Acts of the Apostles

Acts of the Apostles (Ancient Greek: Πράξεις τῶν Ἀποστόλων, Práxeis tôn Apostólōn; Latin: Actūs Apostolōrum), often referred to simply as Acts, or formally the Book of Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; it tells of the founding of the Christian church and the spread of its message to the Roman Empire.[1]

Acts and the Gospel of Luke make up a two-part work, Luke–Acts, by the same anonymous author, usually dated to around 80–90 AD.[2][3] The first part, the Gospel of Luke, tells how God fulfilled his plan for the world's salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah. Acts continues the story of Christianity in the 1st century, beginning with Jesus's ascension to Heaven. The early chapters, set in Jerusalem, describe the Day of Pentecost (the coming of the Holy Spirit) and the growth of the church in Jerusalem. Initially, the Jews are receptive to the Christian message, but soon they turn against the followers of Jesus. Rejected by the Jews, under the guidance of the Apostle Peter the message is taken to the Gentiles. The later chapters tell of Paul's conversion, his mission in Asia Minor and the Aegean, and finally his imprisonment in Rome, where, as the book ends, he awaits trial.

Luke–Acts is an attempt to answer a theological problem, namely how the Messiah of the Jews came to have an overwhelmingly non-Jewish church; the answer it provides, and its central theme, is that the message of Christ was sent to the Gentiles because the Jews rejected it.[1] Luke–Acts can be also seen as a defense of (or "apology" for) the Jesus movement addressed to the Jews: the bulk of the speeches and sermons in Acts are addressed to Jewish audiences, with the Romans serving as external arbiters on disputes concerning Jewish customs and law.[4] On the one hand, Luke portrays the Christians as a sect of the Jews, and therefore entitled to legal protection as a recognised religion; on the other, Luke seems unclear as to the future God intends for Jews and Christians, celebrating the Jewishness of Jesus and his immediate followers while also stressing how the Jews had rejected God's promised Messiah.[5]

Composition and setting

Ministry of the Apostles: Russian icon by Fyodor Zubov, 1660

Title, unity of Luke–Acts, authorship and date

The title "Acts of the Apostles" (Greek Πράξεις ἀποστόλων Praxeis Apostolon) was first used by Irenaeus in the late 2nd century. It is not known whether this was an existing title or one invented by Irenaeus; it does seem clear, however, that it was not given by the author.[6]

The Gospel of Luke and Acts make up a two-volume work which scholars call Luke–Acts.[3] Together they account for 27.5% of the New Testament, the largest contribution attributed to a single author, providing the framework for both the Church's liturgical calendar and the historical outline into which later generations have fitted their idea of the story of Jesus and the early church.[7]

Деяния Апостолов
An edition of the Acts of the Apostles dated 1644

The author is not named in either volume.[8] According to Church tradition dating from the 2nd century, he was the "Luke" named as a companion of the apostle Paul in three of the letters attributed to Paul himself; this view is still sometimes advanced, but "a critical consensus emphasizes the countless contradictions between the account in Acts and the authentic Pauline letters."[9]) (An example can be seen by comparing Acts's accounts of Paul's conversion (Acts 9:1–31, 22:6–21, and 26:9–23) with Paul's own statement that he remained unknown to Christians in Judea after that event (Galatians 1:17–24).)[10] The author "is an admirer of Paul, but does not share Paul's own view of himself as an apostle; his own theology is considerably different from Paul's on key points and does not represent Paul's own views accurately."[11] He was educated, a man of means, probably urban, and someone who respected manual work, although not a worker himself; this is significant, because more high-brow writers of the time looked down on the artisans and small business people who made up the early church of Paul and were presumably Luke's audience.[12]

