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W. Ward Gasque & Ralph P. Martin, eds., Apostolic History and the Gospel. Biblical and Historical Essays
Presented to F.F. Bruce
. Exeter: The Paternoster Press, 1970. Hbk. ISBN: 085364098X. pp.108-122.

© 1970 The Paternoster Press. Reproduced by kind permission of the publisher.



Professor Bruce in his commentary on Acts refers briefly, but with approval, to Schneckenburger's view that the Petrine-Pauline parallels of Acts are intended to defend Paul's apostolic claims.[1] The time is ripe to reconsider Schneckenburger's position.

Matthias Schneckenburger's Ueber den Zweck der Apostelgeschichte[2] was the first elaborate investigation of the purpose of Acts. Although Schneckenburger defended Luke's general reliability, he treated Acts as a Tendenzschrift, thus laying the foundation of all later comprehensions of Acts as having a non-historical purpose. He contended that Acts is directed towards Jewish Christians in Rome and has a twofold apologetic purpose: (1) to defend the Apostle Paul in his apostolic dignity, in his personal and apostolic behaviour, especially in the matter of the Gentiles, against all attacks of the Judaizers, the same charges against which Paul defended himself in his Epistles; (2) to demonstrate to these same Jewish Christians the political legitimacy of Paul, for they opposed preaching to Gentiles not only because of their particularistic pride but also because of their fear of the Roman government, which, though it recognized the legitimacy of their Judaism, prohibited the proselytizing of Gentiles. Luke, by recounting Paul's acquittals in other cities, assures the Jewish Christians of Rome that their security will not be endangered by Pauline universalism. Schneckenburger found that the following features of Acts can be explained only by Luke's tendentious purpose:

(1) Luke reports Paul's Jewish practices: Paul circumcizes Timothy (16:3); after living with Aquila the Jew for eighteen months, Paul permits Aquila's hair to be shorn (18:18); he rejects an invitation to preach in Ephesus in order to travel to Jerusalem to observe the next feast (18:21); he interrupts his journey to celebrate the feast of unleavened bread in Philippi (20:6); he sails by the Ephesian church so as to be in Jerusalem at Pentecost (20:16), and purifies himself in the Temple (21:17-27).

These additions to our knowledge of Paul based upon his Epistles are


accounted for by Luke's apologetic tendency to picture Paul as a Jewish Christian living according to the Law. Luke's reference to Aquila's vow is an indirect defence of Paul against the charge that he induced Jewish Christians to renounce the Law (21:21). Paul's rite of purification harmonizes with Luke's design to defend Paul against the charges of Judaizers, for what better could serve that purpose than to show that these charges when raised in Jerusalem were refuted by Paul, through the performance of a rite, to the satisfaction of the Judaizers?

(2) Luke omits every trace of Paul's renunciation of the Law, and such events as Paul's "painful" visit to Corinth, and makes only a vague reference to Paul's third visit to Corinth (20:1-3). He omits Paul's refusal to circumcize Titus; Paul's dispute with Peter at Antioch; Paul's conflicts with the Corinthians and Galatians; the collection (except 24:17); the cool relations between Paul and the church in Rome, where Paul lives in his own dwelling and not with the church (cf. Phil. 1:17; 2 Tim. 4:16); Paul's work in Phrygia and Galatia, where he deviated from the practice depicted in Acts and preached only to Gentiles; and many of Paul's sufferings, which his opponents regarded as inconsistent with Paul's apostolic dignity. Luke largely overlooks the work of other Apostles, who recede behind Peter and Paul, and neglects the origin of numerous churches.

Such omissions occur because Luke did not want to awaken memories of Paul's collisions with judaizing opponents. Particularly in Luke's portrayal of Paul's activity in Rome do we see the pragmatism of Acts, for here Luke seeks to justify Paul against the same criticism as Paul himself refutes in Romans 10:14-21; 11:8-11. A mere historica1 purpose cannot explain why Luke, who was in Rome, devotes only one verse (28:15) to Paul's visit with the church there, and yet stresses Paul's meeting with Jews. Moreover, Luke does not end his narrative in Rome simply because he desired to describe the geographic spread of Christianity from the centre of Judaism to the centre of heathenism, but because he now wants to represent Paul (whom he had previously pictured as predominantly sympathetic towards the Jews and only incidentally as serving the Gentiles) as permanently rejected by the Jews themselves and predominantly sent to the Gentiles, thus fulfilling Jesus' own command (1:8). This final hardening of the Jews against Paul's gospel is prefigured in the first part of Acts by Jewish opposition to the original apostolic preaching. Luke's omissions in respect to the work of other Apostles and the founding of other churches is also explained by Luke's tendency, for if Luke bad been writing straight history he would have had to include such information.

