Acts of the Apostles was written in approximately 63 AD by Luke, a Gentile physician and traveling associate of the Apostle Paul. Written as a sequel to the Gospel of Luke, Acts continues the story of Jesus through the life and mission of the first disciples, tracing the first 30 years of Christian history from the Ascension of Jesus in Jerusalem to the imprisonment of Paul in Rome.
Acts begins a decisively new chapter in the history of salvation. God’s saving actions which began in the Old Testament came to a climactic fulfillment in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In Acts, God is present in the world in a new way through the activity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the Church. The principal theme in Acts is that Jesus’ followers are his witnesses, who are filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to speak and act in his name.
Acts 1:8 outlines the course of the entire book: “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The story unfolds in precisely this way beginning with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Chapter 2. Chapters 2 through 12 narrate the leadership role of Peter establishing the Church, while Chapters 13-28 narrate the missionary efforts of Paul in expanding the Church.
Throughout Acts it is clear that the Holy Spirit sets the pace and direction for the growth of the Church. The book’s open-ended conclusion, with Paul still preaching the gospel in Rome, makes the entire Book of Acts a fitting prologue to the rest of Church history.
Today, we are living in a time of abandonment of Christian faith on a scale we’ve never seen before. We, just like Jesus’ first disciples, are called to go out and bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. God has a specific role for you in this work. This brief study of Acts of the Apostles will help you consider what it means to live as a post-Resurrection Catholic Christian today, and inspire you to open yourself to the power of the Holy Spirit and step into the role to which God has called you.
Suggested Structure for Weekly Reading and Reflection
- Begin with a short prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to guide your reading and reflection.
- Read the Overview provided for the week.
- Read the assigned reading. (Do the reading ahead of time if you are part of a small group.)
- Reflect on the questions provided and discuss if part of a small group.
- Close with a brief prayer of thanksgiving for any insights or inspirations received.
- Do the challenge in the upcoming week.
Resources Used in Developing the Commentary for this Scripture Challenge
Kurz, William S. SJ. Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: 2013.
Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament RSV 2nd Edition. Scott Hahn, ed. Ignatius Press, 2010.
The New American Bible Revised Edition, St. Joseph Edition. Washington DC, 2010.