Foundation of Book of Acts (and the Church)

Acts 1:8

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses (one who tells what he has seen or heard or knows – comes from the same root word as our word for martyr – one who bears witness by his death) to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

  • You Will Receive Power.
  • Ability
  • Might
  • From the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity.
  • He is person – not a “thing,” not an “it.”
  • He acts like a person.
  • He dwells in believers (John 14:17)
  • He teaches and causes us to remember (John 14:26)                     
  • He testifies (John 15:26)
  • He guides into truth, He hears, He speaks, He shows (John 16:13)
  • He spoke to Philip (Acts 8:29)
  • He calls to the ministry (Acts 13:2)
  • He forbids certain actions (Acts 16:6,7)
  • He intercedes, etc.  (Romans 8:26)
  • He possesses qualities of personality.
  • He has a will (1 Corinthians 12:11)
  • He thinks (Romans 8:27)
  • He has knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:10,11)
  • He loves (Romans 15:30)
  • He can be treated like a person.
  • He can be lied to (Acts 5:3)
  • He can be resisted (Acts 7:51)
  • He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30)
  • He can be outraged (Hebrews 10:29)
  • He can be spoken against (Matthew 12:31)
  • He is God.
  • He possesses divine qualities.
  • All knowing (1 Corinthians 2:10,11)
  • Present everywhere at one time (Psalm 139:7)
  • All powerful (Zechariah 4:6)
  • He is Truth (1 John 5:6)
  • He is the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2) as God is the living God.
  • He is the Spirit of love (2 Timothy 1:7) as God is love.
  • He bears divine names.
  • Spirit of truth (John 14:17)
  • Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:11)
  • He is associated on the same level as the Father and the Son.
  • To be baptized in the name of all three (Matthew. 28:19)
  • Blessing is given by all three (2 Corinthians 13:14)
  • All three live in the Christian (1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 Corinthians 3:16)
  • For the Purpose of Being a Witness.

John 15:26 – But when the Helper (the Comforter, the Advocate) comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

John 16:13-14 – when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…He will glorify Me…

Acts 5:32; Acts 6:10; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:5

  • A witness is someone who KNOWS SOMETHING.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent (exert oneself, make every effort, be zealous, strain every nerve – the word includes thinking and acting, planning and producing.  It see a need and does something about it) to present yourself approved to God, a worker (one who makes forth effort, who toils) who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.      

1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify (set apart) the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Power of Holy Spirit is given for our ability “to know.”

1 Corinthians 2:6-16 -“. . . Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given (unconditionally given) to us by God. . . but which the Holy Spirit teaches. . . But the natural (physical – living in the domain of the five senses) man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually (with the aid of the Holy Spirit) discerned.

  • A Witness is someone who IS SOMETHING.

1 Peter 2:11-15 – Beloved, I beg you, as sojourners (“to dwell beside” – an alien, one who lives in a land without the rights of citizenship) . . . having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. . .for this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Luke 6:46 – Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do the things which I say?

Matthew 7:21-23; Philippians 2:14-15; James 1:22-25

Power of Holy Spirit is given for our ability “to be” righteous.

Galatians 5:16 – Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts (strong desires, intense craving) of the flesh. 

Romans 8: 13 – for if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Galatians 5:22-23; John 14:15-17; John 14:26

  • A witness is one who TELLS SOMETHING

Matthew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen

Mark 16:15 – And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature

Luke 24: 46-49 – Preach (tell abroad, publish, publicly proclaim, call out with a clear voice.  The herald is to give a public announcement of an official message and to issue whatever demands the message entails.  The Christian herald is to proclaim the message of salvation through Jesus Christ and issue a summons to repent and receive forgiveness of sins.)

Acts 2:14 – Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said.

Acts 4:4 – many of those who heard the word believed.

Power of the Holy Spirit is given for our ability “to proclaim.”

Acts 4:31 – . . . they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the Word of God with boldness (outspokenness, unreserved utterance, frankness, opposite of timidity or fear). 

The example of the disciples shows us the power of the Holy Spirit to give us the boldness to speak.  Before the day of Pentecost, the disciples ran and hid.  After the day of Pentecost, they were bold, unafraid and proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ to all who would listen. 

