The undercurrent of the Acts of the Apostles is an uneasy one, to say the least. After the murder of their revolutionary leader, it was thought that Jesus’s disciples would disperse and his teachings dissipate. But, in fact, the exact opposite occurred. Jesus’s message of forgiveness spread like wildfire throughout the known world. The world was subsequently “turned upside down” by the apostles’ doctrine.
When one refers to the “Synoptic Problem,” one is endeavoring to address a fundamental question in Scriptural textual criticism: “What is the best explanation for the textual similarities and differences between Matthew, Mark, and Luke?” (Baum, 911) How one determines a solution to this supposed problem discloses the source of one’s faith.
In John’s Gospel, one can find perhaps the most oft-quoted and debated scene in all of Christendom, that being the twilight conversation between Jesus himself and Nicodemus, the Pharisee. Nicodemus solicits the Savior at dusk, certainly betraying his consternation in engaging this Galilean carpenter turned miracle worker.
Integral to one’s understanding the book of Acts is a working knowledge of Luke’s intent in the account of his Gospel. In the preface to his Gospel, Luke writes that he is desirous that one named Theophilus might “know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.” (Luke 1:3–4) The rest of the Lukan account revolves around this premise.
Of the Gospels, it could be asserted that the Johannine version is that which is most replete with cruciform language. Though each Gospel makes its own “turn” towards Jerusalem and, therefore, towards the cross, John’s narrative is uniquely concerned with the Son of Man’s accomplishments on Golgotha’s tree.
One of the more intriguing sayings of Jesus which is recorded in each of the Synoptic Gospels is his comparison of the disciples of God to the “salt of the earth.” Found in Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:49–50; and Luke 14:34–35, one can read a similarly repeated axiom of the Lord Jesus. Yet, when one considers the contextual surroundings in each instance, a different hue is cast upon this illustrious saying.
As long as man has existed there has persisted the crusade to invalidate the divine. Mankind’s insipid mission to discredit and detach himself from accountability to a higher authority manifests itself in a number of sociological and philosophical ventures, but one avenue that is continually trod by the detractors is that of canonicity.
Fundamental to the gospel itself is an understanding of its inexorable testament to a literal devil figure, whose might and minions are at once thwarted in their mission to subvert God’s reclamation of creation by the Son of God’s triumph over death. Evidence throughout the Gospels affirm the real activity and tangible presence of Satan and demons, with Jesus trouncing their operation at every turn.