New Testament Survey: The Book Of Acts
The Book Of Acts
- “The beloved physician” (Col 4:14). The only Gentile writer in the New Testament.
(Mentioned by name 3 times in the New Testament: Col 4:14, 2 Tim 4:11, Phile 24)
- As we spoke of earlier in Luke, it seems quite apparent that Paul had a strong influence on what Luke wrote in both the Gospel of Luke and Acts. (Acts is the “sequel” to Luke.)
- Luke was a Greek Gentile (Luke = Lucius in Greek), not “of the circumcision” (compare Col 4:11 with Col 4:14), who most believe was brought to faith in Christ by Paul, possibly at Antioch (one of the “Grecians” who turned unto the Lord: Acts 11:19-21). After this occurred, Luke began to accompany Paul on parts of his missionary trips. As a physician, he likely cared for Paul as he faced many physical ailments.
- We can see when Luke was with Paul and when he wasn’t because his writing shifts from 1st person to 3rd person (compare Acts 16:1-9 “they” with Acts 16:10-17 “we/us”). (Other “we” sections: Acts 20:5-21:18, Acts 27:1-28- 28:16.)
- The early church fathers (Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Eusebius) universally agreed that Luke wrote this book.
- ** For more information on Luke, please refer back to “New Testament Survey: The Book Of Luke.”
- Chapters: 28
- Verses: 1006
- Timeline: Just over 30 years (Covering the reigns of Roman Emperors: Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero.)
- App. 62-63 A.D.
- Acts was the 2nd of two books (the “second treatise:” Acts 1:1) that Luke wrote, the 1st being the Gospel of Luke. It is believed that Luke may have gathered much of the material for Acts during Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea (app. 58-59 A.D.). He apparently had information from written sources (i.e. Lk 15:23-29, Lk 23:26-30), access to records from the church in Caesarea, etc…, as well as many oral sources who would have been in the area at that time. Some of these likely would have been:
- The apostles themselves would have shared accounts of the ascension, the preaching and founding of the church on the day of Pentecost, the acts of Peter, the martyrdom of Stephen and James, etc… Luke also spent time with Mark (Col 4:10-14).
- Philip (who had a home in Caesarea: Acts 21:8) and his daughters, could have shared the events of (Acts 8).
- Cornelius (the 1st Gentile convert, who also had a home in Caesarea: Acts 10:1) would have been able to share the information in (Acts 10).
- As we spoke of above, and in our survey of Luke, Paul apparently had a great influence on what Luke wrote, so he could have provided him with information on much of the rest of Acts. Of course, Luke would have been an eyewitness to many of these events as well as he traveled with Paul.
- Because there is no mention of the destruction of the Temple (70 A.D.), the persecution of Nero (64 A.D.), or the martyrdom of Peter or Paul (app. 63-67 A.D.), it most certainly was written before these events.
- It has an abrupt ending, with Paul being under house arrest in Rome, awaiting trial before Caesar. This occurred in (app. 62 A.D.).
- Likely Rome
- The Greeks (Gentiles) (Specifically to Theophilus [name means “beloved of God”] who was a friend of Luke’s, and likely a Roman official or someone of influence.)
- The growth of the church by the power of the Holy Spirit (mentioned 52 times in Acts).
(Acts 1:8)(Acts 2:4,42-47)(Acts 4:12,19-20)(Acts 5:3-6)(Acts 12:2)(Acts 16:31)
1. To present a historical, accurate account of the beginnings and growth of the early church by carrying out the Great Commission to spread the Gospel (Mt 28:19-20)(Acts 1:8), through the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. To form a “bridge” between the Gospels and the Epistles.
3. To present a defense of the Christian faith.
4. To prove Christianity was not some kind of “subversive plot.”
- As in his previous writing of the Gospel of Luke, Luke places great emphasis on two things:
1. Prayer: The word “pray” (or a form of it) is used 35 times in Acts: (1:14,24)(2:42)(3:1)(4:31)(6:4,6)(8:15,22,24,34)(9:11,40)(10:2,4,9,30,31,48)(11:5)(12:5,12)(13:3)(14:23)(16:9,13,16,25)(20:36)(21:5)(22:17)(23:18)(24:4)(27:34)(28:8).
