In Chapter 15 of Acts, a point of critical importance for the growth of the Church and its relationship with Judaism is reached. Luke narrates the difficulty posed for Jewish Jesus-believers by the increasing number of Gentiles believers and the decision taken by the Church leaders in Jerusalem not to subject them to the usual conditions for proselytes. In the Bezan text, some conflict of opinion between Peter, Paul and Barnabas on the one hand, and James on the other is apparent, a tension that is attenuated in the Alexandrian text. Further conflict is also highlighted in Codex Bezae between Paul and Barnabas who separate following the meeting in Jerusalem.
Luke’s account about Paul’s stay in Ephesos (Acts 19) is well known for its strong local colour, two elements of which are studied in this contribution: the asiarchs (19,31) and the title newko/roj (temple-warden) for Ephesos (19,35). The appearance of asiarchs in Acts questions the view that the asiarchs were the highpriests of the provincial imperial cult. Acts 19,35 contributes to the discussion about city-titles in the 1st-3rd centuries CE. In both instances, Acts is a source not so much for the narrated time of Paul, but rather for Luke’s own time, and as such of interest for both exegetes and historians.
In Acts 16, Paul sets out again on his missionary journey but without Barnabas, Instead he is accompanied by Silas and Timothy, and in part by a group of companions referred to by Luke in the 1st person. His itinerary follows the leading given by successive divine interventions designed to move him westwards, towards Rome. Most of the action takes place in Philippi, his first stopping place after leaving Asia where he had worked previously. On his arrival there, Paul first seeks out the Jewish community. However, a conflictual encounter with local people leads to his imprisonment, when the jailor provides him with the opportunity to speak about the gospel to Gentiles. Paul’s failure to make the most of this opportunity occasions implicit ciriticism from the narrator of Codex Bezae.
In the text of Acts according to Codex Bezae, a fourth and final part of the book begins at 18.24. It is Paul’s ultimate goal of Rome that separates it from the earlier missionary phases and confers unity on the remainder of the book. In this opening section (Section I), his activity will be centred for three years in Ephesus, the main city of Asia, where he will meet with some success despite hostility from some of the Jews. In his dealings with the Gentiles, opposition will also be encountered because of the threat posed by his teachings to the trade of the city. The Bezan narrator indicates plainly that Paul’s travel to Ephesus should have been the initial stage of his journey to the imperial capital. Additional references in Codex Bezae to the directions given to Paul by the Holy Spirit make clear that his visit had been prepared for by the work of Apollos; however, it was contrary to his own intentions, which were rather to go back to Jerusalem. The struggle against the divine leading is seen as Paul terminates his stay in Asia once he has carefully prepared for his return to Jerusalem.
In the history of research, Luke 22:31-34 has been on the whole judged to be a rather awkward composition consisting of traditional material and Lucan wording. This article intends to show the completely Lucan character of the passage as well as the theological meaning Luke attached to it. In these verses,
Luke reveals his literary mastery as well as his theological overall project in Luke-Acts: the primacy of Peter is rooted in the prayer of Jesus Christ himself during His Passion.
Acts 14:1-27 continues the story of the mission of Paul and Barnabas among the Gentiles, illustrating what happened when they had decided to turn from the Jews (cf. 13.46-47) to devote their attention to the Gentiles. Following an account of Paul's initial struggle with this decision, brought out more clearly in Codex Bezae, Luke describes the mitigated success of his first deliberate attempts to talk with the Gentiles about the gospel. The establishment of the first churches as a result of the missionary work of Paul and Barnabas is described as the passage concludes by bringing the missionaries back to Antioch of Syria, where Luke is careful to maintain the focus on the Gentiles.
The Isaian citation, used by Paul to describe his encounter with certain Jews in Rome, does not stand alone: it leads to a conclusion, a conclusion which is an imperative and an assurance. What is commanded is a knowledge of the plan of
God already in motion, a plan to offer salvation to Jews and Gentiles. As information for Jews of Rome, this final word of Paul is best understood as a motive for repentance; knowledge of the divine plan of God, which will succeed (28b), serves as an encouragement to Roman Jews to «turn and be healed by Me».
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.