We have journeyed far enough with Paul to answer some of the questions with which we started this book. In particular we have been interested in knowing whether Paul was a rogue apostle (as some thought in the early Church, and some think today), claiming to follow Jesus but propounding a different gospel from that of Jesus. We have also been interested in whether the account of Paul's life and ministry in Acts is a trustworthy account, or a sanitized semi-fictional account. We have addressed these questions by travelling a long way with Paul: we have compared Acts and Paul's letters and tried to see how they relate to each other and to a wider historical context, and we have looked at the letters to see what they tell us about Paul and his ministry and in particular to see what light they shed on the question of Paul's knowledge of Jesus.
Our examination of Acts has strongly confirmed its historical reliability. We have seen how various scholarly theories that cast doubt on Acts – for example, the widely held view that the Council of Acts 15 corresponds to the meeting of Paul with the Jerusalem leaders described in Galatians 2 – are actually thoroughly implausible. A thoughtful reading of Acts in the light of the historical context (including events such as the expulsion of the Jews from Rome) makes it clear that Acts gets the history right again and again.
Not that Acts tells us the whole story; how could it? There are things that were very important to Paul at particular times, such as the dispute with Peter in Antioch and the collection for Jerusalem, which were not important issues for the author of Acts at the time he wrote his narrative. But this is not a sinister whitewashing or romanticizing of history: why should Acts tell us all the details of the sharp dispute and debate in Antioch, highlighting Peter and Paul's temporary disagreement, which was quite quickly sorted out?