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Acts

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Four Traits Small-Group Leaders Don’t Need In Order to Succeed.

Leader Tip1.     A leader doesn’t need to be a Bible scholar. The leaders job is to provide an environment conducive to mutual learning and growing. The leader is learning along with the other group members.  2.     A leader doesn’t need to be a great speaker. Being a great listener is more important. In fact, those who like to speak and dominate conversations are not good choices for small-group leaders. 3.     A leader doesn’t need to excel at hospitality. There are undoubtedly those in the group with the gift of hospitality who can meet this need, by offering their home for meetings or providing refreshments. 4.     A leader doesn’t have to have previous leadership experience. A much better predictor of success is a commitment to the small-group concept and a willingness to learn the skills needed to help others become all they can be in Christ.

Have someone read from the Life Application N.T. Com. Intro to Acts. It starts “Acts has it all”

VITAL STATISTICS

PURPOSE: To give an accurate account of the birth and growth of the Christian church

AUTHOR: Luke (a Gentile physician)

TO WHOM WRITTEN: Theophilus and all lovers of God

DATE WRITTEN: Between A.D. 63 and 70

SETTING: Acts is the connecting link between Christ’s life and the life of the church, between the Gospels and the Letters

KEY VERSE: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

KEY PEOPLE: Peter, John, James, Stephen, Philip, Paul, Barnabas, Cornelius, James (Jesus’ brother), Timothy, Lydia, Silas, Titus, Apollos, Agabus, Ananias, Felix, Festus, Agrippa, Luke

KEY PLACES: Jerusalem, Samaria, Lydda, Joppa, Antioch, Cyprus, Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Caesarea, Malta, Rome

SPECIAL FEATURES: Acts is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Because Acts ends so abruptly, Luke may have planned to write a third book, continuing the story..

OVERVIEW: WITH a flick of the fingers, friction occurs and a spark leaps from match to tinder. A small flame burns the edges and grows, fueled by wood and air. Heat builds, and soon the kindling is licked by orange-red tongues. Higher and wider it spreads, consuming the wood. The flame has become a fire.

Nearly 2,000 years ago, a match was struck in Palestine. At first, just a few in that corner of the world were touched and warmed; but the fire spread beyond Jerusalem and Judea out to the world and to all people. Acts provides an eyewitness account of the flame and fire—the birth and spread of the church. Beginning in Jerusalem with a small group of disciples, the message traveled across the Roman empire. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, this courageous band preached, taught, healed, and demonstrated love in synagogues, schools, homes, marketplaces, and courtrooms, and on streets, hills, ships, and desert roads—wherever God sent them, lives and history were changed.

Written by Luke as a sequel to his Gospel, Acts is an accurate historical record of the early church. But Acts is also a theological book, with lessons and living examples of the work of the Holy Spirit, church relationships and organization, the implications of grace, and the law of love. And Acts is an apologetic work, building a strong case for the validity of Christ’s claims and promises. This book was apparently written about A.D. 63, since it terminates with Paul's two-year imprisonment in Rome (28:30). Since Luke devotes so much space to the account of Paul's trial and appeal to Caesar, it would have been very unlikely had the book been written later for the author not to have alluded to the outcome of the apostle's trial.

The book of Acts begins with the outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit and the commencement of the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This Spirit-inspired evangelism began in Jerusalem and eventually spread to Rome, covering most of the Roman empire.

That book was also addressed to Theophilus, whose name means “one who loves God.” While some scholars have argued that this is a general term for all believers, it is more likely a proper name. When addressing Theophilus in Luke 1:1, Luke called him “most honorable.” A proper name with a title indicates that this was probably a real person, someone who belonged to the nobility, possibly as a high-ranking Roman official. Most likely Theophilus was a Roman acquaintance of Luke’s with a strong interest in the new Christian religion.