(3) Luke emphasizes that Paul is on friendly terms with the primitive church, which he portrays in the glory of the Jerusalem tradition. Ananias, a pious man according to the Law (22:12) and a witness of Paul's direct call from Christ, introduces Paul to the Christians. Paul's good relations are Conspicuous at his first meeting with the Apostles. Luke's portrayal of


Barnabas is for the purpose of letting Paul appear in harmony with Jerusalem church. The John Mark who in 12:25 joins Paul is shown in 12:12 to be on intimate terms with the Apostles. Even James' demand (21:17 ff.) is a sign of confidence, not suspicion. Not even the problem of Gentile converts disrupts this harmony. Long before Paul, Gentiles been baptized, by Peter himself. The question of admission of Gentiles had been decided by Peter's vision, by the primitive church, and by elder Apostles (cf. 8:14-17), in whose steps Paul merely followed. principles expressed by these early Christians concerning Jews and Gentiles, Law and faith, are the same as those developed in Romans (Acts 2:38 f.; 3:19, 26; 4:12; 7:53; 10:15; 11:18; 15:9-11, 14-18). In Acts I (chaps. 1-12) Pauline ideas are as clearly expressed as in the second, Pauline part (chaps. 13-28) they are concealed. The universal destination of Christianity is placed at the beginning of Acts as a command of Jesus (1:8), which is symbolically confirmed at Pentecost, and carried out by Paul. The geographical notice of 1:12 has the apologetic purpose of reminding Jewish Christians that the Sabbath was not violated in connexion with the Ascension.

In contrast to Paul's independence of the primitive Apostles in Galatians, Luke subordinates Paul to the Twelve, especially in 9:17-30 (which attempts to show that Paul was legitimized by the Apostles), at the Council (15:1-35), where the Apostles agree with Paul, and as executor of the Decree (16:4), which was a formal legitimation of Paul's activities.

Paul gives due respect not only to the Apostles but also to the Jews, to whom he first preaches the gospel, and from whom he turns to the Gentiles only when rejected by the Jews (13:46; 17:5; 18:6; 19:9; 22:21; 28:28). Paul began to preach in Jerusalem and wished to remain there to win the Jews, but their obstinacy and Christ's command compelled him to go to the Gentiles (9:28 f.; 22:17-21; 26:20).

Luke's presentation of Paul's peaceful, but subordinate, relationships with the primitive church is also a result of Luke's apologetic purpose to stamp the Jerusalem church's seal of legitimacy upon Paul's criticized activity. The unity of Acts consists in its tendency to represent the difference between Peter and Paul as insignificant. And when Pauline ideas, which Paul expounded in Romans against Jewish accusations, are expressed in the first part of Acts by the Jewish-Christian Apostles, whereas in the second part Paul is made to speak and act in conformity with Jewish demands, the judgment is confirmed that the apologetic purpose for Paul lies at the basis of all of Acts. And the emphasis upon Paul's preaching in synagogues, even when little detail is otherwise given of Paul's activities, shows that so long as there was hope for his people, Paul went to them first.

(4) Luke records parallel miracles, visions, sufferings, and speeches of Peter and Paul. There is no degree of miracle told of Peter without its


Pauline analogy: healing of a man lame from birth (3:1-10; 14:8-14); of Aeneas and of Publius' father (9:33-35; 28:8); healings by Peter's shadow and Paul's handkerchiefs and aprons (5:15; 19:12); victories by Peter over Magus and by Paul over Elymas, the pythoness, and Ephesian magic (8:7-13; 13:6-12; 16:16-18; 19:13-19); punishment of Ananias and Sapphira, and Elymas (5:1-11; 13:6-12); raisings of Dorcas and Eutychus (9:36-42; 20:9-12); veneration of Apostles (5:13; 10:25 f.; 14:15; 28:7); gift of the Spirit by laying on of hands (8:17; 19:6); release from prison (5:19-21; 12:6-11; 16:23-34); Pharisaic defence (5:34; 23:9); and interlocking visions (chaps. 9-10).

Paul's speech in Acts 13 is only an echo of the discourses of Peter and Stephen (chaps. 2; 3; 7). Apart from 17:31, the author of Paul's Lystran and Athenian discourses could have been a liberal Jew. Outside of 20:28, the speech at Miletus contains no reference to Pauline doctrine. This paucity of Pauline doctrinal matter is the more evident in comparison with the abundance of Paul's self-vindication. Moreover, Paul's mildness in Acts both towards Jews and the antithesis between faith and Law is extraordinary. If Paul always so preached, how could the charges of 21:21 have arisen?

The purpose of these parallels is to make Paul equal to Peter. Peter's vision and its acknowledgment by the primitive church is an indirect legitimation of Paul's visions, for the Judaizing opponents of Paul did not want to let Paul's visions be regarded as proof of his apostleship. One cannot accept Peter's vision, nor those of Ananias and Cornelius, and reject Paul's. Luke, by omitting Paul's sufferings and narrating Peter's, conforms Paul to Peter; and by showing that the sufferings are conducive to Paul's glory, Luke refutes those who asserted that Paul's fate was unworthy of an Apostle. Paul's speeches show him to be a pious Israelite and no apostate from the Law. The speeches of defence (chaps. 22-26) demonstrate not only Paul's Jewish piety but also his full legitimation as the Apostle of the Gentiles, for Christ directly commissions him (22:21; 26:17 f.). So too Acts gives three accounts of Paul's conversion to answer those Corinthians and Galatians who denied Paul's apostleship. This one-sided picture of Paul and his activity, which does not altogether conform to Paul's self-portrait in his Epistles, could not have been sketched by a Paulinist unless he had an apologetic purpose. When we consider all of the connexions and parallels between Acts I and Acts II, we see that I is an introduction to II. There is no part of the primitive history (I) which is not connected with the Pauline history (II). The choice of Matthias is a prototype of Paul's call; Stephen's speech is a preparation for 28:25-28; and the deaths of Stephen and James are prototypes of Paul's unmentioned death. The accounts of I have their purpose in Paul.

