A Theology of Luke’s Gospel and Acts Book Summary

Title: A Theology of Luke’s Gospel and Acts: God’s Promised Program, Realized for All Nations
Author: Darrell L. Bock

TLDR: This book meticulously unpacks the interconnected theology of Luke and Acts, emphasizing God’s plan of salvation through Jesus, realized for both Jews and Gentiles. It argues for the church’s missional identity, rooted in old promises but empowered by the Spirit for a new era.

Part One: Introductory Matters

Chapter 1: The Often Lost Importance of Luke-Acts and the Orientation of This Study

Bock begins by highlighting the significance of Luke-Acts, the most extensive portion of the New Testament, yet often overlooked as a unified work. He attributes this neglect to the gospel of Luke being overshadowed in discussions about Jesus by the other Synoptic Gospels (Matthew and Mark) and the Gospel of John, and Acts being detached from its Lucan connection and treated as a standalone history of the early church.

Bock emphasizes the importance of understanding Luke-Acts as a unified narrative penned by the same author, Luke. This connection, he argues, is crucial for grasping the overarching theological message of God’s plan working through Jesus and the church. He posits that Luke wrote to Theophilus, not as a potential opponent of the faith, but as a Gentile believer seeking reassurance about his place in a movement that started out Jewish but expanded to include Gentiles. Luke-Acts, therefore, addresses the questions surrounding the church’s identity, the inclusion of Gentiles, the suffering experienced by believers, and the centrality of Jesus in God’s plan.

Bock proposes that the central theme of Luke-Acts is God’s plan of salvation being fulfilled through Jesus, the promised Messiah. This plan, rooted in the Old Testament, culminates in Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. The church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, continues Jesus’ mission by proclaiming the message of salvation to all nations. Persecution, according to Luke, is not a sign of God’s judgment but a predicted means by which the message spreads.

Chapter 2: The Context of Luke-Acts: A Short Introduction

Bock delves into the historical context of Luke-Acts, addressing questions about authorship, date, and genre. He presents a strong case for traditional authorship, attributing the work to Luke, a companion of Paul. Examining external evidence from early church fathers and internal clues like the “we” passages in Acts, he dismisses alternative candidates proposed by some scholars. Bock argues that these “we” passages are not mere literary devices but reflect Luke’s presence with Paul during certain events. He contends that differences in theological emphasis between Luke-Acts and Paul’s letters can be reconciled, attributing them to diverse settings, audiences, and Luke’s focus on God’s overall plan rather than the details of salvation.

While acknowledging varying opinions, Bock places the date of Luke-Acts in the latter third of the first century, likely in the 60s. This date, he argues, aligns with the social context of Gentile inclusion, Jewish persecution, and the emerging distinction of the Jesus community from Judaism. Internal evidence from the eschatological dis-courses, often cited as pointing to a post-70 date, is reinterpreted by Bock as reflecting Jesus’ prophetic knowledge of God’s judgment on covenant unfaithfulness. He argues that Luke’s silence on the fall of Jerusalem, a significant event, suggests an earlier date.

Bock then tackles the question of genre, examining both Luke’s Gospel and Acts. He contends that Luke is a reliable ancient historian who, while rearranging and summarizing material for theological emphasis, is careful with his sources and interested in historical accuracy. Bock argues that the Gospel of Luke should be understood as an ancient biography (bios) that portrays Jesus as the divinely vindicated Messiah. He rejects claims that the Gospels are uniquely theological works devoid of historical grounding.

Turning to Acts, Bock classifies it as a “historical monograph” that selectively presents the growth of the church and its mission under God’s direction. He rejects categorizations of Acts as either ancient epic or a typical Greco-Roman “acts” genre, arguing that it is more akin to a sociological, historical, and theological account of God’s establishment of the church through Jesus and the Spirit.

Chapter 3: The Case for the Unity of Luke-Acts and Reading the Volumes as Luke-Acts and as Luke and Acts

Bock confronts recent challenges to the unity of Luke-Acts, reaffirming the strong literary and theological connections between the two volumes. He cites the shared prologues, the overlapping ascension accounts in Luke 24 and Acts 1, thematic parallels, and the consistent progression of Christology and the Spirit’s work as evidence of Luke’s intention to present a unified story. He counters arguments that Luke’s diverse sources and the early church’s separate treatment of the volumes point to disunity. Bock acknowledges that while the church later used the volumes distinctly, focusing on Jesus in Luke and the new community in Acts, the inherent literary and theological connections remain crucial for grasping Luke’s message.