Mary, Jesus’ mother in the “upper room:” (Acts 1:14)
Sapphira: (Acts 5:1-2,7-11)
Tabitha/Dorcas: (Acts 9:36-43)
Mary, the mother of Mark: (Acts 12:12)
Rhoda: (Acts 12:13)
Lydia: (Acts 16:13-15)(The 1st convert in Europe)
Damaris: (Acts 17:34)
Priscilla: (Acts 18:1-3,26)
Philip’s daughters: (Acts 21:9)
Plus, many women also believed (Acts 5:14)(Acts 8:3,12)(Acts 9:2)(Acts 16:1)(Acts 17:4,12 – prominent Greek women).
- As stated above, there is also a great emphasis on the growth of the “church.” We can see this in:
(Acts 2:41,47)(Acts 4:4)(Acts 5:14)(Acts 6:1,7)(Acts 9:31)(Acts 11:21,24)(Acts 12:24)(Acts 13:48)(Acts 16:5)(Acts 19:20).
- Of course, the resurrection of Jesus is a key to salvation, and there is heavy emphasis on it all through Acts: (Acts 1:8,22)(Acts 2:24-32)(Acts 3:15,26)(Acts 4:2,10,33)(Acts 5:30-32)(Acts 10:40)(Acts 13:30-39)(Acts 17:18,31)(Acts 26:23).
- Luke also makes numerous references to Old Testament verses in Acts:
|(Acts 2:17-21) compare to (Joel 2:28-32)||(Acts 2:25-28) compare to (Ps 16:8-11)|
|(Acts 2:24-25) compare to (Ps 110:1)||(Acts 4:11) compare to (Ps 118:22)|
|(Acts 4:25-26) compare to (Ps 2:1-2)||(Acts 8:32-33) compare to (Isa 53:7-8)|
|(Acts 13:41) compare to (Hab 1:5)||(Acts 13:47) compare to (Isa 49:6)|
|(Acts 15:16-17) compare to (Amos 9:11-12)||(Acts 28:26-27) compare to (Isa 6:9-10)|
**There are also numerous references found in Stephen’s speech in (Acts 7).
- Acts mainly focuses on the ministries or “acts” (Greek word: “praxeis“) of two men:
(Before this book was named “Acts” it was called both “The Gospel of the Holy Ghost” and “The Gospel of the Resurrection.”
- 1. Peter: Opens the door to the Jews (Acts: Chapters 1-9).
- (Acts 1:1-8:3) based mainly in Jerusalem.
- (Acts 8:3-12:24) based mainly in Judea and Samaria.
- Opens the door to the Gentiles (Acts: Chapters 10-12).
**Chapters 1-12 describe about the 1st 12 years of the Christian church.
*** Peter virtually disappears after Chapter 12.
- 2. Paul: Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles (Acts: Chapters 13-28)(app. 44-62 A.D.). Based mainly in Antioch, carried to Rome. Taking the Gospel “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
- The Bible shows us that Paul carried the Gospel to numerous cities, in 3 different missionary trips, which covered over 13,000 miles!
1st missionary trip (Acts 13:4-14:28) (App. 46-48 A.D.): Selucia to Salamis & Paphos in Cyprus to Perga in Pamphilia (Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem) to Antioch in Pisidia, to Iconium, to Lystra, to Derbe, then back to Lystra, Iconium, Antioch in Pisidia, and Perga in Pamphilia, then to Attalia where they then went home to Antioch.
2nd missionary trip (Acts 15:36-18:22) (App. 49-52 A.D.): Antioch to Syria and Celicia, to Derbe and Lystra (Timothy joins them) to Phyrgia and Galacia to Troas (Luke joins them) to Samothrace to Neapolis to Philippi to Amphipolis to Apollonia to Thessalonica to Berea to Athens, to Cenchreae to Corinth to Ephesus to Caesarea to Jerusalem (for Passover), where they went back home to Antioch.
3rd missionary trip (Acts 18:23-21:17) (App. 53-57 A.D.): Antioch to regions of Galatia and Phyrgia to Ephesus to Troas to Macedonia to Greece, back to Macedonia to Philippi (Luke rejoins them) to Troas to Mitylene to Chios to Samos to Trogyllium to Miletus to Cos, to Rhodes to Patara to Tyre to Ptolemais to Caesarea (where the prophet Agabus warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but he went anyway) to Jerusalem.
Excursus On Pentecost:
- Numerous places in the Gospels pointed to Pentecost.
- Why was Pentecost so important?
The empowering of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, and up until Pentecost in the New Testament was a temporary thing. The Holy Spirit came upon people for limited periods of time to help them accomplish a task for God. He did not reside in people permanently. Since Pentecost, all believers are now “baptized” into one body (1 Cor 12:13), and He lives in all believers permanently (Eph 1:13-14)(2 Th 2:13)(2 Cor 1:22).
Jesus told His disciples in (Jn 16:5-7) that it was good that He was going to leave them because the Spirit would then come. Why? Because Jesus could only “physically” be in one place at a time, but when the Holy Spirit was sent, He would indwell all believers everywhere at once.
- Who was the one who would send this “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” by fire?
Jesus: (Mt 3:11)(Mk 1:4-8)(Lk 3:16)
- When did Jesus say this event would occur?
When He was “glorified” (Jn 7:37-39).
- What does “glorified” mean?
In a believer, it occurs at death, being in Heaven with the Father for eternity. It is when our salvation is perfected. In Jesus’ case, it would have been returning to the Father.
- When did Jesus return to the Father?
Most agree, it wasn’t after He died because He went to Hades to preach to the captives there for 3 days: (Mt 12:40)(1 Pet 3:18-20)(1 Pet 4:6)(Acts 2:31).
After He was resurrected, on the 3rd day, Jesus confirmed He had not yet been “glorified” because He told Mary in (Jn 20:17) “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.”
*** In addition, before Jesus arose to the Father in Heaven, He told the disciples in (Lk 24:39), “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” In other words, Jesus told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit. We see the disciples following this command in (Acts 1 & 2) to stay in Jerusalem.
- What did Jesus say the Holy Spirit would do for believers when He came to live inside of them?
Regenerate: (Jn 3:5), Give life: (Jn 6:63), Comfort: (Jn 14:16), Teach (Jn 14:26), Convict of sin: (Jn 16:8)
This promise was fulfilled by Jesus at Pentecost: (Acts 2:1-36). Peter confirms this by (Acts 2:33) saying, “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost (Spirit), he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”
- What was the purpose of tongues?
To provoke the Jews, who were present in each case, that God was with these new groups: (1 Cor 14:21-22)(Prophesied in: Isa 28:11)
- What role did Peter play in this?
Most scholars believe that in (Mt 16:19), when Jesus gave Peter the “keys to the kingdom of heaven,” this was so that Peter could open the door to the kingdom of heaven by bringing 3 different groups of people into God’s New Covenant group by group. This was done by the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
1st: The Jews (Acts 2:14)
2nd: The Samaritans (Acts 8:14-25)
3rd: The Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48)
** God also used Paul to bring in other “God-fearers,” disciples of John the Baptist who were unaware of what had happened at Pentecost (Acts 19:1-7).
- It should be noted again that all believers who were present in these groups were “Baptized by the Holy Spirit.”
I. Preaching the Gospel “in Jerusalem” and Judea.
(1) Preparation for the work (1:1-26).
(2) Events of Pentecost (2:1-47).
(3) The Church unfolding in miracle and endurance of persecution (3:1-4:37).
(4) The Church unfolding in penal power (5:1-16).
(5) The Church in the second persecution (5:17-42).
(6) The Church forming its economy (6:1-8).
(7) The Church in last struggle and dispersion (6:8-8:4).
II. Preaching the Gospel “in Samaria” and about Palestine.
(1) The deacon Philip evangelizes Samaria (8:5-25).
(2) The new Apostle of the Gentiles called (9:1-30).
(3) Gentile induction; new Christian center, Gentile Antioch (10:1-11:30).
(4) Desolation of Jerusalem Church by Herod; its avenging (12:1-25).
III. Preaching the Gospel “in the Uttermost Parts of the Earth”.
(1) Paul’s first mission from Antioch (13:1-14:28).
(2) Jerusalem Council on Circumcision (15:1-34).
(3) Paul’s second mission from Antioch (15:35-18:23).
(4) Paul’s third mission from Antioch (18:23-21:17).
(5) Paul in council with James-Arrest-Sent to Caesarea (21:18-23:35).
(6) Paul’s two years at Caesarea (24:1-26:32).
(7) Paul en route for Rome; at Rome (27:1-28:31).
(Outline from People’s New Testament: Public Domain)