Acts Graphics

Act's Time

 Jesus crucified; Pentecost; church begunStephen martyred; Paul's conversion Paul 
 Barnabas goes to find PaulJames martyred; Peter in prison Paul's first missionary journey  Jerusalem councilPaul's second missionary journey Paul's third missionary journey Nero becomes emperor Paul's imprisoned in Caesarea  Paul's journey to Rome
 A.D. 3035  38 43 4446-48  5050-52  53-57 54 57-59 59

 Paul released from prisonPaul martyred Rome destroys Jerusalem 
 62 67? 70

Vital statistics

 Purpose: To give an accurate account of the birth and growth of the Christian church
 Author: Luke (a Gentile physician)
 Original audience: Theophilus
 Date written: Between A.D. 63 and 70
 Setting: Acts is the connection link between Christ's life and the life of the church, between the Gospels and the Letters.
 Key verse: "But yo will receive power when the Holy Spirit come upon you. And you will be my witnesses,telling people about me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (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. 

The Five-Act Drama of Acts 3–4

Act One, 3:1–10
The lame man healed at the gate.
The name of Jesus healed him (3:6).
Act Two, 3:11–26
Peter’s sermon identifies Jesus with the “I Am” of Israel’s history. Jesus is Lord!
Faith in the name of Jesus brings salvation (3:16, 26).
Act Three, 4:1–12
Peter and John imprisoned and tried.
No other name but Jesus can be called on to bring salvation to all the earth (4:12).
Act Four, 4:13–22
Peter and John warned and released.
Though opposed, the name of Jesus rings true—“God delivers” (4:18, 21).
Act Five, 4:23–37
The church responds by worshiping Jesus, caring for each other, and witnessing about Christ.
Signs and wonders continue to be done through the name of Jesus (4:30).
Word in life study Bible . 1997, c1996 (electronic ed.) (Gn 1.1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Speaking in Tongues in Acts

The 12 Apostles and others
Unsaved Jews
After salvation
To validate (for Jews) the fulfillment of Joel 2
Gentiles (Cornelius and his houshold)
Saved Jews (Peter and others) who doubted God’s plan
The same time as salvation
To validate (for jews) God’s acceptance of Gentiles
About 12 Old Testament believers
Jews who needed confirmation of the message
The same time as salvation
To validate (for Jews) Paul’s message
Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher's commentary. Includes index. (792). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

On Overview of the Book of Acts

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:18)
Acts 1–7
Acts 8–12
Acts 13–28
Spread of the Church
The church witnessing in Jerusalem
The church witnessing in all Judea and Samaria
The church witnessing to all the earth
The Gospel
Proclaimed in the city
Proclaimed in the provinces
Proclaimed in the world
Power and progress of the church
Expansion of the church
Paul’s three journey and trials
People Addressed
Gentiles (Hellenists)
Key Person
Approximate Time
2 years (c. A.D. 33–35)
11 years (c. A.D. 35–46)
15 years (c. A.D. 48–63)
Travels and trials
New Geneva study Bible. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.) (Hch 1.1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

In the beginning
     Active and present at creation, hovering over the unordered conditions (Gen. 1:2)
In the Old Testament
     The origin of supernatural abilities (Gen. 41:38
     The giver of artistic skill (Ex. 31:2–5)
     The source of power and strength (Judg. 3:9, 10)
     The inspiration of prophecy (1 Sam. 19:20, 23)
     The mediation of God’s message (Mic. 3:8)
In Old Testament prophecy
     The cleansing of the heart for holy living (Ezek. 36:25–29)
In salvation
     Regenerates the believer (Titus 3:5)
     Sanctifies the believer (2 Thess. 2:13)
     Completely indwells the believer (Acts 2:4)
In the New Testament
     Declare the truth about Christ (John 16:13, 14)
     Endows with power for gospel proclamation (Acts 1:8)
     Pours out God’s love in the heart (Rom. 5:5)
     Makes intercession (Rom. 8:26)
     Enables the fruit of holy living (Gal. 5:22, 23)
     Strengthens the inner being (Eph. 3:16)
In the written Word
     Inspired the writing of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21)
The New Testament understands the Holy Spirit to be the assurance of the risen Lord Jesus indwelling believers.
New Geneva study Bible. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.) (Hch 2.4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Major Sermons in Acts

