1-2: Acts is Luke’s second book, written to document the events of the early church. Many of the events, people, and places give historical and theological context to the epistles. Verse 2 teaches that Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, gave commands and authority to the apostles.
3: After the resurrection, Jesus proved he was alive again to his disciples through "many proofs". This includes proving who he was (John 20:27-29, Acts 9:4-5) and proof from scripture that he was the messiah (Luke 24:25-27). He even spent 40 days with them. It’s likely that during this time the apostles (aside from Paul) received their post-resurrection theology that they passed on in the epistles.
4-8: Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit’s arrival was about to be fulfilled after his ascension (John 14:26). The apostles and all believers would receive power through the Holy Spirit to evangelize the people from all nations.
9-12: Jesus ascended into heaven bodily on the mount of olives. Two angels declared that he would one day return just as he ascended.
13-26: The apostles returned to the upper room where they ate the last supper and prayed with Jesus’ female followers. Since scripture prophesied that one would take Judas’ place, they cast lots (an Old Testament practice for determining God’s will) to figure out which nominated disciple should replace Judas and become an apostle. The lot landed on Mathias. Many bible teachers believe that the casting of lots was a legitimate way to determine the next apostle since the Holy Spirit came. However, it seems that Paul was Judas’ true replacement since Jesus directly appointed him.
1-4: The day of Pentecost was when the the Holy Spirit came as prophesied by Jesus (John 14:26). The Holy Spirits coming was unmistakable due to the wind and what looked like tongues of fire that rested on the disciples. When the Holy Spirit guided them, they spoke in tongues. This doesn’t mean they spoke a strange, unknown language. It means that they spoke in foreign languages that they hadn’t previously known (Acts 2:8). The purpose of this was to spread the Gospel to the world quickly.
5-12: The apostles began speaking to a large, diverse group of people in Jerusalem. As they spoke, each person heard them in their own language. This served the dual purpose of spreading the Gospel and showing a miraculous work to confirm that they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
13-21: Some mocked the apostles saying they were drunk. Peter stood up with a defense, saying that their actions were due to the Holy Spirit, not drunkenness. He pointed out what the prophet Joel said about the coming of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). The only part of this prophecy that hasn’t been fulfilled is the cosmic signs in Acts 19-20. These will happen before Christ’s return at the end of the age.
22-23: Peter began explaining how the murder of Jesus and his resurrection were foretold by the prophets according to the plan of God the Father. The people listening were aware of Jesus’ signs and wonders.
24: Since Jesus is both God and man, he was able to die physically, but it wasn’t possible for him to stay dead. Jesus is our high priest with "the power of an indestructible life" (Hebrews 7:15-16). This makes him uniquely qualified to absorb God’s wrath on our behalf.
25-31: David poetically prophesied that Jesus ("your Holy One"), wouldn’t stay in the grave.
32-33: Jesus was raised from the dead and now sits in a position of authority at the right hand of God. He received the Holy Spirit from Father and gave the Spirit to the apostles, along with all who would trust in Him.
34-37: Peter boldly pointed out that the people listening to him were guilty of crucifying Jesus, who God gave the authority to judge the world. Making Jesus’ enemies a "footstool" is a way of saying judgment would be carried out. Many in the crowd were the very people who chanted "crucify him" to Pilot in Luke 23:20-21. They were convicted and their response was deep sorrow for what they had done. This lead them to ask the apostles what to do.
38-39: When we’re "baptized in the name of Christ", it first requires that we repent and believe Jesus paid the full penalty for our sins when he died. This is apparent because of what baptism represents: Just as Jesus died and rose again, we symbolically submerged to identify with his death, and rise out of the water identifying with his resurrection and the newness of life. This is why his instructions were to "repent and be baptized". I also believe that he elaborated on what it means to repent and believe on Jesus, since the next verse says he "bore witness to them with many other words."
40-41: Peter continued preaching and 3,000 people put their trust in Christ. This was a turning point in the rapid spread of Christianity.
42-47: These new converts to Christianity had a strong community of fellowship with one another and obedeyed to the disciples. The Apostles performed many miracles, and the believers took care of each other’s material needs. It was a period of great growth in the church. It’s also worth pointing out that God was the one adding to their number, not their own efforts.
1-12: The crippled beggar asked for money, but instead received the greater gift of being miraculously healed. His response was to praise God and give him the glory. Jesus gave the apostles the ability to perform miracles in His name (Mark 16:19-20) to affirm the message of the Gospel in the early church.
13-16: Peter addressed his Jewish audience by pointing out the evil they had done in condemning Jesus to death. By rejecting Jesus, they rejected the God of their heritage (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), killing the very author of life. Peter’s message was confirmed by the miracle of crippled man healed in Jesus’ name.
17-21: Despite the severity of their sin, the people who condemned Jesus to death were offered eternal life through repentance and faith Jesus. In order to be forgiven of our sins, we must acknowledge our wickedness by repenting; turning from our past sinful life and putting our faith in Christ to be forgiven. This is not a general faith in Jesus’ existence, but a specific trust that he completely paid for our sins on the cross (Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 10:10, Ephesians 2:8). The phrase "Heaven must receive..." is a way to say his sacrifice had to be accepted since he was perfect, holy, and indestructible.
