United Church of God

Acts of the Apostles: 01 - Introduction to Acts

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Acts of the Apostles

01 - Introduction to Acts

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Acts of the Apostles: 01 - Introduction to Acts

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.68 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1.01 GB)
MP3 Audio (31.68 MB)

We will be going through stories, examples, teachings, and acts that the first century church did to help understand how we fit into the story of the book of Acts today. We will also talk about seven reasons why we should study the book of Acts.


Good morning, everyone. This is the first class for the Book of Acts this year and this ABC class. And I'm glad to be with you as you already know. But those that are online or watching this at a later time, we will be taping all of the Book of Acts this year for putting it on the web so that members and others can view this in perpetuity going forward on the web. And so this is our first time to kind of do it at this level of production quality. So, we'll enjoy having our media crew in here throughout the year.

For those of you that are watching this, later on, you'll be seeing as we conduct the class here at ABC, there'll be handouts and PowerPoints and other things that we go through. I would expect that at some point we'll create a place on the website where the videos will be, where those who view this later will be able to download any of the materials that are presented and handed out to all of you. So, we'll just jump right into it.

I have been teaching this class for more than 10 years at ABC. I've probably gone through it about a dozen times, both with our ministerial training class and with the classes here at ABC. I guess I would have to say that the Book of Acts is probably my favorite of the classes that I teach. And I enjoy Daniel and Revelation, will get into the world news and prophecy later. But to go through the Book of Acts has been really a defining experience for me over the last decade when I was asked to come here, be a part of the ABC faculty full-time and teach Acts. And I had studied it, read it, taught it over the years, but to teach it verse by verse, go through it with students every year, I've always learned something new. And I think that you will, too. And I think all the faculty members see that with the material that they cover.

I have always told, I think every class, and I'll tell you that going through the Book of Acts is kind of like walking over to the wall here and eyeballing the electrical socket and sticking your finger in it. And I think all of you know what will happen if you stick your finger into the wall outlook, right? You'll get a shock, and it might even throw you back a little bit. Well, that's the way I look at the Book of Acts. It is like sticking your finger into an electrical socket and it gives you a jolt.

I looked at it as a jolt of God's spirit because what we are looking at as we study the Book of Acts is the work of the resurrected Christ among his disciples. The gospels tell us the story of Christ in the flesh and His teaching and His working with the disciples during His life and His ministry. When we come to the Book of Acts, we have the resurrected Christ and the ascended Christ commissioning His disciples to go to the world with the gospel. And so it's a story of that. As we will see, as we go through Acts, you will find that it is essentially one story after another, which makes it really fun because it's exciting, it's colorful, and, you know, it's just one episode after the other. There is doctrine that we glean from it.

There is a great deal of Christian living, but there's many different reasons for it. But it is the work of God through the spirit among the disciples who carry out the work of the body of Christ, what we would also call the Church in the Book of Acts. And that's why it's so exciting, I think, and it can change your life along with your study, the epistles, and the Old Testament books and your whole experience here, but I think you'll find it to be a unique experience in going through it and seeing the application and the practicality of so much of what you are learning here. And so I'm, again, just excited to go through it with you. As we go through this, I've already mentioned jot down any questions that you have, and we'll talk about those at the end of the class. And they'll be taped as well. Try to make sure that everybody is understanding that for those that will view it online later, and we will cover that.

Now, you've been given a handout this morning, which will cover largely what I talk about this morning, which is basically an introduction. I will have handouts for many of the classes, perhaps not every class. I encourage you to take notes that we'll follow along with what you'll see on the screen usually. And as you take the notes and you use this then as a resource, you will have material to study certainly for the tests that will come at any given time when we have a test. And you'll have that too at least...well, you will be able to refer to it. I don't give open-note tests.

