Acts Bible Study

Acts: 3000 New Believers!

Acts 2:37-41 New International Version (NIV)

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The people knew that their actions had led to the killing of Jesus. So, they were very sad. He was their Messiah; the only person who could save them from the results that came from their sins. They felt very guilty. And they wanted to know what they should do.

Peter told them that they must recognize Jesus as the Messiah and be baptized. This would show that now they had genuine faith in Jesus.

‘In the name of Jesus Christ’ meant that they believed in his authority. They trusted him to save them. And they accepted him as their Lord. If they did this, they would receive two gifts. God would forgive them for the things that they had done wrong. This was the first gift. The Holy Spirit would come and he would live in them. The Spirit would make them into new people. This was the second gift.

‘This promise’ means the gift that God has promised. This gift is the Holy Spirit. It is for everyone. It was not just for the disciples at Pentecost.

‘All those who are far away’ means Jews in different countries and Gentiles also.

‘Everyone whom the Lord our God will call to come to him’ actually meant everyone. It included people who were not born yet. Of course, this includes people who are living now. When God calls us, he wants to give us these gifts too.

A person can begin to believe in Jesus. And he or she can begin to trust in him. When a person does this, it must not be a secret. When we are saved we must act differently, like a new creation. To show that the person has changed, he or she must come to be with other believers.

The group of believers in Jerusalem increased. They increased from 120 people to over 3000 people. They became the first church.

Think about how powerful that message must have been and how amazing it must have been to witness, 3000 people get saved in one service. O how our hearts sing when one person gets saved, but to see 3000. How joyful that day must have been.

Acts Bible Study

Acts: Peter Preaches

Acts 2:14-36 New International Version (NIV)

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”’

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Peter steps up and begins to preach to the people. He spoke verses from the book called Joel (Joel 2:28-32). They describe the Day of the Lord. For Jews, this meant the day when God would change the world. They believed that God would give power to Israel then. (Look at the note about Acts 1:6.) It would also be a day when God would bring terrible judgement. The Jewish people divided time into two ages: ‘The Present Age’ was completely evil and the ‘Age that would Come’. This was the time when God would rule over all. The Day of the Lord separated the two ages.

These strange events at Pentecost happened because God was sending his Holy Spirit to people. The Greek word for ‘send out’ here also means ‘pour out’. This was the beginning of the ‘last period’ before Jesus returns. ‘Last period’ can also mean ‘last days’ in Greek.

A few weeks earlier, people in Jerusalem had seen that the sun became dark. This had happened in the afternoon when Jesus died on the cross.

People cannot save themselves from God’s judgement. But God will save anyone who calls to him. But the person must really want God to help him or her.

Even today, many people think that Jesus should not have died on the cross. They think that it was not in God’s plan. But Peter said here that Jesus’ death on the cross was not a mistake. It was the most important part in God’s plan! Jesus died to save us. He wanted to save us from the results that come from our sin. However, the people who killed Jesus were guilty. They did not have to kill him. They chose to kill him. They had proof that God had sent him. But although this was true, they still killed him.

Those People decided that Jesus must die because it was their judgement on him. But God’s judgement was that he should not remain in death’s power. Jesus’ death was in God’s plan. But his resurrection was also in God’s plan.

Peter used words from Psalm 16:8-11. Peter wanted the people to understand that this prophecy is about Jesus. The prophecy cannot be about David, because David died. His grave was in a famous place near Jerusalem. The Jewish people knew that the Messiah would be a ‘son of David’. This did not mean that David would be his father. David had lived many hundreds (100s) of years earlier. But it meant that David would be his ancestor. God had told this to David.

David was a prophet. In his psalm, he was talking about Christ’s resurrection. He saw that Jesus did not remain dead. Nor did Jesus’ body go bad. ‘ we are all witnesses of it .’ Peter wanted everyone to know what he and the disciples knew.

Forty (40) days after Jesus came back to life, he went to heaven. He is sitting at God’s right side.