(5) Luke's complex interweaving of his narratives also reveals his pragmatic purpose. Historically, those who had been dispersed because of the


Jerusalem persecution were the first to preach to Gentiles: Philip evangelized the Samaritans (who were regarded by the Jews as little better than Gentiles) and the eunuch (the first Gentile to receive baptism). Others of the dispersed preached to Gentiles at Antioch, and conceivably Paul did likewise in Arabia and Cilicia. Peter and Paul, during their first visit, may have discussed the conversion of Gentiles, and then Peter's reservations about work among Gentiles stimulated his vision (chap. 10).

But according to Acts, Peter first preached to Gentiles, followed by the dispersed and Paul. Therefore Luke omits Paul's activity in Arabia and attributes no importance to the eunuch. The dispersed appear first in 8:4-40 as preachers and not again until 11:19 ff., in order that the precedent of Peter and his recognition by Jerusalem may first be narrated. Chronologically, Peter's journey to Lydda, Joppa, and Caesarea occurred after 8:40. But Luke inserted the narrative of Paul's conversion between 8:40 and 9:32, where Luke could make it plain, on the one hand, that Paul was prepared to enter at once upon the Gentile mission at Antioch, and, on the other hand, that when Paul first worked among Gentiles he did so under the glow of legitimation established in the case of Cornelius.

(6) Finally, Schneckenburger found that his thesis illumines the later fortunes of Acts. The fact that Acts was less well known than other N.T. writings is more easily understood if Acts had a limited apologetic purpose. Moreover, the varying positions of Acts in the manuscripts suggest that the usual concept of Acts as a church history continuing the gospel history was not the decisive one. Further, both the extreme antipaulinists and the extreme Paulinists rejected Acts as having an unacceptable portrait of Paul.


F. C. Baur at once reviewed Schneckenburger's "much desired publication", commending Schneckenburger for having proved the apologetic character of Acts, but contending that Schneckenburger's study could not "remain at the point at which he left it. We must either go backward from the aim stated by the author or go forward beyond that aim to further investigations of the historical character of Acts."[3] The Tübingen School went forward.

Both Schneckenburger and the Tübingen School regarded Acts as a Tendenzschrift. Schneckenburger's "irenic, apologetic tendency", however, must not be confused with the Tübingen "conciliatory tendency." For Schneckenburger, Acts was written exclusively for Jewish Christians from the Pauline side with a predominantly personal interest (an apology for Paul by his friend Luke), before A.D. 70, at the very beginning of the schism when the basic harmony of the church was disturbed only by Judaizing extremists, so that the credibility of the book was not seriously


affected by the author's tendency. For the Tübingen School, Acts was written for both Jewish and Gentile Christians (and possibly pagan authorities) from a mediating position in a primarily partisan interest (the reconciliation of the two hostile parties by a Pauline unionist who made concessions to both sides), in the second century at the threshold of the old Catholic Church, with the result that the reliability of the book was undermined. In short, Schneckenburger neither shared the Tübingen theory of the development of early Christianity nor the Tübingen interpretation of Acts as a document of the mediating party in the church of the second century.

Today the Tübingen attempt to go beyond Schneckenburger is generally rejected for various reasons: (1) Since Jewish Christianity lost its power after A.D. 70, it could not have played the role in the second century ascribed to it by the Tübingen theory. (2) Peter and Paul were in basic agreement, not two hostile Apostles heading two hostile parties preaching two hostile gospels in two hostile missions. (3) Early church history cannot be fitted into the Hegelian categories of thesis (Petrine Christianity), antithesis (Pauline Christianity), and synthesis (Old Catholic Church). (4) Nor did Luke deliberately falsify positively his narrative in the interests of a tendency.


After the Tübingen attempt to go forward on Schneckenburger's road, the Conservative School of the nineteenth century preferred, on the whole, to go back to Acts as a pure historical writing.[4] They contended that Acts gives the impression of being a pure history, that the historical purpose of the book could not be more clearly expressed than in Luke 1:1-4, and that even if Luke 1:1-4 did not originally apply to Acts (as Schneckenburger had argued), Acts is nevertheless the continuation of the Gospel and follows no other object than indicated in the Gospel prologue. The Conservative School generally thought that Acts either had to be straightforward history or unhistorical; they felt that historicity and tendency do not naturally go together.

