OceanSide church of Christ
|Previous||Return to Acts||Next|
THE BOOK OF ACTS
Introduction to Acts (Part 2)
Victor M. Eskew
A. In our last lesson, we began an introduction to the book of Acts.
1. We examined such things as the author, recipient, date, purpose, and style of the book.
2. We are going to continue that introduction in this lesson.
B. While in the Memphis School of Preaching, brother John Renshaw taught us that a book that is well introduced is a book that is half taught. There is much truth in brother Renshaw’s words.
I. THE NAME OF THE BOOK
A. The name of the book, “The Acts of the Apostles,” comes from writers of the second century.
1. “The word ‘Acts’…denoted a recognized genre, or subgenre, in the ancient world, characterizing books that describe the great deeds of the people or of cities” (Carson, Moo, Morris, 181).
2. “The title of Acts is somewhat misleading, for only a few of the apostles are mentioned in the book” (Nelson’s, Youngblood, ed., 17).
a. It is true that Peter and Paul are named more than the other apostles.
1) Peter was the apostle to the Jews and Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:7-8).
2) Perhaps their labors were seen as typical of the rest of the apostles throughout the world.
b. The apostles as a group, however, are mentioned some 27 times in the book of Acts.
B. The book has been called by other names as well.
1. The Acts of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is mentioned nearly 60 times in the book.
2. The Book of Beginnings because it tells of the beginning of the proclamation of the gospel, the fulfillment of the Great Commission, and the beginning of the church that Jesus had promised to build (Matt. 16:18). See Acts 11:15
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
3. The Book of Conversions for it sets forth nine major conversion accounts.
a. The Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2)
b. Samaritans (Acts 8:5-25)
c. Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40)
d. Saul (Acts 9:1-22; 22:3-21; 26:2-23)
e. Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48)
f. Lydia (Acts 16:14-15)
g. Philippian jailor (Acts 16:30-34)
h. Corinthians (Acts 18:1-11)
i. Ephesians (Acts 19:1-7)
II. THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK
A. The book of Acts is the bridge between the gospels and the epistles.
1. “…without this book, except for some fragmentary allusions in the Epistles, we would have no authentic record of Apostolic history” (Thiessen, 177).
2. “Without this book a terrible gap would exist in the history of the church and we would be lost in a sea of uncertainty concerning so much that is essential to the ongoing of the gospel” (Living Messages, Elkins and Warren, 82).
1. Where did the church come from?
a. Jesus promised to build His church in the gospels (Matt. 16:18).
b. With no book of Acts, we would start reading the letters to the churches. We would wonder when and how they came into existence.
2. The book of Acts furnishes the background for ten of Paul’s epistles: I & II Thessalonians, I & II Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians.
III. THE THEME OF THE BOOK: The Spread of Christianity
IV. THE KEY VERSE OF THE BOOK: Acts 1:8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
V. INTERESTING POINTS ABOUT THE BOOK
A. The book of Acts involves a span of time of about 30 years from the ascension of Christ to Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome.
B. “The book of Acts is a ‘pattern book.’ It shows what actions the Holy Spirit led men to do and what teaching God wanted man to hear” (Living Messages, 82).
C. Acts contains the portraits of many outstanding Christians of the early church in addition to the apostles: Barnabas, Stephen, Philip, Timothy, Tabitha, etc.
D. Nearly one fifth of Acts consists of speeches.
1. There are 13 full discourses.
2. There are 24 discourses if exerts of an address are included in the number.
E. Acts is the only “unfinished” book of the Bible.
1. It closes with Paul’s first imprisonment.
2. Later writings, however, prove that Paul’s work had not ended.
F. The question: “What shall I do?” is found three times in Acts.
1. Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2:37)
2. Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:6; 22:10)
3. The Philippian jailor (Acts 16:30)
G. “Pentecost was a reversal of the Tower of Babel, whose language became confused and nations were separated by misunderstanding (Gen. 11:1-9). At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gathered persons from every nation into one united fellowship” (Nelson’s, Youngblood, ed., 20).
H. Acts 2 is one of the most important chapters of the Bible.
1. James D. Bales referred to it as “The Hub of the Bible.”
2. Several vital points:
a. The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles (Acts 2:1-4).
1) Fulfillment of OT prophecies (Joel 2:28-32)
2) Fruition of Jesus’ promise (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5, 8)
b. The gospel was proclaimed for the first time.
c. Peter used the keys of the kingdom to unlock the doors of it to the Jews (Matt. 16:18).
d. Man obeyed the gospel for the first time (Acts 2:41).
e. The church came into existence (Acts 2:47).
I. Two scenes from the life of Christ set the stage for the book of Acts.
1. The upper room while celebrating the Passover with His apostles.
a. Two things Jesus told His disciples:
1) He would be leaving (John 13:31, 33, 36; 14:3, 19, 28; 16:5, 7, 16, 28).
2) After His departure, the Holy Spirit would be sent to them to empower them for their ministry (John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7, 13).
1) Jesus departs (Acts 1:9).
2) The Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles (Acts 2:1-4).
2. The Great Commission
a. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47; John 20:21-23
b. The entire book of Acts reveals the implementation of this commission by the apostles.
J. The book of Acts is a great missionary book.
1. The apostles were commissioned to sow the seed of the kingdom, the word of God (Mark 15:15-16).
2. The word of God plays a prominent role in the book of Acts.
a. Word (35 times)
1) His word (Acts 2:41)
2) The word (Acts 4:4; 6:4; 8:4; 10:36, 44; 11:19; 14:25; 16:6; 17:11)
3) Thy word (Acts 4:29)
4) The word of God (Acts 4:31; 6:2, 7; 8:14; 11:1; 12:24; 13:5, 7, 44, 46; 17:13; 18:11)
5) The word of the Lord (Acts 8:25; 11:16; 13:48, 49, 15:36; 16:32; 19:10)
6) That word (Acts 10:37)
7) The word of this salvation (Acts 13:26)
8) The word of his grace (Acts 14:3; 20:32)
9) The word of the gospel (Acts 15:7)
10) This word (Acts 22:22)
b. Words (9 times)
1) My words (Acts 2:14)
2) These words (Acts 2:22; 10:44; 13:42)
3) Many other words (Acts 2:40)
4) The words of this life (Acts 5:20)
5) Words of thee (Acts 10:22)
6) Words (Acts 11:14)
7) The words of truth and soberness (Acts 26:25)
3. The sowing of the seed brought forth much fruit.
a. About 3000 (Acts 2:41)
b. Number of the men about 5000 (Acts 4:4)
c. Believers were the more added to the Lord (Acts 5:14)
d. Great company of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7)
e. The number of the disciples and churches multiplied (Acts 6:1, 7; 9:31; 12:24).
VI. OUTLINES OF THE BOOK
i. Jews (Acts 1-9) i. Peter (Acts 1-12) i. Jerusalem (Acts 1-7)
ii. Gentiles (Acts 10-28 ii. Paul (Acts 13:28) ii. Jerusalem & Samaria (Acts 8-12)
iii. Uttermost of earth (Acts 13-28)
A. In Acts the seed of God’s Word is sown. It is sown from the capital city of the Jews, Jerusalem, to the capital city of the Roman Empire, Rome.
B. The who, whats, when, wheres and whys are set forth.
C. There was difficulty and persecution, even death that came to those first followers of the Lord as they sought to accomplish their mission.
D. The Great Commission was carried out just as Jesus had commanded.