The Accuracy of Acts
Archaeology is one of many disciplines that can be used to prove the historical accuracy of Scripture. Time and again, it has helped confirm the Bible’s references to people, places, and dates. In the last one hundred years, archaeologists repeatedly have confirmed and illuminated the historicity of the Bible. Although we cannot rely upon archaeology to establish and sustain our faith, having physical evidence that confirms the historical context of God’s saving acts causes the sincere person to accept the Bible as God’s Word.
When renowned archaeologist Sir William Ramsay started his explorations in Asia Minor, he doubted the historicity of the book of Acts. But after hundreds of hours of research, he began to change his mind. A careful study of Acts 14:5-12 led him to believe that Luke was quite familiar with the places, people, and events about which he wrote. In this passage, Luke wrote that Paul and Barnabas fled from Iconium to “Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia” (14:6). It formerly was assumed in ancient geography that Iconium was a city of Lycaonia (e.g., like Montgomery is a city of Alabama). This passage was considered by some Bible critics to be a typical example of the lack of local exactitude by the author of Acts, and thus evidence against divine inspiration. However, as Ramsay went on to demonstrate conclusively, this was not the case. Iconium was not a part of Lycaonia. Rather, it belonged to Phrygia, an entirely different district of Asia Minor. This change may sound like a minor point, but it was a very important one in the thought of Ramsay. His attitude toward the book of Acts began to change radically. The more he studied Acts, the more he became an ardent advocate of the trustworthiness of Luke’s scholarship.
Archaeology can be a great asset to people who are searching for knowledge. It enlightens our reading of the Scripture as it continues to confirm the Bible’s historical accuracy. Those who have studied the book of Acts in light of archaeology have found that where references are checkable, Luke always was correct, regardless of the country, city, island, or person he mentioned. As Wayne Jackson observed: “This is truly remarkable, in view of the fact that the political/territorial situation of his day was in a state of almost constant change. Only inspiration can account for Luke’s precision” (“The Holy Bible—Inspired of God,” Christian Courier, 27:1-3, May 1991). How very true.