Bock clarifies his understanding of unity, arguing that Luke-Acts should be read as a unified narrative with two volumes intentionally designed to tell one story, reflecting the unfolding of God’s plan. While acknowledging the value of separate readings of Luke and Acts, he emphasizes that understanding their interconnectedness is essential for biblical theology.

Chapter 4: Outline and Narrative Survey of Luke-Acts

This chapter offers a detailed outline and narrative overview of Luke-Acts, highlighting key themes and movements within the two volumes. Bock provides a five-part outline for Luke, tracing Jesus’ journey from his infancy to his ascension: (1) Infancy Material; (2) John the Baptist and Jesus; (3) Ministry in Galilee; (4) Journey to Jerusalem; and (5) Passion Week. He then outlines Acts in seven sections, tracking the expansion of the church from Jerusalem to Rome: (1) Introduction; (2) The Early Church in Jerusalem; (3) Persecution in Jerusalem; (4) The Gospel to the Gentiles; (5) The Mission from Antioch; (6) The Second and Third Missionary Journeys; and (7) The Arrest.

Bock’s narrative survey emphasizes the consistent portrayal of God’s plan being fulfilled through Jesus and the church. He highlights the importance of Scripture in revealing and interpreting God’s plan, the role of the Holy Spirit in empowering and guiding the church, the significance of repentance and faith in receiving salvation, and the inclusion of Gentiles as a central element of God’s program. He also emphasizes the themes of discipleship, perseverance in suffering, and the church’s mission to the world.

Part Two: Major Theological Themes

Chapter 5: The Plan, Activity, and Character of God: A Survey in Narrative Order

This chapter delves into Luke’s portrayal of God, exploring his plan, activity, and character as revealed throughout Luke-Acts. Bock utilizes a narrative approach, tracing the theme in the sequence it appears in the text. He begins with the infancy narrative, highlighting the consistent depiction of God’s providential direction through angelic announcements, the hymns of Mary, Zechariah, and Simeon, and the characters’ recognition of God’s fulfillment of his promises.

Bock then explores how John the Baptist’s preaching reveals God’s sovereign control over the plan of salvation and the importance of repentance in preparing for the coming Messiah. He examines Jesus’ ministry, showing how his teachings about God, his miracles, and the astonished reactions of those around him demonstrate the inseparable connection between God’s power and Jesus’ work. Bock highlights the prominent use of the phrase “the kingdom of God,” tracing its present and future dimensions, and argues that God’s care for creation and his compassion for sinners, especially the poor, are evident in Jesus’ parables.

Shifting to Acts, Bock details God’s active role in establishing the church through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter’s miracles and bold preaching, the conversion of Saul, and the expansion of the gospel to Gentiles. He emphasizes the recurring themes of God’s direction through visions, angelic mediation, and human agents, particularly the apostles. Bock concludes by showing how God’s guidance and protection are evident in Paul’s missionary journeys and defense speeches, culminating in the gospel reaching Rome, the heart of the Roman empire.

Chapter 6: The God of Promise, Fulfillment, and Salvation: Synthesis of Texts on the Plan of God

Bock synthesizes the key themes surrounding God’s plan, emphasizing the fulfillment of Old Testament promises in Jesus Christ and the church. He presents God as the God of Israel who has extended his salvation to the nations, fulfilling his covenant promises to Abraham, David, and the new covenant. Bock explores the various means by which God directs his plan, including angelic pronouncements, divine interventions, human and angelic agents, and the necessity of fulfilling his purpose. He highlights four key themes that receive special attention: Jesus’ passion, Gentile mission, persecution and suffering, and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Bock delves into Luke’s portrayal of promise and fulfillment, arguing that God’s faithfulness is evident throughout the narrative. He examines specific Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Jesus and the church, highlighting Christology, the message of repentance and forgiveness, Israelite rejection and Gentile inclusion, and final judgment. Bock explores additional themes that contribute to the picture of God’s plan, including “today” passages that emphasize the present availability of salvation, the bridging role of John the Baptist, the mission statements of Jesus, the geographical progression of the gospel, the importance of “it is necessary” passages, the present and future dimensions of the kingdom of God, the empowering and guiding work of the Holy Spirit, and the ethical call to love God and neighbor.

