Growing

The Book of Acts

Introduction

 

Main themes

· As Jesus ascends to heaven and hands his mission to disciples. The church is formed, organised and deployed.

· The message of Jesus spreads from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and even the ends of the earth.

· Gentiles become full members of the People of God.

· The Church stands firm against opposition

· God’s purposes in history continue to be advance

 

 

Purpose for Luke writing

Both Luke and Acts are written to Theophilus (Luke 1.3 & Acts 1.1) as an “orderly account” so that he might “know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1.4). In Luke these are the things Jesus ‘began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven” and then continued to do through his church.

Possibly Theophilus is a convert to Christianity, or possibly a Roman citizen interested in Paul’s impending trial before Caesar in Rome.

 

Use by the Church

From 90AD the gospels and Paul’s letters were beginning to circulate around the church. Acts, as the second half of Luke’s history would have done so too. We can imagine second generation Christians would have wanted to understand how the church got started, and how church leaders used Acts as a resource to explain to their congregations what the church is for and how she should behaviour.

 

Date

The story of Acts finishes with Paul in prison in Rome; 62AD. Many believe Acts was written very shortly after, whilst others conjecture that the Gospel of Luke was written after the fall of Jerusalem in AD70, and if so then Acts must have been written some time after this.

Acts 1.1-26

· 1-2: Luke has written about Jesus in his first book (Luke’s Gospel)

· 3-8: And ended with Jesus’ resurrection appearances and final instructions

· 9-11: Jesus ascends to heaven from where he will return

· 12-26: The Apostles gather in Jerusalem

12-14:  to wait and pray

15-26: to get ready for their mission; replacing Judas

with Matthias to complete the “twelve”

 

The new Christian community:

· Is created for witness to Jesus

· Needs the power of the Holy Spirit

· Is inclusive (men and women), rooted in the Word and Spirit and has clear leadership

 

For reflection

· “Not everyone is an evangelist, but everyone can tell others what God has done for them.” Do you agree?

· How is the Holy Spirit most evident in our churches and community? Where have we shut Him out? Why?

 

For prayer and action

· Open your life to Jesus, asking him to fill you with his Holy Spirit

· Pray that as a Church we might be rooted in the Word and Spirit

· Pray for the leaders in our church and benefice. Encourage a member of the ministry team, a warden or PCC member.

· Pray for God to bring one person who needs to hear about Jesus into your life this week; and for the right words to encourage them.

 

 

The birth of the church (Acts 1.1-6.7)

1.1-11  Jesus ascends to heaven

1.12-26  Matthias is chosen to replace Judas

2.1-41  The Holy Spirit comes

2.42-47  The life of the early church

3.1-26  Peter heals a beggar and preaches

4.1-31  Peter and John are put on trial. The  believers pray

4.32-6.11  Possessions in the early church

5.12-42  More healings and persecution

6.1-6  Choosing of the first deacons

 

Persecution leads to expansion (Acts 6.8-9.31)

6.8-7.60  Stephen is arrested, makes a speech and is stoned

8.1-40   The church is persecuted. Philip witnesses in Samaria and to an Ethiopian

9.1-31  Paul is converted

 

Peter & the beginning of Gentile Christianity (9.32-12.25)

9.32-11.18  Peter heals.  He then as a vision and preaches to Gentiles who receive the Holy Spirit.

  He explains his actions to the Church

11.19-30  A Gentile church is founded in Antioch

12.1-25   Peter escapes from prison and Herod dies

 

Paul’s missionary journeys (13.1-21.26)

13.1-3   Paul and Barnabas are appointed missionaries by the church in Antioch

13.4-14.28   Paul’s first missionary journey

15.1-35   The council of Jerusalem

15.36–18.22   Paul’s second missionary journey

18.23-21.26   Paul’s third missionary journey

 

Paul’s arrest, trial and journey to Rome (19.21-28.3)

21.27-22.29  Paul is arrested

22.30-26.32   Paul is imprisoned and faces various trials

27.1-28.31   Paul journeys to Rome where he  preaches the gospel

 

Possible dates

The birth of the church (1.1-6.7)  30AD

Persecution leads to expansion (6.8-9.31)  31-34AD

Peter & the gentile mission (9.32-12.25)  37-44AD

Paul’s missionary journeys (13.1-21.26)  48-59AD

Paul’s arrest, trial and journey  to Rome (19.21-28.3)  60-62AD

 

Why is the book of Acts in the bible?

Divine planning – “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching , rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”.
The church’s recognition divine inspiration
This is how it all began

This is how we do church, mission etc

 

The main themes of Acts

•As Jesus ascends to heaven and hands his mission to disciples. The church is formed, organised and deployed.
•The message of Jesus spreads from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and even the ends of the earth.
•Gentiles become full members of the People of God.
•The Church stands firm against opposition 
•God’s purposes in history continue to advance

 


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