Introduction to Acts

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Acts 1:1-3

With this prologue, the action begins in this historical work that chronicles the early church for roughly its first 30 years of existence. This then is the story of how 11 young and dazed men became 12 Apostles who challenged the existing order both in Judea and throughout the known world of their time and overthrew the whole order of things, based on the teachings of a relatively obscure Jewish carpenter/teacher, a work that still has a massive impact on the world of today. Oh yes, this is nothing if not an unlikely story, in fact in human terms it is essentially an impossible story, yet these young men had something within them that was the quintessential game-changer, for they quickly became the very embodiment of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The author of this account did not identify himself in his writings, but we know who he was because of another New Testament book that he wrote, one that bears his name. Actually the prologue to that book provides us an interesting parallel to the one found in Acts:

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke 1:1-4

Tradition holds that Luke was a physician, and whether this title would have meant quite the same thing in his day as it does today is probably a matter of conjecture, but one thing is certain; whoever Luke was or whatever his profession may have been, he was certainly a well educated man, as evidenced by the quality of his Greek. It is also clear that he was an associate of Paul, as we will see later on in the story, an eyewitness to many of the things he describes here.

The theme and overall context of Acts rings clearly through the ages:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (1:8)

Acts has multiple phases and deals with many trials, tribulations… and triumphs, but this will remain the major theme, that they will receive power with the Holy Spirit, power to be the very witnesses of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Thus, we might accurately consider Acts to be the book of Genesis of the Church itself, for what was begun way back in Luke’s day, is an ongoing story from that time until this very day, a story in which  both you and I have a part to play.

Our journey through this epic story begins today right here at  The Life Project; I hope you’ll decide for the entire ride!

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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11 Responses to Introduction to Acts

  1. Mel Wild says:

    Looking forward to joining you in your journey through Acts. Also….to find out how 11 young and dazed men became 12 apostles. (multiplying fishes and loaves thing, I imagine) 🙂 Blessings.

  2. pipermac5 says:

    Actually, 11 DID become 13, because Judas was “replaced” by Matthias in Acts 1:15-26, and Paul was commissioned by the Risen Lord in Acts 9:1-22. Paul may have considered himself “the least of the Apostles, but he has had more impact on the growth of the Church than all the rest combined.

    Blessings!

    Seve

  3. dwmartens says:

    Having been through a few commentaries on Acts, with their detailed descriptions of practically every word, I’m looking forward to a tour of this record of the early workings of the Holy Spirit in the Church from a this-is-the-point perspective.

  4. A few days ago, my historical novel, LUKE: SLAVE & PHYSICIAN, became available on Amazon. Yes, Paul called him a physician, but yes it was different then. Almost always, physicians were slaves of rich families and served only that family. Physicians usually learned their trade by apprenticeship, though in the first century a few medical schools were established. The last one-third of the book has Luke traveling the world to find and interview the apostles. I know people say he wrote the gospel and Acts before Paul died, but who knows?

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