The theology of God and the Gentile mission in Acts
The present study aims to investigate Luke's theology of God in the accounts of the mission to the Gentiles in Acts. In Acts, God is portrayed as the cause of the mission. It is God who inaugurates and guides the Gentile mission. For Luke, God who acts is God who has fixed the times and seasons. The mission is described as part of God's times, past, present and future. It is mission by God. The Gentile mission is also mission about God. The "cause" of the mission becomes the content'. This fact is not widely recognised by studies in Luke-Acts. God' is prominent in the speeches in the Gentile mission narratives of Samaria (8: 4-25), Caesarea (10: 33- 43), Lystra (14: 8-18), Athens (17: 16-34) and Ephesus (19: 21- 41). We examine these narratives to analyse the speeches in their immediate contexts provided in the narrative itself. Except in Ac. 10, Luke's contexts contain details concerning Gentiles" belief and worship of god/goddess/gods which in Luke's view represent false notions about God. The fundamental issue in the theology of God in all these narratives is confusion of the human with the divine. That men and works of men are neither God nor manifestations of God is the essence of the theological kerygma. In Ac. 10, Peter's own wrong notion of God is corrected and his new knowledge about God leads to the conversion of the Gentiles. God who is proclaimed to the Gentiles is God who does 'mighty acts". We consider two more narratives, 12: 21-24 and 28: 1-10, in which Gentile notions of god are presented without kerygma attached to them. The former can be classified with the mission narratives since all of them function as model settings to Luke's readers, illustrating how mission ought to take place in circumstances in which similar false understandings of God are found. The latter episode is an example of Luke's positive use of Gentile notions of god as 'justice' to attest the innocence of Paul, the prisoner and missionary to Rome. In the description of the Gentile mission in Acts, Luke emerges as a theologian of God.