The Gospels are a tough act to follow. But that is exactly what the book of Acts does. The book of Acts is the bridge that spans the gap between the four Gospels and the Epistles.

Four Gospels



Book of Acts

It is tied with Matthew for being the longest book of the New Testament - 28 chapters.



Luke is the author of the book of Acts. The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are written as companion volumes. They are part one and part two of the work of Jesus.



The ministry of Jesus as He was on earth

The ministry of Jesus from heaven

Teachings of Jesus

Teachings of the apostles

Introduction of the Gospel

Progress of the Gospel

Christ revealed historically

Christ revealed mystically

Christ for us

Christ in us

Begins with the events surrounding the coming of Christ to earth.

Begins with the ascension of Christ into heaven

Ends with the disciples in Jerusalem

Ends with the apostle Paul in Rome

This two-volume set makes up 28% of the entire New Testament - more than all of the epistles of Paul combined.

  1. The Early Church Fathers are uniform in attributing the 3rd Gospel and Acts to Luke.
  2. Luke also, the companion of Paul, set down in a book the gospel preached by him. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:1:1).

    The Acts of the Apostles, however, were written by Luke in one book addressed to the most excellent Theophilus; and he makes it clear that these events took place in his presence, for he omits the passion of Peter, as also the journey of Paul when he went from the city to Spain. (Muratorian Fragment, A.D. 200).

  3. Even a cursory reading of the 3rd Gospel with the book of Acts will show that they were written by the same hand.
  1. The Author Was a Companion of Paul.

There are movement in the narrative from the 3rd person to the first person plural - where the author moves from "them" to "us." There are three such sections.

2nd Missionary Journey

Acts 16:10-17

From Troas to Philippi

3rd Missionary Journey

Acts 20:5 - 21:18

From Philippi through Troas, Miletus, Rhodes, Tyre, Caesarea, to Jerusalem

4th Missionary Journey

Acts 27:1 - 28:16

From Caesarea through Sidon, Crete, Malta, to Rome

In Colossians 4:14, Luke is described as "the beloved physician" and is with Paul in his imprisonment in Rome. In 2 Timothy 4:11, Luke is the only one who is still with Paul.



The abrupt ending of the book indicates that it was written immediately after the events described in the book and prior to the death of Paul or the destruction of Jerusalem.

There is no mention of Nero's persecutions which began A.D. 64/65. Indeed, there is no mention of any persecution at the hands of Rome. Neither is there any mention of the Jewish revolt of A.D. 66 which eventually resulted in the fall of Jerusalem. We conclude that Acts was written immediately after the events described in the book.

It was written by Luke who had been an eye-witness of many of the events described in the book. The following dates are helpful for dating the events found in the book of Acts:



At the beginning of his gospel narrative, Luke states that he had used a number of sources in gathering his material to write (Luke 1:1-4).

While he was an eye-witness of many of the incidents which took place later in the book, he makes no claim to having been an eye-witness of those events portrayed in the first half of the book.

When we study the Gospel of Luke, we have three other gospel accounts with which to compare the writing. In the case of Acts, most of the material is unique.

It is evident that the sermons recorded in the book of Acts are edited versions in the same way that the sermons of Jesus in Luke were edited in order to fit in with the author's purpose in writing.



    1. Acts is a Book of Victory.
    2. This book ought to be a trail of tears. It contains every sort of persecution and problem. But that is not the tone of the book. It is a book of victory.

    3. Acts is Essentially about the lives of Peter and Paul.
    4. The two other notable characters within this book are Stephen and Philip - two deacons in the early church.

      It is a book about men - about their mistakes as well as their successes. It records their discouragements and their doubts as well as their victories.

      There is a principle here. The great problem is not being discouraged - it is STAYING discouraged. Acts is a book about learning to get back up.

      The book of Acts does not picture Christians with halos. There are no stained-glass saints. Luke tells us about Christians the way they really are. We see the arguments that divided Christians. We see all of their failings. That is good because it means that if God can work with them, then He can work with us, too.

    5. Acts is full of Surprises.

There are a number of things within the book of Acts which will take us by surprise. I would not have done things the way God did them.

There is a lesson here. It is that God does not fit into our nice, neat theological boxes. He is not some puppet which is used by men. It is He who uses men.

    1. The Narratives of Acts are not necessarily Normative.
    2. Acts is not so much a "how to" book. We are not told how to speak in tongues or how to heal and perform miracles. We are not even told how to evangelize or plant churches, although there are some patterns from which we might learn a great deal.

      Rather, Acts is the story of how the Lord continued to ministry to His church through His saints, by means of His Spirit.

      On the other hand, I want to suggest that this is not just a book for the first century. God is not too tired to work in this century. He is still in the world-changing business. And He is at work today, too.

    3. The Preaching of the Book of Acts.
    4. The main theme of the preaching of the apostles is the resurrection of Jesus Christ and demand for repentance on the basis of that message.

    5. Acts is a book of Prayer. The Christian life cannot run without prayer any more than a car can run without gasoline.



 Luke and Acts must be approached as a double work with a single purpose that is historical but primarily theological in nature. These are not mere history books. They are not just recording early Christian history. If they were, then there are things that ought to have been added.

1. Primary Purpose.

Luke states that his primary purpose in writing his Gospel account was to give an account of the teachings of Jesus. By the same token, his primary purpose in writing the book of Acts was to give an account of the teachings of the apostles and those who came after Jesus.

  1. 2. Secondary Purposes.

The book takes us through the gospel as it is preached in Jerusalem and to Judea and then north to Samaria and finally to the uttermost part of the world - to far off Rome.






Primarily Peter


Church Established


Church Foretold


Church Born



Church Witnessing


Church Organized


Peter and Others

Church Scattered

Church Expanding


Church Dispersed


Gentiles in the Church


Primarily Paul 

Church Extended

First Missionary Journey


Church in Conference


Second Missionary Journey


Third Missionary Journey


Paul Imprisoned

Paul in Jerusalem


Paul in Caesarea


Paul in Rome



If this one work makes up over one-fourth of the content of the New Testament, the principle of proportion alone tells us that it must be very important material.

The Gospels

Acts BRIDGES the Gap

The Epistles

End in Jerusalem with no church

Directed to churches throughout the Roman world

The gospel is given mainly to the Jews

Churches filled with Gentile believers

Ends in Jerusalem

Ends in Rome

The Book of Acts provides us with a historical background for many of the churches which are dealt with in the Epistles of the New Testament.

This book also relates the fulfillment of our Lord's promises to His disciples concerning the coming of the Spirit and His ministry in the world.

It is in this regard that the book of Acts has become something of a battleground. Charismatic Christians wish to take all the workings of God as found in this book and make them normative, insisting that God must always work in the same manner today. Non-charismatics go to the other extreme to insist that God today is doing nothing in the way in which He was originally working.

If you were to read the Gospels and then to move directly into the epistles without any knowledge of the book of Acts, you would wonder who is this Paul and what gives him to right to speak with such authority.

It was not the obedience of Israel that brought the gospel to the Gentiles. Rather, it was the disobedience of Israel which resulted in the gospel going out to the world. Indeed, it was at the insistence of the Jews that Paul was arrested and given a free mission trip at state expense to Rome where he could proclaim the gospel.

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