"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Six OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To note how the church in Jerusalem handled their internal problems 2) To examine the process of selecting and appointing those who serve in the Lord's church 3) To evaluate the charges that were brought against Stephen SUMMARY As the disciples in Jerusalem multiplied in number, it is not surprising to read of problems increasing as well. This chapter describes problems from within and without the congregation. Hellenists (Jewish Christians who adopted Grecian culture) complained that the Hebrews (Jewish Christians who sought to preserve Jewish culture) neglected their widows in the daily distribution (cf. 2:44-45; 4:34-35). The apostles, desiring not to be distracted from their own work, summon the disciples and charge them to select seven men whom the apostles might appoint to take care of this responsibility. Seven are selected by the people and appointed by the apostles through prayer and the laying on of hands. With the problem solved, the word of God spread and the number of disciples multiplied greatly, including the obedience of many priests (1-6). Stephen, one of the seven, began doing many wonders and signs. Opposition arose from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen who disputed with Stephen. Unable to resist the Spirit and the wisdom of which he spoke, they resorted to false witnesses to stir up the people, elders, and scribes. Brought before the council, Stephen was charged with blasphemy against the temple and the law of Moses. The chapter ends with the council looking at Stephen, seeing his face as the face of an angel (7-15). OUTLINE I. THE SELECTION OF THE SEVEN (1-7) A. THE PROBLEM (1) 1. As the church grew, there arose a complaint 2. The Hellenists were complaining against the Hebrews 3. The Hellenistic widows were being neglected during the daily distribution B. THE SOLUTION (3-6) 1. The twelve apostles summon the multitude of disciples a. It was not good that the apostles leave the word of God to serve tables b. The congregation should select seven men that the apostles might appoint 1) Of good reputation 2) Full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom c. So the apostles might give themselves to prayer and the word of God 2. The multitude is pleased, and select seven men a. Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit b. Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch 3. The seven men are appointed by the apostles a. Having prayed b. Laying hands on them C. THE RESULT (7) 1. The word of God spread, the number of the disciples multiplied 2. Many of the priests were obedient to the faith II. THE CHARGES AGAINST STEPHEN (8-15) A. HIS MINISTRY (8-10) 1. Full of faith and power, he did great wonders and signs among the people 2. Disputed with some from the Synagogue of the Freedmen a. Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia b. Who were unable to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke B. THE ACCUSATIONS (11-14) 1. They secretly induced men to charge him with blasphemy against Moses and God 2. They stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes a. To come and seize him b. To bring him to the (Sanhedrin) council 3. They set up false witnesses who charged Stephen with blasphemy against: a. The holy place (temple): "We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place" b. Against the law (of Moses) "...and change the customs which Moses delivered to us" C. HIS COMPOSURE (15) 1. All who sat in the council looked steadfastly at him 2. They saw his face as the face of an angel REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The selection of the seven (1-7) - The charges against Stephen (8-15) 2) As the church in Jerusalem grew in number, who raised a complaint? Why? (1) - The Hellenists against the Hebrews - The Hellenistic widows were being neglected in the daily distribution 3) When the apostles summoned the disciples, what did they first say to them? (2) - "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables" 4) What proposal did the apostles offer? (3) - For the congregation to select seven whom the apostles could appoint over this business 5) What qualifications did the apostles lay down for the selection of the seven? (3) - Men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom 6) What would this enable the apostles to do? (4) - Give themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word 7) What were the names of the seven men who were selected? What is unique about their names? (5) - Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicholas - They are all Grecian (Hellenistic) names 8) How did the apostles appoint those whom the congregation selected? (6) - Through prayer and the laying on of hands 9) As the word of spread, what two things occurred? (7) - The number of the disciples multiplied greatly - A great many of the priests were obedient to the faith 10) What did Stephen, one of the seven, do among the people? (8) - Great signs and wonders 11) Who began to dispute with Stephen? (9) - Some from the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, others from Cilicia and Asia) 12) What were they unable to do? (10) - Resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which Stephen spoke 13) What did they secretly induce men to say? (11) - "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God" 14) What did they stir up the people, elders, and scribes to do? (12) - To seize Stephen and bring him to the council 15) What did they set up false witnesses to say? (13-14) - "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law" - "We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us" 16) As those in the council looked at Stephen, what did they see? (15) - His face as the face of an angel
"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Five OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To examine the sin of Ananias and Sapphira in lying to the Holy Spirit 2) To note the amazing signs and wonders that were done by the apostles, in which all were healed 3) To consider the apostles' response when government seeks to stifle the preaching of the gospel SUMMARY In contrast to the remarkable liberality in the church as described in the previous chapter, we are now told of the example of Ananias and Sapphira. A husband and wife who sold a possession, they tried to mislead the apostles that they were giving the entire proceeds. Confronted one at a time by Peter and found guilty of lying against the Holy Spirit, they both fall dead, bringing great fear upon all (1-11). Highly esteemed among the people, the apostles continue doing many signs and wonders among the people and in the temple (Solomon's Porch). Believers were added to the Lord in increasing numbers, who then brought the sick out into the streets on beds and couches, that perhaps the shadow of Peter might fall on some of them. A multitude from the surrounding cities brought those who were sick and tormented, and everyone was healed (12-16). Once again the high priest and those of Sadducees are filled with anger. They have the apostles placed into custody. During the night, an angel of the Lord frees them and commands the apostles to continue to teach in the temple. In the morning when the council convenes, the prison is found secure but empty. When told that the apostles are teaching in the temple, officers are sent to bring the apostles peacefully to the council. When the high priest charges them of disobeying the command not to teach in the name of Jesus (cf. 4:18), the apostles reply "We ought to obey God rather than man." They further proclaim that God raised Jesus (whom the council had murdered) and has exalted Him to be Prince and Savior who offers repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. To this the apostles claim to be witnesses, along with the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him (17-32). Infuriated, the council plots to kill the apostles. However, one in the council, a Pharisee and highly respected teacher of the law by the name of Gamaliel (cf. 22:3), advises the council to leave the apostles alone. Based upon the history of other "movements" that had failed, Gamaliel reasons that if the apostles were doing the work of men, it would come to naught. But if it was the work of God, the council could do nothing to stop it and would only be fighting against God. The council is willing to heed his advice, though the apostles are beaten and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus before being released. The apostles leave the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame in the name of Jesus, and continue right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ every day in the temple and in every house (33-42). OUTLINE I. ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA (1-11) A. THEIR PLOT TO DECEIVE (1-2) 1. They sold a possession, but kept back part of the proceeds 2. Ananias brings a part to the apostles, Sapphira aware of his intention to deceive B. THE DEATH OF ANANIAS (3-6) 1. Peter challenges Ananias a. Why has he allowed Satan to enter his heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? 