Page images

has then passed on to other incidents and scenes. His is a narrative of how the Church began its universal witnessing for Christ.

The Title

It accords well with this evident selection of material that the book, in the earliest existing manuscript, is designated "Acts," and thus the American Revised Version gives as its title "The Acts," by which is meant a narrative of certain notable deeds. As other books, however, were being published under such titles as "Acts of Peter and Paul," "Acts of Timothy," and so forth, it became necessary to define more exactly the original "treatise" of "The Acts." Thus in various manuscripts such titles as "Acts of the Apostles," "Acts of the Holy Apostles," or "The Acts of the Apostles," are found. The last is possibly the most familiar title and is said to be as old as the second century. While it is not wholly objectionable, as indicating important achievements of the apostles, the difficulty is evident, in that other men than apostles have a prominent place in the narrative, and to most of the apostles no part is assigned. The more modern title, "Acts of Apostles," is preferred by many, as it accurately, but indefinitely, indicates some acts of certain apostles.

The Outline

Two apostles, Peter and Paul, are especially prominent in the narrative, and the account of their activities has suggested a popular division of the book into two parts: (1) The evangelization of the Jews, by Peter, the apostle of the circumcision. Chs. 1 to 12. (2) The evangelization of the Gentiles, by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. Ch. 13 to 28. It may be well, however, to subdivide the first part, and to follow the analysis suggested in connection with the Great Commission in Acts 1:8: (1) The witness in Jerusalem. Chs. 1 to 7. (2) The witness in Judea and Samaria. Chs. 7 to 12. (3) The witness "unto the uttermost part of the earth." Chs. 13 to 28. The advantage of the latter division is the opportunity of noting the transitional character of the narrative in chs. 8 to 12, where the Church is widening its horizon and is receiving into its membership others than Jews, and so is being prepared for

its universal mission. Thus we can trace in each division a development in the character of the Church, and the sections may be defined as follows: (1) The founding of the Church and its great initial experiences. (2) The broadening of the Church from a Jewish sect to a universal brotherhood. (3) The extension of the Church, as a body of witnesses, bearing its testimony to the whole world. The narrative, however, must not be dissected too coldly. It forms a unity; it throbs with life; it thrills with emotion; it stirs the reader to venture forth and share the heroic enterprise the first scenes of which are here depicted, the matchless endeavor to witness for Christ in all the world.




The Witness in Jerusalem. Acts 1:1 to 8:3



Ch. 2.


Chs. 3:1 to 4: 31
Chs. 4: 32 to 5:11
Ch. 5: 12-42.
Ch. 6:1-7.






1. Introductory. Ch. 1.
2. The First Converts.
3. The First Opposition.
4. The First Discipline.
5. The First Persecution.
6. The First Organization.
7. The First Martyrdom. Chs. 6: 8 to 8:3.



The Witness in Samaria and Judea. Chs. 8:4 to 12:25
1. The Preaching of Philip. Ch. 84-40.
2. The Conversion of Saul. Ch. 9:1-30.
3. The Journeys of Peter. Ch. 9:31-43.
4. The Reception of Cornelius. Chs. 10: 1 to 11: 18
5. The Mission of Barnabas. Ch. 11:19-30.
6. The Persecution of Herod. Ch. 12..



The Witness Unto the Uttermost Part of the Earth.
Chs. 13 to 28

[ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][merged small]

1. Paul's First Missionary Journey. Chs. 13, 14..
2. The Council at Jerusalem. Ch. 15: 1-35..
3. Paul's Second Missionary Journey. Chs. 15: 36 to




4. Paul's Third Missionary Journey. Chs. 18: 23 to 21:16..


5. Paul's Imprisonment. Chs. 21: 17 to 26: 32. 6. Paul's Journey to Rome. Chs. 27, 28..




[ocr errors][merged small]


THE WITNESS IN JERUSALEM. ACTS 1:1 to 8:3 1. Introductory. Ch. 1.

a. The Ascension of Christ. Ch. 1:1-11

1 The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, 2 until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 to whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God: 4 and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: 5 for John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence.

6 They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority. 8 But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.

The book could not open more fittingly than with this story thus told, for the author is to write of the Church and its witness for Christ, and this story at once fixes. the thought upon the living, divine Lord, the Head of the Church, who by his Spirit is to unite his followers into one

« PreviousContinue »