The Acts of the Apostles was written by Luke, the physician, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. When we say, “by inspiration of the Spirit” we mean not that the Holy Spirit gave word for word what Luke wrote down, but we say that Luke was guided by the Holy Spirit to write a history of the early church. The stories that he included were stories chosen by Luke but were there for a reason guided by our Heavenly Father. The Acts of the Apostles is part of the inspired New Testament for us today.
It is this author’s position that the Acts of the Apostles was not written to give the church a guidebook for how to organize itself, neither is it a handbook to describe how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers, etc. Christians through the centuries have sometimes said that since Acts contains the story of the new Church after the resurrection of Jesus that we should model our church after what the early Christians do in Acts. Not necessarily! Christians have used the book of Acts to come up with teachings on the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” and other doctrines. Narrative sections of scripture are not always the best sources for doctrinal points.
Think about it! What was Luke’s purpose for choosing the stories he recorded? Why did Luke write down the stories that he told in the order that he did? Our first assignment as we begin this study is to read through the Book of Acts in a short time period and ask ourselves what Luke’s purpose (and the Holy Spirit’s purpose) was for writing Acts. Especially focus on the historical and chronological notes in the book of Acts.
Our study has two points. First, if we are sincere in our desire for a closer walk with God, we will desire an improved understanding, or interpretation, of the meaning of Acts. We will not just be trying to “be a peculiar people” with an interpretation that is uniquely ours. Instead, we are looking for an interpretation that is correct. We are seeking the meaning or message that Theophilus received when he read The Acts of the Apostles. We want to answer the question, “What did Luke mean by this?”
Second, we want to ask ourselves, how we can apply The Acts of the Apostles to our Christian walk today. What does the text mean to me personally? How can this make me a better disciple of “The Way” (Acts 9:2; 24:14)? My prayer is that each lesson will accomplish these two goals for you personally. Enjoy.