1) The land was his to use 2) The money was his to control b. He has not lied to men, but to God! 2. Ananias drops dead a. Upon hearing the words of Peter b. Creating great fear on those who heard c. Carried out by young men and buried C. THE DEATH OF SAPPHIRA (7-11) 1. Peter confronts Sapphira a. She enters three hours later, unaware b. Did she sell the land for a certain amount? Yes, she answers c. Why did she agree with her husband to the test the Spirit? d. Those who buried her husband are ready to carry her out 2. Sapphira falls dead a. Immediately at the feet of Peter b. Carried out by young men and buried by her husband c. Creating great fear upon all the church and all who heard II. THE POWER OF THE APOSTLES (12-16) A. WITH ONE ACCORD IN SOLOMON'S PORCH (12-13) 1. Many signs and wonders were done by the apostles among the people 2. While none dared join them, they were esteemed highly B. HEALING ALL WHO BROUGHT TO THEM (14-16) 1. Believers were increasingly added to the Lord 2. They brought the sick out on the street a. Laying them on beds and couches b. That at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on them 3. A multitude gathered from the cities surrounding Jerusalem a. Bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits b. They were all healed III. THE PERSECUTION OF THE APOSTLES (17-42) A. IMPRISONED, THEN FREED (17-21a) 1. The apostles put into the common prison a. By the high priest and those of the sect of the Sadducees b. For they were filled with indignation 2. The apostles freed by an angel of the Lord a. Who came at night, opened the prison doors, and brought them out b. Who charged them to return to the temple and speak the words of life c. Which they did, entering the temple in the early morning B. BEFORE THE COUNCIL (21b-33) 1. The council calls for the apostles to be brought from the prison a. The officers are unable to do so, for the apostles are not there! b. Despite the secure doors, and guards standing outside 2. The council has the apostles brought from the temple a. The council is informed that the apostles are teaching the temple b. The apostles are brought to the council peacefully, for fear of the people 3. The high priest challenges the apostles a. Were they not strictly commanded to teach in Jesus' name? b. You have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, intending to bring this Man's blood on us! 4. Peter and the apostles respond a. We ought to obey God rather than man b. God has raised Jesus, whom you murdered c. God has exalted Jesus to His right hand 1) To be Prince and Savior 2) To give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins d. We are witnesses to these things 1) And so is the Holy Spirit 2) Whom God has given to those who obey Him 5. The council's immediate reaction a. They were furious b. They plotted to kill the apostles C. THE ADVICE OF GAMALIEL (34-39) 1. Gamaliel stands up in the council a. A Pharisee, a teacher of the law b. Held in respect by all the people c. Who commands the apostles be put outside for awhile 2. Gamaliel cautions the council a. To be careful what they do with the apostles b. Remember what happened to Theudas 1) A man claiming to be someone, joined by 400 men 2) He was slain, and those who obeyed him came to nothing c. Remember what happened to Judas of Galilee in the days of the census 1) He drew away many people after him 2) He also perished, and those who obeyed him dispersed d. His advice regarding the apostles: leave them alone 1) If their work is of men, it will come to nothing 2) If it is of God, it cannot be overthrown and you will be fighting against God D. THE APOSTLES' RELEASED (40-42) 1. The council's decision a. They agree with Gamaliel to let the apostles go b. But first beat them and command them not to speak in the name of Jesus 2. The apostles' reaction a. They depart rejoicing they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name b. They continued to teach and preach Jesus daily in the temple and in every house REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Ananias and Sapphira (1-11) - The power of the apostles (12-16) - The persecution of the apostles (17-42) 2) Who is introduced as having sold a possession? (1) - Ananias and Sapphira, husband and wife 3) What did the husband do? Was the wife aware of it? (2) - He kept back part of the proceeds and brought a part to the apostles; yes, she was 4) What did Peter charge the husband of doing? In what way? (3) - Lying to the Holy Spirit - By keeping back part of the price (but implying he was giving all of it) 5) Who did Peter say he had lied to? (4) - Not to men but to God 6) What happened when the man heard this? What was the reaction of those who heard? (5) - He fell down and breathed his last; great fear come upon all who heard 7) How long before the wife came in? Was she aware of what happened? (7) - Three hours; no 8) Did she attempt to mislead Peter also? (8) - Yes 9) What did Peter charge her with being guilty of doing? (9) - Agreeing with her husband to test the Spirit of the Lord 10) What then happened? What was the reaction upon those who heard? (10-11) - She fell dead, and was buried by her husband; great fear came upon them 11) What was being done by the apostles? (12) - Many signs and wonders among the people 12) How did the people regard the apostles? (13) - None dared join them, but did esteem them highly 13) Did this hinder the growth of the church? (14) - No, believers were being increasingly added to the Lord 14) What did the believers do? Why? (15) - They brought the sick out into the street on beds and couches - That the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on them 15) Who else were bringing sick people? (16) - A multitude from the surrounding cities 16) Of those sick and tormented brought to the apostles, who were healed? (16) - They were all healed 17) Who was filled with indignation and had the apostles put into custody? (17-18) - The high priest and those of the sect of the Sadducees 18) Who freed the apostles during the night? What were they told to do? (19-20) - An angel of the Lord; to go to the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life 19) What was discovered when the apostles were sent for from prison? (21-23) - The prison was secure with the guards standing outside, but no one was inside 20) When told that the apostles were teaching in the temple, what did the council do? (24-26) - Sent the officers to bring the apostles without violence, for they feared the people 21) What three charges did the high priest make against the apostles? (27-28) - Did we not command you not teach in this name? - You have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine - You intend to bring this Man's blood on us! 22) What was the initial response of Peter and the apostles to these charges? (29) - We ought to obey God rather than man 23) What else did the apostles proclaim on this occasion? (30-32) - God raised up Jesus whom they murdered by hanging on a tree - God exalted Him to His right hand to be Prince and Savior - To give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins - We are witnesses to these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him 24) What was the council's initial reaction? What were they planning to do? (33) - They were furious; they plotted to kill the apostles 25) Who in the council stood up? Who was he? What did he command? (34) - A Pharisee named Gamaliel - A teacher of the law held in respect by all the people - That the apostles be put outside for a while 26) What were his initial words to the council? (35) - Take heed what you intend to do regarding these men 27) What two examples does he give of 'failed movements'? (36-37) - Theudas and his followers who came to nothing when he died - Judas of Galilee and those who followed him, who were dispersed when he died 28) What counsel does Gamaliel then offer? Why? (38-39) - Keep away from the apostles and leave them alone - If their work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, they will be fighting against God and cannot overthrow it 29) What was the council's response to Gamaliel? Yet what did they still do? (40) - They agreed with him - They beat the apostles, commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus, then let them go 30) How did the apostles' respond as they left the council? (41) - Rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus 31) What did the apostles continue to do? Where? (42) - Teach and preach Jesus as the Christ; daily in the temple, and in every house
