Study no. 1. The Book of Acts. Chapter 1:1-8
The book of Acts is Book Five of our New Testament. The first four are called gospels (meaning Good News). All four gospels, in their own way, tell the same story. They are history books focusing on the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. Although we can learn much from the words of Jesus, the books mainly are history. 22 of the 27 New Testament books are written to teach, correct and warn. 4 of the 27 are history books describing the life and ministry of Jesus. That leaves one. Acts is also a history book. It is actually a sequel, a ‘Part II’ to Luke’s gospel. It is addressed to Theophillus. Whether or not Theophillus ever got convinced, this is a powerful document providing an honest, accurate and candid account of the first growth of the Christian church.
Human author, Luke.- “Luke, a native of Antioch, by profession a physician. He had become a disciple of the apostle Paul and later followed Paul until his [Paul's] martyrdom. Having served the Lord continuously, unmarried and without children, filled with the Holy Spirit he died at the age of 84 years.” (Wikepedia)
Luke was not an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus. He admits this in verses 1 and 2.
2Ti Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, :17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Therefore we could say that, even though Luke was not there in person he could write about the life of Jesus because God gave him the words. But this is not totally accurate. When God moved men to write, sometimes He did give the very words. At other times He would use the knowledge that already existed in their brain. In this case, Luke tells us in verse 3, “I myself have carefully investigated everything”
Date of writing – Written somewhere between ad 66 – 68. To give a little perspective, Acts was written about four years after the book of Luke, about eight years after the book of Mark.
Luke introduces this document by summarizing his first one, The Gospel According to Luke.
His summary brief summary of the Gospel of Luke:
Everything that Jesus did and taught during his life, right up to the day of his ascension, including his command to the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit.
I think it would be right to assume that Luke writes to Theophillus to convince him of something. I would say … to make a believer out of him. That’s why he wrote the first book and that is why he now adds onto it.
That’s a bit of a background to the book of Acts. Now we begin our study …
The final words of Jesus to his church
In the next verses he elaborates on the very last conversation Jesus had with the disciples.
Jesus is about to leave for heaven as He explained in John 14.
Before He does so He issues two final instructions.
1. Wait in Jerusalem for ‘the promise’ (v4).
Before Jesus has a chance to give the second instruction the disciples quickly ask a question (v5).
“Will you at this time …” Their question reveals their thinking concerning Jesus whole purpose in coming to earth in the first place. They fully expected Jesus to come as king, rid them of the Romans and begin ruling the world from Jerusalem. When it became obvious that Jesus was going to die, one would expect they would change their thinking. Jesus had stated several times that He was going to be betrayed, die on a cross … and rise again from the dead. It is this last part that the disciples just could not grasp. So now, after ‘forty days of infallible proofs’ that He is alive, they resume thinking that He will now become king. What a short simple answer Jesus gives them! (v7)
2. "Go into all the world ... in an orderly, practical and reasonable manner, and spread the gospel message".
Here is the order:
1.The city of Jerusalem,
2.the surrounding area of Judea (so far targeting Jewish persons),
3.the next province, Samaria (comprised of half-Jews).
4. Following this they were to spread out into the rest of the world bringing the gospel to non Jews as well.
As we continue in our study of the next few chapters we will see that the early Christians followed the Lord’s instruction exactly. How wonderful if that could be said of us today.
Jesus makes it clear to them that they are to expect to be baptized by the Holy Spirit.
That they are expected to do nothing but wait until it happens
When it happens they should expect to receive power.
By the way, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is something that is still talked about today and is the subject of some very different interpretations or understanding.
Here are a few of the more common variations.
it is something that happens after salvation
it must be prayed for.
it must be waited for.
it is accompanied by (or evidenced by) spiritual gifts, especially the gift of tongues.
it is something that completes salvation and is the last of about 5 steps and is evidenced by speaking in tongues.
We will look at this carefully in our study of chapter two.
For now we will focus on what Jesus said, “You will receive power …” What is important about this? What is the power for? Is the power something for us merely to enjoy? Is it something to be proud of? Is it something to give us a certain feeling of acceptance and status in God’s eyes?
If we pause to think about the ‘commission’, it should immediately impress our minds regarding how daunting this work will be. It would not have been surprising for Peter to have said, “What! The WHOLE world?! Impossible!”
But Jesus had prefaced his instruction with ‘You will receive power’. You will receive THE ABILITY to do the job.
There would be many barriers. At this time let’s talk about some of the barriers which you have identified, for which the Holy Spirit provided the ability to ‘break the barrier’.
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Questions for Study No. Two.
V14 – These continued in one accord in prayer …
Pretend for a few moments that you were there. What things are you praying? What are you hearing from some of the others? There must have been some breaks, for lunch for example and since they were spending their nights there also, there must have been a ‘cut-off’ point. What discussion points would you be hearing?
Ro 15:6 … that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Talk about how this can become a reality in our own church and mention how I Peter 4:8 can help.
 Theophillus. The Greek meaning of this name is Friend of God. Some have thought that Luke is making this name up to include all Christians. This is a nice thought but probably not accurate. Most bible commentators agree that he was likely one of Luke’s disciples. Being called ‘most excellent’ probably means he was an important man in Roman government. Lu 1:3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, (:4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
 New Testament Book Order
Year Book Title Author Recipient(s)
47-49 Galatians Paul a church
47-49 James … James scattered believers
51/52 1&2 Thess. Paul church
55 1 & 2 Corinth. Paul church
57 Romans …. Paul church
58/60 Mark Mark unspecified
60 Col., Eph.,&Philemon Paul 2 churches, 1 individual
61 Philippians Paul church
61/64 Matthew …... Matthew unspecified
61/64 Luke….. Luke individual (Theophilus)
64 1 Timothy …. Paul individual
64 Titus …. Paul individual
64/65 1 Peter …. Peter scattered believers
65 Jude …. Jude unspecified
66/68 Acts …. Luke individual (Theophilus)
66/68 2 Peter …. Peter scattered believers
66/67 2 Timothy Paul individual
68/70 Hebrews …. ---- unspecified
85 John …. John unspecified
85/90 1, 2, & 3 John John: unspecified, elect lady, Gaius
95 Revelation….……. John 7 churches
 Eleven of the disciples had already received the commission but we have no mention of whether Jesus told them anything about waiting for the Holy Spirit. This commissioning took place in Galilee but the final one in Acts takes place just outside of Jerusalem. Mt 28:16 ¶ Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."