Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Summaries and Summary Narratives in Acts

The book of Acts contains several summaries (sentences) and summary narratives (paragraphs) that advance the history by synthesizing events over time into a brief or condensed statement. They accelerate the story with general declarations that depict prevailing (and healthy) church life, covering an extended but unspecified period. Some may be brief (e.g. 1:14, which cannot cover more than ten days) while others may cover time in months or years (e.g. 2:43-47).


Folks in modern academic theological circles commonly call the passages from Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35; and 5:12-16 “summary narratives.” Lorin L. Cranford thinks 2:43-47, 4:32-35, and 5:12-16 each may cover a period of roughly five years. (I do not think I agree with that length, based on how I view the Acts timeline). The summary narratives all occur in Jerusalem.
Acts 2:42-47 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Acts 4:32-35 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
Acts 5:12-16 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
  • Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
  • Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
  • Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
  • Acts 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Jud├Ža and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
  • Acts 11:26b And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
  • Acts 12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
  • Acts 14:28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.
  • Acts 16:5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
  • Acts 19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
  • Acts 28:31 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
The last two verses in the book of Acts summarize the events in Rome and conclude the treatise with a two-year period of Paul freely preaching and teaching the word of God.

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