G41   ACTS

(As many lengthy sections are recommended here, these are better read from the Bible. Hyperlinks are used for shorter passages for convenience - PN)

The book of the Acts of the Apostles relates how the early Christian church began to spread from Jerusalem after the giving of the Holy Spirit - the "Whitsun" or "Pentecost" experience.

The outline of the history is retained in the portions selected from this book; certain passages, however, are omitted and only the more interesting and essential highlights of this remarkable story are included.

The book begins with the account of Jesus' Ascension into heaven.
Acts 1.vv.1-14

Since Judas Iscariot had in remorse taken his own life, it was decided that another should be appointed to complete the number of the Twelve Apostles. Peter quite naturally became spokesman and leader of the Apostles.
Acts 1.vv.21-26

The amazing event of Pentecost is described in full.
Acts 2.vv.1-8, vv.12-24, vv.32-33, vv.36-47

The power of the Holy Spirit is seen at work in the healing of a lame man by Peter and John.
Acts 3.vv.1-21

The healing miracle resulted in the imprisonment of the two Apostles, but after making a spirited defence of their action they were released.
Acts 4.vv.1-31

Peter becomes pre-eminent in the Apostolic band and many converts are made, so that the religious authorities again take action against Peter and John; but they were released on the advice of the wise Gamaliel.
Acts 5.vv.12-42

As the influence of the Early Church began to increase, it was found necessary to appoint helpers. This was done by laying on of hands with prayer. Among these was Stephen, a most able and God-fearing man, who in his zeal and condemnation of the religious authorities brought down upon himself wrath and eventually martyrdom.
Acts 6.vv.1-15, and 7.vv.54-60

Present at the scene of Stephen's martyrdom was a certain Saul who led a campaign of persecution against the infant Christian community, but later became "St. Paul", one of the foremost champions of the Church.
Acts 8.vv.1-3

Nothing daunted by the persecution, Philip, the companion of Stephen, went to the city of Samaria where his message and healing powers met with great success.
Acts 8.vv.4-13

The success of Philip in Samaria was so great that the Apostles Peter and John were sent into Samaria to build upon his work. Meanwhile Philip was divinely guided to travel south towards Gaza where he met with and baptised an Ethiopian official of the royal house.
Acts 8.vv.26-40

The well-known and well-attested story of Saul's conversion to "the Way" (of Christ) is now recorded, and peace now descends on the infant Church.
Acts 9.vv.1-31

Again we return to accounts of Peter's travels and his healing miracles.
Acts 9.vv.32-43

An event of great significance now takes place. Whereas up to this time the Good News had been imparted solely or mainly to Jews and "God-fearers" (Gentiles attracted to Israel's God), Peter now learns that there is a place for Gentiles in God's purposes.
Acts 10.vv.1-48

Not without setbacks, but slowly and surely, the Church accepted Gentiles into their Christian community and Barnabas enlisted the aid of Saul in this work of conversion.
Acts 11.vv.19-26

Again the interest centres upon Peter who, arrested by King Herod, had a second miraculous escape from prison.
Acts 12.vv.1-19, vv.24-25

Barnabas had enlisted the help of Saul in evangelising the Gentile world and he and Saul (now Paul) visited Cyprus. Among the Gentiles they had considerable success, but met with opposition from the Jewish community. Paul, who was chief spokesman, so angered the Jews of Iconium that he was stoned and left for dead but survived the ordeal and returned to Antioch where he and Barnabas had been commissioned.
Acts 14.vv.19-28

A controversy over whether Gentile converts to Christianity should be required to accept and observe all the ritual laws of Judaism vexed the Early Church, but was resolved in favour of the Gentiles and a letter sent to Antioch to confirm the decision reached.
Acts 15.vv.22-35

While Paul (with Timothy and Silas as his companions) was spreading the 'Good News' in Asia Minor, he received a vision in which he was urged to cross from Asia Minor to Macedonia to bring the Gospel to Europe. At this point in the narrative the writer (St. Luke?) apparently joined in the mission.
Acts 16.vv.6-15

There follows now the account of an incident which brought Paul and Silas into great danger from the Gentiles.
Acts 16.vv.16-40