Chapter 7: Jesus the Messiah Who Is Lord and Bringer of the New Era: Narrative Order

Bock analyzes Luke’s Christology, tracing the progressive revelation of Jesus’ identity as Messiah and Lord throughout Luke-Acts. He begins with the infancy narrative, highlighting the juxtaposition of John the Baptist and Jesus, emphasizing Jesus’ unique sonship, holiness, and regal status. He shows how the titles “Son of God,” “Son of the Most High,” and “Savior” are introduced in a messianic context, foreshadowing a deeper significance that emerges as the narrative unfolds. Bock also explores Jesus’ self-understanding as revealed in his first recorded words, “I must be in my Father’s house,” showing his awareness of his unique relationship with God and his divine mission.

Bock then examines Jesus’ ministry, detailing how his actions, teachings, and interactions with various groups reveal his authority and messianic identity. He highlights the importance of Jesus’ miracles as signs that authenticate his claims and picture the scope of salvation. Bock analyzes key passages, including Jesus’ baptism, his temptation in the wilderness, his proclamation of Isaiah 61 in the Nazareth synagogue, his confrontation with demonic forces, his claim to forgive sins, his healings, and his appointment of the Twelve.

Bock further explores the development of Jesus’ self-designation as “Son of Man,” tracing its association with authority, suffering, and judgment. He highlights the transfiguration, where the divine voice confirms Jesus as the chosen Son, the Servant, and the Prophet like Moses, and examines Jesus’ predictions of his suffering and rejection in Jerusalem. Bock then analyzes Jesus’ Passion Week, focusing on his confrontations with the Jewish leadership, his cleansing of the temple, his teaching on the kingdom of God, his use of Psalm 110, his changing of the Passover liturgy, his arrest and trials, his crucifixion as an innocent sufferer, and his resurrection appearances. Bock concludes by highlighting the ascension, a scene unique to Luke-Acts, that portrays God’s vindication of Jesus and his return to heavenly glory.

Chapter 8: Messiah, Servant, Prophet, Savior, Son of Man, and Lord: A Synthesis on the Person and Work of Jesus

Bock provides a synthetic overview of Luke’s Christology, examining the various titles used to describe Jesus and exploring their significance. He argues that Luke builds his Christology “from the earth up,” starting with Jesus’ human identity as the promised Davidic Messiah and gradually revealing his divine sonship and lordship. Bock highlights the central importance of the titles “Christ” and “Lord,” arguing that they encapsulate Jesus’ unique authority and power.

Bock analyzes each title in detail, tracing its Old Testament roots, its usage in contemporary Jewish thought, and its specific significance in Luke-Acts. He explores the titles “Savior,” “Christ,” “Son of David,” “Son of God,” “King,” “Prophet,” “Son of Man,” “Servant,” and other less frequently used designations. He demonstrates how these titles work together to present a nuanced and unified picture of Jesus as the divinely appointed Messiah who is also Lord of all.

Bock then turns to Jesus’ work, highlighting his earthly ministry, his death on the cross, his resurrection-ascension, and his two-stage kingdom reign. He emphasizes the importance of Jesus’ miracles as signs that authenticate his claims and picture the scope of salvation. He analyzes Jesus’ teaching, including his parables, showing its focus on the kingdom of God, the importance of repentance and faith, and the call to discipleship. Bock argues that Jesus’ death is portrayed as a vicarious sacrifice for sins that paves the way for the new covenant and the forgiveness of sins.

He emphasizes the centrality of Jesus’ resurrection-ascension, showing how it demonstrates God’s vindication of Jesus and establishes his authority to rule as Lord from heaven. Bock concludes by exploring Jesus’ two-stage kingdom reign, highlighting his present rule through the Holy Spirit and his future return to earth to establish his visible reign.

Chapter 9: The Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts: Power and Enablement for the Promise and Witness of the New Era

Bock examines the pivotal role of the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts, tracing his work in empowering and guiding the church to fulfill its mission. He begins by analyzing the Spirit’s presence in the infancy narrative, highlighting his role in inspiring Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon, and Anna to testify to the coming Messiah. He shows how the Spirit is also directly tied to Jesus’ birth, foreshadowing his unique relationship with God and the new era he brings.

