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Both Luke and Acts are addressed to Theophilus, whether understood as a real person or a literary device. In Luke, the purpose of the book is laid out in the introduction:

With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke 1:3-4 NIV (emphasis mine)

However, Acts, while beginning somewhat similar to Luke, does not lay out a purpose statement at the front: "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach..." The author simply transitions to his narrative (verse 4) mentioning one occasion.

This seems to somewhat leave us in the lurch as to why the author wrote this second book. What can be adduced as far as the author's purpose(s) in writing this book?

  • This is a review of a fascinating book "Paul on Trial" that answers that question by positing that it was a legal brief in defense of Paul: abev.wordpress.com/2005/01/16/… – user10231 Nov 4 '15 at 1:40
  • @WoundedEgo Thanks for your comment. I actually wrote my answer before I saw that reference! – elika kohen Feb 9 '16 at 1:48
  • Do you completely discard the option that the "Acts" (the author never used this word as a title) could simply be a second part of the book, the purpose of writing of which he had clearly stated in the first part, thus, having no need to restate it in the second part? – brilliant Mar 2 '16 at 15:54
  • Could Theophilus have been a Roman official and Luke was writing a defense for Paul in prison in Rome? That would explain why the book of Acts ends where it does. The Gospel defends Christianity and Acts defends the actions of Christians with Paul at the center. – Perry Webb Aug 28 '18 at 20:07
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+100

J. A. Alexander states the purpose of Acts in his commentary, as

a special history of the planting and extension of the church, both among Jews and Gentiles...1

This, obviously, is the traditional understanding of Acts and the Gospels, as history, and corresponds to the traditional understanding of Christianity itself by the Church as the work of God in history.

This historical purpose is the purpose we can actually draw out from the text in Acts, in contrast to modern source criticism which serves more an eisegetical function (reading modern sensibilities into the Biblical text). For traditional Christianity, there is no question that Acts is the historical account of the founding of the Christian Church. Literary criticism2 would further identify Acts as part of the greater "meta-narrative" that runs through both Testaments, namely, God's redemptive history.

To this I would add that, for the writer (whom I will also assume to have been Luke, the companion of Paul, as is traditional), this work was intended (as stated) to educate either a person named Theophilus or any "lover of God" as to the history of this Church.

Finally, I would posit that, just as Stephen made his apologia to the Jews, of which Paul was an eyewitness, and which the writer devotes no small portion of his work to relate, and as Paul later made his own defense to Festus, both using narrative history as its force and thrust, Luke himself set about to present his own apologia in this book and its prequel. Thus, Acts is history serving as apologetic, with the usual purpose to defend the movement as well as to defend the followers of Christ from their persecutors, and to inspire them with a reminder of the acts of God on their behalf.

According to the apologetic method of Cornelius Van Til, the Acts of the Apostles is "a method of defending Christianity that is consistent with the nature of Christianity."3 It is a "special history", a defense of The Faith.

K. Scott Oliphint and William Edgar argue in the introduction of their Christian Apologetics Past and Present that the Christian Church emerged in the milieu of a Jewish culture that was steeped in apologetics, due mainly to the Jewish exile which had taken place in the centuries leading up to the coming of Christ, and the Hellenisation of the Jews during that time. Thus, "The New Testament authors present quite a robust apologetics."

They demonstrate the pervasive apologetics present in the Gospels, Acts and the Epistles, and include in their Reader the entirety of Acts 17 as the classical apologetical example in the New Testament Scriptures.

