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The Book of Acts

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New Believers Study
An Overview of the New Testament
by Pastor Ron Beckham

Third Study:
The Book of Acts

Jesus told His people to "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).  The Book of Acts is the story of those who took His commission seriously and spread the news about Him throughout the Roman Empire.

This is the second volume of a two-volume set by Dr. Luke, the man who accompanied the Apostle Paul for many years.  Luke identified himself as an eyewitness of many of these events, by the "we" sections of this Book, including 16:10-17, 20:5 to 21:18, and 27:1 to 28:16.  In Luke's Gospel, but instead he was the careful investigative reporter who asked a lot of questions (Luke 1:1-4).  He asked the eyewitnesses.  Much the same process occurred in the early Chapters of the Book of Acts.  In the first Chapters, Luke wrote what he was told by those who were there.  The remainder of the Book is largely what he saw and heard, either from his memory or from a journal he kept while on his journeys with Paul.

Archeological discoveries in the 20th Century confirm the accuracy of Dr. Luke's writings, and establish the likelihood that the Book was written at or around 62 A.D.  Luke's use of titles for Procurators, Consuls, Praetors, Politarchs, Asiarchs and others, was correct for the times and localities about which he wrote.  This is remarkable, because usage of the terms was in a constant state of flux, due to the ever-changing political status of the places involved.

Many have been concerned at the abrupt ending of the Book, which surprisingly does not report the end of Paul's trial, occurring at about the same time.  Why didn't he mention the outcome, since Paul was a central figure, not only in this Book, but also in Luke's life?  Acts makes no mention of the persecution under Nero (64 A.D.), Paul's death (66 A.D.) or the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.), which suggests that the events had not yet occurred.

Everything in this Book reveals Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, and also shows that receiving the Gospel (good news) leads to being given the same Holy Spirit that led Jesus during His time on earth.  You, the believer, are enabled to do the work of God for those in this world.  The pivotal section of this Book is Chapter Two, describing the Day of Pentecost, when the power of the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who trust in the Son of God.

Luke dedicated both his Gospel and this Book to Theophilus, and both introductions are written in Classical Greek, rather than the Greek that was in common usage at the time these Books were written.  Vocabulary and style are very similar throughout the two Books (Luke and Acts).

Dr. Luke begins the Book of Acts where the Gospel of Luke ends, and you can divide this Book into three great sections:  1:1 to 8:4 - (the church in Jerusalem).  8:5 to 12:25 (the church in Judea and Samaria).  Chapters 13 to 28 begins the taking of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  The focus of the Book changes from Peter to Paul in Chapter 13, and Antioch in Syria gradually replaces Jerusalem as the central place of the church.

You are encouraged to test yourself after the completion of “The Book of Acts”, using an essay (written) format.  The next section in this study is entitled “Questions” and it is suggested that you may 1) answer one or more of the questions in that section, and 2) send your answers to Ron@FridayStudy.orgIf you would like, your answers will be “graded” and responses given.

There are excellent websites where you may visit and copy or print the writings of some truly remarkable theologians from past centuries.  A good, simple to use “search engine” for that purpose is “Google,” where you can enter words like “Bible Commentaries” to search for some really great Bible commentaries from the past, including the following suggested locations:

bullet Go to Google as a Search Engine.  (Try others but this materials came from Google).  Look up Bible
Commentaries (there is no cost to download or copy
much of the material)
 
bullet A suggested address is
 
http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries
 
bullet Another is
http://bible.christiansunite.com/commentary.shtml
 
bullet And 
http://www.gospelcom.net/eword/comments

 
bullet Read the Friday Study Commentary on Acts, which is
located  in
www.fridaystudy.org
 

Matthew Henry, who wrote about 250 years ago (“Matthew Henry’s Commentary”), is strongly recommended, along with others of that time, such as John Calvin, John Wesley, and John Gill.  You will find wonderful material in those writings.  Also recommended is Dr. J. Vernon McGee (but there may be a small charge for his materials).


Questions

  1. Why did Jesus leave the earth before the Holy Spirit was given to the church?
  2. What does it mean that the Holy Spirit gives "power" to God's people?
  3. What do you make of the switch from the ministry of Peter in the early Chapters of Acts, to the ministry of Paul, in later Chapters?
  4. What is "tongues" and what does "tongues" mean to you?
  5. What are other "gifts of the Holy Spirit" found in the Book of Acts and what do they mean to you?
  6. What is the evidence of the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" in the life of a believer?
  7. Why did believers in Jerusalem have "all things in common"?  Did God lead them to do that? Why?/Why not?
  8. Did the man born lame in Chapter 3 have faith to be healed?  If not, why was he healed?
  9. Did the believers in Acts 4:31 & context receive the Holy Spirit an additional time?  What does this verse mean to you?
  10. What was the precise sin of Ananias & Sapphira, in Acts Chapter 5?  Do you see that sin in the world and in the church today?
  11. To be a deacon - is that a gift of the Holy Spirit? (Chapter 5).  Are deacons needed today?  Discuss.
  12. What kind of man was Saul / Paul, before his conversion?  Did God overrule Saul's free choice in saving him?
  13. What is the meaning of the "great sheet" in Acts 10?
  14. Why do you think the Lord allowed the death of James (Chapter 12)?
  15. Why did the Spirit let Paul and others remain for a long time in some places, but barely touch others?
  16. Are the laws for Gentiles in Acts 15:20 (and context) binding on Gentiles today?
  17. Why was Timothy circumcised? (Acts 16:1 & forward)
  18. How do we rejoice in difficult situations, as Paul and Silas did in Acts 16:25 & forward?
  19. Should we be more like the Bereans? (17:11)  In what way?
  20. Should Apollos have publicly taught before he received the way of God more accurately? (18:26 & context)  Why? / Why not?
  21. How is it that handkerchiefs or aprons from Paul's body could heal people?  (19:12 & context)  Can things like that happen today?  Discuss.
  22. Was Paul right in going to Jerusalem, even though so many told him to not go? (21:1 & context)  Discuss.
  23. Did Paul become depressed? (23:11)
  24. Why all the trouble & shipwreck on Paul's journey to Rome?  Could the journey have happened another way?  Discuss.
  25. Why does the Book of Acts end so abruptly?

Your assignment in the Book of Acts is to read the whole of that Book, with the above Questions in mind.  Always remain in prayer when you read Scripture, trusting in the following verse:  “Until now, you have asked nothing in My Name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).  Go into the Internet at the places cited, and read from the theologians offered, especially Matthew Henry (and you can find his excellent writings as “freeware” on the Internet).

The next New Believers Study will be in the Book of Romans.

Write with any questions:
Pastor Ron Beckham 
Ron@FridayStudy.org

              

 

 
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