The book of Acts is vital to the Christian canon. In it we find a record of events that if Acts was not included in the Bible, we would not know of these crucial events in the life of the early church. In the books of Acts we see Jesus culminate his earthly ministry by sending the apostles on mission to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. The Holy Spirit on the apostles at Pentecost and empower them for ministry, where shortly thereafter thousands of people come to faith in Christ. We see God making his enemies friends through the conversion of Paul, and how God fulfills his mission through Peter, Paul and other Apostles. Yet, is the book of Acts one cohesive story or just a hodgepodge of accounts compiled by Luke? This is what author Patrick Shreiner discusses in his new book The Mission of the Triune God: A Theology of Acts (Crossway 2022).
Many think that the book of Acts is about the work of the Holy Spirit through the disciples among the nations, and they are right in this assessment in many ways. However, it does not tell the full story of the book of Acts as Shreiner points out. In the book, he argues for a triune vision for the book of Acts. Although he is assumed throughout, God the Father is not mentioned much in the book of Acts. However, he plays a vital and prominent role, in that his sovereign purposes are accomplished as he sees fit. Jesus plays a more prominent role in the book of Acts. Making appearance in the first chapter and later in the story of Paul’s conversion. Yet, Schreiner points out that Jesus continues to play a vital role in the story in that his followers accomplish his vision and mission as set forth in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). The most prominent member of the Trinity in the book of Acts is, by far, the Holy Spirit. Not only is he present at Pentecost, the Spirit emboldens the apostles as they spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.
The Mission of the Triune God is helpful in two ways. First, it is very approachable. Although it’s target audience will most like have some seminary training, the book is not technical in its approach. This does not mean that it is not scholarly, but that it can be read an understood more widely than just among academic readers. The book is also fairly short in length with shorter chapters that include a summary of the material at the end. This allows the reader to make sure they understand what has been read in each subsequent chapter. Secondly, the work of God continues today. What was started in the book of Acts, has continued for more than two thousand years. A theology of the book of Acts is very helpful when considering it’s implications in our world today. We must never abandon the triune vision for God’s mission in the world. God is still at work today making disciples of all nations. His church is charged with making disciples of all nations. Yet, we must not neglect a triune perspective of such mission.
The Mission of the Triune God is an excellent resource to help believers think through a theology of the book of Acts. While this resource is aimed more for pastors/teachers, it could also be helpful to lay leaders and those interested in going deeper in a study of the book of Acts. It would also be a helpful resource for small group or individual study. Patrick Schreiner does an excellent job of casting a vision for the mission of our triune God as set forth in the book of Acts.
Editor’s Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.