Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/148

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ACTS
ACTS
120

Apostles' hands, the Holy Ghost comes upon the faithful; Paul is directed by the Holy Ghost in everything; the Holy Ghost foretells to him that bonds and afflictions await him in every city; when Agabus prophesies Paul's martyrdom, he says: "Thus saith the Holy Ghost: 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles'". Acts declares that on the Gentiles the grace of the Holy Ghost is poured out; in the splendid description of St. Stephen's martyrdom he is declared full of the Holy Ghost; when Peter makes his defence before rulers, elders, and scribes, he is filled with the Holy Ghost; often it is declared that the Apostles are filled with the Holy Ghost; Philip is chosen as a deacon because he is full of faith and the Holy Ghost; when Ananias is sent to Paul at Damascus he declares that he is sent that Paul may receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost; Jesus Christ is declared to be anointed with the Holy Ghost; Barnabas is declared to be full of the Holy Ghost; the men of Samaria receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands of Peter and John. This history shows the real nature of the Christian religion; its members are baptized in the Holy Ghost, and are upheld by His power. The source in the Church of infallible truth in teaching, of grace, and of the power that resists the gates of Hell is the Holy Ghost. By the power of the Spirit the Apostles established the Church in the great centres of the world: Jerusalem, Antioch Cyprus, Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berœa, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome. From these centres the message went to the surrounding lands. We see in the Acts the realization of Christ's promises just before his Ascension: "But ye shall receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth". In the New Testament Acts forms a necessary connecting-link between the Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul. It gives the necessary information concerning the conversion of St. Paul and his apostolate, and also concerning the formation of the great Churches to which St. Paul wrote his Epistles.

Authenticity.—The authenticity of the Acts of the Apostles is proved by intrinsic evidence; it is attested by the concordant voice of tradition. The unity of style of Acts and its artistic completeness compel us to receive the book as the work of one author. Such an effect could never arise from the piecing together bits of writings of different authors. The writer writes as an eyewitness and compaction of Paul. The passages xvi, 10–17; xx, 5–15; xxi, 1–18; xxvii, 1; xxviii, 16 are called the We passages. In these the writer uniformly employs the first person plural, closely identifying himself with St. Paul. This excludes the theory that Acts is the work of a redactor. As Renan has well said, such use of the pronoun is incompatible with any theory of redaction. We know from many proofs that Luke was the companion and fellow-labourer of Paul. Writing to the Colossians, in his salutation Paul associates with himself, "Luke, the beloved physician" (iv, 14). In II Tim., iv, 11 Paul declares: "Only Luke is with me". To Philemon (24) Paul calls Luke his fellow-worker. Now in this article, we may suppose the Lucan authorship of the third Gospel as proved. The writer of Acts in his opening sentence implicitly declares himself to be the author of the third Gospel. He addresses his work to Theophilus, the addressee of the third Gospel; he mentions his former work and in substance makes known his intention of continuing the history which, in his former treatise, he had brought up to the day when the Lord Jesus was received up. There is an identity of style between Acts and the third Gospel. An examination of the original Greek texts of the third Gospel and of the Acts reveals that there is in them a remarkable identity of manner of thinking and of writing. There is in both the same tender regard for the Gentiles, the same respect for the Roman Empire, the same treatment of the Jewish rites, the same broad conception that the Gospel is for all men. In forms of expression the third Gospel and the Acts reveal an identity of authorship. Many of the expressions usual in both works occur but rarely in the rest of the New Testament; other expressions are found nowhere else save in the third Gospel and in the Acts. If one will compare the following expressions in the Greek, he will be persuaded that both works are of the same author: Luke, i, 1—Acts, xv, 24-25; Luke, xv, 13—Acts, i, 5, xxvii, 14, xix, 11; Luke, i, 20, 80—Acts, i, 2, 22, ii, 29, vii, 45; Luke, iv, 34—Acts, ii, 27, iv, 27, 30; Luke, xxiii, 5—Acts, x, 37; Luke, i, 9—Acts, i, 17; Luke, xii, 56, xxi, 35—Acts xvii, 26. The last-cited parallel expression, τὸ πρόσωπον τῆς γῆς, is employed only in the third Gospel and in Acts. The evidence of the Lucan authorship of Acts is cumulative. The intrinsic evidence is corroborated by the testimonies of many witnesses. It must be granted that in the Apostolic Fathers we find but faint allusions to the Acts of the Apostles. The Fathers of that age wrote but little; and the injury of time has robbed us of much of what was written. The Gospels were more prominent in the teachings of that day and they consequently have a more abundant witness. The canon of Muratori contains the canon of Scriptures of the Church of Rome in the second century. Of Acts it declares: "But the Acts of all the Apostles are written in one book, which for the excellent Theophilus Luke wrote, because he was an eyewitness of all". In "The Doctrine of Addai", which contains the ancient tradition of the Church of Edessa, the Acts of the Apostles are declared to be a part of the Holy Scriptures (Doctrine of Addai, ed. Phillips, 1876, 46). The twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth chapters of St. Irenæus's third book "Against Heresies" are based upon the Acts of the Apostles. Irenæus convincingly defends the Lucan authorship of the third Gospel and Acts, declaring: "But that this Luke was inseparable from Paul, and was his fellow-labourer in the Gospel, he himself clearly evinces, not as a matter of boasting, but as bound to do so, by the truth itself.… And all the remaining facts of his courses with Paul, he recounts.… As Luke was present at all these occurrences, he carefully noted them down in writing, so that he cannot be convicted of falsehood or boastfulness, etc." Irenæus unites in himself the witness of the Christian Church of the East and the West of the second century. He continues unchanged the teaching of the Apostolic Fathers. In his treatise "On Fasting" Tertullian accepts Acts as Holy Scripture, and calls them the "Commentary of Luke". In his treatise "On Prescription against Heretics", xxii, Tertullian is strong in asserting the canonicity of Acts: "And assuredly, God fulfilled his promise, since it is proved in the Acts of the Apostles that the Holy Ghost did come down. Now they who reject that Scripture can neither belong to the Holy Ghost, seeing that they cannot acknowledge that the Holy Ghost has been sent as yet to the disciples, nor can they presume to be a church themselves, who positively have no means of proving when, and with what infant-nursings this body was established." Again, in chapter xxiii of the same treatise, he issues a challenge to those who reject Acts: "I may say here to those who reject the Acts of the Apostles: It is first necessary that you show us who this Paul was; both what he was before he became an Apostle, and how he became an Apostle" etc. Clement of