The commentary on Acts is written in a readable style, drawing on the best new insights from a number of disciplines (narrative, archaeology, social scientific study, rhetorical analysis, and comparative studies) to provide the reader with the benefits of recent innovative ways of analyzing the text. In addition, Witherington provides detailed attention to major theological and historical issues: the question of the relationship of Acts to the Pauline letters; the question of early Christian history and how the church grew and developed; the relationship or tension between first-century Judaism and early Christianity; and the relationship between Christianity and the officials of the Roman Empire.
This impressive commentary on the Acts of the Apostles exemplifies Professor Witherington's usual close and cautious reading of the biblical text with careful research in and response to relevant secondary literature. Overall, it is thorough, thoughtful, and balanced, though grounded without apology in his Christian faith perspective on the issues raised by the text.
Witherington has done students, pastors, and scholars a great favor by providing an analysis of the book of Acts that is fully conversant with the enormous secondary literature on Acts yet neither loses sight of Luke’s text nor bogs down in scholarly minutiae. His appraisal of Luke’s second volume in relationship to his Gospel and against the backdrop of classical rhetoric and ancient social sensibilities makes this book an instructive companion for readers of Acts.
—Joel B. Green, Asbury Theological Seminary
This is a very fine commentary that, unlike many others, takes seriously all dimensions of Luke’s text—historical, social, rhetorical, and theological. It is full of fresh insights and balanced assessments of controverted issues. It will be of great value as much to the expert scholar as to the reader approaching the study of Acts for the first time.
—Richard Bauckham, University of St. Andrews
Ben Witherington III is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. He received his M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies. A prolific writer, he has twice won the Christianity Today best Biblical Studies book-of-the-year award. Among his other books are The Christology of Jesus and Jesus, Paul, and the End of the World and The Jesus Quest. A popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings not only in the United States but also in England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia.
“The major point of all this is that the Spirit overcomes all barriers, even of languages, to witness to the various parts of the known world, even to ‘the ends of the earth.’” (Page 135)
“There is no hard evidence that Luke intended Theophilus to think of Pentecost as the Tower of Babel in reverse, not least because the Spirit does not eliminate the difference in languages, but rather allows each to hear in those different languages.” (Page 131)
“There are a variety of hints in the text of Acts 15 that what is being prohibited is the attending of temple feasts and all that they entail.” (Page 462)
“What one can say is that Luke intends his audience to know that repentance, faith, baptism, the name of Jesus, and reception of the Spirit were all important elements when the matter of ‘what must we do’ or how people enter the community of Christ comes up.” (Page 154)
“If you go to Acts to answer all of the later questions about infant baptism, church order, or apostles after the first generation, you will be frustrated because of a lack of complete, and sometimes any, answers. Luke’s agenda was not ours.” (Page 1)