While no proposed date for the composition of Acts is universally accepted, the most common scholarly position is to date Luke–Acts to 80-90 AD, on the grounds that it uses Mark as a source, looks back on the destruction of Jerusalem, and does not show any awareness of the letters of Paul (which began circulating late in the first century).[13][14][15] The earliest possible date for the composition of Acts is set by the events with which it ends, Paul's imprisonment in Rome c.63 AD, but such an early dating is a minority position.[9][13][14] The last possible date would be set by its first definite citation by another author, but there is no unanimity on this; some scholars find echoes of Acts in a work from c. 95 AD called I Clement, while others see no indisputable citation until the middle of the 2nd century.[13] A minority of scholars, necessarily in the latter camp, conclude that Acts dates to the 2nd century, believing that it shows awareness of the letters of Paul, the works of Josephus, or the writings of Marcion.[13][16]


There are two major textual variants of Acts, the Western text-type and the Alexandrian. The oldest complete Alexandrian manuscripts date from the 4th century and the oldest Western ones from the 6th, with fragments and citations going back to the 3rd. Western texts of Acts are 6.2–8.4% longer than Alexandrian texts, the additions tending to enhance the Jewish rejection of the Messiah and the role of the Holy Spirit, in ways that are stylistically different from the rest of Acts.[17] The majority of scholars prefer the Alexandrian (shorter) text-type over the Western as the more authentic, but this same argument would favour the Western over the Alexandrian for the Gospel of Luke, as in that case the Western version is the shorter; the debate therefore continues.[17]

Genre, sources and historicity of Acts

The title "Acts of the Apostles" (Praxeis Apostolon) would seem to identify it with the genre telling of the deeds and achievements of great men (praxeis), but it was not the title given by the author.[6] The anonymous author aligned Luke–Acts to the "narratives" (διήγησις, diēgēsis) which many others had written, and described his own work as an "orderly account" (ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς).[18] Thus while Acts is widely thought of as a history,[19][20] it lacks exact analogies in Hellenistic or Jewish literature.[21]

The author of Acts may have taken as his model the works of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who wrote a well-known history of Rome, or the Jewish historian Josephus, author of a history of the Jews.[22] Like them, he anchors his history by dating the birth of the founder (Romulus for Dionysius, Moses for Josephus, Jesus for Luke) and like them he tells how the founder is born from God, taught authoritatively, and appeared to witnesses after death before ascending to heaven.[22] By and large the sources for Acts can only be guessed at,[23] but the author would have had access to the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures), the Gospel of Mark, and either the hypothetical collection of "sayings of Jesus" called the Q source or the Gospel of Matthew.[24][25] He transposed a few incidents from Mark's gospel to the time of the Apostles—for example, the material about "clean" and "unclean" foods in Mark 7 is used in Acts 10, and Mark's account of the accusation that Jesus has attacked the Temple (Mark 14:58) is used in a story about Stephen (Acts 6:14).)[26] There are also points of contacts (meaning suggestive parallels but something less than clear evidence) with 1 Peter, the Letter to the Hebrews, and 1 Clement.[27] Other sources can only be inferred from internal evidence—the traditional explanation of the three "we" passages, for example, is that they represent eye-witness accounts.[28] The search for such inferred sources was popular in the 19th century, but by the mid-20th it had largely been abandoned.[29]

Acts was read as a reliable history of the early church well into the post-Reformation era. By the 17th century, however, biblical scholars began to notice that it was incomplete and tendentious—its picture of a harmonious church is quite at odds with that given by Paul's letters, and it omits important events such as the deaths of both Peter and Paul. The mid-19th-century scholar Ferdinand Baur suggested that the author of Acts had re-written history to present a united Peter and Paul and advance a single orthodoxy against the Marcionites. (Marcion was a 2nd-century heretic who wished to cut Christianity off entirely from the Jews). Baur continues to have enormous influence, but today there is less interest in determining the author of Acts' historical accuracy (although this has never died out) than in understanding his theological program.[30]

Audience and authorial intent

Luke was written to be read aloud to a group of Jesus-followers gathered in a house to share the Lord's supper.[22] The author assumes an educated Greek-speaking audience, but directs his attention to specifically Christian concerns rather than to the Greco-Roman world at large.[31] He begins his gospel with a preface addressed to Theophilus, informing him of his intention to provide an "ordered account" of events which will lead his reader to "certainty".[12] He did not write in order to provide Theophilus with historical justification—"did it happen?"—but to encourage faith—"what happened, and what does it all mean?"[32]