Paul's speech given on Mars Hill is Athens also represents a model for Christian apologetics to a mixed audience (Acts 17:16--34).4

The conclusion of Acts is also clearly apologetic, as so many of its chapters. The concluding appeal to the Jews from the often quoted passage from Isaiah 6 makes this apologetic powerful, especially against the backdrop of the Jewish rejection of Christ, drawing on the Hellenism and Jewish culture and the Old Testament prophet, to appeal to all, including the Gentiles, to understand and accept the Gospel:

"For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them." [Acts 28:27]

Addendum (2/19/2016)

R.C. Sproul also affirms the Book of acts as "a kind of apology or apologia". He says,

"In the latter part of the first and the second century it was commonplace for Christian apologists to address their defenses of the Christian faith to the Emperor. The book of Acts is... a defense of the truth claims of the Christian faith, and along with that ... a very important defense of the authenticity of the apostolic authority and office of Paul, because Paul was not one of the original Twelve."5


1 Acts, p. xiii (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, orig. pub. 1857)

2 Sidney Greidanus, in Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermaneutical Method, Eerdmans, p. 241 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), states that this literary (or narrative) criticism of the 1980s has generally "eclipsed" source criticism, that the Churches have largely "abandoned the scrambled results of source criticism in favor of the final text".

3Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of The Faith, p. xv (Phillipsburg: Protestant and Reformed Publishing, 2008, orig. pub. 1955).

4Wm. Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint, eds., Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader, pp.11-12 and pp.22-24. (Wheaton IL: Crossway Books, 2009).

5R.C. Sproul, audio teaching in The Book of Acts, Lecture 1, "A Second Account" (Orlando: Ligonier, 2005, avail. at http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/book_of_acts/a-second-account/).

  • C. Kelly - I updated my answer to include a response to your argument about Acts as an "Apologetic" text. I agree that it is apologetic -- but not in defense of Christianity -- but in defense of preaching salvation to the Gentiles. I think if it was an apologetic work, (like other texts), it would have made a "case" from Scripture -- and responded to objections presented at the time. – elika kohen Feb 9 '16 at 15:27
  • @elikakohen - a worthy challenge. I'll respond to your argument on your post. For now, I intended "to defend the movement" to incorporate the various aspects of the church, including its universal truth for all nations. – C. Kelly Feb 9 '16 at 23:52
  • C. Kelly - (A.) Your answer seems to be: "the history of planting and the extension of the Church"; But, the arguments seem to support Acts as Apologetics; (B.) What reasoned arguments are documented in Acts in defense of Christianity? (Eye-witness accounts?) (C.) Are there other apologetic works framed this way? Romans and Hebrews are very different from Acts. (D.) Although the sermon on Mars hill is "formal"--only its introduction is recorded, (Acts 17:32), nothing specific about Jesus; Still, this is a sermon--not apologetic; and, shows acceptance by Gentiles. – elika kohen Feb 16 '16 at 22:39
  • Interesting premise. Although I'd argue that all approaches to the text bring bias, so Christian interpretation is just as eisegetical as applying source-critical methods, I found the answer interesting. +1 – Dan Mar 7 '16 at 1:58
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The first book begins:

Now many have undertaken to compile an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, like the accounts passed on to us by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning. So it seemed good to me as well, because I have followed all things carefully from the beginning, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know for certain the things you were taught. (Luke 1:1-4 NET)

Luke states the purpose: that Theophilus may know for certain the things he was taught. The Amplified Bible reads:

so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught [that is, the history and doctrine of the faith]. (Luke 1:4 AMP)

Those things are not enumerated; they are found only by reading the book. In the first book, Luke also places himself in the same position as Theophilus: he too had to learn these things. In other words, Luke was not an eye-witness but he is recording eyewitness testimony of others.

Luke also states he will write an “orderly” account. The word is καθεξῆς. Thayer’s lexicon states the meaning is "one after the other, successively, in order." (Thayers).

The second book begins:

I wrote the former account, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after he had given orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. To the same apostles also, after his suffering, he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:1-3 NET)

The opening of the second book seemingly leaves the reader with a question as to the purpose of the second book (if one compares the two). However, the opening makes it clear there was a previous book addressed to same individual. Thus, the opening of the second book connects it to the first and places it in order.

Luke has done exactly what he said he set out to do. He has written an καθεξῆς account, one after the other. Once the first book ends, the reader should expect Luke to continue, unless those things that Theophilus was taught ended with the final event in the first book. The opening of the second book makes it clear that is not the case. The second book follows the first; the purpose has not changed. Luke has simply divided those things into two books.

