How to Prepare for The Book of Acts
The book of Acts has many titles. It’s been called ‘The Acts of the Apostles’ and ‘The Acts of The Holy Spirit’ and while these titles are fitting and right we see that the main character continues to be Jesus Christ. A scholar of Luke (Acts author), Alan Thompson, calls Acts ‘The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ’ which is a mouthful but reflective of Luke’s central character. Acts is about the Holy Spirit, it is about the transformation of the apostles, it is about the beginning of the church. But underlying these important themes are the continuation of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ as Lord.
It is pivotal that the modern church grasp the formation of the church in Acts. Not necessarily in a sugar-coated idealism of ‘getting back to the way things God intended’ but as a true-to-life understanding that the church was birthed in suffering. Quoting Paul House, Thompson points out “Acts has no purpose, no plot, no structure and no history without suffering. Therefore, proper interpretation of Acts depends in part on the commentator’s grasp of suffering’s importance in Acts.” (pg. 54)
What we see throughout the book is transformed men and women proclaiming the gospel openly, getting arrested, beaten and even killed. How did this happen to these church founders? How did they get this courage to proclaim Christ at the detriment of their own lives? Three things happened to them…
One is that they witnessed the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. They actually saw him alive after his death, they saw him ascend into his rightful place of rule at the right hand of the Father. (See Acts 1:3-11) Secondly, the Holy Spirit fell upon them to live in and through them. When pentecost happened in Acts 2, their eyes were opened to Kingdom of God. They saw the rule and reign of Jesus Christ and understood their role as proclaimers of this good news. Thirdly, they began to understand the fulfillment of the Old Testament in light of Jesus. They became hungry to understand God’s scripture in light of the Spirit’s opening of their eyes to the Messiah’s role throughout all of history.
Though there is much more to explore and learn, I want to challenge you by offering four practical ways you can prepare for Veritas’ sermon series on the book of Acts.
Read Through Acts At Least Twice
Before hitting commentaries or hearing sermons we simply need to read. Read through it one time all in one sitting. Listen closely for God’s plan unfolding and imagine yourself locked in the upper room in prayer or shopping as Paul proclaims the gospel in the marketplace. Read it and read it again.
Attend The Acts Elective At Veritas Short North
February 4, 11, 25, 6:30-8:30pm
Pastor Brad Snyder leads the Tri-Village congregation and is teaching a three week introductory class on Acts. From the elective description Brad writes, “In this 3 week survey, we will look into the birth of the church, the grace of the gospel and the ministry of the church to reach the ends of the earth.” Sign up HERE
Buy Two Commentaries
As a book and commentary junkie it is very difficult to recommend just two commentaries. I have not been able to get through the introduction to all the books in my stack but so far, so I would recommend getting two commentaries.
Alan Thompson’s The Act of the Risen Lord Jesus is a good overview book. He does an amazing job at what is called the ‘Redemptive-Historical’ study. That is, he shows us how Jesus is fulfilling his mission to gather a people from the Old Testament to the formation of the church.
Acts by Darrell Bock is the second commentary I would recommend. It’s big, heavy and deep but if you are interested in studying the original languages or outlining theme’s, Bock is one of many other commentaries to plow through.
Spend Daily Time Reflecting
Finally, I recommend spending time daily reflecting. Take small portions, maybe focus on the sermons given and reflect on what God might be saying to you. Journal your reaction to Paul’s conversion story as you think about your own story. Process how the Kingdom of God is continuing in your own daily life. The paragraph breakdown’s in the English Standard Version are fantastic and simply taking a paragraph or two a day to meditate on is a good place to start.
The Acts sermon series begins February 1st and goes through September 6th, with an eight week break starting May 17th. All Veritas congregations will be working through it together so invite friends and study the passages with seekers and skeptics alike!
- A few quick fACTS for the road:
- Luke (author of The Gospel of Luke) is the author of Acts
- Acts is the second volume of Luke’s writings
- Both books are written to a man named Theophilus
- Luke was a physician and appeared to have traveled with Paul in chapter 16
- Some scholars date the writing of Acts to A.D. 70
- It seems Luke’s purpose in writing Acts was to account for how the gospel spread
- Speeches and sermons make up nearly a third of the book of Acts
Founding Pastor & Short North Lead Pastor
taken from Nick Nye’s blog