Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume 3


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Highly respected New Testament scholar Craig Keener is known for his meticulous and comprehensive research. This commentary on Acts, his magnum opus, may be the largest and most thoroughly documented Acts commentary available. Useful not only for the study of Acts but also early Christianity, this work sets Acts in its first-century context.

In this volume, the third of four, Keener continues his detailed exegesis of Acts, utilizing an unparalleled range of ancient sources and offering a wealth of fresh insights. This magisterial commentary will be an invaluable resource for New Testament professors and students, pastors, Acts scholars, and libraries.

The indexes for the entire four-volume set may be downloaded under the Resources section on the left side of this page.


"Keener's incredibly detailed megacommentary on Acts is a scholarly achievement that is unlikely to be surpassed in the foreseeable future. The author has an enviable mastery over an amazing number of primary and secondary sources, evident on nearly every page in footnotes providing both documentation and stimulating discussions. He provides in-depth discussions of various critical approaches to the major interpretive issues in Acts, revealing the strengths and weaknesses of each position while carefully arguing his own position. The commentary also includes a rich variety of informative excursuses that provide detailed analysis of a wide variety of important side issues and topics. Every serious student of Acts owes it to herself or himself to carefully work through this significant contribution to scholarship."

David E. Aune, Walter Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, emeritus, University of Notre Dame

"Keener's scholarship and personal experience give a distinctive cross-cultural perspective to his commentary. His excursuses are treasure troves of cultural information on topics such as ancient anti-Judaism; dreams; patrons, clients, and reciprocity; and suicide. This detailed commentary will deservedly be a major resource on Acts in many libraries--personal and public--for years to come."

John J. Pilch, Johns Hopkins University

"As in the previous volumes, the author proffers a very detailed and nuanced analysis of the text's exegetical problems while also paying close attention to the Greco-Roman environment that shaped Luke's narrative. Scholars of the New Testament, theologians, and classicists, but also laypersons, will want to consult and will benefit from Keener's erudite, impressive work."

Andreas Bendlin, Department of Classics, University of Toronto

"Keener's massive commentary on the book of Acts is a gold mine of valuable information. His socio-historical reading of the text demonstrates the crucial importance of interpreting Acts in the context of Greek and Roman historiography. In addition, the vast amount of references to ancient sources and literature will be helpful for anyone interested in doing serious research on Acts."

Samuel Byrskog, Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University

Praise for Volume 1

"Somewhat surprisingly, a socio-historical approach to Acts still needs to be defended and its value demonstrated. No one does this better--is more informed about ancient literature, parallels, and precedents, and more interactively and fruitfully engaged with contemporary literature and issues--than Craig Keener. For anyone wanting to appreciate how Acts 'worked' in its original context and to get into the text at some depth, Keener will be indispensable and 'first off the shelf.'"

†James D. G. Dunn, Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, University of Durham

"Keener takes very seriously the claim of the book of Acts to be historiography. His encyclopedic knowledge of ancient literature and his intelligent skill as an exegete make this a magisterial commentary."

Richard Bauckham, professor emeritus of New Testament studies, University of St. Andrews; senior scholar, Ridley Hall, Cambridge

"Craig Keener has provided us with a rich gem of a commentary on Acts. One can use it and get a real sense of what this key work is all about."

Darrell L. Bock, research professor of New Testament studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

"This commentary sets Acts in its ancient social and historical setting. Keener shows convincingly how broadly and deeply Acts participates in ancient Hellenistic and Jewish thinking. This meticulous reconstruction fits well with his deep insights on Lukan theology in Acts. Keener's wide reading of scholarly discussion is stupendous. A marvelous, impressive, and inspiring commentary!"

Manfred Lang, associate professor of New Testament, Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg

"This promises to be the most comprehensive commentary on Acts to date. Keener presents a socio-historical reading of the text with meticulous precision, and his knowledge of scholarly research is impressive. The book of Acts is read as a historiographical work in which its author rewrites traditions; the documentation from ancient Jewish literature is exceptionally rich. Keener treats hermeneutical issues and the historical reliability of the text astutely and clearly. From now on, any exegesis of Acts will need to take into account this major work."