That does not fully explain the structure of what Luke wrote. If the purpose was the same why are those things divided into two parts?

In his first book Luke states he was not an eyewitness to the events. In his second book, it becomes clear he was present at some of the events: from Luke’s perspective there is an eye witness component to the second book which is not present in the first. This fact is not part of the opening statement (which is silent on the matter). It becomes evident only when the second account is read.

A fundamental difference between the two books is Luke’s status as an eye witness and participant to the events he describes. The earliest events Luke had to investigate, but the later events are different. Some of the later things Luke needed to investigate and others he knew from first-hand experience. The different opening to Acts preserves the purpose while encompassing the shift in prespective.

If Theophilus was a real person, then he was likely born during the period of time which Luke’s two books cover. Therefore, Theophilus (like Luke) would have some first-hand knowledge of some of the events and like Luke, his perspective with regard to those things is different than in the first book. In both books Luke is writing so that Theophilus will know the exact truth of what he was taught. The opening of the second book when compared to the first is purposely silent about the fact the Theophilus already knew the truth of some events before Luke wrote to him.

The opening to the second book is silent on both the reason and the manner in which Luke and Theophilus learned. Luke cannot accurately say Theophilus was taught all of those things in the second book. So the opening is a statement that connects it to the first, places it in the correct sequence, and continues the record. Therefore the purpose is the same; what changed was the manner Luke and Theophilus acquired the knowledge of the events in the second book.

Related to the question of purpose is the identity of Theophilus (meaing friend of God) (2321). Nothing is known of this person leading some to conclude it was a name used by Luke to mask the true identity. The title used in the opening of Luke (yet absent in Acts) is most excellent (κράτιστε). As this is used in Acts in reference to Felix (23:26 & 24:3) and Festus (26:25), some speculate Theophilus was a Roman official whose identity Luke sought to protect by using a common name Theophilus.

I believe both books were written to person named Theophilus. If that was not the case, then Luke opens his first book with something the intended recipient would recognize as deceptive (or outright dishonest). This seems contradictory to the stated purpose.

An important religious position during the development of the church was held by Theophilus ben Ananus who served as high priest from 37AD to 41AD. His son Matthias ben Theophilus served from 65AD-66AD (High Priests of Israel). Matthias was the last high priest legally chosen to serve before the rebellion; he was ousted by Phannias ben Samuel a leader of the revolution (Phannias).

If one accepts Acts as an historical document, which I believe it is, then the dates are consistent with a belief that the Theophilus of Luke and Acts was Theophilus ben Ananus the high priest. This is also in keeping with priestly and Temple focus found in Luke. It would mean the Theophilus would be knowledgeable of many of the events in Acts which occurred in Jerusalem, but might not know of those taking place in Greece or Asia.

  • 3
    Unfortunately, I don't think you answered the actual question - what was Luke's purpose for writing Acts. – ThaddeusB Nov 9 '15 at 16:12
  • Thanks for feedback. I have edited to make it clear the purpose of Acts is the same as Luke. – Revelation Lad Nov 10 '15 at 4:45
  • @RevelationLad I believe you attempted an answer, and offered a conclusion as to the 'why' of Theophilus. I think it's a start-but can you bring any conclusive proof as to whether or not Theophilus actually existed? Thanks. – Tau Feb 8 '16 at 1:41
  • @RevelationLad I don't agree that "Luke ... has written an καθεξῆς account, one after the other. Once the first book ends, the reader should expect Luke to continue ... " -- But in fact, Luke's account of Jesus ended. So therefore, Acts was not a continuation of Luke's Account of Jesus, and so did not share the same purpose, (other than document the rejection of Jesus by the Jews; but rather, Acts was a new account regarding the Apostles. – elika kohen Feb 8 '16 at 21:29
  • Thanks, @RevelationLad. I enjoyed your answer. But I don't understand your assertions about Theophilus' birth and first-hand knowledge. Where does this come from, and why is it relevant to your answer? – C. Kelly Feb 10 '16 at 0:00
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Outline: (1.) Question Restatement; (2.) Answer - A Defense to Preach to the Gentiles; (3.) Greek Definitions - Gentile, Account, And Theophilus; (4.) Argument Against - Is Acts an Apologetic Defense for Christianity? ;


1. Question Restatement:

What was the writer's purpose in writing the book of Acts?


