In April our Bible Reading Plan turned to the Acts of the Apostles. Here are some things to look for as you read Acts:
- Picking Up the Story Acts is the sequel to Luke’s gospel (Acts 1:1). Acts tells the story of what happened to the Jesus movement after he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
- The Holy Spirit With the physical Jesus gone, he is now among the believers through the Holy Spirit. The term ‘Holy Spirit’ occurs 66 times in the New Testament; 40 of those are in Acts alone. Despite Jesus’ death and ascension into heaven, the believers find they are not alone; they continue to have the guidance and power of Christ, through the Holy Spirit.
- An Inclusive Community From the very beginning, the Holy Spirit compels the apostles to share the good news of Jesus with new people and to include them as full participants in the church, whoever they may be. This includes Jews from all over the known world (2:5-11), despised Samaritans (8:4-8), a sexually questionable man from Ethiopia (8:26-40), a well-known persecutor of Christians (9:1-9), a Gentile Roman soldier (10:1-40), and on it goes. Peter sums it up: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality” (10:34). This inclusive spirit was the cause of much conflict (15:1-35), but the Spirit had spoken--all are welcome.
- Persecution and Boldness From the start, there is opposition to the gospel—from Jews who found it heretical, from Gentiles who found it foolish, from authorities who feared social upheaval. And from the start, the believers were bold and persistent, continuing to share the gospel in spite of threats, imprisonment and execution.
- On the Go The second half of Acts reports a series of missionary journeys by Paul, first with Barnabas and then Silas. Paul is threatened, imprisoned, shipwrecked and more—yet he keeps going in order to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The map below will help you follow Paul’s three journeys. Ultimately, Paul is determined to get to Rome, the center of the world at that time. Through many twists and turns, he finally makes it.