The book of Acts is sometimes referred to as “The Acts of the Apostles”, because the book details the ministry of the early followers of Jesus following his resurrection and ascension. If you have a study Bible, take time to read the introductory notes at the beginning of Acts.
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Some interesting aspects of Acts:
• Authorship: Acts contains 28 chapters and was written by the writer of the Gospel of Luke. Many scholars today refer to the two works as Luke-Acts, acknowledging their shared authorship and that the two are sequential volumes of a single literary project.
• Acts was probably written late in the first century C.E. It is likely, but not certain, that the writing of Acts followed that of the Gospel Luke, which usually is dated between 75 and 85 C.E.
• Acts reflects Luke’s emphasis on the early church as a missionary community, spreading the gospel to areas beyond Palestine, and to the gentiles (non-Jews).
• Luke also addresses Acts to “Theophilus”, and picks up the story right where he left off with his gospel (“in my former book”).
• In Acts we find the “birth of the church” at Pentecost (Chapter 2), and the coming of the promised Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ followers.
• The story of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, is found in Acts 7:54-60 (killed for his faith in Christ).
• Acts reveals the first crisis of the early church: How are gentiles (non-Jews) to be incorporated into the church? Do they have to convert to Judaism and obey all the Jewish purity and dietary laws? (Chpt. 15)
• In Acts we meet the apostle Paul, and hear about his former life as a Jewish Pharisee (Saul), persecutor of the early followers of Jesus, his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus, his early ministry in Antioch, his missionary journeys throughout Asia, and his arrest and trial, leading to his eventual imprisonment in Rome.
• There are many speeches found in Acts made by followers of Jesus. These speeches give us an important window into how the early Christian community described and defended its faith in Jesus Christ as the messiah, the Son of God, in whom all of scripture is fulfilled.
Peter’s speeches to the crowd at Pentecost (2:14-39), to Jewish onlookers in the Temple (3:11-26), before the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem (4:8-20), to the apos-tles and elders in Jerusalem (15:7-21)
Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem (7:1-53)
Paul’s speeches in Pisidian Antioch (13:13-41), in Athens (17:22-31), to the Ephesian elders (20:17-35), to the angry crowd in Jerusalem (21:37-22:21), before governor Felix (24:10-21), before King Agrippa (26:1-23)