What would be the purpose of the Gospel accounts if Acts was never written?
It is absolutely incredible how Luke wrote the Gospel according to Luke and wrote the book of Acts in such a way that he doesn’t miss a beat starting at Zacharias and Elisabeth then ending with Paul in Rome. I mean going from the birth of John the Immerser and Jesus Christ all the way through the start of Christendom and then ending with Paul, “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” (Acts 28:31) Paul made a statement in Colossians 1:23 about the Gospel being “preached to every creature which is under heaven.” This statement is realized in Acts.
Luke is writing to Theophilus in such a manner that it would be foolish for even the most doubtful reader to question the most important things that had happened over the last sixty-five years. The importance is not put on Theophilus (lover of God), but on the absolute fact of reasoning, the writings of Luke. “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke 1:1-4)
Luke even went on and wrote of things spoken by Christ to assure His disciples that He was the Messiah. “Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27) Luke’s writings to Theophilus are very similar to the speech used by Christ in expounding the revealed truth to His disciples, “And He said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,” (Luke 24:44-45)
Jumping ahead to the book of Acts, notice what Luke wrote, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” (Acts 1:1-4) Here, Luke is summing up his Gospel account of Christ. Notice, he has written earlier of all the things that Jesus began both to do and teach. Luke was not an apostle, yet he was as “informed” as any of them. So he wrote this information to others as he was inspired.
The writings in Luke 24:46-49 match up with the writings in Acts 1:3-8. There is not enough space here to give great detail, but this is the great commission in the account of Luke which is repeated and fulfilled in Acts. The fulfilling brings forth the Church (Acts 2) where the Holy Spirit is introduced in person to the Apostles and those in Jerusalem, “Until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
After the resurrection of the Christ, the apostles were told that He must ascend to the Father. His earthly ministry was finished. Luke closes out his Gospel account with Christ leaving the apostles and they, “returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” (Luke 24:50-53) This is the end of the Gospel account of Luke. But guess what? After a very short introduction in the book of Acts, Luke picks right back up where he left off. Just to make sure his writings correlate, he goes right back to the ascension, giving more detail and letting Theophilus know that the apostles came back to Jerusalem where they all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. (Acts 1:9-15)
It is very useful and productive that the writings of Luke (the Gospel account of Luke and Acts) can be read back to back and the reader can have sufficient understanding of the life and death of Christ and His resurrection and ascension. Continuing in the book of Acts the reader can put many things together and can reason through the scriptures, understanding the birth of the church and having confidence in Matthew 16:17-19. One can read of the one true church where Christ reigns as King. In Acts there is no mention of Baptists, Catholics or any other denomination. Period! There are only Christians. (Acts 11:26; 26:28) There is only one plan of salvation. In Acts there are many examples of people becoming Christians.
Luke lets it be known that Christ was seen of the apostles for forty days and in that time He spoke to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Even before His ascension He was preparing the apostles to speak to men. He did not leave them ill-prepared. Writing to Theophilus, who only knew hearsay and did not have first-hand knowledge, Luke was able to confidently and assuredly write the things necessary for belief and, “That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke 1:4) Theophilus had this assurance, so can we!