What is the title of that fifth book of the New Testament?
Have you ever asked yourself, “the acts of whom?” Some Bibles title this book in full “the Acts of the Apostles.”
The the title of “Acts of the Apostles” is not found in the text. It’s earliest extant usage is in the second century AD. It is in the shortened form in the fourth century manuscript of Codex Sinaiticus. There it is simply called “Acts” (GK Praxeis) like we tend to call it today [See picture].
Some have titled this the “Acts of the Holy Spirit.” And there is good reason. On the one hand, I like this because it places the focus on God instead of on the apostles. On the other hand, I do not like it because it runs the risk of diminishing the ways that the apostles cooperate with the Holy Spirit in Acts. For example, one of the texts that blows my mind is in 15:28 where it says, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”
This is recorded in response to the Jerusalem council where the Church is deciding just how Jewish they have to be now that they are including Gentiles into this whole thing. But that phrasing is interesting isn’t it? Not the usual description I grew up on: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it…” It’s more of a cooperative effort.
For this reason, I propose we might call this book of our scripture by a new name. I think we might rightfully call this book the “Acts of the Holy Spirit with the Apostles” or maybe just “The Acts of the Holy Spirit and the Apostles.”