The Book of Acts – Fall 2004 Semester • Pastor Brett Peterson firstname.lastname@example.org 949-677-0903
Acts is full of surprises. God will not be put in a box by men. God is not there to be used by men, as they go through the right sequence of spiritual steps. God uses men, rather than to be used by men, as Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8) learned. The apostles and disciples of our Lord met together to choose a replacement for Judas, and Matthias was chosen by lot (see Acts 1). There is good reason to conclude that God set aside the church’s choice, raising up Saul, a man that the apostles found hard to accept as a fellow-believer, let alone an apostle (see Acts 9). When the early church had a problem of inequity in the feeding of its widows, the apostles had the church select seven men, to oversee the care of the widows, so that they, the apostles, could devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6). And yet it was two of these men who were appointed to free up the apostles who were most instrumental in the proclamation of the gospel among the Gentiles (Acts 7 and 8). God will not be put in a box. If the Book of Acts teaches us that God has great power, which He demonstrates in and through the church, the Book also teaches us that God’s presence and power is sovereignly bestowed on men, and that those who would seek to manipulate God for their own gain are living very dangerously. • Acts Gives us the only real picture of the Early Church • Therefore, Acts is the model for the Church and the example of how Christians should behave in the world today.
Acts is the documentation of how our Lord continues to minister to His church through His saints, by means of His Spirit, in ways we would never have expected. It is a great book. Let us listen and learn with open hearts and minds, looking to His Spirit to make His thoughts our own, as we study this magnificent portion of His Word. • An Overview of the Book of Acts • The life of the early church is recorded and preserved for us in the book of Acts and the epistles. The following outline is intended to be used while studying the book. It will help to keep the whole of the book before you as you work your way through each section.
A. The Importance of the Book of Acts • The importance of this second of Luke’s two-volume work can hardly be over-estimated, for without it we would have no record of the beginnings and development of the early church. Therefore, as Acts furnishes for us a selective record of events that took place during the formative years of the church, it provides us with the historical antecedents of our faith and how that faith came to be embraced from Jerusalem to Rome. It also provides helpful information of the facts surrounding many of the letters of the apostles, which in turn helps us to better understand when they said what they said and why they said it. It was probably written in the early 60’s, perhaps from Antioch, Rome or Ephesus. • B. The Purpose of Acts
As was stated, Acts is the second part of what was originally a two-part, single volume (i.e. Luke-Acts; cf. Acts 1:1). Therefore, it is reasonable to include Luke’s purpose for Acts as falling under his purpose for the book of Luke. In Luke 1:4 the author says that he is writing to “most excellent Theophilus” . . . “in order that he might know the certainty of the things he had been taught.” Apparently, as Longenecker observes, Theophilus “seems to have been a man, who though receptive to the gospel and perhaps even convinced by its claims, had many questions about Christianity as he knew it.” Luke wrote to strengthen him in his belief. Given the contents of the book of Acts, Theophilus appears to have had questions about the coming and activity of the Holy Spirit, the ministry of the apostles, Paul and his dealings with the Jerusalem apostles and the advance of Christianity to the Imperial capital.
In a sentence, given the emphasis on the unity of the church (2, 4, 15, 20) and its expansion from Jerusalem to Rome we may say that the Luke’s purpose was to demonstrate to Theophilus the sovereign, unified and unmitigated advance of the gospel into all the world, i.e. from Jerusalem to Rome. There are seven “progress reports” on the unity and advance of the church that further confirm this (cf. 2:47; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20; 28:30, 31). With this knowledge, Theophilus, who was probably a Roman official, could understand how Christianity reached his city. • Special Note on Dates, BC, AD • The abbreviation “C.E.” is a standard way of denoting dates in scholarly literature. C. E. means “Common Era” • and B.C.E. denotes “Before the Common Era.” The year 1 C.E. is the same as the year 1 A.D. • Many people do not appreciate the fact that the abbreviations AD and BC profess the Christian faith: Anno • Domini, meaning “in the year of Our Lord”, states the belief that Jesus is the Lord, and BC states that Jesus is • the Christ (Messiah). • Just like AD, the CE system counts the birth of Jesus as year 1. • In fact, we do not know what year Jesus was born. The Gospels indicate he was born near the end of the • reign of Herod the Great. The AD system thus takes the last year of Herod’s rule as the birth year of Jesus. • Because of a counting error, this year turns out to be, in the modern calendar, 4 BC/BCE, not 1 AD/CE.
