Re: Coordinate series in Acts 2:42

From: Randy Leedy (
Date: Fri Sep 20 1996 - 12:45:37 EDT

I appreciate Gregory Bloomquist's response to my question about how
to group the series of four items (teaching, fellowship, breaking of
bread, and prayers) in Acts 2:42. I was attracted to his idea of
seeing the following verses as expansions on each item, and the
middle two seem to work especially well.

One of the reasons I found this idea attractive is that noticing a
similar pattern at the end of Romans 11 helped me figure out how to
treat another series. In that passage, Paul exlaims W BAQOS PLOUTOU
KAI SOFIAS KAI GNWSEWS QEOU. The KJV translates "O the depth of the
riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God," taking KAI...KAI as
joining two items in a "both...and" relationship. On this
understanding, Paul is saying that God's wisdom and knowledge are
deeply rich; it makes sense to see wisdom and knowledge joined
together (both refer to the mind) and riches treated as a separate
sort of entity. However, grammatically, riches, wisdom, and knowledge
could also be treated as a simple series of three, in which case Paul
is saying that God's wealth, wisdom, and knowledge are deep. I was
inclining toward the first view when I noticed in relation to the
following verses, where Paul quotes from Isaiah, that his exclamation
is really a summary of three points that Isaish establishes by the
use of rhetorical questions: "Who has known the mind of the Lord?
(knowledge) or who has been His counsellor? (wisdom) or who has given
a gift to Him, that he might be repaid (wealth)?" Paul's exclamation,
followed by the passage upon which it is based, forms a beautiful
chiastic structure. So certainly Paul had in mind a series of three
in his exclamation. (Textual support for the omission of the first
KAI is meager.)

However, the Acts passage doesn't seem to me to fit this pattern with
quite the same precision and naturalness. First, "praising God" does
not answer as neatly to "prayers" as the middle two items answer to
their counterparts. There are many ways other than prayer to praise
God, and prayer is likely to contain elements other than praise.
Furthermore, this is hardly an "expansion" compared to length of the
other descriptions. Regarding the relationship between signs/wonders
and teaching, there seems to be some substance to Gregory
Bloomquist's suggestion. Acts 13:12 recounts Sergius Paulus'
astonishment EPI THi DIDACHi TOU KURIOU, an obvious reference to the
miraculous blinding of Elymas. Other passages, though, certainly give
the impression that the teaching was primarily verbal discourse.
Perhaps the most serious objection I have to the suggested scheme
relates to the conjunction introducing the supposed expansion. GAR
would certainly seem more appropriate than DE to signal this sequence
of thought.

I suppose that, if this "expansion" scheme is correct, then v. 42
would be most naturally read as a single series of four items. I have
enough questions about it, though, that I'm not quite ready to adopt
it with confidence. I appreciate David Moore's citation of Marshall,
and I'll have to check out that discussion soon, to see what light it

In Love to God and Neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC

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