Bock then explores the significance of John the Baptist’s declaration that the stronger one to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. He argues that this passage introduces the core evidence of the new era and highlights the Spirit’s work as both a purifying and enabling force. Bock analyzes Jesus’ baptism, showing how the Spirit’s descent and the divine voice endorse Jesus as the Messiah and the Servant. He then traces the Spirit’s guiding and empowering presence throughout Jesus’ ministry, highlighting his role in inspiring joy, providing strength in persecution, and equipping the disciples for ministry.

Bock shifts to Acts, detailing the Spirit’s dramatic outpouring at Pentecost, which marks the inauguration of the new era and the fulfillment of Old Testament promises. He examines Peter’s speech, showing how it connects the Spirit’s presence with the last days, the forgiveness of sins, and the establishment of Jesus as Lord and Christ. Bock explores the Spirit’s various functions in empowering believers for witness and service, guiding the church’s decisions, protecting the community from deceit, and enabling boldness in the face of persecution. He concludes by highlighting the inseparable connection between the Spirit and power in Luke-Acts, emphasizing the Spirit’s role in transforming believers and equipping them to accomplish God’s mission.

Chapter 10: The Salvation of God through Christ and the Healings that Picture It: Narrative Order

Bock explores Luke’s portrayal of salvation, emphasizing its comprehensive nature as deliverance from all that harms and separates from God. He argues that salvation is pictured in the scope of Jesus’ miracles and those performed by his followers, showing God’s power to heal physical ailments, cast out demons, calm storms, and even raise the dead. Bock traces the theme of salvation through Luke-Acts in narrative order, highlighting key passages and their theological significance.

Beginning with the infancy narrative, he explores the hymns of Mary, Zechariah, and Simeon, showing how they anticipate the coming Messiah as God’s salvation for Israel and the nations. He examines John the Baptist’s ministry, focusing on his call to repentance and the ethical transformation it demands. Bock then analyzes Jesus’ ministry, highlighting the miracles that attest to his authority and his message of hope and forgiveness. He explores the significance of Jesus’ association with sinners and social outcasts, showing God’s compassion for those society rejects. Bock examines Jesus’ parables, focusing on their portrayal of God’s willingness to forgive and receive back the lost, and analyzes his teachings on discipleship, highlighting the call to total commitment and the cost of following Jesus.

Bock shifts to Acts, detailing how the apostles proclaim the message of salvation and how God empowers them through miracles and the gift of the Holy Spirit. He analyzes Peter’s speeches at Pentecost and in Cornelius’s house, showing how they connect salvation with faith in Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and the outpouring of the Spirit. Bock highlights God’s initiative in expanding the gospel to Gentiles and analyzes the Jerusalem Council, where the church affirms that salvation is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, available to all who believe. He concludes by examining Paul’s missionary journeys and defense speeches, showing how they underscore the themes of salvation by faith, the inclusion of Gentiles, and God’s providential guidance of his church.

Chapter 11: The Many Dimensions of Salvation in Luke-Acts: A Synthesis

This chapter synthesizes the key themes surrounding salvation, exploring both its objective and subjective aspects. Bock analyzes the act of proclaiming the good news, examining the content of the gospel message, the various ways it is preached and taught, and its scope, encompassing both Jews and Gentiles. He emphasizes God’s authentication of the message through scriptural fulfillments, miracles, and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Bock then delves into the objective side of salvation, exploring the various words used to describe it, including “Savior,” “save,” “salvation,” “forgive,” “grace,” and “justify.” He highlights the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross as the means of providing forgiveness and inaugurating the new covenant, arguing that it paves the way for a restored relationship with God and the outpouring of the Spirit. Bock examines the numerous benefits of salvation, including the forgiveness of sins, life (both present and eternal), the gift of the Holy Spirit, peace with God and with others, grace, and justification.

Turning to the subjective side of salvation, Bock examines the personal appropriation of God’s gift, exploring the crucial responses of repentance, turning, and faith. He analyzes these terms in detail, tracing their Old Testament roots and their specific significance in Luke-Acts. Bock argues that repentance involves a change of perspective that leads to a turning from sin to God and an embrace of Jesus Christ by faith. He concludes by exploring additional aspects of soteriology, including the relationship between salvation and God’s promise, the ethical implications of salvation, and Luke’s nuanced view of the law.

