Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 532
Context: The Acts of the Apostles is the only existing account of the beginnings of the Christian Church. It is evident that the writer of Acts and the author of Luke were one and the same, but whether he was actually Luke the physician is not certain. It is likely that if Luke did not write these he was responsible for portions of them. Acts is a biographical and historical record of the various apostles and their work after the death of Jesus; in it can be seen the gradual evolution of Christianity from a branch or sect of Judaism into an independent evangelical faith. Luke begins with the Resurrection and the commission which Jesus lays upon His apostles, then gives an account of their activities in Jerusalem, in Syria and Asia Minor, and in various parts of the Roman Empire. The reader of Acts cannot but be impressed by the religious devotion and moral heroism that it mirrors. This epic account of struggle and suffering, of growth under persecution into an enduring institution, was doubtless written both to provide a record of events and to be an inspiration to its members. Chapters 15 through 28 follow the career of Paul; in Chapter 17 there is an account of his missionary work at Thessalonica. He and Silas stop here, and at the synagogue Paul proclaims his message. He spends three days arguing Scripture with the Jews. A number of ruffians are then persuaded, perhaps hired, to demonstrate against the Christians and incite a riot. The Christians are blamed for the incident; they get Paul out of the city and send him to Berea. Here he is more successful and wins some converts; but the agitators from Thessalonica follow him, and his congregation moves him to Athens, where there are a number of philosophers who, curious about Paul's new doctrine, ask him to tell them about it.
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him I declare unto you.
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.