Criswell Theological Review 5.1 (1990) 93-97.

          Copyright © 1990 by The Criswell CollegeCited with permission.    




                      COMMENTING ON




                                       GERALD COWEN

                           Criswell College, Dallas, TX 75246



In preparation for a thorough study of the Book of Acts, it is worth-

while to take stock of the resources available. For a book which is as

pivotal as Acts to our practice of NT Christianity, it is deplorable that

there are so few really exceptional commentaries available. Hopefully,

this situation is beginning to improve. There are two new books which

have just been completed on Acts. The first, by J. Stott (InterVarsity,

1990) is already available. It is written primarily in narrative form and

deals with the material by paragraph rather than verse by verse. The

second, which will be out in December, is by S. Kistemaker in the New

Testament Commentary (Baker, 1990). We look forward to this one

because of the thorough approach and careful scholarship. E. Ellis calls

it a "’meat and potatoes’ book with solid exposition."

            Perhaps the best two commentaries available on Acts are those by

F. F.Bruce (Eerdmans, 1954) and I. H. Marshall (Tyndale, 1980).

Bruce in fact, has two commentaries on Acts: one for the student of

Greek and one for the English reader (NIC). The NIC volume is now

available in a newly revised edition (Eerdmans, 1989). This work is

valuable not only because of its solid exposition and theological insight,

but because of its attention to historical details which are helpful to the

            Similarly, Marshall's commentary is helpful for the same reasons.

is part of the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series and

E. M. Blaiklock's work in that series, which was too brief to

justice to a lengthy book such as Acts.

            Other current works which are worthy of note include E. F.

Harrison (Acts: The Expanding Church). This work has an especially

good introduction to Acts which would be appropriate for an inter-

mediate student of this subject. This commentary, however, deals with




the material by paragraphs, and lacks something in detail as a result. If

one desires a more in-depth treatment of Acts, another good work is

that by R. N. Longenecker, in the Expositor's Bible Commentary

(Zondervan, 1981). Longenecker uses a verse by verse approach and

stops to discuss the theological interpretations of controversial passages

such as Acts 2:38. Also included in each section and set apart for easy

reference are notes on the Greek text.

            Older works which one should obtain if the opportunity arises

include R. B. Rackham, The Acts of the Apostles (Baker, 1978; reprint

of the 1901 edition). This is considered by many to be a classic on Acts,

and was called by W. Smith the greatest of all the commentaries on

Acts (in Profitable Bible Study). This work includes an extensive intro-

duction, including articles on the theology of Acts, and a verse by verse

commentary. Another classic work on Acts is the five volume study by

F. J. Foakes-Jackson and K. Lake, The Beginnings of Christianity

(Baker, 1979 repr). This may include more than many want to know

about the subject; for instance, volumes 1 and 2 deal only with pro-

legomena such as background studies and critical matters, and volume

3 deals only with the problem of the text of Acts. Volume 4 contains a

full commentary, and the final volume has additional notes and studies

relating to the interpretation of Acts, such as roman law, chronology,

and titles of Jesus.

            If one is looking for a homiletical work on Acts, the best one

available is W. H. Griffith Thomas' Outline Studies in Acts (Eerdmans,

1956). This volume contains 133 outlines with brief comments on the

text interspersed. A brief commentary for Sunday school teachers or

other such use is Acts, in The Bible Study Commentary, by C. Vaughan.

Although it is concise, Vaughan gets right to the point and has many

insightful observations.

            When it comes to works that comment on the Greek text, it is hard

to improve on the older works by R. J. Knowling (Expositor's Greek

Testament) and A. T. Robertson, who has an entire volume devoted to

Acts in his Word Pictures in the Greek New Testament. A more recent

work of this type is that of F. F. Bruce (The Acts of the Apostles, 1951).

Do not confuse this volume with the commentary on the English text in

the NIC.

