Luke wrote two books to Theophilus ("lover of God"). In the Gospel of Luke he told about the things that Jesus did and taught until he ascended into heaven. In Acts, Luke wrote about the continuing work of the ascended Jesus through the Holy Spirit in the church. Luke was the only Gentile writer of the New Testament. He shows how God himself transformed a narrow, exclusive community of believers, bound by their own culture and traditions, into a universal, world-wide church--a church free to cross all human barriers to bring the gospel to all men everywhere.
Acts is organized around Acts 1:8: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." These are the words of the Risen Christ. This is not an ordinary command. It is an imperative. It is related to the very existence of the church. The church is a body of believers who are sent into the world to witness to the Risen Christ. Chapters 1-12 focus on Peter, and chapters 13-27, on Paul.
God's mission for his church is not a new idea. When God called Abraham, he promised, "Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed." Jesus' saving work on the cross and his glorious resurrection is the blessing to all people who believe. But the good news of forgiveness of sins and eternal life must be carried to all nations by the church--the body of Christ, the people of God.
OUTLINE OF ACTS
1. To Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria
a. 1:1-7:60--The Witness in Jerusalem
(Climaxed by Stephen's martyrdom)
b. 8:1-12:25--To Judea and Samaria
(Peter's ministry; Paul's conversion)
2. To the Ends of the Earth
a. 13:1-15:35--Paul's 1st Journey
(With Barnabas--Jerusalem Council)
b. 15:36-21:15--2nd and 3rd Journeys
(2nd--To Europe; 3rd--In Ephesus)
c. 21:16-28:31--God's heart for the world
(To Jerusalem and to Rome in chains)
(One-to-one Bible study in a rented house)
THE MINISTRY OF THE RISEN CHRIST
Key Verse: 1:3
1. Proofs that he is alive (1-3a)
After his death and resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples. During that time he planted in them resurrection faith and hope in the kingdom of God. The foundation of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus. This is the good news. When God raised Jesus from the dead, he accepted his sacrifice for the sins of the world. He proved him to be the Son of God and Christ the Savior (Ro 1:4; 4:25).
2. The kingdom of God (3b-5)
Jesus began his ministry on earth preaching about the kingdom of God (Mk 1:15). It was the theme of his parables; he taught his disciples to pray, "Your kingdom come." The kingdom of God was the main theme of the teaching of the risen Jesus. Jesus' people must put their hope in the kingdom of God, not in the things of the world. He told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. God's kingdom must rule our hearts and his power fill our lives before we can go out to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Prayer: Lord, dwell with me in all your risen power. Use me in your kingdom's work.
One Word: Jesus is risen; my hope is in him
TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
Key Verse 1:8
1. You will be my witnesses (6-8)
The disciples dreamed of an earthly, restored kingdom of Israel. They thought that Jesus' resurrection meant that the time had come. But God's kingdom is spiritual; it includes people of every nation, race and language. It would come at God's appointed time, and they must participate in its coming until Jesus' return. When the gospel is preached and accepted, God's kingdom comes into the hearts of people. So disciples must be apostles, i.e., missionaries. They must witness to the risen Christ in Jerusalem (where Jesus was crucified), in Judea and Samaria (among their friends and neighbors), and to the ends of the earth (even Rome)--until the end of the age (Mt 28:18-20).
2. The ascension (9-11)
The ascension of Jesus into heaven is the water-shed of Jesus' ministry. From this time, he would work from heaven through his disciples and the Holy Spirit. He will come again in clouds of glory to bring in the end of the age.
Prayer: Lord, help me to witness to your gospel until you come again.
One Word: Go. Be Jesus' witnesses
THE PRAYER MEETING
Key Verse: 1:14a
1. They all joined together in prayer (12-14)
Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem for the gift the Father promised--the Holy Spirit. So, after receiving his world mission command, they went back to Jerusalem. About 120 disciples--including the Eleven and Jesus' mother and brothers--gathered together to pray. They must have praised God who raised Jesus, and asked his power to do his work.