And so you'll take the notes and what you do with it we hope that many of you will probably transfer those into your Bible, but I hope that it gets transferred into your head, into your heart. That's the best way for it to get done. But take notes, keep those, because as you accumulate these, then it will provide the material for the tests, and you'll have these as study sheets to refer to at some point as we go down the line. And so use those as a resource in that way. I start off usually with a lot of slides, and then sometimes we just kind of free-base it and go otherwise because the text and things that will come up. So, we'll have fun as we go through that. So, there will be a number of handouts and details of things to keep in mind.

I'll be writing things on the board. I will say that in terms of the test and what you're responsible for, certainly, what we cover from the text, what may be handed out in a handout, and anything that I might put on the board, write down. Usually, if I write it down up here, it's important. So, you want to write it down yourself because you then maybe asked about that at a future time, where there's a date, a name, whatever it might be. So, don't take or assume that it might be all in the notes or in the handouts that you have or future questions it will come only from the text. It can come from a combination of all three or individual aspects of each one.

So, this class here this morning is going to be an introduction to the Book of Acts, and we'll go ahead and jump into it, see how far we get as we progress into the story of the Book of Acts. But there is a bit of a background, I think, that all of us should understand as we go into it. I like to start this class, particularly, with an overview of two statements that we have in the United Church of God. One is the mission statement, and the other is the vision statement. And let's talk a few minutes about our mission statement that we have in the Church. You'll see on the screen and on your handouts a slide of the art installation that is in the lobby that we pass every morning when we come into the building and when we leave the building in the afternoon. We put this in eight or nine years ago. It's a very nice installation that shows the world kind of blown apart or spread apart, might be a better term here, and the aspects of our mission statement embedded with that.

I encourage you to stop every once in a while and just at least note what that is. But essentially, this is the mission statement of the United Church of God, and it goes like this, "We preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God into all of the world, and we make disciples and we care for those disciples." That's the essence. That is our mission statement. That's what we do. That's what a mission statement defines. It defines what an organization does. And what the United Church of God does is preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. And there's two aspects of it. You might note, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. As we go through Acts, you will understand what that means.

There's essentially one gospel, but it's multi-dimensional, one gospel, but multi-dimensional. And in our mission statement, we have defined that the gospel of the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There's like two sides of one coin as a friend of mine put a few years ago. You pick up a quarter on one side, you have the bust of George Washington. On the other side, you have something else, but it's one coin worth 25 cents. The gospel in a sense is that way. There's one gospel, but there's several dimensions to it. It's also called the Gospel of God by Paul in the book of Romans. But largely, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. We will define that and show that as we go through the Book of Acts, especially, but we preach that to the world, and we do that by means of our media efforts.

We have a television program, "Beyond Today." We have a magazine also by that name, "Beyond Today." We have a vast website that has all kinds of material out there and information about the Bible. Many of you have accessed it. We're in the process of revamping that right now and bringing it up to another level of usability. And with all the software that goes behind that, it's been a more than a year project ongoing, and, hopefully, by the end of this year, it will be finished in terms of a major upgrade of our website. But on that site, we have just a lot of stuff, a lot of information that it's also probably our main tool that people can access from any part of the world to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.

We have booklets that go out from our warehouse next on the other side of this wall. But the work that goes on in this building and in your congregations by your ministers and pastors and by members in many different ways is the work of preaching the gospel. Now, as we preach the gospel, we make disciples, and we are to care for those disciples. We're all disciples. We make a disciple as the gospel is preached, and then God calls by His spirit and draws people to Him. That is how those disciples are made, and that is essentially a lifelong process.

As we study the Book of Acts, you're going to hear that word “disciple” a great deal. And let me kind of define it here for a moment in terms of what it means to you and I. We're all disciples. We're always disciples. And in this specific case here at Ambassador Bible College, you have come for a better part of a year of your life to learn the Bible as a disciple from those of us who are the faculty and the teachers here at ABC. And in a sense, you are setting in your chairs typically in the Bible, the term is used that you set at the feet of a disciple, and that describes in a sense way a classroom was in the ancient world.