Daniel Marguerat, professor of New Testament, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

"As one has come to expect from Keener, there is thorough knowledge and use of the best and most important secondary literature and abundant utilization of a wide range of ancient sources. This is a commentary that will continue to serve as a detailed resource for both scholars and students wishing to explore the book of Acts."

Stanley E. Porter, president, dean, and professor of New Testament, McMaster Divinity College

"This book is a monumental exegetical commentary thanks to the amount of literary and social-historical information in it. Scholars and readers of the Acts of the Apostles will find it a precious source for consultation."

Fr. G. Claudio Bottini, professor of introduction and exegesis of the New Testament and emeritus dean, Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology (Studium Biblicum Franciscanum), Jerusalem

"Craig Keener's academic commentaries are among the most important in print, because they not only summarize former scholarship but also add so many new insights from primary literature of the time."

David Instone-Brewer, senior research fellow in rabbinics and New Testament, Tyndale House, Cambridge

Praise for Volume 2

"This is the most expansive treatment of Acts in modern scholarship. Keener offers the reader a sweeping tour of the relevant ancient material and modern scholarship on Acts. He takes Acts seriously as a work of ancient history; at the same time, he is aware of the literary and rhetorical dimensions of the text."

Gregory E. Sterling, The Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean, The Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School

"Craig Keener, a master of primary and secondary sources, has crafted another meticulous commentary that is a joy to read. It is full of information that shows Keener's unusual industriousness and precision. Highly recommended."

James H. Charlesworth, director and editor, Princeton Dead Sea Scrolls Project; George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Acts has now taken a new step forward . . . the starting point for all Acts scholarship from now on!"

Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary

"A magnificent achievement. This volume continues in the same vein as the first, with superbly detailed exegesis of the text as well as many helpful excursuses on more general topics of interest--with a wealth of material to back up all the claims made. Without any shadow of doubt, an indispensable reference work for all students of Acts and early Christianity."

Christopher Tuckett, professor of New Testament studies, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

"Over the course of the last decade, Craig Keener has proved himself to be one of the greatest living commentators on the New Testament. This second volume on Acts--packed with an incredible amount of contextual information as well as wisdom about the text itself--is bound to become a standard reference work for many years to come. Sell the dog and buy this book!"

Ben Witherington III, Amos Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary; doctoral faculty, St. Andrews University, Scotland

"This commentary is so thorough and comprehensive that it can truly be said to 'leave no stone unturned.' Keener has single-handedly wrought an encyclopedic work, the likes of which only whole teams of scholars have been able to produce in multivolume compendia. It therefore will be the first commentary to which scholars, students, and pastors will turn with any question on the text of Acts."

Seyoon Kim, professor of New Testament, School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Keener's commentary on Acts is a tour de force. One might be daunted by such hefty volume(s) on one book of the New Testament, but be reassured: this commentary may be all that you will ever need on Acts. It is not only exhaustive in its historical detail, it is rich in inspiring interpretation."

David E. Garland, dean and holder of the Charles J. and Eleanor McLerran Delancey Chair of the Dean and professor of Christian Scriptures, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University

The Author

  1. Craig S. Keener

    Craig S. Keener

    Craig S. Keener (Ph.D., Duke University) is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is author of 30 books, 5 of which have won awards in Christianity Today. More than a million copies of his books are in...

    Continue reading about Craig S. Keener


"This third volume of what is already the most extensive commentary on Acts ever written . . . continues to keep the high standard set in the earlier two volumes. . . . As in the earlier volumes, Keener's observations are usually to the point, his interpretations well documented, and his conclusions fairly balanced. Keener is very clear on his own presuppositions, especially with regard to questions of the historicity and reliability of Acts. Hence, his conclusions are often predictable but not shallow: the reader is offered all the pros and cons of an argument. . . . Keener offers us a mass of useful information and a lot of insights that are worth taking note of. Acts scholars, then, are forever deeply in debt to Keener for his magnificent work."

Arie W. Zwiep,

Review of Biblical Literature

"Acts is a model of scholarly fidelity and endurance. . . . The style is clear and flowing. . . . Another attractive feature is the absence of rancor. Keener disagrees with many ideas but does not need to attack the morals, piety, or intelligence of his dialogue partners. . . . For most this weighty set will be a reference work. I hope that those who came for a quick check on a verse will linger to savor some more."

