The problem with Luke-Acts

 

We are on a journey where we discover the truth about the Bible. In this article we will be looking at Luke and Acts. Two very important books - but also two books that are not perfect. Both books clearly shows the same pattern of mistakes that were made by the author. Mistakes that you need to be aware of in order to discover the true teachings of Jesus. 

The author of Luke-Acts was either a companion of Paul or someone that followed his teachings closely. Paul came from a strong religious background and that had an influence on his teachings. As we have seen in the article 'Paul's words are not God's words' - Paul was not taught by Jesus and had very little contact with the apostles. There were some fundamental flaws in the teachings of Paul and the author of Luke-Acts took some of these flaws to the next level.

Before you continue with this article, if you haven't already, you must first read the following articles for some background:

  1. The Lie about the Bible - The Bible is not inerrant and infallible - and that is not a bad thing.
  2. Not every verse in the Bible is the Word of God - If you want to discover what Jesus really taught you must be willing to look for the truth.
  3. Paul's words are not God's words - Paul and great wisdom but was only human and made mistakes.
  4. The problem with the Gospel of Matthew - Don't skip this one as I compare the nativity story of Matthew and Luke to show that even the authors of the gospels made mistakes. 

In this article we will see a pattern where the author of Luke-Acts added content that could not possibly have come from Jesus regarding the following:

  • Money is bad and you should give all you have to the church.
  • Paul focused more on the church (Jesus did not at all) and he turned Christianity into organized religion (something that Jesus was against). The author of Luke-Acts takes this to the next level.

Money is bad - give it to the church

Blessed are the poor


Blessed are the poor is something that is taught in most gospels - we will get into detail on what that means in a separate article (it does not mean it is good to be poor). What is unique to Luke and Acts is that you are damned if you are rich.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. - Luke 6:24-25

This is something that was obviously added by Luke and not something that Jesus would have said. If you really look at the verses above you wonder how you never before realized how ridiculous it is. The  idea that you should not be too happy in life or have enough to eat otherwise you have used up all your happy credits and then you will not have enough left to go to heaven!

Jesus made it clear that He wants us to have all that we need (John 10:10, Matthew 8:33). Those that were close to Jesus also taught that we should not lack anything - James 4:2. In the Gospel of Thomas being poor is seen as something bad (GOT, 3) and being rich is not a bad thing (GOT 81). We are also encouraged to work hard so make sure we have all that we need - being prepared for difficult times that might come (GOT 41, 21).

Lazarus and the rich man

Luke later repeats this idea with the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31).  Why did the rich man end up in hades? Because he was a bad man? Because he didn't help the poor? No - the Bible says why he ended up in the hades - he had it too good in life.

But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony..'. Luke 16:25

Some scholars suggest the basic storyline of The Rich Man and Lazarus was derived from Jewish stories that had developed from an Egyptian folk tale about Si-Osiris. Wherever the story came from - I very strongly doubt that it was told by Jesus.

Now that Luke made it clear that money is bad - he makes it clear what you should do with it: Give it to the church. 

Ananias and Sapphira

Have you ever really thought about the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10)? Ananias and Sapphira are instantly killed by God because they exaggerated about how much they gave to the church!

If that really was our God then Christians would be extinct. How many Christians testifies how they tithe religiously but then they don't really give 10% of all their income - maybe 10% after all the deductions.  That is exactly what Ananias and Sapphira did. They did give most of their possessions to the church but simply lied because the kept a small portion to themselves. 

Jesus stopped a women from being stoned because she committed adultery - but if she dared to hide a couple of bucks from Him she would have been killed instantly - Really? Does that make any sense to you?

Christians try to explain these verses away because they want the Bible to be infallible and inerrant - see The Lie about the Bible. By trying to make the Bible something it is not, they are missing the true message of Jesus Christ.

Payment for missionaries (pastors, etc).

Luke is the only gospel that mentions Jesus that sent out the 70 or 72 disciples. Luke is also the only gospel where Jesus is quoted as saying that they (the 70 disciples) are 'worthy of their wages' – Luke 10:7. The word he uses is: 

μισθός (misthos)

Apparently a primary word; pay for service (literally or figuratively), good or bad: - hire, reward, wages.

Matthew uses a different word (Matthew 10:10), 

τροφή trophē

nourishment (literally or figuratively); by implication rations (wages): - food, meat.

We can see that Luke took it up a notch, from nourishment to wages. 

Turning the Jesus movement into a religion

In the Gospel of Luke there isn't much the author could do to build the idea of a organized church with leadership as he had to focus on Jesus (and that was something Jesus was against that we will get to in detail in upcoming articles).

When he got to Paul and his churches it was a different story as Paul came from a strong religious background. As he had no training from Jesus and very little from the apostles, a lot of his religious background came through in his teachings and followers - sometimes conflicting with what Jesus taught. 

The author of Luke-Acts however made this worse by changing (amplifying) some of the events.

Clear evidence of this is the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). Acts describe the event as a council meeting. The definition of a council:
a group of people elected or chosen to make decisions or give advice on a particular subject, to represent a particular group of people, or to run a particular organization

After the council a decree is issued that goes out to all the churches. 

Paul however also wrote about the same event (Galatians 2). It is however not a council and there are no decree. It is simply a couple (very few) believers that got together and discussed a few things. Keep in mind that Galatians were written decades earlier and that Paul was present - in other words Paul's version is more reliable. 

The same thing happened with the Pentecost - but as there are a lot of detail we need to get into, we will discuss that in a separate article. We will also be looking at why Acts was the only record of the early church. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The lie about the Bible

The Problem with the Gospel of Matthew

Paul's words are not God's words