The Purpose. It was addressed to an individual as a sort of continuation of the former thesis and aims to chronicle the growth and development of the movement inaugurated by Jesus as it was carried on by the apostles after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. It is taken up largely with the history of Christian work among the Gentiles and only gives enough of the history of the Jerusalem church to authenticate the work among the Gentiles. The chief purpose, therefore, seems to be to give an account of the spread of Christianity among the Gentiles. This view is further strengthened in the fact that Luke himself was a gentile (Col. 4:10) and that he was a companion of Paul (Col. 4:14) and the “we” section of Acts. The book does not, therefore, claim to be a complete account of the labors of the early apostles. But it does give in a simple, definite and impressive manner an account of how the religion of Jesus was propagated after his death and of how it was received by those to whom it was first preached.
The Spirituality. In the Old Testament God the Father was the active agent. In the gospels God the Son (Jesus) was the active agent. In Acts (and ever after) God the Holy Spirit is the active agent. He is mentioned about seventy times in Acts. The Savior had told the apostles to wait at Jerusalem for the power of the Holy Ghost. Until they were endued with His power they were very ordinary men. Afterward they were pure in their purpose and ideals and were always triumphant in their cause. The book is a record of mighty spiritual power seen in action everywhere.
I. The Church Witnessing in Jerusalem, 1:4-8:11.
1. Preparation for witnessing, 1:4-2:4.
2. First witnessing, 2:4-47 end.
3. First persecution, 3:1-4:31.
4. Blessed state of the church, 4:32-5:42.
5. First deacons, 6:1-7.
6. The first martyr, 6:8-8:1.
II. The Church Witnessing in Palestine, 8:2-12:25.
1. The witnesses are scattered abroad, 8:2-4.
2. Philip witnesses in Samaria and Judea, 8:5-40.
3. The Lord wins new witnesses, 9:1-11:18.
4. Center of labor changed to Antioch, 11:19-30.
5. The witnesses triumph over Herod’s persecution, 12:1-25.
III. The Church Witnessing lo the Gentile World, 13:1-28:31.
1. Witnessing in Asia, Chs. 13-14. Paul’s First Missionary Journey.
2. The first church council, 15:1-35.
3. Witnessing in Europe, 15:36-18:22. Paul’s Second Missionary Journey.
4. Further witnessing in Asia and Europe, 18:23-21:17. Paul’s Third Missionary Journey.
5. Paul, the witness, rejected and attacked by the Jews at Jerusalem, 21:18-23:35.
6. Two years imprisonment at Caesarea, Chs. 24-26.
7. Paul, the witness, carried to Rome, 27:1-28:15.
8. Paul, the witness, at Rome, 28:16-31.
For Study and Discussion. (1) The first church conference for business, 1:15-26. (2) The coming of the Holy Spirit, 2:1-4. (3) Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, 2:5-47. (4) The first miracle, ch. 3. (5) The first persecution, 4:1-31. (6) Death of Annanias and Sapphira, 5:1-11. (7) The first deacons, 6:1-7. (8) The first martyr, ch.7. (9) Philip’s work in Samaria, 8:5-40. (10) Conversion of Saul, 9:1-31. (11) Conversion of Cornelius, 10:1-11:18. (12) List the principal churches of the book, their location and what makes them notable. (13) List the principal preachers of the book and note the sermons or miracles, etc., that make them prominent. (14)The sermons and addresses of the book, to whom each was delivered, its purpose, etc.(15) The chief elements of power of these early disciples. (16) The growth of Christianity and the hindrances it had to overcome. (17) The great outstanding teachings of these early Christians. (18) The tact and adaptation of the apostles (give examples). (19) The different plans to kill Paul and the way by which he escaped each. (20) The missionary journeys of Paul and his journey to Rome as a prisoner.