We now must see how the Holy Spirit led Luke write in detail concerning the work of Christ in the gathering of the church. In a relatively short time (A.D. 29 – A.D. 60), the gospel spread from Jerusalem to Rome and encompassed both Jews and Gentiles. The key verse to the book can be found in chapter 18, “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem and all Judea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
OUTLINE OF THE BOOK
1. The introduction to the book (Acts 1:1-8). He identified Theophilus as the intended recipient (Acts 1:1), and reviewed the activity of Christ after His resurrection, including His teaching and appearances (Acts 1:2-8).
2. A record of the ascension is given (Acts 1:9-11). This includes the fact that Christ was taken up while the disciples were present and a cloud received Him (Acts 1:9), and two angels explained that He was taken to heaven and would come again in like manner (Acts 1:10-11).
3. The activity of the eleven disciples during the ten days in which they waited for the Holy Spirit is recorded (Acts 1:12-26). They stayed in the upper room and filled their time with prayer (Acts 1:13-14); the chief priests purchased the field of blood with the money Judas returned (Acts 1:15-20); and the disciples chose by lot Matthias as a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:21-26).
4. The Holy Spirit was given to the church (Acts 2:1-47). The three signs signaled His presence and there was a twofold reaction among the people (Acts 2:1-13); Peter preached a sermon in which he emphasized that the event was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel and David and that God has raised Christ Who sent forth His Spirit (Acts 2:14-36). The result of this sermon was that 3,000 were added to the church and the disciples expressed their unity by sharing their possessions (Acts 2:37-47).
5. The healing of the lame man by Peter and its results (Acts 3:1-4:37). This man was lame from birth and he sat in the Gate Beautiful of the temple while begging alms. Peter commanded him to rise up and walk (Acts 3:1-10). When the multitude gathered, Peter preached Christ crucified and risen (Acts 3:11-26). The Jews were disturbed that 5,000 were added to the church, so they placed Peter and John in prison (Acts 4:1-4). The Jewish council was struck by the boldness of Peter, so they warned the disciples to stop preaching in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:5-22). The gathering of the faithful turned to God for spiritual strength and shared their worldly goods more fervently (Acts 4:13-17).
6. The church was tested by sin from within and persecution from without (Acts 5:1-7:60). God’s judgment fell upon Ananias and Sapphira who lied about giving to the apostles all the money from the sale of land while they kept back part of it (Acts 5:1-11); Peter’s shadow had healing power over the sick (Acts 5:12-16); the apostles were imprisoned, but an angel came by night and released them; they preached in the temple and were taken before the Sanhedrin; Gamaliel gave his advice that they should not harm the apostles, for, “if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it.” They beat the apostles and let them go (Acts 5:17-42). The Grecian widows complained of being neglected and seven deacons were chosen to assist (Acts 7:1-7). Stephen, one of the deacons, defended the ministry of Christ; he was taken to the council and falsely accused; he preached a word of defense, pointing out that all during the Old Testament there were unbelievers who resisted the Christ, and that these Jews were guilty of murdering Christ (Acts 7:8-53). The Jews stoned him to death while Saul held their garments (Acts 7:54-60).
7. The gospel spread in Samaria (Acts 8:1-40). Saul persecuted the Christians in Jerusalem and they were scattered (Acts 8:1-40); Philip went to Samaria and Simon the Sorcerer believed (Acts 8:5-13); Peter and John labored in Samaria (Acts 8:14-25); the Ethiopian Eunuch was converted (Acts 8:26-40).
8. Saul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-30). Christ appeared to him on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9); Ananias was sent to him (Acts 9:10-18); Paul was baptized and he preached to the saints in Damascus (Acts 9:19-22); a plot against Saul’s life failed and he went to Jerusalem (Acts 9:23-30).
9. Peter’s missionary labors (Acts 9:31-11:18). The church had rest (Acts 9:31); at Lydda, Aeneas, sick of palsy for eight years, was healed (Acts 9:32-35); Dorcas of Joppa was also raised from the dead (Acts 9:36-43); Cornelius received a vision and he sent for Peter to come and preach (Acts 10:1-8); Peter also received a vision of animals in a sheet which represented Gentiles to whom Peter was called to preach, especially Cornelius. He went there and the Holy Ghost fell upon them and Cornelius believed and was baptized (Acts 10:26-48); Peter had to give account to the church at Jerusalem for preaching to a Gentile; after he explained the vision and the application, they rejoiced that the gospel was for the Gentiles as well(Acts 11:1-18).
10. The gospel spread to Antioch which became the missionary center (Acts 11:19-12:25). The persecuted Christians fled from Jerusalem to Antioch and took with them the message of the gospel (Acts 11:19-21). Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch who in turn sought the help of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 11:22-26); Agabus prophesied a drought in Jerusalem which gave rise to the need for help (Acts 11:27-30); Herod killed James and put Peter in prison, from which the angel delivered him (Acts 12:1-11); Peter went to the home of Mary, mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12-18); Herod was angry and ordered the guards killed; he in turn died, being eaten by worms (Acts 12:19-25).
11. Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-14:28). The church of Antioch ordained Paul and Barnabas as missionaries (Acts 13:1-3); at Cyprus, the deputy of the island believed and was opposed by one Barjesus, who was struck blind (Acts 13:4-12); John Mark forsook them at Perga (Acts 13:13); Paul preached in the Jewish synagogue at Antioch and many Gentiles expressed interest, but unbelieving Jews drove him out of the city (Acts 14:1-7); at Lystra they healed the crippled man and the people tried to worship them as gods (Acts 14:8-18); the Jews from Antioch came to stone Paul and left him for dead, but he rose up and travelled to Antioch, following the same route, and ordained elders in the newly formed churches (Acts 14:19-28).
12. The council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-35). The question arose at Antioch concerning the circumcision of the Gentile converts, and a meeting was called at Jerusalem to deal with this (Acts 15:1-6); Peter addressed the group, calling such circumcision a yoke (Acts 15:7-11); Paul and Barnabas spoke (Acts 15:12); James spoke (Acts 15:13-21); all agreed that Gentiles need not be circumcised. So letters were written to the churches explaining this decision (Acts 15:22-30); the decision was well received (Acts 15:31-35).
13. Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-18:22). A dispute arose over taking John Mark, and Paul took Silas instead (Acts 15:36-41); at Lystra, Timothy joined them (Acts 16:1-3); they delivered the decrees of the council to the churches (Acts 16:4); the Holy Ghost directed them by suffering them not to go into Asia, but through the vision of the Macedonian man, guided them into Greece (Acts 16:5-10); at Philippi, Lydia and the jailor were converted (Acts 16:11-40); a church was established at Thessalonica even though the Jews assaulted the house of Jason in an attempt to capture Paul (Acts 17:1-9); the Bereans searched the Scripture daily, and Paul fled when the Jews once again attacked him (Acts 17:10-15); in Athens, Paul preached on Mars’ Hill concerning the “unknown god” (Acts 17:16-34); at Corinth Paul labored 18 months; he lived in with Aquila and Priscilla since they shared the same craft of tent making. Paul also preached, and Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, was led to the faith; most Jews opposed him, however, and he turned to the Gentiles (Acts 18:1-17); Paul stopped at Ephesus briefly on his return trip and also went to Jerusalem to keep the feast (Acts 18:18-22).
14. Paul’s third missionary journey (Acts 18:23-21:16). As Paul travelled to Ephesus, he stopped at the churches of Galatia and Phrygia (Acts 18:23); Apollos was led to faith by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:24-28); when Paul arrived he concentrated his labors in Ephesus, making it the center of his work for two years. During this time the disciples of John the Baptist were baptized (Acts 19:1-7); Paul began with the Jews, then preached in the school of Tyrannus, even performing miracles (Acts 19:8-12); the seven sons of Sceva tried to exorcise devils out of a man in the name of Jesus, but fled naked (Acts 19:13-16); many believed and showed their faith by burning their heathen books (Acts 19:17-20); the uprising by Demetrius the silversmith took place (Acts 19:21-41); Paul left for Macedonia and spent three months there; he visited Troas where Eutychus fell from the window and was raised from the dead (Acts 20:1-12); at Miletus he bade farewell to the elders of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:13-38); he spent seven days at Tyre; at Caesarea he was warned by Agabus that he would suffer in Jerusalem; he continued his journey just the same (Acts 21:1-16).
15. Paul was taken captive in Jerusalem and held captive in Caesarea (Acts 21:17-26:32). He was rescued from the mob of Jews (Acts 21:17-39); he addressed the multitude (Acts 21:40-22:21); they in turn raged against Paul; the chief captain threatened turn him over to the Jews; Paul claimed Roman citizenship and was protected in the castle (Acts 22:22-29); under Roman protection Paul addressed the Jewish Sanhedrin; there was much division and the soldiers returned Paul to the castle (Acts 22:30-23:10); forty Jews vowed not to eat or drink until they killed Paul; he was secretly taken to Caesarea, bearing a letter addressed to Felix (Acts 23:11-35); Paul was tried before Felix (Acts 24:1-21); a second hearing was held (Acts 24:22-26); Paul was confined to prison for two years and when Festus became the new governor, he had another hearing; during this trial Paul appealed to Caesar (Acts 24:27-25:12); King Agrippa also had a hearing (Acts 25:13-26:32).
16. Paul’s journey to Rome and his imprisonment there (Acts 27:1-28:31). Paul was placed in the trust of Julius, a centurion; they sailed to Rome by ship; at Fair Haven Paul warned them to wait for better weather, but they sailed anyway and suffered shipwreck at Melita; all 276 souls on board were saved (Acts 27:1-44); they spent three months on the island; a viper bit Paul who suffered no ill effect; he healed many sick including the father of Publius, chief man of the island (Acts 28:1-10); they sailed for Rome and Paul was greeted by the brethren there. He explained the past happenings to the Jews and for two years was confined to a prison house where many came to hear him preach. (Acts 28:11-31)