Here’s an excellent overview of the first portion of the Book of Acts.
Acts is the second part of Luke’s history - written by the same author as the Gospel of Luke and to the same recipient. Acts is sometimes called “Acts of the Apostles” though it might better be titled “Acts of Peter and Paul.”
The book begins with a brief insight into the resurrection appearances of Jesus, which begin on Easter Sunday but continue for 40 days. During that time, Jesus continues to teach and prepare his disciples for their mission. Then he ascends into heaven. Nine days later, on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples and they explode into ministry. Why do you think they are so much more confident and passionate and faithful with the Holy Spirit than they ever were with Jesus?
We get a few glimpses into the communal life of the early church (for example, Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37). What inspires you about these accounts? What reminds you of today’s church, and in what ways should today’s church be reminded of the Acts congregations?
Life is not perfect, even in the churches. We see external persecution (Acts 4 & 7) and internal discord (Acts 5 & 6). Which seems more challenging for the church? How does each type of trial affect the believers?
Saul, who we know as the Apostle Paul, appears for the first time at the end of chapter 7 and beginning of chapter 8. His life changes dramatically when he meets Jesus on the Damascus road. Why do you think Jesus chose Paul to be an apostle? Have you ever had a Damascus road experience?
We find several accounts of Gentiles coming to Christ in this section (for example, the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius the centurion). The inclusion of Gentiles (non-Jews) into the church is the greatest issue of conflict in the early church. Why do you think this was such a source of conflict?
Are there people today that you might feel should not be welcomed into the church (as others though about us Gentiles at one point)? How does this section shape your understanding of those persons?
Keep it up, you’re doing great!
Grace and Peace,