The Beginning of the Church

The Gospel of Luke chronicled the life and teaching of Jesus, through His death, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus taught the disciples by word and deed the truth necessary to carry on His work. On the cross, He finished the work of redemption, but He had only started the proclamation of its glories. Also written to Theophilus, the book of Acts gives an account of the life and work of the leaders of the early church.

The Acts of the Holy Spirit

The Spirit was the source and power of Jesus’ earthly ministry and of the apostles’ service. The Greek word translated “Acts” was often used to describe the achievements of great men. Acts does feature the notable figures in the early years of the church, especially Peter and Paul. But the book could more properly be called “The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles,” since His sovereign, superintending work was far more significant than that of any man. It was the Spirit’s directing, controlling, and empowering ministry that strengthened the church and caused it to grow in numbers, spiritual power, and influence.

The World of the Early Church

As Luke made clear in the prologue to his gospel, he wrote to give Theophilus (and the others who would read his work) a “narrative of those things” (Luke 1:1) which Jesus had accomplished during His earthly ministry. Accordingly, Luke wrote in his gospel “and orderly account” (Luke 1:3) of those momentous events. Acts continues that record, noting what Jesus accomplished through the early church. Beginning with Jesus’ ascension, through the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost, to Paul’s preaching at Rome, Acts chronicles the spread of the gospel and the growth of the church.

Living the Great Commission

As the first work of church history ever penned, Acts records the initial response to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). It provides information on the first 3 decades of the church’s existence – material found nowhere else in the New Testament. Though not primarily a doctrinal work, Acts nonetheless emphasizes that Jesus Jesus of Nazareth was Isreal’s long-awaited Messiah, shows that the gospel is offered to all men (not merely the Jewish people), and stresses the work of the Holy Spirit (mentioned more than 50 times). Acts also makes frequent use of the Old Testament.

Acts abounds with transitions: from the ministry of Jesus to that of the apostles; from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant; from Israel as God’s witness nation to the church (composed of both Jews and Gentiles) as God’s witness people. The book of Hebrews sets forth the theology of the transition from the Old Covenant to the New; Acts depicts the New Covenant’s practical outworking in the life of the church.

 

###

This article contains content from the MacArthur Study Bible, 2nd Edition.

Bible Study

More
  • One of the Top 100 Most-Asked Questions About the Bible

    Question Why does it sometimes feel like God is far... Read more
  • Daniel: God Still Reigns

    If you re a Jew in Babylon, you’ve got reason to... Read more
  • The Word of God

    A woman called out to Jesus, “Blessed is the mother... Read more

Comfort

More
  • Jesus: Prince of Peace

    Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is... Read more
  • man holding face in hands

    Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?

    No one knows the mind of God, except for God himself.... Read more
  • How Do We Keep the Peace of God in Our Lives?

    Paul tells us to “be anxious for nothing” (Phil.... Read more

Devotional Reading Plans

More
  • Daniel: God Still Reigns

    If you re a Jew in Babylon, you’ve got reason to... Read more
  • Living a Balanced Life

    This 7-day devotional offers reminders of what is most... Read more
  • A Transformed Life

    This 7-day devotional offers inspiring and challenging... Read more

Prayer

More
  • Start the New Year Studying Proverbs as a Family

    Many people start the New Year making resolutions on... Read more
  • Does Anything Prevent God from Answering Our Prayers?

    ... Read more
  • 5 Easy Things You Can Do to Hear the Lord’s Voice More Clearly

    “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O... Read more

SpeakLight

More
  • Romans 8:28 SpeakLight Danny Gokey

    Romans 8:28 / #SpeakLight / Danny Gokey

    And we know that all things work together for good to... Read more
  • James 5:16 - Steven Malcolm

    James 5:16 / #SpeakLight / Steven Malcolm

    Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for... Read more
  • 2 corinthians 5:17 phil joel

    2 Corinthians 5:17 with Phil Joel

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new... Read more

Spiritual Growth

More
  • How to Overcome Your Fears

    Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted... Read more
  • Meet the Real Jesus in the Gospel of John

    Jesus as God and Man John wanted his readers to... Read more
  • Daniel: God Still Reigns

    If you re a Jew in Babylon, you’ve got reason to... Read more