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ACTS - In the Triumphal Procession of Christ
Studies in the Acts of the Apostles


How Christ’s Triumphal Procession Started:
An Introduction to the Book of Acts

The Lord Jesus Christ is living, for His body did not decay away in the tomb. He truly rose from the dead and appeared over a period of forty days to His disciples. Following that, He ascended to heaven to sit down at the right hand of His Father, where He lives and reigns with Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit - one God, from everlasting to everlasting.

Since His ascension to heaven Christ has been building His church, silently and prudently, upholding it in spite of all the powers of evil fighting against God. His church is both the fruit and the result of His triumph on the cross. All of the acts of the apostles were established upon the fact of man´s complete reconciliation to God. All members of Christ are participants in His triumphal procession. The cross remains the foundation on which the acts of all the apostles, as well as those of the whole church of Christ, are built.

Before His ascension to heaven, Jesus commanded His disciples to wait for the Promise of the Father in Jerusalem. His desire was to fill them with the power of the Holy Spirit, who would then enable them to spread the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, the capital of world culture. Thus Christ’s command to the apostles to preach to the world also signified His sending and commissioning them. The Holy Spirit dwelt in them, so that no other power was to be their impetus in preaching and working in the church.

The Theme of the Acts of the Apostles

Whoever reads this unique book soon discovers that its purpose is not to simply give record of the acts done by the apostles, for indeed the acts of Christ continued on in His disciples, through His Spirit, even after His ascension to heaven. The book mentions little about the mighty acts done by the apostles, and when it does it primarily is referring to the workings of Peter and Paul. From chapter 13 onward we read little about Peter, and in this book we recognize nothing concerning his death. Even the ministries of Paul, which are mentioned in detail, break off at the close of his imprisonment in Rome. The author’s design was not to precisely describe the apostles’ acts, chronologically and minutely. Instead, he wanted to inform his readers about the spreading of the gospel of Christ, and give information concerning the founding and expansion of the church from Jerusalem to Rome.

The Lord’s ministers functioned like a relay team, with each one passing off the torch of the gospel to the other, until the message of salvation reached the capital. Thus the theme of the Acts of the Apostles is the truthful and triumphant progression of the gospel of salvation, guided by the living Christ, from Jerusalem all the way to Rome.

The Composition of the Book

The apostles did not write up a detailed battle plan regarding the spiritual warfare that would be involved in spreading the kingdom of God. The living Lord Himself personally intervened, time and time again, in the life of the early church, until in the end His church was strengthened to spread, first into Samaria and Antioch, and then into Rome. The Lord picked the very Jewish Paul, who also spoke Greek, to realize the triumphal procession of His gospel to Rome. A short time before choosing Paul, the deacon Stephen, along with his Greek co-workers of Jewish origin, had had a great influence on the Christians of Jewish origin that had settled in Palestine. As a result, an open struggle had broken out between the two parties. Because of this, the Lord gathered His apostles together, in a spirit of love, to hold their first apostolic council at Jerusalem (chapter 15). They had received salvation by grace alone and refused any thought of righteousness through works. With this development, the churches of the Gentiles became free of Jewish influence and the chains of the law. The knowledge of the love of Christ had become a world religion, ready to move forward into new territory.

At the same time, the living Lord Himself founded, in Antioch, a second center of Christianity, in addition to the first one already established in Jerusalem. The spread of the gospel began from Antioch, and expanded until it covered Asia Minor. With great power the gospel leaped from Asia to the continent of Europe, breaking into Greek cities and provinces until it finally reached Rome.

The book can be divided into three parts:

The early church in Jerusalem
(chapters 1- 7)
The gospel’s spread from Samaria to Antioch
(chapters 8- 12)
The preaching of the gospel in Asia Minor and Greece, culminating in Paul’s arrival in Rome
(chapters 13- 28)

Who is the Author?

The author of this book did not identify himself by name, nor did he provide us with any clear evidence about himself, having regarded himself of no importance. However, there has been unanimous agreement from the beginning that Luke, the Greek physician from Antioch, was the author of this unique book. He possessed an exact knowledge of the situation in that center of Christianity. Luke was also skillful in the Greek language. He wrote his reports with love and kindness, and recorded the words and the speeches of the apostles in a fluent, clear style. In his book he refers to devout men among the Gentiles, for, in fact, he had been one of them, even before he was born again through the gospel’s testimony. Luke met Paul on his second missionary journey and accompanied him from Troas to Philippi. He participated in preaching in that Roman colony, and Paul left him there to build up and look after the new church after his departure. The apostle took him once again with him on his return to Jerusalem, where Luke left his teacher to gather information for the gospel he would write and his book the Acts of the Apostles. We find that Luke frequently visited Paul during his imprisonment in Caesarea and thereafter. He continued with him, served him, and was greatly impressed by the apostle´s spirituality. He later recorded Paul´s defense while on trial before the Roman officials. He did not leave him in his long, fraught-with-danger travels until he arrived in Rome. The numerous “we” sections indicate where Luke was with Paul as an eyewitness and fellow traveler.

To Whom the Book Was Written

Luke, the evangelist, wrote clearly that his book on the deeds of the apostles was dedicated to Theophilus, the same person to whom he had addressed his holy gospel. Luke addressed both of his written works, forming one whole, yet in two parts, to him. We learn something about the person of Theophilus in (Luke 1: 1- 3). Theophilus, whose name signifies “lover of God”, was a prominent man of high rank in the Roman Empire. His belief in Christ began during his service in Antioch. He wished to get more exact details about the spiritual and historical development of Christianity, and wanted to know how the Roman officials were treating the churches, justly or unjustly. To what extent could the principles of the gospel be the foundation for a newly developing world system. During his accompaniment of Paul, the apostle, and guided by the Holy Spirit, Luke gathered details from the time of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, to the entrance of Paul into Rome. He presented Theophilus with this orderly written, historical narrative describing the course of God’s power working in the church. He wanted to establish him in his faith and give support to the certainty of his belief, just as Paul had said to the prison keeper in Philippi: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.”

The Date

Paul’s arrival in Rome was probably in A.D. 61. The situation thereafter remained troubling, since many other pseudo-gospels were in existence at the time Luke wrote his gospel. It is therefore probable that Luke, the physician, wrote the Book of the Acts of the Apostles during the years A.D. 62- 70 as a second part and continuation of the account of Christianity begun in his gospel. There he had written following accurate enquiry, diligence, and prayer. He had talked with eyewitnesses of Christ’s life, also with Mary, Christ’s mother, and Philip, the deacon. He derived from written sources the most important texts and the ones he considered necessary for describing the person of Christ, as well as His deeds. He also collected information for the Acts of the Apostles. He later presented both works to Theophilus, the governor.

We thank the Lord Jesus Christ with all our hearts that He called this Greek physician, and guided him to not stop his writing at the end of his gospel. Instead, He further enlightened him with the knowledge that the living Lord would not return immediately, and that that His word should be preached to the nations before He returns. As the twelve apostles, together with the Early Church around them, waited in Jerusalem for the coming of Christ, just so, the Christians in Antioch received insight from the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel of salvation throughout the whole world. They were to push the procession of the gospel towards Rome. If Luke had not worked with diligence and accuracy, we would never have so precisely learned how Christ spread His kingdom throughout the Greek world. Since that time the Lord has given us, in this book, an example for preaching and for founding churches. Thus we are able to learn how the Holy Spirit renews believers, prompts them to service, and triumphs in their weaknesses. There is no better training ground for the Lord’s ministers than for them to study the book of the Acts of the Apostles. There they will see the hand of the Lord Jesus at work, together with those who obey His call.


  1. What were Luke’s purposes for writing the book of the Acts of the Apostles? What do you know about Theophilus?


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