Acts – The Church Goes Forth

Canonical Importance of Acts

Plan of the Book: Acts 1:8

Jerusalem – Judea 1-7

Judea – Samaria 8-12

Uttermost Part 13-28

Fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant


Mission Field












Uttermost Parts




Selection of Materials -  How do you write history?


1) Paul’s 3 yrs. in Arabia-Gal. 1:17;

2) Mark/Barnabas to Cyprus,

                        3) other 12 apostles—e.g. Thomas à India, Mark to Egypt

Summaries key transition points and opposition highlights: 2:42; 6:7; 9:31; 13:46-50, 17:1ff, 22:23

Jews trouble –13:46, 50; 14:1-2; 22:23 

What was the early church like? –POPU

Prayer – when do people pray? 2:42

Organization – simple –  ADEP

Apostles  -- Acts 1:    12 (Matthias)

Deacons  -- Acts 6:   Stephen

Elders/Overseers/Pastors:  Acts 20:17, 28

Prophets/prophetesses:  Acts 11:27f; 21:8f

Providing for physical needs:  2:45; 4:32ff.
     Annanias and Saphira (Acts 5) Today?

Unity:  Acts 2:44


What sources did Luke use?

Not present for Acts 1-15 personally

With Paul during Caesarean imprisonment

Travel diary during some of the Missionary journeys

Stephen’s speech from Paul  (Acts 7)

Peter’s speeches and I Peter:

set purpose and foreknowledge,  Acts 2:23 // 1 Pet 1:2

silver or gold,                                Acts 3:6 // 1 Pet 1:18

judge of the living and the dead.  Acts 10:42 // 1 Pet 4:5

Peter and Paul paralleled (Witherington)

Peter                                     Paul

2:22ff                    13:26ff    both preach resurrection

3:1ff                                       14:8ff      both heal cripple person

8:17                    19:6         both lay hands on & H.S.

5:15                    19:12       special healing, crowds

12:6ff                 16:25ff     both angel freed from jail

Emphasis in the Book:  3 conversions of Paul, 3 stories of Cornelius’ conversion, 3 stories of Paul’s trial…

Contradiction: Judas field/death (Acts 1:18//Mat 27:5ff)

Did Luke really write this book? 

“3 We” passages:

2MJ Troas to Philippi,

3MJ Philippi to Jerusalem (2 yrs. In Israel while Paul in Prison)

Journeyed to Rome with Paul: Acts 27

2 Tim 4:11 Luke with Paul during Roman imprisonment

Vocab and Style=Luke

Theophilus Lk 1:1-4; Acts 1:1


Why did Luke write it? CHAMPSS

Catechetical Instruction for Theophilus

History:  Not a complete history of church

Apologetic –meet charges of Jews: 

Why were Christians persecuted? Atheists, incest, cannibals

Missionary concern—gospel fulfillment “to all peoples”

Paul’s Defense –help from Theophilus?

24 speeches: 9 Peter; 9 Paul, Stephen ch. 7

Spirit coming 4x on different groups

When did he write it?

63 AD—Why? 2 silences

 No outcome of Paul’s trial in Rome (63 AD) or mention of his death (ca. 68 AD)

No mention of the destruction of the temple (70 AD)

View of Rome favorable—Nero (54-68 AD; Rome fire 64) not yet bad

Is Acts normative for modern church?

Acts as an historical document:  What is the difference between historical and normative material?  Indicative versus Imperative? A record of what happened versus what should happen (“is” versus “ought”)? 

Descriptive versus prescriptive

Examples of non-normative material:

How do you tell what is historical or what is a universal principle?

4 Approaches