2. Answer - A Defense to Preach to the Gentiles:

Fortunately, the purpose is Explicitly Stated -- In both Luke AND Acts:

Both "Accounts" end in the same exact way: that salvation was going to be preached to the Gentiles.

The Distinction between the two, is that in Acts: it is demonstrated how the Gentiles accepted the Gospel - though rejected by the Jews.

Both Luke and Acts are consistent in their conclusions -- The writer arguing:

  1. Based on all of the facts, and evidences presented, and witnessed --

    NASB, Luke 24:48 - You are witnesses of these things.

  2. That the conclusion must be sound, and is completely understandable:

    NASB, Acts 28:28 - THEREFORE let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.”

Note 2: As an earlier comment pointed out, a similar "legal document" argument can be found here, Wordpress Link.


3. Greek Definitions - Gentile, Account, And Theophilus:

3.1. Regarding - Gentile, (ἔθνος):

In the 28 chapters of Acts, Gentile / ἔθνος is used more than 30+ times, more than any other book, (32 Instances, NASB, Greek Instances).

In Comparison: Gentile appears in "Romans" just 19 times.


3.2. Regarding - Theophilus, (Θεόφιλε):

Contemporarily with the earliest manuscripts of Acts, (Link to Acts Manuscript Dating) -- there is historical evidence that establishes that the "Theophoric" name, Theophilus was used as an honorific for a King or Emperor, (Julian the Emperor, Oration II, and Eusebius in reference to Constantine, Eusebius History of the Church Book X, 8:16), perhaps a High Priest, (Joseph. AJ 19.297 ), or even an Advocate.

Regardless of who "Theophilus" was - because it is used in the context of a Legal Argument, then: - it is reasonable to infer that Acts was written in support of some defense - to a person with authority.

Hyperides speech 1: Will you please come up, Theophilus, and say what you can in my defence? The jury ask you to do so.

Moreover, this person was probably a "higher rank" than either Festus or Agrippa -- because those "hearings" had already occurred:

NASB, Acts 25:22 - Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he *said, “you shall hear him.”


3.3. Regarding - Account, (λόγον):

This word also carries with it a "Legal Connotation" - a "Legal Declaration or Statement".

NASB, Acts 1:1 - The first account [Testimony, λόγον] I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.

NASB, Acts 2:40: other words (λόγοις) he solemnly testified

Acts, and the Previous Document -- were "Legal Declarations, (λόγον)" -- of what was witnessed. This term is used -- all throughout Scripture -- in legal contexts.

NASB, Luke 24:48 - You are witnesses of these things.


4. Argument Against - Is Acts an Apologetic Defense for Christianity? :

Acts is certainly a "Formal Argument" - evident by its "Therefore" conclusion - with each narrative being told as "evidence" in support of its conclusion.

The entire book "Exhibits Evidence" - over and over again - in Support of its conclusion - that the Salvation of God should be preached to the Gentiles.


4.1. Three Findings in Support of its Conclusion:

The book of Acts contains three sub-arguments, seen throughout the text, to support its conclusion:

  1. That both Peter and Paul's defenses - for the Jews - were ultimately rejected - that the promise of God remained for the Jews - despite having crucified the Messiah - (By Peter in Acts 2, 4, 5, etc; By Paul in Act 13);
  2. "The Messiahship" of Jesus was not-debated, (in the text) - but rather presented as an incontestable, self-evident fact, his miracles, crucifixion, etc., -- Peter reminding them that they were all witnesses themselves, (Acts 2, etc).
  3. The Acceptance of Jesus, as the Messiah, by the Gentiles.

