I’m always a little disappointed when I finish reading the fast-paced, Spirit-driven book of Acts. In one way it’s like reading a great novel – you get to the end, but then wish you had never read it so you can read it again for the first time. But I’m also disappointed that the Bible does not record what happens next. I’d like to know what would have been written in Acts 29. And 30. And 31!
I’d love to know…
- What did Paul say (preach!) to Caesar when his case was finally heard at the highest levels of Rome’s courts?
- Was Paul able to return to any of the churches he planted or visited during his prior journeys?
- Did Paul ever make it to Spain as he hoped and planned?
- And where did the other apostles end up all going? Did Peter meet up with Paul in Rome and eventually become the bishop there as Catholics believe? How far did Andrew make it – Romania? Ukraine? Russia, even? Were Matthew and Bartholomew ever in Africa? Did Thomas really go all the way to India as tradition suggests?
Perhaps Luke concludes Acts where he does because he’s actually writing the events recorded in the final chapter as they are happening; he doesn’t know what’s coming next because it hasn’t happened yet!
On the other hand, maybe Luke wrote Acts years later, knowing what happened next, but intentionally ending his account at chapter 28. He may have carefully chosen his conclusion, highlighting how Paul “proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance!” In other words, “the Gospel of God’s kingly rule [is] irrepressibly surging ahead without let-up or hindrance in spite of human opposition or nature’s storms” (David Gooding, True to the Faith, p. 376). With these words, Luke helps us realize how Paul’s work has gone on through the centuries with others picking up where he left off. Indeed, in ending Acts this way, Luke inspires us to see ourselves as continuing the story of Jesus’ mission to the ends of the earth!
Closing pages of William H. Willimon’s commentary on Acts