Daily Bible Study Tips: Overview of Acts

Overview of Acts
Overview of Acts, Day 18, (John 20 – 21) Ch. 1 – 4
Overview of Acts, Day 19, Ch. 5-9
Overview of Acts, Day 20, Ch. 10-15
Overview of Acts, Day 21, Ch. 16-20
Overview of Acts, Day 22, Ch. 21-26

Comments on Acts Chapters 1 – 2
Comments on Acts Chapters 3 – 8
Comments on Acts Chapters 9 – 17

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Overview of Acts, Day 18, (John 20 – 21) Ch. 1 – 4

These overviews were written while our church was listening each day to “You’ve Got the Time,” the recorded New Testament available from Faith Comes by Hearing. It takes 28 minutes a day, and I enjoyed it tremendously. “Day18, Ch. 1 – 4” and so on tell you what section to listen to.
Acts is the second volume of a single work, Luke-Acts. The first volume, Luke, ends with the Ascension of Jesus, and the second volume, Acts, takes up the action immediately afterwards, while the disciples are still standing around being boggled.

Luke follows Mark very closely not only in the order of events but also in using many verses verbatim. Acts, in contrast, is unique. Luke has given us a history of the very early church that is not duplicated by any other source. Without Acts, we would be left wondering about some of the crucial changes between the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the development of the Church as we know it today. Here are some of the questions answered only in Acts:

In short, Luke is about the gospel, and Actsis about the Church.

Overview of Acts, Day 19, Ch. 5-9
The full name of the book of Acts is Acts of the Apostles. It has been well said that a better name would be Acts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is explicitly mentioned 59 times, usually as directing events.
As you read or listen, be on the lookout for the actions of the Holy Spirit.

Overview of Acts, Day 20, Ch. 10-15
Have I ever mentioned here that one of my serious hobbies is genealogy? I’ve been at it since 1972, and between my work and that of my husband, one son, one daughter-in-law, and countless close and distant relatives, we have managed to get some of the lineages back to the 1500s and 1600s, as many as 15 generations. To the best of my knowledge and belief, there are no Jews in my ancestry. I appear to be the descendant primarily of tree-worshippers, with a few families worshipping Nordic pantheons thrown in for spice. Without Peter’s vision, I would still be in the same boat. I don’t know about you, but I’m amazed and grateful that the Church includes me.

Every one of Jesus’ disciples was a Jew. The vast majority of the early Church members were Jews. They still kept the Law, and one of the important Laws (as interpreted by the rabbis) was that Jews didn’t have anything to do with Gentiles. Peter’s vision and his response changed all that, although it was still a narrow thing. Other Church leaders were skeptical. If Peter had not been such a powerful and influential figure, they might have decided that he had just had a bad dream or something. As it was, his explanation, and especially the fact that the Holy Spirit rested on the Gentiles he visited, carried the day. Thanks be to God, who came to save even tree-worshippers!

Overview of Acts, Day 21, Ch. 16-20
We know that clergy have a stressful job. Pastor Clyde did five funerals in one week in April, after making regular visits to those who were dying and then meeting with the bereaved families. Pastor Todd and his family are about to leave job, home, and friends to work in another part of the vineyard. Pastor David’s taking a sabbatical to deal with health concerns; his usual job as senior pastor includes preaching, attending endless meetings and church events, and being on call 24/7 for parishioner concerns. As if that’s not enough, he heads up the million-dollar-a-year “business” operation of St. John’s. I hope you have seen in reading Acts that clergy have always had stressful jobs. We need to pray for each one of our pastors daily. Ask God to give them health, strength, enthusiasm, and endurance, so that they, like the early church leaders, can not only minister to the membership but also continue to spread the Gospel to the unchurched.

One thing I especially like about the Bible is that so many of the events are recorded by eye-witnesses. In his gospel, Luke carefully reports events that he investigated after they happened. In contrast, he was an active participant in some of the events he writes about in Acts. Beginning in Ch. 16, be on the lookout for the “we passages” that describe some of Paul’s missionary journeys. When Luke says “we,” you know you are getting the story from someone who was there. This is especially persuasive since he makes no effort to put himself forward or say that he was important. Luke may have been present during other activities as well, outside the “we” passages; we have no way of knowing.

Overview of Acts, Day 22, Ch. 21-26
In Acts 1:8, immediately before his ascension, Jesus says to the disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." This is the outline for the book of Acts.

In Chs. 1-7, the apostles are in Jerusalem. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes upon the Church, and 3000 converts are made. The disciples begin preaching and teaching fearlessly, and more converts come to belief. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, is stoned to death (Ch. 7.)

A wave of persecution in Jerusalem follows Stephen’s death, and many of the new believers flee into Judea and Samaria (Chs. 8-12). Many converts are made in these districts as well, but Jews and even Samaritans are still inside the disciples’ original perception of the scope of the Gospel. While Peter is in Joppa, a remarkable thing happens, as we learned the other day. The Church, through Peter’s vision, comes to understand that the Gospel is for everyone.

The missionary journeys to the Gentiles begin in earnest in Ch. 13. Paul, Silas, Barnabas, Mark, Luke, and others travel extensively in what is today the Middle East and southern Europe, making converts and founding churches. The book ends with Paul boldly proclaiming the Gospel in Rome, the center of the world.

Copyright 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 by Regina L. Hunter.  All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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