Introduction – an overview of the Gospel of Luke and how it relates to Acts… • 2 The designation “most excellent” is used by Luke to refer to Roman officials of high rank. Cf. Acts 23:26 and 24:3 where it refers to Felix (a Roman governor from AD 53-60) and Paul refers to Festus (AD 60-62) as “most excellent” (Acts 26:25). • Both books are dedicated to Theophilis
1st 3 gospels, the synoptics, • Matt. Focuses on the Royalty of the Messiah, Mark the servanthood of Jesus, demonstrating the power of humility, and Luke the Love of Jesus for all mankind!
“Out of a total of 1151 verses, Luke has 389 in common with Matthew and Mark, 176 in common with Matthew alone, 41 in common • with Mark alone, leaving 544 peculiar to himself. • The events recorded in Acts are verified by the Epistles of Paul, yet Acts is the only book to give the history of the Church from it’s inception to its growth in the 1st century.
In fact, Chapter 9:51 to 19:58 is all material (almost) recorded only by Luke! • Luke, not Paul, is the largest contributer to the NT. • Luke has 2157 verses - 28% • Paul has 2032 • John has 1416 • Matt 1071 • Mark 678 • Only Luke records: • hx and birth of John the Baptist • the announcement to Mary • Jesus weeping over Jerusalem • the resurection appearance of Jesus to the two disciples on the road to Emaes.
There are seventeen of our Lord’s parables peculiar to this Gospel. (including the prodigal son, the pharisee and the publican, The good Samaritan, .) Luke also records seven of our Lord’s miracles which are omitted by Matthew and Mark .
Luke was a gentile physician, who lived in Antioch. He becomes a ‘fellow laborer’ with Paul - some say he had the appostolic gift which would make him a sort of Apostle. • Luke was a Historian (Lk.1:1-4)
While Paul was in Ceseria in Prison, Luke was in Palestine, which would have given him the opportunity to interview the eye whitness - including Mary! This would account for his more throurough report of the events.
It is also interesting to note that his ‘inside ‘ information on Herod had to have been obtained from someone very close to him.
Luke truly researched well the story of our Savior, and gave us with the most extensive, well reasoned gospel we have. It is also one of the finest pieces of historical writtings we have in all ancient liturature! • Luke calls ‘Luke’ a tretise (Acts 1:1) • 3056 logoj logos log’ -os
1b6) what is declared, a thought, declaration, aphorism, a weighty saying, a dictum, a maxim • The Universal rational – the ability to understand. • Luke and Acts together give us the ability to understand the Gospel and the birth of the Church.
1c) It can also mean a weighty discourse of great importance • Hughes said, “if you study Luke, you can not help but be changed” • If you study the book of Acts, it will impact how you live as a Christian and how you function in your Church!
Luke fixes the chronology of the events of Jesus and the early church. Matt. Groups by topics,
Luke gives us a true gift in this book. • As a physician (Col 4:14)
, he also gives us a human side of Christ (weeping over Jerusalem, blood sweat 22:44)
Luke is the only gospel that gives us insight to Jesus childhood. I can see Luke intervewing Mary and getting the details!
Like the story of Jesus staying in the Temple at Jerusalem, and his parents leaving him there and didn’t realize it until they were a days journey away!
Luke goes against 1st century thought as he places women in a seat of honor and on an equal plane with men in Christ.
Tradition among early church writings hold that Luke was martyrded, was unmarried, and died at age 74 ‘ filled with the Holy Spirit’.
Luke was probably written between 57 and 61 AD, during Pauls imprisonment at Rome. Luke also wrote Acts about 62 AD. • Luke is a theologian
He gives us a view of the love of God for all mankind, Jew or Gentile, and the love of Christ for us all. Theology is the study of God and how He relates to man. Luke also deals most extensively in the work of the Holy Spirit and the power God gives us through that work.
Luke also gives us the rational basis to believe and know that Jesus is the Messiah and fulfiller of OT prophecy.
