Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 1, Ch. 12, “The New Testament” Loc. 8053-12025. (continued)
§85 “The Acts of the Apostles” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10087).
After a brief bibliography Schaff notes the clear relationship between the third Gospel and Acts with the same addressee and a stated continuation of events (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10103). Acts is a history which puts a consistently positive outlook on all the events recorded. It ends triumphantly, prior to the death of Peter or Paul (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10115). The text apears to come from the hand of Luke, the companion of Paul (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10135). The book makes no mention of the epistles or the later organization of the Church. This likely points to early composition (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10146). It serves as a literary connection between the Gospels and Epistles (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10151). Acts looks at the church from the outside while the Epistles look from the inside (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10167). Acts has many points of contact with people, places and events known from other histories, making it clearly contemporaneous. Some have suggested the book is intended as a later work attempting to create peace between Jewish and Gentile elements (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10254). Schaff suggests that these contentions were relatively minor and short-lived and that Acts is in fact a truthful and charitable account.
§86 “The Epistles” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10285).
Unlike the sermons recorded in the New Testament, “The Epistles are addressed to baptized converts, and aim to strengthen them in their faith, and, by brotherly instruction, exhortation, rebuke, and consolation, to build up the church in all Christian graces on the historical foundation of the teaching and example of Christ” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10291). The letters were occasional in nature and likely represent only some of the correspondence (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10298).
§87. “The Catholic Epistles” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10316).
In older manuscripts, after Acts we usually find James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1-3 John, and Jude before Paul’s letters (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10322). These letters are more general in nature and are not as clearly directed toward one congregation or individuals. Except for 1 Peter and 1 John all belong to the antilegomena, not always accepted until the end of the 4th century (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10337).
James was written from Jerusalem prior to the destruction of the city in 70. It has many qualities found also in Matthew, including a vigorous exhortation to holy living (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10341).
Peter’s first epistle, sent from “Babylon,” reflects an older and more gentle Peter than the viwe of him we find in Acts. The doctrine articulates a mediating position between that of James and that of Paul (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10369). Second Peter, shortly before Peter’s death, assures the reader of Peter’s agreement with paul (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10369). Many dispute Peter’s authorship, though Schaff considers it to be by Peter (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10385).
Jude is very similar to 2 Peter. It refers to an apocryphal story and opposes Gnosticism (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10388).
First John shows all the signs of being written by the author of John’s Gospel (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10397). It is one of the homolegomena. 2 and 3 John are among the antilegomena. Schaff sees adequate similarity to the style of 1 John that he considers them to be authentic (Schaff 2014, Loc. 10407).