"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES"Chapter FourOBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To study the beginning of the persecution against the church, and the reason for it 2) To note the apostolic response to persecution, and continued progress of the church in Jerusalem SUMMARY The first case of persecution against the church is described in this chapter. Peter and John are put into custody because their preaching on the resurrection of Jesus disturbed a number of the religious leaders (in particular the Sadducees who denied any resurrection, Mt 22:23; Ac 23:8). In spite of this, the number of men who believed came to be about five thousand (1-4). After a night in jail, Peter and John are brought before the council, including the high priest and members of his family. Challenged to explain themselves, Peter proclaims the healing was done by the name of Jesus Christ, the very one they crucified yet whom God raised from the dead and who has now become "the chief cornerstone" (cf. Ps 118:22), and in whose name alone salvation is now available. Amazed at Peter and John's boldness, and unable to deny that the lame man had been healed, the council sends them outside and confer among themselves. They decide to prevent the spread of the apostles' doctrine by threatening Peter and John not to preach or teach in the name of Jesus. The apostles respond that they must speak what they have seen and heard. The council, unable to do anything more at this time because of the people, simply threaten the apostles once again and let them go (5-22). Returning to their companions, Peter and John report what has been said. Prayer is offered, asking for boldness in view of the persecution foretold in Psalms 2:1-2, and for signs and wonders to continue in the name of Jesus. At the conclusion of the prayer, the place where they prayed was shaken and all were filled the Holy Spirit, emboldening them to speak the Word of God (23-31). The chapter ends with a description of the continued growth of the church, with the oneness of the brethren and the empowered testimony of the apostles to the resurrection of Jesus. The great liberality continues, meeting the needs of the saints. One example in particular is noted, that of Barnabas, whose work is featured later in the book (cf. Ac 11:22-30; 13:1-15:41), and whose liberality stands in stark contrast to what takes place in the next chapter (32-36). OUTLINE I. THE ARREST OF PETER AND JOHN (1-22) A. BROUGHT BEFORE THE COUNCIL (1-12) 1. Peter and John taken into custody a. By the priests, captain of the temple, and the Sadducees b. Who were upset by their preaching in Jesus the resurrection from the dead c. Kept overnight until the next day d. The number of those who believed came to be about five thousand 2. Their appearance before the Council (Sanhedrin) a. Before the rulers, elders and scribes b. Before Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, along with other family members of the high priest c. Peter and John challenged to explain by what power or name they have acted 3. Peter's response as led be the Spirit a. Were they being judged for doing a good deed to a helpless man in making him well? b. It was by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth he was made whole 1) Whom they crucified 2) Whom God raised from the dead 3) Who is the stone rejected by the builders, and has become the chief cornerstone - cf. Ps 118:22 c. There is salvation in no other name under heaven B. THREATENED NOT TO TEACH (13-22) 1. The council's reaction a. What the council saw 1) The boldness of Peter and John a) Perceived as uneducated and untrained men b) Realized as having been with Jesus 2) The man who had been healed a) Standing with Peter and John b) Against whose healing nothing could be said b. What the council reasoned 1) A notable has occurred, evident to all, none could deny 2) To prevent further spread, to threaten the apostles c. What the council did 1) Commanded Peter and John 2) Not to speak at all or teaching in the name of Jesus 2. Peter and John's reply a. Shall they listen to the council or God? b. They cannot but speak what they have seen and heard 3. Peter and John released a. Upon further threatening b. Finding no way of punishing them, c. Because of the people, who glorified God for what had been done d. For the man who was healed was over forty years old II. THE PRAYER FOR BOLDNESS (23-31) A. PETER AND JOHN RETURN (23) 1. To their brethren 2. To report all that had been said to them B. THEIR PRAYER (24-30) 1. Addressed to the Lord God, Creator of all things a. Who prophesied by the mouth of His servant David b. Of the nations' rage and plotting against His Christ c. As fulfilled by Herod and Pilate, by Gentiles and Israel d. Who did according to His predetermined purpose 2. Asking for all boldness in the face of such threats a. That His servants may speak His word b. That His hand might stretch out 1) To heal, to do signs and wonders 2) Through the name of His holy Servant Jesus C. THE ANSWER (31) 1. The place in which they were assembled was shaken 2. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit 3. They spoke the word of God with boldness III. THE PROGRESS OF THE CHURCH (32-37) A. THEIR UNITY (32) 1. The multitude of believers were of one heart and one soul 2. None claimed their possessions as their own; they had all things in common B. THEIR GREATNESS (33) 1. With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of Jesus 2. And great grace was upon them all C. THEIR LIBERALITY (34-37) 1. None among them lacked what they needed a. For all who possessed lands or houses sold them b. The proceeds were laid at the apostles' feet c. Distribution was made as each had need 2. The example of Joses a. Called Barnabas, Son of Encouragement, by the apostles b. A Levite of the country of Cyprus c. Sold land, and laid the money at the apostles' feet REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The arrest of Peter and John (1-22) - The prayer for boldness (23-31) - The progress of the church (32-37) 2) Who came upon Peter and John while they were speaking? (1) - The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees 3) Why were they upset with Peter and John? (2) - Because they preached in Jesus the resurrection of the dead 4) Why did that upset them? (cf. Mt 22:23; Ac 23:8) - The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection 5) What did they do with Peter and John? (3) - Placed them in custody until the next day 6) How many men had come to believe in Christ? (4) - About five thousand 7) Who joined the rulers, elders and scribes on the next day? (5-6) - Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other members of the family of the high priest 8) What did they ask Peter and John? (7) - "By what power or by what name have you done this?" 9) What name did Peter given them? (8-10) - The name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth 10) What had the religious leaders done? What had God done? (10) - Crucified Jesus - Raised Jesus from the dead 11) What else did Peter say about Jesus? (11-12) - He is the rejected stone which has become the chief cornerstone (cf. Ps 118:22) - There is salvation in no other name but His 12) What did the religious leaders see, perceive, and realize about Peter and John? (13) - Their boldness - That they were uneducated and untrained men - That they had been with Jesus 13) What could the religious leaders not deny? (14) - That the man standing with Peter and John had been healed 14) After Peter and John were put out of the council, what did the council confer among themselves? (15-17) - They could not deny such a notable miracle - To prevent the spread of the apostles' doctrine, to severely threaten them 15) What did the council command Peter and John? How did they respond? (18-20) - Not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus - "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge." - "...we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." 16) After threatening the apostles some more, why did the council not punish them further? (21-22) - Because of the people, who glorified God for what had been done 17) Once released, what did Peter and John do? (23) - Returned to their companions and reported all the council had said 18) What did they then do? (24) - Pray to God 19) What Messianic prophecy did they refer to in their prayer? (25-26) - The one found in Ps 2:1,2 20) Who were mentioned as a fulfillment of opposing God and Christ? (27) - Herod and Pilate; the Gentiles and the people of Israel 21) In their opposition against God, what had they actually done? (28) - What God had determined before to be done 22) In their prayer, what did the apostles ask of God? (29-30) - To consider the threats and give His servants boldness to speak His word - To grant healing signs and wonders to be done in the name of Jesus 23) What happened in response to their prayer? (31) - The place where they assembled shook; they were all filled with the Holy Spirit - They spoke the word of God with boldness 24) What manifested the oneness of the believers at that time? (32) - They had all things in common 25) What manifested the greatness enjoyed by the church at that time? (33) - With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of Jesus - Great grace was upon them all 26) What manifested their love and generosity at that time? (34-35) - Those who had lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds to the apostles - Distribution was made as anyone had need 27) Who was singled out as an example of their liberality? (36-37) - Joses, a Levite from Cyprus named Barnabas (Son of Encouragement) by the apostles
