Together, our Bible Journal community has finished reading the four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – and tomorrow, we will begin reading the book of Acts. I’m looking forward to reading this book! The book of Acts was written between 60 and 62 AD by the apostle Luke, and it is a sequel to his gospel.
The book of Acts was written for three specific purposes. First, it describes how the early believers were blessed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Second, it records the birth of the church in Jerusalem. Finally, it tells the story of the spread of the gospel from the Jewish believers to the Gentile (non-Jewish) people in Rome and from there, past the borders of Europe and the Middle East to the world beyond.
We will read about several key people in the book of Acts. Some of them will be familiar to us from our reading of the gospels; others we are introduced to for the very first time in this book. We will read of the apostle Peter’s incredible sermon on the day of Pentecost, when those listening received the Holy Spirit. Peter’s powerful sermon resulted in 3000 people choosing to follow Christ! Later in this book, we will listen to Peter preach to the Gentiles. We will read of Philip’s travel to Samaria where he taught the people there about Jesus; many of these people were not Jewish. And we will read of the apostle Stephen and his incredible display of courage and forgiveness when he was faced with martyrdom.
It is in the book of Acts that we first read about Saul. A brutal persecutor of Christians, Saul attended Stephen’s stoning. However, after a remarkable encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, he dedicated his life to Christ and began telling people how the course of his entire life had been altered because of Him. We will learn that Saul changed his name to Paul, a Greek name, to better connect with the Gentile population, and we will travel with him on his three missionary journeys that ended with his house arrest in Rome. Luke traveled with Paul during these trips, so what we read is a first-hand, eyewitness account. We will also read of Lydia, who after a conversation with Paul became the first convert in the Gentile region of Macedonia. She, along with her family, was changed forever by Paul’s obedience to Christ.
There are several other key people who we will meet in the pages of Acts, including John, James, Barnabas (he is one of my favorites – I love the story of his friendship with Paul), Silas and Apollos. We will learn that the term “Christian” was first coined during this time in history, and that this word was first used in the city of Antioch. What a full, rich book this is! I’m excited to begin this journey together as we seek to learn more about the spread of Christianity through the obedience of God’s people.