The Acts Menu

From Jerusalem
to Rome

© 1998 by Charles Dailey and William E. Paul


I.  Why a commentary on Acts.

A.   We have a classroom commentary that allows us to cover all of Acts in the allotted 16 four-hour sessions. Previously we have covered the first 16 chapters.

B. We have an off-campus credit course for NCB. It can be taken anywhere. We believe this is the wave of future education. It can be distributed in printed form and on CD.

C. We have the course available on the Internet. The course can be taken by faxing or mailing back the tests.

D. We have a flexible course for an Acts class at church. It can occupy 28 or 29 sessions at one chapter per week and this introduction. It can occupy 56 weeks by having one session on the Bible text followed by one session on the comments. Students should arrive with their crossword puzzles completed.

II. Why study Acts.
A.  We will find what the Lord considers important in church life. There is so much division about matters totally foreign to the New Testament Church and issues that could even puzzle the apostles.

B. We will be anchored in the structure and life of the original church. When we understand it, so many week-to-week problems melt away.

C.  The study of Acts is not a high priority today because it is not horizontally relational. There is much interest in the "How to . . . ." classes such as how to get along with a spouse or children. Acts has little about this popular subject. But the message of Acts is very important because it shows God's day-to-day working with His people. It does show a very strong vertical relationship.
III.  We have used William E. Paul's An Understandable Version.
A. This has allowed interaction between the translator and the commentator. We have been able to challenge words and phrases.

B. It was chosen because of the notes embedded in the Biblical text, although the notes are clearly distinguishable from the sacred text. This saves many words by this writer. Part of the work has already been done.

IV.  Things Unusual About this Commentary.

A. Brevity. We have refrained from detail. For those wanting more information, see Gareth Reese's excellent New Testament History: Acts published by College Press, Joplin, MO. 1,017 Pages.

B. We have kept the comments beside the text. This makes study time more efficient.

C. We have provided a few Internet addresses. These are primary sources about places and items mentioned in the text. Use cut-and-paste to your browser to reach the sites if you are working from our CD. As revisions emerge, the Internet addresses will be replaced by a single pointer to our location at where the ever-changing addresses can be kept current.

D. We have provided two crossword puzzles following each chapter. The first covers what the text says or implies and the second is a test on my comments. We have been careful to keep the two separate.

E. This commentary is distributed on CD-Rom and via the Internet. In each case, it is in Adobe Acrobat Format so it can be used on other computing platforms such as Macintosh or OS/2.

F. For those using the CD-Rom version, the ancient documents are included and simply need to be looked up. Copies of the CD made since August 1, 1998 contain a powerful search engine that covers the historical section.

V.   Acts is the 5th book of the New Testament in the common arrangement of the New Testament Canon.

VI.   An Accurate Title for the Book:
A.  Not the Acts of All of the Apostles. Some of the Apostles are not mentioned after the first chapter, so that name is ruled out.

BSome of the Acts of Peter and Paul. That is descriptive because the early part of the book focuses on Peter while the last part is focused on Paul.

1:15) And during this time Peter stood up to speak to a gathering . . . .

2:14) But Peter [responded by] standing up with the eleven [other] apostles and, lifting up his voice, began to speak.

2:38) And Peter replied . . . .

2:40) So, Peter testified and urged the crowd . . . .

3:1) Now Peter and John were going to the Temple . . . .

3:4) Peter looked directly at the man . . . .

Peter drops from the story in 12:17 and surfaces only during the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15.

Paul (formerly Saul) is introduced in Peter's section of Acts, but does not become the main focus until Acts 13. From there he is prominent in the story.

It is largely some of the acts of Peter and some of the acts of Paul.

C.  Some of the Acts of the Holy Spirit.

1:1) [Dear] Theophilus, in my former letter [i.e., the Gospel of Luke] I wrote to you concerning what all Jesus did and taught since the beginning [of His ministry], 2) up until the day He returned to heaven. [Just before that time] He had given [certain] instructions to His [specially] selected apostles through [the direction of] the Holy Spirit.

2:4) And they [i.e., the apostles] were all filled with [the power of] the Holy Spirit and began to speak ["the mighty accomplishments of God," See verse 11] in different languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them the ability.

4:8) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed them, saying, "Rulers and elders of the people, 9) if we are being questioned today concerning how this man with a serious handicap was made completely well, 10) we want you men and all the people of Israel to know that this man was made completely well through the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth.

4:31) And after they had prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and these disciples were all filled with [the power of] the Holy Spirit and they were able to speak the message of God with boldness.

8:39) And when they came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit of the Lord [supernaturally?] directed Philip to go elsewhere and the eunuch did not see him anymore, as he continued on his journey rejoicing.

10:19) While Peter was thinking about [the meaning of] the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, "Look, there are three men [here] looking for you.

10:44) While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit descended upon all those who were listening to this message [i.e., Cornelius and his household].

D. After examining other possibilities, we come back to the traditional title as the best available to us:

The Acts of the Apostles.

IV.  The Author of Acts was Luke.
A. He was a physician. Colossians 4:14. He often used medical language in non-medical settings. For instance, he finds the sailors bandaging the ship in Acts 27:17.

B. He is the first medical missionary.

C. He was often a traveling companion of Paul and a great personal comfort. He appears to be a seasoned traveler and very familiar with nautical terms. Some have suggested that he had been a ship's doctor at some past time.

D. How can we tell that he wrote Acts?    Acts is addressed to the same official that received the Gospel of Luke. Compare Acts 1:1 with Luke 1:3-4.

E.  The characters in Acts.

1. Luke always shows the believers in a good light with the exceptions of Ananias, Sapphira, and Simon the Sorcerer.

2. Luke, writing as a Gentile, shows the extreme opposition that developed to the gospel message among the Jewish leaders. This includes their mindless opposition to all Gentiles.

3. He generally shows Roman officials to be fair-minded men. The Roman centurions are men of above-average character. The higher officials are impartial in their judging. While Felix was motivated by greed, he was replaced by fairer Festus who obeyed the Roman law and sent Paul to Rome to be tried by Caesar. Such wonderful fairness to a Roman citizen!

F. The claim for inspiration:

1. There is no claim for inspiration in Acts, but Luke made the claim in Luke 1:3,4.

2. Paul, Luke's traveling companion once quoted something that Luke wrote and called it Scripture. 1 Timothy 5:18 with Luke 10:7.

3. Mark, writing later (A. D. 68) also provides a summary of post-resurrection preaching that agrees perfectly with Luke's account. Mark 16:15-20.

4.  Luke, in Acts, quotes from Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, 1 Kings, Psalms, Isaiah, Joel, Amos and Habakkuk. In quoting 42 times, he demonstrates his agreement with the inspired men of an earlier period.

IV.  The Time of Writing --
Luke concluded writing Acts when he was with Paul in Rome about A.D. 61. This is based on the abrupt ending of the book.

Acts Chapter One