The full name of the book is “The Acts of the Apostles,” though we typically refer to it as “Acts.” This book is the continuation of Luke’s writing (Acts 1:1; cf. Luke 1:3). In the first record, he wrote about the life and deeds of the Messiah, finishing just before His ascension. In the book of Acts, Luke picks up where he left off and proceeds to tell about the beginning of the church “…in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This phrase (from 1:8) reveals how the gospel would spread to the whole world.
Though it is called the “Acts of the Apostles,” it contains only a few acts of a few apostles. In the first half of the book, Luke focus primarily on Peter; in the second half of the book, his focus is almost exclusively on Paul. That said, there are several evangelists and prophets who are mentioned in the course of Luke’s record.
Not only did Luke record a variety of acts of Peter and Paul, but there were times when he was present with the apostle Paul. Beginning in Acts 16:10, Luke used the word “we” to describe those who were traveling. He was with Paul went he went to Philippi. He begins using “we” again in chapter 20-21 as Paul went through Troas, Miletus, Tyre, and eventually Jerusalem. And then in chapter 27, when Paul, as a prisoner, was taken to Rome, Luke reveals he was with the apostle (“we”). He was an eyewitness to several of the things he wrote about.
Consider a list of some of the amazing things going on in the book of Acts:
- The first gospel sermon was preached in Acts 2, and about 3,000 people responded in faith.
- The importance of fellowship is emphasized in the book of Acts as the early Christians assembled for worship often, shared in social gatherings, and sought to minister to the needy (Acts 2:42-47; 4:34-37; 6:1-6).
- Persecution came upon the early church, but it did not deter them. In fact, they persevered and thanked God for His presence with them (Acts 3, 4, & 7, 12, etc.). In fact in Acts 14:22, Paul said, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of heaven.”
- In Acts 2-9, the gospel went among the Jews, but it is a universal message. Beginning in chapter 10, the message was shared to Jew and Gentile alike.
- Acts 15 addressed the distinction between the Old & New Testament. No Christians, whether of Jewish or Gentile background, are subject to Moses’ law.
- Much of the latter quarter of the book focuses on Paul in prison and his eventual appeal to Rome. Despite being in prison, Paul was still able to accomplish much good—the gospel cannot be imprisoned.
Acts is an exceptional book revealing the beginning of the Lord’s church. It displays the quick spread and growth of the gospel proceeding from Jerusalem (see Isaiah 2) to Judea, Galilee, Samaria, Syria, on into Asia and Greece and eventually Rome. It is a powerful testament to the power of God’s word to save souls.
Next time we’ll look at the book of Romans…