Christians aren’t supposed to lie, but that doesn’t mean they can’t pull your leg a little. Have you ever heard a Christian refer to Acts chapter 29? Try looking that chapter up in a Bible!
If you’re familiar with made-up books of the Bible such as First Hesitations and Second Opinions (not to mention oldies but goodies such as Fleshalonians and First Assumptions!), then you can already see where I’m going with this. Surprise, surprise. There isn’t really an Acts chapter 29! There are only 28 chapters in the Acts of the Apostles.
Why would Christians, who allegedly place great importance on the truth and accuracy of the Bible, invent an extra chapter for the Book of Acts? The answer is simple: it’s a metaphor, people! The twenty-eight chapters of Acts are basically a big description of the early missionary work of the apostles and the activities of the early church. Because Christians believe that the church’s work in sharing the gospel and building new churches didn’t just halt when the Bible was done being written, they metaphorically describe the ongoing work of the church as a figurative “29th” chapter of the Book of Acts. Now it makes sense!
As you can read in the quotations below, Christians have been referring to “Acts 29” at least since the 1970s. Usually a slang word is in popular use for quite some time before somebody decides to use it in a printed book or magazine, so it’s possible that Christians have been saying “Acts 29” since the middle of the 20th century. (Do any of you silver-haired saints out there remember folks saying it in the 1950s or 1960s? Let me know!)
Today, you can hear Christians use “Acts 29” not only to describe stuff that churches are doing, but the metaphor gets used quite often in the names of missionary and church-planting organizations. Back in the 1960s there was an Acts 29 (see the 1970 citation below), and now today there’s another Acts 29 that’s not even related to the earlier one. In fact, the Acts 29 Network that’s around today is too cool for school: they like to abbreviate the name of their organization to just “A29.” How slick is that!
Have you heard of any other books or chapters that aren’t really in the Bible but are used metaphorically?
Acts 29 n. [in allusion to an imaginary 29th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament] A metaphor for the work the church has been doing since New Testament times; a metaphor for the church’s efforts at evangelism and church-planting and other activities that are regarded as the modern-day continuation of the church’s mission as described in the Acts of the Apostles.
• 1970 Krutza, Di Cicco Youth Face Today’s Issues 60 : In 1968, a group of evangelical young men, formerly staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ, drew up plans for establishing “first-century churches.” The group called itself “Acts 29” and started churches in homes and colleges, free from expensive buildings, complex programs, full-time pastors and organizational machinery. 1971 Taylor The Key to Triumphant Living: An Adventure in Personal Discovery 89 : Living in Acts “Twenty-Nine.” The story is not finished! The last chapter is being written … we are living in Acts 29! 1985 Van Dyne Villages Nearby: A Story of Outreach in Alaska 96 : The New Testament Book of Acts has no chapter 29. But I cannot argue that the Holy Spirit has stopped writing in the lives of Christians ever since that first Christian century. We are Acts 29! 1989 Marek Pentecostal Testimony (Dec.) 24 : I’ve frequently heard of churches with a desire to “write” Acts chapter 29. Is it not the dream of every preacher? Is this not what the world needs to see? 1998 Shelly Falling in Love with Jesus’ People: Studies in the Book of Acts 258 : What signs do you see of a spiritual revival in your lifetime? Write a short 29th chapter of Acts by focusing on the dreams you have for your church. 2001 Sweet Carpe Mañana: Is Your Church Ready to Seize Tomorrow? 27 : An “Acts 29” movement is afoot, its motto is “The history of the church is still being written. Be a part of it.” 2007 Sandler Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement 75 : The book of Acts tells of the first Christians’ evangelism in twenty-eight chapters, thus the idea behind Acts 29 is to continue their legacy. 2011 Eastman The Purple Pig and Other Miracles 199 : The Book of Acts is indeed alive today. It didn’t end with chapter 28, as we see in our Bibles. These are the days of Acts chapter 29.