Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Acts Introduction


Written by Dr. Luke who joined Paul on his second missionary journey in Acts 16:8-9 at Troas.
Luke was very detailed oriented, and personally interviewed a number of people to compose his account. He wrote it while Paul was in Prison at Rome about 60-62AD, to a man named Theophilus, “lover of God” who was likely some Roman official.  It’s also my thought that Luke was saved when Paul went to the see a doctor- ah providence, how inscrutable it is, how beyond understanding are all God’s design and His works.


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the traditional way to break out Acts is as follows:
1.       Acts 1-7 - The early work in Jerusalem to the Jews.
2.       Acts 8-11 - The gospel spreads to the Samaritans and Gentiles. (9 is about Paul’s conversion)
3.       Acts 12 - Persecution against the believers
4.       Acts 13-14 - First Missionary Journey: AD46-48.
5.       Acts 15:39-18:22 - Second Missionary Journey- AD49-52.
6.       Acts 18:23-21 - Third Missionary Journey- AD53-57.
7.       Acts27-28:16 - Fourth Missionary Journey- AD59-62. A boat ride. 

Specific Purpose

My take is that Theophilus is a judge, and this is an amicus curiae (friend of the court) letter, which testified to everything leading up to Paul’s disturbance in Jerusalem. This is why the council at Jerusalem is often in view in the Gospel of Luke, and why Acts ends where it does. This letter would explain historical Roman president in dealing with Paul, and would give an account of the personality of the opposition and defense of Christianity.  For this reason Luke includes the beating at Philippi and the council’s reaction of repentance (obviously indicating the right thing was to let him go free).  It also shows the positive reaction of a number of high ranking officials (Eunich, King of Samaria, Cornelius, Sergius Paulus, Gallio) and the negative result of a negative response (Bar Jesus, Simon, Sanhedrin)

My Outline

Acts can be divided into two sections. Before Luke the book is largely a collection of sermons.
After Luke joins Paul it is largely a record of what was done. This is much like a miniature of the Old Testament, where the Prophets record what is said (Isaiah, Jeremiah, 12 minor prophets) and the histories record what God did (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra). In Acts the first half of the book has 15 gospel proclamations, the last half has only 5.

·         Peter at Pentecost Acts 2:14-40
·         Peter in the Temple Acts 3:12-26
·         Peter before the council Acts 4:8-12
·         Peter before the believers in prayer Acts 4:24-30
·         Peter before the council (again) Acts 5:29-32
·         Stephen before the council Acts 7:2-56
·         Peter to Simon Acts 8:20-23
·         Philip to the Ethiopian Acts 8:35-37
·         God to Peter Acts 10:13
·         Peter to Cornelius Acts 10:34-44
·         Peter to the Jewish Christians Acts 11:5-18
·         Paul to the Jewish synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia Acts 13:16-41, 46-47
·         Paul to Lystrian Gentiles Acts 14:15-17
·         Peter to the First Jerusalem council Acts 15:7-11
·         James to the First Jerusalem council Acts 15:14-21
176 of 560 verse are gospel proclamations – 31%

·         Paul to the Athenians Acts 17:22-31
·         Paul to the Jews at Jerusalem Acts 22:1-21
·         Paul to Felix Acts 24:10-21
·         Paul to Agrippa Acts 26:1-27
·         Paul to the Roman Jews Acts 28:20,25-28
72 of 447 verses, which are a mixture of gospel presentation and personal court testimony. 16%

The Larger Picture

The Gospels are the fulfillment of the promises to us about Christ. The Acts of the Apostles are the fulfillment of the promises about the Gentiles and the establishment of His everlasting Kingdom.
Romans 3:29 – Is He not the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also
How do you know this is true using just the Old Testament? How do you know Acts is part of an organic whole of scripture?
·         Genesis 12:1a, 3cNow the LORD said to Abram…in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed
·         Genesis 26:3b,4b- “I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father…in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”
·         Genesis 28:13b,14c- “…I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac… in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”
Now is obvious, the promises were to the Jews, so that the nations of the Earth would be blessed. Paul takes up the meaning of these three verses predominantly in two places:
Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
Romans 4:9-11 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also… 14-16
For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
And we might conclude with this thought: Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
·         Deuteronomy 18:21 - I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry
·         Deuteronomy 32:21 They have made Me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation   (See Acts 17:4-5)
·         Deuteronomy 32:43 Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people."  
·         Psalm 18:49 Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people."  
·         Psalms 117:1 Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol Him."
·         Psalm 138:4-5 Psalms 138:4-5- “All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD.”
·         Isaiah 42:4The root of Jesse will come, even He who arises to rule the Gentiles; in Him will the Gentiles hope”
·         Isaiah 49:6- And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
·         Isaiah 52:15 “Those who have never been told of Him will see, and those who have never heard will understand” see Romans 15:22
·         Isaiah 65:1 I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me
·         Zechariah 8: 23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
·         Amos 9:11-12  In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:
That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.
That then is what Acts is, we are watching the fulfillment of these prophecies.

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