Before we continue to Acts chapter one, I want to give you a quote from John Chrysostom, who wrote a rather complete commentary on the Book of Acts around 400 A.D.
What he says in only a couple of sentences gives us great insight into the mindset of the Church and Christianity in general towards this book in his day, and in the decades leading up to his commentary.
He says this about the Book of Acts:
“To many people this book (The Book of Acts), both its content and its author, is so little known that they are not even aware it exists. I have therefore taken this narrative for my subject, both to initiate those who are ignorant and so that such a treasure shall not remain hidden out of sight”.
Why was this Bible book so little known in Christianity that Chrysostom could say that even its authorship wasn’t known, let alone what it contained?
After all, the same author wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, and the Gospel of Luke was a mainstay for the Christian community long before it and other books were canonized as God inspired and made part of a new Christian Bible that included the so-called New Testament.
In my previous posts last week, Luke originally created a single unified work called “History of Christian Origins”, which consisted of two volumes:
- The Gospel and
- The Apostles.
Essentially these 2 volumes were part A and part B of a total work developed by Luke. But even before Marcion’s time (140’s A.D.) Luke’s work had been divided and separated into two individual books, and they circulated separately:
- The Gospel of Luke was one book, and
- The Acts of the Apostles was the second.
Once they became separated, the continuity and connection of Luke’s exquisite work was lost. Each book presented only half the story. And many in the gentile dominated Church revered the first half, but didn’t much care for the second half because, as Marcion was bold enough to say out loud, it was too Jewish.
The Book of Acts especially presented a much too Jewish Paul who had been re-molded by many Church Bishops into an Apostle to the gentiles who was very nearly a gentile himself; his Jewishness being an unimportant (if not troublesome) formality that need not be considered or even brought up.
That is why John Chrysostom could say that few within the Church knew the Book of Acts even existed.
Take note of this as well: since it has long been known that the Book of Acts is the direct sequel to the Gospel of Luke, why doesn’t Acts directly follow the Gospel of Luke in the Bible?
Then we’d have the original continuity and flow that Luke intended.
Why did the early Church decide to put the Gospels in the order of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and then insert a 4th Gospel, John, before then inserting Acts?
Why not Matthew, Mark, John…and then Luke immediately followed by Acts?
After all that is exactly how it is done with Paul, Peter, and others when there are two parts to one letter or one complete work (for example, 1st Corinthians isn’t separated from 2nd Corinthians with other books placed in between).
Do you think this was accidental?
That the Church Fathers didn’t realize what they were doing when they separated Luke from Acts?
Might there have been an agenda at work, here?
Of course there was and the result was exactly what John Chrysostom revealed at the beginning of the 5th century A.D.; few Christians knew that the Book of Acts even existed, or that its author was the Luke of the Gospels, or that Acts was Luke part 2; that’s why it was hidden out of sight.
Without the Book of Acts Paul could be more easily recast as a gentile-ish Jew who spoke against the Torah and the Jewish people, and made gentile Believers the New and replaced Israel.