Basic Principles of Interpretation
• Acts is a transitional book.
• Acts is more descriptive than prescriptive.
• Acts introduces the Holy Spirit.
In What Did the Early Church Believe?
1. They believed in the risen Christ (1-11).
a) the reality of His resurrection (3a) (Ro. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:1-8)
b) the coming of His kingdom (3b) (Mt. 6:33; Ro. 14:17)
c) the power of His Spirit (4-8) (Jn. 14-16)
d) the assurance of His coming again (9-11)
1. He is our Advocate (1 Jn. 1:9 - 2:2)
2. He is our Mediator (1 Tim. 2:3)
3. He is our High Priest (He. 4:15-16)
2. They believed in each other (12-14) (Jn. 7:5; Acts 1:4 – his family)
• A mix of 120 ordinary people – men and women, apostles and others
• A beautiful assembly of humble people
• Jn. 7:5; Acts 1: – his physical family
• Key phrase is “in one accord” (1:14; 2:1,44,46; 5:12; 15:25)
• “It is not enough for Christians to have faith in the Lord; they must also have faith in one another.” - Warren Wiersbe
• No time for asking who was the greatest or who committed the greatest sin
• How easy division and criticism could have reared their heads (Peter, John)
• A time for praying and standing together in the Lord
People need people. This need is part of what it means to be a human being. If we are to grow intellectually, socially, and spiritually, we need others. Christians needs other Christians. When you become a Christian, you do not become one in isolation. Rather, you enter into the body of those who are also Christ’s disciples, and you find fellowship with them. – James Boice, Acts: An Expositional Commentary
3. They believed in prayer (15,24-25)
• Prayer plays a significant role in the story of the early church.
• Prayer is both the thermometer and the thermostat of the local church, for the spiritual temperature either goes up or down, depending on how God’s people pray. – Wiersbe
• Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan. – John Bunyan
Sometimes we have periods like this in our lives, and they make tough going for us. These are often the hardest periods for us to live through. We want to do something. Or, what is even more significant, we want God to do something. When God does not do anything, we think, “Things have gone wrong.” This period of waiting was not, however, a period of inactivity. It was a period of preparation. Sometimes in periods of waiting we can see the preparation. At other times we cannot. God is doing things in our lives that we cannot see. Perhaps He is developing character. We seldom see that, in ourselves or others. The second half of Acts 1 shows the early Christians practicing obedience, praying, studying the Scriptures, and choosing leaders in preparation for the ministry. – James Boice
4. They believed in God’s leading (16-23)
Peter in charge – the first among equals (Mt. 16:19; Jn. 21:15-17)
Factors that contributed to the- discovering of God’s will in this instance:
a) General leading of Scripture
b) Common sense, or sound deductive reasoning (Judas’ replacement must have same qualifications)
d) Trusting Jesus to make His choice known (casting of lots) (Pr. 16:33)
The situations in which we learn most about obedience are those in which we cannot see why we are called to do what we are doing. If we can give a reason for what we are doing, then we are not necessarily learning obedience, at least not simple obedience. What we are really doing is trusting our ability to reason things out. There is nothing wrong with thinking things out. But it is quite another thing to learn obedience when the prescribed course does not seem the best option.
If you are going through a period like that in your life, when you know what you should do but do not know why you need to do it, or if you are experiencing a delay in God’s dealings with you and it seems that you are stuck in a spot and can’t quite get off it, learn that there is valuable preparation for future work just in remaining where God has put you. The action will come later. – James Boice