An Introduction to the Book of Acts Part 3
"An Introduction to the Book of Acts Part 3" continues our introduction to the book as we look at the key verses in the Book of Acts and Luke's main purposes in writing the book. The theology of the Book of Acts is also discussed with emphasis on the Holy Spirit's intimate involvement with the growing body of believers as they carried out their mission and proclaimed the message of the Resurrected Christ.
We concluded our previous discussion with the picture of Christ as the "grain of wheat" that fell into the ground and died, giving rise to the Church following his Resurrection, Ascension and Exaltation to the right hand of God the Father. In as sense, the Book of Acts is the "fruit" of His life sown as the grain of wheat, as the early Church carried on the ministry of the Resurrected Christ. As such, the Book of Acts is an incomplete book, since the ministry of the Resurrected Christ is continuing until His Second Coming in great Glory.
The two key verses in the Book of Acts are Acts 1:1, "all that Jesus began both to do and teach", and Acts 1:8, "But you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth". The word "power" is the Greek word "dunamis", which means outpoured or flowing power as in "dynamo". The word "witnesses" means "samples" or "martyrs". Christians are called to be "samples" or representatives of Christ's character and nature in the earth, and to perpetually do the works He did in the earth.
There are three main purposes Luke had in mind in writing the Book of Acts. First, it is a presentation of the historical basis for the Christian faith. Second, the book reveals how the Church, composed of both Jews and Gentiles, stands in continuity with Judaism. Third, in his salutation to Theophilus, Luke said, "that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed." (Luke 1:4). The Book of Acts has always been important to every generation of Christians in cultivating an understanding of their heritage as seen in the early Church.
As far as the theology of the Book of Acts, there are several foundational points to be made. First is the continuation of God's purpose in history. Events in Acts are viewed as standing in continuity with God's mighty acts in the Old Testament. In fact, God's dealings with the nation of Israel are seen as preparation for the miraculous birth and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. The events chronicled in Acts are seen as being brought into fruition by the will and purpose of God. For example, the death and resurrection of Jesus can be traced to the "determined purpose and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:22 & 23). The life of the Church was seen as taking place in fulfillment of Scripture. See the OT prophecies concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of salvation (Acts 2:17-21; Joel 2:28-32); The mission to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47; Isaiah 49:6), and their inclusion in the Church (Acts 15:16-18; Amos 9:11 & 12); and the rejection of the Gospel by the majority of the Jewish nation (Acts 28"25-27). God also directed the life of the Church in crucial times. Examples of this can be seen in Acts 13:2, 15:28, and 16:6. It was not unusual for Angels to speak to Christians proclaiming the Gospel as seen in Acts 5:19, 8:26, and 27:33. There were times the Lord Jesus himself appeared to this servants, such as in Acts 18:9 and 23:11. The power of God confirmed the Word of God that was preached with both signs and wonders as seen in Acts 3:16 and 14:3. It must be stated that what is theologically seen in the Book of Acts is simply normal Christianity as it was intended to be.
Acts is a book about mission and message. As stated above, Acts 1:8 is one of the key verses in Acts. That verse constitutes the mission. The message of the Gospel was proclaimed and expounded publicly throughout the book. Standing at the very center of every message preached is the Resurrection, Ascension and Exaltation of Jesus Christ.
The key story line in the Book of Acts is the spread of the message of the Gospel. The small assembly of believers on the day of Pentecost was faithful with what they had been given, and the fire they experienced began to grow into a firestorm throughout the known world. Thousands were converted that very day when Peter preached the first message, including several priests that served in the Temple. Shortly, many synagogues throughout the Holy Land heard the Gospel, which eventually expanded into Samaria, where for the first time, people who were not fully Jews were reached by the proclaimed Gospel. This foreshadowed the eventual inclusion of the Gentiles into the Church as they responded positively to the message. When the northern Kingdom of Israel was invaded and conquered by Assyria in 721 BC, the Assyrians deported the majority of the Jews to other locations in their empire. They left a small minority of economically deprived Jews in Samaria, and relocated other non-Jewish peoples to Samaria as well. Over decades, intermingling led to intermarriage of the inhabitants of Samaria, and the Jews there were absorbed into the population. Thus the inhabitants there became known as Samaritans, and were despised by the Jews inhabiting Judea, the southern Jewish Kingdom.
The flame that was ignited on the day of Pentecost soon spread to the "end of the earth", and still continues to this day.
We will continue our study next time. Do you have any thoughts to share?
Your comments are welcome.Last edit by Joe V on Nov 20, '12
CaptainPC has long been engaged in the study of the Bible, even before he became interested in computers and technology. CaptainPC holds Bachelor of Theology, Master of Theology, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the Christian Life School of Theology under Beacon University in Columbus, GA.
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