This book by Luke is a follow-up to his gospel. There is a natural flow from one right into the other; in fact, in the Early Church, they travelled together (Luke-Acts). The real title is “The Acts of The Apostles”, and while this is certainly true, it could just as certainly been titled, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit”. Each Gospel as well as Acts has a version of what we call “The Great Commission”. Luke, in Acts, quotes Jesus as promising in Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” A missiologist, Roland Allen, years ago, wrote a compelling book, “The Spontaneous Expansion of the Early Church”, and his conclusion was that it was all the work of the Holy Spirit. Remember, the apostles (really a larger group of 120) were gathered in the Upper Room (after the ascension of Jesus Christ, and prayed for ten days before Pentecost came, and the Holy Spirit was poured on their assembly. The terms “filled with the Holy Spirit” “Spirit-filled” are used strategically in this book. The Holy Spirit filled the early disciples, empowered them to witness, gave them boldness, and came to energize entire groups of people. The Holy Spirit manifested Himself with miracles, tongues, and other manifestations.
Some of the highlights of this great book include the first sermon in the establishment of the church, by Peter (in Acts 2), a sermon by Stephen, who became the first Christian martyr (Acts 7). It is in Acts that we hear of Saul, who is wondrously converted (Acts 9) and eventually is commissioned as a missionary (Acts 13), and then sets off on three different missionary journeys, which effectively establishes a beachhead for the Gospel in Asia Minor, Greece and Italy.
We can learn much from these early Christians. They were truly wholly devoted followers of Christ and their life-styles demonstrated it (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37). They prayed. They witnessed. They were filled by the Holy Spirit. And the church exploded with growth! And God still is waiting for Christians to be fully committed that He might show Himself strong in their behalf!
Acts 1:8 gives us really an outline for the Book of Acts:
I. The resurrection appearance of Jesus, the Great Commission and His ascension (Acts 1:1-11)
II. The Apostolic Replacement and Prayer Meeting (Acts 1:12-26)
III. The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and establishment of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 2:1-8:1)
IV. The Persecution, and Dispersing of Believers: to all Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:2-12:25)
V. The Missionary Journeys of Paul: to the ends of the earth (Acts 13:1-28:31)