22-24: To affirm Jesus’ authority, Peter also appealed to the Old Testament prophets who foretold Jesus’ coming. Jesus is the prophet similar to Moses in the sense that he mediates between God and man. Everyone who rejects Jesus will be destroyed in the final judgment (Matthew 25:41-46).
25-26: He pointed out that prophecy was being fulfilled as he spoke. Jesus was the blessing to all nations promised through Abraham (Genesis 22:18), and salvation would come to the Jews first in the from of Peter’s ministry (Romans 1:16).
1-4: The Sadducees were a sect of Jewish religious leaders who rejected Christ as messiah and differed in theology from the Pharisees. Despite the apostle’s arrest, about 5,000 people converted to Christianity because of Peter’s message.
5-10: During Jesus’ trial Peter denied Christ out of fear, but when interrogated after seeing the risen Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, he boldly proclaimed the power and resurrection of Jesus.
11-12: Peter quoted Psalm 118:22 to point out that the one they rejected is the Messiah, and that Jesus is the only way a person can be saved from judgment.
13-14: The Sadducees were astonished that the apostles had such articulate and cohesive theology despite being uneducated men. It was obvious that their teaching came from Jesus. The existence of the healed man left them without an argument in opposing the apostles’ teaching.
15-22: The Sadducees tried silencing the apostles by commanding they never speak in Jesus’ name, but Peter was faithful and refused to obey their orders. He stood boldly for Christ even when threatened. The apostles were protected by the Sadducees’ fear of the crowd, who praised God for the healing.
23-31: Immediately after their release, the Apostles met with fellow believers to pray for boldness in preaching God’s word. They prayed Psalm 2:1-2, which describes how the world vehemently opposes God and his followers. But just as the rest of Psalm 2 implies, they acknowledge that God sovereignly planned even Jesus’ crucifixion to take place. God is in absolute control of the universe so we have nothing to fear. When the apostles prayed, the place shook and they became filled with the Holy Spirit.
32-37: The early church enjoyed a brief time of near perfect unity. They focused on Christ and loved one another by sharing their material possessions. However this period didn’t last long because of the corrupt nature of mankind. Some have tried saying this is condoning a form of socialism, but it’s not. Unlike state imposed socialism and communism, which uses force, the early Christians freely and willingly gave their possessions and property to be shared.
1-11: Ananias and Sapphira may have envied the respect Barnabas received for his generous gift. They sold their property and told everyone that they gave away all the money, but secretly kept some back for themselves. No one forced them to sell their land, and it would’ve been fine for them to keep as much of their own money as they wanted. The problem was with their corrupt motives in lying to seem more righteous. Their penalty may seem harsh to us, but it’s only because we’ve taken God’s grace for granted. The penalty for every sin is death (Romans 3:23), but God graciously spares us and gives us time to repent and receive forgiveness through Jesus (2 Peter 3:9). The obvious question is: "why didn’t God extend his grace to Ananias and Sapphira?". I believe it’s because this was at a pivotal time in church history, and God couldn’t allow this level of corruption at the beginning in order for the church to grow.
12-16: God gave the apostles the ability to perform "signs and wonders" regularly. It was necessary to confirm their message so the church could grow quickly and reach the world. The apostles followed Jesus’ example and healed all that came to him. They were held in such high regard that people even brought the sick to them in order so Peter’s shadow might heal them. This communicates their desperation and faith, but it was never promoted and there’s nothing in the text that says his shadow touching them did heal them. All it says is that they were all healed.
17-26: The high priest and Sadducees craved attention as "spiritual leaders", so they were jealous when crowds held the apostles in high regard. They tried silencing them with imprisonment, but an angel from God let them free. However, their freedom was to be used to preach the Gospel ("the words of this Life" Acts 5:20). The guards found them preaching in the temple and brought them back to the religious leaders.
27-92: The disciples remained faithful in preaching the Gospel even though the authorities commanded them to stop. Whenever man or government commands us to disobey God, we must remain faithful to the higher authority: God.
30-32: Peter boldly affirmed that he was accusing them of killing Jesus. However, he pointed out that they still had hope since God raised Jesus and sovereignly granted Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. Though the offer of salvation is to Gentiles as well, Peter geared his statements to them.
33-40: Gamaliel suggested that they leave the Christians alone. He believed their message would inevitably fade away as other cults from the past had. But if their message truly was from God, nothing could stop it and the Pharisees would be in the absurd position of opposing God himself. They agreed with Gamaliel, yet still beat the apostles and told them not to preach Jesus’ name.
41-42: The apostles gladly accepted persecution because it showed that their faith was genuine and they were identified with their master. The abuse and threats didn’t stop them from preaching the Gospel every day in public.