  • A Witness of Jesus Christ. – Not of our denomination, not of our local church, not of our pastor, not of our programs, not of our personal ideas and beliefs – but OF JESUS CHRIST!!!

1 Corinthians 2:1-2 – And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified

  • For the Purpose of Being a Witness to the Whole World.
  • Jerusalem (local)
  • Your family
  • Your town
  • Your co-workers
  • Your close friends
  • Judea (national)
  • Your extended family
    • Your state – your country
    • Your grocery clerk, gas station attendant
    • Your acquaintances
  • Samaria (cross-cultural)
  • Race, national differences
  • Economical differences
  • Social differences
  • End of the earth (international)
  • Mexico
  • Israel
  • Brazil
  • Zambia
  • ?????

The First Great Gentile Church

Acts 11:19-30

Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.  Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.  Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.  And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 11:18 is a momentous passage.  Peter’s ministry to Cornelius and his household, and the positive response by the church at Jerusalem (see Acts 10:1-11:18) set the stage for Paul’s outreach to the Gentiles in the remaining chapters.  The next few verses cover one of the most important events in history – the founding of the Gentile church. 

  • The Gentile Church is Born
  • Born through the witness of lay believers (Acts 8:1-4).  Note that everyone was scattered except the apostles
  • Born by believers sharing with everyone they met – Jews and Gentiles alike.  God desires everyone to hear the good news and for everyone to be saved.

Isaiah 45:22 – “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!”

Matthew 22:9 – “Go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.”

Romans 10:12 – “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek (between the rich and the poor, between the educated and the uneducated, between the white and the black, between the Church of God and the Baptist, between the Anglo-Saxon and the Hispanic), for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.”

  • Borne by the hand of the Lord.  “the hand of the Lord was with them.”
  • God allowed the persecution.
  • God gave the believers the boldness to proclaim the good news.
  • God opened the eyes of the people in Antioch to receive the good news.
  • The Gentile Church is Nourished
  • Mother Church sent ministerial help – the church needed leadership.
  • Barnabas encouraged the new church – to continue with the Lord with purpose of heart (a deliberate plan, an intention, a design).  It is not enough to start walking with God, but the church must have a deliberate plan, an intention to keep walking with God.
  • Barnabas taught the new church – teaching is an important part of the church.
  • The Gentile Church had an Effective Witness
  • Believers were first called “Christians” at Antioch.  The Greek word used was christianos.  This was likely an insulting name given to the followers of Christ (Christos) like the term “Jesus-freak” was used a few years ago.  Later, believers took the name and began applying it to themselves.  Eventually the name was adopted by the whole world for the followers of Christ.   If we call ourselves “Christian,” we need to recognize what it means to be a true follower of Christ.

Colossians 2:6 – As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.

1 John 2:6 – He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

  • The Gentile Church Had a Ministry to Others
  • When they heard of the prophesied famine coming, they took up a relief offering to Jerusalem.  This was an offering each person shared in according to their ability.  Again, we see that a growing, thriving church is one that reaches out to others – it is not consumed with just meeting its own needs.

Galatians 6:10 – Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us (ergazomai – work, be busy, accomplish something, produce things, be engaged in, toil.  Ergazomai is the opposite of idleness, laziness, or inactivity.) do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

1 Timothy 6:18 – Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.

NOTE:  Preaching–Teaching–Exhortation – There are three different Greek words used for preaching and teaching in this passage.

  • Lalountes is translated “preaching” in the King James Version and “spoke” in the New King James Version.  It is the simple sharing of conversation among people.  In other words, as the believers were scattered abroad, wherever they went, whoever they talked to, Jesus was the topic of their conversation.  Jesus was so real in their lives, so much on their mind that they simply “spoke” about Him to every one they came in contact with. 
  • Euaggelizomenoi is translated “preaching” and it means to declare and proclaim the gospel – the good news.  The believers – the lay people – actually went into Antioch and preached and proclaimed that Jesus Christ had died and risen again for their sins. 
  • Parekalei is translated “exhorted” or “encouraged” and means to warn, comfort, encourage, challenge, admonish or advise.  The believers – both in their day-to-day conversation and in their preaching – urged the people at Antioch to continue with the Lord with one purpose, one plan, one commitment of service.