In verses 34-35, Peter used another set of scriptures for his proof. This showed that Peter was speaking the truth. The proof is Psalm 110:1. Jesus had already said that this verse was about himself (Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44). Jesus had said that this would happen. He had said, “Now the Son of Man will sit down and he will continue to sit. He will sit at the right side of the great and powerful God” (Luke 22:69). Jews believed that the word ‘Lord’ here meant God and ‘my Lord’ referred to the Messiah. Certainly, it did not mean David. David did not go straight up to heaven to sit next to God. Jesus is the Messiah. He rules over everything in heaven and on earth.

Peter did not call Jesus ‘Lord’ to be polite. In the Greek Bible, ‘Lord’ is the name that Israel’s people gave to their God. This was the most important part in Peter’s message. Jesus is Lord. He rules over all things.

Acts Bible Study

Acts: The Holy Spirit comes on the Day of Pentecost

Acts 2:1-4

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

The day called Pentecost was an important day for the Jews. It came 50 days after the Passover. Many Jews had grown plants for food. Then on Pentecost day, they gave the best ones to God. They also remembered how God had given the Law to them. On this special Pentecost, God gave the Holy Spirit. Now, the Holy Spirit lives in every Christian. The Holy Spirit convicts us when we do wrong and helps us to do God will and understand His word.

Everyone knew when the Holy Spirit came. Luke says that it was ‘ like the blowing of a violent wind ’. In the Bible, writers often use the word ‘wind’ to describe the Spirit’s power. (Look at Ezekiel 37:9-14, for example.)

First, they heard the Holy Spirit. Next, they saw something. It was ‘tongues that seemed like fire’. In the book called Exodus, we read that Moses saw a very special bush. We know that God was in the bush. We know it because the bush was burning all the time (Exodus 3:2-5). We can see that God was here in Acts too, because of the fire.

The words ‘other tongues’ is often debated. People do not always agree about what this means. The disciples spoke in foreign languages. This was so that all the foreign visitors in Jerusalem could understand them.

Some people think that Luke is describing the gift called ‘tongues’ (special languages). Other people disagree. They think that the disciples spoke in foreign languages because this was a special day. There were many foreign visitors in Jerusalem on that day. So, by means of those foreign languages, these visitors could understand the disciples when they spoke about God.

Paul writes about the gift called ‘tongues’ in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14. Many Christians believe that the Holy Spirit still gives this gift to Christians today. With it, people can speak in special languages. These are languages that they have not learnt. These languages may be human languages or angels’ languages (1 Corinthians 13:1). This gift is for prayer and it is for prophecy. Usually, when people speak in ‘tongues’, they cannot understand that language. They cannot understand what they are saying. But the Holy Spirit tells another person what the translation is.

Acts Bible Study

Acts: A New Disciple

Acts 1:21-26

21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

The 11  disciples that remained had been very close to Jesus all the time. He had taught them when they were away from the crowds. They had helped him in his special work on earth. They had also seen him many times after his resurrection. They had watched him leave the earth. And they had watched him go up to heaven. They wanted the new disciple to be someone who had known Jesus like this. He must tell everyone that Jesus had beaten death. So, he needed to have seen with his own eyes that Jesus was alive.

Barsabbas means ‘son of the  Sabbath’. Maybe he was born on the Sabbath day. Justus is a Gentile name. Many  Jews had both a  Jewish name and a  Gentile name.

Eusebius lived from about  AD 260 to  AD 340. He wrote history. He said that the 70 disciples in Luke 10:1 included Matthias and Barsabbas. But we do not really know that. Luke does not write about Matthias and Barsabbas again.

Verse 24 ‘Then they prayed’. The  disciples asked God to choose between Matthias and Barsabbas. God always knows what is best. Therefore, we should pray about everything that we do.

Philippians 4:6-7 New International Version (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Judas chose to leave his life as a disciple. Therefore, the place ‘where he belongs’ was not with the disciples. He had been chosen into one place by Jesus, but had made another choice for himself, which had ended in destruction. That “his own place” when thus used was, to the Jewish mind, an equivalent for Gehenna = the place of torment, may be seen from the Baal Haturim on Numbers 24:25, where it is said “Balaam went to his own place, i.e. to Gehenna.”