1-7: As the Christian community grew, the system of redistributing material things (Acts 2:44-45)
became harder to manage and was no longer being distributed fairly. When the Hellenists complained, the apostles realized that they didn’t have time to manage the system and continue to advance the Gospel and God’s word. Their solution was to appoint godly, honest men to make sure the distribution was fair. As a result, it freed up time for the apostles and many received Christ, including Priests.
8-15: Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and performed signs (miracles) to confirm his Gospel message. Groups opposed to his message conspired against him by getting false witnesses to testify against him. Since Stephen was blameless, they twisted his message by saying Jesus would destroy the temple and change the customs of Moses. This is undoubtedly connected to Jesus’ statement about them destroying his body, which he referred to as a temple, and rising again (John 2:19). Their charge of "changing the laws that Moses delivered" was probably related to Jesus’ statements about fulfilling the law (Matthew 5:17), and his debates with the Pharisees about the Sabbath. His face being "like the face of an angel" was probably a sign to confirm his message. It’s not clear exactly what this means.
1-53: When Stephen was given a chance to respond, he gave an overview of Jewish history from Abraham, to Moses, to the temple. He affirmed their common ground until verse 48, where he veers off to rebuke them. He demonstrated from Isaiah 66:1-2 that God is greater than the temple system. It was a temporary solution to the problem of sin until Christ came to abolish sin, and the Holy Spirit could dwell in believers after the resurrection. He then rebuked them for killing Jesus as their ancestors killed the prophets.
54-58: This enraged them so they charged him and dragged him out of the city and stoned him. During this process he had a vision and saw Jesus at the right hand of God. His description of what he saw would’ve been blasphemous to them. As they stoned him, Saul watched their cloaks. This is the apostle Paul, a zealous Pharisee who would later be miraculously converted on the road to Damascus.
59-60: Stephen followed Jesus’ example of loving those who persecuted him, asking God not to hold their sin against them (Luke 23:34, Matthew 5:44). As difficult as it is to love our enemies, all Christians should follow his example of genuine love and pray that our enemies be saved from God’s wrath.
1-3: The church in Jerusalem was being persecuted by the Jewish religious leaders, including Saul. He likely imprisoned them for the same charges Stephen was accused of. This caused believers to flee throughout Judea (the mountainous region of southern Israel).
4-8: God utilized the acts of sinful men (persecution) to scatter the saints and spread the Gospel. Philip simply proclaimed the Christ and confirmed his message with miracles.
9-13: Simon was an illusionist performing tricks the way magicians do today. When he saw real signs and miracles performed by Philip, he realized it was different and was amazed. His deceived following heard the Gospel and instead followed Christ through Philip’s teaching.
14-17: This passage is difficult to understand since in other passages of scripture we receive the Holy Spirit when we put our trust in Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14). Many Bible commentators believe that during this transitional period between old and new covenant, it was necessary for the Apostles to unify the church. Since Samaritan’s and Jews despised each other, the apostles themselves came to verify that the samaritans were true converts. They did this through prayer and the laying on of hands, which allowed them to receive the Holy Spirit. A similar thing happened in Acts 10:44-45 when the gentiles received the Holy Spirit. Verse 45 records the reaction of the Jews who were amazed that the Holy Spirit was also poured out on the gentiles. This powerful confirmation was necessary to avoid schism in the early church.
18-24: Simon saw the laying on of hands as some sort of "magic power" that could be bought. He missed the point that the Holy Spirit was a gift of grace from God, and that the apostles were merely God’s servants. Peter’s rebuke and call for repentance revealed that although Simon believed at some level, we was still firmly under the bondage of sin. He seems to have been enamored by the miracles but didn’t understand the Gospel. In verse 24 Simon showed fear of God’s wrath, but we don’t know if he ever repented.
25-35: The Ethiopian eunuch was a powerful and wealthy man who was genuinely seeking God. God divinely appointed Philip to explain the Gospel to him so he could know God. The question is often raised about the souls of people in remote areas of the world who have never heard the Gospel. This is an example of how God sovereignly brings the Gospel to anyone who genuinely seeks him. Just the same, if a person in a remote tribe isolated from the world seeks God, the message will get to them in some way (Hebrews 11:6, James 4:6-8). Philip shared the Gospel, starting with the text from Isaiah that the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading. The text is about Jesus going to through the crucifixion as a lamb to the slaughter.
36-38: When the eunuch understood the Gospel and received Christ, he wanted to be baptized. Baptism is an outward sign to the world that we identify with Christ and have received his grace. It’s also a symbol of His death and resurrection.
39-40: After Phillip’s work there was done, the Holy Spirit led him to preach the Gospel in other towns. Phillip was God’s obedient instrument to bring the Gospel to those seeking other areas.
1-2: Saul was so vehemently against Christianity that he got a warrant (letters) to arrest Christians who went to the synagogues. "The Way" was another name for Christianity at that time.
3-9: On Saul’s journey to arrest Christians in Damascus, Jesus intervened and convicted Paul for persecuting believers. Since believers are united with Jesus, it’s as if Saul was persecuting Jesus himself (Matthew 25:40, John 14:20). That’s why Jesus presented himself as the persecuted in Acts 9:4-6.