Chapter 12: Israel in Luke-Acts

Bock explores the complex relationship between Israel and the church in Luke-Acts, arguing that the story of Jesus is fundamentally Israel’s story. He traces the theme of Israel throughout the narrative, highlighting God’s faithfulness to his covenant people and the nation’s divided response to the Messiah.

Bock begins with the infancy narrative, showing how the hymns of Mary, Zechariah, and Simeon affirm God’s promises to Israel and anticipate the coming Messiah as the fulfillment of national hope. He examines John the Baptist’s ministry, high-lighting his call to prepare a people for the Lord and emphasizing the theme of reconciliation between individuals and with God. Bock then analyzes Jesus’ ministry, showing how his teachings, parables, and actions both challenge and comfort Israel. He explores the significance of Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem, pronouncements of judgment, and his affirmation of the law’s ethical thrust, showing the tension between God’s love for his people and their need to repent.

Bock shifts to Acts, examining the disciples’ question about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel and Peter’s speeches that highlight the fulfillment of Old Testament promises in Jesus. He explores the early church’s affirmation of Jewish customs and practices while also showing how God directs the expansion of the gospel to Gentiles. Bock analyzes the Jerusalem Council, where the church affirms that Gentiles are included in God’s plan and need not follow the Mosaic law. He concludes by highlighting the continuing tension between Jewish rejection and Gentile reception of the gospel, arguing that Luke still holds out hope for Israel’s future restoration.

Chapter 13: The Gentiles and the Expression “the Nations” in Luke-Acts

Bock analyzes Luke’s portrayal of Gentiles and the theme of God’s mission to the nations, arguing that Gentile inclusion is a central element of God’s plan and is rooted in Old Testament promises. He traces the theme throughout Luke-Acts, highlighting key passages and their theological significance.

Bock begins with the infancy narrative, showing how Simeon’s prophecy about Jesus as “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” introduces the theme of universal salvation. He explores Jesus’ ministry, highlighting the healing of the centurion’s slave, his mission to the region of the Decapolis, his teaching in Samaria, and his parables that anticipate the inclusion of people from all nations in the kingdom of God. Bock also examines Jesus’ warnings and pronouncements of judgment on the nations, showing the consequences of rejecting God’s offer of salvation.

Bock shifts to Acts, detailing how God directs the expansion of the gospel to Gentiles through the conversion of Saul, Peter’s vision, and the Cornelius episode. He analyzes the key speeches in Cornelius’s house and at the Jerusalem Council, emphasizing God’s acceptance of people from every nation, the pouring out of the Spirit on Gentiles, and the affirmation that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, apart from the Mosaic law. Bock then traces Paul’s missionary journeys, highlighting his repeated turning to the Gentiles after encountering Jewish rejection, and examines his defense speeches, showing how they underscore the theme of God’s mission to the nations. Bock concludes by highlighting the dramatic and often ironic ways in which God directs the gospel’s progress, using persecution, divine interventions, and human agency to accomplish his purpose.

Chapter 14: The Church and the Way in Luke-Acts

Bock explores Luke’s portrayal of the church, showing its emerging identity as a distinct community rooted in the Old Testament promises yet also representing a new era of God’s work. He examines the term “church” (ekklesia) in its various usages, highlighting both its generic meaning as “assembly” and its more specific designation for the new community of believers. Bock also traces the unique Lucan motif of “the Way” as a designation for the church, highlighting its focus on the path to God and salvation through Jesus Christ.

Bock analyzes key passages that depict the church’s activity, highlighting its missionary zeal, its communal life centered on teaching, fellowship, worship, and prayer, and its commitment to generosity and mutual support. He explores the church’s structure, examining the roles of apostles, witnesses, prophets, servants, and elders, and showing the development of leadership and organization as the church grows. Bock highlights the church’s encounters with persecution, showing how God uses opposition to expand the gospel, and analyzes the tension between Jewish rejection and Gentile reception of the message.

Bock concludes by emphasizing the dynamic and missional character of the church in Luke-Acts, showing how it embodies the teachings of Jesus and carries out his commission to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Chapter 15: Discipleship and Ethics in the New Community

Bock delves into the theme of discipleship in Luke-Acts, exploring Jesus’ teachings on what it means to follow him and analyzing how the early church embodies these teachings in its life and mission. He examines the term “disciple” (mathētēs) and other designations for believers, such as “believers” (hoi pisteuontes) and “Christians” (Christianos), highlighting their focus on learning from Jesus, trusting in him, and identifying with him.

