Summary: A sermon from the first chapter of Acts from a chapter by chapter series on Acts.
A. Author and Date
1. Although the author is not named in the book we can gather from external evidences and from inferences of the book itself that Luke was the author.
2. The earliest of the external evidences appear in the Muratorian Canon (A.D. 170), where the explicit statement is made that Luke was the author of both the third Gospel and the “Acts of All the Apostles.”
3. Eusebius (A.D. 325) list information citing various sources that identify Luke as the author (Ecclesiastical History, 3.4).
4. Luke was born in Antioch of Syria and was taught in the science of medicine. Some late writers say he was also a prolific painter.
i. We know he was not born a Jew because Paul does not mention him among those of “the circumcision.”
ii. The date of his conversion is unknown but he joined Paul in Troas and journeyed with him into Macedonia.
5. Luke was a Gentile who had excellent training in Greek, knew the art of rhetoric, had superb research and compositional skills, was familiar with historic writings of Hellenistic tradition.
6. As to his death and age there is much uncertainty. He probably died as a martyr between 75 and A.D. 100.
7. William Ramsay, a notable archaeologist and Bible scholar, proved that the historical record of Acts is remarkably accurate regarding the specific practices, laws and customs of the period it purports to record; it is the work of contemporary eye-witnesses.
8. Luke’s Gospel is the first half of a single two-volume work (Luke-Acts), sharing purpose, themes, and theology with the book of Acts.
9. Two dates of the writing of this book are possible:
i. Between 70 and 80 A.D., which would have allowed Luke to use Mark in his Gospel.
ii. During Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome A.D. 64. This date is significant because it contains no allusions to events after Paul’s two-year imprisonment.
10. We are now embarking in a study of which we are eyewitnesses of this phenomenon, which is still present in the twenty-first century.
B. Theme, Purpose and Characteristic
1. In this book we see power exercised in the midst of persecution for it deals with a point in time of intense conflict. It is no wonder God says they will be filled with power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them, they would need it.
2. This book is significant as a historical account of the birth and growth of the Christian church.
i. Acts is not a comprehensive history of the church, but rather a focused history centering on the beginnings of the church and ministry of certain apostles.
3. You will also find embedded in this book a defense presented to both Jews (4:8-12) and Gentiles (25:8-11), with the underlying purpose of conversion to Christianity. It also shows how they coped with pagan thoughts.
i. Luke is underlying the fulfillment of Israel’s hope giving testimony of the fact that God’s salvation had arrived through the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. We will also see principles that are employed in certain situations that would arise in a newly formed church. He wanted to legitimize the claims of the church as the authentic people of God in the present age.