The Conservative School over-reacted to the Tübingen equation of tendency with fiction by rejecting all tendency lest Acts become a fabrication. Now that we are more than a century removed from the Tübingen excesses we can see that an apologetic purpose is not necessarily incompatible with historical contents and that the apologetic aim of Acts grows out of its historical foundation. We recognize today that a work can be an account of historical events and yet be a theologized history, an apologetic history, a dramatic history, or a typological history. All N.T. books have a


non-historical purpose, a theological purpose, for they were written "from faith to faith" (Rom. 1:17; Jn. 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:15). The fact that a Gospel precedes Acts as the first volume of a two-volume work suggests a non-historical purpose. An apologetic purpose is recognizable even in Luke's prologue, where it appears that Luke wished to correct misunderstandings about Christianity and Paul.[5] Furthermore, Luke had more than one purpose in writing and need not have expressed them all in his prologue. Schneckenburger, however, was wrong in holding that Luke and Acts are not a unit. We shall see that it is this unity manifested in the parallel structure of Luke-Acts which strongly supports Schneckenburger's view of Acts as a Pauline apology.


We have seen that the Tübingen School was unsuccessful in its attempt to go beyond Schneckenburger's apologetic tendency to a conciliatory tendency, and that the Conservative School likewise failed when it sought to retreat from Schneckenburger's tendentious purpose to a historical purpose. Now we note the unwitting support which Schneckenburger received from Rackham's commentary on Acts.[6]

Rackham, without mentioning Schneckenburger, and without accepting a Pauline apologetic purpose, goes beyond Schneckenburger in finding parallelisms between Acts I and Acts II, and between Peter and Paul.

But Rackham gave even greater support to Schneckenburger's concept of Acts. We have noted Schneckenburger's failure to see the unity of Luke-Acts, for he thought that Acts could not be a Pauline apology if it were really one with the Gospel, which he believed followed a historical and didactic purpose. Rackham, however, again unwittingly, corrects Schneckenburger at this point, and in doing so supplies conclusive proof that Acts is a Pauline apology. Rackham finds numerous intentional parallels between Luke's Gospel and Acts, of which we mention only a few.

The active ministries of Jesus and Paul are concluded by narratives of passion and resurrection, each occupying seemingly disproportionate space. There is a remarkable correspondence between the journeys of Jesus and of Paul to Jerusalem (Lk. 17:11-19:48; Acts 20:1-21:17), which shows that while Luke is describing Paul's victory over the temptation to abandon his purpose (Acts 21:11-14), he has in mind the Lord's last journey to Jerusalem and his passion there.

Luke 22-24 parallels Acts 21:18-28:31, where the history of the Lord's passion seems to be repeating itself: Paul is carried before the Sanhedrin and smitten on the mouth; the multitude cries "Away with him," and he is


delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. Breaking bread, darkness, plunging into the deep, and three months' rest are followed by entrance into new life.

Here, then, we have Luke's highest apology for Paul. He shows Paul so conformed to the life of the Lord that even his sufferings and deliverance are parallel.


Building upon the insights of Schneckenburger, Rackham, and subsequent criticism,[7] I shall now attempt to rehabilitate Schneckenburger and at the same time suggest what may be a new concept of the occasion of Acts.

As Paul's party travelled towards Jerusalem, Luke accepted with gratitude the kindness of their host Philip, but he noted that Philip was a Hellenist, possibly the first to see that Stephen's principles required the admission of all men to the church apart from the Law. Luke naturally supposed that in Jerusalem Paul could count upon the hospitality of. friends. Instead, Paul stayed with a stranger, Mnason, a liberal, and possibly one of the earliest preachers to Gentiles (11:20). Luke saw that Caesarea, the last Hellenistic church along the route to Jerusalem, was the last congregation which was receptive to Paul. Luke may have perceived that Agabus' prophecy (21:10-12) was based upon the fear that Paul could not rely on any help from Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. Agabus no doubt told Paul of the Jewish-Christian conviction that Paul was teaching apostasy from the Law (21:21), for Agabus had come straight from Jerusalem; and Agabus, like Philip and Mnason, had also been connected with the early Gentile church and gratefully recalled Paul's generous response to his famine prophecy (21:27-30). But Paul had also been warned by the disciples of Tyre (21:4), and no doubt by Philip's prophesying daughters (21:9), not to set foot in Jerusalem because of the anti-Pauline mood prevailing there.

In Jerusalem Paul's party was received with gladness by the brethren in Mnason's house (21:17). Luke soon discovered how carefully and falsely Judaizing teachers had "catechized" the Jewish Christians about Paul (21:21); that is, the Judaizers had literally dinned their teachings into their ears by incessant repetition. Luke noted the dilemma in which Paul was placed by James and the elders when James ordered Paul to perform a rite of purification (21:22-25). If Paul did submit, he would be compromised in the eyes of his Gentile converts; and if he did not, he would alienate the thousands of Jewish Christians zealous for the Law.