Bock analyzes key passages that portray Jesus’ interactions with his disciples, highlighting their struggles and successes as they learn from him and respond to his teachings. He explores the challenges of discipleship, including the call to total commitment, the need to prioritize following Jesus above all other allegiances, the cost of carrying one’s cross, and the inevitability of suffering and rejection. Bock emphasizes the importance of humility, dependence on God, and perseverance in the face of adversity.

He then examines the ethical teachings of Jesus, highlighting the central command to love God and one’s neighbor. Bock analyzes the Sermon on the Plain, exploring the Beatitudes, the call to love one’s enemies, the warning against judging others, and the importance of building one’s life on the foundation of Jesus’ teaching. He explores other ethical themes, including prayer, generosity, stewardship, and faithfulness.

Bock concludes by analyzing how the early church in Acts embodies these teachings, showing its commitment to mission, its communal life, its generosity and care for the poor, its boldness in the face of persecution, and its unity despite diversity. He argues that Luke’s portrayal of the church serves as an example for believers in every generation, challenging them to live out the call to discipleship and embody the ethical values of the kingdom of God.

Chapter 16: How Response to Jesus Divides: The Opponents, the Crowds, and Rome as Observer of Events in Luke-Acts

This chapter analyzes the diverse reactions to Jesus’ message, exploring the roles of the Jewish leadership, the crowds, and Rome in shaping the narrative of Luke-Acts. Bock highlights the tension and conflict that Jesus’ ministry generates, showing how his teachings, actions, and associations challenge established religious and social norms.

Bock examines the various Jewish groups that interact with Jesus, focusing on their motives and responses. He analyzes the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, the Sadducees, and the chief priests, showing how their interpretations of Scripture, their adherence to tradition, and their concern for their own authority lead them to oppose Jesus. Bock highlights the controversies surrounding Jesus’ claims to forgive sins, his association with sinners, his Sabbath healings, his cleansing of the temple, and his pronouncements of judgment.

Bock then explores the role of the crowds, showing their diverse reactions to Jesus’ message. He analyzes their initial enthusiasm, their tendency to misunderstand Jesus’ teachings, their susceptibility to being swayed by the opinions of religious leaders, and their ultimate division between acceptance and rejection of Jesus. Bock examines key passages, including the feeding of the five thousand, the healing of the blind man at Jericho, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the crowds at the crucifixion.

Finally, Bock analyzes the role of Rome, showing its ambivalent response to the Jesus movement. He highlights the Roman leaders’ initial indifference to Jesus and the early church, viewing their activities as a Jewish religious dispute irrelevant to Roman interests. Bock analyzes the trials of Jesus before Pilate and Paul before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, showing the Roman officials’ recognition of their innocence and their ultimate unwillingness to act justly, leading to Jesus’ crucifixion and Paul’s continued imprisonment.

Chapter 17: Women, the Poor, and the Social Dimensions in Luke-Acts

Bock explores Luke’s social concerns, particularly his emphasis on women and the poor, arguing that his writings reflect a countercultural perspective that values those whom society marginalizes. He analyzes the roles of women throughout Luke-Acts, highlighting their prominence as disciples, witnesses, benefactors, and recipients of Jesus’ ministry. Bock examines key passages, including the stories of Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna in the infancy narrative, the sinful woman who anoints Jesus’ feet, the women who support his ministry, the healing of the crippled woman, the parable of Martha and Mary, the poor widow’s offering, and the women at the tomb and the ascension. He shows how Luke’s portrayal of women challenges traditional social norms and affirms their equal value and importance in God’s kingdom.

Bock then explores Luke’s emphasis on the poor, analyzing his use of the term “poor” (ptochos) and its Old Testament roots in the concept of the “anawim,” the pious poor who trust in God. He examines key passages, including Mary’s Magnificat, Jesus’ proclamation of Isaiah 61 in the Nazareth synagogue, the Beatitudes, the parable of the rich fool, the story of Lazarus and the rich man, and the poor widow’s offering. Bock argues that Luke’s concern for the poor reflects not simply a political or economic agenda but a theological conviction that God values the humble and lifts up the lowly. He concludes by showing how the early church in Acts embodies this concern through its generosity and communal sharing, meeting the needs of its members and reaching out to those in poverty.

