One more week of school and it will be summer break!  Until then, there is discussion board posts and replies, two quizzes, a summary title and three core verses for each chapter in Acts, and a research paper on Dissociation that I’m super excited to be writing.  I can’t even describe how it feels to be completely healed from it and doing research on it!  God is so faithful!! I can say with certainty that I understand the book of Acts in much more depth, and it remains one of my favorite books.  So for now, here is the most recent paper:

Theme Developments in Acts 8-12

Themes are found throughout the Bible that provide biblical principles for believers to live by today.  The mission of the church developing in the book of Acts continues to grow as the Holy Spirit anoints believers to preach the Gospel.  This paper will demonstrate how the Kingdom of God is advanced through the themes of suffering, the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom being inclusive, and prayer, in chapters eight through twelve of Acts.

Chapter eight begins with the theme of suffering as believers are being persecuted and scattered throughout Judea and Samaria because of their faith (Acts 8:1 NIV).  In chapter twelve, King Herod has James, the brother of John, killed by the sword.  Also, Saul removed men and women from their homes and put them in prison (Acts 8:2-3).  After killing James, King Herod arrested Peter with the intention of killing him.  Despite the persecution, God’s Sovereignty is seen as the scattered believers continued to advance the proclamation of the Gospel by preaching everywhere they went.[1]

Prayer and the Holy Spirit can also be traced throughout Acts.  In chapter eight Peter and John pray for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit when they arrived in Samaria (Acts 8:15).  Peter then rebukes Simon because his heart was wicked, instructing him to repent for asking them to pray for him to lay his hands on people for them to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:22).  Prayer also preceded the miracle in Joppa.  Peter got down on his knees and prayed before saying to a dead woman, “Tabitha, get up” (Acts 9:40).  The Kingdom advanced as many who heard of the woman being raised from the dead believed.  In chapter ten, Cornelius, a centurion who prayed to God regularly, was told by an angel to send men to Joppa and bring back Peter.  Meanwhile, Peter was given a vision when he went up on the roof where he was staying to pray (Acts 10:9).  Hence, Peter broke the cultural barrier by going to Cornelius’ house to share the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit came on all the Gentiles who heard it.[2]  The Gentiles being saved and receiving the Holy Spirit also demonstrates that the kingdom is inclusive, not requiring a Jewish heritage, or circumcision for the Gentiles.  Finally, in chapter twelve the church prays earnestly for Peter who was imprisoned by King Herod.

In addition to these themes, there are core elements found in Peter’s evangelistic encounter with Cornelius and his household.  He begins his teaching with admitting he realized that “God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right” (Acts 8:34).  He then tells them that Jesus, anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, ministered to all who were under the devil’s power (Acts 8:34). He pointed out that he witnessed Jesus being killed by crucifixion and raised from the dead on the third day.  Also, that Jesus is Lord of all and Salvation is through Him.  These are the same core elements that Peter used in the first movement in Acts.

Finally, a geographical, religious, and ethnic transition in the audience of the gospel can be seen in these chapters.  There is a geographical transition as the kingdom is advanced at the opening of Chapter eight with the church being persecuted and scattered throughout Judea and Samaria preached wherever they went.  On the way to Gaza, Philip explained a passage of scripture to an Ethiopian who was then saved and baptized (Acts 8:26-38).  After the baptism, the Lord suddenly took Philip away from the Ethiopian.  He appeared at Azotus and preached in every town until he reached Caesarea (Acts 8:39-40).  In Chapter nine Saul preached in Damascus until he learned of a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him.  From there he went to Jerusalem to try to join the disciples (Acts 9:28).  When the Hellenistic Jews tried to kill him, the believers “took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarus” (Acts 9:30).  Peter was also spreading the Gospel and doing miracles as he traveled to Lydda, Sharon, and Joppa where he stayed for some time with Simon the tanner (Acts 9:32-40).  Peter then went to Caesarea and preached at Cornelius’s house, and Gentiles were added to the kingdom. Subsequently, in chapter eleven those who had been scattered at Stephen’s death reached Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch where they preached to the Jews.  However, some from Cyprus and Cyrene also told Greeks in Antioch about Jesus (Acts 10:19-22).  The transition of these new audiences being added to the kingdom was only the beginning of the Gospel being sent to the ends of the earth.

In Conclusion, Acts chapters eight through twelve give clear examples of believer’s responsibilities to spread the Gospel to every geographical, religious, and ethnic audience.  It shows that core elements including that Jesus was crucified, resurrected by God, and is the way of Salvation that need to be taught in all evangelism.  Despite the persecution and difficult travel, the gospel prevailed and the kingdom advanced in this section of Acts.

Bibliography

Fowler, Ben. “Key Themes of Acts.” Lecture, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA, May 5, 2018.

Ger, Steven. The Book of Acts: Witnesses to the World, Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2004.

[1] Video Lecture: Don Fowler, “Key Themes of Acts” (lecture, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA, May 5, 2018).

[2] Steven Ger, The Book of Acts: Witnesses to the World (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2004), 164.