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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On the first Pentecost after his death and resurrection, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to Earth to empower his followers. The account of that event is one of the most thrilling stories in the entire Bible. It is no wonder that Jesus was so excited to send Holy Spirit back to his followers.
That Pentecost day was a day of innumerable firsts. The first indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Christians, the first presentation of the entire Gospel in sermon form, the first conversion to Christianity, and many others. That day was the start of explosive growth of the early Church.
The early Christians followed the commands of Jesus, but they also continued to follow Judaism as best they could. Among other things, this allowed them continued access to the Temple and the synagogues so they could preach to the Jews.
The rapid growth of the Church became a threat to the Jewish leaders, so they threatened Peter and the other Christians; eventually, this persecution became so great that most of the Christians left Jerusalem, which had the unintended effect of spreading Christianity, because the Christians had the express mission of making disciples.
Christianity was the first religious movement in the Roman Empire intent on making new members from other communities. This evangelical motive confounded, threatened and angered leaders of other cultures and communities.
It is not made clear in the Bible, but it was up to ten years after Pentecost before the conversion of Cornelius by Peter. That event marked a turning point in the growth of the Church, because it signaled the beginning of major evangelism efforts to non-Jews (Gentiles). This was such a radical change for the church that even Peter’s personal testimony was not enough. After the testimony of other witnesses, the church accepted the fact that non-Jews could become Christians, but just how and when that would occur would not be made clear until it actually happened.
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