"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Three OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To study the healing of the lame man, noting various aspects of the miracle 2) To examine Peter's second gospel sermon, his call to repent and the blessings to follow SUMMARY The chapter opens with Peter and John going to the temple where they encounter a man lame from birth begging for alms at the gate called Beautiful. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Peter commands him to rise up and walk. Taking the lame man by the right hand and lifting him up, the man is healed instantly and completely. Walking, leaping, and praising God, he accompanies Peter and John into the temple to the wonder and amazement of the crowd (1-11). On Solomon's porch, Peter explains that the healing occurred by faith in the name of Jesus. God has glorified His Servant Jesus, the Holy One and the Just, the Prince of life, whom they denied and killed, but whom God raised from the dead as witnessed by Peter and John. While their crimes were done in ignorance, even foretold and fulfilled by God, they are commanded to repent and turn. Those that do are promised to have their sins blotted out and experience other blessings from Jesus who will remain in heaven until the times of restoration of all things. Those who do not heed Jesus will be utterly destroyed as foretold by Moses (cf. Deut 18:15,18-19). As sons of the prophets, and of the covenant God made with Abraham to bless all families through his seed (cf. Gen 22:18), to them first God has sent Jesus to bless them in turning them away from their iniquities (12-26). OUTLINE I. THE HEALING OF THE LAME MAN (1-11) A. THE MIRACLE AT THE TEMPLE GATE (1-8) 1. Peter and John go to the temple a. At the hour of prayer b. Which was the ninth hour (3 p.m.) 2. The lame man at the temple gate called Beautiful a. Lame from his mother's womb b. Carried daily to the gate to ask for alms c. Seeing Peter and John, asks them for alms 3. Peter heals the lame man a. They fix their eyes on the man, and Peter tells him to look at them b. The man gives them his attention, expecting to receive something c. Peter has no gold or silver, but gives what he has 1) He commands the lame man in the name of Jesus to rise up and walk 2) He takes him by the right hand and lifts him up d. Immediately his feet and ankle bones receive strength 1) Leaping up, the man stands and walks 2) He enters the temple with Peter and John 3) He is walking, leaping, and praising God B. THE RESPONSE OF THE CROWD (9-11) 1. The people see the lame man walking and praising God 2. The people know him as the one who begged alms at the Beautiful Gate 3. They are filled with wonder and amazement at what happened 4. As the lame man holds on to Peter and John, the people run to them in Solomon's Porch II. PETER'S SECOND SERMON (12-26) A. THE MIRACLE EXPLAINED (12-16) 1. Peter questions why the crowd marveled a. Why look at Peter and John so intently? b. As though by their own power or godliness they made the man walk? 2. God has glorified His Servant Jesus a. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of their fathers b. Has glorified Jesus 1) Whom they delivered up and denied a) In the presence of Pilate b) When he was determined to let Him God 2) The Holy One and the Just a) Whom they denied b) And asked for a murderer to be granted to them 3) The Prince of life a) Whom God raised up b) Of which Peter and John are witnesses 3. It was through faith in His name that made the man strong a. A man whom they see and know b. Faith which comes through Jesus has given him perfect soundness in their presence B. THE CALL TO REPENT AND BE CONVERTED (17-26) 1. Peter knows they and their rulers crucified Christ in their ignorance a. Those things God foretold by the mouth of His prophets b. How Christ would suffer, God has fulfilled 2. Peter commands them to repent and be converted a. That their sins may be blotted out b. That times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord c. That God might send Jesus Christ 1) Who was preached to them before 2) Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things a) Which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets b) Since the world began 3. Even as Moses warned the fathers (cf. Deut 18:15,18-19) a. That God would raise up for them a Prophet from their brethren b. Whom they should hear in all things, whatever He says c. Those who will not hear that Prophet will be utterly destroyed from among the people d. As all the prophets foretold these days, from Samuel and those who followed 4. They are the sons of the prophets, of the covenant God made with their fathers a. Saying to Abraham, "And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed" b. To them first, God sent His Servant Jesus to bless them 1) Having raised Him up 2) To turn every one of them from their iniquities REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The healing of the lame man (1-11) - Peter's second sermon (12-26) 2) When did Peter and John go up to the temple? (1) - At the hour of prayer, the ninth hour (3 p.m.) 3) What was the name of the gate of the temple where the lame man begged for alms? (2) - Beautiful 4) When Peter and John spoke to the lame man, what he expecting? (3-5) - To receive something from them 5) As Peter prepared to heal the lame man, what did he say? What did Peter then do? (6-7) - "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." - Took the lame man by the right hand and lifted him up 6) How soon was the lame man healed? How did the lame man respond? (7-8) - Immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength - Leaping up, stood, walked into the temple, leaping and praising God 7) Who saw the lame man walking in the temple? What was their reaction? (9-10) - All the people, who knew he had been the lame beggar at the gate Beautiful - Filled with wonder and amazement 8) Where did the crowd gather in the temple area? (11) - Solomon's porch 9) What did Peter first deny? (12) - That by their own power or godliness they made the man walk 10) What had God done through this miracle? (13) - Glorified His Servant Jesus 11) Of what did Peter accuse of the crowd concerning Jesus? (13-15) - They delivered and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, who wanted to let Him go - They denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for murderer to be granted to them - They killed the Prince of life 12) What did Peter then proclaim regarding Jesus? What evidence does he provide? (15) - God raised Him from the dead; he and John as witnesses 13) To what does Peter attribute the healing of the lame man? (16) - The name of Jesus and faith in His name 14) What does Peter say regarding their guilt? What else about their actions? (17-18) - They did it in ignorance, as did their rulers - It was foretold by God through His prophets, which God has now fulfilled 15) What two commands does Peter give to the people? (19) - Repent - Be converted (lit., turn) 16) What three blessings are extended to those who obey? (19-20) - That your sins may be blotted out - That times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord - That He may send Jesus Christ 17) How long must Christ remain in heaven? As described by whom? (21) - Until the times of restoration of all things - God, by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began 18) What did Moses promise to the fathers? What did he also warn them? (22-23) - God would raise up a Prophet like him whom they should hear - Those who do not hear Him will be utterly destroyed 19) Who else foretold of these days? (24) - All the prophets, from Samuel and those who followed 20) How did Peter describe his audience? (25) - As sons of the prophets - As those of the covenant God made with their fathers 21) What promise did God make to Abraham? (25) - "And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed." 22) How was God seeking to bless the people? (26) - Having raised up Jesus, sending Him to bless them in turning people away from their iniquities