After his escape from the hostility of the Gentiles, Paul faces hostility from the Jews of Thessalonika, but, leaving Silas and Timothy, Paul was despatched by his friends to Athens.
Acts 17.vv.1-15

In Athens Paul addressed the Assembly with a defence of what he believed and won some support.
Acts 17.vv.16-34

Leaving Athens, Paul visited Corinth where Silas and Timothy rejoined him. Here he had a mixed reception and encountered opposition from some Jews but by God's grace escaped the danger and returned via Jerusalem to Antioch, his starting point.
Acts 18.vv.1-22

Nothing daunted by the trials and tribulations of his second expedition, Paul set off again to revisit the infant Churches of Asia Minor. His work in Greece (Achaia) was consolidated by a certain Apollos.
Acts 18.vv.23 to 19.v.8

After his prolonged stay in Asia Minor, Paul resolved to revisit Greece and Jerusalem and to visit Rome. A serious disturbance in Ephesus very nearly thwarted all Paul's plans. but having been rescued from this new danger, Paul left for Macedonia.
Acts 19.v.23 to 20.v.1

After a three month stay in Greece strengthening the young Churches, the news of a plot against him caused Paul to decide to return to Jerusalem. His farewell speech to the Elders of Phesus on his journey homeward is a very moving passage.
Acts 20.vv.17-38

Despite warnings and pleas from his friends, Paul persisted in his determination to visit Jerusalem, where he was warmly welcomed; but within a week he was seized and nearly lynched by a crowd stirred up by some Jews from Asia on the charge that he was subverting the Jewish faith. Rescued from this peril by the Roman tribune, and guarded from his Jewish adversaries by Roman soldiers, Paul made a spirited defence of his beliefs and teaching. As soon, however, as he mentioned his conversion and commission to the Gentiles, rioting broke out again.
Acts 22.vv.17-22

The tribune, learning that Paul was a Roman citizen and therefore liable to bring trouble upon those who had unjustifiably arrested him, released Paul and arranged for him to make a further defence of his conduct before a Council of the Jews.
Acts 22.vv.23-30

With great skill, Paul turned to his advantage a reference to the "resurrection of the dead" in his sermon for his defence. In the violent disturbance that followed between the Pharisees and Sadducees, the tribune managed to save Paul from the clutches of the Jews and protect him in the barracks.
Acts 23.vv.6-11

Learning that some of Paul's enemies had sworn to hill him, the tribune in his perplexity sent Paul under armed escort to Felix the Governor in Caesarea.
Acts 23.vv.12-15

Within a week the High Priest and several of his party arrived from Jerusalem in Caesarea and before Felix laid serious charges against Paul. In a masterly speech in his defence, Paul rebutted the charges, declared his innocence and was for two more years granted a limited degree of freedom, chiefly because of the perplexity of Felix.
Acts 24.vv.1-26

Felix was succeeded as Governor by a certain Festus who became responsible for the fate of Paul, whose enemies hoped to have him ambushed and killed on his way to Jerusalem. Festus asked Paul whether he wished to be tried in Jerusalem, but Paul made the momentous decision "I appeal to the Emperor". This was the privilege and right of those who were full Roman citizens and sealed his fate for better or worse. Henceforward it was incumbent upon the authorities to ensure that decision about Paul's future would be made in Rome.
Acts 24.v.27 and 25.vv.1-12

While Paul remained in Caesarea, Festus received a visit from King Agrippa who said that he would gladly hear what the prisoner Paul had to say in his defence of his belief and conduct. Arrangements were made accordingly.
Acts 25.vv.13-27

The defence of Paul before Agrippa is a wonderfully succinct summary of Paul's career as a Christian and made a profound impression on King Agrippa - but the die had been cast. Paul was destined to go to Rome.
Act .26.vv.1-32

The journey to Rome, fraught with dangers and near disaster, is a very exciting and moving story and since it illustrates so well the faith of Paul we include it in its entirety.
Acts 27.v.1 to 28.v.16

Paul's reception in Malta, in Italy, and in Rome was cordial but when he delivered his message in Rome there was, as might be expected, scepticism shown by some of the orthodox Jews. Nevertheless, he was able to spend there at least two years preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Acts 28.vv.17-31

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