Historical Information on Acts
The great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven is still remembered around the world for his beautiful and skillful compositions. But as wonderful as his musical scores are in themselves, his works are even more impressive when we learn that Beethoven suffered progressive hearing loss that began when he was a young man. In fact, it is astounding to realize that Beethoven wrote many of his greatest works when he was entirely deaf. Knowing the background of Beethoven’s life makes his music all the more impressive.
In important ways, appreciating the Scriptures is similar to appreciating Beethoven. It isn’t difficult to see the power and clarity with which the various books of the Bible proclaim God’s revelation. But when we learn about the backgrounds of the writers of the Bible, their world, their lives and their purposes, our understanding and appreciation of the Scriptures becomes much deeper.
Acts of the Apostles: Critical verse to this study of Acts is in Hebrew 10:25 (last line…”*as we see the end time day drawing nigh”) *”as” (hosos) means: how much; how many; whoever.
History and Background Information
Luke wrote two, possibly three New Testament books: Luke, Acts and possibly some of Hebrews. Acts is the second of these books. At the end of the gospel of Luke Jesus says “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” In the Book of Acts he picks it up where he leaves it off in Luke. We see the fulfillment of Christ’s words as the apostles carry the gospel to the world. See Luke 24:48-53. Luke is the third of the four Gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called synoptic gospels.
The Book of Acts is the FIRST account of the original church. In brief it covers the period of time between Jesus’ resurrection and the death of the Apostle Paul. Often Luke reverts to the inclusive or plural pronoun “we” in his writing. This is probably when he references him and Paul with others who may be present at that time. Some try to discredit Luke as author when all Luke is doing is including himself and probably Paul.
According to legend, Paul died by execution at the time when “firebug” Roman Emperor Nero was looking for a scape goat per the burning of parts of Rome. He started with the Apostle Paul then continued by accusing the new sect of religion called “THE WAY;” i.e. Christians. The Romans originally saw Christianity as an offshoot of Judaism since the original “church” consisted of Jews (Israelites). They identified themselves as The Way.”
Dictionary: The “Way” with a capital “W” was the early name for followers of Jesus. Considered a sect of Judaism, later in Acts 11 it is replaced with the term “Christian.” The first of only six biblical references, all in Acts, occurs as Saul obtained letters to arrest members of the “Way” in Damascus, immediately after stoning “Way” follower Stephen in Jerusalem. (Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14, 24:22)
This by itself reminds me of Matthew 16 per our understanding or lack of it… (Matthew 16:2, 3; NASB)
The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?
This reminds me of a man who once came up and asked for a Word for him from God. While acknowledging the request the reply was almost spontaneous. Turning to the man asking for “a word” I replied… “God said, ‘Ask him yourself but don’t forget to listen to what He tells you.’”
We will follow an outline of Acts provided in small sections with an applicable article with each section of the building outline in this new study. Acts is the ORIGINAL Acts of the Apostles Peter then Paul, the early church, and the acts of the early church. Today’s church is a far thing from what the early church did. This too will be discussed; sometimes in detail. For now, let’s begin with:
OUTLINE of ACTS: (Part 1)
- It appears that Luke set out to show in two volumes how redemption came to mankind.
- Luke relates the coming of a Redeemer who died for our sins, rose in triumph, and looked to the time when mankind might share in salvation. Luke 24:46-47.
- Volume II (Acts) takes up the narrative at that point and shows how over a period of about 30 years the gospel went from Jerusalem to Rome.
- The Gospel he wrote tells about the things “Jesus began both to do and to teach.” Acts 1:1.
- Acts tells what Jesus brought about through the Holy Spirit’s continuation of his work. Acts 1:8; cf. John 16:13.
- Based on volume/content, Luke, not Paul, wrote over one fourth of the entire New Testament.
- The Acts of the Apostles is a crucial part of Holy Scripture.
- It tells of the establishment of the church.
- It describes the growth (amid frequent perils) of the church and records the gospel’s amazing spread through the Roman Empire.
- It gives inspiring accounts of great persons who loved not their lives unto death; people who loved Jesus more than life itself.