As Luke watched the riot in the Temple, the suspicion dawned upon


him that Judaizers had drawn Paul into an ambush by luring him into the Temple. Luke also learned that the mother church had now decided against Paul in the question concerning Paul's attitude towards the Law, thus reversing their previous action (15:1-35; 21:25). But the biggest shock to Luke was the refusal of the Jerusalem church to accept Paul's collection, thereby symbolizing their break with the Pauline mission.[8]

Possibly the collection was so small it reflected lack of Gentile interest in the mother church, thus offending Jewish Christians. And in addition to the ever-increasing Jewish-Christian coolness towards Paul's "antinomianism", Luke could also feel the pressure of the Jews upon the Jewish Christians to break with Paul. The Jerusalem church knew that if it declared its solidarity with Paul by accepting the collection and approving his position in respect to the Law, it would destroy the possibility of its own mission among Jews, indeed, would risk its own destruction at the hands of Jews who could not tolerate any preaching of freedom from the Law, and who resented Paul's diversion of annual dues from the Temple to the collection for the Jerusalem church, money which would have come to the Temple if Paul had compelled Gentiles to become proselytes to Judaism and thus obligated to pay the Temple tax.

In the midst of this charged atmosphere Luke kept recalling the anxiety Paul had frequently expressed about his journey to Jerusalem and his fear that the collection would be refused (Rom. 15:30 f.). Paul too had told Luke that Jewish and Jewish-Christian opposition had dashed his hopes of successful work in the East and therefore he was planning to visit Rome and Spain (Rom. 15:23-33). Luke too had realized that the Jewish plot which forced Paul to change his route (Acts 20:3) was an ominous beginning for an errand of reconciliation. Luke and Paul were going up to Jerusalem, prepared for the worst. Luke knew that a lesser spirit than Paul might have regarded the contractual agreement of Galatians 2:10 as broken by the Jewish-Christian hostility since the Council.

Luke saw that Paul was never nearer to death than when the mob tried to beat Paul to death on the spot (Acts 21:30-32). The sight of Paul being borne above the heads of soldiers made an indelible impression upon Luke, for this was a mode of conveyance as undignified as being let down from a wall in a basket (9:25). But where were the Jewish Christians? They could have helped because of their faithfulness to the Law and Temple, but they sat idly by. And the many Jewish Christians on hand from Judea and Galilee may have been even more zealous for the Law than those of Jerusalem and even less subject to whatever control the leadership of the Jerusalem church may have wished to exercise. Everything had gone wrong.


Luke had been gathering material for a narrative of the early church from persons such as Philip and Mnason. But when he saw the indifference and hostility of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem towards Paul, Luke decided that his narrative must be a defence of Paul against the charges and attitudes of Jewish Christians. Three times Judaizers had attacked those who preached to Gentiles (11:1-18; 15:1-35; 21:20-25). There could yet be time to appeal successfully to the more moderate Jewish Christians. Luke began at once to shape his narrative according to this apologetic purpose.

Acts 21, thus understood, supplies us with the occasion of Acts. Acts 21, which ranks next to Acts 15 in the study of Luke as a historian, now becomes the key to the composition of Luke-Acts, for it was in this situation that Luke found the thread with which to tie his mixture of materials together. This was the great day when Luke perceived the dominant purpose of his work, the purpose which shaped the form and content of Luke-Acts.

With this purpose in mind, Luke listened to Paul's defences in Jerusalem and Caesarea, with the result that the next five chapters of Acts are chiefly concerned to refute the charge that Paul was an apostate from the Law who encouraged others to apostatize. Here Luke stresses Paul's fidelity to his ancestral religion to show that the Jerusalem church erred in condemning Paul, and that Christianity is true Judaism. To be a Christian is to hold to the Jewish faith, especially belief in the resurrection.

Luke, while in Caesarea, travelled to Jerusalem several times to visit the church there. During these visits he came to realize that to reach Jewish Christians he must stress Paul's good relationship with the primitive church and portray this church in the glory of its own tradition. Thus Jerusalem became "the centre of Luke's theological universe"[9] and the frame of Paul's ministry. From the infancy narratives, where Luke dwells on the connexion of John the Baptist and Jesus with the Temple, on through his Jerusalem tradition of the resurrection appearances to his idealization of the Jerusalem church and Apostles and their control of missions, Luke had the Jerusalem church constantly in mind. Twice the Risen Christ commands a Gentile mission, beginning at Jerusalem (Lk. 24:47; Acts 1:8). Significantly, the only distances recorded in Luke-Acts are the two which indicate the proximity to Jerusalem of the resurrection appearances (Lk. 24:13; Acts 1:12). Luke of course did not know it, but his Gospel would be the only one to begin and end in the Temple. Luke even changed the order of the Temptations so as to create an artistic frame of four Temple scenes (Lk 1:5 ff.; 2:25 ff.; 2:41 ff.; 4:9 ff.). And after an extensive travel narrative focused on Jerusalem (9:51-19:44) Luke placed a Jerusalem scene framed by two Temple scenes (19:45-24:53). Luke-Acts is an alternation of Jerusalem scenes (Lk. 1:5-4:13; 19:45-24:53; Acts 1:4-7:60;


21:18-26:32) and travel narratives (Lk. 4:14-19:44; Acts 8:1-21:17; 27:1- 28:31).[10]

