Bible Book Summary
by Jay Smith
The genre of the book of Acts is Narrative History with several Sermons. Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke, was a doctor and Gentile. He wrote this book circa 60-62 A.D. It is Luke’s sequel to the Gospel of Luke. It is titled "Acts" to emphasize that this book records the "Acts of the Apostles through the work of the Holy Spirit". The key personalities of Acts are Peter, Paul, John, James, Stephen, Barnabas, Timothy, Lydia, Silas, and Apollos.
Luke wrote the book of Acts (Acts of the Apostles) to record how believers were empowered by the Holy Spirit, worked to spread the Gospel of Christ, and are a model for the future church.
The book of Acts is also the history of the birth, the founding, and the spread of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome. It also records the transition of the Church from being almost exclusively a Jewish institution into becoming a Gentile and an international institution. Consequently, it records the transition of Christianity from a Jewish religion into an international faith. The Gospel of salvation is for all because Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
• Chapters 1-6:7, contains the events that surround Jerusalem and the infancy of the church. The contents of these passages surround the early evangelistic work in Jerusalem. It describes the events of Pentecost, and the amazingly bold sermon presented by the Apostle Peter to all the Jews who gathered for the Feast of Weeks. The result of this sermon was 3000 new believers surrendering to Jesus Christ.
• In chapters 6:8-9:31, there is a shift in the focus of evangelism to other areas. Although the ministry continued in Jerusalem, witnessing the Gospel also included those who were not completely Jewish (Samaritans and Proselytes). In 8:5, Philip traveled down to Samaria, “and began proclaiming Christ to them”. Stephen is falsely accused and stoned to death while he preaches to the religious leaders. As Stephen was dying, he prayed to Jesus Christ, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” (7:59). Stephen’s executioners laid their robes at the feet of a young persecutor named Saul, who would soon become known as “Paul the Apostle”. Saul spent his early days oppressing Christians and imprisoning them, until he had a life changing experience with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus in chapter 9:3.
• From chapters 9:32-12:24, evangelism of the gospel among the gentiles begins. Peter received a revelation that the gospel was also to be shared among the Gentiles. Cornelius, a Roman Commander and some of his men become followers of Christ. Saul (the persecutor) has become a passionate follower of Christ and immediately begins preaching the gospel. We also find that the term “Christians” is first used in Antioch.
• In 12:25-16:5 the gospel is shared geographically to the Gentiles in a different region farther outside Jerusalem. Saul changes his Hebrew name to Paul, a Greek name, to reach the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas begin their first and second missionary journeys to the Gentile world with both success and opposition. In chapter 15, the Jerusalem Council takes place to authorize spreading the gospel message to the Gentile nations.
• From 16:6-19:20, after they are forbidden to enter Asia, Paul receives a vision. He and Silas head farther West to Macedonia to preach the gospel message in the Gentile European regions. Lydia, a woman who sold purple fabric, became the first convert along with her entire household. Paul preached to the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill and next sets out on his third missionary journey. “The word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing” (19:20).
• The final chapters from 19:21-28, describe Paul’s travel to Jerusalem where he was arrested, and then his difficult travel to Rome to be put on trial. When he arrives, he is imprisoned in house arrest and the book of Acts abruptly ends without describing the events of his trial before Caesar.