Relevant Verses: Acts 1
Leading Question: As Christians, we believe that the Bible is inspired by God. Why, then, would we be interested in questions of authorship, intended audience, and date of writing? What difference does it make since it is the word of God?
1. In Acts 1:1, the author refers to “my former book” and then mentions the name Theophilus. This leads to some questions regarding the historical context of the book. For example:
hWho wrote the book of Acts? What do we know about this author?
What is the “former book” that is mentioned?
Who is Theophilus?
What was the author’s purpose?
When was the book written?
How might the answers to these questions impact the way we read the book?
2. If we look at the book of Acts as a whole, what is the story that is being told?
3. How is the book of Acts organized, at its most basic level? (Acts 1:8 provides a bit of a geographic outline, and some have simply noted that the first half of the book focuses on the ministry of Peter, while the second half focuses on Saul/Paul.)
4. Acts 1 sets the groundwork for the rest of the book.
In verses 3-5, Jesus askes the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem? Why? Did they need to stay there? And didn’t they already have the Spirit? How is being “baptized” with the Spirit somehow different from what they had already experienced?
In Acts 1:12-23, the focus shifts on replacing Judas. After the death of Judas, the disciples seemed determined to take find someone to take his place. Why was there this emphasis on having an even twelve apostles?
The selection of a new leader involved several steps: corporate prayer involving men and women, articulation of criteria for the new leader, nominations, more prayer, and finally, the casting of lots. What should we learn about the selection of church leaders from this process?
How is this process different from current practice in the church? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each approach?
The text tells us that the group of believers numbered 120. Does this seem like a small or a large group? In other words, if God came to earth in human form, lived among us for over 30 years, healed the sick, raised the dead, and preached to thousands, what size of “church” would you expect him to have left behind?
5. There is a consistent emphasis on the importance of the Holy Spirit in this chapter. Do we know what it means to be “baptized” with the Holy Spirit? What are the dangers of witnessing to the world without this baptism? How would one seek this baptism, and what are the indications that it has been received?