2. Judas' place filled (15-26)
Judas' betrayal was an unsolved problem in their hearts. As they prayed, God moved Peter to expose this problem and solve it. The broken vessel of the Spirit should be mended. The 12 apostles were to the church like the 12 tribes were to Israel. They were unique witnesses to Jesus' life, death and resurrection. The New Testament would come from them. Peter left no room for human sympathy. He sought and found God's direction in scripture, and the Lord showed them who he had chosen.
Prayer: Lord, help us to unite in prayer until you send your Spirit.
One Word: Pray together
Key Verse: 2:11b
1. The Holy Spirit comes (1-4)
About 10 days after Jesus' ascension and 50 days after Passover, on the Day of Pentecost, the believers were praying together when a sound like a violent windstorm filled the room. What seemed to be tongues of fire rested on each of them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was the gift promised by the Father. His coming marked the beginning of a new era. The Christian church was born. The Holy Spirit enabled them to speak in other tongues. He was sent to give power, the love of God, joy and new life, and to equip fearful, directionless disciples for the task of world mission.
2. From every nation under heaven (5-13)
Jews from everywhere had gathered in Jerusalem. They were a microcosm of the world. They marveled to hear uneducated Galileans praising God in all kinds of languages. God was showing his people that the good news of the gospel is for all people. He was sending his disciples to the ends of the earth to witness to Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, send your Spirit today to fill and equip us to do your work
One Word: The promised gift of the Father
YOUR YOUNG MEN WILL SEE VISIONS
Key Verse: 2:17
1. God has poured out his Spirit (14-18)
The disciples, filled with the Spirit of God, were so full of joy and praise that they acted like drunk men. Peter, standing with the Eleven, used this opportunity to proclaim the gospel to the people of Jerusalem. These men were not drunk--they were filled with God's Spirit. God had done what he had promised. The last days had begun; the Spirit of God was poured out on the earth. Despairing young men, who only lived for the weekends, became men of vision. Old men, who only looked forward to the nursing home and the grave, began to dream great dreams.
2. Everyone who calls on the Lord (19-21)
Another great day is coming. It is the day of final judgment. But before this, people everywhere must hear the gospel. It is good news for all people, for "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Prayer: Lord, send your Spirit to fill the young men of our times with vision and make them Bible teachers of the world.
One Word: Come, Holy Spirit
BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD
Key Verse: 2:24a
1. Jesus' impeccable credentials (22)
Peter was speaking about Jesus to the people who had crucified him. No one could deny that God had put his seal on Jesus' beautiful life and work by the signs and miracles which he had granted him.
2. You put him to death (23)
Putting Jesus to death was a senseless act; it revealed the depth of corruption in the human heart. But God's sovereign hand was in these events. God himself allowed the sinfulness of man to run its full course. He sent his pure and harmless and lovely Son into a world like this, knowing what would happen to him. And he did it to solve once and for all man's sin problem.
3. God raised him from the dead (24)
This is the good news of salvation to all who believe in him. This is God's victory over death. Death could not keep its hold on him.
Prayer: Lord, my sins nailed Jesus to the cross. I believe that his death and resurrection were for my forgiveness.
One Word: God raised him from the dead
DAVID'S RESURRECTION FAITH
Key Verse: 2:36
1. Your Holy One will not see decay (25-32)
In Psalm 16 David wrote words that could only be applied to the risen Christ. He wrote with prophetic insight because he knew the living God personally. He found his joy and strength in God. His hope was not in worldly success or possessions or people. His hope was in the living God. God fulfilled David's prophetic words when he raised Jesus to life. The apostles were the first witnesses to the fact that God raised Jesus to life (32).
2. He is exalted to the right hand of God (33-36)
The risen Christ ascended into heaven to be enthroned at the right hand of God. David also spoke about this in Psalm 110. Furthermore, from his place of power and glory, Christ poured out the promised Holy Spirit on all who believe the gospel, to empower us to be his witnesses. When the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead is working in our lives, God's enemy Satan is defeated.
Prayer: Praise God who made Jesus, whom we crucified, both Lord and Christ. Come Holy Spirit. Fill us today. Equip us to be witnesses to the living Christ.
One Word: God has made him Lord and Christ
BROTHERS, WHAT SHALL WE DO?