10-14: God gave both Paul and Ananias visions so they could meet in Damascus to restore Paul’s sight and integrate him into the church. Ananias’ hesitation to obey a direct vision from God makes it evident that these miraculous events were necessary for the church to trust Paul. Without it, they would think he faked a conversion to catch them.
15-16: While Peter’s primary mission was to preach the Gospel to the Jews, Paul’s was to reach the gentiles. His life would be full of suffering for Christ up until the day he died. However, he faithfully persevered and served God with his life.
17-19: Despite Ananias’ doubts about Paul, he obeyed God by healing him. Then Paul put his faith in Christ, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and was baptized.
20-25: Paul immediately proclaimed the gospel in the synagogue to his fellow Jews. They knew his past and were amazed that he converted to the faith he tried to destroy. Jewish authorities to want to kill him in order to stop his message from spreading. They guarded the gate so he couldn’t leave, but he was lowered over the gate in a basket by the disciples.
26-31: When Paul went to Jerusalem, Barnabas had to convince the apostles that he was a true convert to Christianity. Paul continued to preach the Gospel and the Hellenists wanted to kill him. The apostles then sent him off to Tarsus, and the church then had a time of peace and growth.
32-43: Peter performed two miracles that confirmed his Gospel message, causing many in the towns of Lydda, Sharon, and Joppa to trust in Jesus.
1-33: God used supernatural events to ensure that the Gentiles could hear the good news of the Gospel. The angel connected the Gentile centurion with Peter, who received a vision from God. In Peter’s vision, God told him to eat animals that were forbidden in the old covenant purity laws. The purpose fo these laws were to separate the Jews (God’s chosen people) from the gentile (pagan) nations, for the purpose of evangelism. It was necessary to draw this hard line so people who worshipped false Gods would that know the Jewish God was different from theirs. These laws are referred to in Ephesians 2;11-12 as the "dividing wall of hostility". However, when Christ came, he fulfilled the Mosaic law, making purity laws obsolete. He brought Jews and gentiles together through his sacrifice on the cross (Ephesians 2:13-22).
34-:35 Peter obeyed God’s calling and preached the Gospel to the gentiles who gathered in the centurion’s house. He affirmed that God doesn’t accept people based on their nationality, but on wether or not they seek Him. We know from the rest of the verses in this chapter that ‘doing what is right and acceptable’ doesn’t mean working your way to heaven. Peter was clear that people receive forgiveness of sins through Jesus.
36-43: Peter gave an account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. He pointed out that Jesus will judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42), and that we receive forgiveness of our sins through belief in him (Acts 10:43).
44-46: The Holy Spirit filled the gentiles in a dramatic way to demonstrate that the "dividing wall of hostility" was no longer in place. The purpose of signs and miracles such as in verse 46, were to affirm God’s message to in the early church. It was also important for Jews to see that Peter, the Jewish leader of the church welcomed the gentiles as God’s people when they received the Holy Spirit. In the next chapter, Peter retells this story to convince devout Jews that the gentiles have been accepted by God.
47-48: After the gentiles believed in Christ and received the Holy Spirit, they were baptized.
1-15: The devout Jews know as "the circumcision party" criticized Peter for associating with the gentiles, who were deemed "unclean" by the purity laws of the old covenant. Peter responded by telling the story of his vision, the miracle of the Holy Spirit, and the gentiles’ conversions. In his retelling he gave additional detail, such as hearing the voice from heaven 3 times (Acts 11:7-10).
16: When Peter witnessed the gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit, he remembered that Jesus said this would happen (Acts 1:5). John the Baptist also mentioned it in Matthew 3:11. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is when we receive the Spirit and he dwells in us, after putting our trust in Christ.
17-18: Peter’s concluded that he wasn’t in a place to stop the gentiles from receiving salvation when God clearly gave them the Holy Spirit. His story convinced the Jews and they glorified God for saving the gentiles.
19-24: After the death of Stephen, Christians were being persecuted more heavily. God used the evil motives of the persecutors to spread believers geographically so the Gospel could spread to the nations. Many of them only preached the Gospel to Jews because they didn’t understand the implications of Jesus’ death in fulfilling the old covenant system. However, many Jews and Hellenists turned to God when hearing their message. When Barnabas (a good man full of the Holy Spirit) heard about this, he came to Antioch to encourage and disciple them.
25-26: Barnabas went to Tarsus, found Paul, and brought him back to Antioch, where they pastored the church there for an entire year.
27-30: When the prophet Agibus foretold a famine, the church in Antioch was faithful and graciously sent aid to their Christian brothers and sisters in Judea.
1-19: After James was martyred and persecution increased even more, Herod arrested Peter. The church fervently prayed for Peter and their prayer was answered. An angel freed him from the prison and he safely made it back to Mary’s house, where many believers were praying for him.
20-23: In a unique situation similar to Ananias and Saphira, Herod was struck down for sinning against God. In this case, he was guilty of blasphemy for accepting the worship of the crowd.
