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.
The book of Acts is primarily written about the male leaders of the early church. As you watch this episode, think of the different cultures of these prominent women and the different times they appear in the history of the Church.
The first story is about Tabitha, also known as Dorcas. She was probably an Israeli Jew before becoming a Christian, and we don’t know if she had ever been married. Her story takes place between Saul’s conversion and the conversion of Cornelius, which is between about 33 AD and 40 AD, and probably closer to 40 AD. The story is found in Acts 9:36-43.
Tabitha gives us an example of the Christian life as one of servanthood. She voluntarily served the poor people of her town, and her actions were so powerful that people were sent to Peter for him to do something upon her sudden and untimely death. We don’t know that they asked him to raise Tabitha from the dead, but he apparently thought that was the best solution.
The second story is about Lydia. Lydia lived in the city of Philippi in the country of Macedonia, now the northern part of Greece, and her story coincides with the Second Missionary Journey of Paul, approximately in 49-50 AD, about twenty years after the death of Jesus. Her conversion story is found in Acts 16:11-15, 40. She very likely was a God-fearer prior to meeting Paul, although she may have not known anything about God. Like Tabitha, we don’t know if Lydia had ever been married.
Lydia is known for responding to the Gospel immediately, bringing her family and servants to faith, and for being an influential church member. With her business background, she was probably very valuable in helping to tend a growing church.
The third story is about Priscilla, the wife of Aquila. Paul met the couple in Corinth on the Second Missionary Journey. Her story can be read in Acts 18:1-4 in Corinth, in Acts 18:18 in Ephesus where Paul leaves them, and Acts 18:24-26. Priscilla and Aquila are always mentioned together. Paul obviously trusted them to lead their churches through their teaching and their behavior.
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