ACTS OF APOSTLES

THE narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John 
are arguments designed to prove that Jesus is the 
Christ, the Son of God (John 20:30, 31). They sum- 
mon witnesses from all positions in life to testify to 
this fact. They prove His divinity by His fulfillment 
of Old Testament expectation, by His mighty miracles, 
by His perfect life and teaching, and by His miracu- 
lous conception and resurrection. There is a remark- 
able air of expectancy in the closing chapters of each 
of these narratives (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; 
Luke 24:45-49; John 16:7-13; 17:20, 21). In these 
various passages the Master points forward to the com- 
ing of the Holy Spirit, the endowment of the apostles 
with supernatural power, the beginning of the preach- 
ing of repentance and remission of sins at Jerusalem, 
and the subsequent ministry of the apostles. Hence, we 
are compelled to look beyond the last chapter of John's 
argument for the history of these promised events. We 
find this history in the Book of Acts — the only histori- 
cal book of the New Testament. In this discourse we 
are going to study this book as a whole, under five gen- 
eral sub-topics. 

1. Value. The Book of Acts could probably be called 
the most neglected book of the entire New Testament. 
Its plain, positive precepts and examples have long 
been overlooked by the religious world. It was due to 
the research of the pioneers of the Restoration move- 
ment that the teachings of this treatise were rescued 
from the backwoods of theology, and given their right- 
ful place in the New Testament canon. During the last 
century the Book of Acts has been given more and more 
consideration, until now it is regarded as one of the 
most valuable books of the entire Bible. "Were this book 
omitted we would find a deep chasm between the Gospel 
narratives, concluding with John, and the twenty-one 
letters of the apostles beginning with Romans. 

The Book of Acts bridges the chasm between the old 
and the new institutions. Jesus had fulfilled the old 
and laid the foundation for the new by His death, 
burial and resurrection. Pentecost is the high eminence 
from which we look back to the dawn of creation, and 
the very beginning of the unfolding of God's eternal 
purpose (Gen. 3:15; Eph. 3:8-12) ; or forward to the 
ultimate victory of the church over all enemies (Phil. 
2 : 9-11 ; Rev. 5 : 13 ; 21 : 1-3) . Hence, the Book of Acts 
occupies an important place in the story of God's plan 
for the salvation and redemption of man. 

2. Authorship. We have not the time to go into 
detail regarding this matter. Both the internal and 
external evidence point to Luke as the author. Recent 
research strongly confirms the antiquity and credibility 
of Acts. Destructive criticism can not even find a vul- 
nerable point in the stronghold of authenticity within 
which the document securely rests. Luke, the author 
of the book, was "the beloved physician," the travel- 
ing companion of Paul (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11; 
Philem. 24). 


3. Title. This book is erroneously styled "The Acts 
of the Apostles. " In reality, it is merely a divine 
record of some of the most important acts of some of 
the apostles, recorded as examples for all ages to fol- 
low. A more adequate title would be "The Acts of 
Peter and Paul." The fore part of the book, extending 
from chapter 1 to chapter 12 inclusive, is principally 
occupied with the acts of Peter in opening the door of 
the church to both Jews and Gentiles (Matt. 16:19; 
Acts 2 and 10). The latter portion of the book, from 
chapter 13 to the conclusion, is a record of Paul's 
ministry to the Gentiles. 

4. Theology. There are five fundamental lines of 
thought brought out by the apostles throughout the 
entire book, to which all others are secondary : 

a. That Jesus is the long-expected Messiah, which 
fact is proved partly by His fulfillment of Old Testa- 
ment expectation, and partly by His resurrection. 

b. That the Holy Spirit, who came on Pentecost, was 
the immediate source of revelation; under whose direct 
and divine guidance the apostles preached and acted. 

c. That the entire Jewish economy was fulfilled in 
the death of Christ; and superseded by the law of the 
Spirit on the day of Pentecost. 