            One other category which should be included are works dealing

primarily with critical issues. While there are many works which deal

with critical issues, there is one which definitely deserves attention. It is

the work by W. Gasque (A History of the Criticism of the Acts of the

Apostles). This work is a valuable contribution on the history of inter-

pretation. It focuses primarily on the 19th and 20th centuries, and

provides information on the scholars involved as well as the material

discussed in the Book of Acts.




            While none of us need consult all of the works mentioned in order

to prepare to teach Acts, it is hoped that this will help guide one to the

books that will be most beneficial. Acts is a pivotal work which relates

to us the early days of the church, and its development and spread

throughout the Roman Empire. Let us ask God to give us the faith and

zeal that those early believers had, and give us insight into ways we can

apply the same principles they used to spread the faith of Jesus the

Christ to all the world.


                                    SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY


Alexander, A. J. Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. Scribner, Arm-

            strong & Company, 1875.

Arnot, W. Studies in Acts. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978, reprint of 1833 edition.

Barclay, W. The Acts of the Apostles. The Daily Study Bible. Edinburgh: Saint

            Andrew, 1953.

Barrett, C. K. Luke the Historian in Recent Study. London: Epworth, 1961.

Bartlett, J. V. The Acts. The Century Bible, ed. W. F. Adeney. London:

            Claxton, n.d.

Blaiklock, E. M. The Acts of the Apostles. Tyndale New Testament Commen-

            tary. .Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963.

_______. Cities of the New Testament. Westwood, NJ: Revell, 1965.

Bruce, F. F. Commentary on The Book of The Acts. New International

            Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954.

________. The Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951.

Burton, E. D. The Records and Letters of the Apostolic Age. New York:

            Scribner's Sons, 1895.

Cadbury, H. J. The Making of Luke-Acts. New York: Macmillan, 1927.

Calvin, J. The Acts of the Apostles. Calvin's New Testament Commentary,

            2 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973.

Carter, C. W. and R. Earle. Acts. London: Oliphants, 1959.

Carver, W. O. The Acts of the Apostles. Nashville: Broadman, 1916.

Criswell, W. A. Acts: An Exposition. 2 vols. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.

Cullmann, O. The Early Church. London: SCM, 1956.

Dibelius, M. Studies in the Acts of the Apostles. London: SCM, 1951.

Easton, B. S. Early Christianity. S.P .C.K., 1955.

Eddleman, H. L. An Exegetical and Practical Commentary on Acts. Dallas,

            TX: Books of Life, 1974.

Filson, F. V. Three Crucial Decades: Studies in the Book of Acts. Richmond:

            John Knox, 1963.

Findlay, J. A. The Acts of the Apostles. London: Student Christian Movement,


Foakes-Jackson, F. J. and K. Lake. The Beginnings of Christianity, 5 vols.

            Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979.

Foakes- Jackson, F. J. The Acts of the Apostles. London: Hodder & Stoughton,




Gaebelein, A. C; The Acts of the Apostles. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers,


Gasque, W. W. and R. P. Martin. Apostolic History and the Gospel. Exeter:

            Paternoster, 1970.

Gasque, W. W. A History of the Criticism of the Acts of the Apostles. Grand

            Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975.

Gloag, P. J. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles,

            2 vols. Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1979. Reprint of the 1870 edition.

Green, M. Evangelism in the Early Church. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970.

Griffith- Thomas, W. H. Outline Studies in Acts. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,


Gutzke, M. G. Plain Talk on Acts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966.

Guy, H. A. The Acts of the Apostles. London: Macmillan, 1952.

Hackett, H. B. A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. An American

            Commentary on the New Testament. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publi-

            cation Society, 1882.

Hanson, R. P. C. The Acts. The New Clarendon Bible. Oxford: Clarendon


Harrison, E. F. Acts: The Expanding Church. Chicago: Moody, 1975.

Hull, J. H. E. The Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles. London: Lutterworth,


Kelso, J. L. An Archaeologist Follows the Apostle Paul. Waco,TX: Word, 1970.