Acts (or Luke–Acts) is intended as a work of "edification."[33] Edification means "the empirical demonstration that virtue is superior to vice,"[34] but is not all of Luke's purpose. He also engages with the question of a Christian's proper relationship with the Roman Empire, the civil power of the day: could a Christian obey God and also Caesar? The answer is ambiguous.[4] The Romans never move against Jesus or his followers unless provoked by the Jews, in the trial scenes the Christian missionaries are always cleared of charges of violating Roman laws, and Acts ends with Paul in Rome proclaiming the Christian message under Roman protection; at the same time, Luke makes clear that the Romans, like all earthly rulers, receive their authority from Satan, while Christ is ruler of the kingdom of God.[35]

Structure and content

Minuscule 223 (GA) f11r
Acts 1:1–2a from the 14th century Minuscule 223


Acts has two key structural principles. The first is the geographic movement from Jerusalem, centre of God's Covenantal people, the Jews, to Rome, centre of the Gentile world. This structure reaches back to the author's preceding work, the Gospel of Luke, and is signaled by parallel scenes such as Paul's utterance in Acts 19:21, which echoes Jesus's words in Luke 9:51: Paul has Rome as his destination, as Jesus had Jerusalem. The second key element is the roles of Peter and Paul, the first representing the Jewish Christian church, the second the mission to the Gentiles.[36]

  • Transition: reprise of the preface addressed to Theophilus and the closing events of the gospel (Acts 1–1:26)
  • Petrine Christianity: the Jewish church from Jerusalem to Antioch (Acts 2:1–12:25)
2:1–8:1 – beginnings in Jerusalem
8:2–40 – the church expands to Samaria and beyond
9:1–31 – conversion of Paul
9:32–12:25 – the conversion of Cornelius, and the formation of the Antioch church
  • Pauline Christianity: the Gentile mission from Antioch to Rome (Acts 13:1–28:21)
13:1–14:28 – the Gentile mission is promoted from Antioch
15:1–35 – the Gentile mission is confirmed in Jerusalem
15:36–28:31 – the Gentile mission, climaxing in Paul's passion story in Rome (21:17–28:31)



The Gospel of Luke began with a prologue addressed to Theophilus; Acts likewise opens with an address to Theophilus and refers to "my earlier book", almost certainly the gospel.

The apostles and other followers of Jesus meet and elect Matthias to replace Judas as a member of The Twelve. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends and confers God's power on them, and Peter, along with John, preaches to many in Jerusalem, and performs Christ-like healings, casting out of evil spirits, and raising of the dead. The first believers share all property in common, ate in each other's homes, and worshipped together.[37] At first many Jews follow Christ and are baptized, but the Christians begin to be increasingly persecuted by the Jews. Stephen is arrested for blasphemy, and after a trial, is found guilty and stoned by the Jews. Stephen's death marks a major turning point: the Jews have rejected the message, and henceforth it will be taken to the Gentiles.[38]

The message is taken to the Samaritans, a people rejected by Jews, and to the Gentiles. Saul of Tarsus, one of the Jews who persecuted the Christians, is converted by a vision to become a follower of Christ (an event which Luke regards as so important that he relates it three times). Peter, directed by a series of visions, preaches to Cornelius the Centurion, a Gentile God-fearer, who becomes a follower of Christ. The Holy Spirit descends on Peter and Cornelius, thus confirming that the message of eternal life in Christ is for all mankind. The Gentile church is established in Antioch (north-western Syria, the third-largest city of the empire), and here Christ's followers are first called Christians.[39]

The mission to the Gentiles is promoted from Antioch and confirmed at meeting in Jerusalem between Paul and the leadership of the Jerusalem church. Paul spends the next few years traveling through western Asia Minor and the Aegean, preaching, converting Gentiles, and founding new churches. On a visit to Jerusalem he is set on by a Jewish mob. Saved by the Roman commander, he is accused by the Jews of being a revolutionary, the "ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes", and imprisoned. Paul asserts his right as a Roman citizen, to be tried in Rome and is sent by sea to Rome, where he spends another two years under house arrest, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching the "Lord Jesus Christ". Acts ends abruptly without recording the outcome of Paul's legal troubles.[40]


Saint Paul
Paul's conversion, from Livre d'Heures d'Étienne Chevalier (c. 1450–1460), Jean Fouquet, in the Château de Chantilly.

