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Having carefully selected the editors of the ten volumes of which the Westminster New Testament will consist, and having fully explained to them the purpose of the series, the General Editor is leaving them the greatest possible liberty; and the editor of each volume is alone responsible for the opinions expressed in it. It is hoped that thus any lack of uniformity will be amply compensated for by the varied interest which the free expression of his own individuality by each editor will impart to the series. While the standpoint adopted is that of modern critical scholarship, only the generally accepted results, and not the vagaries of individual critics, are being presented, and in such a fashion as to avoid unnecessarily giving any offence or causing any difficulty to the reverent Bible student. As the series is intended especially for teachers, lay preachers, and others engaged in Christian work, their needs are being kept particularly in view, and the Commentary aims at being as practically useful as possible. A new arrangement in printing the text and the notes has been adopted, which it is believed will be found an improvement.



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The Book of Acts occupies a unique position in the New Testament. It is our sole authority for a very considerable part of the history of the Apostolic age. If Acts had never been written, or if it had been lost in transmission, we should be dependent entirely upon the scattered references in the Epistles of St. Paul for our knowledge of the early Church, and the consequence would be that we should know next to nothing about the progress of Christianity between the Ascension of Jesus and the commencement of St. Paul's missionary activity. Without Acts, the story of the first Christian Brotherhood at Jerusalem would be buried in oblivion; we should never have heard of Pentecost; Philip and Stephen and Barnabas would be mere names to us; and it would be impossible to reconstruct with anything like certainty the career of the Apostle Paul.

Before we can properly use and appreciate the

book, it is necessary to obtain an answer to the following questions

1. Who was the author of Acts ? 2. Why was the book written?

3. At what time and under what circumstances was it composed ?

4. What are the characteristics of the writer ?

5. To what extent is the book to be accepted as reliable history?


The Book of Acts never once mentions the name of its author. There is no reason for supposing that this silence is due to the writer's desire to conceal his identity. The explanation seems rather to be found in the fact that the writer was so well known to Theophilus, to whom the book was dedicated, and the wider circle of readers amongst whom it was first circulated, that it was absolutely unnecessary for him to affix his signature.

But though the name of the writer is not mentioned, there are certain indications in the book which enable us to reach a tolerably certain conclusion with regard to the question of authorship. (1) We know from the opening statement of Acts that its author was also the writer of the Third Gospel, which tradition unanimously associates with the name of Luke. (2) We know, too, that the writer of Acts must have been a companion of St. Paul. In several groups of passages he uses the first person plural. These “We-passages," as they are termed, include the accounts of (a) Paul's work at Philippi, xvi. 10–17; (6) Paul's visit to Troas, xx. 5–15; ) the journey from Miletus to Jerusalem,

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