We said on Tuesday we said that Luke most likely wrote Acts around A.D. 62-64, while Paul was under house arrest in Rome or shortly thereafter so it is possible that Acts was written from Rome. The book’s apparent interest in Ephesus, as well as Paul’s known involvement there, lead some to theorize Luke wrote from there. Rome is probably the most likely possibility, but there is simply not enough evidence to definitively identify the book’s provenance.
As for Acts’ original audience, both Luke’s gospel and Acts identify Theophilus as the one to whom Luke wrote his accounts (Lk. 1:3; Acts 1:1). He would appear to have been the wealthy patron, recently converted to Christianity, who commissioned Luke to investigate the veracity of what his new faith taught. Since his name is Greek and means “lover of God,” it is possible he was a God-fearing Gentile who was persuaded that Christianity was the fulfillment of Judaism and was seeking assurance. It has been theorized that Theophilus, like Luke, was from Antioch, but there is no way to know for sure. From the book’s content, however, it is not a stretch to say that Luke intended his work to be read by a wider audience, and that he was particularly interested in a church (Rome? Antioch?) or churches made up of both Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.
The early church tended to interpret “Theophilus” as a generic term, indicating that Luke was writing to all believers—all lovers of God—and the book’s universal application has never seriously been in doubt. Wherever Luke wrote from and whomever he wrote to, Acts is a book with lasting relevance and value.
Other Posts in the Series:
References & Further Reading:
Carson, D. A. & Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.
Lea, Thomas D. & David Alan Black. The New Testament: Its Background and Message. 2nd Edition. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003.
Polhill, John B. Acts. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992.