People come to the book of Acts for a variety of reasons. Some come for history. Others for apologetics. Many, though, come seeking a model for Christian devotion and practice.
But is this latter reason even appropriate?
Does Acts describe or prescribe such diverse practices as baptism, church polity, frequency of observing the Lord’s Supper, method of choosing deacons, and selling and sharing possessions?
This is the primary question Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart address in their chapter on Acts in How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, the newly revised fourth edition of this standard-bearer of evangelical biblical interpretation.
Here’s Fee and Stuart's concern:
How do the individual narratives in Acts…function as precedents for the later church, or do they? Or put another way, does the book of Acts provide information that not only describes the primitive church but speaks as a norm to the church at all times?
What they ultimately determine is “Unless Scripture explicitly tells us we must do something, what is only narratives or described does not function in a normative way.” (124)
The authors provide six hermeneutical principles for historical narratives generally and outline Luke’s intent to help us read Acts for all it's worth.