Select Wisdom Brand

Click the image to watch the video.
Scroll down for more options.



The Book of Action Begins

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Acts 1:1–5

The resurrection of Jesus is the key to the ongoing ministry of His church. Only our living Savior can fully equip us to effectively serve Him to the glory of God.


Today we begin sailing into the New Testament book of Acts. Acts is the sequel to the Gospel of Luke—the second volume, so to speak, written by Dr. Luke. It effectively tells us what happened when Jesus ascended, and the Holy Spirit descended, and the church was created. The book of Acts will cover the first thirty years plus of the early church.

Frankly, I cannot think of a better time in church history than today to begin studying the life of the early church.

Your Bible might entitle this book, “The Acts of the Apostles,” but the truth is, it gives us very little information about the apostles. It focuses some on the apostle Peter but mostly on the apostle Paul.

You could entitle this book more accurately, “The Book of Some of the Acts of Some of the Apostles.” Actually, the better title would be, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Early Church.”

Acts is critical because it serves as a bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Keep in mind that the actual New Testament era did not begin until the church was created. And that takes place in the book of Acts. So, in a very real sense, Acts is the first book of the New Testament. In fact, most of the New Testament epistles, or letters, were written during the years covered in the book of Acts.

Now the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts were both written to the same Roman official, a man named Theophilus. In fact, Acts opens with Luke reminding Theophilus why he wrote the first volume—the Gospel of Luke. He opens with these words in Acts chapter 1:

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. (verses 1-2)

That first book was Luke’s Gospel.

Luke is perfectly suited to write this account called the book of Acts, because he was a traveling companion of the apostle Paul. In his farewell letter to Timothy, Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:11 that only Luke is with him.

Paul calls Luke “the beloved physician” in Colossians 4:14, and medical language is evident in both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. But while Luke was a physician, he was also a missionary.

We do not know who Theophilus was, other than the fact that Luke calls him “most excellent Theophilus” in Luke 1:3. This is language reserved for high-ranking government officials. Apparently, he was a relatively new convert at the time Luke wrote him these two lengthy books.

Now unless we understand some guidelines, the book of Acts is going to be misunderstood and, worse, misapplied. Folks easily miss the point that the book of Acts is a bridge book that explains how the world shifted from the Old Testament to the New Testament. You don’t stop and build your house on a bridge; you cross over it.

If you read the book of Acts and stop, without ever studying further revelation through the Epistles, which were written by the apostles, you are going to be confused at times. There are church leaders and television preachers healing and prophesying and encouraging everybody to speak in tongues and expect healing and prosperity from God.

I wonder how many of these leaders would be willing to empty their bank accounts and share their money with everyone, like they did in the book of Acts. Instead, it seems they think we are supposed to be sending our money to them.

If what happens in the book of Acts is for every believer and every church today, I wonder how many churches are going to choose church leaders by throwing dice or lots and choose missionaries only after days of fasting.

I wonder how many Christians are discouraged because they have not been miraculously healed. And since it happened in the book of Acts, should we expect angels to release Christian prisoners from jail?

Should we expect greedy hypocrites like Ananias and Sapphira to be put to death in the church service, after the offering is taken up? Should we start meeting every day, in each other’s houses, like they did here? Should we wait for heavenly visions to direct our travels or follow the prayer calendar of the Jewish people, like Paul did here in the book of Acts?

And by the way, if I preached too long of a sermon, and somebody fell out a window and died, would you expect me to resurrect the poor boy like Paul did? Probably not.

Beloved, this book is a bridge. This is not the end of the story; in fact, Luke is not giving comprehensive theology for the church; he is writing a brief history of the church, for his friend, Theophilus. 

Now do not misunderstand. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for the believer. This book is filled with one important principle after another; but keep in mind that just because you see something happening here in the book of Acts does not mean it will occur today.

Can we believe in divine healing today? Absolutely. But not in divine healers, like these apostles. Can we believe in miracles today? Absolutely. But not in specially endowed miracle workers. This early apostolic community was given miraculous power. The apostles were genuine miracle workers and divine healers. They were endowed with these gifts as signs to authenticate their new message from God.

Hebrews 2:3 makes it very clear that the gospel was first delivered by the early witnesses and apostles. And verse 4 says that God bore witness that they were telling the truth. How? “By signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

We now have the Scriptures to test the truth. And by the way, we are not looking for any more prophets with new prophecy either, because the New Testament is complete. The book of Revelation does not end with a comma but with a period.

Here in these opening verses of Acts, we find some overlap; Luke repeats in verse 2 that before Jesus “was taken up,” He gave commands to His chosen apostles. Those commands are given back in Luke 24.

Then Luke reminds Theophilus in verse 3 that Jesus “presented himself alive” to His disciples following His resurrection, “appearing to them during forty days.” Beloved, this is not happening today either, although we would love to see Him now like they did then.

Further proof of Jesus’ resurrection is found in the fact that He taught the disciples during a forty-day period before He ascended. We do not have much information at all about this six-week crash course, but I guarantee you, the disciples were listening like never before.

It is like that flight attendant going through her little speech on what to do if there is an emergency. Frankly, I’m not usually listening. The only person I know who listens intently is my wife. I’m reading a book—I plan to depend on her. But if an engine blew and we started going down, I would be ready to listen. Well, the church is not going down here; it is about to take off, and the disciples are listening now.

Jesus gives His disciples a clear command here in verse 4: “He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father.” This is the promise of the Holy Spirit, who will descend and “baptize” them (verse 5)—literally, immerse them—with His presence and power.

The Spirit’s coming will bring the church into existence. And from that moment on, the Holy Spirit will, and does, baptize, or immerse, every new believer into the body of Christ at the moment of salvation (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Add a Comment

We hope this resource blessed you. Our ministry is EMPOWERED by your prayer and ENABLED by your financial support.