Key Verse: 2:38
1. Repent and be baptized (37-41)
Everyone who has disobeyed God's laws or rebelled against him has shared in the crucifixion of Jesus. What shall we do? We must see the ugliness of our sins and the pain we have caused God and be cut to the heart. Then, we must repent and personally accept Jesus' death for the forgiveness of sins; we must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. This is the only way to be saved from this corrupt generation. Baptism with water is an outward sign of God's work within. It is a declaration to the world that I am a Christian, a part of the Body of Christ. When Peter preached, 3,000 people accepted his message.
2. Growing in the Christian life (42-47)
Christians must keep on growing. The early Christians show us how. They studied the Bible; they met together every day to praise God, to pray and to encourage one another. They gave sacrificially and shared what they had. They ate together with joyful hearts. They were a good influence in society.
Prayer: Lord, cut our hearts with your word until we repent and believe and are filled with your Spirit.
One Word: Repent and believe the gospel
PETER HEALS A CRIPPLED BEGGAR
Key Verse: 3:6
1. A crippled beggar by the Beautiful gate (1-3)
The crippled beggar represents all whose spirits and/or bodies are crippled by sin. Those who sit in self-pity and burden others are like this beggar. Those who beg for love but have none to give; who want to be helped, but cannot help anyone else; who want to be served, but don't know how to serve others are relatives of the crippled beggar.
2. What I have I give you (4-10)
As Peter and John were going into the temple for the afternoon prayer meeting, the crippled beggar called to them. Peter looked straight at him and said, "Look at us." Peter did not give him money. He gave him something better. He gave him Jesus, and Jesus gave him new life. His useless legs became strong, and he jumped and danced. Lips that had only complained and begged began to praise God. He had only sought people's pity before the temple gate; now he went in to pray and thank God.
Prayer: Lord, show me how to give Jesus to the crippled beggars of my time.
One Word: In the name of Jesus
IN THE NAME OF JESUS
Key Verse: 3:16
1. The God of our fathers glorified Jesus (11-15)
When the crippled beggar began to jump and dance and praise God, all the people were astonished and a huge crowd soon assembled in Solomon's Colonnade. Peter told them why this man was walking. It was because of the name of Jesus. He preached the gospel to the crowd. He began by announcing that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had glorified Jesus, whom they had handed over to be crucified--God raised Jesus from the dead! Peter rebuked them for killing the Author of life and releasing a murderer. He called them to repent.
2. By faith in the name of Jesus (16)
Then he pointed to the former cripple, now jumping and dancing with joy. This man was a living testimony to the resurrection power of Jesus' name. A changed life is the best evidence of the resurrection.
Prayer: Lord, work in me until my life becomes evidence that Jesus is alive. Give me courage to testify to the power of Jesus' name.
One Word: By faith in his name
GOD'S GREATEST BLESSING
Key Verse: 3:19
1. Repent (17-20)
How can there be hope for sinners who killed the Author of life? There is hope, for as he promised, God sent Christ to suffer for the sake of sinners. He did not send a mighty warrior to save his people; he sent a suffering servant. If any sinner repents and accepts Christ, God will wipe out his sins and give him a refreshing new life. The Spirit of Christ indwells forgiven sinners; Jesus will come in glory at the end of the age to restore all things.
2. God's promises are sure (21-26)
God spoke through his holy prophets about the Christ. Moses said that God would raise up a prophet who would speak with the absolute authority of God. All of the prophets spoke about the coming Christ. But at the root of all the prophecies is God's covenant with Abraham: "Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed." Forgiveness of sin is the best blessing.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for making me an heir of your best blessing.
One Word: Repentance & times of refreshing
SALVATION IS FOUND IN NO ONE ELSE
Key Verse: 4:12
1. Peter and John put in jail (1-4)
Peter and John preached the resurrection of Jesus to the very people who had killed Jesus. They were arrested and put in jail. But the gospel could not be stopped by a jail cell. More people than ever believed in Jesus, because the apostles lived fearlessly, by resurrection faith.
2. By what name? (5-12)
Peter and John were questioned by the high priests who condemned Jesus to death. When they were asked about the cripple who had been healed, they boldly proclaimed that the man was healed by the power of the name of Jesus--the same Jesus whom they had crucified, and whom God had raised from the dead. Jesus is the rejected stone about whom Isaiah wrote. The builders rejected him, but God raised him up and made him the capstone of his redemptive history. Salvation is through the name of Jesus alone.
