Luke begins his Gospel with a report of the past, as to what started this movement that he is a part of, referring to eyewitnesses of what had taken place; so as a careful historian he sets out his account of what took place in ‘an orderly fashion’ (Lk. 1:1-3). In Acts he bridges into his second volume, placing the Gospel he had written as a record of all that Jesus began to do and to teach, covering right up to the Ascension – and it seems clear that Luke wants Theophilus (and us) to understand that if that was what he began that Jesus is still doing and teaching. The mode of doing and teaching has changed, no longer in an Incarnated singular body but in and through a corporate body. (There might be no significance in the ‘doing’ coming before the ‘teaching’ in the description but what remains significant is that ‘doing’ is as essential as the teaching.)
Then we come to Acts 28, and an unfinished story. There are parallels between the life of Jesus and the life of Paul. Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem, for without the a) separation of religion from b) Imperial power there can be no freedom, hence ‘no prophet can die outside of Jerusalem’ (Lk. 13:33); Paul sets his face toward Rome and Caesar as the implication of the death of Jesus in Jerusalem is the transformation of the oikoumene (the civilised world of Rome’s rule). Paul knows that there is no longer any need for death to be in Jerusalem – that work is over. Paul dies in Rome – but this is not recorded for Paul’s death alone is not that which will transform the world. [There are other parallels such as the use of the law and the prophets to teach on the kingdom of God (Lk. 24:44-47; Acts 1:3 – parallel with the teaching of Paul in Acts 28:23.]
And finally to the last word in Acts 28. It is often said that we are in Acts 29 and this seems to be implied with the unfinished nature of the book. It ends with one word, pregnant with meaning:
The only time it occurs in Scripture, and is the opposite of the verb ‘to prevent’. A good translation would be ‘unhindered’ or if we want to go a little stronger maybe ‘un-preventable’. A good word to end an unfinished work:
proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance (Acts 28:31).
An orderly account… volume 1… a continuation in volume 2 as something was released from Jerusalem that has to continue but in a global setting… and a good final word as we live in what was unlocked in Rome. In the heart of the Empire (basileia) was released the doing and teaching about the kingdom (basileia) of God. From that place there is a continuance – no hindrances; all systems that would seek to prevent it – gone!
Now either we come to volume 3, or the continuance of volume 2. Either way doing the works of the kingdom and teaching the values and ways of the kingdom continue (and it is hard not to understand that this kingdom is an alternative way of society being shaped… we cannot really reduce it something internal).
In these days of collapse be encouraged. There is an akōlutōs around us.
One thought on “Last words”
After reading today’s blog,I’ve spent the best part of the evening looking at verses regarding hindrances.It didn’t make the most encouraging of reads! I recognise that they’re to guide us and keep us alert,but the final sentence in Acts brought such a sense of hope and purpose.I hope this is where I will keep looking when it would be easier to fall back on seeing only hindrances.They come and they will real but will not be the end of the story.