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.
Paul was anxious to follow up on the success of the Second Missionary Journey, so he didn’t wait very long to start another journey. It seems as if Paul had much to do and knew he was running out of time. Although the description in Acts of the Third Missionary Journey is not extensive, the trip was more than twice as long in calendar time as the Second Missionary Journey, and accomplished much, including the writing of several of the books in the New Testament.
At the end of the Second Missionary Journey, Paul was in Antioch; Priscilla and Aquilla were in Ephesus where they met Apollos; Luke was probably in Philippi; and the location of Silas and Timothy remains unknown, although they were last mentioned in Corinth with Paul. During Luke’s description of the Third Missionary Journey, the action almost always centers on Paul, making it unclear what most of the others were doing.
Paul spent almost three years in Ephesus teaching and preaching. Since Ephesus was a major city, Paul was able to affect more people in one place than by traveling around. While in Ephesus, Paul seemed to have intensified his training efforts with a lot of young men. It is likely that many churches were planted throughout the province of Asia during this time period, including the churches mentioned in Revelation.
The church in Corinth continued to have a long list of problems. Paul and the other Christian leaders exerted a lot of efforts to guide them, including personal trips and writing of multiple letters.
The Christians’ effects on the city of Ephesus were dramatic, even though the city was large and affluent, and since so many people quit worshiping Artemis—and quit paying for the privilege of doing so—the Christians’ teachings resulted in a change in the whole city’s economy. Once more, Paul was forced to leave, continuing the Third Missionary Journey in Macedonia and Greece.
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