‘Then they cast lots.’ This was the usual way for  Jews to make a choice. It was used many times in the Old Testament.

The practice of casting lots is mentioned 70 times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament. In spite of the many references to casting lots in the Old Testament, nothing is known about the actual lots themselves. They could have been sticks of various lengths, flat stones like coins, or some kind of dice; but their exact nature is unknown. The closest modern practice to casting lots is likely flipping a coin.

The practice of casting lots occurs most often in connection with the division of the land under Joshua (Joshua chapters 14-21), a procedure that God instructed the Israelites on several times in the book of Numbers (Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; 36:2). God allowed the Israelites to cast lots in order to determine His will for a given situation (Joshua 18:6-10; 1 Chronicles 24:5,31). Various offices and functions in the temple were also determined by lot (1 Chronicles 24:5, 31; 25:8-9; 26:13-14). The sailors on Jonah’s ship (Jonah 1:7) also cast lots to determine who had brought God’s wrath upon their ship. The eleven apostles cast lots to determine who would replace Judas (Acts 1:26). Casting lots eventually became a game people played and made wagers on. This is seen in the Roman soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ garments (Matthew 27:35).

The New Testament nowhere instructs Christians to use a method similar to casting lots to help with decision-making. Now that we have the completed Word of God, as well as the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us, there is no reason to be using games of chance to make decisions. The Word, the Spirit, and prayer are sufficient for discerning God’s will today—not casting lots, rolling dice, or flipping a coin.

When people ‘cast lots’, they wrote people’s names on stones. They put the stones in a jar. Then they shook the jar until a stone fell out. The name on the stone was the person that they must choose. This was the last time when they cast lots in the New Testament. After the Holy Spirit came, the  disciples did not need to do this. Instead, the  Holy Spirit guided them.

Acts Bible Study

Acts: Judas’ Death

Acts 1:15-20

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters,[a] the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”

18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:

“‘May his place be deserted;
    let there be no one to dwell in it,’[b]


“‘May another take his place of leadership.’

Verse 15 Luke records that there were about 120  believers there. The  church began with only a few people. It is good for us to remember this. You may be the only Christian in your family. Or you may be the only Christian in the place where you work. There may be only a few  Christians in your country. But God will use you to spread the good news.

Verses 16 -17 Jesus had chosen 12  disciples to work with him. The number 12 was important because there were 12 important families in  Israel. Now there were only 11 disciples. So, they needed to replace Judas.

Verses 18-19 Peter did not speak the words in these two verses. Everyone in the room knew what Judas had done. Luke probably heard this story when he went to  Jerusalem in  AD 57. He tells it to us here.

‘His wicked act’ happened like this. Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests. They wanted to arrest Jesus. They gave Judas 30 pieces of silver and he led them to Jesus. He greeted Jesus with a kiss. In this way, he showed the people whom to arrest. (Luke 22:3-6; 47-48).

In Matthew’s Gospel, we can read about Judas’s death. The details are not exactly the same as they are in Acts. But we can be sure that Judas killed himself (Matthew 27:1-10).

Verse 19 Here, ‘their language’ means the Aramaic language.

Verse 20 Here, Peter began to speak again. He used scripture from Psalm 69 and Psalm 109. The famous king David wrote these psalms. Peter had said that ‘ it is written in the Book of Psalms ’ (verse 16). David wrote them many hundreds (100s) of years before. But they are about Judas. In his Gospel, Luke tells us that Jesus helped the disciples to understand the scriptures. He taught them these things after his  resurrection (Luke 24:25-27, 32, 45-49). They began to understand that the Old Testament had many  prophecies about the  Messiah. Psalm 69 is about Jesus. We learn this from 5 verses in the  New Testament (John 2:17; John 15:25; Romans 11:9-10; and here, Acts 1:20).