24-25: God’s word continued to increase. It’s possible that the miraculous escape of Peter and death of Herod contributed to people believing. Meanwhile, Paul and Barnabas returned from Jerusalem, bringing John-Mark.
1-5: While in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were called into ministry. The church sent them off and the Holy Spirit led them to Salamis to share the Gospel in the synagogue.
6-12: The proconsul was seeking God so he summoned and Paul and Barnabas’ to hear them speak God’s word. His false prophet Bar-Jesus was miraculously blinded for his opposition. This sign confirmed the apostles message and the proconsul believed.
13-41: Paul and Barnabas moved on to Antioch in Pisidia and went to the synagogue. The rulers of the synagogues asked for a word fo encouragement for the people, so paul encouraged them to repent with a warning message. He gave a quick summary of Israel’s history from their wandering in the wilderness to the coming of Christ. He pointed out that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to the patriarchs through the line of David. He then ended his message with a warning not to reject Jesus.
42-43; Paul’s message had an impact on those who heard it. They wanted to hear more the next sabbath, and many Jews followed them.
44-47: When the city gathered on the next sabbath to hear Paul preach, the Jewish leaders opposed his message out of jealousy. Barnabas boldly rebuked them and laid out the ministry plans God gave them. After bringing the gospel to the Jews, they were to spread it throughout the Gentile world.
48-49: The gentiles in their midst rejoiced and many received Christ. They were all "appointed to eternal life"; meaning that God sovereignly predestined them to believe (Romans 9:16-18).
50-52: When the religious leaders began persecuting Paul and Barnabas, they fled to Iconium. The phrase "shook off the dust from their feet" is a colloquialism to say they were done with that city and preaching to it’s people. Even though they were persecuted, they were filled with joy because they were doing God’s will.
1-8: Paul and Barnabas preached in Iconium, and many Jews and gentiles believed. The religious leaders stirred up division, but Paul and Barnabas kept preaching for a long time. God allowed the apostles to confirm their message with signs and miracles. But when their life was in danger, Paul and Barnabas fled to preach the gospel in other towns.
8-18: After healing a crippled man in Lystra, the pagan crowds marveled and thought Paul and Barnabas were Greek pagan gods. They dramatically corrected the crowd by tearing their garments (a sign of mourning), and appropriately gave all glory to God. They commanded them to repent of their idols and turn to the one true God who made all things. Verse 16 is speaking of the gentile, pagan nations who worshipped false gods. He allowed them to continue in their rebellion, yet still provided for them. At that time, God only spoke through the Jewish nation, who were supposed to evangelize the gentiles. Now he directly saves people of all nations, without having to go through the Jewish nation.
19-21: Paul survived being stoned by the Jews who rejected his message in Antioch and Iconium. However, it didn’t stop him from moving on to other cities and preaching the gospel and making disciples.
22-23: His message to the disciples was that they would face many hard times in their Christian walk ("entering the kingdom of God"). They also established the church there by appointing leaders.
24-28: After their missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch and reported all that God had done through them in preaching to the gentiles.
1-5: Some Jewish believers in Antioch claimed that gentiles had to obey the Old Testament law of circumcision in order to be saved. They hung on to aspects of the Mosaic Law even though Jesus completely fulfilled it. Paul and Barnabas opposed this because it contradicted the Gospel, that we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus. They went to Jerusalem to take the case before the other apostles and were met with more opposition from the Pharisees there.
6-11: Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and James all responded to the Jews’ claim that gentiles had to be circumcised to be saved. Peter’s response was that God used him to preach the gospel to the gentiles and gave them the Holy Spirit. This demonstrated that God makes no distinctions based on their circumcision. Peter pointed out that this is placing a yoke of slavery on them that no one can bear (the Mosaic law), and that the only way to be saved is through the grace of Jesus.
12: When Peter finished, Paul and Barnabas made their case by telling the Pharisees about the signs and miracles God performed to save the Gentiles. One of these miracles was the gentiles being filled with the Holy Spirit. This was a visible sign that they too bore the seal of salvation (Ephesians 1:13).
13-21: James affirmed Peter’s inclusion of the Gentiles with scripture. Although God chose to reveal himself through the Jewish nation, there was always room for the Gentiles, even in the old covenant. The difference is that they no longer have to convert to Judaism through Mosaic laws such as circumcision since Jesus fulfilled the Law. James’s conclusion was that they shouldn’t put unnecessary burdens on the Gentiles. The only burden they were to bear was distancing themselves from idolatry by obeying certain Jewish laws. Since pagan rituals were so prevalent at that time, distancing themselves from idolatry meant avoiding things polluted by idols such as meat sacrificed to idols, strangled sacrifices, and blood. Although there’s technically nothing wrong with eating the sacrificed meat sold in marketplaces at the time, they were to avoid it in order to not offend the conscience of Jewish Christians (1 Corinthians 8:4-9). Although sexual immorality was an obvious thing to avoid, he was speaking primarily about the temple orgies and prostitution prevalent in the fertility cults of the day.
22-35: Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch with an authoritative and encouraging letter from the apostles. They also brought respected men of faith to affirm their message. The believers in Antioch were encouraged by the letter and it resolved the dispute.
