Luke wrote this, his second book, to record ‘what happened next’ after the gospel stories. Jesus gave His friends the mission to tell people the good news of His life, death and resurrection. Acts reports how the news spread from Jerusalem, into Africa and Syria, into the area which is now Turkey, then into eastern Europe and finally to Rome.
Most of the book is taken up with the eventful journeys undertaken by Paul after his conversion, when he changed from being a persecutor to a follower of Jesus. Luke describes the energetic spread of the good news as a work of God. The Spirit of God fills the friends of Jesus “like the rush of a violent wind”. They were not the instigators of it; they were witnesses and participators in it.
Though the good news of Jesus was being carried mainly by Jews and Paul calls Jesus “the hope of Israel’, the new converts soon found themselves opposed by people who saw them as a threat to the traditional ways. The reason that Paul is so prominent in Acts is that he saw himself as an apostle to all people and that the newly forming church was to be an international movement in which all races would be involved.
The book of Acts is about travelling and about how the Spirit of God moved people on. Luke was clearly an eyewitness of some of the events he reports. He often speaks about “we” in chapters 16 onwards. Perhaps the most exciting story is the one of the shipwreak at the end of the book when they were on the way to Rome. But frequently Luke returns to his main theme: “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily”.
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