The Gospel of Acts

Acts chronicles the history of the early Christian Church from its inception on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 2) through the Apostle Paul's imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28). The book's author describes the spread of Christianity from Jerusalem westward over a thirty-year period around the northern Mediterranean area through present-day Syria, Turkey, Greece, and on to Rome. The "acts" or evangelistic activities referenced in the writings are related mainly to those of the apostles Peter and Paul.

Most scholars believe that Paul's friend Luke, "the physician", wrote Acts as a sequel to his earlier work, namely the Gospel of Luke. Luke, the only non-Jewish writer in the New Testament, uses a style of writing punctuated with facts, eye witness accounts, and reliable historical references. Because Luke was present at many of the events he describes in Acts he provides an impassioned view into the life of the world's first missionaries who carried the good news of Christ into the known world. Luke was with Paul at Philippi; he accompanied him on the fateful journey to Jerusalem, stuck by him during the two years of incarceration at Caesarea, and shared the voyage and shipwreck on the way to Rome. Luke was able to obtain additional information first-hand from Paul and Barnabas, others in the church at Antioch and Jerusalem, and from James, Jesus' brother.

The Book of Acts was written in order to give the Roman, Theophilus, as well as other Gentiles, an accurate record of the true facts about Christianity (Luke 1:1-4). During the time period in which Acts was written (AD 60-63), numerous strange and distorted rumors were spreading among Gentiles concerning Christianity. Luke's writings work to clear up misconceptions and to lead people to faith in Christ.

The pages of Acts depict how the work of the Holy Spirit in the early church helped guide and direct the expansion of the Christian movement in its early years. The spread of the good news continues to this day. Many of the challenges faced by first century Christians are the same as those faced in the twenty-first century. In 16 lessons, Pastor Art unfolds key truths contained in the 28 chapters of Acts and applies them to the Church of today.