Studies in Acts - Introduction
Before we study Acts, let’s try to get some idea what we think we’re letting ourselves in for. Without looking in the Bible, try to give your “first-thoughts” answer to the following four questions.
1. What do you think Acts is about?
2. What do you most hope to gain from studying Acts?
3. What do you think Christians in general, and Christian leaders in particular might gain from studying Acts? And
4. Given that people like to classify things, would you classify Acts as:
Now let’s try to give those questions and answers a little more background. We’ll start with What is Acts? Or What is Acts about? You’ll need your Bibles handy for these.
1. The book of Acts has been known in the past as “Acts of the Apostles” so let’s start by asking –
a. Who were the apostles? Can you name them without looking them up in the Bible? Where would you look for a definitive list of Apostles’ names? (Read Mark 3:13-19, Matthew 10:2-4, Luke 6:13-16, John 1:47-51, Acts 1:26, Galatians 1:19 Who are Thaddeus and Nathaniel?)
b. What’s the difference between an apostle and a disciple? (Read 1 Corinthians 4:1, 9:1, 12:28 Derivation: messenger and learner)
c. Could there still be apostles today? (Read Acts 14:14, Romans 16:7)
d. Without reading ahead, what acts do you think an apostle might do/have done? (Read 2 Corinthians 12:12, Ephesians 2:20, 4:11, 1 Timothy 2:7)
e. What would constitute a “false apostle”? (Read Revelation 2:2)
2. Some have called Acts the “Acts of the Spirit” instead.
a. How do you expect gifts of the Spirit relate to Acts? How do you expect them to relate to how your church runs, or should run its daily life? (Read 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, )
b. How do you expect fruits of the Spirit to relate to Acts? And again, what effect should they have on a church’s life and witness? (Read Galatians 5:22-23)
3. Still others have called it the “Acts of the Church” and used it as a template for Church order.
a. What questions do you have about church rules and regulations? How do you feel about different denominations with different rules/interpretations of rules?
b. Do you expect to find a perfect church in Acts? Do you expect to find answers to how churches ought to look? Or do you expect to find more questions?
c. Many churches have talked about getting back to basics—back to the church of Acts. How do you feel about that idea? Do you think we have strayed from our purpose? How might studying Acts bring us back, and what might it bring us back to? (Read 1 Corinthians 3:6)
Do we know who wrote Acts?
1. Why might we view Acts as a continuation of Luke? (Read Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:1-2)
2. Who is Theophilus? (Derivation: Godseeker)
3. Who is Luke? (Read Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 1:24)
4. Where did Luke get his information for Acts? (Read Acts 16:10–17; 20:5–15; 21:1–18; 27:1– 28)
5. Where did Luke get his information prior to Acts? Can you remember what’s different about Luke’s gospel compared with Matthew and Mark?
6. Is Luke an apostle?
7. Okay, and what about Judas? Is he an apostle? A false apostle? What do you think?(Read Revelation 21:14)
Do we know how Acts ended up in the Bible? Did Christians always believe we could learn something from reading it?
1. How do you imagine the book of Acts being used in the early church? In the 2nd century, the memoirs of the apostles were read on the day of the sun alongside works of the prophets, according to Justin Martyr.
2. How soon do you think the book of Acts was recognized as scripture? Some New Testament books were still considered debatable at the time of the Reformation!
3. Why do you think the book we know as Acts was accepted when, for example, The Acts of Andrew and Matthias, Acts of John, Acts of Paul and Thecla, Acts of Peter and Andrew, Acts of Peter and Paul, Acts of Philip, Acts of Thaddaeus, Acts of Thomas and Acts of Pilate were not?