The gospel first went to the Jews; but they, as a nation, rejected it. A remnant of Jews, of course, gladly received the Good News. But the continual rejection of the gospel by the vast majority of the Jews led to the ever-increasing proclamation of the gospel to the Gentiles. This was according to Jesus’ plan: the gospel was to go from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). This, in fact, is the pattern that the Acts narrative follows. The glorious proclamation began in Jerusalem (Acts 1-7), went to Judea and Samaria (Acts 8 and following), and to the countries beyond Judea (Acts 11:19; Acts 13:4 and on to the end of Acts). The second half of Acts is focused primarily on Paul’s missionary journeys to many countries north of the Mediterranean Sea. He, with his companions, took the gospel first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Some of the Jews believed, and many of the Gentiles received the Good News with joy. New churches were started, and new believers began to grow in the Christian life.

Corinth of Paul's day Corinth lay only one and a half miles from the narrow isthmus joining central Greece with the Peloponnesus. It was a great emporium with two seaports — Cenchraea on the East, and Lechaeum on the West. Sea cargoes were hauled overland across the strategic four-mile strip. This spared mariners the hazardous 200-mile jaunt around Cape Malea to the S. The Corinth canal was not built till 1881-93, although Nero attempted such a venture in A.D. 66. Materialism and lust were two vices that plagued the city. Its brisk commercialism fostered the former; the entrenched cult of Aphrodite fostered the latter. The goddess of love (lust) had her temple above the Acrocorinth, served by more than a thousand religious prostitutes. Voluptuous and vicious forms of the goddess' worship made Corinth a notorious center of immorality (cf. the Corinthian letters, especially 1Co 5:1-5). Such terms as ‘to corinthianize,’ ‘Corinthian sickness,’ etc., were reminiscent of the moral debauchery of the city.

THE BLUEPRINT

A. PETER’S MINISTRY (Acts 1:1-12:25)

After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter preached boldly and performed many miracles. Peter’s actions demonstrate vividly the source and effects of Christian power. Because of the Holy Spirit, God’s people were empowered so they could accomplish their tasks. The Holy Spirit is still available to empower believers today. We should turn to the Holy Spirit to give us the strength, courage, and insight to accomplish our work for God.

     1. Establishment of the church

     2. Expansion of the church

B. PAUL’S MINISTRY (Acts 13:1-28:31)

Paul’s missionary adventures show us the progress of Christianity. The gospel could not be confined to one corner of the world. This was a faith that offered hope to all humanity. We too should venture forth and share in this heroic task to witness for Christ in all the world.

     1. First missionary journey

     2. The council at Jerusalem

     3. Second missionary journey

     4. Third missionary journey

     5. Paul on trial

 

MEGATHEMES

THEME: Church beginnings

EXPLANATION: Acts is the history of how Christianity was founded and organized and solved its problems. The community of believers began by faith in the risen Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, who enabled them to witness, to love, and to serve.

IMPORTANCE: New churches are continually being founded. By faith in Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the church can be a vibrant agent for change. As we face new problems, Acts gives important remedies for solving them.

THEME: Holy Spirit

EXPLANATION: The church did not start or grow by its own power or enthusiasm. The disciples were empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. He was the promised Counselor and Guide sent when Jesus went to heaven.

IMPORTANCE: The Holy Spirit’s work demonstrated that Christianity was supernatural. Thus the church became more Holy Spirit-conscious than problem-conscious. By faith, any believer can claim the Holy Spirit’s power to do Christ’s work.

THEME: Church growth

EXPLANATION: Acts presents the history of a dynamic, growing community of believers from Jerusalem to Syria, Africa, Asia, and Europe. In the first century, Christianity spread from believing Jews to non-Jews in 39 cities and 30 countries, islands, or provinces.

IMPORTANCE: When the Holy Spirit works, there is movement, excitement, and growth. He gives us the motivation, energy, and ability to get the gospel to the whole world. How are you fitting into God’s plan for expanding Christianity? What is your place in this movement?

THEME: Witnessing

EXPLANATION: Peter, John, Philip, Paul, Barnabas, and thousands more witnessed to their new faith in Christ. By personal testimony, preaching, or defense before authorities, they told the story with boldness and courage to groups of all sizes.

IMPORTANCE: We are God’s people, chosen to be part of his plan to reach the world. In love and by faith, we can have the Holy Spirit’s help as we witness or preach. Witnessing is also beneficial to us because it strengthens our faith as we confront those who challenge it.