Prior to the 1950s, Luke–Acts was seen as a historical work, written to defend Christianity before the Romans or Paul against his detractors; since then, however, the tendency has been to see the work as primarily theological.[41] Luke's theology is expressed primarily through his overarching plot, the way scenes, themes and characters combine to construct his specific worldview.[42] His "salvation history" stretches from the Creation to the present time of his readers, in three ages: first, the time of "the Law and the Prophets" (Luke 16:16), the period beginning with Genesis and ending with the appearance of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5–3:1); second, the epoch of Jesus, in which the Kingdom of God was preached (Luke 3:2–24:51); and finally the period of the Church, which began when the risen Christ was taken into Heaven, and would end with his second coming.[43]

Luke–Acts is an attempt to answer a theological problem, namely how the Messiah promised to the Jews came to have an overwhelmingly non-Jewish church; the answer it provides, and its central theme, is that the message of Christ was sent to the Gentiles because the Jews rejected it.[1] This theme is introduced at the opening of the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus, rejected in Nazareth, recalls that the prophets were rejected by Israel and accepted by Gentiles; at the end of the gospel he commands his disciples to preach his message to all nations, "beginning from Jerusalem." He repeats the command in Acts, telling them to preach "in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the Earth." They then proceed to do so, in the order outlined: first Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, then the entire (Roman) world.[44]

For Luke, the Holy Spirit is the driving force behind the spread of the Christian message, and he places more emphasis on it than do any of the other evangelists. The Spirit is "poured out" at Pentecost, on the first Samaritan and Gentile believers, and on disciples who had been baptised only by John the Baptist, each time as a sign of God's approval. The Holy Spirit represents God's power (At his ascension, Jesus tells his followers, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you"): through it the disciples are given speech to convert thousands in Jerusalem, forming the first church (the term is used for the first time in Acts 5).[45]

One issue debated by scholars is Luke’s political vision regarding the relationship between the early church and the Roman Empire. On the one hand, Luke generally does not portray this interaction as one of direct conflict. Rather, there are ways in which each may have considered having a relationship with the other rather advantageous to its own cause. For example, early Christians may have appreciated hearing about the protection Paul received from Roman officials against Gentile rioters in Philippi (Acts 16:16-40) and Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41), and against Jewish rioters on two occasions (Acts 17:1-17; Acts 18:12-17). Meanwhile, Roman readers may have approved of Paul’s censure of the illegal practice of magic (Acts 19:17-19) as well as the amicability of his rapport with Roman officials such as Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:6-12) and Festus (Acts 26:30-32). Furthermore, Acts does not include any account of a struggle between Christians and the Roman government as a result of the latter’s imperial cult. Thus Paul is depicted as a moderating presence between the church and the Roman Empire.[46]

On the other hand, events such as the imprisonment of Paul at the hands of the empire (Acts 22-28) as well as several encounters that reflect negatively on Roman officials (for instance, Felix’s desire for a bribe from Paul in Acts 24:26) function as concrete points of conflict between Rome and the early church.[47] Perhaps the most significant point of tension between Roman imperial ideology and Luke’s political vision is reflected in Peter’s speech to the Roman centurion, Cornelius (Acts 10:36). Peter states that "this one" [οὗτος], i.e. Jesus, "is lord [κύριος] of all." The title, κύριος, was often ascribed to the Roman emperor in antiquity, rendering its use by Luke as an appellation for Jesus an unsubtle challenge to the emperor’s authority.[48]

Comparison with other writings

Probably Valentin de Boulogne - Saint Paul Writing His Epistles - Google Art Project
Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, ascribed to Valentin de Boulogne, 17th century

