By The Very Reverend Sam Candler
“In the first book, O Theophilus,…” The first book was the Gospel of Luke. It is broadly understood that the person who wrote the Gospel of Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Both books are addressed to “Theophilus,” whichmeans, literally, “God-lover.” Perhaps Luke-Acts is addressed to any of us who want to love God.
We have four different gospels, but only Luke tries to write about what happened immediately after the life and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus lived and taught and died and was resurrected. So what? In the Book of Acts, Luke provides a model of how disciples might act after the time of Jesus.
It is Acts 1:8 which provides the entire title, the entire purpose, of the book: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After the Spirit falls upon the disciples in Acts 2, that route is exactly the route of the Book of Acts. The book historically describes power starting in Jerusalem, then to the neighboring regions, and finally the book ends with Saint Paul in Rome – a long way away.
Saint Paul was not there at Acts, chapter one, even though much of the book will describe him. In the same way, we were not there at Acts, chapter one, either. But we are meant to be no less disciples than Paul or the others. Yes, we are meant to be the “Theophilus,” the “lover of God” who takes a place among the disciples. We, today, are meant to be numbered with the disciples. Wait for power. Then, be witnesses to Jesus to furthest reaches of the world.
What does it mean to love God? Are we “Theophilus?”
What power do you need today in order to witness to the loving power of Jesus Christ?
Lord Jesus Christ, we wait for power. Send us your Holy Spirit of power and direct us into the world in your name. AMEN.
The Very Reverend Sam Candler is Dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, Georgia