As a student of Scripture begins to go deeper into the realm of Bible study he will begin to ask or be asked the most frustrating questions. Such as, who wrote this specific book, to whom was it written and when specifically was it written? If we are not careful we will look at these questions as pure trivia without truly understanding the value of their answers. Though it is true that the Scriptures are eternal (Psalm 119:89) and the truest author is the Holy Spirit (II Timothy 3:16), the date of the penning and the human penman are extremely important to a proper understanding of any book of the Bible. For our purposes we will use the book of Acts as an example:
The Date of a Book
It is believed that the Acts was completed and distributed among the churches at or around A.D. 63. The book of Acts ends abruptly with Paul in prison in the city of Rome. No conclusion is given to his life and ministry it is believed because at the time of circulation he was still awaiting sentencing in Rome. At this point in history Nero had not yet turned on the Christians as he would do in A.D. 64. There have been some modern theologians who question whether or not Luke could have written Luke 21:20 that speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem prior to the actual event which would take place in A.D. 70 but for those who believe in prophesy this matter is quickly answered.
When a student of Scripture is able to “date” a specific writing he is able to more appreciate the prophesies found in that book. He is also more likely to develop more than just a Systematic Theology but also a Biblical Theology that allows him to understand what those Christians actually had within their churches at any specific moment in history.
The Author of a Book
Though never clearly stated, Luke has been long believed to be the human author of both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. The internal evidence is taken from the so called “we passages” where Luke transitions from third-person narrative (they did this, they did that), to a first-person narration (we did this, we did that). When closely looking at chapters 16, 20, 21, and 27 you will see these passages corresponding with the arrival or absence of Paul’s physician, Luke. So why does this matter?
A student of Scripture is now able to trust the authority of the writing because we see that this was often an eye-witness account and where it is not it has been written by someone who has first-person experience with those who were actually there. This makes the books of Luke and Acts that much more authoritative.
The Historical Reliability of a Book
When any given book of the Bible is scrutinized for historical accuracy it comes away shining as the sun. If Acts is a historical narrative then is should line up with the historical record. Any believing Christian will not be surprised to know that it does this flawlessly. For example, scholars examined the nautical terminology found in chapter 27 and found them to extremely accurate for the Mediterranean Sea at that time. Roman officials, the mention of Theudas, the speeches of Acts and local history all point to the reliability of this book.
Isaiah 1:18 says, Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
It is true that we need to come to Christ by faith and no amount of reason, logical conclusions and rational argument will convince someone who doesn’t want to believe. However, for the believer it is extremely comforting to know that we have a faith that is built upon such solid historical accuracies.