The story of Jesus does not end with the Gospels. It continues in the lives of those who are His disciples. They are participants. They are in on the action of God. Luke, the only Gentile writer of the New Testament, composed Acts as a detailed and historical sequel to his Gospel narrative. It begins with the resurrected Christ promising a new dynamic, power, which He referred to as the Holy Spirit. After the Ascension of Christ, Pentecost occurred and the apostles were given the indwelling Holy Spirit, enabling them to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom via a new entity referred to as the “Church” (known in the epistles as “the Body of Christ”). In spite of intense persecution, this empowered community began to impact the world around them in unprecedented fashion. In reading the book of Acts, consider the following:
- The historical transition moves from an Old Testament of exclusive methodology to a New Covenant, an inclusive economy and broadcasted message. This is evident in the progression of the gospel from the Jews, to Samaritans, and ultimately to the Gentiles. It is also obvious geographically…Jerusalem, Judaea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world.
- The personal transformation of the apostles is apparent, especially centered in the lives of Peter and Paul. These men, as well as others, are the writers of the epistles, and Acts gives us the historical background to these inspired writings.
- There is intense persecution throughout the first century. This becomes the catalyst in the scattering of believers and their sacred message.
- The missional action in this book becomes the foundation for the spread of the gospel for generations to come. These Christians had no manual to follow. Actually, they were writing it.
- The gospel proclamation spreads like wildfire. It still does.
Next time…how to read the Epistles.