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Acts Overview

The Book of Acts is basically its own section of the Bible!


Historical books:   History of Israel in the Promised Land



Gospels:                 History of Jesus Christ in the world

Acts:                      Early History of Church in the world 

Apostolic letters


The author of Acts was Luke

Read Acts 1:1-3

Theophilus means God –lover, or friend of God!

Acts 1:1-3 lets us know that Acts is written by the same author who wrote the third gospel: Luke. It picks right up where Luke chapter 24 leaves off, filling Theophilus in on what happened next!  

We learn three key things about Luke in Colossians 4:10-14:

He was a Gentile; He was a Doctor; He was a travelling companion of Paul.

Beginning in Acts 16:10 at Troas, “they” becomes “we” on the way to Macedonia!

In 2 Timothy 4:11 we see Luke with Paul during his imprisonment in Rome.

Acts concludes with Paul under house arrest in Rome. Paul’s Roman arrest was probably around 60-62 A.D. Acts probably ends before the persecution by Nero in 64 A.D. It doesn’t mention Paul’s release and then later death around 68 A.D. Conclusion: Acts was probably written around 61-63 A.D. 


Luke covers the 30 plus years of Christ working on earth in His physical body; Acts covers the first 30 plus years of Christ working on earth through His spiritual body, the church!

Acts is the history of the early church, from the day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. to the imprisonment of Paul in Rome in 63 A.D.

Luke writes 52 chapters in the Bible, joining Paul and John in the 50 chapter club.

By number of words, Luke and Acts are the two longest books in the N.T.

Luke wrote over 25% of the New Testament, more than anyone else!

A key phrase occurs in 1:3 – the Kingdom of God!

Over 100 times in the gospels Jesus had spoken of the Kingdom of God/ Heaven.

The Kingdom of God refers to Jesus’ spiritual rule now in the life of believers before His physical rule of the world when He restores the Kingdom of Israel.

At the end of Acts, Paul is still teaching on the Kingdom of God!

You may have a Bible that entitles this book, “The Acts of the Apostles.”

Some have said a better name would be “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.”

Read Acts 1:4-5              

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink one Spirit.          -I Corinthians 12:13 (See John 7:38-39; Eph. 1:13-14)

Holy Spirit occurs 70 times in the Book of Acts!

There’s a key exchange in Acts 1:6-7.

Acts 1:6-7 would have been the perfect time for Jesus’ to reinforce “replacement theology” if it was true; instead, these words refute replacement theology, reinforcing the expectation of a perfect Kingdom of Israel to come.

The Key Verse helps us outline gospel expansion in the Book of Acts:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.           -Acts 1:8



The gospel penetrates Jerusalem:                                             1:1 – 8:3  


The gospel penetrates Judea and Samaria:                              8:4 – 12:24  


The gospel penetrates toward the Ends of the Earth:             12:25-28:31          


The apostle Peter is featured in the first 12 chapters; the apostle Paul after that.


Thirty percent of Acts are the sermons within the Book of Acts.


The theme of those sermons is that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies and proved He was and is the Messiah. Now all men, both Jew and Gentile, must repent and receive Him to have eternal life!


But many more ordinary people are profiled in Acts beyond the apostles. In fact, there are over 95 people mentioned, over 60 only in Acts! 


Acts is about what the Holy Spirit does in this church age through ordinary people committed to sharing the gospel and planting churches throughout the world.

Jesus’ last 7 words: “and to the ends of the earth!”


The Second chapter of Acts features the beginning of the Church Age, which will last until the time of the tribulation.

Note the places the people were from covers the Roman Empire. Eventually these people will return to their home areas, taking the good news of Jesus with them, “priming” the pump for the later efforts of Paul and others!


A Closer Look at the Book of Acts:


Things first church was devoted to                          2:41-47


Peter succeeds at the place of his greatest failure     Chapters 3-4


“We must obey God rather than man!”                    4:18-20


Introduction of Barnabas!                                        4:32-37


Calling out first deacons                                          6:1-7


Stephen’s bold witness & martyrdom                      Chapter 6-7


          Read 7:54-8:3


Philip’s witness                                                       Chapter 8


Conversion of Saul and Ananias’ role!                    Chapter 9


          Read 9:1-19


Dorcas                                                                     Chapter 9


Peter and Cornelius (Peter’s ham sandwich)            Chapter 10-11


The Antioch church                                                 Chapter 11


          Read 11:19-26


James and Herod                                                     Chapter 12


Paul’s First church planting missionary journey      13:1-15:35

          Read Acts 13:1-3

Covered 1500 miles in SE Asia Minor during 47-48 AD; planted several churches. Went home and wrote 1 letter that became part of the New Testament.

          Read Acts 14:21-28

Jerusalem Council

          Read Acts 15:6-11

Paul’s Second church planting missionary journey  15:36-18:22

Covered 3-4,000 miles in Macedonia and Achaia during 49-52 AD; planted several churches; wrote several letters that became part of the New Testament.

Paul’s Third church planting missionary journey    18:23-21:16

Covered 4,000 miles in W. Asia Minor during 52-56 AD; planted several churches; wrote several letters that became part of the New Testament.

Paul’s trials from Jerusalem to Rome                      21:17-28:31

At Rome: wrote several letters that became part of the New Testament.

After Acts, Paul was released, and planted several churches and wrote the pastoral epistles before being rearrested and martyred by emperor Nero.

Comparison of Peter and Paul:

Both heal a man lame from birth                                       3:1-11; 14:8-18

Peter’s shadow heals; Paul’s handkerchief heals                3:15-16; 19:11-12

Success of both causes Jewish jealousy                             5:17; 13:45

Both confront a sorcerer                                                    8:9-24; 13:6-11

Both raise someone dead to life                                         9:36-41; 20:9-12

Both are jailed and miraculously freed                              12:3-19; 16:25-34

Just as we can relate all of the prophets to the times of the kings and exile, we can use the book of Acts to help us pinpoint the background of the epistles and Revelation.

What was Paul’s usual strategy we see in the Book of Acts?

Go to a leading city with his team

Work in the marketplace as a tentmaker, building witnessing relationships

Visit the synagogue and speak (or the next best thing (place of prayer ion Philippi)

Endure whatever hostility comes your way

Work through a “person of peace” to have home worship services

Baptize and disciple new converts

Identify and train leaders, expecting them to lead the church to reach the area

Send a couple workers ahead to the next place he is going

Leave a couple workers behind to look after the work

Go to the next city before they kill you! 

Pray for and write letters back to and periodically visit all the places you’ve ministered to!

If Time:

Read Back to Jerusalem book about prison ministry: pages 90-92; pages 60-61