"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter Two OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To carefully consider the events surrounding the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost 2) To examine Peter's first gospel sermon, and the evidence presented in it for the resurrection of Jesus Christ 3) To observe the response to the sermon, and what people were told to do in order to be saved 4) To note the establishment and characteristics of the church in Jerusalem SUMMARY Ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven, on the Jewish feast day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is poured out as promised. With the sound of a rushing mighty wind, and with tongues of fire appearing above their heads, those filled with the Holy Spirit begin to speak in other tongues (1-4). Devout Jews visiting from other countries are attracted and amazed as they hear wonderful works of God proclaimed in their own languages (5-13). Peter, standing with the rest of the apostles, explains that what has happened is a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (Joel 2:28-32), who foretold that God would pour out His Spirit in the last days (14-21). He then preaches Jesus of Nazareth to the crowd, reminding them of His miracles, their involvement in His death, and proclaiming that God raised Him from the dead. As proof for the resurrection, Peter offers three lines of evidence: 1) the prophecy by David, who foretold of the resurrection (Ps 16:8-11); 2) the twelve apostles as witnesses; 3) the Spirit's outpouring itself , indicative of Christ's exaltation and reception of the promise of the Spirit from the Father. In conclusion, Peter pronounces that God has made Jesus, whom they crucified, both Lord and Christ (22-36). Cut to the heart, the people ask the apostles what they should do. Peter commands them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and gift of the Holy Spirit. With many other words he exhorts them to be saved, and about 3000 souls gladly receive his word and are baptized (37-41). Thus begins the church in Jerusalem, which continues steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayers. Signs and wonders are done by the apostles, while the believers display their love and devotion through acts of benevolence and frequent worship. They enjoy the favor of the people, and the Lord adds to the church daily those being saved (42-47). OUTLINE I. THE OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT (1-4) A. ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST (1) 1. A Jewish holiday, also known as the Feast of Weeks and Feast of Harvest, one of three great annual festivals (cf. Lev 23:15-22; Exo 23:14-18; 34:22) 2. Fifty days after the Passover Sabbath, i.e., Sunday 3. They, most likely the apostles (cf. Ac 1:11,26; 2:7,14), were gathered in one place B. WITH AUDIBLE AND VISUAL SIGNS (2-3) 1. A sound from heaven a. As of a rushing mighty wind b. Filling the house where they were sitting 2. Divided tongues a. As of fire b. One upon each one of them C. FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT (4) 1. Speaking with other tongues (known languages, cf. Ac 2:8,11) 2. As the Spirit gave them utterance II. THE REACTION OF THE CROWD (5-13) A. CONFUSED AND AMAZED (5-11) 1. The crowd made up of devout Jews visiting from other nations 2. The effect of what they heard a. Drew the multitude together b. Confused them, for everyone heard them speaking in their own language c. Amazed and marveled them, for those speaking were Galileans d. Yet were hearing languages of the countries of their birth 1) Parthians, Medes, Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotamia 2) Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia 3) Egypt, Libya, Cyrene, Rome 4) Both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs 3. Hearing in their languages the wonderful works of God B. TWO RESPONSES (12-13) 1. One of serious questioning: "Whatever could this mean?" 2. One of mockery: "They are full of new wine." III. THE EXPLANATION BY PETER (14-21) A. THEY WERE NOT DRUNK (14-15) 1. Standing up with the eleven, Peter addresses the crowd 2. It was too early in the day ("third hour", i.e., 9 a.m.) for them to be drunk B. THE FULFILLMENT OF JOEL'S PROPHECY (16-21) 1. The events were those prophesied by Joel (cf. Joel 2:28-32) 2. Which foretold of the outpouring of the Spirit a. In the last days on all flesh b. Leading sons and daughters to prophesy, young men to see visions, and old men to dream dreams c. With signs and wonders in heaven above and earth beneath before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord d. With salvation to those who call upon the name of the Lord IV. THE SERMON BY PETER (22-36) A. PROPOSITION: GOD RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD (22-24) 1. Jesus, a man attested to by miracles, signs and wonders a. Done by God in their midst b. Which they themselves knew 2. Jesus, crucified and put to death a. According to the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God b. Which they did by lawless hands (via the Romans) 3. Jesus, whom God raised from the dead a. Having loosed the pains of death b. For it was not possible that He should be held by it B. EVIDENCE: THREEFOLD TESTIMONY (25-35) 1. The testimony of David a. For David prophesied of Jesus (cf. Ps 16:8-11) b. David could not be speaking of himself 1) For he was dead and buried 2) With his tomb for all to see c. But spoke as a prophet 1) He knew that God had sworn with an oath that one of his descendants would be raised to sit on his throne 2) He therefore spoke of the resurrection of Christ, whose soul was not left in Hades nor did His flesh see corruption 2. The testimony of the apostles a. They were witnesses b. That God raised Jesus 3. The testimony of the Spirit's outpouring a. Jesus poured forth what they saw and heard 1) Having been exalted to the right hand of God 2) Having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit b. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but prophesied of the Lord (Ps 110:1) 1) Who would sit at God's right hand 2) Until His enemies became His footstool (cf. 1Co 15: 25-26) C. CONCLUSION: JESUS IS LORD AND CHRIST (36) 1. All the house of Israel were to "know assuredly" (i.e., believe with all their hearts) 2. That God made Jesus, whom they crucified, both Lord and Christ V. THE CONVERSION OF 3000 SOULS (37-41) A. THE RESPONSE OF THE LISTENERS (37) 1. They were cut to the heart 2. They said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" B. THE REPLY BY PETER (38-39) 1. Two commands a. Repent b. Let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ 2. Two promises a. For the remissions of sins b. You shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit 3. The extent of the promise a. To them and their children b. To all who afar off, as many as the Lord will call C. THE RESULTS RECORDED BY LUKE (40-41) 1. After Peter with many other words testified and exhorted them: "Be saved from this perverse generation" 2. Those who gladly receive his word were baptized 3. That day about 3000 were added (cf. Ac 2:47) VI. THE BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH (42-47) A. THEIR STEADFASTNESS AND REVERENCE (42-43) 1. They continued steadfastly in: a. The apostles' doctrine and fellowship b. The breaking of bread and prayers 2. Fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles B. THEIR CHARITY AND GROWTH (44-47) 1. Those who believed were together and had all things in common a. Those with possessions and goods sold them b. Dividing them among all according to their need 2. They continued daily with one accord in the temple 3. Breaking bread from house to house, eating with gladness and simplicity of heart 4. Praising God and having favor with all the people 5. The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The outpouring of the Spirit (1-4) - The reaction of the crowd (5-13) - The explanation by Peter (14-21) - The sermon by Peter (22-36) - The conversion of 3000 souls (37-41) - The beginning of the church (42-47) 2) What day had arrived? Who was gathered in one place? (1) - The Day of Pentecost; "they" (most likely the apostles,
cf. Ac 1:26; 2:7,14) 3) What audible and visible signs were evidence of the Spirit's outpouring? (2-3) - The sound of a mighty rushing wind filling the house where they were sitting - Divided tongues, as of fire, one sitting upon each of them 4) What did those filled with Spirit begin to do? (4) - To speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance 5) Who was present in Jerusalem at that time? (5) - Devout Jews from every nation 6) What indicates that the "tongues" were known languages of men? (6,11) - Everyone heard them speak in his own language - The people said, "We hear them speaking in our own tongues..." 7) What evidence is that those speaking were only the apostles? (7) - Those speaking were Galileans (which was true of the apostles, whereas many disciples were from other regions besides Galilee) 8) What was the reaction of those who heard? (7,12-13) - They were amazed and marveled, they were perplexed, some even mocked 9) How did Peter and the eleven discount the charge that they were drunk? (14-15) - It was only the third hour of the day (9 a.m.) 10) To what does Peter attribute the events of that day? (16) - That which was spoken by the prophet Joel 11) When would the events described by Joel occur? (17) - In the last days 12) Upon whom would the Spirit be poured out? (17,18) - All flesh - God's menservants and maidservants 13) What did Joel prophesy would be some of the effects of the Spirit's outpouring? (17-18) - Sons and daughters shall prophesy (cf. Ac 21:8-9) - Young men shall see visions and old men shall dream dreams - God's menservants and maidservants shall prophesy (cf. 1Co 11:5) 14) What other events were foretold by Joel? When would they occur? (19-20) - Wonders in heaven and signs in the earth - The sun turned into darkness, and the moon into blood - Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord 15) What reassuring promise was made by Joel? (21) - Whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved 16) How was Jesus attested to by God? (22) - By miracles, wonders, and signs which He did through Him 17) Could the audience deny that Jesus did these signs? (22) - No, for they were done in their midst and they were aware of them 18) Though crucified by lawless hands, according to what was