Gospel of Luke

As the second part of the two-part work Luke–Acts, Acts has significant links to the Gospel of Luke. Major turning points in the structure of Acts, for example, find parallels in Luke: the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple parallels the opening of Acts in the Temple, Jesus's forty days of testing in the wilderness prior to his mission parallel the forty days prior to his Ascension in Acts, the mission of Jesus in Samaria and the Decapolis (the lands of the Samaritans and Gentiles) parallels the missions of the Apostles in Samaria and the Gentile lands, and so on (see Gospel of Luke). These parallels continue through both books. There are also differences between Luke and Acts, amounting at times to outright contradiction. For example, the gospel seems to place the Ascension on Easter Sunday, immediately after the Resurrection, while Acts 1 puts it forty days later.[49] There are similar conflicts over the theology. While not seriously questioning the single authorship of Luke–Acts, these differences do suggest the need for caution in seeking too much consistency in books written in essence as popular literature.[50]

Pauline epistles

Acts agrees with Paul's letters on the major outline of Paul's career: he is converted and becomes a Christian missionary and apostle, establishing new churches in Asia Minor and the Aegean and struggling to free Gentile Christians from the Jewish Law. There are also agreements on many incidents, such as Paul's escape from Damascus, where he is lowered down the walls in a basket. But details of these same incidents are frequently contradictory: for example, according to Paul it was a pagan king who was trying to arrest him in Damascus, but according to Luke it was the Jews (2 Corinthians 11:33 and Acts 9:24). Acts speaks of "Christians" and "disciples", but Paul never uses either term, and it is striking that Acts never brings Paul into conflict with the Jerusalem church and places Paul under the authority of the Jerusalem church and its leaders, especially James and Peter (Acts 15 vs. Galatians 2).[51] Acts omits much from the letters, notably Paul's problems with his congregations (internal difficulties are said to be the fault of the Jews instead), and his apparent final rejection by the church leaders in Jerusalem (Acts has Paul and Barnabas deliver an offering that is accepted, a trip that has no mention in the letters). There are also major differences between Acts and Paul on Christology (the understanding of Christ's nature), eschatology (understanding of the "last things"), and apostleship.[52]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Burkett 2002, p. 263.
  2. ^ Charlesworth 2008, p. no page numbers.
  3. ^ a b Burkett 2002, p. 195.
  4. ^ a b Pickett 2011, pp. 6–7.
  5. ^ Boring 2012, p. 563.
  6. ^ a b Matthews 2011, p. 12.
  7. ^ Boring 2012, p. 556.
  8. ^ Burkett 2002, p. 196.
  9. ^ a b Theissen & Merz 1998, p. 32.
  10. ^ Perkins 1998, p. 253.
  11. ^ Boring 2012, p. 590.
  12. ^ a b Green 1997, p. 35.
  13. ^ a b c d Boring 2012, p. 587.
  14. ^ a b Keener 2012, p. 384.
  15. ^ Powell 2018, p. 210.
  16. ^ Powell 2018, p. 211.
  17. ^ a b Thompson 2010, p. 332.
  18. ^ Luke 1:1,3
  19. ^ Colin J. Hemer, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History (ed. C. H. Gempf; WUNT 49; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1989)
  20. ^ Ben Witherington III, New Testament History: A Narrative Account (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 174–78.
  21. ^ Aune 1988, p. 77.
  22. ^ a b c Balch 2003, p. 1104.
  23. ^ Bruce 1990, p. 40.
  24. ^ Boring 2012, p. 577.
  25. ^ Powell 2018, p. 113.
  26. ^ Witherington 1998, p. 8.
  27. ^ Boring 2012, p. 578.
  28. ^ Bruce 1990, pp. 40–41.
  29. ^ Boring 2012, p. 579.
  30. ^ Holladay 2011, p. no page numbers.
  31. ^ Green 1995, pp. 16–17.
  32. ^ Green 1997, p. 36.
  33. ^ Fitzmyer 1998, pp. 55–65.
  34. ^ Aune 1988, p. 80.
  35. ^ Boring 2012, p. 562.
  36. ^ Boring 2012, pp. 569–70.
  37. ^ "Bruderhof - Fellowship for Intentional Community". Fellowship for Intentional Community. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  38. ^ Burkett 2002, p. 265.
  39. ^ Burkett 2002, p. 266.
  40. ^ Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Freedman, David Noel, 1922-2008., Myers, Allen C., 1945-, Beck, Astrid B. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans. 2000. ISBN 978-0802824004. OCLC 44454699.
  41. ^ Buckwalter 1996, p. 6.
  42. ^ Allen 2009, p. 326.
  43. ^ Evans 2011, p. no page numbers.
  44. ^ Burkett 2002, p. 264.
  45. ^ Burkett 2002, pp. 268–70.
  46. ^ Phillips 2009, pp. 119.
  47. ^ Phillips 2009, pp. 119-21.
  48. ^ Rowe 2005, pp. 291-8.
  49. ^ Zwiep 2010, p. 39.
  50. ^ Parsons 1993, pp. 17–18.
  51. ^ Phillips, Thomas E. (January 1, 2010). Paul, His Letters, and Acts. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-4412-5793-2.
  52. ^ Boring 2012, pp. 581, 588–90.


