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.
Two cities in Israel had remarkable influence on the growth of the early church. The first was Jerusalem, the home of the Temple and the Jewish leadership. The church started in Jerusalem, but soon began to spread to other places because of persecution by the Jewish leaders.
The second most influential city in Israel was Caesarea, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea. Caesarea was built by Herod the Great shortly before the birth of Jesus. As the only deep-water port on the west coast of Israel, it exerted tremendous influence over Israel’s economy, and Herod’s ownership of the city was a main cause of his immense wealth.
Caesarea was on the Via Maris, the most famous trading route across Israel. The ancient Via Maris went north out of Egypt, up the coast of Israel, and north through Lebanon. One important spur off of the Via Maris went northeast to the Sea of Galilee, along the north edge by Capernaum, north past Hazor, and east to Damascus. In Damascus it met up with the King’s Highway.
Although the Bible never mentions the Via Maris by name, it is clear that the trading route controlled many aspects of life in Israel. It was probably the reason why Jesus chose to locate his ministry in Capernaum and was instrumental in Israel having a good economy in the time of Herod the Great.
Caesarea’s location and function as a deep-water port made it an ideal hub for spreading the Gospel. Philip the Evangelist probably lived in Caesarea during virtually all of his ministry. He is one reason that Caesarea was such a critical city for the Christians: instead of Philip having to travel, the travelers came to Philip—a strategy Paul would use in Ephesus.
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