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Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Law of Proportionality

I have been in a couple of studies in Acts for the past several months.  Both meet on Thursday, about 30 minutes apart.  We are wrapping up the first study in a couple of weeks or so we were in Acts 27 this AM.  If you are familiar with Acts you know that is a detailed chapter about the ill-fated journey to Rome.  You know, throwing stuff overboard, sea anchors… that sort of thing…
The Law of Proportionality
How in the heck are we supposed to apply that?

Here’s the deal.

Saul/Paul shows up in Acts 7:58 taking care of the robes of those who were stoning Stephen.  In Acts 9 he meets Jesus on the way to kill Christians in Damascus.  In Acts 13 – 19 we have described for us the three missionary journeys of Paul, 7 chapters.  Acts 19:20 is essentially the end.  From that point on, Paul is headed to Jerusalem, that is his focus.

From Acts 19:21 – 28:31 we are told about the trip to Jerusalem, Paul’s saying goodbye to communities of faith that he has been instrumental in forming, warnings about what would happen in Jerusalem to him, his arrest, his trials, his imprisonments, testimonies, and finally his shipwrecked trip to Rome, all of this ending with him in house arrest in Rome.  9.5 chapters, more detail than all of the missionary journeys combined.

Why?

If I were Luke, it seems like the most important thing would be the spread of the gospel, the Word of God, but Luke gives 7 chapters to that, and 9.5 to this journey to Rome by way of Jerusalem.  Proportionately there is more emphasis on that last journey than just about anything else in the book.

What are we to learn from this?  Why has the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write so much detail on this journey in his account of the early church?

It is intentional.  There is a reason.  I have some thoughts as to why.  What are yours?

3 comments:

  1. Neat observation on the proportion, and great question to ponder - why so much space devoted to the journey to Rome?
    My guess is that Dr.Luke follows the geographical pattern he stated in Acts 1:8 -- Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the world (with Rome being the capital at that time). That is also why Luke leaves us with no news on Paul's destiny in Rome. Paul is not the major concern of the author, but the spreading of the gospel. Thus, the general material of the book is geographical, not biographical.

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  2. Thank you for the good reminder of an important Biblical principle, Mike. When we consider that the Holy Spirit had one rather small book to lay out the spiritual history of the world, it makes sense His "notes" needed to be carefully laid out. You question could also be asked about he Old/New Testaments split as well. In one of my Bibles (no notes) the O.T gets 677 pages, the New 198. (Sorry, but that's easier than counting chapters.) That says something about the time and effort many of us spend in studying the N.T. vs. our knowledge of and time we spend studying, reading and memorizing the O.T.

    Great response, Konstantin. I want to think about it more, but in a way the message of the N.T. is the "great leap forward" in God fulfilling His promise to Abraham in Gen. 12 to bless the nations through his descendants. Rome became the base for the spread of the liberating message of the Gospel to start the spread to all peoples, tribes, languages, etc. that goes on yet today. It's fitting that the last 46 pages of the Bible report the final fulfillment of the promises and the restoration of God's original purpose for His glorious creation introduces and defiled in the first three pages.

    I look forward to your thoughts, Mike!

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    Replies
    1. I am going to hold off for a couple of days, both +Chuck and +Konstantin good thoughts...

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