We don't necessarily look at you at our feet, but you are setting, we are standing, but you're here accessing the information that we are giving out to you and your disciples for this period of time. But as you go into back to your homes and as you go on with your life, you will always be a disciple. I am still a disciple. I'm a learner. I'm a student. That's what it means in practical effect. And I think if you can keep in your mind that the Book of Acts is the story of the disciples of Christ going out and accomplishing the mission He gave them and going through their lives and trials and experiences, it will help you to understand what that means in relation to our mission statement, which is to preach the gospel and to make disciples.

There's another part of that mission statement, which we put into when we created that way back in 1995 at the beginning of the United Church of God. We not only make disciples, but it says we care for those disciples. And that's very important. That represents the fact that we care about you. We care about everybody, but we provide a congregational, spiritual care through the ministry and through the various aspects of the Church.

ABC, this is one example of how we care for our disciples. We've created this institution of learning for you to come to learn the Bible in a kind of an intensive way for this period of time. The summer camp program, which many of you, most of you, I think, probably have gone through one way or the other. That's another way by which we care for our disciples. The pastor that you have, the congregation that you have, the support that they have financially, administratively, that's another way by which we care for our disciples. We also care for people in the sense that we sometimes will need to give money to people who are having a hard time financially and get them through a rough patch. That's care as well. So, it's multidimensional, but it's what we do, all right? And that is our mission.

Now, let's talk for a minute about our vision. This is another typical thing that you'll see businesses, corporations, even people do. If a mission statement defines what, let's say in this case, a Church, what it does, the vision statement explains what we will become as a result of what we do, what we become as a result of what we do. And that's pretty high and lofty. And so look at what our vision statement is. This is what we see down the road envisioning we will become “A Church led by God's Holy Spirit, joined and knit together by what every member supplies with all doing their share and growing in love to fulfill God's great purpose for humanity to bring many children to glory.” Now, that's a mouthful. It is taken from two basic scriptures. Ephesians 4:16 Ephesians 4:16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
American King James Version×
. You should know that, which means you might want to write that down. And Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×

Those two scriptures, we combined about 10 years ago to create this vision statement. “A Church led by God's spirit joined and knit together by what every member,” -that's you- “supplies with all doing their share.” In other words, you have a role to play. And we do expect, as we even have defined in the ABC mission statement, that students who go through the program will pass on the knowledge that they receive. That's how, in a sense, you will share. You'll do that by your example. Some of you will do that by actually teaching people, both men and women. You may have some opportunities to teach and to pass that on as a counselor at a camp program, teaching a Sabbath school program. And in the case of some of you men even giving messages in the Church, you will share that.

Anytime you may be called upon to give an answer for the hope that lies within you and a coworker might ask, "Why aren't you here on Saturdays? Or where are you going for two weeks in October? What is this Feast of Tabernacles?" You will be able to share with them what you know and how you can explain what you do and why you do it in a way that can be palatable, accessible, and maybe even acceptable to someone who is not a part of the Church. That's another way. So there's a multitude of that. But we're also to grow in love, to fulfill God's purpose for humanity, to bring many children to glory. Are we at this point yet, I ask you? Does the United Church of God embody this? Don't answer that question. The answer is not yet. We don't pretend to be completely there, but we are working toward that. And that is the intent of where we hope to end up.

This will be a lifetime job for the Church and for those that are involved in that. It's lofty, it's high, it's aspirational, but it's what we envision. And so about 10 years ago, the council created this from scripture. So, these two points, the mission and the vision are things that you should keep in mind as we begin to get into the Book of Acts because we will be going through stories and examples and teaching in these scriptures and acts that the first century Church did and will be able to tie back to this so that you understand how we fit into the story of the Book of Acts today, which leads me to what I want to talk about here next, and that is seven reasons for us to study the Book of Acts. This is brand new hot off the press that I recreated for you.

I used to have, I think, three or four. And when we decided to videotape the class with some other work we've been doing in our Council of Elders efforts, I said, "I need to revise the reasons for the Book of Acts." And so you're the first class to be walked through this. But here's seven reasons. First, as I've already mentioned, it is to show the continuing work of the resurrected Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. And we will see that beginning in the second chapter. Well, really in the first chapter and every chapter, we'll see the power of the resurrected Christ in his disciples through the spirit working to do that. And so that's a powerful reason to study.

