Thompson's study offers a fresh reading of Acts that keeps the church within its literary place within that narrative. His study uncovers descriptions of the church that emphasize certain characteristics presented in the opening scenes of the narrative: the blessing and presence of God, the unanimity of the believers, the communal caring for one ather, and the proclamation of the gospel. The progression of the Acts narrative presents an evolving image of the church that eventually includes both Jewish and n-Jewish believers of the gospel, with growing opposition from the Jewish people and even from the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. This dynamic portrait of the church in the book of Acts contrasts three different views concerning the people of God : the Jewish people as the historical people of God, Jewish believers as represented by the Jerusalem church, and the church that includes both Jews and Gentiles. By offering such a dynamic narrative of these various groups of believers, Acts encourages readers to defien and identify the church or Christian community as the people who belong to God rather than those whose identity as God's people is based on historical or religious categories.
Richard P. Thompson is Professor of Greek and New Testament Studies at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Michigan and co-editor of Literary Studies in Luke-Acts.