So too Luke determined to stress the Jewish features and practices of Paul and to select incidents which would play up the parallel between Paul and Peter, the Jerusalem Apostle par excellence and leader of the Jewish-Christian mission. Luke would not, of course, create an absolute similarity between Peter and Paul, but he would insist upon the undeniable essential similarity of the two. In Acts 1-20 Luke created a balance between Peter and Paul by devoting sixty verses to the speeches of Peter and fifty-nine to those of Paul. By the Pauline speeches of chaps. 22-28 Luke clinches "the unexcelled significance of Paul."[11] Luke's summaries liken the results of Paul's work to those of Peter (2:47; 4:4; 6:7; 9:31; 13:49; 16:5; 19:20). Luke felt that by recording Paul's vision in the Temple (22:17-21) he could best refute the charge that Paul had defiled the Temple and also tell Paul's opponents that the God of the Temple is the God of the Gentile mission. He hoped that by pointing out the large numbers of Jewish Christians (2:41, 47; 4:4; 6:1, 7; 9:31; 21:20) and by giving no precise indication of the strength of Gentile Christians he could allay the fear of Jewish Christians that they would be swallowed up by Gentiles.

Likewise Luke would accentuate Peter's precedent in preaching to Gentiles and would refer three times to Cornelius' Jewish piety (10:2, 22, 30-32) and point out that the God who gave the Law also revealed the purification of the Gentiles (chap. 10). He shows that the Cornelius incident is a fulfilment of Jesus' words at Nazareth (Lk. 4:25-27) and of the Elijah-widow and Elisha-Naaman prophecies.[12]

Luke would omit or tone down conflicts between Paul and Jewish Christians. At the Council (15:1-35) the church supports Paul, and 15:4 f. is parallel with 11:1-3, showing that Peter faced similar opposition. In 15:36-41 Luke glosses over the deeper reason for the estrangement between Paul and Barnabas (cf. Gal. 2:11 ff.), but records the incident to show that Paul is not merely an agent of the Jerusalem church but stands pre-eminent as the Apostle of the Gentiles, corresponding to Peter at Jerusalem. In chapter 21 Paul does attempt to satisfy the Jewish Christians, and Luke, by making no clear reference to Paul's collection, softens the bitterness of Paul's last visit to Jerusalem. At 18:22 Luke omits the main reason for Paul's journey to Jerusalem at that time, namely, to discuss with the church his plans for the collection. Luke also says nothing about the colleague appointed at this time by the churches of Judaea at Paul's


request to help him with the collection (cf. 2 Cor. 8:18-24) and to avoid suspicion of dishonesty and lack of enthusiasm on Paul's part.[13] So too at 20:4-5 Luke names the seven delegates of the churches, but omits the fact that their mission was to deliver the collection. Luke's omissions in respect to the collection are also part of his defence of Paul's apostolic authority, in that he would refute the contention that Paul was only a collector for Jerusalem.

Again with Jewish-Christian readers in mind, Luke would portray Jesus as the antitype of Moses (Acts 3:22; 7:20-43), but not as the New Lawgiver (Matt. 5-7 hence Luke relegates the Sermon on the Mount to the background and makes it a Sermon on the Plain), but as the One who, on the Day of Pentecost, pours out the Spirit (Acts 2:33) upon all flesh, thereby establishing the New Covenant and restoring both the unity of God's people and the unity of language, even as Moses gave the Law as the basis of the Old Covenant, commemorated on Pentecost, when a voice announced the commandments to all nations in the seventy languages of the world. Possibly there is some connexion between this seventy and the seventy disciples of Luke 10.

After two years in Caesarea, Luke accompanied Paul on the perilous voyage to Rome. During the three months on Malta Luke had time to reflect upon the theological significance of the wreck and deliverance, and as he did so the parallel between Paul and the Lord began to impress itself more and more upon Luke's mind and upon the structure of his narrative. In Rome, during Paul's imprisonment, the striking parallel between Paul and the Lord became a dominant feature of Luke's writing, so that to a remarkable degree Gospel and Acts correspond.

In his Nazareth pericope (Lk. 4:16-30), Luke lets the Lord's dramatic appearance anticipate the life and work of Paul in a number of respects: Paul's Gentile mission (cf. also Lk. 24:46 f.); Paul's famine visit to Jerusalem and his promotion of table fellowship between Jews and Gentiles (Lk. 4:25 f.; Acts 11:25-30; 15:1-35; 27:33-38); Paul's preaching in synagogues in the manner of his Lord (Acts 13:14 ff., etc.); the Jews' infuriation at the extension of blessings to the Gentiles (13:46, 50), to the extent of seeking to kill Paul (22:21 f.), and even by stoning, as in the case of Jesus (Lk. 4:29. Acts 14:5, 19); and the Jews' rejection of the gospel, Jesus himself preparing readers at the beginning of Luke-Acts for Paul's statement at its end (28:28).

Luke records that like the Lord Paul healed a lame man (Lk. 5:17-26; Acts 14:8-14), a possessed person (Lk. 8:26-39; Acts 16:16-18), and many sick (Lk. 4:40; Acts 28:9), cured a fever (Lk. 4:38-39; Acts 28:8), and raised a young man (Lk. 7:11-17; Acts 20:9-12).