Chapter 18: The Law in Luke-Acts

Bock analyzes Luke’s nuanced view of the law, arguing that he affirms its ethical value and its role in revealing God’s promise while also recognizing its limitations and the new era inaugurated by Jesus Christ. He examines key passages that address the law, highlighting both continuity and discontinuity between the old and new covenants.

Bock begins by exploring passages that emphasize continuity, showing Jesus’ affirmation of the law’s moral essence in the command to love God and one’s neighbor, his statement that “not one jot or tittle” will pass from the law, and his appeal to the Law and the Prophets in his teaching and ministry. Bock also high-lights the early church’s observance of Jewish customs and practices, including circumcision, temple worship, and Sabbath observance, showing their desire to maintain continuity with their Jewish heritage.

Bock then analyzes passages that highlight discontinuity, exploring Jesus’ challenges to traditional interpretations of the law, his declaration that the law and the prophets were until John the Baptist, and his claim to be “Lord of the Sabbath.” He examines the significance of Peter’s vision in Acts 10, where God declares all foods clean, challenging Jewish dietary laws and paving the way for Gentile inclusion. Bock analyzes the Jerusalem Council, where the church affirms that Gentiles need not be circumcised to be saved, and shows how Paul circumcises Timothy, a half-Jew, for the sake of the gospel, while refusing to circumcise Titus, a Gentile.

Bock concludes by arguing that Luke presents a nuanced view of the law, affirming its abiding ethical value and its role in revealing God’s promise, while also recognizing the new era inaugurated by Jesus Christ, in which salvation is by grace through faith, apart from the works of the law. He emphasizes the importance of sensitivity and respect for Jewish believers who continue to observe the law while also affirming the freedom of Gentiles from its requirements.

Chapter 19: Ecclesiology in Luke-Acts

This chapter delves deeper into Luke’s ecclesiology, exploring the nature and mission of the church in the context of God’s overall plan. Bock examines the relationship between Israel and the church, highlighting both continuity and dis-continuity, and explores the key personalities who shape the early church and contribute to its growth and expansion.

Bock begins by analyzing the concept of the church as both old and new, connected to the promises of the Old Testament yet also representing a new era of God’s work inaugurated by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. He shows how the early church in Acts initially seeks to remain connected to Judaism, frequenting the temple and observing Jewish customs, but is ultimately forced to become distinct due to Jewish rejection and God’s explicit inclusion of Gentiles. Bock examines the significance of the Spirit’s outpouring at Pentecost, highlighting its role as the starting point for the new community and the key marker of the church’s identity as a Spirit-indwelt entity.

Bock then explores the role of the apostles as leaders and overseers of the church, highlighting their function as witnesses to Jesus and authoritative teachers of his message. He examines their unique authority, their responsibility to maintain the integrity of the gospel, and their role in guiding the church’s mission to the world.

Bock analyzes the church’s mission to the Gentiles, showing how God directs Peter to Cornelius and calls Paul to be the apostle to the nations. He examines the Jerusalem Council, highlighting the affirmation that Gentiles are included in God’s plan and need not follow the Mosaic law. Bock concludes by exploring the relationship between Jewish rejection and Gentile reception of the gospel, arguing that Luke still holds out hope for Israel’s future restoration, even as he celebrates the expansion of the church among the nations.

Chapter 20: Eschatology, Judgment, and Hope for the Future in Luke-Acts

Bock analyzes Luke’s eschatology, exploring his understanding of the last days, the return of Christ, final judgment, and the nature of hope. He argues that Luke presents a nuanced already-not yet perspective, affirming that the last days have already begun with the coming of Jesus and the outpouring of the Spirit, while also anticipating the consummation of God’s kingdom when Christ returns to earth.

Bock examines key passages that reveal the structure of Luke’s eschatology, highlighting the significance of John the Baptist as a transitional figure between the old and new eras, Jesus’ teachings about the present and future dimensions of the kingdom of God, Peter’s speech in Acts 3 that points to the “times of refreshing” and the “restoration of all things,” and the disciples’ question about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Bock emphasizes the tension between imminence and delay, exploring the expectation of Jesus’ imminent return while also recognizing the necessity of a period of time for the gospel to be preached to all nations.

