How does Luke use the journey motif in the Acts of the Apostles? Why does Barr say of the Acts of the Apostles ‘The end is in the beginning?’
The journey is a constant theme in Luke’s book So much so that it could almost be described as a travelogue. Everybody is on the move. Acts 10 v 9 ‘As they were on their journey, 17 v 1 ‘when they had passed through Amphipolis, 17 v 10 ‘ the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas. It begins of course with Christ’s journey to heaven – the Ascension – Chap. 1v 9
Not all journeys are primarily concerned with traveling over land. There are spiritual journeys too. The disciples for instance start off hidden away in one room and eventually spread themselves throughout Israel, Asia Minor and into Europe. But they grow spiritually along the way – filled with the Holy Spirit – Chapter 2 they gain courage, power and new skills. Compare for instance the way Peter is able to stand up in Jerusalem and address the crowd, where only weeks before he had hidden in a corner, afraid to speak.- Acts 2 verse 14 ff.
The disciples and the early church members also took a journey of discovery as they found out that the church wasn’t just for Jews, but for all who believed. We have Peter and Cornelius for instance – Chapter 10 – Cornelius was a Roman soldier. While in Joppa Peter had a vision which helped him to realize the old laws were no longer compulsory. – Acts 10 v 9-16
In the story of Paul’s conversion we have a journey from the most formal of Judaism
to total freedom in Christ – Acts 28 v 30 Paul ‘welcomed all who came to him, preaching the
kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered.
Luke’s closing words sum up all that had happened in the few years that the book spans. Paul, a prisoner in Rome says ‘Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles. They will listen.’ Acts 28 v 28 Link this back to Christ’s last words on earth ‘You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth’ Acts 1 v 8 And so we see that in this book the end is in the beginning. And if we take it that Acts is merely a continuation of Luke’s gospel then it is doubly so – Luke 1 v33 speaking of the Messiah ‘of his kingdom there shall be no end.’
Eyre and Spottiswood, (1965)Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan