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The Acts of the Apostles

The author Structure

• As with the gospels, the book of Acts is Acts begins with a brief prologue, followed by a
anonymous—the writer does not identify recounting of important events in the expansion of
himself. However, the author of Acts is the the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the known
same author as the Gospel of Luke. Scholars world.
frequently refer to both books together as Prologue: Luke’s salutation to Theophilus (1:1–14).
• The author of Luke-Acts is traditionally • Luke writes his second treatise to Theophilus,
and begins by retelling the ending of his gospel
connected with Luke the physician who was a (1:1–14).
“fellowlabourer” with Paul and accompanied
him on his mission to Rome (Colossians 4:14; The early days of the community of believers in
Philemon 1:24; 2 Timothy 4:11). Jerusalem (1:15–8:3).
• Luke and Acts were both written to Theophilus • Matthias is chosen as Judas’ replacement
(Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1), who was probably a (1:15–26).
Christian convert who was Luke’s patron. • The Holy Ghost comes in power on Pentecost
• The general view among scholars is that Luke- and thousands are baptized; the Christian
Acts was composed by a Greek-speaking, community is organized (2:1–47).
urban, Gentile author. • Peter and John heal and preach at the Temple
Date (3:1–4:31).
• The believers have all possessions in common
• Since Acts follows Luke, and Luke’s gospel was (4:32–5:11).
written A.D. 80–85, Acts has to come sometime • The apostles perform miracles, are arrested,
after that, probably within the same time frame and are miraculously freed (5:12–42).
or very soon after it. • Seven are appointed to minister in temporal
Themes affairs (6:1–7).
• Stephen is arrested and put on trial; he
• The spread of the gospel throughout the preaches fearlessly and becomes the first
world. At the beginning of Acts Jesus tells the Christian martyr (6:8–7:60).
apostles, “ye shall be witnesses unto me both in • Saul persecutes the Christians (8:1–3).
Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria,
and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (1:8). The gospel spreads through Judea, Samaria, and
Acts lays out the fulfillment of this Syria (8:4–12:25).
commandment: Chapters 1–7 describe the • The ministry of Philip (8:4–40).
preaching of the apostles and the growth of the
church in Jerusalem; chapters 8–12 focus on • The conversion of Saul (9:1–31).
the spread of the church to other parts of • The ministry of Peter; the gospel goes to the
Judea, to Samaria, and to nearby Syria; and Gentiles (9:32–11:18).
chapters 13–28 deal with the expansion of • The gospel spreads to Antioch (11:19–30).
Christianity to “the ends of the earth,” through • Persecution increases in Jerusalem (12:1–25).
Asia Minor, Greece, and eventually to Rome.
• Witnesses of Christ. Jesus’ commissioning of The gospel spreads “to the ends of the earth” (13:1–
the apostles as witnesses of him (1:8) is fulfilled 28:31).
as they testify as eyewitnesses his resurrection • Paul’s first missionary journey to Asia Minor
(1:22; 2:32; 3:15; 4:33; 5:32; 10:39–42; 13:30– (13:1–14:28).
31). • The Jerusalem Council resolves a dispute over
• The growth and organization of the Christian Gentile converts (15:1–35).
church. Acts recounts the development of a • Paul’s second missionary journey to Asia Minor
primitive church organization, with Peter and and Greece (15:36–18:22).
the apostles at the head (1:15–26; 2:41–47; • Paul’s third missionary journey to Asia Minor
4:32–5:11; 6:1–8; 15:1–22). and Greece (18:23-20:38).
• Persecution and martyrdom. The gospel does • Paul returns to Jerusalem and is arrested
not spread without opposition, and Luke (21:1–39)
recounts the difficulties the early Christians • Paul defends himself at the Temple, before the
faced, including the death of several prominent Sanhedrin, before Felix, and before Agrippa
leaders (7:54–60; 12:1–2) and the persecutions (21:40–26:32).
Peter, John, and Paul encountered. • Paul is taken to Rome, where he preaches while
• The Temple. Luke’s gospel begins (1:5–23) and under house arrest (27:1–28:31).
ends (24:53) at the Jerusalem Temple. In Acts
the Temple continues to play a significant role Adapted from Felix Just, “The Acts of the Apostles,”
in the early Christian community: Luke;
describes the apostles teaching, meeting, and and Greg Herrick, “An Overview of the Book of Acts,”
healing there regularly (2:46; 3:1–11; 5:12, 42;