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.
After Cornelius was converted by Peter, it was clear God wanted people of all ethnic groups to become Christians. Peter was willing for that to happen, but did not seem to make it a priority. However, God had long ago decided that a young Jewish leader would head up the task of taking the Gospel message to the entire world.
Saul of Tarsus, better known today as Paul, was the man Jesus chose to lead evangelistic efforts to those outside the Jewish community. This episode is told from the vantage point of Paul as a younger man, just before the First Missionary Journey, and before he has endured intense persecution, or written any of his letters and books in the New Testament.
The Bible introduces Paul when Stephen was stoned. Apparently, Paul led the stoning of Stephen, and later became authorized by the Jewish leaders to kill other Christians in an effort to thwart the growth of the Church. Later in the Bible, Paul is described as being a leading Pharisee with a strong educational background.
Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians when Jesus intervened. Jesus temporarily blinded Paul, and Paul had to be led into the city. Ananias was sent to lead Paul to repentance and convert him to Christianity. Paul immediately became a dedicated Christian and began evangelizing to other Jews. He had to escape Damascus with the help of the Christians.
Galatians 1:16-18 describes Paul’s three years in Arabia, but it does not say when these three years occurred.
With the help of Barnabas, Paul was introduced to the Christian leaders in Jerusalem, who slowly accepted him. You can imagine their reluctance to embrace him; it wasn’t that long ago he had killed and persecuted them.
Paul ended this phase of life in his hometown of Tarsus, where he would stay for many years while waiting to start his active ministry to the Gentiles.
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