Category Archives: Acts of the Apostles

What is the Book of Acts About?

Standard answer – the church.

Bigger picture answer – God empowering his people to embody the kingdom of God.

Acts is about the church (the gathered people of God) but that is only one part of a bigger picture. Have you ever noticed how little the book of Acts actually says about worship, assembly, church leadership, etc? It wasn’t intended to be a manual on “doing church.” There is more to it than that.

The first thing we have to realize is that there is complete continuity between the Gospels and Acts. Luke-Acts demonstrates this really well as Luke purposefully makes these connection points between his two books but it is even more connected than Luke-Acts. Acts is the direct continuation of the Gospel story, the story of Jesus inaugurating the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. So the church is a part of the kingdom of God but does not represent the totality of all that the kingdom of God encompasses.

In Acts we see the apostles doing the work Jesus sent them to do and empowered them to do by the Holy Spirit. What results is in part church but, again, it is more than that. What is being demonstrated and carried out in Acts is the working of God’s kingdom in the world to draw people from the world into the kingdom of God. We see that in the teaching, which is more often than not to non-Christians (usually Jews and God-fearers) than it is to Christians of what we have recorded. We see it in the miracles and how they demonstrate the power of God’s kingdom against the principalities and powers of this world (casting out demons, healing the sick, and even raising the dead).

What we see in Acts is a direct confrontation between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world. The church is in the mix but it is about more than just the people of God. Like the Gospels, Acts is also about the kingdom of God and what it looks like when God’s kingdom operates openly and powerfully among the competing power systems and principalities of the pagan world to ultimately bring everything in submission to the true king of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus the Christ.

Last, Acts 1:8 is the outline and direction of Acts but still doesn’t outline the reason and purpose within that one verse. That verse sends the message loud and clear where the Gospel is headed and with it the spread of the kingdom…that the Gospel must spread to the “ends of the earth” (which is why it ends with Paul in Rome). Why is that important? It is important because this is what happens when the kingdom of God/heaven intersect with the earth…the effects of the Gospel continue the spread and we see the growth of the kingdom of God among the people of the earth. This is what the kingdom does. This is what the kingdom looks like. That is good news and God’s people, the church, get a front row seat to watch it all unfold.

Ironing Out Our Conflicting Message on the Usefulness of the Old Testament – Part 3

Next we turn to Acts 15. The Gospel had been preached among the Jews up until Acts 10. In Acts 10 we get the story of the divinely orchestrated encounter between Peter and Cornelius. Peter acknowledges God’s acceptance of non-proselyte (Jewish convert) Gentiles by the evidence of the Holy Spirit coming upon Cornelius and thoseContinue Reading

The Three Places Paul Reaches Out to in Athens and What We Can Learn From It

In Acts 17 Paul has gone to Athens to tell people about Jesus. In verse 17 we get this fantastic verse for formulating a good ole 3 point sermon, “So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened toContinue Reading

Why Did They Cast Lots to Replace Judas?

“So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he wasContinue Reading

Bio Sketch of James the Brother of Jesus

In studying for a class on the book of James I ran down some information on the author, James the half-brother of Jesus that I found extremely helpful in understanding the letter itself.   James is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Jacob. His mother was Mary (Mark 6:3), his half brother was JesusContinue Reading

Exploring the First Century Church: Mission (Part 2)

In spite of the persecution and in spite of their lack of technology…the early church experienced explosive growth. A quick glance at the book of Acts reveals just how much the church was growing in its early years. Acts 2:41 – “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added toContinue Reading

Exploring the First Century Church: Mission (Part 1)

Jesus began his ministry with his baptism by John and calling disciples. Jesus ended his ministry telling those disciples to make more disciples by teaching and baptizing others. Jesus’ ministry didn’t just start and stop his ministry with mission. Jesus was constantly on mission and he wanted his disciples to do the same things theyContinue Reading

Exploring the First Century Church: Gathering Places

It is universally agreed on that the early church primarily met in homes. The first church building that we know of, which was a house converted solely for the use of the assembled church, didn’t come along for 200 years (see Dura-Europos below). Here are some of the verses we have as evidence of theirContinue Reading

Parallels Between Jonah and Paul

Both were heading to Spain Jonah 1:3 – heading to Tarshish (in Spain) Rom 15:24, 28 – Paul wants to go to Spain Both sailed on the Mediterranean Jonah 1:3 – boarded a ship on the Mediterranean to get away from the Lord’s calling Acts 27:1 – It is decided Paul would sail for Italy…theyContinue Reading

In Jesus’ Name – More Than Words

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They wouldContinue Reading

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