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Getting to Know the Bible: Acts Overview

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on Acts. But before we get to Acts 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of Acts. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of Acts, as we prepare to behold and discern Acts, beginning with Acts 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: A book of history, sometimes grouped with the Gospels, sometimes treated as a unique work; the fifth book of the New Testament; the forty-fourth book of the Bible.

Authors: Although the author does not name himself, the book of Acts is the second of a two-part work, both traditionally attributed to Luke.

Date of Writing: Many dates have been suggested for Acts. The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are two parts of a single overall narrative. Using evidence from both timeframes, you can use A.D 62-70 as a guide.

Audience: Luke is most likely the only Gentile (non-Jewish) author of New Testament writing.

Theme: Witness

Original Language: Greek/Aramaic

Genre: History

Title: The Bridge

Purpose of Writing: The book of Acts was written to provide a history of the early church. The emphasis of the book is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Acts records the apostles being Christ’s witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the surrounding world. The book of Acts sheds light on the gift of the Holy Spirit, who empowers, guides, teaches, and serves as our Counselor. Reading the book of Acts, we are enlightened and encouraged by the power of the gospel as it spread throughout the world and transformed lives. Many miracles were performed during this time by the apostles to validate their message. The book of Acts covers the transitional time between the ascension of Christ and the completion of the New Testament canon, and the apostolic miracles were God’s means of authenticating His message through the men who penned the Bible.

Summary: The book of Acts gives the history of the Christian church and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as the mounting opposition to it. Although many faithful servants were used to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, Saul, also called Paul, was the most influential. Before he was converted, Paul zealously persecuted Christians. Paul’s dramatic conversion on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1–31) is a highlight of the book of Acts. After his conversion he went to the opposite extreme of loving God and preaching His Word with power and fervency in the Spirit of the true and living God. The disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses in Jerusalem (Acts 1—8:3), in Judea and Samaria (8:4—12:25), and to the ends of the earth (13:1—28:31). Included in the last section are Paul’s three missionary journeys (13:1—21:16), his trials in Jerusalem and Caesarea (21:17—26:32) and his journey to Rome (27:1—28:31).

Overview: Acts is one of the largest books in the New Testament, expressing the theme summarized in Acts 1:8: being witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

The first section focuses on the growth of the church in and around Jerusalem (Acts 1:1—8:3). Following a time of waiting and prayer (Acts 1), the Holy Spirit arrives on Pentecost and empowers the apostles to speak in different languages. Peter shares the gospel and more than 3,000 people are baptized that day (Acts 2:41). The first church forms (Acts 2:42–47), while miracles begin to occur through the apostles (Acts 3:1—5:42). Other church leaders emerge to serve, teach, and face persecution, especially in the death of the first martyr, Stephen (Acts 6:1—8:3).

At that time, Christians fled Jerusalem, taking the gospel to Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:4—12:25). The church grew among Samaritans (Acts 8:4–25) and an Ethiopian eunuch believed in Jesus (Acts 8:26–40). Most surprisingly, the faith also transformed the life of a Christian persecutor Saul, later known as Paul (Acts 9:1–31). The gospel extends to Judea (Acts 9:32–43); to the Roman centurion Cornelius and those with him (Acts 10:1–11:18); to the Jews in Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch; and to the Greeks in Antioch (Acts 11:19–30). Peter is persecuted, miraculously freed from prison, and flees Herod to minister elsewhere (Acts 12:1–25).

The remainder of Acts focuses on the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth, largely following the missionary activities of Paul (Acts 13—28). Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark take a missionary journey (Acts 13:1—14:28), the Jerusalem Council determines guidelines for Gentile believers (Acts 15), Paul takes a second (Acts 15:30—18:22) and third missionary journey (Acts 18:23—21:16), and then travels to Jerusalem where he is arrested and held in jail (Acts 21:17–36). Paul speaks to the assembled crowd (Acts 21:37—22:21) who react in anger (). When the Roman soldiers prepare to flog him, Paul appeals to his legal rights as a Roman citizen (Acts 22:22–29). While a plot brews to kill him (Acts 21:30—23:22), Paul is then transferred to Roman custody (Acts 23:23–35), where he pleads his case before various authorities (Acts 24—26). Along with other prisoners, Paul survives a shipwreck en-route to Rome (Acts 27:1–28:16). The book of acts ends with Paul under two years of house arrest in Rome, the empire's capital, where he helps spread the gospel to everyone in the area (Acts 28:17–31).

Application: The book of Acts shows how God essentially took a group of fisherman and commoners and used them to turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6). God took a Christian-hating murderer and transformed him into history’s greatest Christian evangelist, the author of almost half the books of the New Testament. God used the persecution the Christians endured to help stimulate the incredibly rapid expansion of the fledgling church.

Key Verses (ESV):

Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 2:4: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:19–20: “But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’”

Acts 9:3–6: “As [Saul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’”

Acts 16:31: “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.’”

*Note: The book of Acts serves as a transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant . This transition is seen in several key events in Acts. First, there was a change in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, whose primary function in the Old Testament was the external “anointing” of God’s people, among them Moses (Numbers 11:17), Othniel (Judges 3:8–10), Gideon (Judges 6:34), and Saul (1 Samuel 10:6–10). After the ascension of Jesus, the Spirit came to live in the very hearts of believers (Romans 8:9–11; 1 Corinthians 3:16), guiding and empowering them from within. The indwelling Spirit is the gift of God to those who come to Him in faith.

May we establish, nurture, and grow a sincere love for the word of God, and study it lovingly & faithfully.

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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