Summary of Acts

Summary of Acts

Acts begins with Jesus’s commandment to the Twelve Apostles to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Peter serves as the leader of the apostles and the small congregation of the faithful, first “Christains” in Jerusalem. The Apostles, by means of Revelation call Matthias as the twelfth Apostle, replacing the traitor Judas Iscariot. During the year of Jesus’s death and resurrection, the Apostles are gathered for Pentecost. The Holy Ghost descends upon them, and as a result of the Holy Ghost’s presence, they begin speaking other languages. Peter explains the miracle, saying that the gift of tongues is given to everyone through the laying on of hands. He explains that the Gift of Tongues or speaking in Tongues means other languages.

Peter summarizes the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. He gives scriptural proof that Jesus is the Messiah, the savior whom God promises in the Old Testament to send to save Jews from their adversity. Responding to Peter’s testimony, 3,000 people are baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ. A man named Barnabas is particularly praised for his generosity, and a couple that defrauds the church are stricken dead. Going to the temple to pray, Peter and John cure a crippled beggar. Peter tells a crowd the story of Jesus’s persecution and his eventual resurrection, concluding with a reminder that the Jews are favored by God and a call to repentance. The Sadducee high priests of the temple, who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, bring Peter and John before the Jewish high court, where Peter preaches the Gospel. The court, which is called the Sanhedrin, recognizes that public opinion is in favor of the Apostles and releases them.

The high priest imprisons the Apostles, but they are miraculously freed by an angel, and they continue their preaching. Brought again before the court, Peter leads the apostles in their defense, saying, “…We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).

A controversy ensues between Stephen and some Jews, who accuse him of heresy before the Sanhedrin. Stephen delivers a long speech, in his defense,  detailing the history of Jewish leadership in the Bible. For his words, Stephen is stoned to death, with the approval of a young man named Saul of Damascus, a vigorous persecutor of the Christians. Stephen is the first Christian martyr. Saul is a Jewish leader who has been trying to wipe out the new community of Christians because he believes that they are trying to destroy Jewish law. While traveling to persecute Christians, Saul is blinded by a light and hears the voice of Jesus asking, “…Saul, Saul why persecutes thou me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul is converted and sets out to be one of the best missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ. He travels to the coast, performs miracles, preaches the Gospel, and converts Gentiles.

Barnabas and Saul, who is renamed Paul, depart on a missionary journey.

  • In Cyprus, Paul blinds a magician, Elymas, who tries to prevent Paul from teaching.
  •  At Antioch in Pisidia, Paul preaches to a Jewish congregation, telling his listeners about forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus.
  • At Iconium, they have some success until nonbelievers, including both Jews and Gentiles, drive them from town.
  • At Lycaonia, Paul cures a cripple, and the local Gentiles take them for the pagan gods Zeus and Hermes before Paul is able to convince them otherwise. As usual, however, the missionaries are chased from town, and Paul is nearly stoned to death.
  • In Greece, Paul meets with mixed success, converting some but meeting opposition from many Jews and some Gentiles.

Later Paul travels to Jerusalem, where he meets with James and the church leaders, who are concerned that Paul has been urging Christians not to follow Jewish law. They plan for Paul to go to the Temple and explain that he is not encouraging breaking Jewish Law. In the temple, however, Jews seize him, accusing him of profaning the temple and preaching against the law. Paul tells the crowd his personal history; he relates the stories of his past persecution of Christians, his miraculous vision of Christ, and his conversion to Christianity and mission to preach to the Gentiles.

The crowd becomes outraged, and the Roman tribune seizes Paul. The tribune then has him brought before the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, where Paul creates dissent by setting the two factions in the court, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, against each other. The tribune saves Paul from the ensuing riot, and, hearing of a Jewish plot against Paul’s life, sends him for his own protection to Felix, the governor of Palestine, in Caesarea. At the trial in Caesarea, Paul professes to worship God and adhere to Jewish law. Hearing that Paul collects and distributes alms, Felix holds him in jail for two years, hoping for a bribe. After Felix’s death, Paul is tried before the new governor, Festus.

Paul appeals to Caesar’s judgment, and Festus; who does not believe Paul guilty, but who wants to appease the Jews calling for his execution. Finally Festus decides to send him to Caesar, in Rome. First, however, Paul is brought before King Agrippa.  Again, Paul recounts the story of his vision of Jesus and conversion to Christianity, and argues that his missionary activity is merely a fulfillment of Jewish hopes and Old Testament prophecies. King Agrippa is impressed, but Paul is sent to Rome. On the way to Rome, Paul’s ship is wrecked, and through a series of sailing mishaps it takes months to arrive at Rome. Awaiting his hearing at Rome, Paul begins to spread the Gospel to the Roman Jews, who disbelieve him. He turns his emphasis again toward the Gentiles. Paul goes throughout, preaching; “…no man forbidding him.” (Acts 28:31)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s