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New Testament Survey

Notes to Reader
Student: Karina Loayza

THE BOOK OF ACTS


This is the second volume of the account of Luke, one of the faithful companions of the apostle
Paul, about Christ. The events are a continuation of those narrated in his gospel which
culminates in Jerusalem with the disciples worshipping God in the temple. Now, in the Book of
Acts we will see how Lukes narrative is going to extend the action of the mission beyond
Jerusalem. The starting point for this is the event of Pentecost, and then we are going to notice a
pattern of progression in Jesus command to bear witness in Jerusalem and in all Judea and
Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Lk. 1:9).
Regarding the dating, many have discussed that since the martyrdom of Paul is not recorded the
book was probably written after his death. But this argument poses a question about the real
purpose of the book of Acts: was it written with the express purpose of portraying the active
ministry of the apostles after the ascension of Jesus? If so, then the book in fact does not reach its
goal because it only records some events in the life of Peter and John in the beginning and much
attention is given to Stephen and Philip who were not apostles. Therefore, would better say that
the account portrays how the Holy Spirit empowered the early church in order to accomplish the
command of his Lord.
In the advancement of the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the first disciples of Jesus, we need
to notice that not only geographical barriers are torn down but also and more important is the
overcome of the ethnic barriers between the Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews). We find in the first
chapters, the Holy Spirit at action in Samaria (8:4-8), in the conversion of the eunuch from
Ethiopia (8:26-39), in the gentile Pentecost in the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion
(10:44-48), then the progression of the events reaches a higher level with the ministry of Paul,
the apostle for the Gentiles. When Paul bore witness of the gospel in Rome in the end we can

New Testament Survey


Notes to Reader
Student: Karina Loayza

fairly say that the goal of the narrative was met, and Luke could have known of Pauls death but
he did not included it.
The Church is a major theological theme in the book of Acts, and the event of Pentecost is
recorded to signal its creation (2:14-41). Then, Luke is going to signal to different characteristics
of the church: First and foremost, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church which is
extending beyond Jerusalem and breaking the deep rooted ethnic identity of the Jews. Second, a
development in the understanding of being the body of Christ with its cohesion based on his
Lordship, the presence of the Spirit, and their obedience to the teaching of the apostles. Third,
the temple is not the center of the worship of the believers, now it is the person of Christ and the
proclamation of his gospel. Fourth, the expansion of the church develops the concept of the one
people-many people, the addition of the Gentiles to the church brings Gods plan of blessing of
all the nations (Gen.12:3) to its completion. Finally, there is no interest in establishing a
hierarchy among the churches with Jerusalem at the head, but to establish communion among the
churches based on the reality that now, they are a family, not like a family, but real brothers and
sisters in Christ.