Several important sermons and speeches are recorded in the Book of Acts. Over twenty are included, with the majority coming from Peter (7 total) and Paul (11 total). Below are listed the more significant, together with the theme and text location.
Biblical Reference
Peter to crowds at Pentecost
Peter’s explanation of the meaning of Pentecost
Acts 2:14–40
Peter to crowds at the temple
The Jewish people should repent for crucifying the Messiah
Acts 3:12–26
Peter to the Sanhedrin
Testimony that a helpless man was healed by the power of Jesus
Acts 4:5–12
Stephen to the Sanhedrin
Stephen’s rehearsal of Jewish history, accusing the Jews of killing the Messiah
Acts 7
Peter to Gentiles
Gentiles can be saved in the same manner as Jews
Acts 10:28–47
Peter to church at Jerusalem
Peter’s testimony of his experiences at Joppa and a defense of his ministry to the Gentiles
Acts 11:4–18
Paul to synagogue at Antioch
Jesus was the Messiah in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies
Acts 13:16–41
Peter to Jerusalem council
Salvation by grace available to all
Acts 15:7–11
Paul to Ephesians elders
Remain faithful in spite of false teachers and persecution
Acts 20:17–36
Paul to crowd at Jerusalem
Paul’s statement of his conversion and his mission to the Gentiles
Acts 22:1–21
Paul to Sanhedrin
Paul’s defense, declaring himself a Pharisee and a Roman citizen
Acts 23:1–6
Paul to King Agrippa
Paul’s statement of his conversion and his zeal for the gospel
Acts 26
Paul to Jewish leaders at Rome
Paul’s statement about his Jewish heritage
Acts 28:17–20
New Geneva study Bible. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.) (Hch 2.14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Harmonization of Stephen’s Speech and Its Old Testament References

