Author: Ron Graham
The Spread of Christianity
—The six parts of the book of Acts
The book of Acts is the second book written for Theophilus by Luke, and takes up the story where Luke’s gospel account finished (Luke 1:1-3, Acts 1:1-2).
The book of Acts tells of the spread of Christianity and the adventures of the first Christians. Luke’s main purpose is to record cases of conversion to provide a model or pattern of how people became Christians wherever the gospel went. The book falls into six sections each of which ends with a progress report.
Acts 1:1 to 6:7
- Ascension of Christ to God’s right hand
- Preaching of Peter
- Establishment of the church of Christ at Jerusalem
- Persons: Peter, John
- Places: Jerusalem
- Problems: poverty
"And the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem" (Acts 6:7).
2 Judea, Galilee, Samaria
Acts 6:8 to 9:31
- Spread of Christianity through Judea, Galilee, and Samaria
- Martyrdom of Stephen
- Ministry of Philip
- Conversion of Saul
- Persons: Stephen, Philip, Saul
- Places: Judea, Galilee, Samaria
- Problems: persecution
"Then the church had rest throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. Going on and built up in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase" (Acts 9:31).
3 Coastlands and Syria
Acts 9:32 to 12:24
- Church established at Antioch
- Peter preaches to Cornelius
- Persons: Peter, Cornelius
- Places: Joppa, Syrian Antioch
- Problems: prejudice
"The word of the Lord continued to grow and be multiplied" (Acts 12:24).
4 Cyprus and Galatia
Acts 12:25 to 16:5
- Paul begins his first missionary journey to Cyprus and regions south of Galatia (Acts 13:4)
- Council at Jerusalem
- Paul's begins his second missionary journey (Acts 15:36)
- Persons: Paul (Saul), Barnabas, Silas.
- Places: Cyprus, Pisidia, Jerusalem
- Problems: heresy
"So the churches were established in the faith, and increased in number daily" (Acts 16:5).
5 Macedonia, Achaia, Asia
Acts 16:6 to 19:20
- Paul journeys from Syria to Macedonia
- Conversion of Lydia and the jailer at Philippi
- Paul goes on down to Achaia (Greece), preaches in Athens
- Paul returns to Syria via Ephesus
- Paul begins his third missionary journey (Acts 18:23)
- Apollos’s missionary journeys
- Paul spends more than two years teaching in Ephesus
- Persons: Paul, Lydia, Silas, Timothy
- Places: Ephesus, Macedonia, Achaia (Greece)
- Problems: idolatry
"So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing" (Acts 19:20).
Acts 19:21 to 28:31
- An uproar in Ephesus
- Paul's fourth journey begins (Acts 20:1)
- Macedonia and Achaia revisited
- Paul’s journey to Jerusalem and trials there (chapters 21-26)
- Paul’s journey to Rome where he is placed under house arrest
- Persons: Paul
- Places: Jerusalem, Rome
- Problems: imprisonment
"...preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about Christ quite openly and unhindered" (Acts 28:31).