In anticipation of the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ reading plan—the He Reads Truth summer study beginning on June 6—we’ll spend this week in ‘Countdown to Acts’, a 5-day introduction establishing the historical and geographical context of the book. Read along with us as we set the stage with the people and places significant to the beginning of the early church. ‘Countdown to Acts’ is also available free on the He Reads Truth app.
The narrative arc of the Bible is told in essentially three movements:
1. The Old Testament: the story of our creation and fall, and of God’s promise to redeem His people.
2. The Gospels: the story of God’s promise fulfilled through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
3. The Book of Acts: the story of Jesus’ impact on the world as His followers took the gospel message to Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (The only narrative portion of the New Testament not covered in Acts is John’s imprisonment and revelation on the island of Patmos.)
The book of Acts is not the end of God’s story, but rather the beginning of how the church found its way around the world and down through time to the places where we live and worship today.
Author: Though the book of Acts specifies no author, earliest records attribute the book to Luke, who also wrote the Gospel bearing his name. Luke’s name appears three times in Paul’s prison letters (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Phml. 1:24), indicating he was one of Paul’s traveling companions. Colossians 4:14 also identifies Luke as a doctor, which is supported by the way Luke uses specific medical language (e.g. Acts 28:8).
Date: Both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are believed to have been written at the same time, during the early to mid 60s, likely during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. The events in Acts take place after the death of Christ in AD 33 and conclude in AD 62.
Theme: The book of Acts emphasizes the work of God through the Holy Spirit in the lives of people who devoted themselves to Jesus Christ—especially Paul, as he led the Gentile missionary endeavor. The Christian church was built, city by city, through the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit working through God’s chosen vessels.