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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.

IV 13:1-28:31 The Gospel Spreads Westward ”To the Ends of the Earth”

A. 13:1-14:28 Beginning of the Pauline Mission: Preaching in Cyprus and Easter Asia

B. 15:1-35 The Jerusalem Council Resolves the Status of Gentiles

C. 15:36-21:14 Paul’s Mission in the Aegean

9. 18:24-19:41 The Pauline Mission in Ephesus: 9:1-7 More disciples, like Apollos, who only know John’s baptism. Once again, as with Apollos, they are brought into fellowship. Verses 8-10 Paul, as in Corinth, moves out of the synagogue. Notice how long Paul stays in Corinth. Verses 11-20 Ephesus was a center of magic arts. Here a distinction is drawn between what God does and magic. It is made clear, God works through Paul. Paul’s ability to heal is not the result of saying the proper words but is based on Paul’s legitimate authority given by God. Notice that even believers were involved in magic and notice the magnitude of the repentance. Fifty thousand silver coins was probably about fifty thousand days’ wages.  Verses 21-22 The Spirit directs Paul again as Paul returns to the churches he has earlier planted. Verses 23-41 Once again there is trouble over property and the loss of income when the gospel comes to a city. The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and of great financial significance to the area. It was a civil religion and city life was shaped by the temple and its festivals. The gospel was a threat to both the economic and social aspects of city life.

10. 20:1-38 Concluding the Aegean Mission: Verses 1-6 Paul’s travels and note that he travels with companion. Notice that Paul celebrates Passover in Philippi. Earlier (see 16:11-34) Philippi was noted as a city without a synagogue but Paul has established a church of God fearing gentiles ( who we would not expect to celebrate the Passover) with whom Paul celebrates Passover. Verses 7-12 This is the first reference to the celebration of Sunday as a Christian sabbath. Notice echoes of Easter, a meal in an upper room, a death and healing miracle. Verses 17-38 Paul addresses believers, his successors, encouraging them to faithfulness. How does this speech compare to the other sermons of Paul in Acts? How does this speech compare to Paul’s letters?

11. 21:1-14 Journey to Jerusalem: on the road to Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit is still active in Paul’s story. Paul’s journey reads like a sort of “farewell tour” and in fact Paul will not return to these places again. Notice the contrast between the disciples in the various locations who urge Paul not to go to Jerusalem and Paul’s determination to be obedient to the Holy Spirit.

D. 21:15-23:30 Paul in Jerusalem

1. 21:15-26 Paul’s Arrival in Jerusalem: Notice the persistent concern about how Jewish followers of Jesus should act and the concern that Paul does not  encourage Jews to maintain Jewish practices. Notice (verse 25) this worry is not about whether gentile believers become Jewish but that Jewish believers remain Jewish. Careful readers know that Paul has remained a faithful Jew. Paul does what the leaders in Jerusalem ask, and demonstrates his commitment to Jewish tradition. Why, do you think, is this an ongoing concern?

2. 21:27-40 Paul’s Arrest in Jerusalem: Did Paul’s actions in the previous verses fail to satisfy Jewish believers? Or are these people Jewish non believers who do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah? Ironically, Paul is safer in the custody of the Romans than in the Temple.

3. 22:1-21 Paul’s Defense Before the Temple Crowd:Paul tells his story, notice how Paul highlights the “Jewishness” of his experiences.

4. 22:22-29 Paul the Roman Citizen:As a Roman citizen, Paul had rights to a fair public trial that non citizens did not have. Flogging was legal for aliens, slaves or lower class people if a case was unsettled by other means.

5. 22:30-23:11 Paul before the Sanhedrin: Paul is brought before the Sanhedrin by the Roman official Lysias in an attempt to understand the charges brought against Paul. Do you think Lysias has a clearer understanding of what is happening after this raucous meeting? Paul uses the division between Pharisees and Sadducees to make a theological point. As Paul points out in his letter to the Corinthians, if there is no resurrection of the dead, the gospel makes no sense. Verse 11 God again, is guiding and in control.

6. 23:12-30 Plot Against Paul and His Planned Transfer to Caesarea: Why is Paul considered such a threat to the faith that assassination is warranted?

E. 23:31-26:32 Paul in Caesarea

1. 23:31-35 Paul’s Transfer to Caesarea: Roman officials take their responsibilities to Roman law seriously, and so they inadvertently protect Paul’s ability to preach the gospel.

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.

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