Prayer: Praise the name of Jesus. Lord, help me to live by faith in his name, and share in proclaiming him to the nations.
One Word: Salvation in Jesus' name alone
SHALL WE OBEY MEN RATHER THAN GOD?
Key Verse: 4:19
1. These men have been with Jesus (13)
Peter and John were country boys without much formal education. They were ordinary men. But their courage was extraordinary. The Jewish leaders were astounded by them. What made them special? It was not the way they dressed or spoke. It was the fact that they had been with Jesus. The religious leaders took note of this.
2. They decided to obey God (14-22)
The Sanhedrin didn't know what to do. A crippled man had been healed, everyone was praising God, and the gospel of Jesus was spreading. They had to put a stop to it. They commanded Peter and John to stop speaking in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John could not stop. They couldn't help talking about what they had seen and heard. They asked these religious leaders a counter question: "Is it right in God's sight to obey you or God?"
Prayer: Lord, help me to spend time with Jesus every day so that I can obey you and boldly speak and teach your word of truth.
One Word: They had been with Jesus
THE BELIEVERS' PRAYER
Key Verse: 4:29
1. God is sovereign (23-28)
When Peter and John were threatened and released from prison, they went back to the believers and had a prayer meeting. They began their prayer by acknowledging the sovereignty of the Creator God. They quoted Psalm 118:22, and marveled at how Herod and Pontius Pilate and the Gentiles and Jewish rulers had conspired together against the Messiah, and thus had fulfilled the prophecies of the Psalm. They accepted persecution as a part of God's sovereignty, and they rejoiced in God who rules over all.
2. Enable us to speak with boldness (29-31)
They had just two prayer requests: (i) Lord, consider their threats and enable us to speak your word with boldness; (ii) Lord, stretch out your hand to heal through the name of Jesus. They did not try to save themselves; they only asked to extend God's mercy and love into the lives of sinsick and suffering people.
Prayer: Lord, grant me boldness to speak your word.
One Word: God is sovereign
BARNABAS, SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Key Verse: 4:32
1. One in heart and mind (32-33)
The fellowship of believers was not an end in itself. It was a fellowship that testified in word and deed to the presence of the Risen Jesus. When Jesus is Lord of every heart, then selfishness disappears. We ourselves and all our possessions belong to the Lord. This is the secret of being one in heart and mind. In the early church, this oneness was expressed in a primitive form of communism. It was beautiful, for there was no dissension and no needy person. Love and grace abounded.
2. The encourager (34-37)
A man named Joseph sold a field and brought the proceeds to the apostles. His action encouraged the believers very much, so he was called Barnabas, Son of Encouragement. Later, he encouraged Paul; then, John Mark (9:27; 11:22-26; 15:37-39). Encouragers are always needed in the fellowship of believers.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be an encourager of believers by my life, and help me to share Jesus with the world.
One Word: One in heart and mind
NO ONE ELSE DARED JOIN THEM
Key Verse: 5:13,14
1. Ananias and Sapphira (1-11)
Ananias and his wife Sapphira wanted to be recognized as spiritual leaders. They misunderstood Barnabas' sacrificial act; they decided to sell a piece of property and bring all the proceeds to the apostles. But then they had second thoughts. It seemed like too much to give away, so they agreed together to keep part for themselves. Peter saw their action from God's point of view and said, "Satan has so filled your heart that you lied to the Holy Spirit." Such unbelief and material greed could turn the body of Christ into a godless human fellowship. This was spiritual cancer, and God performed surgery (5-10).
2. Numbers increased (12-16)
Fear of God filled the city. Becoming a believer was something which no one could do lightly. No one dared join them, but still people were added to their number. Jesus' love for those in need continued to abound.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to live in your sight and hold your truth in my heart.
One Word: Live before God, not before men
GO, TELL THE FULL MESSAGE
Key Verse: 5:20
1. We must obey God rather than men (17-29)
When the numbers of believers increased, the high priests became jealous and had the apostles arrested. That night, God sent his angel to open the prison doors. He did not tell them to hide in a safe place--he sent them back to the front line (20). So the apostles went back to the temple and taught the Bible. When they were discovered, they were arrested again. The high priest said, "We told you not to preach about Jesus. You are making us guilty of his blood!"
