We call the next book ‘the Acts’. Acts is a book of history. The book tells the story of how the people who believed in Jesus spread the good news. They told the entire ancient world the good news about Jesus.
THE NEW TESTAMENT | HISTORY
Where does the book begin?
Acts begins where the gospel* of Luke ends. God made Jesus alive again. Now he was with the men and women that followed him.
Where does the book end?
The book ends about 30 years later. Paul was now in prison in Rome.
Jesus went up into heaven*.
The Holy Spirit* came upon people.
Peter spoke, the church* began.
Phillip talked to a man from Africa.
Saul became Paul.
The book of Acts starts where the gospel* stories end. Luke wrote the book. He wanted to tell his friend what happened after Jesus came back alive. Acts tells stories about the first followers of Jesus. Luke told what they did after Jesus rose from the dead.
Acts begins when Jesus was still on the earth with the believers. He talked to them about the kingdom* of God. Jesus went up into heaven* soon after he said these things. Soon after Jesus went away, he sent the Holy Spirit*. Many people were there that day. They came to have a feast called Pentecost*. When the Holy Spirit* came, some people were confused. They did not know what was happening. So Peter stood up and spoke to them. He told them about the Holy Spirit*. He told them about Jesus. Jesus, he said, was the king that God promised to David. But the people did not listen to Jesus. They killed him on a cross instead. But God made Jesus alive again. And now everyone should trust* Jesus to rescue them from their evil* ways. They should believe on him and God would forgive* them.
Many people believed what Peter said. They believed on Jesus. They believed he was the one who came to save them. But some people were not happy about this. The leaders of the Jews tried to stop Peter. They did not want him to talk about Jesus any more. So they started to behave badly toward the Christians. They put them into prison. They killed some of them. They put Peter and John in prison. Later, they killed a man named Stephen because he believed on Jesus.
The church* grew very fast at the beginning. They stayed in Jerusalem for a long time. But many of the Jews turned against the Christians there. The Jews became angry. They started to act badly toward the Christians. When they did, many of the Christians moved out of the city. They went to many other towns and villages. And they told people about Jesus in all of those places. So, many people that were not Jews believed. And the church* grew.
God gave the church* many good leaders when it began. Men like Stephen, Philip, Paul, and Peter spoke for God. They healed people just like Jesus did. They even made someone that was dead to live again.
Most of the first people that believed in Jesus were Jews*. But that began to change. The Christians told the good news about Jesus in many places. Many people that were not Jews believed it too. That is what the story of Cornelius tells us.
Some of the early Christians moved to a town called Antioch. The church* there was strong. But many people did not like the Christians. A king named Agrippa tried to stop them. But the good news about Jesus only went to more places. The Christians told people about Jesus wherever they went.
One of the most important people in Luke’s book is a man named Paul. He did not believe in Jesus. But God came to him and spoke to him. After that, Paul believed. Soon, Paul became one of the most important leaders in the early church*. He went on three different journeys to tell people about Jesus. The last part of the book of Acts tells about those journeys.
The book of Acts has many stories about the new church. Things were not always easy for them. They had to decide how to care for each other. They had to decide if they should still obey the law of Moses. But God gave them wisdom. They met together to talk about these hard things. And each time, God helped them find an answer.
Near the end of the book, soldiers put Paul in prison. The Jews said that he was teaching against Israel*. They sent Paul to a town named Caesarea and then to Rome. They put him in prison there too. But, even in prison, Paul did not stop talking about Jesus. Luke told us many of the things that Paul said. The good news was the message that Jesus gave his life on the cross*. And God brought him back from the dead. God did that to show who Jesus was – the son of God. When God raised Jesus from death, he kept his promise to David. Jesus was God’s king. His kingdom* would last for ever.