Acts is the second volume of a two part volume that is written by Luke, a physician and travelling companion of the apostle Paul (The first volume being the gospel of Luke). It is the bridge that provides the link between the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. It tells the story of how the good news was spread by witnesses starting from Jerusalem, to all Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Some Tips on How to read the book of Acts
You can read Acts in 2 different ways:
- Tracing the movement of the good news…
There are 3 main portions:
- 1:1 – 6:7 The good news begins in Jerusalem
- 6:8 – 9:31 The good news spread to Judea and Samaria
- 9:32 – 12:24 The good news spread to the Gentiles
As you read, it will be handy for you to have a study bible or a bible atlas with maps so that you can identify the movement of the gospel geographically.
- Tracing the lives of witnesses…
Pay attention to how God used different people to spread the good news to both the Jews and Gentiles.
Four main pioneers of faith:
- Peter Acts 1 – 12
- Stephen Acts 6 – 7
- Philip Acts 8
- Paul Acts 8 – 28
As you read about each person’s life, write down the qualities or lessons we can learn from them.
Also look out for:
- How the Holy Spirit worked through miracles and opportunities to enable the spread of the good news.
- How the good news was spread by Christians who faithfully preached the word wherever they were scattered to because of persecution.
- Identify some issues that crop up as the good news is brought from the Jews to the Gentiles and how these issues were settled.
The book of Acts is the continuation of the Gospel of Luke, covering the 30 years after Jesus was taken up into heaven. This book is a bridge between the story of Jesus in the Gospel and the life of the church in the letters that followed. Through the Spirit, the disciples are empowered to preach Jesus and many people became Christian after hearing the good news. “…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (1:8). Jewish leaders, who are against the movement, began to persecute the believers who were then scattered to other areas and spread the gospel all over the world.
Saul, later called Paul, was the ultimate persecutor but became a Christian after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus. Then, he joined Peter and other Christian leaders in preaching, working miracles and strengthening the fledging church.
The character of Paul:
- Against the Lord vs. fearing the Lord
“…But Saul began to destroy the church (8:3) (and later) …Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.” (9:28)
- Persecutor vs. being persecuted
He once was threatening and killed those who believed in Jesus (9:1) but after meeting the Lord, he submitted himself to do God’s work no matter what happens to him (21:27-36)
- Ordinary vs. extraordinary
Paul, who was a non-believer and against Christians, is now filled with the Holy Spirit when he speaks the good news about Jesus. Even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him when taken to the sick, their illnesses were cured (19:12).
Questions to ponder on after reading Acts:
- Am I sharing about Jesus to others in the power of the Holy Spirit?
- Am I willing to take up my cross and follow Jesus?
- Am I ready to become ‘extraordinary’ and become a tool for Jesus?
“Do not be afraid, keep on speaking, do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”