Courses

The Book of Acts

I. Title

       Richard N. Longnecker writes:

       "The Acts of the Apostles" is the name given to the second part of a two-volume work traditionally identified as having been written by Luke, a companion of the apostle Paul. Originally the two volumes circulated together as two parts of one complete writing. But during the late first or early second century, the first volume became associated with the Gospels identified with Matthew, Mark, and John, thus forming the fourfold Gospel. Luke's second volume was left to go its own way. It was at this time, it seems, that the second volume received its present title, with the word "Acts" (praxeis) evidently meant to suggest both movement in the advance of the gospel and heroic exploits by the apostles. The reference to "the Apostles," however, is somewhat misleading, because the work deals almost exclusively with Peter and Paul and the persons and events associated with their ministries." (Richard N. Longnecker. The Expositor's Bible Commentary. The Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981, p. 207).

II. Author and Setting

        A. Author

       The author of the book of Acts has traditionally been assumed to be Luke. Luke was a gentile, a physician, and a companion of Paul. For more on the issue of authorship, see the discussion in the book of Luke.

        B. Setting

       Acts is the third longest book in the New Testament. It is about one-tenth shorter than Luke which is the longest book in the New Testament; it is just a very tiny fraction shorter than Matthew. Together, Luke and Acts make up about thirty percent of the material in the New Testament, more than the writings of either Paul or John.
       It is important to point out that without the book of Acts, there would be no record at all of the history of the early church. All that is known about the beginnings of the early church, except for what little can be gleaned from Paul's letters and the letters of a few others, comes from this work by Luke. Acts is unique in what it records, which is the early history of Christianity, from about AD 33 until about AD 63. It's date, therefore, is probably around AD 64 (Paul's imprisonment in Rome was from AD 61-63).

        C. Paul's Missionary Journeys

First Journey (Acts 13:4-14:26)

Participants: Paul, Barnabas, John Mark
Starting point: Antioch in Syria
Places visited (in order): Cyprus, Perga in Pamphylia, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Antioch in Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia

Second Journey (Acts 15:36-18:22)

Participants: Paul, Silas, Timothy (joining at Lystra)
Starting point: Antioch in Syria
Places visited (in order): Syria and Cilicia, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, region of Phrygia and Galatia, border of Mysia, Troas, Samothrace, Neapolis, Philippi, Thyatira, Philippi, Thyatira, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus

Third Journey (Acts 18:23-21:15)
Participants: Paul, Timothy, Luke, Erastus, Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Tychicus, Trophimus
Starting point: Antioch in Syria
Places visited (in order): Galatia and Phrygia, Ephesus, Macedonia, Greece, Macedonia, Philippi, Troas, Assos, Mitylene, Kios, Samos, Miletus, Cos, Rhodes, Patara, Tyre, Ptolemais, Caesarea, Jerusalem

III. An Outline of Acts

I. Introduction 1:1-2:47
II. Jerusalem 3:1-8:3
III. Judea and Samaria 8:4-12:24
IV. Uttermost Part of the Earth 12:25-28:31

IV. Questions on Acts

1. Identify the following:

a. Apollos
b. Demetrius
c. Eutychus
d. Joseph (Barsabbas)
e. Sergius Paulus
f. Phillip
g. Felix
h. Theophilus
i. Matthias
j. Tabitha
k. Simon
l. Ananias
m. Rhoda
n. Barnabas
o. Gaius
p. Gamaliel
q. Artemis
r. Herod
s. Lydia
t. Luke
u. James
v. Stephen
w. Priscilla
x. Agrippa
y. Timothy
z. Cornelius
aa. Paul (Saul)
bb. Saphira
cc. Festus
dd. Mark

2. Discuss the disciples' understanding of Jesus mission according to their words in Acts 1. What brought them to a full understanding, finally?
3. Give a summary of Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost.
4. What was decided at the Jerusalem Council?