An Overview of the New Testament
by Pastor Ron Beckham
The Book of Acts
Jesus told His people
to "Go into all the world and preach
the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
The Book of Acts is the story of those who took His commission
seriously and spread the news about Him throughout the Roman
This is the second
volume of a two-volume set by Dr. Luke, the man who accompanied
the Apostle Paul for many years. Luke identified himself
as an eyewitness of many of these events, by the "we"
sections of this Book, including 16:10-17, 20:5 to 21:18,
and 27:1 to 28:16. In Luke's Gospel, but instead he
was the careful investigative reporter who asked a lot of
questions (Luke 1:1-4). He asked the eyewitnesses.
Much the same process occurred in the early Chapters of
the Book of Acts. In the first Chapters, Luke wrote
what he was told by those who were there. The remainder
of the Book is largely what he saw and heard, either from
his memory or from a journal he kept while on his journeys
in the 20th Century confirm the accuracy of Dr. Luke's writings,
and establish the likelihood that the Book was written at
or around 62 A.D. Luke's use of titles for Procurators,
Consuls, Praetors, Politarchs, Asiarchs and others, was
correct for the times and localities about which he wrote.
This is remarkable, because usage of the terms was in a
constant state of flux, due to the ever-changing political
status of the places involved.
Many have been concerned
at the abrupt ending of the Book, which surprisingly does
not report the end of Paul's trial, occurring at about the
same time. Why didn't he mention the outcome, since
Paul was a central figure, not only in this Book, but also
in Luke's life? Acts makes no mention of the persecution
under Nero (64 A.D.), Paul's death (66 A.D.) or the destruction
of Jerusalem (70 A.D.), which suggests that the events had
not yet occurred.
Everything in this
Book reveals Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, and
also shows that receiving the Gospel (good news) leads to
being given the same Holy Spirit that led Jesus during His
time on earth. You, the believer, are enabled to do
the work of God for those in this world. The pivotal
section of this Book is Chapter Two, describing the Day
of Pentecost, when the power of the Holy Spirit was poured
out on those who trust in the Son of God.
Luke dedicated both
his Gospel and this Book to Theophilus, and both introductions
are written in Classical Greek, rather than the Greek that
was in common usage at the time these Books were written.
Vocabulary and style are very similar throughout the two
Books (Luke and Acts).
Dr. Luke begins
the Book of Acts where the Gospel of Luke ends, and you
can divide this Book into three great sections: 1:1
to 8:4 - (the church in Jerusalem). 8:5 to 12:25 (the
church in Judea and Samaria). Chapters 13 to 28 begins
the taking of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
The focus of the Book changes from Peter to Paul in Chapter
13, and Antioch in Syria gradually replaces Jerusalem as
the central place of the church.
You are encouraged
to test yourself after the completion of “The Book of Acts”,
using an essay (written) format. The next section
in this study is entitled “Questions” and it is suggested
that you may 1) answer one or more of the questions in that
section, and 2) send your answers to
If you would like, your answers will
be “graded” and responses given.
There are excellent websites where
you may visit and copy or print the writings of some truly
remarkable theologians from past centuries. A good,
simple to use “search engine” for that purpose is “Google,”
where you can enter words like “Bible Commentaries” to search
for some really great Bible commentaries from the past,
including the following suggested locations:
Matthew Henry, who wrote about 250
years ago (“Matthew Henry’s Commentary”), is strongly recommended,
along with others of that time, such as John Calvin, John
Wesley, and John Gill. You will find wonderful material
in those writings. Also recommended is Dr. J. Vernon
McGee (but there may be a small charge for his materials).
- Why did Jesus leave the
earth before the Holy Spirit was given to the church?
- What does it mean that
the Holy Spirit gives "power" to God's people?
- What do you make of the
switch from the ministry of Peter in the early Chapters
of Acts, to the ministry of Paul, in later Chapters?
- What is "tongues" and
what does "tongues" mean to you?
- What are other "gifts
of the Holy Spirit" found in the Book of Acts and what
do they mean to you?
- What is the evidence of
the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" in the life of a believer?
- Why did believers in Jerusalem
have "all things in common"? Did God lead them
to do that? Why?/Why not?
- Did the man born lame
in Chapter 3 have faith to be healed? If not,
why was he healed?
- Did the believers in Acts
4:31 & context receive the Holy Spirit an additional
time? What does this verse mean to you?
- What was the precise sin
of Ananias & Sapphira, in Acts Chapter 5? Do you
see that sin in the world and in the church today?
- To be a deacon - is that
a gift of the Holy Spirit? (Chapter 5). Are deacons
needed today? Discuss.
- What kind of man was Saul
/ Paul, before his conversion? Did God overrule
Saul's free choice in saving him?
- What is the meaning of
the "great sheet" in Acts 10?
- Why do you think the Lord allowed
the death of James (Chapter 12)?
- Why did the Spirit let Paul
and others remain for a long time in some places, but
barely touch others?
- Are the laws for Gentiles in
Acts 15:20 (and context) binding on Gentiles today?
- Why was Timothy circumcised?
(Acts 16:1 & forward)
- How do we rejoice in difficult
situations, as Paul and Silas did in Acts 16:25 & forward?
- Should we be more like the
Bereans? (17:11) In what way?
- Should Apollos have publicly
taught before he received the way of God more accurately?
(18:26 & context) Why? / Why not?
- How is it that handkerchiefs
or aprons from Paul's body could heal people?
(19:12 & context) Can things like that happen
- Was Paul right in going to
Jerusalem, even though so many told him to not go? (21:1
& context) Discuss.
- Did Paul become depressed?
- Why all the trouble & shipwreck
on Paul's journey to Rome? Could the journey have
happened another way? Discuss.
- Why does the Book of Acts end
in the Book of Acts is to read the whole of that Book, with
the above Questions
in mind. Always remain in prayer when you read Scripture,
trusting in the following verse: “Until
now, you have asked nothing in My Name. Ask, and you
will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
Go into the Internet at the places cited, and read from
the theologians offered, especially
Matthew Henry (and you can find
his excellent writings as “freeware” on the Internet).
The next New Believers
Study will be in the Book of Romans.
Write with any questions:
Pastor Ron Beckham