2. Rejoicing in suffering (30-42)
They answered, "We must obey God... God raised Jesus...whom you had killed... He exalted him as Prince and Savior to give repentance and forgiveness to Israel. We are witnesses..." The Sanhedrin wanted to kill the apostles. But Gamaliel's advice silenced their fury, so they flogged the apostles and let them go. The apostles rejoiced that they could suffer for Jesus' sake, and continued teaching the Bible and proclaiming that Jesus is Christ. They had overcome fear.
Prayer: Lord, help me to overcome fear with faith, and rejoice in suffering.
One Word: We must obey God rather than men
THE APOSTLES' PRIORITIES
Key Verse: 6:4
1. Tension because of material things (1-4)
The Grecian Jews had been born and raised in other parts of the Empire. The natives of Jerusalem were Hebraic Jews. The common life, in which they shared material things and cared for the needy, gave rise to some problems. The Grecian Jews complained that their widows were being neglected. The Twelve made this problem an opportunity to turn responsibility for material oversight over to others, so that they could give their attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.
2. Seven stewards (5-7)
The men they chose were from among the Hellenistic Jews--those who had complained. But they were chosen because of their spiritual qualifications; the handling of material things must be a spiritual matter. The apostles prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. Even many priests--men who had studied the Bible--believed in Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, help us to make our problems an opportunity for spiritual growth, so that we may grow and your word may spread.
One Word: Keep spiritual priorities
STEPHEN, A MAN FULL OF THE SPIRIT
Key Verse: 6:15
1. A man full of God's grace and power (8-10)
One of those chosen to serve was Stephen. He was an administrator, but he was also a powerful Bible teacher. He had an effective ministry among fellow Grecian Jews because his life backed up his words. Some sophisticated Jews who did not believe in Jesus, strongly opposed Stephen. But when they debated with him, they couldn't win, for he stood on the side of truth and was full of wisdom and God's Spirit.
2. A secret plot (11-15)
These men began to spread false accusations about Stephen. They accused him of blasphemy against the Bible and against God. So he was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses who twisted his words and inflamed the religious leaders--the men who had crucified Jesus. The devil is a liar, and he uses false witness to attack the work of God. When Stephen stood before them, he was not afraid. He looked like an angel. He was ready to testify to Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, fill me with your grace and power so that I can witness to Jesus.
One Word: Be full of God's grace and power
TEACHING THE BIBLE UNDER PRESSURE
Key Verse: 7:5
1. The God of glory appeared to Abraham (1-8)
When Stephen spoke, he gave his accusers the gospel--in the context of history. He started with Abraham. Abraham's faith is characterized by obedience to God's word and belief in God's promises. He believed that his descendants would possess the promised land, even though he owned no land and had no children. He accepted God's plan to train his descendants in Egypt for 400 years, and sealed God's covenant with circumcision.
2. God was with Joseph (9-16)
Because of their jealousy, the patriarchs (Joseph's brothers) sold Joseph as a slave into Egypt. But God was with Joseph. He gave him wisdom and turned his adversity into victory. Through Joseph, God accomplished the first part of his plan, and brought Abraham's descendants to Egypt, so that they might grow into a great multitude. During that time, they held on to God's promise to give them the land (16).
Prayer: Lord, help me to obey your word, believe your promises, and trust you in times of adversity.
One Word: God keeps his promises
GOD SENT MOSES
Key Verse: 7:34
1. As the time drew near (17-29)
God used cruel oppression to give the slave people a longing to leave Egypt. Then God prepared a man. Because of his parents' faith, the infant Moses survived the holocaust, and by God's grace, received a palace education. But his people did not accept his leadership; he needed humanity training. Because of one incident, he was forced to live in exile for 40 years. He lived a family-centered life in Midian; God waited for him to grow as a shepherd.
2. God called Moses (30-38)
When Moses heard God's voice speaking to him from the burning bush, he trembled with fear. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob met him on holy ground and gave him a mission to go back to Egypt and be the ruler and deliverer of the people who had rejected him. He led them out of Egypt, cared for them in the desert for 40 years, taught them the Bible, and pointed them to Christ.
