The argument/structure of Acts

The Argument/Structure of Acts

The book of Acts is filled with important developments in theology and ecclesiology. The letter begins with the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father (1:9-10). The letter ends with the apostle Paul ministering under house-arrest in Rome (28:30-31). The letter encompasses three decades of church history.1

There have been many different theories in regard to the main focus of the letter. In looking at the book as a whole and the progression of its events there seem to be various themes. The birth of the Church occurs on the day of Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit (2:1-47). After this monumental event the author of the letter relates the birth, growth, development, and expansion of the Church. Here is the structure of Luke’s letter to Theophilus as I see it.2

      1. Christ’s ascension and the disciples’ gathered waiting for the Holy Spirit (1:1-26)

      2. The birth and development of the Church in Jerusalem (2:1-8:3)

      3. The gospel spreads outside of Jerusalem to Galilee and Samaria (8:4-9:31)

      4. The first Gentile Christians and Peter’s role (9:32-12:25)

      5. Paul sent to the Gentiles (13:1-19:20)

      6. Paul headed to Rome (19:21-28:14a)

      7. Paul in Rome (28:14b-31)

Luke’s letter appears to be a work composed for the purpose of relating the events of the birth, growth, development, and expansion of the Church. It is obviously the result of the Holy Spirit’s work, yet it does seem be primarily a historical work. The author reports the events.

1Carson, D.A. and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), p. 285.

2This outline has been contrasted with Carson and Moo’s writing in the previously sited work. Therefore I am it is loosely based on their findings, yet modified at points.

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