Speaking the Truth in Love

Questions Sincere Muslims Ask – I’ve been reading the book of Acts but can’t understand it. Can you explain it?

I’ve been reading the book of Acts but can’t understand it. Can you explain it?

Acts is the second volume of Luke’s work. If you read the concluding section of Luke and the introductory section of Acts, you may notice the smoothness of the transition. Luke ends with the commissioning of the apostles and the ascension of Jesus. Acts begins in the same place and then continues the inspired story. Luke divided his work into two volumes because a papyrus scroll (about 35 or 40 feet in length) wasn’t long enough to contain the entire account.

Image result for acts 1:8The outline of the book’s contents appears in the Lord’s commission: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (1:8). The good news of Jesus spread in this very way.

On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), God performed a mighty sign at the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus poured his Spirit on the apostles gathered there. These uneducated Galileans were able to speak in a multitude of foreign languages. A great throng of people came together to witness the miracle. Peter boldly preached the gospel message for the first time. He proclaimed the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He invited his audience (the very people who had clamored for the Lord’s blood just seven weeks earlier) to repent of their sins and be baptized in the name of Christ (2:38).

About 3,000 people responded in faith (Acts 2:41). The church was born! Those first Christians in Jerusalem worshiped together, helped the needy with generous gifts, and shared meals in their homes. The church was a community of love. And it grew rapidly (2:47).Image result for acts 2:47

In time the same Jewish authorities who had crucified Jesus took offense at the apostles’ preaching. They didn’t want it said that they had murdered God’s Son or that he had risen from the dead. The apostles were threatened, beaten, and imprisoned. But they kept on preaching. The persecution became so severe that the Jerusalem disciples scattered.

Intense hostility did scatter the church, but the disciples didn’t quit. They “went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). They proclaimed Jesus in Judea and Samaria, just as Jesus had predicted. But the Christian message spread to non-Jewish nations too—”to the end of the earth” (1:8).

The uninspired title of the book is “The Acts of the Apostles.” An even more accurate title may be “The Acts of Peter and Paul.” In the first 12 chapters, Peter’s ministry is of primary importance. He was the Lord’s apostle to the Jews. On Pentecost he presented the first gospel sermon. He served the church in Judea and Samaria. He was even the first apostle to proclaim Christ to a group of uncircumcised Gentiles (10:34-43).

But the story shifts focus to Paul in Acts 13. A converted persecutor, Paul becomes a staunch defender of the risen Savior. The book describes several of his great missionary journeys. On the first extended trip, Barnabas accompanies him. On the second journey, Silas and Timothy are his coworkers. The predominantly Gentile congregation in Syrian Antioch financially sponsors these trips. After the third missionary journey, Paul comes for a visit to Jerusalem. There he is attacked by a hostile mob and nearly beaten to death.

The remaining chapters (Acts 22-28) relate Pauls’ years of imprisonment. He gives testimony in the hearing of the Roman procurators Felix and Festus. Finally, he is put on board ship to Rome. The book ends with a description of his situation in the imperial capital: “He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered” (28:30-31).

In other words, the Lord’s promise (in Acts 1:8) is fulfilled. The Christian message travels all the way to the Roman capital. Nothing can hinder its spread. Not even persecution and imprisonment.Image result for acts 1:8

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