36-41: Paul wanted Barnabas to come with him to check up on all the churches they planted, but Barnabas didn’t want to go without John Mark. Since Paul didn’t trust John Mark and didn’t want him to go, the two couldn’t come to an agreement and parted ways. However, this didn’t stop Paul from continuing his mission and strengthening the churches that he established.
1: Paul met Timothy in Lystra. Timothy lived in a spiritually divided household: his mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. The term "Greek" was often used synonymously with gentile or pagan. Since the word is used as an antonym to "Jewish believer", we know that Timothy’s father was a gentile who rejected the Jewish/Christian God. This is confirmed in Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy that credits his mother and grandmother for having a "sincere faith" (2 Timothy 1:5) rather than his father.
2-5: Although circumcision was abrogated by the new covenant, it was necessary for Paul’s new ministry partner to be circumcised. Had he not, Timothy would’ve been associated with his father’s paganism, creating an unnecessary obstacle for unconverted Jews. It was the only way to get them to listen to him as a fellow Jew who claimed to know the messiah rather than an unconverted pagan preaching about false gods. This is what Paul meant when he said "I became all things to all people, that by all means I might save some." (1 Corinthians 9:22).
6-10: God’s will was that Paul preach to the people seeking Him in Macedonia. In order to make this happen, the Holy Spirit thwarted Paul’s plans to preach in other places. Although preaching in these other places would be a good thing, only God knew the best use of Paul’s time on earth. Sometimes God doesn’t allow us to do certain good things in order to sovereignly guide us in fulfilling his overarching plan. We can trust him even when we don’t understand what he’s doing.
11-15: They sailed to Philippi, which was a leading city fo Macedonia. They preached to some women who gathered by the river to pray. God opened Lydia’s heart to understand the Gospel and she received Christ. She was baptized along with her family, who also believed. This was the beginning of the very important church in Philippi. Paul later wrote the book of Philippians to them.
16-24: Paul cast a demon out of a girl who was enslaved by both demons and men. Since the men were profiting from her demonic power of divination, they riled up crowds and authorities to beat the apostles and put them in prison.
25-34: God used the evil intentions of the men who imprisoned the disciples to accomplish his will of saving the Philippian Jailer and further establishing the church there. He tried killing himself because he didn’t want to face the harsh penalties of the state for losing the prisoners. After hearing the gospel, he believed in Jesus and was saved. Paul knew that when the jailer received Christ his entire family would also respond after hearing his story and the Gospel. The jailer displayed his repentance by caring for those he imprisoned (Acts 16;34).
35-40: When the magistrates gave orders to free the prisoners, Paul didn’t want them to get away with the injustice of beating them and secretly letting them go the next day. He demanded justice by making their error public. Before leaving, he made one final visit with Lydia and the rest of the brothers there. He wanted to encourage the founders of the Philippian Church one last time before leaving.
1-4: In Thessalonica, Paul preached the Gospel in synagogues on the sabbath. He reasoned from the scriptures (Old Testament) that the messiah had to suffer and die for our sins before coming and establish his kingdom. He undoubtedly used verses such as Isaiah 53. Many Jews, gentiles (Greeks), and women were converted through his preaching.
5-9: Some of the Jews were jealous of Paul’s influence and took it out on Jason and others who were associated with the disciples. Their strategy was to distort Paul’s teaching and present Jesus as a political rival to Caesar. This was the same tactic they used against Jesus himself.
10-15: The Berean Jews were noble students of scripture and were convinced after checking all of Paul’s claims against scripture. However, the same hostile Jews that pursued him in Thessolonica came to Berea to stir up the crowds. Paul left for Athens, then sent for Timothy and Silas to meet him there.
16-25: Athens was a hub for paganism and philosophy where the Greeks enjoyed discussing the latest ideas. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul used their "altar to an unknown god" as a springboard to discuss the true God to a pagan audience. He pointed out that, unlike all the idols in the Areopagus, God doesn’t dwell in temples and wasn’t formed by human hands the way idols are. God created mankind; mankind didn’t create God.
26-28: Paul declared a deep philosophical truth that God strategically places people chronologically and geographically that they might seek him. For those who seek God, he will find a way for them to hear the Gospel even if they’re in the most remote area on earth.
29-34: Paul commanded the idolaters to repent of their idolatry. He warned that God has a fixed day of judgement. He then began describing Jesus; the appointed, righteous judge who gives assurance of salvation through his resurrection. Paul was cut off in the middle of his speech by scoffers when they heard of a man rising from the dead. Paul left, but some in the crowd joined Paul and believed.
1-3: When Paul came to Corinth, he worked with another tent maker named Aquila. This detail is significant because Aquila and his wife Priscilla received Christ and had a house church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:19) by the time Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian church.
4-11: As was his custom, Paul preached the gospel in the synagogue trying to convince the Jews that Jesus was the messiah. When he faced opposition, he switched his ministry focus to the gentiles. Many were converted through Paul’s preaching, including the ruler of the synagogue. God intervened and convinced Paul to stay and preach. He stayed in Corinth and spent a year and a half establishing the church there.
