrative lacuna, apparently intentional since it recurs four times, allows Luke to involve the reader in reconstructing the spread of the gospel in all the directions for the remaining ten twelfths.
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WITNESSING TWO TWO ACTS APOSTLES
BY IN THE OF THE
protagonists of the narration (Peter â€” John and Stephen â€” Philip
respectively), here he chooses the first, Barnabas and the last, Saul,
and not the second as he had done before. That outsider, Saul-Paul,
at first works together with Barnabas and participates with others
in the apostolic assembly in Jerusalem, but later (from Acts 15,40),
he remains on the stage until the last verse of the book as the only
protagonist 12. In other words, while the second names of the pre-
ceding lists were also second in importance, here instead of the
second, the fifth person of the list is chosen and in the course of
the events he supersedes and even overshadows the first one. In the
second list the inversion of roles was due to the tragic death of
Stephen ; in this last list it is Lukeâ€™s decision to focus all the atten-
tion on Paul which causes Barnabas to fall into oblivion.
Whereas the Twelve and the Seven of Jerusalem limited their
activity to Samaria, the Five of Antioch, in accordance with the
Antiochian policy of openness, begin to move towards wider hori-
zons : the islands of the Mediterranean and Anatolia, with its many
Roman provinces and diverse peoples. The story unfolds rapidly,
both for the apostolic witnesses and in relation to the territorial
expansion embraced by the proclamation of the Gospel.
4. Of the Pauline Churches, only Trophimus and Aristarcus
In addition to the lists of the Twelve in Acts 1,13, of the Seven
of Jerusalem in Acts 6,5 and of the Five of Antioch in Acts 13,1,
Luke inserts a further list of names, that of the Seven who are at
Paulâ€™s side when, at the conclusion of his third missionary
journey, he is about to leave Corinth and return to Jerusalem.
Luke narrates: â€œHe stayed for three months [at Corinth]. He was
about to set sail for Syria when a plot was made against him by
the Jews, and so he decided to return through Macedoniaâ€. The
seven names then follow right away: â€œHe was accompanied by
Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Beroea, by Aristarchus and Secundus
from Thessalonica, by Gaius from Derbe, and by Timothy, as well
as by Tychicus and Trophimus from Asiaâ€ (20,3-4). This fourth
list is usually given less significance, but by analogy it is evident
The few verses of Acts 18,24-28, referring to Apollos, are the only pas-
sage were Paul is not the protagonist in Acts 15â€“28.