Acts 7
Alleged O.T. Discrepancy
Resolution of the Texts
7:2–4 Appearance/revelation of God to Abraham in Ur (Gen. 15:7; Neh. 9:7)
Appearance/revelation of God of Abram in Haran (Gen. 12:1–3)
(1) Many hold that God indeed spoke to Abram twice, both in Ur and Haran, thus the accounts are complementary.
(2) More probably, Gen. 11:27–32 is a parenthetical/background to 12:1–3, and the call did indeed come in Ur.
7:3 Abraham must leave his family and country.
Abram must leave his country, his relatives and his father’s house (Gen. 11:31–12:11).
Stephen simply gives a more abbreviated account.
7:4 Abraham leaves Haran after the death of his father.
Abram leaves Haran 60 years before the death of his father (Gen. 11:26, 32; 12:4)
Because Abram is listed first in Gen. 11:26, some assume he was the firstborn. However, it is more probable that he is mentioned first because of his prominence in salvation history, not because of his priority in time (note Gen. 5:32 and 10:1, where the first son listed is clearly not the eldest). Therefore, there is no indication of Terah’s age when Abram was born.
7:6 400 years in a foreign country (also Gen. 15:13)
430 years in Egypt (Ex. 12:40).
(Note also 450 years of Acts 13:19, 20.) Both Acts reckoning (and Gen. 15:13) are simply examples of rounding off numbers, 430 is precise, 400 and 450 are accurate approximations.
7:7 Is “this place” (word to Abraham in Gen. 15:13) Mt. Gerizim or Mt. Horeb? [Note that neither Mt. Gerizim nor Mt. Horeb is actually named.]
“This mountain” (word to Moses in Ex. 3:12) is Mt. Horeb.
Stephen apparently conflates or “telescopes” two separate texts (later in v. 16, he will telescope or conflate two separate incidents). This was a popular method of recounting history in Stephen’s day. The statement is true as we recognize that in one breath Stephen alludes to two different texts. Further, the fact is that they did worship God both in “this place” (Canaan, Gen. 15:13–15) and on Mt. Horeb (Ex. 3:12).
7:14 75 people went to Egypt.
70 people went to Egypt (Gen. 46:27; Ex. 1:5; Deut. 10:22).
The LXX was the text Stephen followed, and at Gen. 46:20 it adds two sons of manasseh, two sons of Ephraim, and one grandson of Ephraim, making the total 75.
7:16 Abraham bought a tomb in Shechem.
Abraham bought a tomb in Machpelah (cave/field)near Mamre, which is Hebron; Jacob bought a field in Shechem (Gen. 23:17, 18; 33:19; Josh. 24:32).
Though this is possibly the most difficult of the alleged discrepancies, a proper understanding of the recounting of tradition by the Semitic people is the key.
(1) Some would argue that Jacob bought the Shechem burial ground in the name of Abraham.
(2) The use of the plural in Acts 7:16 (“they”) tips us off that Stephen is conflating or telescoping several familiar accounts into a summary statement. Though admittedly strange by our standards, this would have been well understood and accepted by Stephen’s hearers as an accurate statement.
7:16 Jacob and his sons (including Joseph) were buried in Shechem, but nothing is said about the burial of Abraham
Abraham and Jacob were buried in Shechem, but nothing is said about the burial of Jacob’s other sons (Gen. 23:9–20; 25:8–10; 33:19; 49:30, 31; 50:13; Josh. 24:32).
See above, resolution (2). That argument holds for this point also, though the complementary nature of the accounts, and the possibility of Stephen’s utilizing extrabiblical tradition, is clearly evident. Interestingly, Josephus informs us of a tradition that says the brothers of Joseph were buried at Hebron.
7:22 Moses “a man in mighty words”
Moses a man “not eloquent” in speech (Ex. 4:10–16)
Exodus 4 reveals Moses’ self-evaluation early in his ministry. With the help of Aaron, and ultimately, through training on the hob, Moses became a man “might in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22)
7:26 Moses tried to make peace between two Israelites who were fighting.
Moses took the side of one of the quarreling parties (Ex. 2:13).
Exodus 2:13 gives a more detailed analysis. That Moses sided with one in no way negates his attempt to make peace between the two. Thus, both statements are true, Stephen again providing a general or summary statement.
7:29 Moses fled because he was rejected by his people.
Moses fled because of the king of Egypt (Ex. 2:15)
both are correct and again complementary; Ex. 2:15ff. also affirms that Moses fled for fear and because of the rejection of his people.
7:32, 33 God reveals Himself to Moses before He tells him to take off his sandals.
God reveals Himself to Moses after He tells him to take off his sandals (Ex. 3:5, 6).
Stephen simply reverses the chronological order out of theological/topical concerns, so that the initial emphasis is that it is the god of Moses’ ancestors (i.e., Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) who is revealing Himself. This is in Keeping with Stephen’s overall purpose in his speech, Furthermore, the opening phrase of Acts 7:33 (eipen de, Gk. “and” or “but he said”) does not require temporal or chronological sequence.
7:38 An angel speaks to Moses (see also Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb. 2:2)
yahweh/the Lord/God speaks to Moses (Ex. 19)
Two solutions are possible:
(1) Stephen simply supplements the Exodus account, noting that the means whereby god spoke to Moses was an angel.
(2) Numerous biblical students note that “the angel of yahweh” may very well be God Himself via a Christopahny, i.e., a preincarnate appearance of the Son of God.
7:42, 43 Israel’s time in the wilderness was one of apostasy.
Israel’s time in the wilderness is exemplary. (Amos 5:25)
Some misread or misinterpret the Amos text. Amos is also denouncing Israel.
7:43 “tabernacle…Moloch…Remphan.”
”Sikkuth you king and Chiun” (Amos 5:26, see notes in center column there).
Stephen follows the LXX, which has paraphrased a very difficult Hebrew reading. This particular difficulty is best resolved by understanding that Stephen is following the LXX in its paraphrase of the Hebrew text of Amos 5:25–27, giving the text a different emphasis or application. The complexity of these texts really goes beyond the limits of these study notes.
7:43 “away beyond Babylon”
“captivity beyond Damascus” (Amos 5:27)
Stephen, wishing to show that idolatry and disobedience to the Lord brought both Israel (by the Assyrians, capital Damascus) and Judah (by the Babylonians, capital Babylon) into captivity, broadens or expands upon the prophecy of Amos to include both exiles. This was a purposeful change to include all in the Exile(s). His audience would have clearly understood his application of the Amos text, though they no doubt did not appreciate it!
New Geneva study Bible. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.) (Hch 7.14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Parallels in the Lives of Peter and Paul

