You will find an introduction and outline of Acts, here.

Here is a prayer from the Book of Common Worship to use with your reading.

O Lord our God, your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Give us grace to receive your truth in faith and love, that we may be obedient to your will and live always for your glory; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

I. 1:1-26 Between Easter and Pentecost

A. 1:1-8 Jesus Story Continued: Notice how the beginning of Acts links back to the Gospel of Luke. Forty days/years is a commonly cited time in the Bible, when people are prepared for the future work. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13).

B. 1:9-12 Ascension :While there were no witnesses to the resurrection, there are witnesses to the Ascension. Two men, again (Luke 24:4), explain what has happened. Commentators wonder, are they angels? Or Elijah and Moses (Luke 9:30-31)?

C. 1:13-26 Replacing Judas: Notice the mention of women. The twelve apostles stand for the twelve tribes of Israel. Theologically speaking, Judas can be thought of as the unrepentant Israel, who rejects the Messiah (Wall, 48). Judas’ decision to choose money (and land) over the Messiah reflects the ongoing emphasis on the proper use of material goods and wealth which began in Luke and will continue in Acts.

II. 2:1-8:3 Beginning of the Church and Spread of the Gospel in Jerusalem

A. 2:1-47 Inauguration of the Messianic community on Pentecost :

1. 2:1-4 the Coming of the Spirit:  Pentecost was one of three Jewish feast where people gathered in Jerusalem. Pentecost was a harvest festival celebrated 50 days after Passover. The “speaking in other languages” is not the spiritual gift of glossolalia that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Notice that one Spirit affects many people.

2. 2:5-13 the Worldwide Audience:  Verse 7 Galileans were known for their lack of ability in learning other languages. This list of nations includes nations that were not in existence in the first century (Parthians, Elamites) and the Cretes and Arabs were not nations but groups of people. What was Luke telling his readers with this list?

3. 2:14-36 Peter’s Sermon: Peter’s sermon is a midrash or commentary on Scripture ( which was what Christians call the Old Testament)

4. 2:37-41 Response to Peter’s Sermon

5. 2:42-47 Profile of the Early Church: Luke, in the early chapters of Acts, gives a few summaries of what the life of the early church was like. These summaries are to instruct the reader about Christian life. Verse 44 “…Luke uses a well-known phrase from Greek philosophy indicating friendship: “all things in common”. A fellowship of believers shares more than common beliefs and core values; they display a profound regard for one another’s spiritual and physical well-being as a community of friends.” (Wall, 71-72)

B. 3:1-4:31 Prophetic Witness in the Temple

1. 3:1-11 The Lame Man healed: Notice the lame man was placed outside the gate, but when he is healed, the man enters the Temple with John and Peter to worship.

2. 3:12-26 Peter’s Sermon in the Temple: Peter’s sermon in the Temple, like his first sermon is in response to a crowd witnessing a might work of God.

Read More About It:

Holladay, Carl R. “Acts”,  in HarperCollins Bible Commentary, rev. ed.James L Mays, ed. (New York: Society of Bible Literature) 2000.

Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, rev. ed. (Minneapolis:Fortress Press) 1999. Chapter 9 “Luke-Acts”.

Johnson, Sherman E., Bruce M. Metzger, “Acts” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible,Bruce M. Metzger, Roland E. Murphy eds. (New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.

Wall, Robert W. “The Acts of the Apostles” in  The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume X, Leander E. Keck,ed. (Nashville, Abingdon Press)2002.