Incredibly - Acts documents that the Jews repudiated the promise -- but not who Jesus was claimed to be :


4.2. Peter's Defense of the Jews, and the Promise:

Peter makes a defense for God's love, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Jews - even upon the same ones who had knowingly rejected the Messiah -

NASB, Acts 2:38 - Peter said to them, “Repent ... For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.

NASB, Acts 3:17 - “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. 18 But the things which God announced beforehand ... that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.

Also In: Acts 4, Acts 5:31, etc. The promise of Salvation remains - despite their rejection - and continued rejection.


4.3. Paul's Defense for the Jews, Rejected:

NASB, Acts 13:46 - “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.

NASB, Acts 13:47 - For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, that You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’”


4.4. In Acts, Only a Limited Defense of Jesus as the Messiah:

A Scriptural defense, any supporting Evidence, are very limited - arguably: blatant - intentional - omissions, in both Luke and Acts:

NASB, Acts 9:22 - But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. [ ... ???]

Luke 24:44 - Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” [... ???]

Luke 24:45-47 - Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures [???], 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.


4.5. Stephen's Sermon - Not a defense, An Accusation:

In Acts 7, Stephen Raises an Accusation, Rather than a Defense :

He began by testifying how the Jews systematically rejected "judges" appointed over them -- and concludes testifying about the Jews' consistent rejection of the Messiah, even the prophets that foretold of him:

NASB, Acts 7:51 - “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. 52 Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?

Note: See Polemics vs. Apologetics.

  • I don't think you've established your 3rd point well. For one, the double negative is confusing: "then these cornerstone arguments would not have been unsupported" Since you're arguing Luke is NOT interested in defending Christianity as a whole, how do you account for the enormous sections of dialog of Peter, Stephen and Paul which are defending Christianity? Yes, there are incidents where the defense of the preaching to Gentiles is made [esp. chs. 10,11]. But how do these negate the defense of the Gospel that is being preached as the larger purpose? – C. Kelly Feb 9 '16 at 23:38
  • @C.Kelly Thanks for the helpful comments--I tried to clarify; (A.) Although the text clearly indicates Peter, Paul, and Stephen defended their faith -- in person -- their actual arguments are only summarily represented, (Acts 9:22). (B.) Instead, they either defended the Jews -- persuading them that the Promise of God applied to them--despite what they did--or, accused the Jews instead, (polemics, rather than apologetics); (C.) The text itself qualifies "preaching"--to the gentiles--in the same argument for turning away from the Jews, (Act 13:46). – elika kohen Feb 10 '16 at 2:58
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Uta Ranke-Heinemann says, in Putting Away Childish Things, page 167, the whole book is a work of propaganda aimed at Gentile Christians and Gentiles who have not yet become Christians. I believe this is too broad a statement to be of use to us here. Burton L. Mack comes closer when he says, in Who Wrote the New Testament, page 226, Acts of the Apostles marks the shift in focus for second century mythmaking, away from Jesus and towards the apostles. Fascination with the apostles produced stories written about them and literature purportedly written by them.

Scholars have long noticed irreconcilable differences between Paul’s epistles and corresponding accounts in Acts of the Apostles. John Dominic Crossan says, in The Birth of Christianity, page 21, that Acts of the Apostles is theology rather than history. I believe that recognising this fact is key to moving forward and establishing why the anonymous author wrote Acts. The book was not written for the enlightenment of "Theophilus", nor intended as a historical record for the benefit of future generations, so what was the theology that the author was keen to expound, and what was its impact on the early Church?

Acts of the Apostles was written after the gospel now known as Luke's Gospel, which in turn is considered by almost all critical scholars to have been based on Mark's Gospel, written approximately 70 CE. (Adam Winn says (The Purpose of Mark's Gospel (2008) that in the first eight years of this century, at least eight significant critical commentaries on Mark’s Gospel have been published; all eight assume Markan priority as a starting point.) This pushes the date of Acts forward to around the end of the first century or even early in the second century. Evidence that appears to point to borrowing from the works of Josephus tend to confirm a quite late date for Acts.

