What was said of O.T. Narratives holds true for the book of Acts.
- They do not usually teach a doctrine.
- They usually illustrate a doctrine taught clearly elsewhere in the Bible
- They record what happened, not necessarily what should have happened.
- What people did in the Bible is not necessarily an example to follow.
- The people in the Bible are less than perfect
- They do not always interpret themselves; we are expected to be able to judge what happened on the basis of Biblical teaching.
- Narratives are selective in what is included; don’t obsess over what is not said.
- They are not written to answer every theological question
- They can teach explicitly, by clearly stating something, or implicitly, but showing without saying.
- In the final analysis, God is the hero in all the biblical narratives.
Acts Divisions and Purpose:
If Acts was a biography of certain leaders, it would have included more details about them.
If it was a manual on church practices, such as baptism, church government, frequency of church meetings, the gift of tongues, etc. it would have been made made more clear by giving clear teaching on those points.
Luke gives us summary statements at 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20). The book is organized around the Movement of the Gospel of Jesus into the World.
1:1-6:7 – The Church inJerusalem –
The earliest Christians were Jews who came to believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah.). The action in these chapters centers around Jerusalem.
6:8 to 9:30 – The Church in Judea and Samaria –
Here the message comes to Jewish people who are dispersed away from
9:32 to 12:24 – The First Expansion to the Gentiles
The Gospel comes to the family of Cornelius, and a church develops in
12:15 to 16:5 – The First Geographic Expansion into the Roman World
The mixed church in Antioch sent Paul on his first Missionary Journey, with Barnabas. The Jerusalem Council decides that Gentiles can come to faith in Christ without having to convert to Judaism.
16:6-19:20 – Further Westward Expansion
The Church is becoming increasingly Gentile.
19:21 to 28:31 – Paul goes to Rome.
Paul is brought before Governors and Kings.
Major Lessons from Acts:
The Main interest of Acts is that the Gospel is taken to many people – Acts 1:8. God does not play favorites with any culture or language, but wants all people to learn the Good News of Jesus.
The Gospel Messages seem to vary in their approach, depending on the audience. The message of Salvation by Faith in Christ is the same, but it is presented differently to Jewish scholars (16:10-12) than to Gentile Intellectuals (17:16-34). We learn that our methods need to be flexible.
Specific issues of worship style, length of meetings, communion, baptism, selecting church leaders, and other practices are not solved in Acts. It appears we are to accept the Gospel into our Culture and use appropriate cultural forms. For example, the same church office is called “elder” among Jewish people and “overseer” among Gentiles – even though these leaders did the same things such as prayer, teaching and leading. “Elder” was a preexisting concept in one culture as “Overseer” was in the other.
Assignment: Study the Conversion of Cornelius, Acts 10.
What are some lessons that apply today?