God’s Word for You
Acts 12:16-17a Why was Acts written?
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, May 1, 2020
16 But Peter stayed there knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. 17 Peter waved his hand to silence them, and he described how the Lord had brought him out of prison.
Why was Acts written? In a sense, it is the second half of Luke’s account of the origin of the Church of Jesus Christ, picking up the account exactly where his Gospel left off. But it would be a mistake to consider the Gospel(s) to be spiritual as well as historical and then drop any spiritual aspect from Acts, as if this later work is purely historical. Luke wrote Acts with the church in mind. The various accounts, all entirely true and accurate, were chosen for inclusion and were written so that the faith of Christians would be built up, so that Christians can be encouraged by the various accounts, and so that answers can be found to many pressing questions that were common in the early church and still linger in each new generation of Christians today.
The author has built a structure for the book that shows the growth of the church in stages, both as it expanded into the world and as Christians faced a variety of conflicts. Notice the progress Luke shows as the word of God stretched out from Jerusalem to Rome. Each of these sections is concluded with a summarizing statement:
|1:1-6:7||The Word of the Lord in Jerusalem|
|6:8-9:31||The Word of the Lord in Samaria triumphs over persecution|
|9:32-12:24||The Word of the Lord becomes a light to the Gentiles|
|12:25-16:5||The Word of the Lord unites Jews and Gentiles in one Church|
|16:6-19:20||The Word of the Lord goes (in conflict and triumph) to Macedonia, Achaia, and Asia|
|19:21-28:31||The Power of the Word of the Lord is made perfect in weakness as it arrives in Rome|
Professor Martin Franzmann makes a statement which will help every reader to understand the Book of Acts much better. He writes: “The whole work illustrates rather than chronicles the course of the word which proclaims and presents the Christ” (The Word of the Lord Grows, p. 207). In fact, Acts does the very same things that are done in the historical Old Testament books. 1 Samuel illustrates the reign of King Saul, although there is no formal chronology of Saul’s reign. The same is true of David’s reign in 2 Samuel, and Solomon’s in 1 Kings. We know what kind of men they were, what mistakes they made, and something about their spiritual lives—a detail omitted from virtually every other king in the ancient world in terms of their own writings and histories. The text of Acts shows the way that the Word of the Lord worked then so that we will be encouraged by the way the Word of the Lord works now, and so that we won’t become discouraged by opposition. There will always be opposition to the Word of God because the devil is in the world. When we are opposed, we are doing the work of God with the Word of God.
Here, Peter finally had the door opened to him by his friends. The angel had opened doors for him, and one door even opened ‘automatically’ by itself because of the will of God. But Peter’s friends took a little longer. It seems as if everybody in the house came down to the gate to see whether it was Peter, and after a burst of midnight chatter (that may have wakened the neighbors), Peter silenced them by waving or holding up his hands, and he explained to them everything God had done for him.
The path that God has guided you on is the path that got you where you are today. You and I veer from our paths. We dart down blind alleys of sin and doubt, we wander off into fields we think are filled with flowers but are really tangles of weeds, and they are full of stinging creatures and biting snakes. Yet God calls us back, again and again. We are guided, then we are tempted, and we wander. Then he calls us to repent, we are guided for a while, we are tempted again, and we wander again. Then he calls us to repent again. This is human life; the life of the Christian. It may seem frustrating and embarrassing, but remember that the life of the unbeliever is nothing but the stings and the weeds and the snakes. For unbelievers, the path is seen as a trap, or is never seen at all. The devil has mismarked the path and spread lies about it. But we should let the path of God’s holy word guide us constantly, every single day. You are God’s beloved child. Go about your tasks today, and know that if your day is hard, your Jesus is with you. Consider, too, that you can be there for the people around you who struggle, whose day is hard. Remind them of what the Lord has done for you, like Peter did, to silence their doubt and their worry, and to ease their burden. The Lord wants us to gather as Christians, by our words when we can’t gather physically, so that we can encourage one another. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves,” Solomon said (Ecclesiastes 4:12). “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Pastor Timothy Smith