Luke-Acts vs Paul’s epistles is an interesting historical debate helping us think about how pagans think.
First, historians generally trash Luke and Acts while they praise 7 letters of Paul. Let me note as I have before what historians like.
The Undisputed Epistles of Paul
- First Corinthians.
- Second Corinthians.
- First Thessalonians.
Historians like the 7 letters of Paul a lot. From them, they see that the disciples truly deeply believe that Jesus rose from the dead.
If Paul’s history in the epistles is different than Acts, then historians often use that as proof that Acts is nonsense. However, note how often Acts has been ahead of historians.
Acts contains some accurate details of 1st century society, specifically with regard to titles of officials, administrative divisions, town assemblies, and rules of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, including:
- Inscriptions confirm that the city authorities in Thessalonica in the 1st century were called politarchs(Acts 17:6–8)
- According to inscriptions, grammateus is the correct title for the chief magistrate in Ephesus(Acts 19:35)
- Felixand Festus are correctly called procurators of Judea
- The passing remark of the expulsion of the Jews from Romeby Claudius (Acts 18:2) is independently attested by Suetonius in Claudius 25 from The Twelve Caesars, Cassius Dio (c. AD 150 – c. 235) and fifth-century Christian author Paulus Orosius.
- Acts correctly refers to Corneliusas centurion and to Claudius Lysias as a tribune (Acts 21:31 and Acts 23:26)
- The title proconsul(anthypathos) is correctly used for the governors of the two senatorial provinces named in Acts (Acts 13:7–8 and Acts 18:12)
- Inscriptions speak about the prohibition against the Gentiles in the inner areas of the Temple (as in Acts 21:27–36); see also Court of the Gentiles
- The function of town assemblies in the operation of a city’s business is described accurately in Acts 19:29–41
- Roman soldiers were permanently stationed in the tower of Antoniawith the responsibility of watching for and suppressing any disturbances at the festivals of the Jews; to reach the affected area they would have to come down a flight of steps into temple precincts, as noted by Acts 21:31–37
Despite that, historians say Luke was not writing history, and Paul was never wrong.
Ah Luke-Acts vs Paul’s Epistles, Really?
Why? The key point is that Luke-Acts has miracles, and the 7 letters do not. Since Paul never recounts miracles (except testifying to the Resurrection) then he is their darling. They do not usually realize that is their problem.
More amazing is that they can fix Paul’s time by an accurate placement of Paul before Gallio in Acts. Gallio was known in history to be managing Achaea in 51-52, and his manner in Acts is indifference. Historians totally accept that.
So, historians usually trash Acts, but fix Paul’s age and time period from the event in Acts which everyone thinks is genuine. Go figure.
We Christians should confess that we do not know why Luke seems to say Paul went from Damascus to Jerusalem after being saved and Paul says he went first to Arabia. We Christians have a work around to explain this, but we should be able to see why historians use things like this to attack Luke-Acts. Historians are always looking for reasons to doubt miracle filled Luke-Acts, and use this and other differences. So, we rightly think Luke-Acts is great like Paul’s Epistles. Historians, however, no longer trash the whole New Testament anymore.
Such arguments will not reach the lost, but they are a help to those who are seekers. Only love and revelation will generally reach the lost. May we love and pray to reach a lost world. (Source of picture above).