Acts Bible Study

Acts: The Return to Jerusalem

Acts 1:12-14

12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Verse 12 ‘The Mount of Olives’ was very significant in the Bible.

Old Testament references

The Mount of Olives is first mentioned in 2 Sammuel15:30, David’s flight from Absalom: “And David went up by the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up.” The ascent was probably east of the City of David, near the village of Silwan. The sacred character of the mount is alluded to in the Book of Ezekiel (11:23): “And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.”

The biblical designation Mount of Corruption, or in Hebrew Har HaMashchit (I Kings 11:7–8), derives from the idol worship there, begun by King Solomon building altars to the gods of his Moabite and Ammonite wives on the southern peak, “on the mountain which is before (east of) Jerusalem” (1 Kings 11:7), just outside the limits of the holy city. This site was known for idol worship throughout the First Temple period, until king of Judah, Josiah, finally destroyed “the high places that were before Jerusalem, to the right of Har HaMashchit…”(II Kings 23:13)

An apocalyptic prophecy in the Book of Zechariah states that YHWH will stand on the Mount of Olives and the mountain will split in two, with one half shifting north and one half shifting south (Zechariah 14:4).

Many Jews have wanted to be buried on the Mount of Olives since antiquity, based on the Jewish tradition (from the Biblical verse Zechariah 14:4) that when the Messiah comes, the resurrection of the dead will begin there. There are an estimated 150,000 graves on the Mount, including tombs traditionally associated with Zechariah and Absalom. On the upper slope, the traditional Tomb of the Prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi is situated. Notable rabbis buried on the mount include Chaim ibn Attar and others from the 15th century to the present day.

New Testament references

The Mount of Olives is frequently mentioned in the New Testament as part of the route from Jerusalem to Bethany and the place where Jesus stood when he wept over Jerusalem (an event known as Flevit super illam in Latin).

Jesus is said to have spent time on the mount, teaching and prophesying to his disciples (Matthew 24–25), returning after each day to rest (Luke 21:37, and John 8:1, and also coming there on the night of his betrayal. At the foot of the Mount of Olives lies the Garden of Gethsemane. The New Testament tells how Jesus and his disciples sang together – “When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” Gospel of Matthew 26:30. Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives according to Acts 1:9–12.

‘A Sabbath day’s walk’ was the distance that Jews could walk on the Sabbath day. The Sabbath is the day when Jews rest. On that day, they must not walk further than 2000 cubits. (This is about two thirds of a mile.)

Verse 13 The disciples had eaten the Passover meal with Jesus in a room upstairs (Luke 22:7-13). This was probably the same room.

Here Luke names all the disciples except Judas Iscariot. But he mentions only Peter, James and John again in Acts.

Verse 14 Luke shows that women were important. These women had traveled to Jerusalem from Galilee with Jesus and his disciples (Luke 8:2-3, 23-55). Mary, Jesus’ mother, was also there. This is the last time that anyone mentions her in the New Testament. For the first time, Jesus’ brothers were together with the disciples. Jesus’ brother James became a leader in the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:13-21; 21:18).

The disciples were doing actually as they were told. They were to be Jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem and they were waiting for the Holy Spirit to come on them.

Think about the last three months or so of these peoples lives and what an emotional roller-coaster it was? They were 3 months earlier listening to Jesus teach and watching him perform miracles. Then he was betrayed, arrested, beaten and crucified. Then they had buried him, he arose and had fellowship with him for 40 days. Finally they saw him ascend into heaven.

Acts Bible Study

Acts: Jesus Returns to Heaven

Acts 1:9-11

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Verse 9 Luke also described this event in his Gospel (Luke 24:50-53). Jesus had showed his disciples that he was alive, over a period of 40 days. The cloud contained God’s glory. The last time when the disciples saw Jesus on earth, God’s glory surrounded him.

Verse 10 They were ‘staring up at the sky’. Some students say that Jesus did not actually rise up to heaven. But Luke uses words like ‘watched’, ‘see’, ‘staring’, ‘look’ and ‘seen’. With their own eyes, the disciples saw everything that happened!