Peter as the more worthy apostle

By say the end of the first century, Christianity must have been developing and spreading for around seventy years. Paul had been dead for around forty years and his fame and legacy were growing. I believe that Luke was concerned with what he saw as excessive veneration of Paul and the theology he espoused. He did not want to destroy Paul's reputation, merely reduce his influence and the veneration in which he was held. In Acts, Paul is constantly but subtly compared to the apostle Peter, who always seems the more worthy apostle.

Paul, in his epistles, tells us that he initiated the mission to the Gentiles, saying in Romans 15:16, "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost." On the other hand Acts of the Apostles gives full credit to Peter for initiating the decision to preach to the Gentiles. Chapters 10-11 tell of Peter realising he was called to preach to Jews and Gentiles alike, and how he baptised the centurion Cornelius and many others.

In the epistles, Paul faced many challenges to his authority, yet he never performs miracles to persuade or repel his opponents, nor even describes those miracles that appear in Acts when to write about them would have enhanced his authority. Acts of the Apostles does indeed attribute miracles to Paul, but each miracle Paul performs is matched by an even greater miracle performed by Saint Peter. As just one example, for both men the first miracle was to heal a man lame since birth. Acts chapter 3 tells how Peter, in the name of Jesus, healed a lame man at the Temple, where the faithful saw the healed beggar praising God, and was the opportunity for some outstanding proselytising. Paul’s first cure (Acts 14:8-12) was clumsy and without apparent purpose, given that Paul did not tell the man about Jesus and he was even mistaken for a pagan god.

Conclusion

The first conclusion to be drawn is that Acts of the Apostles was not written for the enlightenment of Theophilus. As the question recognises, it is unclear whether Theophilus should be understood as a real person or a literary device. Many scholars regard Acts as theology rather than history, so it seems unlikely to have been written as a historical account. That means we have to look inside the text to discover what the author's real intent might have been.

An important reason, although certainly not the only one, for writing Acts seems to have been to portray Peter as a more worthy disciple than Paul. I believe this was not so much a political statement as an attempt to control what the author believed was the excessive veneration of Paul.

  • I rarely DV, if I see that a logical conclusion(whether I agree with it or not) can be drawn. I find most of your answer is more about skepticism and less about the OP's question: whether or not "Theophilus" is an actual person or a rhetorical device. Your response addresses a different question(IMO) than what the OP is asking. – Tau Feb 8 '16 at 1:35
  • @Tau Thank you for your comment. Whenever I receive helpful comments I try to use them to improve my answer, as I hope I have done in this case. First, I note that the question, as I read it, is not about whether Theophilus was a real person. I think the question only raises this for context. I have stuck to the question in the title and in the final statement of question: "What can be adduced as far as the author's purpose(s) in writing this book?" However, your comments have prompted me to draw my hermeneutics together into a logical conclusion, which I think you felt was absent. – Dick Harfield Feb 8 '16 at 3:07
  • I upvoted -- could not stand to see such a nice answer with a negative sign :) obviously the answer is unsettling to some but you did directly answer, just some dont appreciate this approach. – JimLohse Feb 8 '16 at 3:23
  • @Tau would be interesting to know what question you think Dick is answering if not the OPs? "whether or not "Theophilus" is an actual person or a rhetorical device." Given the two false choices, seems clear he is saying the latter. And Dick you have two downvotes, I upvoted, surprising because based on my education here and read of the rules, you are doing a perfect job of using a hermeneutical approach correctly -- just one people may not like. – JimLohse Feb 9 '16 at 3:46
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    @JimLohse Don't worry - this does not bother me. I can either write correct answers or 'theologically correct' answers (as in 'politically correct') and I choose to write what I believe to be correct answers, knowing that this will get me a very high rate of DVs. The important thing is that people who are interested in the application of hermeneutic principles may learn from me (assuming they are not put off by the DV). – Dick Harfield Feb 9 '16 at 4:44

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