Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus by Alan J. Thompson is one of many books in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series. It is the first book of this series that I have read, but have been told by many that it is a fantastic series of books. I chose this book to help me understand why the book of Acts was written in an effort to better prepare myself for the Acts course I will be taking in seminary.
It is fairly common to have the understanding that Acts is a book written to give account of what the formation of the church looked like, to lay a foundation for missionary work, and to see the initial work of the Holy Spirit. This was indeed my main understanding of Acts before I read this book. Thompson put forth much effort to look not only closely at the book of Acts, but to broaden the scope to take into account the importance of understanding Old Testament promises, prophesies, and mindsets, as well as Luke’s first writing to Theophilus in his Gospel.
Thompson’s goal with this book is to provide a framework for which to properly interpret the book of Acts. To this point, he states:
Luke is showing that the kingdom of God, inaugurated in the person of the Lord Jesus, is continuing to be administered through him. In this sense his book is about ‘the acts of the Lord Jesus’. The departure of the Lord Jesus does not mean the departure of the kingdom. In this period between the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’ of the kingdom he is continuing to reign from the right hand of the Father, as seen in the pouring out of the Spirit and the spread of the good news about him.
The topic of the kingdom of God is very prevalent in this book. Thompson says that Luke is “framing” the book of acts to be understood in the context of the kingdom of God and it’s redefined understanding. This, in particular, was very helpful for me. My understanding of the kingdom of God was very much enlightened from this book.
I did find myself struggling to clearly understand certain parts of this book. The reader of this book who is intimately familiar with the book of Acts will thrive from this reading much more than one who has only read through Acts a handful of times. Thompson does give plenty of references throughout though, so it may require the reader to have a Bible open and spend a lot of time reading references and chapters to better understand the points he is making.
Though this book isn’t light reading by any means and does require a higher level of mental effort to get through, I found that it was eye opening, and very much worth my time. Because of this book, Acts has become a far more interesting book of the Bible to me, and I look forward to further reading and study in Acts. I definitely recommend this book.