This Gospel contains twenty-eight distinct references to the Old Testament, most show how Jesus fulfills prophecy. • Luke also wrote Acts
Acts, is really the continuing story of Christianity also written by Luke:
There are five arguments which Guthrie uses to show common authorship: • ) Both books are dedicated to the same man, Theophilus; (2) Acts refers to the first treatise, which is most naturally understood as the gospel; (3) the books contain strong similarities of language and style; (4) both contain common interests; (5) Acts naturally follows on from Luke’s gospel . . . It may safely be concluded that the evidence is very strong for linking the two books as the work of one man, a conclusion which few modern scholars would dispute. • Commentary
Had there been newspapers in the Roman Empire almost 2,000 years ago, some of the headlines that month might have been: • KING ARTAXUS NEAR DEATH • GRAIN SHIPS DOCK, ROME RIOTS END • NINE PIRATE SHIPS SUNK BY SIXTH FLEET • ATHENS STUDENTS CLASH WITH POLICE • OLYMPIC WRESTLER STILL IN COMA • REPORT ANGELS SIGHTED IN JUDEA
Such headlines look very much like the headlines in our newspapers today. For the world of the New Testament was a world very much like ours. • There were wars. • There was sickness. • There was poverty and injustice.
There were people who struggled to keep on living, living by habit long after they had lost any sense of purpose, meaning, or goal. • It was a world like ours, populated with people like ours. ButGodhadmadepreparations.
God was about to burst into this world of men. Jesus was about to be born, and after His birth our world, despite all its poverty and injustice, wars and terrorists, has never been the same.
CS Lewis would not believe in a knowable God because he reasoned, man can not know God just like Hamlet can not know Shakespere. The character can not know the author.
Finally, CS lewis embrace Christ and realized the author wrote Himself into the story, so the creation can know the creator! Praise God! We can know God - all people of all time of all nations of all colors are equally loved by God! • This is Lukes theme!God has never desired the kind of world men have made.
The Bible tells us that God worked carefully with men. Yet when “He looked for justice, [He] saw bloodshed; for righteousness, [He] heard cries of distress”(Isa. 5:7). Even the people of Israel, who had been given God’s laws and had been sent prophets to guide them, twisted life out of shape.
The people of Israel were brothers, but in the passion of selfishness they too cheated one another, lied, and tried to use each other. Yet, the more life fell under the control of sin, the emptier life seemed, and the more frustrated people became (cf. Isa. 59).
So God judged the sin of His people. History records a series of defeats and years of foreign captivity. And then, though living in their own land, God’s people were crushed under the weight of the Roman Empire.
That empire extended over the whole of the Western world. Rome had brought world peace—but with peace came heavy taxes, armies of mercenaries stationed in every land, Roman culture and values, the gladiatorial games, slavery—and misery. • There were still wars.There was still poverty and injustice. • People still struggled to live, • and kept on living by habit long after they had lost all sense of purpose or meaning in life.
Not all the power of Rome, nor the progress of our modern technology, have been able to satisfy the basic need all people share to find life’s meaning. Neither Rome nor computers have been able to break the bondage of sin that constantly expresses itself in individual life and society.
But something unique was about to happen in an insignificant province in Rome’s wide-spread empire. The birth of a Baby would do what no authority or invention of man could.
One day that Babe, full grown, would say, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
In the birth of Jesus, God acted decisively to bring new life to individuals and transformation to human cultures. In the person of Jesus, God has extended humanity an invitation to new life. • Jesus’ birth offers a fresh newness, a life turned around and transformed by the power of God.
This is what the Gospel of Luke is all about: a transformed life. In Luke Jesus is presented as the transformer, with a message of new life for all the world, and with a special message of newness for believers. As we study this exciting book, we and your group members will discover more and more of what it means to reallylive. You will learn and teach the how of that full life Jesus promises, and show how that promise can be fulfilled in our daily experiences.
The Book of Acts is clearly a sequel, a second volume to be read in conjunction with the first, the Book of Luke. The author is the same, as well as the recipient, Theophilus. The content of the first volume pertained to the deeds and the doctrines of the Lord Jesus Christ, ending with His ascension. Jesus’ final words, Luke tells us, were orders to the apostles He had chosen. These orders were given, Luke includes, “by the Holy Spirit.”Those orders were given in Luke and will be reiterated here shortly. The purpose then of Acts is to provide an account of that which Jesus continued to do through His church, by means of the Holy Spirit. What Jesus began to do and to teach, the Holy Spirit would continue to do, through the church.