Prayer: Lord, raise up shepherds and Bible teachers for our times.
One Word: God trains and uses men
GOD'S WORD REJECTED
Key Verse: 7:39
1. God gave them over (39-43)
The idolatry that eventually led God's people into Babylonian captivity started in the desert when they made the golden calf (Ex 32). They did not obey Moses, who had received God's living word; in their hearts they turned back to Egypt and to the fatalistic, spiritual-struggle-free slave life.
2. God does not live in houses made by men (44-50)
The tabernacle in the desert was made by Moses according to God's pattern. It was brought into the promised land by Joshua. The great King David did not build the temple--his son Solomon did. Solomon knew that God is not confined to any house. Heaven is his throne and earth his footstool. He is the Creator. Stephen had been accused of speaking against the temple and the law (6:13). He taught them the Bible: God cannot be confined in a building. He pointed out that they were the law-breakers. They had rejected the Bible by not obeying it.
Prayer: Lord, help me to hold your word in my heart, and not yield to the seduction of any idol.
One Word: Worship God in God's way
THE STONING OF STEPHEN
Key Verse: 7:56
1. Stiff necks and uncircumcised hearts (51-53)
Stiff necks belong to proud people who do not bow humbly before the living God; uncircumcised hearts are hearts with no love for God and no repentance. Those who resist the word of God and the Holy Spirit's gentle leading are capable of crucifying even the righteous Son of God. Stephen exposed their lawlessness. He was not afraid of them, even though they stood there with stones in their hands.
2. I see heaven open (54-60)
When they gnashed their teeth at him with murder in their hearts, Stephen looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at his right hand. When they dragged him out of the city and began stoning him, he prayed for them, as Jesus on the cross had prayed (Lk 23:34,46). The seed of gospel faith was planted in a young man named Saul.
Prayer: Lord, circumcise my heart so that I may be a faithful witness to Jesus, and let me die with the vision of Jesus before me.
One Word: One glorious life and death
THE GOSPEL SEED SCATTERED
Key Verse: 8:4
1. A great persecution arose (1-3)
Stephen's death marked the beginning of a great persecution of the church by anti-Christians. The most rabid persecutor was Saul, a young man who had participated in Stephen's stoning. Saul went about systematically to destroy the church. It seemed that Stephen's death had kindled a great fire in him. Because of persecution, Christians were scattered all over the empire.
2. Those who scattered preached the word (4-8)
Wherever Christians went, they preached the word. When Philip went into non-Jewish territory, Samaria, and preached the gospel, people paid close attention to his message, repented and believed the gospel. God confirmed his ministry by acts of healing. The gospel brought great joy to that city. God turned the time of tragedy and persecution into a great missionary thrust.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the joy that your word brings to those who receive it. Help me to share the gospel with those around me.
One Word: Scatter the gospel seed
THE MAN WHO TRIED TO BUY GOD'S GIFT
Key Verse: 8:22
1. Simon's conversion (9-13)
Simon was a sorcerer. He enjoyed power and popularity. He thought he was someone great. Then Philip came and preached the good news. God granted him powerful miracles, and many people, including Simon, believed and were baptized. Simon was a good sheep; he followed Philip around everywhere to learn from him.
2. Peter and John's visit (14-25)
Peter and John were sent to Samaria to encourage and strengthen the great work of God there. They laid their hands on the new believers and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. The Spirit worked and people were changed. Simon revealed his crooked mind when he tried to buy the power of the Apostles. He had found a way to defeat Philip! Peter rebuked him. God's gift is for those who repent and pray. God's Spirit honors Jesus and equips us to do God's work. He is not for sale.
Prayer: Lord, give me your Spirit so that I can be a fruitful witness to Jesus' grace.
One Word: A gift that money can't buy
PHILIP AND THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH
Key Verse: 8:30b,31
1. Philip obeys the Spirit (26)
Philip left a fruitful and growing ministry in the city and went south on a desert road in obedience to God's Spirit. God cared about one thirsty man who was waiting for a Bible teacher.
