Author: Ron Graham
Verse by Verse Studies in Acts
Introduction and overview of the verse by verse exposition of Acts of the Apostles.
I have spent hundreds of hours putting together a complete verse by verse study of Acts. In this preface I explain some of the aims and attitudes behind this work, and how you might make the best use of it.
1 The Paraphrase
The text of Acts appearing in these studies is my own paraphrase. My main aims were to present Luke’s text in a straightforward manner, keeping the language simple. I've done such things as (1) broken up long sentences into shorter ones; (2) replaced many pronouns with the nouns they refer to; (3) eliminated most instances of And where it starts or joins sentences; (4) Eliminated phrases such as "it happened that" which are stylistic but contain no information; (5) replaced some of Luke’s terms with more understandable ones such as commander instead of his chiliarch.
Beyond these measures, I have frequently not reproduced the exact sentence structure and phraseology of Luke, but rather used my own words to express what he meant. That's what a paraphrase is. I realise that some translators will even take these liberties, but I have not attempted a translation. The paraphrase, is intended to be expository —to explain and bring out the meaning of the original text.
The symbol ¶ appears before each section of my paraphrase, to remind the student that I am not quoting from any translation but using my own words.
The paraphrase appears in discrete sections, but is also repeated in fragments with the comments. Sometimes the paraphrase will differ slightly in the fragment compared to the sectional reading. This is intentional.
My paraphrase loses much of the elegant style of Luke’s penmanship. That's the sacrifice made for the sake of presenting Luke’s narrative in a modern style that has a familiar feel to many readers and may be clearer to them. But my purpose is not to replace the many translations that do convey Luke’s manner of story telling. Even Luke himself would consider that understanding and believing the story itself is more important than appreciating the skill and culture of the story teller. Of course, these are not mutually exclusive, but my purpose is to help primarily with understanding and belief.
Chapters and Verses
The paraphrase is presented in natural sections and logical paragraphs. The traditional “chapters and verses” are sometimes arbitrary and clumsy divisions that inappropriately break the flow of the narrative. They weren't part of the original scripture. Nevertheless I have included “chapters and verses” in the natural sections to provide customary reference. However I have made the verse numbers unobstrusive so they don't interfere with the natural flow and structure.
2 The Notes
Between the sections of the paraphrase, various notes appear. I've not attempted to deal with every matter that might arise. If a detail is merely academic and not necessary to a good understanding of the passage, then the note on that detail will be brief if it occurs at all. In other cases the notes will be thorough because the matter is important. The notes, like the paraphrase, are intended to be expository —to explain and bring out the meaning of the original text.
3 The Maps
I have some years ago prepared simple maps of the area covered in Acts. The appropriate maps are placed on each lesson so that the student does not have to go looking for them. There is a maps page with all the maps together, but it seemed good to me to place the maps on the lesson pages as well.
I have some reservations about presenting these expository or verse by verse studies. Paraphrasing scripture, and inserting one's own comments between the verses, could be viewed as a great impertinence: adding one’s own words to the scripture.
However expository teaching, if done honestly and carefully, is a very direct and powerful means of helping people understand, appreciate, and apply the scriptures for themselves. I urge all students to have their own Bibles at hand, and to read the whole passage for themselves, then turn to my paraphrase and notes as distinct from the scripture.
I have taken much care with this work, and continue to check and edit it. It is by this care that I justify using the expository method.