The Acts of the Apostles (Int nt, chap 9, pp. 191-213) Why is “Acts” Significant?



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The Acts of the Apostles
(
Int NT, chap 9, pp. 191-213)

Why is “Acts” Significant?...

    • It’s the sequel to the Gospel of Luke

    • It’s the only NT narrative that describes events of the early church… the next 3 decades (~AD 30-62)…

      • It describes many important church leaders (e.g., James the bro of Jesus, Stephen, Philip, etc.) about whom we would know little otherwise…

      • It narrates much of the life of Paul… including his dramatic conversion… and missionary journeys…

      • It illustrates the importance of prayer, the Holy Spirit, and evangelism in the life of the early church…

    • It describes how Christianity transitioned from a purely Jewish movement into a worldwide religion

Historical Background of Acts…

    • Title: “Acts of the Apostles” = somewhat of a misnomer because it doesn’t really describe the history of the Twelve Apostles…

    • Author: Luke

      • Same author as GLuke (common prologues, language, style, purpose, distinctives)

      • “We” sections on 2MJ (16:10-17), 3MJ (20:5-15; 21:1-18), and to Rome (27:1-28:16)

    • Date: AD 70s or 80s

      • Even though Acts ends (28:30-31) with Paul in prison in Rome ~AD 62 without describing the outcome of his trial or how he died, most likely Acts is written much later than AD 62.

      • GLuke was written before Acts and is based on GMark… and Acts presents history more in retrospect, not as current events…

    • Recipient: Theophilus (1:1)… and a wider Gentile audience

Purpose: Why was Acts written?…

    • To provide a comprehensive history of the Twelve Apostles?... No.

    • To describe the church spreading in all geographical directions?... No.

    • To tell the life story of Paul?... No.

    • To describe how the Gospel went to the Gentiles?... Yes!

      • From start to finish, Acts is all about how the church realized that Gentiles do not have to become Jewish to become Christians

      • Consider: Acts 1:8 (“to the ends of the earth”)… Philip & the Ethiopian eunuch (8:26-40)… Peter & Cornelius (10:1-11:18)… Paul’s mission to the Gentiles (9:15; 13:46-52; 28:28-31)… the Jerusalem Conference (15:1-29)…

    • To show Christianity is not anti-Roman?… Yes!

      • Christians were often misunderstood as being anti-Roman: Jesus was crucified… Nero blamed the fire in Rome on Christians (AD 64)… Jews revolted against Rome (AD 66-73)… Christians were wrongly considered cannibals… atheists… incestuous… unpatriotic…

      • The innocence of Christians is pervasive in Luke-Acts: Pontius Pilate (Lk 23:4, 14, 22)… the Roman centurion (Lk 23:47)… Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48)… Sergius Paulus (13:7-12)… magistrates of Philippi (16:11-40)… city authorities in Thessalonica (17:1-9)… Gallio (18:12-17)… town clerk of Ephesus (19:35-41)… Lysias (21:31-40; 22:22-30; 23:10-30)… Procurator Felix (24:1-27)… Procurator Festus (25:1-27)… Herod Agrippa 2 (25:31-32)…

Major Themes in Acts:

❶ God is in control of history… (“it is/was necessary”)

❷ Divine guidance… through the Holy Spirit, prophets, angels, visions…

❸ God makes & keeps promises…

❹ God’s faithfulness to Israel…

❺ *Mission to the Gentiles* (see above)

❻ Centrality of Jerusalem…

❼ Lukan Generosity…

❽ Jesus Absent & Present…

❾ Salvation: The message of the Apostles in Acts…

      • The age of fulfillment has dawned…

      • …through the ministry, death & resurrection of Jesus:

  • Jesus was a descendant of David…

  • Jesus publicly did signs and wonders…

  • Jesus died by crucifixion at the demand of Jewish officials…

  • God raised him from the dead…

      • Jesus was exalted at the right hand of God as Messiah of the new Israel…

      • The Holy Spirit in the Church is the sign of Christ’s power & glory…

      • The Messianic Age will soon reach its consummation in the return of Christ…

      • Therefore: repent, be baptized, be forgiven, & receive the Holy Spirit and the promise of the age to come

❿ Charismatic manifestations of the Spirit… (or “Pentecost” episodes)

      • The Jewish Pentecost (Acts 2:1-42)…

      • The Samaritan “Pentecost”… Philip to the Samaritans (Acts 8:4-8, 14-17)

      • The Gentile “Pentecost”… Peter to Cornelius & his household (Acts 10:1-48)

      • The Spirit coming down on followers of JBapt… at the hands of Paul (19:1-7)

(11) Growth, Triumph, & Victorious Living… “without hindrance” (Acts 28:31)

Key Episodes in Acts: Chaps 1-7…
(Acts 1:8, Witnesses in Jerusalem & Judea…)

    • The ascension of Jesus (1:1-11)…

    • Acts 1:8 - The disciples commissioned to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the “ends of the earth”…

    • The manifestation of the Holy Spirit (2:1-13)…

    • Peter’s sermon the day of Pentecost (2:14-40)…

    • The response of the people (2:41-47)… 3000+ believe…

    • The church in Jerusalem grows (chaps 3-7)…

    • Stephen becomes the first Christian martyr (chap 7)…

Key Episodes in Acts: Chaps 8-12…
(Acts 1:8, Witnesses in Judea & Samaria…)

    • Philip evangelizes the Samaritans (8:1-25)…

    • Philip evangelizes an Ethiopian eunuch (8:26-40)…

    • The dramatic conversion of Saul of Tarsus (aka, Paul) (9:1-31)…

    • Peter evangelizes Cornelius, a Roman centurion (10:1-48)…

    • Peter defends himself to the Jewish-Christian leaders (11:1-18)…

    • James the Apostle is martyred (12:1-2)… and Peter is miraculously released from prison (12:3-17)…

Key Episodes in Acts: Chaps 13-28…
(Acts 1:8, Witnesses to “the ends of the earth”…)

    • Paul’s first missionary journey (chaps 13-14)… with Barnabas & John Mark… to Cyprus & south Galatia…

    • The Jerusalem Conference regarding the Gentiles (15:1-29)…

    • Paul’s second missionary journey (chaps 16:1-18:22)… with Silas and others… to S Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, and elsewhere…

    • Paul’s third missionary journey (18:23-21:16)…with many others… mostly at Ephesus (2+ years)…

    • Paul is falsely accused & imprisoned in Jerusalem…then imprisoned in Caesarea (2+ years)… then he appealed to Caesar and was taken to Rome… (21:16-28:31)

    • Acts ends with Paul in Rome without mentioning the outcome of Paul’s trial… or how he died…




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