The Acts of the Apostles is a continuation of The Gospel according to Luke Its chief purpose is to tell how Jesus' early followers, led by the Holy Spirit, spread the Good News about him “in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1.8). It is the story of the Christian movement as it began among the Jewish people and went on to become a faith for the whole world. The writer was also concerned to reassure his readers that the Christians were not a subversive political threat to the Roman Empire, and that the Christian faith was the fulfillment of the Jewish religion.
Acts may be divided into three principal parts, reflecting the ever widening area in which the Good News about Jesus was proclaimed and the church established: (1) the beginning of the Christian movement in Jerusalem following the ascension of Jesus; (2) expansion into other parts of Palestine; and (3) further expansion, into the Mediterranean world as far as Rome.
An important feature of Acts is the activity of the Holy Spirit, who comes with power upon the believers in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost and continues to guide and strengthen the church and its leaders throughout the events reported in the book. The early Christian message is summarized in a number of sermons, and the events recorded in Acts show the power of this message in the lives of the believers and in the fellowship of the church.
Outline of Contents
Preparation for the witness (1.1-26)
a. Jesus' last command and promise (1.1-14)
b. The successor of Judas (1.15-26)
The witness in Jerusalem (2.1—8.3)
The witness in Judea and Samaria (8.4—12.25)
The ministry of Paul (13.1—28.31)
a. The first missionary journey (13.1—14.28)
b. The conference in Jerusalem (15.1-35)
c. The second missionary journey (15.36—18.22)
d. The third missionary journey (18.23—21.16)
e. Paul a prisoner in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome (21.17—28.31)
Written by the author of Luke as a sequel to that Gospel, Acts tells the story of the early church. After Jesus is taken into heaven he sends the Holy Spirit to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the apostles take the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the Mediterranean World. The apostle Peter is the central figure at the beginning of Acts; Paul, a Pharisee who had persecuted Jesus' disciples but later became a follower himself, is the key figure in the second half of the book.