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Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume 2


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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 for the study of not only Acts but also early Christianity, this work sets Acts in its first-century context.

In this volume, the second 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.


"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; president of the Society for New Testament Studies, 2013

"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, another Beginnings of Christianity, which comprised five volumes, except it is by one scholar, and it focuses more on exegesis of the text. 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

"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

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


"I understand that two more volumes are coming to complete [Keener's commentary on] Acts. If they maintain a comparable size, this will mean well over 4,000 pp. commentary on Acts. I'd hazard the guess that this will make it the largest commentary ever written on Acts (at least by a single author), and perhaps the largest commentary on any single biblical writing. In addition to his own observations and judgments, and notice of what other/previous scholars have written on any given passage, Keener is also well-known for providing references to Roman-era literature that provide anything that might serve as a parallel or might be helpful in grasping in historical terms matters in the various NT writings on which he comments. In this case (Acts), these references are abundant. . . . This commentary provides a trove of information for serious readers of Acts. . . . One cannot but be impressed that Keener has managed to produce such a huge work, and this in addition to numerous other publications. It will be consulted frequently in coming years to draw upon his commendable dedication to providing the results of his extensive acquaintance with the historical context of the NT."

Larry Hurtado,

blog (

"The much-awaited second installment of Craig S. Keener's four-volume commentary on the book of Acts continues in the same note as the previous volume. It represents undoubtedly a tour de force and much more than a mere verse-by-verse exegetical treatment of the biblical text. It certainly looks exhaustive in its magnitude, and it is intended for the widest possible readership, from students to researchers and pastors. Thus, it is indeed a research tool that cannot be ignored by anyone seriously engaged in the interpretation of Acts. . . . One of the greatest feats of Keener's opus magnum is the wealth of ancient sources (both Jewish and Greco-Roman) and modern scholarship it references throughout the volume. Also extremely useful and usually extensive are the twenty excurses it contains. . . . A standard reference work in Acts studies. [Keener's] encyclopedic opus is certainly to be praised and valued by scholars as the most extensive study of sociorhetorical exegesis of Acts."

Justin A. Mihoc,

Review of Biblical Literature

"The mark of these volumes--which is one reason they are indispensable--is attention to the details of the ancient sociohistorical context in which the stories of Acts are set, supported by a multitude of references to wide-ranging ancient sources. . . . [This commentary] makes a significant contribution at a number of points. . . . The commentary of the second volume is supplemented along the way by thorough and helpful excurses, twenty in all, which occupy themselves primarily with matters of ancient societal institutions and practices that shed light on passages in Acts. . . . Many of the discussions, not to mention the trove of references to ancient sources, will prove useful for those studying other ancient texts of the period beyond Luke-Acts--a rare feat for a New Testament commentary. . . . The commentary generally remains accessible to upper-level undergraduates and dedicated laypersons, as technical discussions and non-English material tend to stay in the footnotes. I trust I am not alone in gratitude to Craig Keener for this massive work."

Joshua L. Mann,

Review of Biblical Literature

"This is the second of a projected four volumes of Craig Keener's monumental commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. To describe this as 'monumental' is an understatement. In size alone it will certainly be the most extensive commentary on Acts ever penned. . . . More important than its size, however, is the quality of Keener's scholarship and his interpretation of this key New Testament book. . . . Keener musters a truly impressive array of knowledge about the Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts of the first century and has a command of the extensive literature on the Acts of the Apostles and related topics. This will certainly remain a standard resource work for study of Acts."

Donald Senior, CP,

The Bible Today

"The work is immense in scope, but focused. . . . Keener's work advances far beyond the few topographical details provided (and often repeated) by many commentators. . . . This volume bursts with a zest for the text. . . . Despite its length, a user-friendly layout renders it remarkably readable. Helpful hierarchies of headings, combined with sections typically constrained to two to three pages in length, amplify Keener's lucid writing style. . . . The multitudinous footnotes bustle with generative conversation. . . . Keener opens up the ancient world of Acts in new and vibrant ways to both scholar and non-scholar. . . . Keener's subsequent volumes addressing the latter chapters of Acts remain rich and rewarding prospects."

Matthew Sleeman,

Expository Times

"The latest installment in Craig Keener's epic four volume Acts commentary--the mother of all Acts commentaries--is now available. It covers Acts 3:1-14:28. All I can say is whoa! The first thing I checked out were the many excursuses and he's got a bunch of helpful ones. . . . I found these to be very useful, up to date in terms of research, compris[ing] excellent summaries of disputed topics. . . . The references to primary and secondary sources mean that the research behind this book is positively encyclopedic. Keener's volume stands apart from other Acts commentaries because of its size, magnitude, and weight, and is therefore more of a reference resource on Acts in commentary form. . . . If you want a one stop shop for a thorough overview of issues, interpretation, and exegesis of the text of Acts, this is the way to go."

Michael Bird,

Euangelion blog

"Contain[s] a plethora of references to ancient and modern sources. Especially appreciated is Keener's abundant use of excurses to provide valuable additional context for his verse-by-verse exegesis. . . . Keener's magnum opus is must reading for anyone working in Acts."

William Sanger Campbell,

Religious Studies Review

"A massive goldmine of information. . . . This is the go-to commentary on Acts. Keener amazingly combines attention to great detail with verve and clarity in writing."

Ray Van Neste,

Preaching (The Best in Bibles & Bible Reference for 2014)

"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 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