12-17: The Jews tried having their proconsul (Gallio) punish Paul for breaking Jewish law, but Gallio refused to since he didn’t care about their religious laws. It was unnecessary controversy for him. They settled for beating the current ruler of the synagogue— probably for letting Paul preach there.
18-23: On his way to Ephesus, Paul visited the churches he established in Philipi, Antioch, Galatia, and Phrygia.
24-28: Apollos was a knowledgable teacher, full of the Holy Spirit, who spoke boldly in the synagogues. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preach, they took him aside and corrected areas of his theology. Christians who observed Apollos debate Jews in public benefited from hearing his arguments that Jesus was the Christ (messiah). This gave them confidence in their views in the face of Jewish authorities posing arguments against Jesus.
1-5: Paul found disciples of John the Baptist when he arrived in Ephesus. They were Old Testament believers and didn’t know of the Gospel. Paul shared the Gospel with them by telling them to believe in Jesus. It’s worth noting that this is a shorthand summary of their conversation. When Paul told them to believe in Jesus, he undoubtedly taught them about their sin and how Jesus died to save them.
6-7: Paul placed his hand on them and they received the Holy Spirit with signs, in order to confirm their conversion to Christianity.
8-10: After 3 months of boldly preaching the gospel in the synagogue, Paul still faced opposition from stubborn unbelievers who spoke evil against the Way (Christianity). Paul took the disciples with him and instead spoke in Tyrannus’ lecture hall for 2 years. People heard the Gospel, received Christ, and spread the message throughout Asia Minor (modern day Turkey).
11-20: When the Seven sons of Skeva saw that God was doing great miracles through Paul, they tried casting out a demon by invoking the names of Jesus and Paul. However, God didn’t give them the authority to do this, and the possessed man attacked them. The demon recognized both Jesus and Paul’s authority, but not theirs. This event caused fear among the believers, and they repented of their occult practices by burning their valuable occult books. Their repentance lead to an increase in obedience to God’s word.
21-41: Demetrius was a silversmith who became wealthy by crafting idols of the goddess Artemis. He stirred up crowds of people with similar trades to oppose Christianity. He convinced them that it was a threat to their livelihood and to their goddess Artemis. They began rioting and dragged out Gaius and Aristarchus. However, the city clerk was able to calm them and convinced them to settle it through the court system, so they wouldn’t get charged for rioting.
1-6: Paul departed fro Macedonia. After several stops and spending 3 months in Greece, some Jews began plotting against him. This lead him to continue sailing and ended up in Troas.
7-12: They gathered with the believers there to eat (or take the Lord’s supper) in Sunday.’ Paul intended on leaving them the next day, so he preached until midnight. Eutychus fell asleep and fell from a 3rd story window. Everyone thought he was dead, but Paul confirmed that he was still alive. They spoke with Paul until morning.
13-16: Luke recorded a brief description of their sailing journeys and the places they ministered to.
17-27: This is Paul’s farewell speech to the elders in Ephesus. He was guided by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem and preach the Gospel. The spirit somehow showed him that he would suffer there. However, this didn’t stop Paul because his mission in life was to finish the work God gave him, even if it meant death.
28-31: He warned that false prophets would rise in their midst with twisted theology, leading their disciples astray. It was their job (and ours) to be alert to this and protect fellow believers from false doctrine.
32-38: Before leaving, he entrusted them to God and his word. He also pointed out that he never abused his role as minister for financial gain. Instead, he worked hard to carry his own weight and provide for others in need. He told them this as an example to follow and closed by quoting Jesus, that it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
1-16: During Paul’s journey to Jerusalem, several people were given glimpses by the Holy Spirit that he would face trouble and imprisonment, so they tried to convince him not to go. Although they received prophetic visions from the Spirit, they didn’t receive commands from Him. They didn’t want Paul to go and suffer, but God did (Acts 20:22-24). Paul obeyedGod and went to Jerusalem.
17-40: When Paul met with the elders in Jerusalem, he reported all that God had done through his ministry and they glorified God. They were concerned for his safety since thousands of zealous Jews misunderstood his teaching as a blasphemous rejections of the Mosaic Law. Their solution was for Paul to observe purification laws in public (the temple) so his accusers would know that he wasn’t rejecting the Law (Acts 21:24). However, Jewish mobs began to beat him, which lead to his arrest. In the barracks, he was able to convince them to let him speak to the angry crowd.
1-21: Paul tried explaining himself to the crowd. He began by building common ground; He spoke in Hebrew and told them how zealously he too opposed Christianity as a faithful Jew. He then shared his testimony of how he received Christ and was baptized. When he mentioned that he was called to preach to the gentiles, the crowd shouted murderous threats. The tribune ordered him to be questioned and flogged, but Paul revealed that he was a Roman citizen. This scared them because they were abusing a citizen of the most powerful government at the time. This got him a hearing by the chief priests and council. Although all of these bad things were happening to Paul, many people were hearing the Gospel every time he told his story. God was using the evil actions of these men to accomplish his will.