Kistemaker, S. J. Acts. New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids:. Baker,    1990.

Knowling, R. J. The Acts of the Apostles. The Expositor's Greek Testament.

            Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974, reprint.

Krodel, G. A. Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Acts. Minne-

            apolis: Augsburg, 1986.

Ladd, G. E. The Young Church. Nashville: Abingdon, 1964.

Lange, J. P. John and Acts. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. Grand

            Rapids: Zondervan, 1884.

LaSor, W. S. Church Alive. Glendale, CA: Regal, 1972.

Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles. Minneapolis:

            Augsburg, 1934.

Longenecker, R. N. The Acts of the Apostles. The Expositors Bible Commen-

            tary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.

________. The Ministry and Message of Paul. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971.

Luccock, H. E. The Acts of the Apostles in Present-Day Preaching. New York:

            Harper & Brothers, 1942.

Lumby, R. J. The Acts of the Apostles. London: University Press, 1904. .

Macgregor,G. H. C. and T. Ferris. Acts-Romans.The Interpreter's Bible. New

            York: Abingdon, 1954.

Marshall, I. H. The Acts of the Apostles. Tyndale New Testament Commen-

            tary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980.

_______. Luke: Historian and Theologian. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971.

Meyer, H. A. W. Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Acts of the Apostles.

            New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1883.



Morgan, G. C. The Acts of the Apostles. London: Pickering & Inglis, 1924.

Munck, J. The Acts of the Apostles. The Anchor Bible. Garden City, NY:

            Doubleday, 1967.

Neil, W. The Acts of the Apostles. New Century Bible. London: Marshall,

            Morgan, & Scott, 1973.

Ogilvie, L. J. Acts. Commentators Commentary. Waco, TX: Word, 1983.

O'Neil, J. C. The Theology of Acts in its Historical Setting. London: S.P .C. K.,


Packer, J. W. The Acts of the Apostles. The Cambridge Bible Commentary on

            the New English Bible. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966.

Rackham, R. B. The Acts of the Apostles. London: Methuen, 1001.

Ramsay, W. M. St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen. Grand Rapids:

            Baker, reprint edition 1949.

Ridderbos, H. N. The Speeches of Peter in the Acts of the Apostles. Tyndale

            New Testament Lecture, London: Tyndale, 1962.

Robertson, A. T. The Acts of the Apostles. Word Pictures in the New Testa-

            ment. Nashville: Broadman, 1930.

_______.Epochs in the Life of St. Paul. Nashville: Broadman, 1974.

Scroggie, W. G. The Acts of the Apostles. The Study Hour Series. London:

            Marshall, Morgan, & Scott, 1931.

Smith, J. The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978.

            Reprint of the 1880 edition.

Smith, R. H. Acts. Concordia Commentary. St. Louis: Concordia, 1970.

Smith, T. C. The Broadman Commentary. Nashville: Broadman, 1970.

Stagg, F. The Book of Acts. Nashville: Broadman, 1955.

Stiller, J. M. The Acts of the Apostles. New York: Revell, 1892.

Stokes, G. T. The Acts of the Apostles. The Expositor's Bible. New York: A. C.

            Armstrong & Sons, 1003.

Stott, J. The Spirit, The Church and the World. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-

            Varsity, 1900.

Thomas, D. The Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1980.

Vaughan, C. Acts. Bible Study Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974.

van Ryn, A. Acts of the Apostles: The Unfinished Work of Christ. New York:

            Loizeaux, 1961.

Williams, C. S. C. The Acts of the Apostles. Black's New Testament Com-

            mentaries. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1957.

Williams, R. R. The Acts of the Apostles. The Torch Bible Commentaries.

            SCM, 1953.

Winn, A. C. The Acts of the Apostles. Layman's Bible Commentary. Atlanta:

            Knox, 1962.


This material is cited with gracious permission from:

The Criswell College; 

4010 Gaston Ave.  Dallas, TX   75246


Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: