New Testament Survey: The Book Of Acts

Written By: Steve Shirley


The Book Of Acts

Author:  Luke

The Stats:

Date Written:

Place Written:  Likely Rome

Written To:  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.)

Key Phrase:  The growth of the church by the power of the Holy Spirit (mentioned 52 times in Acts).

Key Verses:  (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."

Special Emphasis:

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).

2. Women:

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).

(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).

**Chapters 1-12 describe about the 1st 12 years of the Christian church.
*** Peter virtually disappears after Chapter 12.

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:

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.

Jesus: (Mt 3:11)(Mk 1:4-8)(Lk 3:16)

When He was "glorified" (Jn 7:37-39).

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.

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.

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."

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)

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).


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)