At Luke 8:10 Luke minimizes Mark's (4:12) predestined Isaianic rejection of the Jews so that the Jews might have every chance to accept the


gospel before Paul, quoting fully Isaiah 6:9 f., rejects them as a whole (Acts 28:26-28). But before this action, Luke takes care to show that Paul, against great opposition, so loved his people that he went to them first, and that even at the last Paul had no complaint against his people (28:19). And to make this rejection as inoffensive as possible to Jewish Christians, Paul quotes a Jewish prophet, as all four gospels were to do. Jewish Christians could hardly deny that this prophecy was fulfilled by those Jews who rejected the teaching of the Law and prophets concerning Jesus. In turning to the Gentiles, Paul was fulfilling not only Isaiah's prophecy but also Jesus' command (Acts 1:8).

Luke points out (Lk. 11:30) that Jonah's importance lay in his preaching to Gentiles, thus foreshadowing Paul's Gentile mission, especially his journey to the greatest Nineveh and his going down into the deep (Jon. 1:5, 9; Acts 27:18, 23).

At Luke 21:12-19 Luke recasts Mark 13:9-13 to anticipate Paul: "they shall lay their hands upon you" (Lk. 21:12; Acts 21:27); prisons (Lk. 21:12; Acts 16:23, etc.); kings and governors (Lk. 21:12; Acts 24:10-25; 25:6-12; 26:1-23); apologies (Lk. 21:14; Acts 22-26); and physical safety (Lk. 21:18; Acts 27:34).

Luke also relates that Paul, like his Master, had four trials (Jesus: Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod Antipas, and Pilate; Paul: Sanhedrin, Felix, Festus, and Herod Agrippa).[14]

Luke concludes the active ministries of Jesus and Paul with narratives of journeys to Jerusalem, passions, and resurrections occupying a seeming disproportionate space. By thus accentuating the parallels between Paul and the Lord, Luke created his most effective apology for Paul.

Luke knew that Vol. I required Vol. II and vice versa, for the parallels could not be complete without both volumes. Luke-Acts is one well-planned work in two volumes; Acts was no afterthought. Luke knew that in these two volumes he would focus upon key personalities rather than present a well-rounded account of the institutional development of the church. He would tell, not how the gospel, but how Paul came to Rome. He would literally allow his narrative to bog down in the details of Paul's career. Yet he would not write a history of the Pauline mission, but deal with that only in part (chaps. 13-18). Certainly he would omit much information which would be included were he writing a biography of Paul.

But what was the origin of Luke's portrayal of the parallels between Paul and Jesus? This portrayal originated, not with Luke, but with Paul himself. That Paul conceived of himself as God's suffering servant after the pattern of the Lord and of the Servant Songs of Isaiah is indicated by the allusions to these songs in the accounts of Paul's call in Galatians and Acts, by the connexions between 2 Timothy 4:16-18 and Psalm 22, and by


the self-emptying of Christ and Paul described in Philippians 2:1-3:14. Luke had heard Paul reciting, like the Master, Passion Psalm 22, and he had listened to Paul tell of his determination to follow in Christ's footsteps to death and victory.[15] Luke knew too that in a suffering servant song (Isa. 52:15) Paul had found the guiding principle of his missionary work (Rom. 15:21).

From Paul Luke had also learned the Semitic imagery of death, according to which "going down in a storm was the metaphor par excellence in scripture for death, and being saved from one resurrection" (2 Cor. 1:8-10; 11:23). Possibly too Paul had likened his own conversion to the Lord's resurrection ("Saul was raised up from the earth," Acts 9:8), and bad spoken of his baptism as dying and rising with Christ.[16]

Again under Paul's influence Luke stresses the universal appeal of the gospel (Lk. 2:10, 30-32; 3:6, 34-38; 10:29-37; 13:29; 17:11-19; 19:1-10; 24:47) and omits statements which might be regarded as hostile to Gentiles, such as Matthew 7:6; 10:5 f., 15:24; and Mark 7:24-30. With Paul's attitude towards the Law in mind, Luke's Sermon on the Plain does not mention or quote the Law, omitting especially Matthew 5:17-20.

By including the parable of justification (Lk. 18:9-14), Luke anticipates the Pauline note of Acts 13:39, thereby linking Paul's controversial teaching with that of the Lord (cf. Lk. 7:50 and Acts 16:31). "The God who justifies the ungodly" (Rom. 4:5) could be written over all the parables of grace (Lk. 7:41-43; 14:7-11, 16-24; 15:1-32). Small wonder that the Gospel of Luke was later called "the Gospel of Paul", and Paul's references to "my gospel" (Rom. 2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim. 2:8) were taken to mean the Third Gospel.

In Rome, Luke was to learn much more of Jewish-Christian intransigence and to see more clearly the urgency of rehabilitating Paul. At first Luke was surprised by the unexpected kindness with which Paul was welcomed to Rome and recorded this reception as an example of how Paul should be received by the churches (28:15). Luke found that in the Roman church were substantial numbers of Jewish Christians, who probably controlled the church there. It was a church founded by the Jewish-Christian mission of Jerusalem, and there were some 6o,ooo Jews in Rome.