Jesus' death? (23) - God's predetermined purpose and foreknowledge 19) What is the main proposition of Peter's sermon? (24) - God raised Jesus from the dead 20) What first line of evidence did Peter present to prove his proposition? (25-31) - The prophecy of David concerning the resurrection of the Christ 21) How was Peter able to prove that David did not speak of himself? (29,34) - David was dead and buried, the tomb was still there - David did not ascend into the heavens 22) What two prophecies of David did Peter reference? (25-29,34-35) - Psalms 16:8-11; 110:1 23) What second line of evidence did Peter present to prove his proposition? (32) - The apostles were witnesses of the resurrection 24) What third line of evidence did Peter present to prove his proposition? (33-33) - The outpouring of the Spirit, indicative of being exalted to the right hand of God and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit 25) What did Peter want his audience to know assuredly? (36) - That God has made Jesus, whom they crucified, both Lord and Christ 26) How did this impact the audience? What did they ask? (37) - They were cut to the heart; "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 27) What two commands did Peter give them? (38) - Repent and be baptized 28) What two promises did Peter offer them? (38) - Remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit 29) To whom was the promise offered? (39) - To them and their children, and to all who are afar off, as many as God would call 30) What else did Peter say? (40) - With many words he testified, and exhorted them, "Be saved from this perverse generation" 31) What did those who gladly received his word do? How many? (41) - They were baptized; about 3000 32) What did those who were baptized then do? (42) - Continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers 33) Who were doing many wonders and signs? (43) - The apostles 34) What did those who believe do with their possessions? (44-45) - Sold them and shared with one another as anyone had need 35) What did the disciples do during those first days of the early church in Jerusalem? (46-47) - Continued daily in the temple with one accord - Breaking bread from house to house, eating with gladness and simplicity of heart - Praising God and having favor with all the people 36) What did the Lord do during those days? (47) - Added to the church daily those who were being saved
"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Chapter One OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To begin our study of Acts with a review of things taught by Jesus between His resurrection and ascension: the kingdom of God, the Promise of The Father, being baptized by the Spirit 2) To note the role and qualifications of the apostles as witnesses of the resurrection of Christ 3) To see how Luke sets the stage for the great events described in chapter two SUMMARY Luke begins his second book to Theophilus by alluding to the first (the gospel of Luke, Lk 1:1-4). He briefly reviews what occurred during the forty days between the resurrection and ascension of Christ (cf. Lk 24:1-53). Special attention is given to the Promise of the Father regarding the apostles being baptized by the Holy Spirit, who would empower them as witnesses for Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and even to the end of the earth (1-8). The ascension of Jesus is then described (cf. also Lk 24:50-51), along with the promise of His return by two men in white apparel standing by (9-11). Obeying the command of the Lord, the apostles return to Jerusalem, where they wait and continue in prayer along with the women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers (12-14). During this time, Peter addresses the (120) disciples regarding Judas who betrayed Jesus. Both the fall and replacement of Judas were foretold by the Spirit through the mouth of David, so Peter proposes guidelines for nominees to take the place of Judas in the apostolic ministry of being a witness of Jesus' resurrection. Two men are selected for consideration, and following prayer for the Lord to show which of the two He has chosen, lots are cast and Matthias is numbered with the eleven apostles (15-26). OUTLINE I. THE PROLOGUE (1-8) A. THE FORMER ACCOUNT TO THEOPHILUS (1-3) 1. Of all that Jesus began to do and teach 2. Until the day in which Jesus was taken up 3. After He had given commandments to the apostles a. To whom He had shown Himself alive, being seen during forty days b. Speaking of things pertaining to the kingdom of God B. THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (4-8) 1. The apostles commanded to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Promise of the Father a. Which they had heard from Him b. For while John baptized with water, they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit shortly 2. The apostles question Jesus concerning the kingdom a. Would He now restore the kingdom to Israel? b. It is not for them to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority 3. When the Spirit has come upon the apostles... a. They shall receive power b. They shall be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth II. THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST (9-11) A. JESUS ASCENDS TO HEAVEN (9) 1. When He had spoken these words, while they watched 2. A cloud received Him out of their sight B. THE PROMISE OF HIS RETURN (10-11) 1. While looking steadfastly as Jesus ascends, two men in white apparel stand by 2. They address the apostles a. "Men of Galilee" b. "Why do you stand gazing up into heaven?" 3. They promise Jesus will return a. "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven" b. "Will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" III. THE WAITING IN JERUSALEM (12-14) A. THE APOSTLES RETURN TO JERUSALEM (12) 1. From the mount called Olivet 2. About a Sabbath day's journey B. THEY CONTINUE IN PRAYER (13-14) 1. In an upper room where they were staying 2. The names of the apostles: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James 3. They pray with the women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers IV. THE SELECTION OF MATTHIAS (15-26) A. THE COUNSEL OF PETER (15-22) 1. To about 120 disciples, of the need to replace Judas a. His betrayal prophesied by the Spirit through David 1) He became a guide to those who arrested Jesus 2) Though he was numbered with the apostles and had a part in their ministry b. His gruesome death described by Luke 1) He purchased a field with the wages of iniquity
(Mt 27:3-8) 2) He fell headlong, burst open in the middle, entrails gushing out 3) The field is called Akel Dama, Field of Blood c. His end and replacement foretold in the Psalms 1) "Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it" (Ps 69:25) 2) "Let another take his office" (Ps 109:8) 2. Stipulating requirements for one to be a witness of His resurrection with the apostles a. Having accompanied the apostles all the time Jesus went in and out among them b. Beginning from the baptism of John, until the day Jesus ascended to heaven B. MATTHIAS NUMBERED WITH THE APOSTLES (23-26) 1. Two are proposed a. Joseph called Barsabas and surnamed Justus b. Matthias 2. Prayer is offered to the Lord, who knows the hearts of all a. To show which of these two He has chosen b. Who would take part in the ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell 3. Lots are cast a. The lot fell on Matthias b. He was numbered with the eleven apostles REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The Prologue (1-8) - The Ascension Of Christ (9-11) - The Waiting In Jerusalem (12-14) - The Selection Of Matthias (15-26) 2) What is the "former account" Luke has reference to? (1) - The gospel of Luke (Lk 1:1-4) 3) What three things does Luke mention Jesus did before He ascended? (2-3) - Gave commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen - Presented Himself alive by many infallible proofs - Spoke of things pertaining to the kingdom of God 4) How long a period was it between the resurrection and ascension of Christ? (3) - Forty days 5) What command did Jesus leave with His apostles? (4) - Not to depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the Promise of the Father 6) What did this "promise" pertain to? (5) - Being baptized with the Holy Spirit 7) What question did the apostles ask Jesus? How did he respond? (6-7) - Would He at that time restore the kingdom to Israel? - It was not for them to know the times and seasons which the Father has put in His own authority 8) What was promised when the Spirit came upon them? What would they then be? (8) - The apostles would receive power - His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to end of the earth 9) What happened as Jesus ascended to heaven? (9) - A cloud received Him out of their sight 10) As Jesus ascended to heaven, who stood nearby? (10) - Two men in white apparel 11) What did they promise? (11) - Jesus will return in like manner as they saw Him ascend to heaven 12) From where did Jesus ascend to heaven? How far was this from Jerusalem? (12) - Mount Olivet (near Bethany, cf. Lk 24:50) - A Sabbath day's journey (nearly a mile) 13) Where did the apostles stay in Jerusalem? With whom did they pray? (13-14) - An upper room - With the women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers (cf. Mt 13:55; Jn 7:5) 14) How many disciples were gathered there in those days? (15) - 120 15) Who stood up to speak? What about? (15-20) - Peter - Replacing Judas who betrayed Jesus and hung himself 16) What happened to the body of Judas? In what field? (18; Mt 27:3-10) - Fell headlong, burst open in the middle, and entrails gushed out (presumably after he hanged himself) - The field purchased with money paid to betray Jesus, known as Akel Dama, the Field of Blood 17) What were the requirements to be considered a replacement for Judas? (21-22) - Had accompanied the apostles all the time the Lord Jesus went in and out among them - From the baptism of John to the day Jesus ascended to heaven 18) What would be a primary role of the replacement? (22) - To be a witness with the apostles of the resurrection of Jesus 19) What two candidates were selected? (23) - Joseph called Barsabas, surnamed Justus - Matthias 20) What procedure was used to determine who would replace Judas? (24-26) - Prayer, and then the casting of lots 21) Who was numbered with the eleven apostles? (26) - Matthias