THEME: Opposition

EXPLANATION: Through imprisonment, beatings, plots, and riots, Christians were persecuted by both Jews and Gentiles. But the opposition became a catalyst for the spread of Christianity. Growth during times of oppression showed that Christianity was not the work of humans, but of God.

IMPORTANCE: God can work through any opposition. When severe treatment from hostile unbelievers comes, realize that it has come because you have been a faithful witness and you have looked for the opportunity to present the Good News about Christ. Seize the opportunities that opposition brings.

TIMELINE

Jesus crucified; Pentecost; church begun A.D. 30

Stephen martyred; Paul’s conversion 35

Paul returns to Tarsus 38

Barnabas goes to find Paul 43

James martyred; Peter in prison 44

Paul’s first missionary journey 46-48

Jerusalem Council 50

Paul’s second missionary journey 50-52

Paul’s third missionary journey 53-57

Nero becomes emperor 54

Paul imprisoned in Caesarea 57-59

Paul’s journey to Rome 59

Paul released from prison 62

Paul martyred 67?

Rome destroys Jerusalem 70

Chronological chart of Acts

Events                                                 Acts                 Dates

Ascension                                1:9-11              A.D. 30

Pentecost                                 2:1-41              A.D. 30

Early church                            2:42-6:7           A.D. 30

First persecution                      4:1-31              A.D. 31

Second persecution                 5:17-42            A.D. 32

Third persecution-

Stephen's martyrdom              6:8-8:4             A.D. 35-36

Philip's ministry in Samaria

and to the Ethiopian               8:5-40              A.D. 36

Paul's conversion                     9:1-21              A.D. 37

Paul in Damascus,

Jerusalem, Tarsus                    9:22-30            A.D. 38

Peter at Caesarea                     10:1-11:18       A.D. 41

Founding of Gentile church

at Antioch                               11:19-24          A.D. 41

Paul in Antioch                       11:25-26          A.D. 43

Martyrdom of James;

Peter imprisoned                     12:1-19            A.D. 44

First missionary journey          13:1-14:28       A.D. 45-47

Jerusalem council                    15:1-29            A.D. 50

Second missionary journey     15:36-18:22     A.D. 51-54

Third missionary journey        18:23-21:19     A.D. 54-58

Paul arrested in Jerusalem       21:20-23:22     A.D. 58

Paul a prisoner at Caesarea     23:23-26:32     A.D. 58-60

Paul's journey and arrival in Rome27:1-28:31 A.D. 60-61

Speaking in tongues There are two aspects in the manifestation of tongues: first, the sign of tongues in Ac 2,10,19 (and probably in ch. 8); second, the gift of tongues in the early apostolic church. The gift under the second aspect evidently was not permanent (1Co 13:9-13), nor given to every believer. It required the concomitant gift of interpretation (1Co 12:10; 14:1-40). This sign gift with interpretation was meant to instruct the church before the completed NT Scriptures were given. Under the first aspect tongues were a means by which the Holy Spirit witnessed to Israel on the day of Pentecost (2:4-13). They were a sign of the truth that Jesus was the Messiah and an indication of the new age of the Spirit. The Jews were again challenged by the Samaritans' receiving the Holy Spirit (Ac 8:14-17), and, although this is not specifically mentioned, they may have been given the evidence that the despised Samaritans had actually received the same gift as the Jews, by the sign of their supernatural utterances (cf. 11:17). This is the use of tongues in the introduction of the gift of the Holy Spirit to Gentiles (Ac 10:44-47). Nothing could have been more convincing to skeptical, unbelieving Peter and his Jewish colleagues than the fact that Cornelius and the other Gentiles spoke in supernatural languages just as the Jews at Pentecost. The disciples of John the Baptist who received the Holy Spirit and spoke in languages they had never learned (Ac 19:6-10) were a similar witness to the strong Jewish community at Ephesus. For the disciples of John the Baptist, whom the Jews generally accepted as a God-sent prophet, to be blessed by the Holy Spirit after being baptized in the name of the rejected Messiah, was of the deepest significance. ‘But some of them [the Jews] became obstinate; they refused to believe’ as Isaiah (Isa 28:11-12) had predicted (1Co 14:22. Cf. notes on 1Co 14).

