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.
No reader of the book of Acts can help from being struck about how much activity is centered around the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to Earth on the day of Pentecost. No other character in the book of Acts is nearly as important as the Holy Spirit, and the early Christians knew it.
In John 14:26, Jesus told his disciples that, after he was gone, the Father would send the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus to teach all things and remind them of things he had said. In other Scriptures, Jesus gave his followers other information about the Holy Spirit to help encourage and inform them.
The arrival of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 is an amazing account. Peter says the event was prophesied by the prophet Joel. At the Tower of Babel, people were forced to have different languages so they could not understand each other, foiling their attempts to be like God. On Pentecost, people were allowed to understand in their own language so they could hear about God.
Throughout the books of Acts, confirmation of belief comes through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. In most cases, we are not told precisely how that gift of the Holy Spirit was demonstrated, but it was clear that people could tell when it was received.
It is obvious that the Holy Spirit empowered and led the early Church. The Christians regularly consulted and followed the leadings of the Spirit. To them, the Holy Spirit was as real as any of their fellow humans.
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