The ‘two men in white clothes’ were angels with a message. Two men also appeared in front of the women in Luke 24:4. These men in Acts were like them. Luke wants us to consider them as witnesses. There had to be two witnesses that saw an event. (Two was the minimum number.) Only then, people would believe that the event had happened (Deuteronomy 19:15).

Verse 11 Jesus went from the earth in power. And he went with glory. He will return to the earth in power. And he will return with glory. Nobody knows when that will be. Until then, the Holy Spirit is here. The Holy Spirit lives in people believe in Jesus and they trust in him. Our Lord is alive and he is in heaven. We can talk to him. We can do this by means of the Holy Spirit.

Stop and think about the impact of these 3 verses. Jesus had died for our sins and come back for 40 days. Now He has returned to heaven, but that is not the end, he is coming back. Praise God! Jesus is Coming Back!

Acts Bible Study

Acts: Why the Book is Important

Acts 1:1-3

1 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.

Verse 1 Luke referred to his Gospel here as ‘my former book’. Acts is the second book in the history that Luke wrote. He wrote both books for Theophilus. This Greek name means ‘someone who loves God’. Perhaps Luke was using it to mean any Christian reader. But it is more likely that Theophilus was a real person. In Luke 1:3, Luke called him ‘most excellent’. Therefore, Theophilus might have been an important man that worked for the government.

Verse 2 Luke wrote that his Gospel was about everything that Jesus began to do. And it was about everything that Jesus began to teach. After he had returned to his Father, Jesus continued to do things. And he continued to teach. Luke’s second book describes these things. Jesus continued his work by his Holy Spirit, by means of his apostles. The Greek word ‘apostolos’ means a person with a message. That person (an apostle) had special authority from the person who had sent him. Therefore an apostle could act for the person who sent him. So, the apostles too would be leaders of Christians, as Jesus was their leader. Jesus chose his 12 disciples to be his apostles.

Verse 3 The disciples were sure that Jesus had overcome death. He had proved to them many times that he was still alive. His resurrection had really happened. It was true. This was the most important part in their message.

Jesus continued to teach them about his favorite subject. This was God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom had come by means of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Acts 1:4-8

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.”

Verse 4 Jesus was eating with his disciples after his resurrection. He also did this on other occasions after the*resurrection (Luke 24:30-31, 42-43). This was not because he needed food. It was to prove that he was real.

In his Gospel, Luke recorded the Father’s (God’s) promise. The Father had promised that power from above would come to the disciples (Luke 24:49).

Verse 5 In this verse, Luke reminds us about John the Baptist’s words. John said this about Jesus: ‘He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and he will baptise you with fire’ (Luke 3:16).

Verse 6 The Jews were proud that God had chosen them as his people. They wanted other nations to know that they (the Jews) were important. The Jews seemed weak and the Romans ruled over them. The Jews wanted God to prove that they were superior. They wanted him to give them power over all the other nations. So, the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’

Verse 7 Jesus did not answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the disciples’ question. Instead, he said that this information belonged to the Father only. He did not want them to think about political power. He wanted them to preach the gospel. He wanted them to concentrate on that.

Verse 8 The power that they would receive was not power over other people. Instead, it was power from heaven. This power would make them able to continue Christ’s work on earth.

‘You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem. You will also be my witnesses in all Judea and Samaria, and all over the earth.’ A witness has seen something with his own eyes. Therefore, he knows that it is true. The Greek word for ‘witness’ is ‘martus’. It also means ‘*martyr’ (a person who is willing to die for his or her beliefs). A witness must be willing to die for Christ if this is necessary. In verse 8, Luke tells us what the whole book is about. In the first 7 chapters, he describes how the good news spread in Jerusalem. In Acts 8:11-11:18, he describes what happened in Judea and Samaria. In the last part, he describes how the gospel spread through the Gentile world.

Of course, the story did not end there. Today, Christians must continue to tell people in every nation about Jesus. God wants everyone in the world to hear the good news.