2. The Ethiopian eunuch (27-40)
The man Philip met was riding in his chariot on his way home from Jerusalem. He was a Gentile from Ethiopia who had a high position in his government, but he had no hope of having a family because he was a eunuch. He had gone to Jerusalem seeking the God of the Jews, but he was not satisfied, so he was pouring over the Bible. The words of Isaiah 53 spoke to his heart, for here was a man who suffered, and who, like himself, was humiliated and had no descendants (33). Through 1:1 Bible study, Philip introduced him to Jesus who bore all his sins and sorrows. He was baptized and went on his way rejoicing.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be a one-to-one Bible teacher whenever you give me the opportunity. Lead me to one thirsty person.
One Word: Be a one-to-one Bible teacher
SAUL MEETS JESUS
Key Verse: 9:4b
1. Saul's journey to Damascus (1-2)
Saul was bent on destroying the "dangerous" sect of the Nazarene. He thought he was serving God. His zeal had increased since his participation in the stoning of Stephen. Perhaps it was an outward display of an inner struggle (Ac 26:14). Not satisfied with crushing and scattering the church in Jerusalem, he decided to go to Damascus to arrest Christians there.
2. Who are you, Lord? (3-9)
A light from heaven flashed around him; he fell to the ground. Then the Risen Jesus spoke: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Saul was overwhelmed. He said, "Who are you, Lord?" Jesus answered, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting....Get up and go into the city...." This event completely turned Saul's life around. It was God's great grace to him. From this time on he belonged to Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for coming to me when I was living in ignorance and sin. Undergird my life with your grace.
One Word: Meet the Risen Jesus
THE LORD'S CHOSEN INSTRUMENT
Key Verse: 9:15,16
1. A man named Ananias (10-14)
Saul was an infamous enemy of the gospel. The believers in Damascus were steeling themselves for his coming. They did not know that he had met the Risen Jesus, that he was blind and helpless and needed a shepherd. So when God called Ananias to go and help him, Ananias hesitated.
2. My chosen instrument (15-16)
God told Ananias that he had chosen Saul and wanted to use him to bring the gospel to the Gentiles as well as to the people of Israel. Saul would suffer for Jesus' sake. The zealous Pharisee was not a likely person to become an evangelist to the Gentiles. God sometimes chooses unlikely people, and gives them jobs they don't seem to fit.
3. An obedient shepherd (17-19a)
Ananias overcame his fear and feelings, obeyed God and went. He called Saul, "Brother." He prayed for him and fed him. Saul's sight was restored and he was baptized into the Christian fellowship.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be obedient to your word, so that you can use me as your instrument.
One Word: God's chosen instrument
SAUL'S BOLD WITNESS
Key Verse: 9:20
1. Escape from Damascus (19b-25)
Saul went into the synagogue and preached that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The man who had raised havoc among Christians in Jerusalem, and who had come to Damascus to destroy the church had become a bold witness to Jesus. His testimony was so powerful that the Jews decided to kill him. He escaped when the Christians lowered him in a basket through a hole in the city wall. Only Jesus could bring about such a change.
2. Paul's shepherd, Barnabas (26-31)
In Jerusalem, the Christians feared him. They could not accept him. But Barnabas trusted God and helped Saul. He had faith to believe that God could change a man, and eyes to see God's work. Paul's fearless witness to Jesus again put his own life, as well as the lives of others, at risk. So the brothers sent him to Tarsus, his home. There was peace in the church and a new work of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the work of your Spirit, who changes even men like Saul--and people like me.
One Word: Meet the Risen Jesus
GOD BLESSES PETER'S MINISTRY
Key Verse: 9:40a
1. Jesus Christ heals you (32-35)
Peter the good shepherd traveled around taking care of Jesus' flock. Peter spoke to a bedridden man named Aeneas in the name of Jesus. The man was healed by Jesus; he immediately got up. Those who saw Aeneas' changed life turned to the Lord. They did not turn to Peter and make him a popular cult leader--they turned to Jesus and put their faith in him.
2. Dorcas restored to life (36-43)
The faith of the Christians of Joppa was amazing--they didn't give up, even in the face of death; so when Dorcas, who had cared for so many of them died, they sent for Peter, and expected a miracle. Even though her body was prepared for burial, they believed that if Peter prayed for her, God would raise her from the dead. Peter got down on his knees and prayed. Then he spoke to the dead woman. She opened her eyes and sat up. Again, the people put their faith in the Lord--not in Peter.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to pray so that you can bring new life to dying people. Let Jesus only be glorified by my life.