Heals a man lame from birth (3:1–11)
Heals a man lame from birth (14:8–18)
Heals people by his shadow (3:15, 16)
heals people by handkerchiefs or aprons (19:11, 12)
Success is a cause for Jewish jealousy (5:17)
Success is a cause for Jewish jealousy (13:45)
Confronts Simon, a sorcerer (8:9–24)
Confronts Bar-Jesus, a sorcerer (13:6–11)
Raises Tabitha (Dorcas) to life (9:36–41)
Raises Eutychus to life (20:9–12)
Is jailed and freed miraculously by God (12:3–19)
Is jailed and freed miraculously by God (16:25–34)
New Geneva study Bible. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.) (Hch 15.37). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

The Career of the Apostle Paul

Tarsus in Cilicia (Acts 22:3)
Tribe of Benjamin (Phil. 3:5)
Learned tentmaking (Acts 18:3)
Studied under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3)
Early Religion:
Hebrew and Pharisee (Phil. 3:5)
Persecuted Christians (Acts 8:1-3; Phil. 3:6)
Met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-8)
Filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized on the street called Straight (Acts 9:17, 18; 22:12-16)
Called to Missions:
Church at Antioch was instructed by the Holy Spirit to send out Paul to the work (Acts 13:1-3)
Carried the gospel to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:7-10)
Spoke up for the church at Antioch at the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-4, 12)
Opposed Peter (Gal. 2:11-21)
Disputed with Barnabas about John Mark (Acts 15:36-41)
Three extended missionary journeys (Acts 13-20)
Founded numerous churches in Asia Minor, Greece and possibly Spain (Rom. 15:24, 28)
Wrote letters to numerous churches and various individuals which now make up one-fourth of our New Testament
End of Life:
Following arrest in Jerusalem, was sent to Rome (Acts 21:27; 28:16-31)
According to Christian tradition, released from prison allowing further missionary work; rearrested, imprisoned again in Rome, and beheaded outside of the city.
New Geneva study Bible. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.) (Hch 28.3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Survey of the Thirteen Epistles of Paul

No. of Chapters
Place Written
Date Written
The Righteousness of God
Winter 57
Beloved of God in Rome, called to be saints (1:10)
1 Corinthians
Solving Divisions and Disorders
Church of God at Corinth, those sanctified in Christ Jesus (1:2)
2 Corinthians
The Ministry of Reconciliation
Church of God at Corinth with all the saints in Achaia (1:1)
Freedom in Christ
Antioch (?)
48–49 or 55–57
Churches of Galatia (1:2)
The Church: The Body of Christ
Saints of Ephesus, faithful in Christ Jesus (1:1)
Joyful Christian Living
Saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi with the bishops and deacons (1:1)
The Cosmic Christ
Saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colosse (1:2)
1 Thessalonians
The Coming of Christ
Church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1)
2 Thessalonians
The Day of the Lord
Church of the Thessalonians in god our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1)
1 Timothy
Pastoral Advice
Macedonia (?)
Timothy, a true son in the faith (1:2)
2 Timothy
A Farewell Word of Encouragement
Rome 66–67
Timothy, a beloved son (1:2)
A Christian Conduct Manual
Macedonia (?)
Titus, a true son in our common faith (1:4)
Receiving a slave as a Brother
Philemon, our beloved friend and fellow laborer (1:1)
New Geneva study Bible. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.) (Hch 28.30). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Missionaries of the New Testament and their journeys

