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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Acts and the Gospel Story.

Ancient readers of Acts would recognize immediately from the first verse that this is the second volume of a multi-volume work, and a proper estimation of its narrative construction must take this into account. Acts assumes its readers have a basic knowledge of the characters and framework of the gospel story; it also contains a number of explicit summaries of the story of Jesus from the lips of the apostles who are now charged with passing on the tradition (Lk 1:2 ) to a wider audience (cf. ACTS 2:14–36 ). There are significant differences between the two volumes, not only in subject-matter but in style, and these may reflect the different sources Luke had at his disposal. Luke's style in the gospel is very largely determined by his synoptic sources, and as a result, it is marginally closer in language to Matthew and Mark than it is to Acts. But there are also striking similarities between the two volumes. Acts shares with Luke's gospel a common interest in rooting the story in the Jewish Scriptures; extensive parallelism between the words and deeds of Jesus in the gospel and those of the apostles and Paul in Acts; an interest in female characters; and similar patterns of narrative construction, especially a tendency to group material topically rather than chronologically and a fondness for ‘type-scenes’ which encapsulate the whole character of a phase of mission in one dramatic and detailed scene (cf. LK B). There is also a tendency to hold over certain narrative details from the gospel to Acts which suggests that Luke already had Acts in view when he was writing the gospel (cf. esp. ACTS 28:23–31 ). In particular, major themes introduced in the narrative prologue to the gospel (Lk chs. 1–4 ) reappear in clearer definition in the narrative epilogue to Acts (Acts 27–8 ). For a reader who did not know the story in advance, it would not be possible to predict the ending of Acts from the beginning of the gospel. Readers who make it to the end of Acts, however, will be sent back to reread the beginning of the gospel with new eyes, and will have a new appreciation of the prophetic significance of the Nazareth episode ( LK 4:16–30 ) and of Simeon's ‘light to the Gentiles’ (cf. LK E, ACTS 28:23–31 ).

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