The Acts of the Apostles Overview

From Peter Kreeft’s You Can Understand the Bible:

Acts is a continuation of Luke’s Gospel (read Lk 1:1-4, then Acts 1:1). Just as the Gospel is the story of Christ, Acts is the story of the Body of Christ, the Church. Acts has been called “the Gospel of the Holy Spirit.” That’s why after Jesus’ ascension it begins with Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The first part of Acts tells the story of the Church in the East, in Jerusalem and Antioch. The storyline centers on Peter, the Apostle to the Jews. The second part tells of the Church in the Roman West and centers on Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Luke, the author, was Paul’s companion on his missionary journeys around the Roman world.

Acts tells the dramatic story of the early Church – a Church that was very poor in material wealth and power, but very rich in spiritual wealth (full of saints and martyrs) and power (miracles).

In Acts, Peter fulfills Jesus’ prophecy about his name. He becomes a real rock. He dares to say to the people who called for Jesus’ crucifixion – “You killed the Author of life” (3:15), but he adds, “I know that you acted in ignorance” (3:17). When commanded by the authorities to stop preaching the Gospel, he answered, “We must obey God rather than men” (5:29).

In chapters 6 and 7, we find the story of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Wherever Christianity is strong, there have always been martyrs. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” said Tertullian.

What happened in Acts 9 is crucial for the history of the Church and the world that it was about to convert and change. it is the conversion of Paul, the greatest Christian missionary of all time.

Acts 17 – How Christianity Went West – If the apostles had insisted on their owns plans instead of following the Holy Spirit, they would have gone East to Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) instead of West.

Acts is meant to be not dead, rusty history but a pattern for the Church in all times, including the present time.


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