Acts of the Apostles

Q. Who wrote the Acts of the Apostles? I heard it was Luke. If so, why isn’t it included as part of his Gospel?

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin: 

The word “gospel” occurs 100 times in the New Testament. The word means Good News, and New Testament writers (and speakers) are careful to use it only when referring to Jesus and his ministry of salvation. Thus we encounter the word in the opening sentence of Mark’s Gospel account, where he announces, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God].” St. Paul employs the word numerous times in his letters, and the Acts of the Apostles records his preaching to the Ephesians about “the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel” (20:24).

Tradition holds St. Luke to be the writer of the Acts of the Apostles, and the initial sentence of Acts refers to “the first book” — that is, the Gospel account, which “dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up.”

As this first chapter unfolds, we are introduced to Jesus’ disciples, who must prepare to take up their lives without the physical presence of their leader. Acts, therefore, should be read as a direct continuation of Luke’s Gospel account. However, without Jesus, it stands as a distinct, non-Gospel, narrative.