Introduction to the Book of Acts

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All of God’s Word is profitable for  study (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We want to encourage all who read these  studies to be  like the Bereans in Acts 17 who searched the Scriptures daily to see whether the Apostle Paul spoke truly  from God.

So, we  encourage  you  to have your  Bibles with you as  you read these articles. Let’s study together. Remember, God has  told us to study His Word (2 Tim. 2:15).

In this introductory  article, we are  going to give  an  introduction to the  book and relate some facts about the time setting. There will also  be  some remarks on the  author. The Book of Acts is the bridge from the Gospels to the Epistles. You will not find the establishment of the Church in the Gospels. Only after the death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus could there ever be a Church. Jesus lived and died under the Mosaic Law

It is in the Book of Acts that we see the establishment of the Church. The Book of Acts is a book of beginning. Thomas D. Thurman, who ministered at Mason (OH) Church of Christ, wrote the following:

“Acts: The Genesis of the New Testament. Now what does that mean? Well, Genesis means ‘beginnings.’ It tells about the beginning of the Church, of Christian benevolence. It relates about the first church hypocrites, the first church election, and the first Christian martyr. The beginning of the Holy Spirit’s working in the church is described. So is the conversion of the first Gentile, the sending of the first missionaries, and the first great controversy in the church. Paul’s first work in Europe is explained in Chapter 16, and elsewhere in the book we get to meet the first mixed-up preacher and the first church sleeper. We can also read about Paul’s first sermon before royalty and his first view of Rome.”

At this time we want  to give a brief introduction of the book. Unless one is familiar with the events in Acts, the events in the Epistles will not have much meaning. The book of Acts tells of the advance of the Gospel. It tells us if the spread of Christianity from the Day of Pentecost until Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome in Acts 28.

J. Vernon McGee said that the key verse is Acts 1:8. This verse gives us  divisions of the book.

  • Chapters 1-7 The work in Jerusalem.
  • Chapters 8-12 The work in Judea and Samaria.
  • Chapters 13-28 The work to the uttermost parts of the earth.

The author of the book is not mentioned by name.  Dr. Luke is presumed to be the author.  Post-apostolic writers, as far back as the second century ascribe the book to Luke. One thing that we know us that the writer of the book was with Paul in what is called the “we” passages. They are as follows:

  • Acts 16:10-17. Troas to Philippi (Second Missionary Journey)
  • Acts 20:6-21:18.  Philippi to Jerusalem ( Third Missionary Journey)
  • Acts 27:1-28:16. Voyage to Rome.

Luke was the only non-Jewish writer of the New Testament.  He is mentioned only three times in the New Covenant Scriptures.  The three places are:

1. Colossians 4:14.

2. 2 Timothy 4:11.

3. Philemon 24.

Colossians 4:14  tells us that his occupation was that of a physician. The book was written to a man named Theophilus. Who was this man?  He was, in all probabilities, a high ranking Roman official. His name means “lover of God.”  In Acts, Luke is continuing the narrative he began in his gospel.  He was telling Theophilus the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

What was the date of the writing of Acts?  The most common dates suggested have been between AD 62 and 64.  Why these dates? At least 3 reasons seem evident

  1. If the writer had known the outcome of Paul’s trial, don’t you think he would have mentioned it. The imprisonment Paul mentioned in2 Timothy 4 dies not seem to be the one in Acts 28.
  2. No reference is made of destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in AD 70.
  3. No mention is made of the persecution of Emperor Nero.  It is believed that Paul suffered martyrdom in the time of Nero.

In our next article we will deal with the events that took place in chapter 1.


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