1-10: After being abused by the soldiers at the command of the high priest, Paul saw that he was speaking primarily to Sadducees and Pharisees. He strategically made a controversial statement about the resurrection that caused the crowd to turn on each other. That night, Jesus commanded him to be courageous and preach the gospel in Rome.
11-35: A group of Jews vowed to kill Paul and waited in ambush. But when Paul’s nephew heard of the plot, he warned the tribune. They went to great lengths to protect Paul since he was a Roman citizen, and delivered him to Felix the governor.
1-21: The high priest and some elders came to Caesarea to make their case against Paul before Felix, the procurator of Judaea. They accused him of stirring up riots and defiling the temple. When Paul made his defense, he pointed out that he worshipped in the temple for 12 whole days without causing trouble. He also affirmed the Old Testament law/prophets and ensured them that he never defiled the temple. All he did was make a statement about the resurrection, and a riot broke out.
22-27: Felix had an understanding of Christianity and his wife was a Jewish believer. He seemed curious about Paul’s faith and wanted bribe money from him, so he let Paul speak in more detail about his convictions. When Paul spoke about the coming judgement, Felix was convicted and cut off the conversation out of fear. He ended up leaving Paul in prison without a hearing to appease the Jews. Paul stayed in prison for two years until Felix was proceeded by Festus.
1-27: Paul’s case was revived when Festus took over. King Agrippa (the Jewish king in Judaea) arrived at Cesarea, and Festus summarized Paul’s case to him. Agrippa seemed to have an interest in the controversial figure and wanted to hear Paul speak for himself. Festus allowed this because he thought it might reveal something in the case against Paul, so it wouldn’t seem unreasonable to send him to Caesar.
1-11: Paul was grateful that he got to make his case to King Agrippa since the King was a Jew who understood the customs and controversies in Judaism. Paul’s primary argument was that he merely put his hope in the same promises of God that the tribes of Israel hoped in. He was referring to the promises God gave to Abraham, Moses, and the prophets, that Messiah was coming and that the dead would be raised to life. He then began telling the story of his conversion, starting with his former life as a Pharisee who tried destroying Christianity.
12-14: When the light shone around Paul, the voice of Jesus asked him a question that makes more sense when we consider Matthew 25:40. The things we do to his followers, we do to him. Jesus’ connection with the church is so deep that church is referred to as his body (1 Corinthians 12:27). "Kicking against the Goads" refers to an ox goad, which has a sharp point used to guide an ox by poking it. Paul rebelled (kicked) against Jesus, who guided and convicted him in the Holy Spirit the way a farmer would guide his ox with a goad.
15-18: Jesus gave Paul his mission to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Verse 18 makes it clear that sanctification comes through faith in Jesus.
19-23: Paul preached repentance to the gentiles and declared that the Gospel message is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets’ teachings.
24-27: Agrippa accused Paul of madness, but Paul claimed that his words were rational, and that Agrippa himself observed Jesus’ ministry, along with the birth of Christianity. Jesus’ life, ministry, and resurrection claims weren’t "done in a corner"; they were very public. He then made it personal by challenging Agrippa’s faith. Paul’s implication was that if the king rejected the fulfillment of prophecy, then he’s rejecting the prophets themselves.
28-32: Agrippa cut off the conversation when Paul tried converting him. He concluded that Paul wasn’t guilty of anything, yet since he appealed to Caesar he couldn’t be let go. This seems like a tragic situation for Paul, but it was how God used him to bring the Gospel to Rome, and eventually the rest of the world (Acts 23:11).
1-44: Paul’s journey sailing to Rome gives us a glimpse into God’s sovereignty. Although there was a horrible storm and shipwreck, no on died just as God’s angel promised. God predestined that the Gospel would be heard in Rome, and nothing could stop it from happening.
1-16: The island that Paul and the other passengers were shipwrecked on was called Malta, and the people treated them kindly. Paul healed all their diseased people, and undoubtedly shared the Gospel with them. In return, the people gave them whatever they needed for their journey. They were able to use a Greek ship that was wintered there, which had the twin greek gods Castor and Pollux as the figurehead. When they made it to Rome, Christian brothers met with Paul and he was encouraged.
17-24: Paul explained his case to the Jews there, who knew nothing about it. However, they were interested in learning more about Christianity since it was so vehemently opposed in Rome. Paul made his case that Jesus was the Messiah from both Mosaic law and the Old Testament prophets. Much of the Mosaic law pointed to Jesus, such as the sacrificial system, substitutionary atonement, purity laws, and the Passover. The prophets spoke of a coming messiah who would suffer and die to bear the sins of his people (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). Some believed and some rejected his message.
25-29: Those who rejected the message left after Paul paraphrased Isaiah 6:9-10. His point was that, though the Jewish people heard the Gospel, many of them didn’t understand and rejected it. He also revealed to them that he took the gospel message to the gentiles.
30-31: Paul spent the next 2 years preaching the Gospel in Rome. Many scholars believer he was put to death shortly after.