1 Give an example of something in your lifetime (trend, political movement, fad) that began very small but then grew rapidly and took the world by storm.

2 What factors caused it to have such a great influence?

3 What did the disciples do when Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified (Matthew 26:47–56, 69–75)?

4 In Acts we see the disciples as courageous witnesses for Christ. What changed them?

5 At first the church was limited to Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. By the end of Acts, the gospel had spread to most of the known world. What factors caused the church to grow so rapidly?

Jesus promised his followers they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel around the world. Acts tells their story, documenting the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.

How were these early believers able to make such a dramatic impact on their world? How had God prepared the world for the rapid spread of the gospel?

Fresh from the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, they spoke with holy boldness, taking every opportunity to tell of Christ on the street and in synagogues, homes, prisons,  and courtrooms. These men and women were convinced of the truth because they had seen their risen Lord and were filled with the Holy Spirit.

In what parts of the world are churches growing most rapidly? Why do you think this is so?

What social barriers did the Apostles and the gospel break down?

What two truths did Luke establish before the book of Acts barely starts.- important truths in what serves as an introduction to the book of Acts: (1) the indisputable fact of Christ’s resurrection; and (2) the indispensable presence of the Holy Spirit.

Why are these things important? Apart from these two strong foundations, the church would be without hope and without power. They are what sets us apart from the rest of the herd.

1. When has your faith in Jesus Christ been encouraged by the words of others?

2. Read Acts 1:1-11. What did Luke, the author of Acts, report to Theophilus about            Jesus’ last days upon earth?

3. What gives credibility to this report? Especially in verse 4.-eating takes reality and    humanity.

4.How would you feel if you were the first to be given the task described in Acts 1:8?

5. How are we equipped for this task, according to the passage?

6.      What specific commands did Jesus give the apostles? (1:4)

7.      What gift did Jesus promise to the apostles? (1:4-5)

8.      What did the apostles misunderstand? (1:6)

9. How did Jesus answer the apostles’ question? (1:7-8

10. Read Acts 1:12-26. How did the disciples respond to all that they had seen and heard?

11. Why was it important for them to be together?

12. How are you affected when you pray with other believers in this way—especially as you consider your part in this task (Acts 1:14)? Do you pray differently when you are alone and in a group?

13. Peter comes forth as the leader of this group. He goes to Scripture immediately when he speaks. How do these words of David affect their confidence as well as give them direction?

14. After His resurrection, Jesus spent some forty days with His disciples; how do you think they felt about this time with Him?

15.   What Christian person do you value spending time with? Why?

         How do we know when the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives?

While Jesus was still here on earth the apostles did not really understand who Jesus was and what His mission was. It wasn’t until He ascended into heaven and they were filled with the Holy Spirit that they finally and completely understood what was truly going on. Big question-why do you think it took so long for the realization?

1.Why was it necessary for Jesus to stop giving direct instructions to His disciples and ascend to be with His Father (Acts 1:9)

17.What conviction was going to sustain the apostles as they fulfilled their mission while Jesus was physically absent (1:11)? b.Why would this have been encouraging?

3. Why do you think the two angels appeared at that moment? They distracted them from the sadness of again losing Jesus and told them, in essence, to get busy.

4. A cloud hid Him from their sight. Do you think this was important? Where do you picture heaven?

“And a cloud hid him from their sight.” We should not discuss the ascension in terms of physics or cosmology, for Scripture does not intend to teach a lesson on the location of heaven. “The upward movement is almost the only possible method of pictorially representing complete removal.”23 What Luke conveys is that Jesus leaves this earthly scene and enters heavenly glory. From other passages of Scripture we learn that a cloud hides God’s heavenly glory. A bright cloud enveloped Moses and Elijah as they were talking with Jesus at the time of his transfiguration. And from this cloud, the disciples heard God’s voice [1]

5. How did Peter describe the chief function of an apostle (1:22)

Because Acts is a narrative (a true story), it teaches us mainly by example, not directly as the Gospels and Epistles do. However, the first thirty years of Church history were a unique period in the history of God’s dealings with man. Therefore, not everything in Acts sets an example that we should imitate. Acts records what did happen, not necessarily what should have happened or what always should happen.

