STUDIES IN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
President of Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute and Editor of Berean Banner
“Baptism of the Holy Ghost and Tongues,” “Are Bible Miracles For Today” and “Studies in John’s Gospel.” et al.
When you buy our books, you are helping a pastor and his family (Eastern Europe) to stay in the ministry. You are helping a missionary to serve to the orphans.
I have been greatly encouraged in the response that has come from many sources in commendation of my “Studies in John’s Gospel,” and rejoice in the blessings of God that it has been to many. The distribution has been far greater than I anticipated.
The reception it has been given has encouraged me to bring out this companion volume on the Acts of the Apostles.
I have taught the Book of Acts a number of times, and every re-study of it brings added blessings and joys to my own heart, and if those who profit by the study in these simple lessons get anything like the blessing it has been to the author to study and prepare them, and our Saviour be glorified in it, I shall be more than paid for the time and effort it has taken to produce it.
There is no attempt here to display scholarship. Many things found in more profound and scholarly productions have been left out, and purposely so.
We have prepared this work with the average preacher, Sunday School teacher and Christian worker in mind. The outlines are simple, can be easily remembered, and we have sought to sum up in these outlines what the verses reveal, included in each portion of the outline.
We have purposely not quoted the text, so that it is absolutely necessary for the student to have constantly in hand the Bible itself. In other words, we are seeking to lead to the study of the Scripture itself in preparation of these studies.
- TITLE. Bible students differ as to what the title really should be, but we follow the title used in the King James’ version, which is the ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
- AUTHORSHIP. Among reverent Bible students there is almost universal acceptance of Luke’s authorship.
- THE DATE. There are different views as to the date, but the most generally accepted among students is from A. D. 63-65.
- THE CHRONOLOGY. The most satisfactory dates, which we are quoting, are those given by Dr. Scroggie in his volume on Acts. The Chronology of the Acts is a vexed question for which, in detail, the reader must consult Bengel, Wendt, Zahn, Ramsay, Harnack, Holstmann, Turner, and others; but the following will serve as an approximate working scheme on important events:
- D. 30, Death of Jesus.
- D. 35, Conversion of Paul. ch. 9.
- D. 44, Death of James, son of Zebedee. ch. 12.
- D. 45-51, First missionary journey, chs. 13-14.
- D. 51, Conference at Jerusalem, ch, 15.
- D. 51-54, Second missionary journey, chs. 18-21.
- D. 58, Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem, ch. 21.
- D. 58-60, Caesarean imprisonment, chs. 24-26.
- D. 61-63, First Roman imprisonment, ch. 28.
- THE PURPOSE undoubtedly is to show that the things Christ ” began to do and to teach” on earth He is now doing and teaching from heaven by the Holy Spirit through His apostles and other witnesses.
- The plan. Witnessing.
(1). In Jerusalem and among the Jews. chs. 1-7.
(2). In Samaria, Caesarea, and beyond, chs. 8-11.
(3). At Antioch, and “to the uttermost part of the earth.” chs. 12-28.
- The Method, illustrated all through the book.
(1). Public proclamation of the gospel.
(2). Individual witness of all believers.
(3). Establishment of local churches throughout the known world. The plan and method can be seen in the following scriptures: Acts 1:8; 2:4, 14, 41, 47; 4 :2; 5:14, 42; 6:7; 8:1, 4; 9:31; 13:24; 16:5; 19:20.
- SOME CHARACTERISTICS.
- The work of the Holy Spirit is outstanding. We find the doctrine of the Holy Spirit set forth principally in the epistles. Here we see Him mightily at work in the apostles and believers.
As a source of their power and wisdom, He dominates the entire record.
Ch. 1, Spirit of promise.
Ch. 2, Spirit of power.
Ch. 3, Spirit of healing.
Ch. 4, Spirit of boldness.
Ch. 5, Spirit of judgment.
Ch. 6, Spirit of administration.
Ch. 7, Spirit of steadfastness.
