Acts: Body language

I think Dr Luke and I would get along very well: we both share an attention to detail. (Though in my case it sometimes leads to me forgetting about the big picture.) In reading through Acts recently, I took note of brief, incidental descriptions of body language.

Intense looks

Who’s looking? At what? Reference
 Disciples The sky  Acts 1:10
 Peter The cripple at Beautiful Gate  Acts 3:4
 Sanhedrin  Stephen  Acts 6:15
 Stephen  Heaven  Acts 7:55
 Cornelius  An angel of God  Acts 10:4
 Peter  The vision of a sheet  Acts 11:6
 Paul  Elymas the sorcerer  Acts 13:9
 Paul  The cripple at Lystra  Acts 14:9
 Paul  Sanhedrin  Acts 23:1

It would seem that cripples about to be healed received their fair share of fixated gazes 🙂

Hand motions

Who’s motioning? To whom? Reference
 Peter  Those gathered at Mary’s home  Acts 12:17
 Paul  Those gathered in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch  Acts 13:16
 Alexander  Those gathered in the amphitheatre at Ephesus  Acts 19:33
 Paul  Hostile crowd in Jerusalem  Acts 21:40

Hand motions to get the attention of a crowd: completely logical.


  • Governor Felix gestures for Paul to speak, likely a nod (Acts 24:10)
  • When given permission by Agrippa to speak, Paul stretches out his hand before beginning (Acts 26:1)

So what?

In an age before fiction writing as we know it today was invented, these seemingly throwaway phrases bolster the credibility of the narrative. They’re just the kind of things an eyewitness would recall!

2 thoughts on “Acts: Body language

  1. Very cool post, Nelima! For the intense looks, I would love to find some kind of relationship among the items you mentioned. I love that the books starts with the disciples looking into the sky. Looking at heaven/angel/vision seem to be surrounded by looks upon sin/sickness. That’s probably looking too much into it, but it’s a fun exercise. Thanks for the thoughts!

    1. Thanks, Jeremy! Good to know that someone appreciates this slightly quirky post.
      I agree that a further look (pun intended) into this theme would be fantastic, but that’s probably beyond my capabilities 🙂

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