Luke is writing Acts as a continuation of his Gospel that recorded the life of Christ. Acts is to be a record of the acts of the apostles after Christ’s death and resurrection.

Acts Bible Study

Acts: Introduction

We are about to embark on a study into the book of Acts. But before we delve into the book, we will be getting some background on the book.

The writer

Most people agree that Luke wrote Acts. Luke also wrote the Gospel of Luke. In Acts, he told how the good news about Jesus Christ spread to the world beyond Jerusalem.

Luke was a Gentile and he was a doctor (Colossians 4:14). He worked with Paul and he traveled with Paul (Philemon 1:24).

Luke was very careful about what he wrote. At the beginning of his Gospel, he wrote, ‘You have heard many things. I am writing this account so that you will know the truth about them’ (Luke 1:4). In Acts, he continued with this account.

Luke was traveling with Paul. Luke wrote about what happened during that time (Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16). In these verses, he used ‘we’ instead of ‘they’ or ‘he’. So, we know that Luke was there at those times.

After Luke had arrived in Jerusalem (Acts 21:17), he stayed in Judea. He stayed there for two years. Then he left to travel to Rome (Acts 27:1). He went to Rome with Paul. While Luke was in Judea, he probably spoke to other witnesses. They told him about the other events that he describes.

The purpose of the book

Luke had several reasons why he wrote Acts. People were telling false stories about Christians. They were afraid that Christians wanted to make trouble. Luke wanted the Roman rulers to know that this was not true. Christians helped other people. He wanted to show that to the rulers. It was good for the Roman government.

Luke wrote about many miracles. God gave to Christians the power to cure people, for example. Also, God rescued Peter from prison by a miracle. So, anyone who opposed the Christians was opposing God. He also wanted to show to the Jews that the Christian faith was not a separate religion. Instead, it made Judaism complete, because Jesus is the Messiah.

However, Luke had one main reason why he wrote this book. The good news about Jesus had traveled from Jerusalem to Rome. Luke wanted to record how that happened. Rome was the most important city in the world. Luke showed that the gospel was for all people in every nation. It was for Jews and it was also for Gentiles.

We can divide Acts into 6 parts. Each part ends with a report that more people were joining the church.

1. Acts 1:1-6:7

In the first part, Luke describes how the church grew in Jerusalem. This part ends like this: “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

2. Acts 6:8-9:31

From this part, we learn how the good news reached Samaria because of Stephen’s death. This part ends like this: ‘Meanwhile, the church all over Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a peaceful period. The Holy Spirit made the church strong and he encouraged the Christians. They respected the Lord and more people joined the church.’

3. Acts 9:32-12:24

In this part, the writer tells us how Paul met Jesus. This happened on the road to Damascus. Damascus is a city in Syria. We learn how the gospel reached Antioch, the capital city in Syria. Also, we learn how Peter accepted Cornelius into the church. Cornelius was a Gentile. This part ends like this: ‘God’s message continued to grow and it continued to spread.’

4. Acts 12:25-16:5

In this part, Luke describes how the gospel spread through more countries. It ends like this: ‘So, the Christians became stronger in the faith and more people joined the churches daily.’

5. Acts 16:6-19:20

We learn from this part how the good news about Jesus reached Europe. Paul started a new church in Corinth, a city in Greece. He also started a new church in Ephesus. Ephesus was a very important city. It was in the same country that is called Turkey today. It is near Greece. This part ends like this: ‘In this manner, the Lord’s message continued to increase in power and it spread widely.’

6. Acts 19:21-28:31

In the final part, Luke tells us that Paul reached Rome. When it ends, Paul is in prison. There, ‘he preached boldly about God’s kingdom. He taught the facts about the Lord Jesus Christ and nobody tried to stop him.’

When Luke wrote Acts

When the book ends, Paul is in Rome. The Romans had arrested him. Luke does not say what happened to Paul next. So, many students think that Luke completed Acts very soon after this. Also, he said nothing about Nero. Nero was an Emperor. He killed many Christians in AD 64. Probably Luke had finished the book in AD 62. But we do not know the exact date.