Paul in Acts and Epistles : the Miletus speech and 1 Thessalonians as a test case
This study contributes to debates over the portraits of Paul in Acts and his epistles by considering the one Pauline speech to Christians in Acts, the speech to the Ephesian elders at Miletus (Acts 20: 18b-35). After surveying previous work, a two-way comparison is made, comparing the Miletus speech with (i) speeches by Jesus in Luke's Gospel, to see how Lukan it is, and (ii) 1 Thessalonians, to see how Pauline it is. A hierarchical method is outlined for identifying parallels. A study of the speech shows it to be a well-structured 'farewell', in which Paul commissions the elders for ministry after his departure to Jerusalem. The speech has four major themes: faithful fulfilment of leadership responsibility; suffering; the attitude to wealth and work; and the death of Jesus. Paul is offered as a model of Christian leadership for imitation. A comparison with Luke's Gospel identifies three passages which parallel the speech (22: 14-38; 12: 1-53; 21: 5-31), and four briefer passages (7: 38,44; 9: 2; 10: 3; 13: 32f). 22: 14-38 parallels the speech especially closely. A clear picture of Luke's view of Christian leadership emerges - modelled by Jesus, taught to his disciples, modelled by Paul, and then taught to the elders, the leaders of the next Christian generation. The comparison with 1 Thessalonians recognises the four major Miletus themes in the letter, and identifies a number of passages and ideas in the letter which have parallels in the speech. A clear picture of Christian leadership emerges, looking remarkably like that found in Luke-Acts. A conclusion reviews the argument, concludes that the speech is not dependent on the letter, and outlines results for debates about Paul in Acts and epistles.