The Church A Study in Acts 1-15


Author: Luke

Audience: All believers (includes Gentiles)

Date: 63 AD

Theme: the spread of the Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit


The church is equipped with Holy Spirit power in this era - between the resurrection / ascension of Jesus and his second coming. The church lived with a distinct knowledge of the resurrection AND that Jesus was coming back again.

Do you have a testimony of the living, resurrected Jesus? Do you have a testimony of his second coming?
Nations represented at Pentecost

What is the core of the Gospel message preached by Peter?

Acts 2:37-38 NIV - Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

The church was built on life change (repentance)... not just intellectual assent.

Miracle at the temple gate - Acts 3

Peter's address to the temple crowd

Acts 3:15-21 NIV - You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

“Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.

Acts 4:12-13 NIV

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Notice the constant referral to the name of Jesus in the Gospel proclamation.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Peter the coward became Peter the rock.

Acts 4:29-35 NIV

Questions for Application:

  1. What descriptions of the early church match your church experience?
  2. Can you remember when the Holy Spirit manifested himself in your life?
  3. How can you see more of the Holy Spirit's power in your life? (remember... why did the Holy Spirit come?)
  4. How similar is your evangelism message to that of Peter's message? (i.e. Jesus-focused, personal appeal to repent)
  5. How can you act more like this first church today?

Acts 5:12-16 NIV

Persecution begins - Acts 5:17ff
Deacons added to the church - Acts 6:1-7

What was the prerequisite to be chosen as a deacon?

The Trial and Stoning of Stephen

Acts 7:51 NIV

“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

Acts 8:1 NIV - "And Saul was there, giving approval to his death."

The great persecution begins...

Acts 8:1-8 NIV

"On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went."

Saul's Conversion - Acts 9:1-19

Describe God's character in this story.

Describe Saul's character in this story.

Acts 10 - Peter and Cornelius
Acts 10:34-38 NIV - "Then Peter began to speak: 'I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached– how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.'"
Acts 10:44-48 NIV - "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 'Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.' So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days."

Acts 11:25-26 NIV - "Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch."

Acts 12 - Peter in prison
Acts 12:5 NIV - "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him."

Acts 13:1-3 NIV - "In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off."

Paul's 1st Missionary Journey

Acts 14:26-27 NIV - "From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. And they stayed there a long time with the disciples."

Acts 15 - Council at Jerusalem

What resolutions did the council come up with?

Questions for Application

  1. Are there any types / categories of people that you would stay away from in evangelism?
  2. How could you make it easier for people to access Jesus? What cultural barriers could be broken down?
  3. Regarding the Acts 15 resolution - are there any areas of sexual immorality or idolatry that you allow in your life?
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