Richard I. Pervo,

Review of Biblical Literature

"This commentary is in a class by itself, not only because of its mega-size (with vol. 3 it reaches 3,348 pages and counting!) but also because of its thoroughness and the meticulous scholarship it displays. Keener . . . summarizes past and current scholarly opinion on the historical and theological dimensions of Luke's account plus numerous and informative excursuses on various aspects of the Jewish and Greco-Roman cultural and social context contemporary with Luke's work. For those desiring an encyclopedic analysis of the Acts of the Apostles, this is definitely the resource to turn to."

Donald Senior, CP,

The Bible Today

"By far the greatest contribution of this commentary is its wealth of primary references. For every topic in the commentary Keener provides a litany of Greek, Latin, and Jewish sources that illuminate the passage and provide greater depth of insight. . . . In addition to the substantial commentary, Keener provides extensive excurses . . . on related subjects. . . . These entries are a real strength of the work as Keener provides detailed investigations on topics that not only directly impact our understanding of the Acts text, but provide a broad understanding of specific issues from an ancient perspective. . . . I would highly recommend these books for anyone interested in understanding the Acts text or the first century Christian context more broadly."

Sean A. Adams,


"Keener's commentary on the Acts of the Apostles is by any measure a mammoth project. . . . The work is very readable, with clear sectioning and engaging content. . . . Keener's insights will serve and benefit preachers and pastors, and not just scholars. They deserve to be more widely known and more widely read. I can see two broad areas where we owe a debt to Keener. First, he is committed to the historicity of scripture. . . . Keener often serves as tour guide, offering informative, even filmic, descriptions of the ancient world beyond the briefer pen pictures typical of other commentators. . . . Second, Keener is committed to locating scripture within mission in particular places. He is conservative in historicity and adventurous in application. . . . An indisputable contribution to our reading of Acts. Keener digs out treasures old and new, and works various and multiple angles on the text which often render helpfully refreshing views."

Matthew Sleeman,


"It is encyclopedic, giving full and lucid discussion verse-by-verse, but also [includes] informative excursuses. . . . Keener's bibliography is huge. . . . Though not the last word, it is an amazing resource."

David Wenham,

Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"One of the strengths of the commentary [is] its abundant use of ancient sources to contextualize Acts. . . . The list of modern sources demonstrates Keener's considerable engagement with secondary scholarship as well. Once again, the volume is littered with useful excurses. . . . This commentary is a must for Acts scholars."

William Sanger Campbell,

Religious Studies Review

"The third volume of Craig Keener's Acts commentary continues his amazingly thorough work. . . . This is an amazing commentary, a gold mine of information. . . . Nothing else matches this commentary, particularly for understanding the book's ancient backgrounds. Keener carefully weighs all the evidence on practically every issue. . . . As a reference it is indispensable."

Ray Van Neste,

Preaching (2015 Survey of Bibles and Bible Reference Works)

"The primary and unique focus of this volume (and series) is the Greco-Roman (and secondarily Jewish) backgrounds of Acts, namely, its social-historical and rhetorical contexts. While its focus is not upon grammatical, literary, and theological aspects of Acts (like most commentaries), Keener nonetheless does not spurn these approaches but uses them intermittently where appropriate. Keener, thus, has spotted this hole in Acts research, and generously filled it with his contribution of expertise in Greco-Roman (and Jewish) backgrounds. His citation and comparison of Acts with Greco-Roman (and Jewish) ancient sources is exhaustive. . . . One might easily mistake Keener for a senior scholar of Classics, competent in Greco-Roman literature, history, rhetoric, and philosophy. . . . This volume (and series) will inspire a cornucopia of new research and dissertations, but even more so will inspire scholars of all perspectives to go to the Greco-Roman primary sources themselves. . . . I highly recommend this third volume for scholars and academic students of Acts. . . . It is the new norm and landmark in Acts scholarship and cannot be overlooked or avoided."

Timothy J. Christian,

Asbury Journal

"Keener's in-depth approach to the text provides an opportunity for important issues to be discussed. . . . Keener's handling of many interpretive problems is thorough. . . . [The] excurses enhance this commentary and also provide general information that will impact reading much of the New Testament. . . . Keener's contribution to study of Acts is invaluable."

Joseph D. Fantin,

Bibliotheca Sacra