He analyzes Jesus’ pronouncements of judgment, focusing on the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 as a typological foreshadowing of the final judgment, and explores the theme of hope as rooted in God’s faithfulness to his promises, the resurrection of Jesus, and the ultimate vindication of his people. Bock concludes by highlighting the practical implications of Luke’s eschatology, urging believers to live in light of Christ’s return, to be faithful stewards of their gifts, and to persevere in hope despite the challenges of this present age.

Chapter 21: The Scriptures in Luke-Acts

Bock examines Luke’s use of the Old Testament, arguing that he employs a variety of techniques, including direct citations, allusions, summaries, and typological fulfillment, to demonstrate the continuity between God’s promises and their realization in Jesus Christ and the church.

Bock begins by outlining three hermeneutical axioms that guide Luke’s interpretation of Scripture: (1) the events surrounding Jesus are divinely designed, (2) Jesus is at the center of God’s plan, and (3) Scripture helps to explain what God has done and is doing. He then explores five central scriptural themes that Luke employs to support his claims: covenant and promise, Christology, community mission, the commission to the Gentiles, and challenges with warnings to Israel.

Bock analyzes key passages that illustrate Luke’s use of Scripture, highlighting his appeal to the Abrahamic, Davidic, and new covenants, his use of Psalm 110 to establish Jesus’ lordship, his portrayal of Jesus as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, and his emphasis on the outpouring of the Spirit as the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. He also examines Luke’s use of Scripture to explain the church’s persecution, to justify Gentile inclusion, and to warn Israel of the consequences of rejecting the gospel.

Bock concludes by arguing that Luke’s use of the Old Testament demonstrates the continuity of God’s plan throughout history, culminating in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He shows how Scripture serves as a framework for under-standing the significance of Jesus’ ministry, the mission of the church, and the ultimate hope of God’s kingdom.

Part Three: Luke and the Canon

Chapter 22: Luke-Acts in the Canon

Bock examines the significance of Luke-Acts within the New Testament canon, exploring its unique contributions and its relationship to other canonical writings. He begins by tracing the reception of Luke and Acts into the canon, highlighting the early church’s recognition of their authorship and their inclusion in the four-fold gospel collection. Bock then explores Luke’s distinctive contributions to the canon, focusing on his portrayal of God’s plan, the role of the Holy Spirit, the mission to the Gentiles, the importance of women and the poor, the tension between Jewish rejection and hope for Israel’s restoration, the emphasis on prayer, and the detailed account of the early church’s expansion and growth.

Bock then analyzes Luke’s parallels with other New Testament writings, showing how his theology harmonizes with and complements the teachings of the other Gospels, Paul’s letters, Hebrews, and the Catholic Epistles. He highlights the shared emphasis on Jesus’ authority and the kingdom of God, the importance of faith and repentance, the centrality of the cross and resurrection, the empowering work of the Holy Spirit, and the mission to the world.

Finally, Bock addresses the question of the normativity of Luke-Acts, exploring the implications of its unique elements, such as the apostles’ authoritative role, the miraculous activity of God, and the early church’s communal sharing of possessions. He argues that while these elements reflect the unique context of the early church, they also offer valuable insights and challenges for believers in every generation, urging them to trust in God’s providential guidance, to embrace the call to mission and discipleship, and to embody the ethical values of God’s kingdom.

Chapter 23: Conclusion

Bock concludes his study by summarizing the key themes of Luke’s theology and highlighting its relevance for the church today. He argues that Luke-Acts presents a compelling story of God’s faithfulness to his promises, culminating in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who inaugurates a new era of salvation and reconciliation available to all who believe.

Bock highlights six key theses that summarize Luke’s theological perspective: (1) God’s providential direction and the continuity of his plan; (2) the inclusion of Gentiles as a central element of God’s program; (3) the Holy Spirit as the empowering and guiding force of the church; (4) the centrality of Jesus’ work in providing salvation; (5) the new era and structure of the church; and (6) the realization of God’s promises in prophecy and pattern.

    Bock argues that Luke’s theology challenges believers to embrace the call to discipleship, to persevere in the face of persecution and suffering, to trust in God’s providential guidance, and to live out the ethical values of God’s kingdom in a world that often rejects its message. He concludes by highlighting the importance of Luke-Acts for the church in every generation, urging believers to find hope and encouragement in the story of God’s mighty acts of salvation and reconciliation.

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