LESSON 1 Introduction to Acts and the Epistles

Acts Introduction

  • The New Testament has a total of _____ books.
  • 26 of the NT books are either ________________ or ______________.
  • The book of Acts is the ___________________ between these two groups.

A HISTORY BOOK

  • Acts is a ___________________ book.

  • Why is that important?

  • Acts covers about ______ years of history.

  • There are two main characters in the book of Acts – ______________ (chapters 1-10) and _________________ (chapters 11-28).

A BOOK OF SERMONS

  • About _________ of the book of Acts is either a sermon or a speech.

AUTHOR OF THE BOOK OF ACTS

  • The human writer of the book of Acts is not identified by name in Acts or any other book of the Bible.
  • Nearly every Bible scholar believes that it is St. Luke who wrote this book.
  • Compare the opening verses of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.
LukeActs
Luke 1:1-4 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to draw up a narrative of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and servants of the word handed them down to us, it also seemed best to me after having investigated everything carefully from the beginning to write it in order for you, most excellent Theophilus, in order that you may know exactly the certainty of the matters that you have been taught.Acts 1:1-2 The earlier written narrative I made, O Theophilus, was of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach until that day he was taken up after giving orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles, whom he had chosen.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT LUKE?

  • Luke is mentioned only ______ times in the New Testament.
  • Luke is the only _______________ writer of a book of the Bible.
  • The books of Luke and Acts are two of the longest books of the New Testament. In fact, his writings total about _________ of the New Testament, or _______of the entire Bible.
  • Luke was not one of the _____________________, or even an eyewitness or immediate disciple of the Lord (Luke states that he had carried out extensive research and had written an orderly account about Jesus – Luke 1:1-4.)
  • Luke was _________________ (Colossians 4:14)
  • His city of origin is ______________________ .
  • He was a companion and co-worker of ____________________ (2 Timothy 4:11; Acts 16:10–17; 20:5–15; 21:1–18; 27:1–28:16.)

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THEOPHILUS?

  • The book of Acts is dedicated to a man named ___________________.
  • This is a Greek or Gentile name that means __________________________.
  • He is called _________________________which indicates that he may have been a high-ranking Roman official of some sort.

THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK OF ACTS

The purpose seems to be two-fold:

a) To present the history of the early Christian church (for Theophilus and all of us).

b) To show how the great commission of Jesus (“preach the Gospel to all the world”) was carried out under the power of the Holy Spirit.

WHEN WAS ACTS WRITTEN?

  • The book of Acts must have been written after the _______________________ was written, according to the introduction of Acts (Acts 1:1-3).
  • It was probably also written prior to ______________ terrible persecution of Christians (which began in AD 64), the death of St. Paul (about AD 64) and the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70), since Luke mentions neither of these significant events.
  • We could date the book at about AD ______________.

THE STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK

There are three easy ways to outline the book of Acts.

a) The Two Key Figures

  • a. Peter’s Ministry = Acts 1 to Acts 12:24
  • b. Paul’s Ministry = Acts 12:25 to Acts 28:31

b) Six growth points

  • a. Acts 6:7: And the word of God kept growing, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem continued to multiply very much, and a large number of the priests began to obey the faith. (This notes the preaching and the growth of the church in Jerusalem.)
  • b. Acts 9:31 Therefore the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria was having peace, was being built up and proceeding in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and was being multiplied in numbers. (This notes the preaching and the growth of the church throughout Judea and Samaria.)
  • c. Acts 12:24 But the word of God kept growing and was being multiplied.
  • d. Acts 16:5 Therefore the churches were being strengthened in the faith and were increasing in number every day.
  • e. Acts 19:20 In this manner the word of the Lord kept growing mightily and was wielding power.
  • f. Acts 28:31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, without hindrance. (These last verses note that the preaching of the word had by Paul reached the ends of the earth, to Rome, the capital of the Gentile world in Europe.)

c) Jesus’ commission and mission strategy stated in Acts 1:8: “You will be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even as far as the end of the earth.”

  • a. Part 1: Jesus’ witnesses spread his gospel in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jews, Acts 1:1-6:7
  • b. Part 2: Jesus’ witnesses spread his gospel throughout Judea and Samaria, Acts 6:8-12:24.
  • c. Part 3: Jesus’ witnesses carry his gospel to the ends of the earth, to Rome, the capital of the Gentiles, Acts 12:25-28-31.

OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF ACTS

I. You Will Be My Witnesses in Jerusalem (Acts 1:1-6:7)

  • A. Acts 1:1-11 Jesus ascends into heaven.
  • B. Acts 1:12-26 An apostle is elected to succeed Judas
  • C. Acts 2:1-42 Pentecost
  • D. Acts 2:43-4:4 Peter with John preach the Word of the Lord in Jerusalem
  • E. Acts 4:5-5:16 Peter and John preach the Word boldly.
  • F. Acts 5:17-6:7 The apostles are arrested and the church elects its first deacons

II. You Will Be My Witnesses in Judea and Samaria (Acts 6:8-12:24)

  • A. Jesus’ witnesses spread his gospel in Judea and Samaria, Acts 6:8-9:31
  • B. Peter spreads his gospel in Judea and Samaria, Acts 9:32-12:24

III. You Will Be My Witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 12:25-28-31)

  • A. Acts 12:25-14:28 Paul’s first missionary journey
  • B. Acts 15:1-31 The First Ecumenical Council of the Church at Jerusalem
  • C. Acts 15:35-18:22 Paul’s second missionary journey
  • D. Acts 18:23-21:14 Paul’s third missionary journey
  • E. Acts 21:15-28:31 Paul takes his gospel to Rome,

CHRONOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

DatesActs ChaptersEventsEpistle
301-6Ascension,Pentecost
31-327Stoningof Stephen
339Conversionof Paul to Christianity
34
35-4310Cornelius;Paul’s visit to Jerusalem
4412Deathof James the apostle
45-46James?
4713-141st missionary Journey
48
4915JerusalemcouncilGalatians
5016-182nd missionary journey1Thessalonians
512Thessalonians
5219-213rd missionary journey
531Corinthians
542Corinthians
55Romans
5622Paul’sarrest in Jerusalem
5723-26Imprisonmentin Caesarea
58
5927-28Voyage to Rome
60FirstRoman imprisonmentEphesiansColossiansPhilemonPhilippians
61
62Releasefrom imprisonmentActs
631TimothyTitus
64Paul‘ssecond imprisonment;Peter’sdeath1& 2 PeterJude
652Timothy
Later1,2,3John

INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLES

How many of the 27 NT books are epistles?

How many epistles are in the Old Testament?

What is the difference between a letter and an epistle?

Why were epistles so important in the New Testament era?

How many people were involved in the process of communication by letter?

New Testament World

CLASSIFICATION OF EPISTLES

Paul’s Epistles

Eschatological

    1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians

Soteriological

    Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians

Ecclesiological

    Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon 

Pastoral

    1 & 2 Timothy, Titus

General Epistles

Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1,2,3 John, Jude