Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:1-2:47
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Acts: Today we begin the book of Acts! I am sad to be leaving the Gospels behind, but am definitely looking forward to reading Luke’s writings in Acts. (And there is always early next year to read the Gospels again! Hint... hint... :) We’ll soon be introduced to Paul in Acts, and his Epistles will be coming up in the months ahead. It is always so exciting to read about the early church and its genesis. I hope you are ready for Acts! Let's go!
Date: A.D. 65-70
Content: The book of Acts is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke where Luke intends to show that what Jesus began on earth, he continues to do in the life of the church. The book begins with the apostles being filled with the power of God and preaching to great effect, three thousand being saved in one day (Acts 2:41). The life of the church in Jerusalem, the spread of the gospel to Samaria, the activities of the apostle Peter, and the persecution of the early Christians are then described. The focus then shifts to the apostle Paul and his missionary activity in Gentile territory. His three missionary journeys are treated in some detail, ending with Paul’s trip to Rome where the book ends. Some scholars suggest that Luke intended to write a third volume that would have described Paul’s release, further travels, arrest, and death.
Theme: Acts was written to show the spread of the gospel from Jewish to Gentile territory (Acts 1:8). The good news that Jesus dies and rose again could not be confined to one corner of the world, but was intended by God for all. To that end God empowered his people so that they could accomplish their task. The Holy Spirit is that empowering agent. The sovereign control of God over all things is seen in the triumph of the gospel over paganism and persecution; and although it may cost many their very lives (even Peter and Paul, whose lives are described in Acts), ultimate victory is assured through Jesus our Lord. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 23) More commentary on Acts is at these 2 links – https://bible.org/page.php?page_id=2122 & https://bible.org/page.php?page_id=1793
It's intriguing to note that Luke begins Acts 1:1 with "Dear Theophilus." You will recall from Luke's Gospel in chapter 1 verses 3 & 4 Luke addresses the Gospel to Theophilus as well: "Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." So, just who is Theophilus? There is a lot of speculation on this question, and not a lot of certainty. Theophilus' name means "one who loves God." Not a bad name, eh? Some speculate that Theolphilus was someone of high position and wealth, and perhaps even a Roman official. Some speculate Theophilus was actually Luke's publisher, funding his writings distribution! In whatever case, it appears that both Acts and Luke were written for Theophilus' own instruction, as well as the instruction of those whom these writings would be distributed, which includes you and me! Let us simply thank God for the unknown man Theophilus to whom Luke felt compelled to write the books of instructions for us in Acts & Luke! Below is a painting titled "Saint Luke" from the year 1360 by Master Theodoric:
Verse 8 from Jesus is basically a Cliff Notes version of the book of Acts: "But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere--in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." In chapters 1 through 7 the apostles will be witnesses in Jerusalem. Judea & Samarian in chapters 8 & 9. And then to the ends of the earth in chapters 10 through 28. Well, ends of the earth in terms of Caesarea, Rome, Greece, Antioch and Asia Minor. But, they wouldn't begin this witnessing until they are equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit in chapter 2. Below is a pretty good map of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria at the time of Acts:
In verse 9 today we read about the ascension of Jesus into heaven! "It was not long after Jesus said this that he was taken up into the sky while they were watching, and he disappeared into a cloud." Below is Rembrandt's painting of the Ascension from the early 17th century:
Bible.org's commentary on today's Acts readings titled "Getting Ahead of God" is at this link.
Today we read the incredible Acts chapter 2 where the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost! Below is an amazing paintings of this scene in Acts 2 titled "Pentecost" by the Hungarian painter Istvan Dorffmaister from the year 1782. Please take a few moments to really meditate on this painting and what the Holy Spirit coming at Pentecost meant to the church and means personally to you today...
We also read in Acts 2 today about how the early church flourishes. You may hear some churches today say that they are “Acts 2:42” churches. Today we read these incredible words about the early church in verses 42 through 47 – “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” How do these verses speak to you? Do you think this is how church today should be as well? Do you see aspects of these verses in your church today? Do you see aspects of these verses in your life today? Is your church an “Acts 2:42” church? Do you think it should be? How will you yourself help it to be an Acts 2:42 church?
Bible.org has four commentaries on our readings in Acts today! They are all titled "Putting Pentecost in Perspective" and then diving into the following topics listed below. These are well worth reading!
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (Acts 2:1-13) is at this link
The Holy Spirit in the Gospels (Acts 2:1-13) is at this link
Peter’s Interpretation of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-40) is at this link
The Firstfruits of Pentecost (Acts 2:41-47) is at this link
Worship God: Today's readings in Acts reminds me of the MercyMe song "Move." Here's a great live version of this song!
Are you Moving with God? Click here to Move!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "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." Acts 1:8 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you have received power from the Holy Spirit coming upon you! Pray that you are a witness for Jesus in your own hometown, in your country, and all over the world!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our Chronological Bible readings at this link.
p.p.s. Download a schedule of our Chronological Bible readings for the year in PDF format at this link.
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