Luke once again saw Paul becoming a victim of Jewish-Christian jealousy (Phil. 1:15-17; cf. 1 Clem. 5-6). There were few in the Roman church whom Paul could trust (Phil. 2:20-22). The Epistle to the Romans may have been occasioned by Roman prejudice against Paul based upon Jewish-Christian misrepresentations. Romans 1:13 suggests that Paul was hindered in coming to Rome by Jewish Christians who were saying that


Paul dared not come to Rome with his gospel. Hence Paul affirms that he is not ashamed of his gospel (1:16).

Yet with all of its Jewish-Christian orientation the Epistle to the Romans had failed to win the Jewish Christians of Rome to Paul's gospel. At Paul's first hearing in court, every one of the Roman Christians deserted him (2 Tim. 4:16). Luke observed the cool relations between Paul and the Roman church - Paul was even staying in his own hired dwelling and not with the church. If Luke needed any additional assurance of the necessity of an apology for Paul, he found it in this Roman coolness.

But Luke was also keenly aware that the Jewish Christians of Rome opposed Paul because they suspected his political legitimacy. Luke decided that the best way he could defend Paul was by relating Paul's acquittals in other cities (16:38 f.; 17:9; 18:14 f.; 19:37-40; 23:29; 24:27; 25:25; 26:31 f.). Even though Paul had spent years in Corinth and Ephesus, Luke would tell his readers little of Paul's activities there except his official exculpations. And he would reveal in his account of Paul before the Sanhedrin that within Judaism there existed greater differences than between Christians and Pharisees. Christianity as the true Israel was faithful to the synagogue, Temple, and Scriptures (Lk. 1-2; 3:8; 4:16-30; 19:45-47) and was respectful of Roman citizens and law (Lk. 3:13 f.; 4:5-8; 5:27-32; 7:2-9; 20:20-26; 22:50-53; 23:1-4, 15, 20-24, 47). Luke would also make plain Paul's Roman citizenship (Acts 16:37; 21:39; 22:25-28), and point out that Cornelius was a Roman citizen and officer (10:1). In this fashion Luke shaped his narrative to allay suspicion of Paul, even as Paul himself had sought to do so by insisting upon obedience to authority (Rom. 13:1-7).

In view of the crying need for a defence of his master, Luke must hasten to publish his two volumes while the conflict was intense, even before Paul's two-year imprisonment was ended. Luke soon had his work ready, and he appropriately dedicated each volume to his God-loving patron, Theophilus, a name in common use among both Jews and Greeks, and thus an appropriate person to whom to dedicate a defence of the Apostle of the Gentiles against Jewish-Christian charges originating chiefly in Jerusalem and Rome.


[1] F. F. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids, 1951), pp. 33-34.

[2] Bern, 1841. Also "Beitrage zur Erklärung und Kritik der Apostelgeschichte...," Theologische Studien und Kritiken, 28 (1855), pp. 498-570.

[3] Jahrbücher für wissenschafthiche Kritik, Nos. 46, 47, 48 (1841), cols. 361-68, 369-75, 377-81.

[4] See my dissertation, Luke as a Historian in Criticism since 1840 (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, (1959), pp. 85-167, 415-20.

[5] Henry J. Cadbury, The Making of Luke-Acts (New York, 1927), p. 315.

[6] Richard B. Rackham, The Acts of the Apostles (London, 1901), pp. xlvii f.

[7] Etienne Trocmé, Le 'Livre des Actes' et l'histoire (Paris, 1957), supports Schneckenburger, as do others in varying degrees.

[8] Cf. Oscar Cullmann, "Dissensions Within the Early Church," Union Seminary Quarterly Review, 22 (1967), pp. 83-92.

[9] M.D. Goulder, Type and History in Acts (London, 1964), p. 69.

[10] Robert Morgenthaler, Die lukanische Geschichtsschreibung als Zeugnis (Zürich, 1948), I. Teil, pp. 163-72.

[11] Paul Schubert, "The Final Cycle of Speeches in the Book of Acts," JBL, 87 (1968), pp.1-16.

[12] Larrimore C. Crockett, "Luke 4:25-27 and Jewish-Gentile Relations in Luke-Acts," JBL, 88 (1969), pp. 177-83.

[13] Wilfred L. Knox, St. Paul and the Church of Jerusalem (Cambridge, 1925), pp. 284 ff.

[14] Goulder, op. cit., pp. 176 f., 114-17, 40 f.

[15] Johannes Munck, Paul and the Salvation of Mankind, trans. Frank Clarke (Richmond, 1959), pp. 24-33, 331-34; T. E. Pollard, "The Integrity of Philippians," NTS, 13 (1966-67), pp. 57-66.

[16] Goulder, op. cit., pp. 39, 94 f.

A. J. Mattill, Jr., "The Purpose of Acts: Schneckenburger Reconsidered," W. Ward Gasque & Ralph P. Martin, eds., Apostolic History and the Gospel. Biblical and Historical Essays Presented to F.F. Bruce. Exeter: The Paternoster Press, 1970. Hbk. ISBN: 085364098X. pp.108-122. © 1970 The Paternoster Press. Reproduced by kind permission of the publisher.