Ch. 8, Spirit of evangelism.
Ch. 9, Spirit of comfort.
Ch. 10, Spirit of guidance.
Ch. 11, Spirit of prophecy.
Ch. 12, Spirit of deliverance.
Ch. 13, Spirit of missions.
Ch. 14, Spirit of protection.
Ch. 15, Spirit of councils.
Ch. 16, Spirit of restraint and constraint.
Ch. 17, Spirit of opportunity.
Ch. 18, Spirit of revelation.
Ch. 19, Spirit of purpose.
Ch. 20, Spirit of ordination.
And so on to the end. (Suggested by Dr. Scroggie).
- Human instrumentality stands out. It is illustrated in the two outstanding personages, Peter, chs. 1-12, and Paul in the remainder of the book. In ch. 2 they were ALL filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak. In ch. 8 they were ALL scattered abroad, and all preached. In ch. 8 Philip’s ministry is recorded. New characters are brought on the scene in nearly every chapter. We have counted over 75 names of persons. Some because of their opposition and hinderance are mentioned, others because they were witnesses.
Ch. 1, prayer in the upper room. v. 24.
Ch. 2, prayer and Pentecost.
Ch. 3, Peter and John on the way to prayer.
Ch. 4, prayer and the disciples filled again with the Holy Spirit, vs. 23-31.
Ch. 6, prayer and the settlement of division in the church; new workers added to the staff.
Ch. 7, the first martyr, Stephen, died praying for his enemies.
Ch. 8, prayer and the Samaritan disciples filled with the Holy Ghost.
Ch. 9, Paul the new convert praying, v. 11.
Ch. 10, prayer in Caesarea and Joppa and the Gentiles converted.
Ch. 11, Peter tells the story of what took place in answer to prayer.
Ch. 12, Peter prayed out of prison.
Ch. 13, prayer and the first missionaries sent out. And so on, through the book.
- The Cross and the Resurrection, with particular emphasis on the latter, is emphasized in all testimony.
- We find several apostolic sermons that should be studied carefully. Every Sunday School pupil from the Juniors up should memorize them.
(1). Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, ch. 2:14-41.
(2). Peter’s sermon in the temple, ch. 3:12-26.
(3). Peter’s address to the Sanhedrein. ch. 4:5-12.
(4). Stephen’s sermon, ch. 7.
(5). Peter’s sermon to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, ch. 10:34-48.
(6). Paul’s sermon on Mars’ hill. ch. 17:22-34.
(7). Paul’s defense before the multitude, ch. 22:1-24.
(8). Paul’s defense before Felix, ch. 24:10-26.
(9). Paul’s defense before Agrippa. ch. 26:1-32.
- Missions. Acts is of course the greatest book ever written on missions. The names of 54 or more different places are mentioned, from Jerusalem to Rome. As we study the book we will from time to time, give as near as practical the dates and places from which the Pauline epistles were written.
QUESTIONS ON INTRODUCTORY
- Who is the author of the book of Acts?
- What is the most generally accepted date?
- Give Dr. Scroggie’s chronological dates.
- What is the purpose of the author?
- Name three things as to the methods illustrated throughout the book.
- Where do we find the doctrine of the Holy Spirit principally set forth!
- Name at least six characters set forth by Dr. Scroggie.
- Name the two principal personages mentioned in the book of Acts.
- Give approximately the number of persons mentioned in the book of Acts.
- How many times can you mention definitely prayer as mentioned in the book of Acts?
- Name at least nine sermons and by whom delivered in the book of Acts.
- How many different places are mentioned from Jerusalem to Rome?
- Preparation for the promised power, vs. 1-8.
- Preparation by prayer. vs. 9-14.
- Preparation by obedience. vs. 15-26.
The first chapter records the activities of these believers over a period of ten days, ten days of preparation for the new beginning that meant the carrying of the gospel “to the uttermost part of the earth.”
