Encountering the New Testament, 4th Edition

A Historical and Theological Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies


14. Acts 1–7

Chapter Intro Video

Chapter Objectives

  • Identify the author and purpose of the book of Acts
  • Explain why the book of Acts is important
  • Suggest practical guidelines for studying Acts
  • Outline the content of Acts 1–7
  • Identify Jesus’s legacy as found in Acts 1
  • Discuss the first Christian Pentecost
  • Illustrate three major themes in Acts 3–7
  • Identify the two major divisions in Acts

Chapter Summary

  1. The book of Acts was written by Luke probably no later than the early AD 60s.

  2. Acts is distinguished by its historical value and its theological insight.

  3. In Acts Luke narrates the development, discussion, and dissension surrounding the spread of the early preaching of Christ.

  4. There are two major divisions in Acts: (a) chapters 1–12 focus on the gospel’s spread in and around Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria; (b) chapters 13–28 focus on early witness to the ends of the earth.

  5. Acts is a historical narrative that focuses on Jesus’s followers rather than on Jesus’s deeds and teachings.

  6. Luke in Acts discusses Jesus’s legacy in his leaving his own personal testimony, in his leaving standing orders, and in the recounting of Jesus’s ascension.

  7. At Pentecost the unusual presence of the Holy Spirit involved the announcement of the gospel of Jesus the Messiah.

  8. Prominent features of early Christian life and its impact in the wake of Pentecost include (a) the centrality of the apostles’ teaching; (b) the development of fellowship; (c) a prevailing sense of awe; (d) sharing of material possessions; (e) meeting in the temple courts; (f) heartfelt praise of God; (g) the favor the apostles enjoyed with outsiders; and (h) the spiritual growth of believers.

  9. Miracles continued through the work of the apostles.

  10. The gospel’s power is seen in the intensity and consistency with which it was preached.

  11. Christians were persecuted in this period, and Stephen was the first known martyr.

Study Questions

  1. Which three statements from Luke 1:1–4 apply to Acts as well and help to explain what Acts contains?

  2. Briefly discuss Acts’ historical and theological significance.

  3. How can we determine which parts of Acts are descriptive and which are prescriptive?

  4. What is the primary theme of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2)? What is its relevance today?

  5. What is the connection between the miracles of the apostles and the message they preached?

  6. Describe the roles played by community and conflict in the early church.