External links

Acts of the Apostles
Preceded by
Gospel of
New Testament
Books of the Bible
Succeeded by
Paul's Epistle
to the

Acts 1

Acts 1 is the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It records the events of the ascension of Jesus Christ until before Pentecost.

Acts of the Apostles (genre)

The Acts of the Apostles is a genre of Early Christian literature, recounting the lives and works of the apostles of Jesus. The Acts (Latin: Acta, Greek: Πράξεις Práxeis) are important for many reasons, one of them being the concept of apostolic succession. They also provide insight into the valuation of "missionary activities among the exotic races," since some of them feature missionary work done among, for instance, the Cynocephaly.


Agabus (Greek: Ἄγαβος) was an early follower of Christianity mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as a prophet. He is traditionally remembered as one of the Seventy Disciples described in Luke 10:1-24.

Ananias and Sapphira

Ananias and his wife Sapphira were, according to the Acts of the Apostles chapter 5, members of the early Christian church in Jerusalem. The account records their sudden deaths after lying to the Holy Spirit about money.

Their story is rarely shown in art, but is the subject of one of the Raphael Cartoons, and a panel on the Brescia Casket, both illustrated here. It is also shown on a 1590s painting by Ambrosius Francken the Elder.

Christian-Anarchists see this story as evidence that the apostolic Church relied on a form of proto-communism.

Ananias of Damascus

Ananias ( AN-ə-NY-əs; Ancient Greek: Ἀνανίας, same as Hebrew חנניה, Hananiah, "favoured of the LORD") was a disciple of Jesus at Damascus mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible, which describes how he was sent by Jesus to restore the sight of "Saul, of Tarsus" (known later as Paul the Apostle) and provide him with additional instruction in the way of the Lord.

Ananias son of Nedebeus

Ananias son of Nebedeus (or Nedebeus) was a high priest who, according to the Acts of the Apostles, presided during the trials of the apostle Paul at Jerusalem (Acts 23:2) and Caesarea (Acts 24:1).

Josephus, Antiquities xx. 5. 2, called him "Ananias ben Nebedeus". He officiated as high priest from about AD 47 to 52. The Pulpit Commentary described him as "a violent, haughty, gluttonous, and rapacious man, and yet looked up to by the Jews".In the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul was called to appear before the Jewish Sanhedrin, on the instructions of the commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. Ananias heard Paul's opening defense and commanded those who stood by him "to strike him on the mouth". Paul described him as a "whitewashed wall" (Greek: τοιχε κεκονιαμενε) and testified that God would strike Ananias for this unlawful act. Those who stood by accused Paul of reviling or insulting the High Priest, to which Paul replied that he did not know that he (or it) was the High Priest, seeing that there were both Pharisees and Sadducees on the Sanhedrin (cf. Acts 23:4-9 for the whole context):

