Acts 1 - 12
Jesus’ last recorded words before His ascension—“you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (1:8)—prompted the great exploits recorded in the Book of Acts. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, godly men and women took seriously their Lord’s final words and began to spread the news of the risen Savior to the most remote corners of the known world.
As the second volume in a two-part work by Luke, this book originally might have had no separate title. But all available Greek manuscripts designate it by the title Praxeis, “Acts,” or by an expanded title such as, “The Acts of the Apostles.” The term Praxeis was commonly used in Greek literature to summarize the accomplishments of outstanding men.
While the apostles are mentioned collectively at several points, this book emphasizes the acts of Peter (chapters 1–12) and of Paul (13–28). Peter took an immediate leadership role in the church at Jerusalem, while Paul took the lead in expanding the reach of the church to the Gentiles outside of Israel.
The Book of Acts covers about the first three decades of the church after the resurrection of Christ and spotlights important events that took place from Jerusalem to Rome. Scholars have noted and appreciated its careful attention to recording not only the successes of the early church, but also its challenges (see, for example, Acts 5:1–11; 11:1, 2; 15:1–5, 36–40).
Themes: The Book of Acts highlights the apostles’ preaching regarding the resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ, and emphasizes how the Holy Spirit empowered, guided, protected and encouraged the members of the church to boldly serve as witnesses for Jesus.
Author: The physician Luke, who uses the pronoun “we” during some of the narrative.
Time: Some scholars believe the book was written about A.D. 63, while others prefer a date of A.D. 70 or later.
Structure: Each section of the book (chapters 1–7; 8–12; 13–28) focuses on a particular audience, a key personality, and a significant phase in the expansion of the gospel message. Acts begins with the ascension of Christ and moves through the coming of the Holy Spirit and the growth of the church in Jerusalem (1–7). The book next focuses on the expansion of the church to the surrounding area after an outbreak of persecution (8–12), and then it shifts focus to the three missionary journeys and the imprisonment journey of Paul that took the gospel message to Greece and other parts of Europe (13–28).
Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005), Ac.