Luke begins the Book of Acts where he left off in his gospel. Acts records the initial fulfillment of the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19–20 as it traces the beginning and growth of the New Testament church. Christ’s last words before His ascension were so perfectly realized in the Book of Acts. (1.)
Acts 1:8, a key verse, provides an outline for the book:
- First, you’re going to receive power to be My witnesses.
- The indwelling of the Holy Spirit will be with you permanently.
- To be My Witnesses in:
- Jerusalem: Peter’s ministry is the primary focus –Acts 1-7
- Judea & Samaria: Philip’s ministry –Acts 8-12
- Remotest part: Paul’s ministry the bulk of Acts –13-28
This one verse is a literary masterpiece.
Thus, Acts traces the rapid expansion of the gospel, beginning in Jerusalem and spreading throughout the Roman Empire. (2.)
Acts is a Transition from:
- Nation to the World
- Jew to the Gentile
- Law to Grace
- Often referred to as the “Acts of the Apostles” but is perhaps more accurately the “Acts of the Holy Spirit.” Acts details the affects of the indwelling/empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
- Historical account of Christianity after Christ’s ascension spanning ~ 30 years until the arrival of Paul in Rome.
- Theological continuity: Abrahamic, Davidic/Messianic, and New Covenants
- Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles
- Peter, Philip, Paul
- Sum: transition, the Holy Spirit (fulfillment of the New Covenant promise), and the gospel spreading to all ethnos in keeping with Abrahamic Covenant and Christ’s “great commission” to His disciples.
Keep in mind: transition, the Holy Spirit, and the spread of the gospel to all ethnos.
- The transformation due to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling on the day of Pentecost fulfills the OT festival –Passover / Pentecost, and the coming of the Holy Spirit: The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
- The authentication of the New Covenant. In Acts 2, no less that 13 up to 16 known: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents ofMesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia…all known languages, not some kind of ecstatic utterance. The term is dialekto clearly means“known language”.
Acts 2:8, notice: “we hear each other—”
“Instead of being drunk the believers were experiencing what was described in Joel 2. In Peter’s words, This is what was spoken by the Prophet Joel. This… means Pentecost fulfilled what Joel had described. However, the prophecies of Joel quoted in Acts 2:19–20 were not fulfilled. The implication is that the remainder would be fulfilled if Israel would repent.” (3)
- The transformation of the disciples. Peter, who denies his Savior, is radically transformed into a fearless spokesman for Jesus and His gospel.
- This kind of 180* change can only be attributed to the HS work in Peter.
- Stephen’s sermon and martyrdom.
- The continuing work of Jesus in the lives of Jews and Gentiles –thousands who respond to Christ.
- Foundations of the church and mission.
- We often appeal to Acts 2:42 for good reason
Acts 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Devotion: to God’s word. The apostles’ teaching.
What are these men telling us about the Old Testament scriptures?
Now we have a lot more information because Christ came: He lived, He died, He was buried, He was resurrected, He gave the Holy Spirit and now we are empowered to tell the whole world what Abraham was up to from the very beginning.
Fellowship: an alliance of people growing to maturity. Fellowship is not the meal. The fellowship is: are we in the word, talking about how we’re growing as believers. Fellowship ought to be encouraging one another all the more.
Breaking of bread: In the first century this was often a communal meal.
Prayer: Generally, we all need to grow in this area. Great resource: Handbook to prayer
Until we recognize our dependence is not partial, but total, we will not pray. -Professor Howard Hendricks
When you and I do not pray, we are depending on our own skillset.
- The church grew. Acts 2:41, ~3000. Acts 4:4 ~5000. Commonly acknowledged more than likely only counting heads of households.
- Stephen’s sermon and stoning.
- Introduction of Saul –Paul 8:1 Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.
- Great persecution
- Scattering of believers.
- Philip & the Ethopian
- Saul’s confrontation and conversion 9
- Cornelius’s vision and Peter at Caesarea –Gentiles
- Peter’s imprisonment and escape chains fell off12:7
- Jerusalem Council 15 –essentially, “how Jewish do you have to become before you can be saved”.
- Missionary journeys
- Macedonia, Lystra, Galatia, Europe, Troas, Philippi
- Paul & Silas imprisoned, singing at midnight
- (Can you choose joy in pain?)
- Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Mars Hill, Corinth, Ephesus,
- Back to Jerusalem facing a plot to murder Paul
- Paul’s imprisonment in Jerusalem, moved back to Caesarea; before Felix, Festus, Agrippa…
- Sent to Rome; Shipwrecked in Malta, finally arriving in Rome
By the end of the book of Acts, Luke has shown us how the gospel has been carried from Jerusalem to Rome in 30 years.
Acts 28:30-31 It’s His involvement, not ours. It’s His word.
You and I have one simple task: be obedient, be in the word, be in prayer, be in fellowship, break bread, grow as disciples, and look at the opportunities He gives you uniquely.
- Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible(Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983), 351.
- Edited from Wilkinson and Boa, 351
- Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,”in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 358)