But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!" (Acts 23:6, NKJV)

Barker commented "It is not evident how it was that Paul failed to know the thing that he said he did not know - whether this was that Ananias was the high priest, or whether it was that Ananias who uttered the command to smite him on the mouth".Quadratus, governor of Syria, accused Ananias of being responsible for acts of violence. Ananias was sent to Rome for trial (AD 52), but was acquitted by the emperor Claudius. Being a friend of the Romans, Ananias was murdered by the people at the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War.His son Eliezar ben Hanania was one of the leaders of the Great Revolt of Judea.


According to the Bible, Blastus was the chamberlain of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:20), a mediator for the Sidonians and Tyrians, and was believed to be involved in the events that led to Herod's death.

Cornelius the Centurion

Cornelius (Greek: Κορνήλιος) was a Roman centurion who is considered by Christians to be one of the first Gentiles to convert to the faith, as related in Acts of the Apostles.

Demetrius (biblical figure)

The name Demetrius occurs in two places in the Bible, both in the New Testament:

a Diana-worshipping silversmith who incited a riot against the Apostle Paul.

a disciple commended in 3 John 1:12. Possibly the bearer of the letters of 1, 2 and 3 John, Demetrius is commended to the early Christian leader Gaius (3 John 1:11) as one who upholds the truth of the Gospel, and as such should be welcomed and provided for.


Elymas , also known as Bar-Jesus (Ancient Greek: Βαριεσοῦ, Aramaic: Bar-Shuma‎, Latin: Bariesu), is a Jew in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 13, in the New Testament. Acts of the Apostles calls him a magus, which the King James Bible here translates as "sorcerer". He is represented as opposing the disciple Paul the Apostle, who is called at this point for the first time with his Roman name, and Barnabas in the city of Paphos on Cyprus, when Sergius Paulus, the Roman Proconsul, wishes to hear Paul and Barnabas speak about Jesus. Because of this opposition, Paul claims that God had decided to make him temporarily blind. A cloud of darkness immediately begins blocking his sight; after this Sergius Paulus is converted to Christianity .Elymas’s intentions for Sergius are unclear, only that he was desperate to keep him from receiving the word about Jesus. Perhaps he had the proconsul’s ear and was his advisor on matters of faith. This would make sense as Sergius is obviously learned about Jewish teachings and Elymas is Jewish. The message Paul and Barnabas bring threatens the false-prophet’s usefulness to the island's most powerful administrator.

Bar-Jesus received the same curse that Paul himself did: temporary blindness. It is clear from the passage that Bar-Jesus had the ear of the proconsul and was well known throughout the region. He was a self-proclaimed prophet of God who may have had his own religious agenda.


Not to be confused with Eutychius or the early Christian theologian Eutyches.Eutychus was a young man (or a youth) of Troas tended to by St. Paul. Eutychus fell asleep due to the long nature of the discourse Paul was giving and fell from a windowsill out of the three-story building. Paul then embraced him, insisting that he was not dead, and they carried him back upstairs alive; those gathered then had a meal and a long talk which lasted until dawn. This is related in the New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles 20:7-12.

Though some (e.g. William Barclay, F. F. Bruce), do not believe that Eutychus died, Wayne Jackson observes the following facts: 1) the author Luke, a physician (Col. 4:14), plainly states that Eutychus was "taken up dead" (Greek: ἤρθη νεκρός, erthe nekros); 2) after Paul embraces Eutychus, he says, "Trouble not yourselves, for his life is in him" (Greek: ἡ γὰρ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἐστιν, he gar psuche autou en auto estin), not "still in him" as the Weymouth translation erroneously interprets; 3) Eutychus was then "brought alive" by which the others were "not a little comforted," which words would make no sense if Eutychus had not died; and 4) Luke was fully capable of describing someone as only being "supposedly dead" (Greek: νομισαντες αυτον τεθναναι), as he did of Paul in Acts 14:19, but he did not do so here. However, Eutychus' complete recovery from a three-story fall, regardless of the initial result, and Paul's attendance at the scene of the accident, appears to be the impact of the narrative.

