The Book is essentially an exposition of chapter 1:8 “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the Earth.”
The Character of the Book:
A historical record of transition and expansion focusing on three centers;
1. Jerusalem where the disciples tarried (1:4)
2. Antioch where the disciples taught (11:26)
3. Rome where the disciples testified (28:23)
The Outline of the Book:
Chapter 1:1 – chapter 7:60, The Establishment of the work(Jerusalem).
A period of about 5 years (AD 30 35). The Holy Spirit. is given and the church founded.
Chapter 8:1 – chapter 12:25, The Enlargement of the work (In all Judea and in Samaria.)
A period of about 10 years (AD 36 46. Saul (Paul) is converted and the focus shifts from Jerusalem to Antioch.
Chapter 13:1 – chapter 28:31, The Extension of the work (Unto the uttermost part of the earth.)
A period of about 14 years (AD 47 60). During which time Pauls three missionary journeys take place. The Apostle finally reaches Rome and the focus changes once again.
The narrative covers a period of approximately 30 years.
The Details of the Book:
1:1 – 2:47: The Lord in resurrection (Seen of them forty days). The Holy Spirit given on the day of Pentecost (the fiftieth day after the crucifixion).The Church is founded.
3:1 – 7:60: The renewed offer of kingdom blessing given to Israel. Their rejection culminates in the death of Stephen.
8:1 – 12:25: The Ethiopian Eunuch, a proselyte, is converted, ch.8. The Zealous Jew (Saul), a persecutor, is converted, ch.9. The Roman Centurion, a pious man, is converted, ch.10.
The first of these represents Africa, the second Asia and the third, Europe. In this way, in the enlargement of the work, a basis for it further extension to the uttermost part of the earth is prepared for.
13:1 – 21:16: Pauls three missionary journeys.
First Journey. With Barnabas. From Antioch, by way of Paphos, Perga, Pisidain Antioch to Iconium, Derbe and Lystra. Return to Antioch (chs. 13 – 14). The conference in Jerusalem concerning Gentile believers (ch.15)
Second Journey. With Silas. From Antioch through Syria, Cilicia and Phrygia. After being forbidden by the Spirit to preach the Word in Asia Paul and his companions go, by way of Troas, across the Aegean Sea to Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens and Corinth. Then by way of Ephesus they go by ship to Caesarea visiting the church in Jerusalem on return route to Antioch (14.40 18.22).
Third Journey. With various companions, including Luke and Timothy. From Antioch to Galatia, Phrygia and Ephesus. After the uproar in Ephesus on to Macedonia and Greece (Achaia, Corinth?). Returning by way of Macedonia (Philippi) by ship to Troas, to the isle of Rhodes and unto Patara on the south shore of Asia (Turkey). From there by different ship directly to Tyre and Ptolemais. The end of the journey was Jerusalem which Paul company reached by way of Caesarea again (18.23 – 21.17).
The Journey to Rome. With Luke, Aristarchus and some others? After his arrest in Jerusalem and the conspiracy to kill him is discovered, Paul is taken to Caesarea where he testifies before Felix, Festus and Agrippa. In spite of his proven innocence, Paul, having appealed to Caesar is sent on by ship to Rome. Sidon, Pamphylia and Cnidus are touched on before the ship goes on to the Fair Havens in south west Crete. From there the journey continues in the face of Pauls protest resulting in the complete destruction of the ship. All the passengers find refuge on Malta and after 3 months the journey is completed with their arrival in Puteoli in southern Italy. Brethren from the Capital come to meet Paul and escort him and his companions to the city where Pauls imprisonment lasts approximately two years before he is released for a period of time enabling him to travel again quite extensively.
The Book of the Acts does not record Pauls second imprisonment nor his martyrdom. Likely because the account is a record of how the preaching of the kingdom finally reached the capital of the then known world (21.18 28.31).
The narrative shows how the work expanded;
Geographically: (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost parts of the earth) 1.4.
Numerically: (120, 1.15: 3,000, 2.41: 5,000 men, 4.4: multitudes, 5.14).
Racially: (Son of Ham, ch.8: Son of Shem, ch.9: Son of Japheth, ch.10).
Socially: (Lydia, a business woman, a slave girl, the Roman jailor, ch.16).
It also shows the transitional nature of the contents:
Ch.6: The Apostles make the decision: Ch.15. The Apostles and Elders receive the Antiochan deputation for decision making: Ch.20. The responsibility belongs to the local elders.
The Acts of the Apostles acts as a natural bridge between the rejecting of Israel and the reception of the Gentiles.