5-B When you were growing up, how did you and your friends choose teams for games of kickball, tag, or other such games? , the apostles cast lots and prayed to select the twelfth apostle, 1:23-26.

6. Is this meant to be a model for choosing an apostle or leaders in general? How do we know?)This was essentially the first church meeting. How does it compare to meetings in your church?

7. Peter became the leader of the Apostles, Recalling that Peter denied Jesus earlier, how do you think the disciples felt about Peter’s leadership? The others ditched Jesus too.

8. What is one way you can include God in all important decisions you make? How can we improve our prayer life?

Acts 2:1-13

In laymans terms (without using church-eze) what happened at Pentecost? What did the people see happening?

Within Pentecost and chapter 2 what is the difference between what happened at Pentecost and the “street Bible” I had the other day?

What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?

What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Is there a difference?

What did Jesus promise that the Holy Spirit would do in and through his followers?

What did these believers do to receive the Holy Spirit?

Luke uses the word filled “when people are given an initial endowment of the Spirit to fit them for God’s service” (Luke 1:15; Acts 9:17) “and also when they are inspired to make important utterances” (Acts 4:8, 31; Acts 13:9). “Related words are used to describe the continuous process of being filled with the Spirit” (Acts 13:52; Ephes. 5:18) “or the corresponding state of being full” (Luke 4:1; Acts 6:3, 5; Acts 7:55; Acts 11:24). “These references indicate that a person already filled with the Spirit can receive a fresh filling for a specific task, or a continuous filling.” 19

To be “baptized” (Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16) with the Spirit is the same as the initial filling the disciples received at Pentecost. However, the recurring experience is always called filling, never baptism.

In what ways was Pentecost a unique event? In what ways can that event be repeated today?

How can a person receive the Holy Spirit?

What can you do to be more open to the Spirit’s work in your life?

Why was it appropriate that the events of Acts 2 occurred on Pentecost, the day when Jews celebrated the giving of the covenant under the Law of Moses? (Optional: See Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:6.)

A particularly interesting thing about what occurred on Pent. Was that the people that were doing all of the talking were uneducated Galatians and they were speaking complicated “educated” languages.

What do you think it would be like if the Holy Spirit were suddenly withdrawn from the church? Would some people miss it?

A Huge Bunny trail

(2:13). A Jew from Phrygia, for instance, may have heard one or two of the disciples speaking Phrygian. However, the disciples speaking Mede or Cyrenian would have been unintelligible and may have seemed to be babbling drunkenly.

Four interpretations of the languages have been offered: 1) in Acts 2 they are the human languages of the various nations, but in 1 Corinthians 12:1-14 they are non-human, heavenly languages; 2) both Acts and 1 Corinthians refer to human languages not known to the speaker; 3) both Acts and 1 Corinthians refer to nonhuman languages; 4) 1 Corinthians alludes to languages both of “men” and of “angels” (1 Cor.13:1), while Acts portrays only the languages of “men” not known to the speaker.

Acts 2:14-41

Here, we see Peter as a dynamic leader and preacher. It is the power of the Holy Spirit which has changed this man who was once a coward that denied Jesus three times. Scripture, again, is the foundation of Peter’s proclamation of truth.

1.What message does the book of Joel have for the bewildered crowd?

2. What does Peter have to offer to those who are responsive to his message (Acts 2:37-39)?

3. Describe the fellowship of the believers in this young church (Acts 2:42-47). Does this differ from what we have today? What were their priorities?

4. What are all the ways you see the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated throughout the chapter?

Themes in Acts   Things to think about as we are studying the book of Acts

What is the Church’s mission?

What is the Church’s message?

What is the Holy Spirit’s role in the Church and the world?

How do believers respond to opposition and persecution in Acts?

What is the relationship between Christianity and Judaism in Acts?

What does Acts show about fellowship (partnership, participation, sharing, communion)?


----

23 Guthrie, New Testament Theology, p. 395.

[1]Kistemaker, Simon J., and William Hendriksen. Vol. 17, New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles. Accompanying biblical text is author's translation. New Testament Commentary, Page 56. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001.

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