The name Eutychus means "fortunate".

John Mark

John Mark is named in the Acts of the Apostles as an assistant accompanying Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys. Traditionally he is regarded as identical with Mark the Evangelist.

Papyrus 29

Papyrus 29 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), designated by 29, is an early copy of the New Testament in Greek. It is a papyrus manuscript of the Acts of the Apostles which contains Acts 26:7-8 and 26:20. The manuscript paleographically has been assigned to the early 3rd century.

Papyrus 33

Papyrus 33 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), designated by symbol 33, is a copy of the New Testament in Greek. It is a papyrus manuscript of the Acts of the Apostles, it contains only Acts 7:6-10.13-18; 15:21-24.26-32. The manuscript paleographically has been assigned to the sixth century. 58 was a part of the same codex to which 33 belonged.

The Greek text of this codex is a representative of the Alexandrian text-type. Aland placed it in Category II.

It is currently housed at the Austrian National Library (Pap. G. 17973, 26133, 35831, 39783) in Vienna.

Papyrus 57

Papyrus 57 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), designated by siglum 57, is an early copy of the New Testament in Greek. It is a papyrus manuscript of the Acts of the Apostles, it contains only Acts 4:36-5:2.8-10.

The manuscript palaeographically has been assigned to the 4th century (or 5th century).

The Greek text of this codex is a representative of the Alexandrian text-type. Aland placed it in Category II.

It was published by Peter Sanz.

It is currently housed at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Pap. Vindob. G. 26020) in Vienna.

Philip the Evangelist

Saint Philip the Evangelist (Greek: Φίλιππος, Philippos) appears several times in the Acts of the Apostles. He was one of the Seven chosen to care for the poor of the Christian community in Jerusalem (Acts 6). He preached and reportedly performed miracles in Samaria, and met and baptised an Ethiopian man, a eunuch, in Gaza, traditionally marking the start of the Ethiopian Church (Acts 8). Later, Philip lived in Caesarea Maritima with his four daughters who foretold, where he was visited by Paul the Apostle (Acts 21).


Sceva (Greek: Σκευᾶς, translit. Skeuas) was a Jew called a "chief priest" in Acts 19:14, although whether he was a chief priest is disputed by some writers. Although there was no high priest in Jerusalem by this name, some scholars note that it was not uncommon for some members of the Zadokite clan (Sons of Zadok) to take on an unofficial high-priestly role, which may explain this moniker. However, it is more likely that he was an itinerant exorcist based on the use of the Greek term (Greek: περιερχομένων, translit. perierchomenōn) "going from place to place" used in Acts 19:13 in relation to his so-called "sons."According to the book of Acts of the Apostles, he had seven sons who attempted to exorcise a demon from a man in the town of Ephesus by using the name of Jesus as an invocation. This practice is similar to the Jewish practice, originating in the Testament of Solomon, of invoking Angels to cast out demons. Because of the emphasis on healing and spiritual authority in the ministry of Sceva, it may be accurate to think of him as a Shaman figure for the Jewish communities in which he worked.

Simeon Niger

Simeon Niger is a person in the Book of Acts in the New Testament. He is mentioned in Acts 13:1 as being one of the "prophets and teachers" in the church of Antioch:

In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.

Theophilus (biblical)

Theophilus is the name or honorary title of the person to whom the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles are addressed (Luke 1:3, Acts 1:1). It is thought that both the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles were written by the same author, and often argued that the two books were originally a single unified work. Both Luke and Acts were written in a refined Koine Greek, and the name "θεόφιλος" ("Theophilos"), as it appears therein, means friend of God or (be)loved by God or loving God in the Greek language. No one knows the true identity of Theophilus and there are several conjectures and traditions around an identity. In English Theophilus is also written "Theophilos", both a common name and an honorary title among the learned (academic) Romans and Jews of the era. The life of Theophilus would coincide with the writing of Luke and the author of the Acts.

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