THE FACTS OF ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

The theme of God's visitation and universal offer of salvation through Christ is first expressed in the Gospel of Luke through Zechariah, and Simeon when he saw the Child Jesus in the Temple, "a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory. The traditional promise of a Savior for all of humanity is fulfilled in Christ, who desires salvation and all Gentiles. There is a narrative unity to Luke and Acts, for the mission of Jesus in Luke and his disciples in Acts is to carry out the "Purpose of God," a concept expressed in Luke which tells the people of Capernaum that "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose". Luke's Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles are key to the description of the history and mission of the early Church. The Apostles are guided throughout Acts by the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit to carry out God's Plan. The Acts of the Apostles is an exciting narrative and may be enjoyably read in one sitting.

The Acts of the Apostles begins with instructing the Apostles for 40 days following his Resurrection and commissioning them to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth, until his Glorious Ascension into Heaven. The theme of Acts is carried by the word witness which occurs twenty times throughout Acts by the nouns. Acts records figures such as Peter and John, Stephen, James, Barnabas, Paul, and John Mark witnessing for their faith in Jesus Christ during persecution of the early Church. Our English word martyr is a direct translation of the Greek word for witness. The martyr is the ultimate Christian witness!

The Acts of the Apostles describes the infancy period of the early Christian Church, a time when Christianity spread like wildfire. The emergence of Christianity is primarily seen through the actions of Peter, actually the first Apostle to bring Christianity to the Gentiles, and Paul, with his four missionary journeys - three from Antioch and his voyage to Malta and Rome. Following the Descent of the Holy Spirit to the first community, the mission in Jerusalem is detailed in Chapters. There are four speeches by Peter: the Pentecost speech, which led to the conversion of 3000, thus fulfilling God's promise to Abraham to bring salvation; the second to the people following the cure of the crippled beggar, and twice before the Sanhedrin with his famous reply, "We must obey God rather than men".In his Farewell Meeting with the Church of Ephesus on his return, Paul repeats a saying of Jesus not found in the four Gospels: "It is more blessed to give than to receive". Paul is on trial for his belief in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but also because he considers this as the fulfillment of the "hope in the promise made by God to our fathers." Paul's conversion is recorded three times in Acts, as Paul also recounts his experience in Acts and to King Agrippa at Caesarea, in which he reveals Christ's message of salvation. Paul arrives in Rome and spends two years there under house arrest preaching the Gospel.

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