The last verses of Luke's record in Acts appear to end the book very suddenly and unexpectedly. Does anyone have any information about whether there might be more to the book that is now lost? Or perhaps there is a good reason that it ends suddenly - was he about to add another section?
The book of acts reads like a church report of progress at various stages beginning with Jesus sending out the disciples until the Gospel reached Rome. Each section concludes with a summary of the progress of the Gospel that naturally divides the book into six sections. The list below summarizes this.
Section 1: Acts 1:1 - 6:7. Gospel preached in Jerusalem.
- Acts 6:7 - So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
Section 2: Acts 6:8 - 9:31. Gospel spreads from Jerusalem to Samaria
- Acts 9:31 - Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
Section 3: Acts 9:32 - 12:24. Gospel spreads to Antioch and first Gentile convert - Cornelius
- Acts 12:24 - But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.
Section 4: Acts 12:25 - 16:5. Gospel spreads to Asia Minor incl. Galatia
- Acts 16:5 - So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Section 5: Acts 16:6 - 19:20. Gospel spreads to Europe
- Acts 19:20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Section 6: Acts 19:21 - 28:31. Gospel spreads to Rome
- Acts 28:31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ--with all boldness and without hindrance!
Viewed like this, each of the six sections of Acts ends suddenly. So perhaps Luke intended to write more sections like these. However, the work of spreading the Gospel is still not complete and every generation in every country since, adds another section or two.
It is possible that this is the impression that Luke intended - that the work of the Gospel is never finished?
As to whether there was more that Luke wrote, we will never know.
His first book ends with:
Luke 24:53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
His second book ends with:
Acts 28:30-31 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
As can be easily seen, they end in the same manner.
According to early church documents (for instance, 1 Clement 5) Paul was martyred in Rome (slight extrapolation from what Clement says, but congruent with other tradition). It's possible that by the time Luke was written, everybody knew that, and Luke didn't feel the need to narrate it. He's able to end the book on an up-note rather than with a martyrdom. (And, as a matter of storytelling, you can imagine how much space it would take to communicate the details. And everyone knows the outcome already.)
Just thinking about examples in contemporary storytelling, the movies Patton and Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story imply rather than show the death of the main characters. (Lincoln almost does the same thing.)