d. That salvation through Christ is to be obtained 
by a spiritual process, known as conversion, in which 
there is a change of mind, a change of life, and a 
change of relationship on the part of the sinner, all of 
which are necessary to spiritual regeneration, or the 
new birth into the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). 
Hence, all who came into the church under the ministry 
of the apostles, came in only one way, by compliance 
with the specific law of restoration, which changed the 
old man of sin into a new creature in Jesus Christ 
(Acts 2:38; 8:12; Bom. 6:3-9, 17, 18; Gal. 3:27). 
This law of restoration included personal belief in the 
Sonship of Christ (faith) ; a complete surrender of the 
individual will to the will of Christ (repentance) ; and 
an outward act of obedience that served as the visible 
demonstration of the penitent disciple's faith that the 
working of that same power which raised the body of 
Jesus from corruption would likewise raise the indi- 
vidual soul from the grave ot sin, an inward cleansing 
symbolized by an outward burial in water, the symbol 
of purification, and resurrection therefrom (baptism). 
Hence Christianity is always spoken of as the "way," 
in the language of the apostles (Acts 18:26; 24:22). 
It is the way of peace and reconciliation with God. 

e. That the promises of the gospel — viz., remission 
of sins, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and eternal 
life — are to all those who comply with the terms of 
pardon, whether Gentile or Jew, as there is no racial 
distinction in Christ (Acts 10:34, 35; 11:18; Gal. 
3:28). 

5. Contents. The narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke 
and John record what Jesus "began to do (Acts 1:1; 
Heb. 2:3). Acts records the accomplishment of His 
work. The chief agent in the book is the ascended 
Christ, operating through the Spirit, with the chosen 
apostles as the direct media of communication with 
mankind. In this manner even greater works were 
performed than could have been performed while Christ 
was in the flesh (John 14:12) — spiritual works, such 
as the salvation of the human soul, which are infinitely 
greater than miracles of a material and temporal 
nature. The apostolic office was predestinated (Eph. 1: 
4, 5). " Their qualifications were supernatural, and 
their work, once performed, remains in the infallible 
record of the New Testament for the advantage of the 
church and the world in all future ages. They are the 
only authoritative teachers of Christian doctrine and 
law." — Eitto. The scope of the entire Book of Acts is 
stated in the first chapter, eighth verse. It includes the 
history of 

a. The church at Jerusalem (chaps. 1-7). For refer- 
ence turn to Isa. 2:3; Luke 24 : 45-49 ; Acts 1:4, 5. 
The ten days between the ascension and Pentecost, 
occupied by the coronation of Jesus as Lord of all (Ps. 
24:7-10). Jerusalem the place of beginning. The day 
of Pentecost, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The 
first conflicts with the Sanhedrin. Stephen's discourse 
and martyrdom. 

b. The church in Judea and Samaria (chaps. 8-12). 
The Jerusalem church, scattered by persecution, goes 
everywhere preaching the Word. Philip in Samaria. 
The conversion of the eunuch and of Saul of Tarsus. 
Peter's vision at Joppa, and the subsequent admission 
of the first Gentiles into the church, in the conversion 
of Cornelius and his household. The discussion at 
Jerusalem. 

c. The church of the world (chaps 13-28). The 
church at Antioch, the first missionary church, and the 
great Gentile church, sends out Paul and Barnabas to 
preach to the Gentiles. Paul's first missionary journey 
over Asia Minor (chaps. 13, 14). His second mission- 
ary journey (chaps. 15-18). He crosses the Hellespont 
and establishes churches in Macedonia and Greece, re- 
turning to Ephesus. His third missionary journey 
(chaps. 18-21). Paul in Jerusalem and in Caesarea 


(chaps. 21-27). The voyage to Eome (chaps. 27, 28). 
Paul in Eome. 

Thus we see that, within less than a century, the 
movement was launched that was destined to overcome 
the world. The Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost, 
A. D. 29. The apostles, endowed with power from on 
high, began to preach the gospel ; multitudes of hearers 
believed and obeyed the message ; the obedient believers 
were formed into local churches of Christ under the 
supervision of elders and deacons; these congregations 
had fellowship in temporal matters; the gospel spread 
over Asia Minor and the entire Mediterranean world; 
and in such manner the period of world-wide evangel- 
ism was begun. 

The Book of Acts gives us the account of the 
preaching of the apostles, the early conversions^ the 
establishment of churches, the activities of the churches, 
the missionary and evangelistic policy and program of 
the Holy Spirit. When we realize that the Book of 
Acts serves as the divine guide in all matters pertain- 
ing to the establishment, care and activities of all the 
churches of Christ, then we can appreciate the impor- 
tance of the volume. A careful study of Acts is what 
we propose to give in this book of outlines, a study so 
arranged that it can be transmitted by ministers of the 
gospel to the churches which they serve, so that the 
entire body of Christ may be uplifted and edified.