Divine Empowerment of Leaders

Divine Empowerment of Leaders, Study of Luke(Page 7)

By Allen Quist 

Peter’s Speech

Based on Acts 2:40a, “And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them….,” Witherington argues the written narrative and attributed speech is Luke’s summary of what Peter said. This practice of summarizing or paraphrasing was common to the historians of Luke’s period. It was also common for historians to follow the style of other Greek historians by archaizing their material (making something appear older). Luke apparently knew this, but at the same time was supporting a “Jewish speaker speaking on Jewish subject matter quoting the Hebrew Scriptures” (Witherington 137-138).

Earlier, Luke had also drawn on the style of his contemporary historians, using a word meaning, “convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3), a word used almost exclusively by historians, (tekmar), meaning “that from which something is surely and plainly known, [and] on indubitable evidence, a proof” (Thayer G5039). Luke is the only New Testament writer who used this word and this is the only place Luke used it. Luke chose this word to make a truth clear to all scholars and skeptics—through the forty days following His resurrection, Christ provided indisputable, true, and reliable historical proof He was alive.

Witherington continues to explain how Luke, in his concern for the speaker and the audience followed a standardized structure. For the future readers, Luke quoted the Old Testament using the Septuagint (the Greek Bible used by the Jews outside of Palestine). For the Greco-Roman Gentile audience, Luke followed a form of Greco-Roman rhetoric. In Peter’s speech summary, Luke followed the form of “defense and attack” (Witherington 138). He first defended the apostles against the charge of drunkenness (Acts 2:14-21), then summarized Peter’s attack on the Jews for killing Jesus (Acts 2:22-36). This brought a cry from the audiences for a solution, “Brothers, what should we do?” (Acts 2:37). Third, for Luke’s audience, he summarized Peter’s charge to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him” (Acts 2:38-40). In verse 38, Luke pressed the point—repentance and baptism are necessary to receive salvation and this promise is open to everybody (Witherington 155) without ethnic, social class, or gender exceptions (Willimon 39). Luke even provided one more challenge to his reader, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40b). Perhaps with the Next Pageintent to inspire his readers, Luke gave us the crowd’s response, “So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 41-42) (Witherington 138).

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