Second, is we are going to see how the gospel was taken to the world of the first century. And that's a major part of the story there. There are a lot of parallels to how we do that today, but it's important to understand that. Another reason to study the Book of Acts is to understand the beginnings of false Christianity. We will talk about that when we come to one of the stories regarding Simon Magus and how that gives us certain markers to understand false Christianity that developed beyond the time of the Book of Acts.

A fourth reason is to understand how the Church equips the saints for the work of ministry. And ministry here is used in the term of service, not necessarily that everybody is going to be ordained to the role of the minister, but it is to minister in a sense of a verb, to serve. And so the Church is to equip the saints, Ephesians 4 talks about that, and we will see how the Church did that.

Another reason, reason number five to study Acts is to understand how the unity in the Church is developed and maintained. There's examples in teaching from the examples and the stories in Acts to show how they came to a unity. One accord is a phrase that is used there and how they maintain that in the face of adversity from without and from within. There are challenges from without, from the Jewish community, from the Roman government, as well as a certain false brethren that popped up within their midst. We'll see examples of that and how the Church dealt with it. We'll see one example of how they dealt with a potential doctrinal...what was a doctrinal issue, but how they resolved it and worked through it to maintain unity in the Church. Very important thing to do.

The sixth reason is to draw conviction, commitment, and courage to stand firm in the true faith. And we will see how Peter, and John, and James, and Paul, and Barnabas, and others stood firm in the faith and had the courage again in the adversity of their time. Will also study the story of women like Lydia and others who had that same commitment and courage.

And then the seventh reason is to understand how today's disciples are engaged in advancing the work of the Church. We bring that into the present for a present application for all of us to understand because it is a joint effort and a shared responsibility that we have. So, those are seven reasons that I've come up with, and somebody else might have eight, somebody might just whittle us down to five. I've looked at it, and maybe I could knock one off, but in the Church, we like the number seven. And when we draw up lists, seven's a good number of completion, perfection, and everything else. So, we had to have seven as we go along here, okay?

Next, let me introduce you to a name, and this is a little bit out of the past historical work, but there was a man who in the late 1700s, an Englishman by the name of Edward Gibbon. He wrote a multi-volume history of the Roman Empire. It is a classic work. And as we'll see in a minute, it's important to know and understand the Roman Empire because the Church grew up in the Roman Empire. It starts, and it is set...the whole New Testament is set at the heyday of the Roman Empire. But a man named Edward Gibbon, an English author and historian wrote a massive history of the Roman Empire. And in one of his chapters, I believe is chapter 15, don't quote me on that at this point, but it is a chapter about the Church that he studies from history.

And he came up with five different reasons for the growth of Christianity. Now, Edward Gibbon was an agnostic, and that kind of helped him to view and sort through the ancient history of the Church and how things developed outside of the Bible with later Christianity. But as he studied the New Testament and even the growth of the Church beyond the recorded New Testament period, he saw certain things. And he saw that the Church had an inflexible and an intolerant zeal that they did get from Judaism. We'll talk about Judaism in a moment.

But the disciples were all Jews. They were descendants out of the tribe of Judah. And Judaism, the religion, cultural, social fabric of the first century time of the Jewish world. The faith and the zeal was very, very strong for the Jews at that time, which is why we see conflicts that they had with the disciples and why they had a conflict with Jesus. But there was an intolerance and a zeal. And the Church did have that element. They started within the context of Judaism, and magnified by God's spirit, it took them far beyond what the Jews did.

The doctrine of the resurrection, Gibbon saw was also important, the hope of an afterlife. And this is something that the Roman pagan world did not provide for people in the first century. All of their gods and goddesses, that pagan world of the Greco-Roman world did not give them a hope of a better world today and an afterlife. And the doctrine of the resurrection that is essential to the gospel that they preached attracted people. And it was a hope. And that Gibbon saw was a plus.

