Listen to the book of Acts



Intro to Acts
1
2
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27

Book Overview – Acts

by Arend Remmers & James Coffman

Author and time of writing

In the first verse of the book of Acts the author mentions the fact that he has already written an earlier report “concerning all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach, until that day in which he was taken up.” The gospel of Luke, as well as the book of Acts, is addressed to a certain Theophilus (cf Luke 1:3 (NAS)

3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;

>Luke 1:3). Therefore one would conclude that the book of Acts also originates from the pen of Luke.

Already the church father Ireneus (ca 140-202) mentions that Luke is the author of the book of Acts.Various scholars have also pointed out that the style and the choice of words in Luke and Acts are very similar.

In the book of Acts itself we find two important hints which are important to ascertain the time of writing. First of all Luke mentions the fact that Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke (written around 55-60 AD), and therefore must have been written later.Secondly Luke at the end of Acts Luke mentions Paul’s two-year imprisonment in Rome.The book will therefore have been written only after the end of this time.It is generally assumed that Paul came to Rome around 60/61AD.Therefore the earliest that the book of Acts could have been written would have been around 63.It cannot have been written much later as Luke would then have mentioned the result of the Paul’s case, the fire of Rome and the first great persecution of Christians in 64.

Some scholars believe that chapter 5:36 and 11:28 are quotes from or similarities to Flavius Josephus’ work “The antiquities of the Jews”. Since Josephus wrote in the last decade of the first century the book of Acts would have been written even later.But it is very unlikely that Luke copied from Josephus, and therefore this idea is held by only few scholars nowadays.

2. Subject and purpose of writing

As already mentioned, the book of Acts is the second part of a work by which the author wants to give an important person an overview over the beginning of Christianity, i.e. life and death of the redeemer and the beginning of the spreading of the Christian faith.

The title “Acts of the Apostles” does not very well reflect the intention of God, who inspired Luke to this report. A better title would be “The Acts (or the workings) of the Holy Spirit”, because He is the real main character of the book.The presence and working of the Holy Spirit is the dominating mark of the book of Acts.

The book of Acts also describes the work of the two apostles Peter and Paul. Peter is the human main character in the first 12 chapters, Paul in the second part from chapter 13.The geographical centre of the first part is Jerusalem, of the second Antioch, where the first great assembly of converted heathens was formed.

Luke does not mention his own name at all, although he accompanied Paul on more than one journey, which can be concluded from the so-called “we-paragraphs”.On the first journey to Asia minor (around 46-49 AD) Paul was accompanied by Barnabas (Acts 13; Acts 14; Acts 15:1-33 (NAS)

1 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. 3 Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. 4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. …

>Acts 15:1-33), on the second journey to Asia minor and Greece (around 51-54 AD) by Silas (Acts 15:40-41 (NAS)

40 But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

>Acts 15:40-41; Acts 16; Acts 17; Acts 18:1-22 (NAS)

1 After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, 3 and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers. 4 And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” …

>Acts 18:1-22); later Timothy joined them (Acts 16:1-3 (NAS)

1 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, 2 and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

>Acts 16:1-3), and in Troas Luke joined them for the first time (Acts 16:8-10 (NAS)

8 and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

>Acts 16:8-10 – “we”). Then Luke stayed at Philippi (Acts 16:40 (NAS)

40 They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

>Acts 16:40 – “they”).When Paul came again to Philippi on his third journey (around 54-58AD, Acts 18:23-28 (NAS)

23 And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. 24 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; 26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

>Acts 18:23-28; Acts 19; Acts 20; Acts 21:1-26 (NAS)

1 When we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran a straight course to Cos and the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara; 2 and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. 6 Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again. Acts 21:1-26) Luke was still there, because now we have another “we-paragraph” (Acts 20:5-38 (NAS)

5 But these had gone on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas. 6 We sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. 9 And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.”

1 When we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran a straight course to Cos and the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara; 2 and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. 6 Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again. …

Acts 21:1-10).Now Luke accompanies the apostle again to Jerusalem.Finally, he belonged to those who sailed with Paul from Cesarea to Rome (Acts 27; Acts 28:1-16 (NAS)

1 When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god. …

Acts 28:1-16).

The book of Acts is the link between the Gospels and the Epistles. Its subject and intention is nicely summarised by the words of the Lord in chapter 1:8: “But ye will receive power, the Holy Spirit having come upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”

3. Overview of Contents

I.Acts 1-12 : The service of the Apostle Peter in Jerusalem, Judaea and Samaria

Chapters 1-7 The beginning of the church in Jerusalem

Chapter 1 The ascension of the Lord

Ch 2 The pouring out of the Holy Spirit

Ch 3-4 The healing of a sick person and the consequences

Ch 5 Ananias and Sapphira: The apostles are taken prisoner

Ch 6 The seven deacons

Ch 7 Stephen, the first martyr

Chapters 8-12 The spreading of the faith in Samaria and among the nations

Ch 8 Philip in Samaria

Ch 9 Paul’s conversion

Ch 10-11 Peter and the conversion of Cornelius

Ch 12 Peter in prison

II. Acts 13- 28 : The service of the Apostle Paul in the whole world

Chapters 13-20 Paul’s three missionary journeys

Ch 13:1-15:33First journey to Asia minor

Ch 15:35-18:22 Second journey to Asia minor and Greece

Ch 18:23-21:17 Third journey to Asia minor, Greece and Palestine

Chapters 21-28 Paul’s imprisonment

Ch 21:18-23:35 Paul is taken prisoner in Jerusalem

Ch 24-26 Imprisonment in Caesarea

Ch 27-28 Journey to Rome and imprisonment there.

Acts 21:1-26) Luke was still there, because now we have another “we-paragraph” (Acts 20:5-38 (NAS)

5 But these had gone on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas. 6 We sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. 9 And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.” …



1 When we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran a straight course to Cos and the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara; 2 and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. 6 Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again. …



1 When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god. …

>Acts 28:1-16).

The book of Acts is the link between the Gospels and the Epistles. Its subject and intention is nicely summarised by the words of the Lord in chapter 1:8: “But ye will receive power, the Holy Spirit having come upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”

3. Overview of Contents

I.Acts 1-12 : The service of the Apostle Peter in Jerusalem, Judaea and Samaria

Chapters 1-7 The beginning of the church in Jerusalem

Chapter 1 The ascension of the Lord

Ch 2 The pouring out of the Holy Spirit

Ch 3-4 The healing of a sick person and the consequences

Ch 5 Ananias and Sapphira: The apostles are taken prisoner

Ch 6 The seven deacons

Ch 7 Stephen, the first martyr

Chapters 8-12 The spreading of the faith in Samaria and among the nations

Ch 8 Philip in Samaria

Ch 9 Paul’s conversion

Ch 10-11 Peter and the conversion of Cornelius

Ch 12 Peter in prison

II. Acts 13- 28 : The service of the Apostle Paul in the whole world

Chapters 13-20 Paul’s three missionary journeys

Ch 13:1-15:33First journey to Asia minor

Ch 15:35-18:22 Second journey to Asia minor and Greece

Ch 18:23-21:17 Third journey to Asia minor, Greece and Palestine

Chapters 21-28 Paul’s imprisonment

Ch 21:18-23:35 Paul is taken prisoner in Jerusalem

Ch 24-26 Imprisonment in Caesarea

Ch 27-28 Journey to Rome and imprisonment there.

It's Your Turn. Write Something. Say Something.