One Word: Peter knelt down and prayed
A CENTURION NAMED CORNELIUS
Key Verse: 10:4,5
1. A devout and God-fearing man (1-2)
Cornelius was a Roman soldier, a member of the elite Italian Regiment. He was a part of the army of occupation, but he was not a cruel oppressor. He was a man with a learning mind and a spiritual thirst. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing. He gave to those in need, and prayed to God. We might think that such a man would have no need for Jesus. But his good deeds did not solve his sin problem, nor did his faithful life quench his thirst.
2. Send for Peter (3-8)
God heard Cornelius' prayers and sent an angel to visit him. The angel told him that God was pleased with his prayers and gifts and wanted to bless him. He was to send for the man who could introduce him to Jesus, Simon Peter. Cornelius shared his vision with two trusted servants and a devout soldier, and sent them to Joppa to find Peter.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for showing me that all people need Jesus. Help me to share Jesus with anyone, anytime, and not to be fooled by appearances.
One Word: Everybody needs Jesus
Key Verse: 10:13
1. Get up, Peter. Kill and eat! (9-16)
Peter was visiting Simon the tanner in Joppa. One day while waiting for lunch, he was praying on the roof. He fell into a kind of trance, and dreamed about a large sheet full of unclean animals, the kind he had been trained from his youth never to eat. When a voice from heaven said, "Get up Peter. Kill and eat," he objected. God rebuked him. He should not call unclean that which God has cleansed. God was breaking his Jewish pride and legalism.
2. Three men from Cornelius (17-23a)
While Peter was thinking about the vision, the men Cornelius had sent arrived. They were Gentiles, and they had been sent to Peter by God, for God was personally opening a door into his kingdom for the Gentile world. Peter was obedient to God's Spirit. He ignored Jewish tradition, welcomed the Gentiles into his home as his guests, and ate with them.
Prayer: Lord, make my conscience a slave to your word, not a slave to my own feelings and ideas. Help me to obey your Spirit.
One Word: Follow God's word, not feelings
PETER AT CORNELIUS' HOUSE
Key Verse: 10:33b
1. Cornelius welcomes Peter (23b-29)
Cornelius fell at Peter's feet in reverence. Peter made it clear that he was not a god; he was a man, and a servant of the living God. Peter openly confessed that his being there was a violation of Jewish law, but God had shown him that he should not hold on to his old prejudices. All men are created in God's image. So, when Peter was sent for, he came without objection.
2. Cornelius' prepared heart (30-33)
Cornelius knew that Jews did not enter Gentile homes. He told Peter how God's messenger had visited him while he was praying, and said that God had heard his prayers and seen his generosity in giving to the poor. Cornelius thanked Peter for coming. He and those with him were gathered there in the presence of God, ready to hear everything God had given Peter to say.
Prayer: Lord, cleanse me of pride and prejudice and help me to listen to your word with a prepared heart and mind.
One Word: A heart prepared to hear God's word
THE GOOD NEWS OF PEACE
Key Verse: 10:36
1. Jesus Christ is Lord of all (34-36)
The Jews thought that God loved only them. But God taught Peter that he does not show favoritism. He accepts any person who fears him and does what is right--regardless of that person's human condition. The Good News of peace through Jesus is for everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord.
2. What happened in Judea (37-48)
The gospel is rooted in fact. Peter reviewed the basic facts: John preached repentance; then, Jesus, anointed by the Holy Spirit, went around doing good and healing. He challenged the devil and set men free. Then, they killed him by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead on the third day. The Risen Jesus was seen by witnesses. He commanded his disciples to testify about God's sure judgment, and about forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus. Cornelius and his friends believed, and the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Prayer: Praise Jesus, who is Lord of all and Savior of all who come to him. Thank you for the peace that Jesus gives through the gospel.
One Word: Believe in Jesus and be forgiven
EVEN THE GENTILES
Key Verse: 11:18
1. Peter answers criticism (1-16)
The Jewish believers in Jerusalem criticized Peter for going to the home of Gentiles and eating with them. He told