He also looked at the record of miracles, especially from the New Testament and the speaking in tongues, the healing, even raising people from the dead. Those matters drew people's attention to the growing Church. And he saw that was a plus. He also saw the high standard of morality that the Church taught. And this is something that as you go through primarily the epistles and in particular the letter of 1 Corinthians when Mr. Myers takes you through Corinthians, you'll see the value of what Paul taught about morality in the early Church in 1 Corinthians, it goes through marriage, sexual relationships, and how a Christian was to conduct themselves.

And it was very important for them because the first century Roman world was very immoral. I can't begin to tell you how immoral it was in the short time we have, and I'm going to try to go into it. We'll take it piece by piece as we go. But in terms of a moral, you think things are bad today. They were probably worse in the first century, which we should take note of because that shouldn't deter us from still preaching firm teaching about godly morality, sexual purity, and cleanliness in all of his aspects, as you'll learn that as we go through.

But that was something people were looking for in the first century, and that's important to understand. They were tired of the immorality and the broken lives and the broken homes and the just basic filth, morally and spiritually, that it created. And we will find people long even before the church began, there were people from the gentile world, the non-Jewish world, who were coming to the synagogues on the Sabbath beginning to set there among the Jews because they were attracted by the morality of the Jewish world as they attained it from the Old Testament scriptures.

And they wanted, not only themselves, but they basically wanted their children to have that type of exposure. So, they were already in the synagogue, and they provide a very rich mixture of people from which God calls people in the early church. And we'll see that in the Book of Acts. They're called God-fearers. They were Gentiles who had already were in the synagogue. They weren't Jews by ethnicity, but they were gentiles who were attracted by the morality of Judaism and the church comes along and certainly takes that even further in their teaching and that was a reason for their growth.

Gibbon also saw one last thing, that they had a unity in church government. And we will see that in the Book of Acts as well. And that was a reason for their success. The Church has got to operate at a high level of unity, or it will divide and disappear. And that is something that the Church had. About 300 years after the timing of the Book of Acts when this man named Constantine, who's the emperor, is faced with a fractured Roman Empire, he adopts Christianity as the official religion of the Empire. And one of the real reasons that he does is because of the unity that the church even has at that time.

We might not call that God's true church at that point in time, 300 years after the time of Acts, but even at that point, they still had a unity, and the Emperor Constantine, he saw that he needed that. And so he adopted that into the Empire. You'll learn more about that as we talk about it in this Book of Acts and by other presentations that will be made. Edward Gibbon, kind of remember that name. You may never be exposed to him again. I've had some classes read that chapter that talks about the Church, and I'll decide how you guys go along here, whether or not I'll have you to read that, we'll see. It's kind of a long slog, but it can be profitable when you go into it. We'll see how that works out.

Let's move into a little bit of a background to the book and the author of the book. Acts is universally understood by scholars to have been written by a man named Luke. That is the same Luke who wrote the Gospel of Luke. The third gospel of the...the third synoptic gospel, the third one of the four. Now, Luke, he is not one of the original 12 apostles or disciples that Jesus called. He comes in later, and essentially he just kind of drops into the story, or he appears. We'll see how that works into the narrative of the Book of Acts and how he comes in.

But Luke just kind of appears, but he is understood to be the author of the Book of Acts. He was a gentile. He was felt to be from the histories, a Macedonian, which is from the area of Greece. And he possibly could have, in a sense, when he came into the contact with Paul and the church, been from the city of Antioch, and this is the Antioch that is in Syria. We'll talk more about that as we get into the Book of Acts. But he's the only non-Jewish writer of any New Testament book, all the other writers of the New Testament books were Jewish. Luke is a gentile.

We're told in Colossians 4:14 Colossians 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
American King James Version×
, he is called a physician, a doctor. He was a doctor, such as doctors were in the first century. There was a professional medical class practicing in the first century world, and Luke was one of those. He was a doctor. Now, that's important to understand, not so much because of his medical expertise, but because being a doctor, even a rudimentary doctor of the first century compared to the specialist that we have now, it's important to understand that being a doctor, Luke had a mindset that would've been logical, rational, systematic as he approached the study of the human body and all the different treatments and cures that were available in the application of them.

