One of the keys to understanding any scene in Scripture is to re-entangle the scene in its book. Luke, like all the authors of the Bible, wrote with purpose. He chose stories and told them intending to make a difference, not just get the facts straight. Luke was not only a historian, but a pastor and a master story-teller.
Luke wrote the book of Acts to describe the success of the Holy Spirit in spreading the church from Jerusalem to Rome, from the capital of Israel to the capital of the world (as the Romans saw it). Acts is designed to show us how the church was and can be. Gordon Fee reminds us that Acts is about "our roots, not our fruits," but that was only a warning that we should not treat Acts too simplistically as a how-to manual for the church. It's true that church discipline should not usually include death pronouncements (Acts 5:1-11) and that believers should not expect to use their heads as Bunsen burners (Acts 2:3). Once we get away from that sort of silly over-simplification, it becomes obvious that Luke has some ideas about what the church ought to do and be.
Near the beginning of Acts, Luke gives a description of the church at Jerusalem that serves as a picture of the ideal church for the rest of the book. I'll let you look up the passage (Acts 2:42-47), but here are the qualities of that model church:
- devoted to learning from the apostles
- genuine and generous community
- the visible power of the Holy Spirit
- spontaneous worship and prayer
- respect from non-believers and constant conversions
- glad and sincere hearts
Luke's list illustrates some of the key themes of Acts. Luke is telling us that church should be characterized by learning, relationships, power, worship, prayer, evangelism, and a different temperament. He doesn't tell us that only in Acts 2; it shows up in scene after scene in the whole book.
OK, now here's where you come in. Look back at the story of Eutychus in Acts 20:7-12. Why did Luke include this story?