Bible Think

Undesigned Coincidences in Acts and the Epistles

As with the Gospels, there is a fertile field for finding undesigned coincidences between the account of Paul’s travels in the Acts of the Apostles and the letters that Paul wrote during his travels. It is clear that there is no dependence between the two. Many modern critical commentaries are based on the assumption that there is no connection between the two; if the two were dependent on one another then it would not be possible for such books to be written.

 

On the scale of whole books there is, however, a general correspondence between Acts and the letters of Paul. Works like Ramsay’s “St. Paul, the Roman traveller and the Roman citizen” note the gerneral correspondence of the account of Acts with the Letters written by Paul. On a slightly more detailed level it is a relatively simple matter to calculate a chronology for the Epistles of Paul based on the information in Acts (See this link). On the basis of these correspondences alone it is clear that both Acts and the Epistles are contemporary with the Apostle Paul and are accurately reported and reliably transmitted.

 

However, undesigned coincidences work on a more detailed and less significant level than these correspondences. Paley noted 75 of these in his “Horae Paulinae” and others have been discovered since. Here are a few examples:-

The Place of Writing of 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians was written after Paul had visited Corinth once (1 Corinthians 2:1) and as he was planning another visit (1 Corinthians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 16:5). There was a visit to Corinth in Acts 18 and again in Acts 20. Between these Paul visited Jerusalem and walked overland to Ephesus where he spent some years. Acts 20:1 says that Paul set off to Greece from Ephesus for his second visit. Thus 1 Corinthians should have been written from Ephesus.

 

The evidence from 1 Corinthians is that the letter was, indeed , written from Ephesus.

 

It is clear that the place where 1 Corinthians was written exactly matches what one would expect from Acts. However, there is no reference to the writing of any letters at all in Acts, let alone any letter to Corinth.

Luke’s Linguistic Background

Paul’s letter to the Colossians mentions Luke in a manner which shows that he is a Gentile. At the end of the letter there is a list of companions of the Apostle which ends with the words: These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God (v11) Luke is listed considerably after these words (in v14). One can therefore deduce that Luke was not a Jew, and hence not a native Hebrew or Aramaic speaker.

 

The fact that Luke is not a native speaker of Aramaic can be seen from Acts:-

... so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.  (Acts 1:19)

 

This refers to Aramaic, the language of the phrase Akel dama, as “their own language” and not as “Our language”.

 

This is an extremely minor point. It appears in two documents written by different writers and in neither does it form a major part of the story However, the details, when put together, produce a consistent picture.

 

The undesigned coincidence doesn’t prove that Acts or Colossians is inspired by God, but it does show that the books are written by people who were intimately connected with the Apostle Paul and with the circumstances of his work.

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Undesigned Coincidences in Acts and the Epistles

Undesigned Coincidences in Acts and the Epistles

Watch this space for a pdf download of an account of undesigned coincidences in Acts and the letters of the Apostle Paul.

Undesigned Coincidences

Click here to link to the main page for undesigned coincidences.

The Gospels

Click here to link to the page for undesigned coincidences in Acts and the Letters of Paul.

The Old Testament

Click here to link to the page for undesigned coincidences in the Old Testament.

Linguistic Fossils

Linguistic Fossils are an alternative form of evidence that words of people recorded in the Gospels are from Judea and Galilee at the time of Jesus. Click here to link to the page for this subject.

Evidence of Reliability

Click here to link to the main page on evidence which shows how reliable the Bible is as a record of real events.

Evidence - Acts & Epistles

Click here to link to the main page on the reliability of Acts & the Epistles.