- Preparation for the promised power, vs. 1-8.
- Jesus “began to do and teach.” What He began to do and teach on earth, as recorded in Luke, He is to continue doing and teaching from His place at the Father’s right hand, by the Holy Spirit come down, v. 1.
- “By the Holy Ghost”. He had previously given command to the apostles, “by the Holy Ghost.” He was through them and others to execute this commission, vs. 2.
- He had prepared them for this task by manifesting Himself to them in His resurrection body and by instructing them as to the kingdom, v. 3.
- He reminds them they are to wait for the Father’s promise, v. 4.
- They are to be baptized in the Holy Ghost not many days hence. Until then they could do nothing but wait. v. 5.
- Their question as to the restoration of the kingdom in connection with the baptism of the Holy Ghost was indeed timely and not at all out of place, as some would have us believe. These apostles knew the Old Testament scriptures and understood perfectly Joel’s great prophecy to be fulfilled in just that connection. Jesus did not rebuke them for asking the question, v.
See Joel 2:25-28. If Joel’s prophecy were to be fulfilled, certainly it was the time for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.
- But this outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the primary fulfillment (as we see later in Acts), and was for another purpose. For this they immediately received instructions, v. 7. Times and seasons are in the Father’s hands.
- The Holy Spirit in coming upon them was to endue them with power to witness to Him, “beginning in Jerusalem,” and reaching out to the whole wide world, v. 8. Without Him they were powerless, impotent. With, Him, omnipotent. WAIT!
- Preparation by prayer. vs. 9-14.
- As He departs to the Father two (numbers of witness) angelic messengers pronounce, “This same Jesus… shall so come in like manner” vs. 9-11. This coming in like manner is not for the saints at death. They go to Him. In person, down the skies, accompanied by angels, bodily, visibly, shall He come. When He comes thus the kingdom will be restored to Israel and the 12 apostles shall sit upon 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. (Matt. 19:28).
- They returned to Jerusalem to prepare for the anointing from on high. From Olivet they descend to the city and assemble in the upper room. The apostles are named. There were 120 disciples who met in harmonious fellowship, prayer, and worship, vs. 12-14. WAIT!
- Preparation by obedience. vs. 15-26.
- They did not only have “a fellowship,” but evidently a roll of their membership, “the number of names together.” v. 15.
- They read Psalm 79 and 109 with new understanding, vs. 16-20. Notwithstanding a number of expositors who say they made a mistake in this act, we believe they followed the Word of God; and since the Holy Spirit had been breathed upon these apostles as we were told in John 20:22 (which was 50 days before Pentecost), we believe they were Spirit-led and that God answered their prayer.
- Matthias and Barsabas qualified. vs. 21-23.
- They pray. vs. 24, 25. How careful they were in leading this body of believers into the understanding of the Word of God, in earnest prayer desiring to find and do the will of the risen Christ.
- Matthias chosen. v. 26. The lot, which was common custom in that day, was not necessarily a hindrance at all to God’s leading in the selection of Matthias to take the place of Judas who “by transgression fell.” Matthias and not the apostle Paul fits into the picture. Paul was not one of the “twelve.” He was, as he himself said, “one born out of due time.” Type of the conversion of “all Israel,” in the day when they shall look upon Him whom they pierced. An apostle indeed, and the mightiest of them all, but not the one to take the place of Judas; for Matthias fills that gap. This group of believers, called, chosen, saved, instructed, assembled, waiting, obedient, praying, is now ready for the great day of Pentecost – and what a tremendous story His descent will be.
QUESTIONS ON ACTS I
- Give the outline.
- By whom is he working primarily in the book of Acts?
- What was the purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts?
- How was He to come again according to the testimony given by the angels when He ascended?
- In what sense was the Holy Spirit given? vs. 9-11.
- What were these disciples to wait for? 1:8.
- How many were in the meeting waiting? vs. 15.
8. Who was chosen to take the place of Judas and How? See notes.