 NameJourney's Purpose  Scripture Reference in Acts
 Philip  One of the first to preach the gospel outside Jerusalem  8:4-40
 Peter and John Visited new Samaritan believers to encourage them 8:14-25
 Paul (journey) to Damascus Set out to capture Christians but was captured by Christ 9:1-25
 Peter Let by God to one of the first Gentile families to become Christians - Cornelius's family 9:32-10:48
 Barnabas  Went to Antioch as an encourager; traveled on to Tarsus to bring Paul back to Antioch; took famine relief to Jerusalem 11:25-30
 Barnabas and Paul, John Mark Left Antioch for Cyprus, Pamphylia, and Galtia on the first missionary journey  13:1-14:28
 Barnabas and John Mark Left Antioch for Cyprus after a disagreement with Paul 15:36-41
 Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke Left Antioch to revisit churches in Galatia; then traveled on to Asis, Macedonia, and Achaia on the second missionary journey  15:36-18:22
 Apollos  Left Alexandria for Ephesus; learned the complete gospel story from Priscilla and Aquila; preached in Athens and Corinth 18:24-28
 Paul, Timothy, Erastus Revisited churches in Galatia, Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia on the third major missionary journey   18:23

The Blueprint

  1. PETER’S MINISTRY (1:1-12:25)

  1. Establishment of the church

  2. Expansion of the church

After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter preached boldly and performed many miracles. Peter’s actions demonstrate vividly the source and effects of Christians 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. PAUL’S MINISTRY (13:1-28:31)

  1. First missionary journey

  2. The council at Jerusalem

  3. Second missionary journey

  4. Third missionary journey

  5. Paul on trial

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.   

The First Church Conference

As long as most of the Christians were Jewish, there was little difficulty in welcoming new believers; however, Gentiles (non-Jews) began to accept Jesus' offer of salvation.  The evidence in their lives and the presence of God's Spirit in them showed that God was accepting them. Some of the early Christians believed that non-Jewish Christians needed to meet certain conditions before they could be worthy to accept Christ. The  issue could have destroyed the church, so a conference was called in Jerusalem, and the issue was formally settled there, although it continued to be a problem for many years followings. Above is an outline of the three points of view at the conference.     

 Group PositionReasons 
(some Jewish Christians)
  Gentiles must become Jewish first to be eligible for salvation
  1.  They were devout, practicing Jews who found it difficult to set aside a tradition of gaining merit with God by keeping the law.
  2. They thought grace was too easy for the Gentiles.
  3. They were afraid of seeming too non-Jewish in the practice of their new faith-which could lead to death. 
  4. The demans onm the Gentiles were a way of maintaning control and authority in the movement.        
 Gentile Christians Faith in Christ as Savior is the only requirement for salvation
  1.  To submint to Jewish demands would be to doubt that God had already done for them by grace aline. 
  2. They resisted exchanging their pagan rituals for a system of Jewish rituals-neither of wich had power to save. 
  3. They sought to obey Christ by baptism (rather than by circumcision) as a sign of their new faith. 
 Peter and James Faith is the only requirement, but there must be evidences of change by rejecting the old lifestyle 
  1.  They tried to distinguish between that was  true from God's Word versus what was just human tradition. 
  2. They had Christ's command to preach to all the world. 
  3. They wanted to preserve unity.
  4. They saw that Christianity could never survive as just a sect within Judaism.  

Acts Overview