Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read :
Acts 2: Pentecost, Peter' s sermon, and church organization.
Acts 10: 9-23:- Peter's vision brings two major policy changes (reaching out to gentiles, changes to kosher law) to the church.
See if your Bible has a maps section - Paul's three missionary journeys are usually shown there.
Orientation Acts is book #5 of 27 in the New Testament, and is considered a book of history. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis Jesus finishes His time on earth and ascends to heaven (1:9). Matthias chosen to replace Judas (1:21). On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes onto the believers and empowers them in mysterious ways (2:1). The believers get organized. Peter preaches the first sermon of the new church (2:14), converting 3000 (2:41).
Meanwhile, the Jewish Council is aghast that Jesus' church is spreading, and begins to persecute the believers (5:17). Stephen is stoned to death (7:57). The church scatters for a while (8:1). Saul is tracking down the believers (8:3), and on the road he is challenged by the Lord (9:4) and converted (9:18), his name changing to Paul (13:9). He becomes one of the church's best ambassadors, travelling widely on three missionary trips (13:1-14:28), (15:36-18:22), (18:23-21:17). He is eventually arrested (22:24), and as the book ends, he remains in house arrest in Rome.
Major Characters Paul (Roman name) - same person as Saul (Hebrew name)
Peter, leader of the disciples, preaches the church's first sermon
Stephen, becomes the church's first martyr when he is stoned to death
Barnabas, Paul's colleague on his missionary journeys
Activity Using the map, trace out Paul's three missionary journeys. See (13:1-14:28), (15:36-18:22), and (18:23-21:17). Discussion points At the end of the gospels, the disciples are scared and running for their lives. Now they are strong and enthusiastic: ministering, performing miracles, and setting out on missionary trips. Why are they acting so differently? What happened to them between the crucifixion and now? *
In what ways can today's church be as effective as the early church? Does staying inside a building isolate us?
In 19:11 Paul's powers are transferred to objects. Has this happened before? ** Does this ability survive today? Do remnants of this system still exist? ***
Connections Acts was written by Luke as a sequel to his gospel of Luke.
Peter's sermon contains several quotations from the Old Testament: 2:17-21 (from Joel 2:28-32), 2:25-28 (from Psalm 16: 8-11), and 2:34-35 (from Psalm 110:1).
For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014
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** A dead man is brought to life by contact with the prophet Elisha's bones in 2 Kings 13:21. Jesus healed (inadvertently) the woman who touched his cloak - she only touched his clothing, not his body. See Matthew 9:20, Mark 5:24, Luke 8:49.
*** Some believe objects still have healing power, such as water from St. Lourde's in France, or other sacred relics