He would've had that type of a reasoning mind, and he was trained as it were in dealing with those physical things, which means then that as we look at this, and Luke then taking on the role now of a historian and a writer of the story of Christ and the church, that will help us to accept what he writes with confidence, that what he's writing has been looked at logically, reasonably, and in somewhat of a scientific method for truth. And therefore, we can rely on what he writes as true. And that is especially true... Well, it's true with every part of the Bible. But one of the things that you can rest assured on, and this is understood by scholars who have poured their lives into the study of the New Testament. What Luke writes and the way he writes, the places he mentions, the geographical terms that he makes, it is verifiable. It is historically accurate, it's geographically accurate, and that helps us to appreciate that even the spiritual matters that he talks about, the spiritual teaching, the miracles are true. And so Luke performs a huge service to the study of the New Testament, both the gospel or the life of Christ and his gospel and this story of Acts because he's first a doctor, and then he becomes a historian as well as a companion of Paul, and he approaches his subject matter with a great deal of rigor.

And though he was not an eyewitness to Christ himself or the early events that we read in the Book of Acts, it's understood that he interviewed Paul, probably Mary, the mother of Jesus, and others who were the eyewitnesses. In fact, when you look at what he says in the openings of the Book of Luke and Acts, it's evident that he did take the trouble to interview those who were eyewitnesses. And he records that. So, that is important, too. He's mentioned three times by Paul in Colossians 4:14 Colossians 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
American King James Version×
, 2 Timothy 4:11 2 Timothy 4:11Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with you: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
American King James Version×
, and the Book of Philemon verse 24. And so, three times he's mentioned there, and all of those books were written while Paul was in prison.

As we will see, Luke is a master storyteller. He has a great attention to detail, and that is important. One other thing about Luke, and you'll see this when you go through the gospels class with Dr. Dunkle, and we'll see it in Acts, Luke has a special affinity for the poor, the down and out, and the women. Many of the women of the New Testament, we find in Luke's writings. Anna, for instance, in first chapter...was second chapter of Luke who encounters Christ in the temple when he is a baby and many, many others. First of all, Luke is a Gentile. So, he understands that he's an outsider by Jewish standards, but he's been brought in through the sacrifice of Christ. He also understands how women were in the first century Roman world, second-class citizens in the Greco-Roman world.

The gospel, and really the Old Testament, as you will see, corrects that, but that's another part of the story. But Luke is also very, very sensitive to those who are sick and in need of help. And you will see many miracles that he writes about. And so he's very interesting from that point of view. So, that's a little bit of a background to Luke. Let's look at the date and the authorship of the Book of Acts.

This is something we can very quickly go through, but the actual date for the writing of Acts is...scholars are all over the place. The year 62 A.D. is the earliest that it could have been written. Some put it at about 65 or 66, but 62 would be at the time when Paul is a prisoner in Rome, which is where the Book of Acts ends. He's a Roman prisoner, and there's a school of thought that that would be the time when Luke compiles and finishes writing as Paul is in prison, what is his first in prison when he had two, and that would be as early as 62.

We do know that in the year 62, Paul comes to Rome as a prisoner, but it could have been later than that as well. Now, some scholars date the writing of Acts anywhere between 70 and 90 A.D., 70 to 90 A.D. 70 A.D. is an important date. You should note this because that's when the Romans destroy the city of Jerusalem, and that's kind of a landmark date for the history of the period. I don't buy anything later than 70 up to 90 personally, and most of us in...I think all of us in the church that handle this material writing and teaching it, we would agree that it's an earlier writing in the '60s, probably the mid-60s. And, you know, Luke is accepted as the author, but it is written without a conclusion.

