Acts is the history of the development of the first churches and the spread of Christianity. For about the first decade after the death of Jesus, Christianity existed almost exclusively among the Jews. The first part of Acts portrays the meaning of Christianity, how it was shared, and how it was lived out in a closed community of Jews whose common culture was based on the Old Testament.
After about the first decade, Christianity started growing in other people groups and cultures having beliefs and understandings quite different from the Jews. Much of Acts deals with keeping a consistent and complete Gospel message, how it is shared, and how it is lived out in different people groups and cultures. The lessons learned from Acts are applicable to modern Christians and churches, and are also essential when trying to understand Paul’s letters (which comprise much of the New Testament).
A purpose of the Acts Series is to tell some of the information of the book of Acts from different vantage points. Luke said that he made a careful investigation of the facts before writing Luke and Acts. His three primary sources of information probably were: his own experiences, written sources, and talking to people who were personally involved. Acts Series illustrates the stories that he might have heard from a dozen of the characters featured in his book of Acts.
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Acts is a history of the first three decades of the Church. It is the only existing history of the Church that was written in the first century. Although the Bible does not specify it, Church tradition and many scholars agree that Luke wrote both Luke and Acts.
In Luke, the author said he made a careful investigation of everything before writing. His three primary sources of information were: his own experiences, previously existing written sources, and careful listening to the stories of those who were personally involved. This series of stories illustrates what Luke might have heard from more than a dozen of the characters featured in Acts. Any reader of the Bible quickly notices it gives few details about most of its characters or events. These stories are true to the Bible, but personalities and personal details are given to its more illustrative characters.
Acts begins with a quick summary of Jesus’ last days on Earth. Three extremely important future events are revealed there. The apostles and followers are not to leave Jerusalem but are to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit, but they are not told how long to wait. They are also told that they will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to evangelize to the ends of the world. Lastly, Jesus tells them he would come back in the same way he ascended.
The followers of Jesus returned to Jerusalem after the ascension. Who were these followers? The apostles and certain people are specified as being among them, but there is not a comprehensive list given. Peter gave an impassioned speech about the betrayal of Jesus, and insisted that Judas be replaced with somebody else qualified to replace him. They chose two men who seemed to qualify, and then cast lots (like casting dice) to choose Matthias. This is the last record we have of early Christians making decisions by casting lots. After that time, they would rely on the Holy Spirit’s leading. It is interesting that Matthias and most of the apostles are never mentioned by name again in the New Testament.
Luke – Troy Powell
Peter – Francis Fuselier
Stephen – Jonny Gallegos
Philip – David Smith
Barnabas – Bob Hess
John Mark – Matthew Oakley
Holy Spirit – Garrett Schenck
Paul – Brian Shoop
James – Andy Axewell
Silas – Tony Schneider
Timothy – Paul Christian
Tabitha – Allyn Carrell
Lydia – Gayla Gower
Priscilla – La’Netia D. Taylor
Theophilus – Michael Page