"ACTS OF THE APOSTLES" Introduction TITLE Commonly called "The Acts Of The Apostles", it is simply titled "Acts" in some of the oldest manuscripts. It might appropriately be called "Some Of The Acts Of Some Of The Apostles" since it does not try to describe all of the acts of all the apostles. Rather, the focus is clearly on some of the acts or deeds of mostly Peter (the key figure in the first half) and Paul (the key figure in the second). It might also be called "The Acts Of The Holy Spirit", as that Person of the Godhead is very much an active participant throughout the book. AUTHOR Though he does not mention himself by name, the author is undoubtedly Luke, physician and frequent traveling companion of the apostle Paul. From 1:1-3, we learn Acts is the second historical account to Theophilus (see below), the first being the gospel universally attributed to Luke (cf. Lk 1:1-4). Luke is described as "the beloved Physician" (Col 4:14), and the vocabulary of both the gospel and Acts shows evidence of a medical mind. Mentioned as a "fellow laborer" (Phm 24) who was with Paul in his last days (2Ti 4:11), Luke often accompanied Paul on his travels beginning with his second journey. By carefully noting the use of "we" and "they" in the book of Acts, we glean that Luke joined Paul at Troas (16:10-11), and remained at Philippi (17:1) until Paul later picked him up on his way to Troas (20:1-6). The book ends with Luke accompanying Paul to his imprisonment in Rome (28:16). It is evident Luke was very careful to provide a historically accurate account in the both the gospel and Acts (cf. Lk 1:1-4,5; 2:1-3; 3:1-2). Sir William Ramsay, archaeologist who started his career to prove Luke to be in error, offered this testimony as a result of his research: "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense...in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians." In fact, Luke provides the only record of the first thirty years of the early church. RECIPIENT Both the gospel and Acts were written to one man: Theophilus (Lk 1:3; Ac 1:1), whose name means "God lover". Ramsay suggests the use of "most excellent" (Lk 1:3) was a title like "Your Excellency" (cf. 23:26; 26:25) and that Theophilus was a government official of high rank. It is not used in Acts (1:1), and one intriguing possibility is that he became a believer in between receiving the gospel and Acts. Some have entertained the possibility that Theophilus was a Roman official in charge of administering Paul's case before Caesar, and that the gospel and Acts were written to help him understand the facts of Jesus Christ and Paul's role in the history of the church. TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING The book ends abruptly with Paul under house arrest awaiting trial in Rome (28:16,30-31). This may indicate that the book was written before Paul's trial and eventual release. The dates for Paul's first imprisonment in Rome are 60-62 A.D. If the book was just before or after Paul's release, then it was likely written around 63 A.D. from Rome. PURPOSE OF THE BOOK As indicated previously, the original purpose of both the gospel and Acts may have been to assist Theophilus in some official capacity in learning about Jesus and His apostles. Yet the inspiration and preservation of the book would indicate an important future role in the providence of God. Based on its content, I would offer the following purpose of this book: * To record the establishment and early growth of the church Other reasons could be given for why this book was written. The detail given to conversions and the involvement of the Holy Spirit would certainly suggest the book is designed to reveal: * Examples of conversions to the gospel of Christ * The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the apostles and the early church The value of Acts is also seen in that it provides the historical framework for the epistles found in the New Testament. From Romans to Revelation, names, places, and events are mentioned upon which light is shown by the historical account of Acts. Without Acts, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John would be left without a satisfying answer to the question, "What happened next?" THEME OF THE BOOK The book begins in Jerusalem and ends at Rome. It describes the establishment and growth of the Lord's church throughout the Mediterranean world through the work of the apostles and other Christians under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We read their sermons and see the conversions which resulted as they carried out the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16). We learn how local churches were established, and much of their work, worship and organization. But mostly we see the faith and efforts of those charged to be witnesses of the Lord and of His resurrection from the dead. An appropriate theme of this book might therefore be: "WITNESSES FOR THE LORD JESUS CHRIST" KEY VERSE: Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." OUTLINE I. THEIR WITNESS IN JERUSALEM (1:1-8:3) A. PREPARATION (1:1-26) 1. Introduction to the book (1:1-3) 2. The promise of the Spirit (1:4-8) 3. The ascension of Jesus (1:9-11) 4. The waiting for the Spirit (1:12-14) 5. The selection of Matthias (1:16-26) B. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHURCH (2:1-47) 1. The outpouring of the Spirit (2:1-4) 2. The reaction of the crowd (2:5-13) 3. The explanation by Peter (2:14-21) 4. The first gospel sermon by Peter (2:22-36) 5. The conversion of 3000 souls (2:37-41) 6. The beginning of the church (2:42-47) C. THE CHURCH IN JERUSALEM (3:1-8:3) 1. The healing of the lame man; Peter's second sermon (3:1-26) 2. The first persecution against the church; the liberality of the church (4:1-37) 3. The first trouble within; increasing persecution without (5:1-43) 4. The disturbance within resolved; intensifying persecution without (6:1-15) 6. The address and martyrdom of Stephen (7:1-60) 7. The persecution involving Saul against the church (8:1-3) II. THEIR WITNESS IN JUDEA AND SAMARIA (8:4-12:25) A. THE PREACHING BY PHILIP (8:4-40) 1. The conversion of the Samaritans (8:4-25) 2. The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (8:26-40) B. THE CONVERSION OF SAUL OF TARSUS (9:1-31) 1. The appearance of the Lord on the road to Damascus (9:1-8) 2. The baptism of Saul by Ananias (9:9-19) 3. The initial ministry and persecution of Saul (9:20-31) C. THE MIRACLES OF PETER (9:32-43) 1. The healing of Aeneas (9:32-35) 2. The raising of Dorcas from the dead (9:36-43) D. THE CONVERSION OF CORNELIUS (10:1-11:18) 1. The account recorded by Luke (10:1-48) 2. The account retold by Peter (11:1-18) E. THE MINISTRIES OF BARNABAS, SAUL AND PETER (11:19-12:25) 1. The work of Barnabas and Saul in Antioch (11:19-26) 2. The work of Barnabas and Saul in Judea (11:27-30; 12:25) 3. The persecution by Herod; James beheaded, Peter arrested (12:1-4) 4. The release of Peter from prison by an angel; Herod's death (12:5-24) III. THEIR WITNESS TO THE END OF THE EARTH (13:1-28:30-31) A. THE FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNEY OF PAUL (13:1-14:28) 1. The departure from Antioch of Syria (13:1-3) 2. The ministry on the island of Cyprus (13:4-12) 3. The preaching in Antioch of Pisidia (13:13-52) 4. The work and persecution in Iconium, Lystra and Derbe (14:1-20) 5. The confirmation of churches and appointment of elders (14:21-23) 6. The return trip to Antioch (14:24-28) B. THE ISSUE OF CIRCUMCISION AND THE LAW (15:1-35) 1. The problem surfaces in Antioch (15:1-3) 2. The problem resolved in Jerusalem (15:4-29) 3. The letter delivered to Antioch (15:30-35) C. THE SECOND MISSIONARY JOURNEY OF PAUL (15:36-18:22) 1. The separation of Paul and Barnabas (15:36-41) 2. The addition of Timothy to Paul and Silas (16:1-5) 3. The call to come to Macedonia (16:6-10) 4. The conversion of Lydia in Philippi (16:11-15) 5. The conversion of the Philippian jailor (16:16-40) 6. The proclamation of Christ in Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens (17:1-34) 7. The year and a half at Corinth (18:1-17) 8. The quick trip back to Antioch (18:18-22) D. THE THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY OF PAUL (18:23-21:17) 1. The strengthening of disciples in Galatia and Phrygia (18:23) 2. The conversion of Apollos by Aquila and Priscilla (18:24-28) 3. The three years at Ephesus, ending with a riot (19:1-41) 4. The trip through Macedonia, three months in Greece, and return through Macedonia (20:1-5) 5. The breaking of bread and miracle at Troas; heading toward Jerusalem (20:7-16) 6. The meeting with the Ephesian elders at Miletus (20:17-38) 7. The warnings on the way to Jerusalem; brief stays in Tyre and Caesarea (21:1-14) 8. The arrival in Jerusalem (21:15-17) E. THE ARREST OF PAUL AND JOURNEY TO ROME (21:18-28:31) 1. The counsel of James and elders of the church in Jerusalem (21:18-25) 2. The arrest of Paul in the temple (21:26-40) 3. The defense by Paul to the Jewish mob (22:1-30) 4. The defense by Paul before the Sanhedrin council (23:1-10) 5. The plot against Paul and deliverance to Felix (23:11-35) 6. The trial before Felix; procrastination by Felix (24:1-27) 7. The appearance before Festus and appeal to Caesar (25:1-12) 8. The defense before Festus and King Agrippa (25:13-26:32) 9. The journey to Rome; shipwreck along the way (27:1-28:16) 10. The explanation of Paul to the leaders of the Jews in Rome (28:17-29) 11. The waiting in Rome for two years, yet preaching and teaching (28:30-31) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION 1) Who is the author of the book of Acts? What was his profession? - Luke - Physician 2) To whom was this book written? What other book is addressed to this person? - Theophilus (Ac 1:1) - The gospel of Luke (Lk 1:3) 3) What might indicate that this person was an official of high rank? - Being addressed as "most excellent" (Lk 1:3) 4) When was this book likely written? From where? What may be indicative of this? - 63 A.D.; Rome - It is when and where the book abruptly ends (Ac 28:30-31) 5) What is proposed as the primary purpose of the book of Acts? - To record the establishment and early growth of the church 6) Based on content, what else does the book appear designed to reveal? - Examples of conversions to the gospel of Christ - The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the apostles and the early church 7) What is offered as the theme of the book of Acts? - Witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ 8) What is the key verse? - "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." - Ac 1:8 9) What are the main divisions of the book as suggested by the key verse and the outline in the introduction? - Their witness in Jerusalem (1:1-8:3) - Their witness in Judea and Samaria (8:4-12:25) - Their witness to the end of the earth (13:1-28:31)
How Can a Person Know Which God Exists?
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
Poseidon: Greek god of the sea
Several decades ago, the United States was overwhelmingly Christian in its religious persuasion. When naturalism and Darwinian evolution picked up speed in the U.S. and challenged the biblical story of man’s origins—the perspective most held by Americans—apologists sprang up in response, dealing a death blow to the naturalistic religion in the minds of many. Once evolutionary theory had been dealt with, both biblically and scientifically, it was natural for many Americans to recognize that they had always been right—Christianity is the true religion.
Sadly, under the banner of “tolerance,” the “politically correct” police have made significant inroads in compelling the American public, not only to tolerate, but to endorse and encourage pluralism and the proliferation of false religion in America. What was once an understood conclusion—that if evolution is wrong, then biblical Creation must be true—is now heavily challenged in America.
|Nisroch: Assyrian god of agriculture|
It has become a popular tactic among atheistic scoffers to mock Bible believers by sarcastically arguing that there’s just as much evidence for the Flying Spaghetti Monster as there is for any god. Therefore, if intelligent design doctrine deserves time in the classroom, so does the doctrine of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster—the Pastafarians (cf. Langton, 2005; Butt, 2010, p. 12). At the University of South Carolina, a student organization made up of Pastafarians was responsible for sponsoring the debate held between A.P.’s Kyle Butt and popular atheist, Dan Barker (Butt, 2010).
One such scoffer approached me awhile back after one of the sessions of my evolution seminar—a biology professor from the local university in the city where I was speaking. His quibble was a fair one: “Even if you’re right that naturalistic evolution/atheism is false, you still haven’t proven which God exists. You haven’t proven it’s the God of the Bible. Why couldn’t it be Allah? Or [sarcastically] the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”
It is true that many times when apologists discredit naturalism and show that the evidence points to supernaturalism, they do not necessarily always take the next step and answer how we arrive specifically at the God of the Bible as the one true God. Perhaps the main reason, again, is because the answer was once so obvious that the additional step did not need to be taken. People already had faith in the Bible, and they only needed someone to answer an attack on its integrity. Upon answering it, they went back to their faith in Christianity comfortably. But as naturalism and pluralism have eroded the next generation, and Bible teaching—the impetus for developing faith (Romans 10:17)—has declined, Christianity is no longer a given.
|Jupiter: Roman god of light and sky, and protector of the state and its laws|
Many in Christendom would respond to the professor’s questions by saying, “You just have to have faith. You just have to take a leap and accept the God of the Bible. You don’t have to have tangible evidence.” That reaction, of course, is exactly how scoffers want you to answer. Their response: “Aha! You don’t have proof that God exists. So why should I believe in Him? I might as well pick one that suits me better or make up my own god to serve.”
The Bible simply does not teach that one should accept God without evidence. We should test or prove all things, and only believe those things that can be sustained with evidence (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We should not accept what someone tells us “on faith,” because many teach lies; they should be tested to see if their claims can be backed with evidence (1 John 4:1). The truth should be searched for (Acts 17:11). It can be known (John 8:32). God would not expect us to believe that He is the one true God without evidence for that claim.
While there are different ways to answer the question posed by the professor, the most direct and simple answer is that the Bible contains characteristics which humans could not have produced. If it can be proven that a God exists and that the Bible is from God, then logically, the God of the Bible is the true God. It is truly a sad commentary on Christendom at large that the professor, as well as the many individuals that are posing such questions today, have not heard the simple answer about the nature of God’s divine Word.
After taking a moment to recover from the fact that he clearly had never experienced anyone responding rationally to his criticisms, the professor said, “Really? [pause] I’d like to see that evidence.” I pointed him to our book that summarizes the mounds of evidence that testify to the inspiration of the Bible (cf. Butt, 2007), and although he said he did not want to support our organization with a purchase, he allowed an elder at the church that hosted the event to give it to him as a gift.
|Ganesh: Hindu god of wisdom, knowledge, and new beginnings|
If you have not studied the divine qualities of the Bible, or are not prepared to carry on a discussion with others about the inspiration of the Bible, might I recommend to you that you secure a copy of Behold! The Word of God through our Web store immediately. Consider also getting the free pdf versionin the “PDF-Books” section of our Web site, browsing the “Inspiration of the Bible” category on our Web site, or at the very least, order a back issue of our Reason & Revelationarticle titled “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God” (Butt and Lyons, 2015). Consider also those friends, loved ones, and even enemies that might benefit from a copy. The professor’s question is one of the most pivotal questions one can ask today, and the Lord’s army must be armed with the truth to be able to aid those seeking it.
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle (2010), A Christian’s Guide to Refuting Modern Atheism (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God,” Reason & Revelation, 35:2-11.
Langton, James (2005), “In the Beginning There Was the Flying Spaghetti Monster,” The Telegraph, September 11, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1498162/In-the-beginning-there-was-the-Flying-Spaghetti-Monster.html.