And I guess we could go quickly to that. Just turn to the very end of the Book of Acts 28:31 Acts 28:31Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
American King James Version×
. The book ends without the typical ending. There's no the end, there's no goodbye, there's no, "That's all folks." Nothing like that. It is Paul in prison. He preaches the Kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him. And that's it. There's a lot of speculation as to why it ends like that. I won't go into all of that right now, but the story in a sense, I think, let's just leave it with this, that the story of Acts didn't conclude then, that it continued on.

And who's to say that it's not being continued today, and that is some future point additional chapters might be written into the Book of Acts after Christ returns and the Kingdom and all that period of time? I lean toward that. I was taught that when I was a kid. I've even found it, you know, some scholars that are not connected with the Church of God, they actually see that the fact, there's no clear ending maybe saying something. But from other histories, we know that things went on for...well, they went on for a long period of time, but even Paul was let out of prison and he probably made another trip to a few places imprisoned a second time. And by 65 or 66, Paul is beheaded in Rome by the Emperor Nero. But we'll get to that story later on. But one other thing to note and go ahead and while we're returning here, let's go back to chapter one of Acts, and let's look at the beginning verses, both Acts and the Book of Luke are dedicated to a man named Theophilus. And let's look at what it says here in Acts 1. At least today before we conclude, we will get into the Book of Acts.

And you will draw a parallel back to Luke 1. I won't turn and read that this morning, but let's just look at Luke 1 or Acts 1 He said...this is Luke writing.

Acts 1:1 Acts 1:1The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
American King James Version×
“The former account,” -which is actually referring to the Gospel of Luke. Luke and Acts were originally a kind of a two-volume set, two volumes, Luke and Acts. And so when he says the former account, that's understood to be what we call the Book of Luke. "I made, oh Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach." In other words, he says, "I wrote this down."

Acts 1:2-3 Acts 1:2-3 [2] Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen: [3] To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
American King James Version×
“Until the day that he was taken up after, He through the Holy Spirit, had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom he also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs being seen by them during 40 days and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

Now, we have a lot of information packed in here. First of all, this Theophilus, who was he? Short answer, we don't know. He was probably a benefactor at the very least. In other words, somebody who gave financial support to Luke, maybe Paul, he was a Gentile. His very name means... “Theo” means God. “Philus” means lover or love, taken from the word “phileo”. So, Theophilus, lover of God is what it means. And it's a Greek term. So, he was a Gentile, and he could have been a Roman official, we don't know, but he is the benefactor. And this was a common thing in the ancient world. Books were written and dedicated to exceptional people or famous people at the time. And so this is a feature that we see.

And Luke is going through, and he is showing that what the story of Jesus, and this is what the inscription back in Luke shows, he's recounting the things that were told about Jesus so that Theophilus will know that it is a true account, it's a true story, and that's his goal. And it's being done under the inspiration of God's spirit and it comes down to us today.

Acts 1:3 Acts 1:3To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
American King James Version×
It says that “He presented himself alive after His suffering.” That's the crucifixion. And you know and we'll know because we'll study that in the doctrines, that He was in the grave for three days and three nights, and then He was resurrected. And it was for 40 days after His resurrection that it says “He made by many infallible proofs of himself and spoke to his disciples the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

So, the 40-day period here of verse 3, very important, refers to the period after His resurrection to His ascension, which we'll read about in the remainder of the chapter here in a few verses. It was a 40-day period where Christ appeared to His disciples. You see that in the gospel accounts, where beginning on that day after his resurrection, which was a Sunday, He began many appearances. We find that in the gospel accounts. And it went on for a 40-day period, and then He ascends for a final time, and He doesn't appear to them in the same way again. We'll study that as we go ahead.

There's another 10 days until we come to Pentecost, and that's 50 days from the morning after His...actually from the Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread, which is the morning after his resurrection. But we'll talk about those details in another context. And so this is the account, this is the background, and this is kind of where we are. I didn't get through all to this morning the introductory material, but we're going to talk a little bit about the Greco-Roman world and the Pax Romana, and the importance of Augustus, the first Roman emperor. That's important to set, I think, as a beginning here. So, we'll save that for the second class and go into that at that time and then probably be able to go into more of the Book of Acts. We'll do that in the next class, next week.