Darrell Bock is one of the leading scholars in the world on the message and theology of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. So as I work on writing my commentary on the Gospel of Luke, I am always interested in what Darrell Bock has to say.
Therefore, I was pleased to receive a review copy of his newest book, A Theology of Luke and Acts from Zondervan. This book not only deals with preliminary issues surrounding Luke and Acts such as the context of Luke and Acts in the canon of Scripture, and the unity of authorship for Luke and Acts, but also deals with numerous theological themes and issues in Luke and Acts such as salvation, the person and work of Jesus Christ, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the ongoing role of Israel and the Law, and the beginnings of the church.
Since much of my current writing is centered on issues surrounding the church, I was especially interested in reading the chapters which focused on the church and Ecclesiology in Luke and Acts (chapters 14 and 19).
Not surprisingly, Bock presents a “progressive dispensational” view of the church, in which the creation of the church is something brand new within the plan of God for the world (dispensationalism), but which carries on the promises of God which were given to Israel (progressive). Many dispensationalists are uncomfortable saying that some of the promises which God made to Israel are now applied to the church, but Bock presents this view pretty clearly.
He says that “Luke sees the new community as something novel…[and] does not require a total link to the old era other than to share in the promise to which it has always looked. This promise stands inaugurated, but it is not completed” (pp. 372-373).
Though I used to be fairly critical of such an approach, I now think it treats Scripture better than some of the popular alternatives. I wouldn’t state it in exactly the same way Bock has, but am still in the same orbit.
Church Leadership and Structure
In light of the book I am working on, Close Your Church for Good, I was also interested to read Bock’s views on church leadership and structure. He wrote that while “from the beginning, the church has structure, authority, and accountability” (p. 376), Luke says very little about such topics (p. 387).
“We are told nothing about what a worship service looked like, how long it was, or what kind of hymns were sung. It is bare bones in terms of such detail. Luke is far more interested in how the church engages their calling to take the message of the gospel into the world” (p. 387).
I could not agree more. Much of Christianity today is focused on the structure of leadership, how to worship, the format of services, and so on. These things, while important, tend to distract from our real purpose of taking the gospel message to the world by living and looking like Jesus.
All in all, this is a great book to supplement any study of the Gospel of Luke or the Book of Acts, and Darrel Bock does a great job introducing the key themes and issues of these books in A Theology of Luke and Acts.
If you want to learn more about this book from the author, here is a video interview: