THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
(Bible Study Chapter Acts 1:1-26)
Rev. Louis M. Murphy, Sr.
April 7, 2021
A study of both books bears evidence that Luke is the author. The writer was evidently a physician. Greek medical terms are used. An analysis of the Gospel and Acts together shows the same style and language. There is also a clear understanding of the Roman and Greek world of the first century. The content of the two books shows a strong unity. There is a stress upon the resurrection, the Holy Spirit, the person of Christ, and the ministry to the Gentiles.
There is also enormous evidence that the writer of Acts was an acquaintance of Paul. This is clearly seen in the “we” section of Acts. In three sections of Acts there is a remarkable switch from “they” and “he” to “we.” The “we” sections give a first-hand account (Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:5-21:18; Acts 27:1-28:16).
1. Luke is first seen with Paul at Troas. He switches from using “he” and “they” to “we.” Luke joined Paul on his journey to Philippi, and evidently remained in Philippi until Paul returned from Jerusalem (Acts 16:10).
2. Luke later went to Jerusalem with Paul when Paul was arrested (Acts 20:5-21:15).
3. Luke is seen with Paul again while Paul was a prisoner in Caesarea. He also accompanied Paul the prisoner to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:15).
4. Paul calls Luke “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14; Philemon 24).
5. Luke is the last one to remain with Paul in his imprisonment (2 Tim. 4:11).
DATE: Around A.D. 62.
The book was definitely written before the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), but after Paul’s mission tours and imprisonment in Rome. This alone would place the writing during some year in the 60’s. The author of Acts was an eyewitness of many of the accounts.
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Theophilus, a Gentile convert (Acts 1:1). The Gospel of Luke was also addressed to him personally.
PURPOSE: to show how the church grew through the witness of believers “both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
This is Luke’s great aim. He shows how the church in Jerusalem was persecuted and how believers were forced to scatter throughout the whole world (Acts 8:1). He shows how the church moved out from Jerusalem, and in less than thirty-five years captured the very capital of the world, Rome itself. In brief, he shows how the expansion of Christianity took place.
OUTLINE OF ACTS
I. THE GREAT DAYS OF EXPECTATION, 1:1-26
A. Jesus’ Ministry on Earth, 1:1-5
B. Jesus’ Last Day on Earth, 1:6-11
C. Judas’ Fate and Replacement: Choosing Church Leaders, 1:12-26
II. THE BIRTH AND GROWTH OF THE CHURCH, 2:1-7:60
A. The Day of Pentecost and The Coming of the Holy Spirit: The Church is Born, 2:1-13
B. The First Sermon (Part I): The Gospel Message, 2:14-24
C. The First Sermon (Part II): Proofs of the Resurrection, 2:25-36
D. The First Sermon (Part III): Imperatives of Salvation, 2:37-40
E. The First Church: Worthy Traits, 2:41-47
F. The First Recorded Miracle: Lessons for Witnessing, 3:1-11
G. The Second Sermon: Points for Preaching, 3:12-26
H. The First Persecution of the Church: Lessons for Christian Service, 4:1-22
I. The Church Triumphant in Persecution: Victory Over Abuse, 4:23-31
J. The Believers of the First Church: Essentials for Life Together, 4:32-37
K. The First Sin and Trouble in the Church: Keeping Back, 5:1-11
L. The Second Persecution of the Church (Part I): A Picture of Abuse, 5:12-25
M. The Second Persecution of the Church (Part II): Reasons for Remaining Loyal, 5:26-42
N. The First Administrative Problem: The First Deacons, 6:1-7
O. The First Martyr, Stephen (Scene I): A Model Man, 6:8-15
P. The First Martyr, Stephen (Scene II): The Tragic History of Israel, 7:1-53
Q. The First Martyr, Stephen (Scene III): A Study of Martyrdom, 7:54-60
III. THE CHURCH SCATTERED: MISSIONARY BEGINNINGS IN JUDEA AND SAMARIA, 8:1-9:31
A. The Church’s Lay Leaders Scattered: How God Uses Persecution, 8:1-4
B. The Great Revival in Samaria: A Study on Revival, 8:5-25
C. The Great Mission to an Individual: A Study of Witnessing, 8:26-40
D. The Confrontation Between Saul and the Lord: A Life-changing Conversion, 9:1-9
E. The Preparation of Saul: The Needs of a New Convert, 9:10-18
F. The Beginning of Paul’s Witness: A Believer’s Life and Testimony, 9:19-22
G. The Foretaste of Paul’s Great Suffering: Faithful Despite Terrible Trial, 9:23-30
H. The State of the Church: What a Church Should Be, 9:31
IV. THE CHURCH SCATTERED: THE FIRST GREAT MISSION TO THE GENTILES—BY PETER, 9:32-11:18
A. A Broader Ministry—In Lydda: Making Men Whole, 9:32-35
B. A Broader Ministry—In Joppa: Conquering Death, 9:36-43
C. A World-Wide Ministry—In Caesarea (Part I): Breaking Down Prejudice, 10:1-33
D. A World-Wide Ministry—In Caesarea (Part II): Preaching Peace, 10:34-43
E. A World-Wide Ministry—In Caesarea (Part III): Receiving the Holy Spirit, 10:44-48
F. A World-Wide Ministry—In Caesarea (Part IV): Gaining a World-Wide Vision, 11:1-18
V. THE CHURCH SCATTERED: GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY OVER THE CHURCH, 11:19-12:25
A. The First Great Gentile Church: God’s Pattern for All Churches, 11:19-30
B. The Jerusalem Church is Miraculously Protected: God’s Pattern for Deliverance from Persecution, 12:1-25
VI. THE FIRST GREAT MISSION OF PAUL TO THE GENTILES: TO CYPRUS AND GALATIA, 13:1-14:28
A. The First Missionaries, Barnabas and Paul: The Most Challenging Call Ever Given, 13:1-3
B. Cyprus, The Island: The Beginning of Missions and Evangelism, 13:4-13
C. Antioch of Pisidia, the Main City of South GALATIA (Part I): The Preaching of Paul, 13:14-41
D. Antioch of Pisidia, the Main City of South GALATIA (Part II): Various Responses to the Gospel, 13:42-52
E. Iconium, the Ancient City: God’s Pattern for Preaching and Witnessing, 14:1-7
F. Lystra, the Frontier Town: Preaching to a Heathen and Superstitious People, 14:8-20
G. Derbe and the Return Journey: How Churches are Made Strong, 14:21-28
VII. THE GREAT JERUSALEM COUNCIL: PAUL’S MISSION CALLED INTO QUESTION, 15:1-35
A. The Problem Arises: Two Questions About Salvation, 15:1-5
B. The Jerusalem Council Meets: The Great Declaration on Salvation, 15:6-22
C. The Formal Decree of the Council: The Great Decree on Salvation, 15:23-35
VIII. THE SECOND GREAT MISSION OF PAUL TO THE GENTILES: TO EUROPE, 15:36-18:22
A. The Journey Begins in Controversy: A Study on Honest Conflict, 15:36-41
B. Galatia, the Return to a Far District: Faithfulness to the Church, 16:1-5
C. Asia, the Forbidden Area, and Europe, the Chosen Area: The Call to World Evangelism—Changing the Cradle of Society, 16:6-11
D. Philippi, a Chief City and Luke’s Home (Part I): Europe’s First Convert, 16:12-15
E. Philippi (Part II): The Power of Sin and Money vs. the Power of Jesus’ Name, 16:16-24
F. Philippi (Part III): A Jailer and Salvation, 16:25-40
G. Thessalonica, a Most Important City: The Message that Turned the World Upside Down, 17:1-9
H. Berea, the Receptive City: A Noble People, 17:10-15
I. Athens, the Great Intellectual and Philosophical City (Part I): The Preacher’s Urgency and Various Audiences—Who It Is That Needs the Gospel, 17:16-21
J. Athens (Part II): Preaching to a Heathen People, 17:22-34
K. Corinth, the Bridge of Greece: An Indisputable Christian, 18:1-17
L. Jerusalem and Antioch, the Journey Back: The Heroic Christian, 18:18-22
IX. THE THIRD GREAT MISSION OF PAUL TO THE GENTILES: TO ASIA MINOR AND EUROPE, 18:23-21:16
A. Ephesus, the Market and Religious Center of Asia Minor (Part I): Apollos—Preparing the Way, 18:23-28
B. Ephesus (Part II): Paul in Ephesus—Lessons on Salvation and Revival, 19:1-20
C. Ephesus (Part III): The Way of the Lord Disturbs People, 19:21-41
D. Europe and Asia Minor, The Great Cities Revisited: The Faithful Minister, 20:1-12
E. Miletus, a Notable City in Ancient Myth (Part I): The Testimony of a Faithful Minister, 20:13-27
F. Miletus (Part II): The Last Words to Church Leaders, 20:28-38
G. Jerusalem, the Final Miles: Warned, Yet Compelled to Preach, 21:1-16
X. THE BITTER EXPERIENCE IN JERUSALEM, 21:17-23:11
A. Paul’s Reluctant Decision: A Picture of Compromise, 21:17-40
B. Paul’s Testimony Before a Crazed Mob: A Message for Upset People, 22:1-21
C. Paul’s Testimony Before the Court, the Great Sanhedrin (Trial 1): God’s Guidance and Presence Through Terrible Strain, 22:22-23:11
XI. THE FINAL JOURNEY AND WITNESS OF PAUL: TO ROME AS A PRISONER, 23:12-28:31
A. Paul’s Providential Journey Begins: Man’s Deception and God’s Providence, 23:12-35
B. Paul and Felix, the Roman Governor—Trial Two (Part I): What Real Worship Is, 24:1-21
C. Paul and Felix (Part II): The Great Tragedy—A Man Who Knows Better, 24:22-27
D. Paul and Festus, the New Roman Governor, and King Agrippa—Trial Three (Part I): A Contrast of Attitudes, 25:1-27
E. Paul and Festus and King Agrippa—Trial Four (Part II): A Life-changing Conversion, 26:1-18
F. Paul and Festus and King Agrippa (Part III): A Much Needed Testimony and Message, 26:19-32
G. Paul Sails for Rome: Great Trust and God’s Care, 27:1-44
H. Paul—Shipwrecked and Stranded on an Island: God’s Protection Through Trial After Trial, 28:1-15
I. Paul in Rome: A Strategy for Evangelism in the Great City, 28:16-31
ACTS: DIVISION I
THE GREAT DAYS OF EXPECTATION, 1:1-26
Jesus’ Ministry on Earth, 1:1-5
Introduction: note the words “former treatise” or book. Luke was referring back to his gospel. He was now writing to the same man to whom he had written his gospel, Theophilus. He was reminding Theophilus that in his gospel he had covered the life and the ministry of Jesus Christ on earth.
Note the word “began.” Jesus’ life and work on earth was only the beginning. Although He is in heaven, He continues to work and minister through the presence of the Spirit in the hearts and lives of believers. The book of Acts could well be called…
• the acts (works and teachings) of believers; or
• the acts (works and teachings) of Christ; or
• the acts (works and teachings) of the Holy Spirit.
Luke was saying that the life of Jesus Christ continues on. The book of Acts is the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ.
Acts 1:1-5 is a summary of the ministry of Jesus Christ on earth.
1. Luke wrote to Theophilus—reminded him of the gospel, that is, of Jesus’ ministry (v.1).
2. Jesus’ work and teaching (v.1-2).
3. Jesus’ death and resurrection (v.3).
4. Jesus’ promise of the kingdom (v.3).
5. Jesus’ promise of the Spirit (v.4-5).
1. (1:1) Theophilus: Luke wrote to Theophilus, reminding him of the former gospel which he had written, the gospel which covered the life and ministry of Jesus.
We are not told who Theophilus is, but note several facts.
1. Theophilus is called “most excellent Theophilus” in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:3). The words, “most excellent Theophilus,” are a title of rank and honor. It is the same title used of Felix and Festus, two high ranking Roman officials (Acts 23:26; Acts 24:3; Acts 26:27). Theophilus must have been a Roman official of high rank.
2. Theophilus was a personal friend of Luke, close enough to correspond with Luke about the Lord Jesus. He was either a man interested in knowing the truth about Christ or else a new convert who needed to be grounded in Christ. Perhaps Luke himself had led Theophilus to Christ.
Note: Luke did not address Theophilus as “most excellent” in Acts. The title is dropped. Why? There are three possibilities.
a. Luke and Theophilus were close friends, close enough to be on a first name basis.
b. Theophilus had either retired or been removed from office between the writing of Luke and Acts.
c. Theophilus, having grown in Christ, had grown so loving and humble he did not want his title used among his Christian friends, not in times of personal communication and fellowship.
3. Theophilus lived outside Palestine, somewhere away from Luke.
4. Theophilus was a man of education and culture. His title and the fact that the Gospel of Luke and Acts are addressed to him point toward his being educated and cultured.
5. The name Theophilus means “beloved by God” or “the friend of God.”
Thought: Theophilus was a man who sought to grow and mature in the Lord. Imagine! Luke and Acts were written to him! Two of the greatest books ever written! And why? Because he had such a deep hunger to know the Lord, to learn all he could about the Lord. What a legacy and testimony—to be known as a person who so hungered to know the Lord that God had two of the greatest books ever written addressed to him! May we all develop a hunger to learn all we can about the Lord and Savior of the universe.
2. (1:1-2) Jesus Christ, Ministry: Jesus’ ministry on earth began with His work and teaching. Note the subject of this first chapter, “The Great Days of Expectation.” The works and teachings of Christ launched these days. Jesus Christ brought the greatest expectation to earth imaginable to man; in fact, He brought the only hope man has of surviving…
• of conquering the sin and shame of the earth: its hatred, killing, maiming, selfishness, bitterness, division.
• of conquering the death and hell of man’s destiny: his dread, fear, insecurity, ignorance, and baseless hope of what lies beyond the grave.
As stated, Jesus Christ brought the only hope man has of surviving. He taught men how to live together in peace and how they should live before God. Note three significant things.
1. Christ worked and taught until He was “taken up,” that is, until He ascended back into heaven. He was faithful, using all He had for God until His life upon earth was completed.
Thought: The believer is to use his gifts for God until he enters heaven. There is no retirement from seeking to reach a world sunk so desperately in need.
“Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Tim. 1:6).
“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Eccles. 9:10).
2. Christ worked and taught “through the Holy Spirit.” While He was on earth in the flesh, Christ was totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit. He had to surrender Himself and to make Himself available to the Spirit.
Thought: If Christ was so dependent upon the Spirit of God, how much more are we! How much more do we need to make ourselves available to Him, available for His gifts and power!
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).
“Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephes. 5:18).
3. Christ gave and taught His commandments to those whom He had chosen, His apostles. He taught throngs of people, but He zeroed in on the apostles. His whole mission depended upon them. They were to be the first who would carry His message to the world after His departure. If they failed, his mission would fail; if they succeeded, His mission would succeed. He had to concentrate upon them; to drill His commandments into them so that they in turn could teach His commandments.
Thought: Every believer is the chosen servant of God to carry on the mission of Christ. Every believer is to be proclaiming the glorious message of hope to a world lost and doomed to death.
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).
3. (1:3) Jesus’ ministry on earth was climaxed in His passion and resurrection The word “passion” means suffering; it refers to the sufferings or death of Christ. His death and resurrection assured the salvation of man.
⇒ By death He paid the penalty for man’s sin.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
⇒ By arising from the dead He conquered death for man and now makes available a new life of power for the believer.
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1 Cor. 15:20-23).
Note the two proofs of salvation.
1. Jesus showed, presented Himself alive.
There are ten resurrection appearances of Jesus recorded in the New Testament. However, there were apparently many more that are not recorded (cp. John 20:30-31; John 21:25).
1. He appeared to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18).
2. He appeared to the women running to tell the disciples about the empty tomb (Matthew 28:8-10).
3. He appeared to Peter, probably to assure him of his restoration (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5).
4. He appeared to the two Emmaus disciples sometime in the early evening (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-42).
5. He appeared to the disciples with Thomas absent (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).
6. One week later, He appeared to the disciples who had gone fishing (John 20).
7. He appeared to 500 believers (1 Cor. 15:6).
8. He appeared to the apostles (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18).
9. He appeared to James, the Lord’s half-brother (1 Cor. 15:7).
10. He appeared to the believers at His ascension (Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12).
It should be remembered that since Jesus’ ascension He has appeared at least two other times.
A. He appeared to Stephen at his martyrdom (Acts 7:55-56).
B. He appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3f).
2. Jesus gave many infallible proofs of His resurrection. (See Acts 10:40-41.)
a. The word “proofs” means positive proof; infallible proof; convincing proof; sure signs and ways.
b. The infallible, positive proofs and appearances went on for forty days.
4. (1:3) Jesus’ ministry on earth was to proclaim the great hope of man, the promise of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the focus of His message even after His resurrection. Man’s only hope for survival is the Kingdom of God.
5. (1:4-5) Jesus’ ministry on earth was to proclaim the great promise to believers, the promise of the Holy Spirit. God knew and Christ proclaimed that no man could live and witness for God, not “in the arm of the flesh.” No man or group of men were powerful enough to live for God or to convince others of the foolishness of the gospel…
• that love is more powerful than might.
• that God’s Son actually came to earth as a man.
• that God’s Son died but was raised from the dead, conquering death.
• that the cross is the way men are saved from sin, death and hell.
• that man can be born again, literally born again and made into a new creature by believing in Jesus.
• that man can live forever by being born again through belief in Jesus.
Christ knew that man needed a supernatural power, the power of God Himself. He knew that the very presence of God’s Spirit had to enter into the very heart of man and…
• impart the divine nature of God (2 Peter 1:4).
• recreate his being completely (2 Cor. 5:17; Ephes. 4:23-24; Col. 3:9-10).
• live within his body, giving the believer the power to control his life for God and to courageously proclaim the gospel to a world that would consider it foolishness and often react in violence.
In these two verses, Christ is sharing how the apostles (and all succeeding believers) are to receive the Holy Spirit in all His fullness and power.
1. They are to “wait for the promise of the Father,” wait in prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
a. Note the phrase “the promise of the Father.” The idea is that the gift of the Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of God to the believer. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God Himself, and God promises to give His Spirit to the believer.
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD” (Zech. 2:10)
b. The believer must wait in prayer to receive the Holy Spirit. Waiting, centering, and focusing one’s attention upon God is another way of saying believing, trusting, and focusing one’s life upon God. If a person will wait upon God—if he will learn to wait more and more—he will…
• gain more and more awareness and consciousness of the Spirit’s presence and power.
• gain more and more knowledge of the Spirit Himself, how He lives and works within the believer’s heart and life.
• learn how to surrender more and more of his life to the Spirit’s control and witness.
• experience more and more of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23.
Note: the fruit of the Spirit is borne only as the believer is filled with the Spirit. Being filled is a command. Believers are not automatically filled. Too many walk around in the flesh, totally unconscious of the Spirit’s presence and will.)
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).
2. Believers have to hear about the promise of the Spirit before they can receive Him. A believer cannot sit with a wandering or preoccupied mind and be filled with the Spirit of God; he cannot expect to be filled with the presence of God and never center his mind upon the things of God.
The believer has to hear and focus his attention upon, hunger and thirst for the things of God. He has to center his life upon God’s Spirit in order to receive the promise of the Spirit.
“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6).
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Cor. 2:12).
3. Then, believers will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Note: this baptism is not water baptism, not the kind of water baptism John used.
It is the baptism brought by Christ Himself, the immersion of the believer into the Spirit of God and of the Spirit into the believer.