ACTS 1:1–11:21: Highlighting the Growth and Expansion of the Early Christian Church

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EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 180+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Acts 1:1–11:21 is a section of the New Testament book of Acts, which tells the story of the early Christian church and the spread of the gospel (the message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection) after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven.

In this section of Acts, the apostle Peter (one of Jesus’ closest followers) delivers a sermon in which he defends the belief that Jesus is the promised Messiah, or savior, and explains how he was resurrected from the dead. Following this sermon, the apostles choose Matthias to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot as one of their number.

The section also tells the story of the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people). The apostle Peter has a vision in which he is commanded to take the message of Jesus to the Gentiles, and he eventually meets a Roman centurion named Cornelius, who becomes the first Gentile to convert to Christianity.

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 The TRIAL and Death of Jesus_02 THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1

Later, the apostle Paul (formerly known as Saul) is converted to Christianity after encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he becomes a key figure in spreading the gospel to the Gentiles.

Overall, this section of Acts highlights the growth and expansion of the early Christian church and the challenges and opposition it faced as it sought to spread the message of Jesus to a wider audience.

PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

More In-Depth

Yes, the early Christian church experienced significant growth in the first century despite facing persecution. The message of Jesus and the teachings of the Christian faith were appealing to many people, and the church was able to spread rapidly through the efforts of its believers and the support of its communities. The early Christian church was also aided by the fact that it was a relatively new religion at the time, which allowed it to attract converts from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures. Despite facing persecution and challenges, the early Christian church was able to thrive and establish itself as a major religion.

The events in the Bible in the book of Acts, chapter 2. According to the account, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples of Jesus and empowered them to speak in languages that they did not know in order to proclaim the message of Jesus to a diverse group of people who were gathered in Jerusalem for the Festival of Pentecost. This event is seen as the birth of the Christian church, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is considered to be a key moment in the early history of Christianity. The belief is that the Holy Spirit gives believers the power and ability to spread the message of Jesus and to live out their faith in a way that brings glory to God.

According to the account in the book of Acts, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a significant moment in the early history of Christianity. The event was seen as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, which spoke of God pouring out his spirit and imparting miraculous gifts to those who received it. The fact that the disciples were able to speak in languages that they did not know was seen as a powerful demonstration of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost marked the beginning of a new era in the relationship between God and humanity, and it established the Christian church as the primary vehicle through which people could come to know and serve God.

The early Christian church faced significant opposition and persecution from various groups, including religious authorities and the Roman government. However, the believers in the early Christian church were undaunted and remained committed to spreading the message of Jesus and living out their faith. They believed that it was more important to obey God and follow his will than to conform to the expectations and demands of human authorities. This conviction often put them in conflict with those who opposed their message, but it also served to strengthen their resolve and their commitment to their faith. Despite facing persecution and challenges, the early Christian church continued to grow and spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.

Acts 5:28-29 reads: “So the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, ‘Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!’”

In this passage, the apostle Peter and the other believers are being confronted by the high priest and other religious authorities for continuing to preach and teach about Jesus despite being ordered to stop. The high priest and the council are angry and accuse the believers of causing trouble and trying to bring guilt upon them by preaching about Jesus.

In response, Peter and the other believers declare that they must obey God rather than men. This statement reflects the deep conviction of the early Christian believers that they were called by God to spread the message of Jesus and to live out their faith, regardless of the consequences. They believed that it was more important to follow God’s will than to conform to the expectations and demands of human authorities.

The historical and cultural context of this passage is the early Christian church, which was facing significant persecution and opposition from various groups, including the religious authorities and the Roman government. The believers in the early Christian church were often called upon to defend their faith and to stand up for their beliefs, even in the face of opposition and persecution. This passage is a powerful example of the conviction and determination of early Christian believers to follow God’s will and to spread the message of Jesus.

The account of the persecution of Stephen and the conversion of Saul (later known as Paul) is recorded in the book of Acts, chapter 9. According to the account, Stephen, a leading member of the early Christian church, was accused of blasphemy by certain Jews and was subsequently stoned to death. Saul, who was a Pharisee and a fierce opponent of the Christian faith, approved of Stephen’s murder and participated in the persecution of the early Christian believers.

However, while on the road to Damascus to arrest more Christians, Saul had a dramatic encounter with Jesus. A light from heaven flashed around him, and a voice spoke to him, saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” When Saul asked who the voice was, it identified itself as Jesus. This encounter had a profound impact on Saul, and he was converted to Christianity. He became one of the most ardent and influential advocates of the Christian faith, spreading the message of Jesus throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.

Acts 9:3-5 reads: “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’”

In this passage, we see the conversion of Saul (later known as Paul) to Christianity. Prior to this, Saul had been a fierce opponent of the Christian faith and had participated in the persecution of believers. However, while on the road to Damascus to arrest more Christians, Saul had a dramatic encounter with Jesus. A light from heaven shone around him, and a voice spoke to him, identifying itself as Jesus and asking him why he was persecuting him. This encounter had a profound impact on Saul, and he was converted to Christianity.

The historical and cultural context of this passage is the early Christian church, which was facing significant persecution and opposition from various groups, including the religious authorities and the Roman government. Saul was a Pharisee and a leading opponent of the Christian faith, and he had actively participated in the persecution of believers. However, his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus changed his perspective and led him to become one of the most ardent and influential advocates of the Christian faith. This passage is a powerful example of the transformative power of Jesus and the impact that he can have on the lives of individuals.

How to Interpret the Bible-1

According to the account in the book of Acts, Jesus sent a disciple named Ananias to restore Saul’s sight and help him become a follower of Jesus. After his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul was blinded and needed assistance in order to regain his sight. Ananias was sent to him by Jesus and, upon arriving, prayed for Saul, laying his hands on him. This prayer restored Saul’s sight, and he was baptized, becoming a follower of Jesus.

Saul, who later came to be known as the apostle Paul, became a zealous member of the Christian church and played a key role in spreading the message of Jesus throughout the Roman Empire. Paul traveled extensively, preaching and teaching about Jesus and establishing Christian communities in cities and towns throughout the region. He wrote many letters to the early Christian churches, which have been preserved in the Bible and continue to be read and studied by believers today. Paul’s conversion and his subsequent ministry had a major impact on the early Christian church and helped to shape the course of the Christian faith.

According to the account in the book of Acts, the apostle Peter preached to Cornelius, a Roman army officer, and his household, and the Holy Spirit came upon them while Peter was speaking. This event marked an important moment in the early history of Christianity, as it signaled the beginning of the spread of the Christian faith to people of all nations. Prior to this, the message of Jesus and the teachings of the Christian faith had been primarily directed to Jews and Samaritans. However, with the conversion of Cornelius and his household, it became clear that the way to everlasting life through faith in Jesus was open to people of all nations.

This event had significant implications for the early Christian church, as it marked the beginning of the spread of the Christian faith to a wider audience beyond the Jewish and Samaritan communities. It also challenged the traditional beliefs and practices of the early Christian believers, who had previously believed that faith in Jesus was only for Jews. The conversion of Cornelius and his household demonstrated that people of all nations could come to know and serve God through faith in Jesus, and it paved the way for the spread of the Christian faith to a much wider audience.

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One thought on “ACTS 1:1–11:21: Highlighting the Growth and Expansion of the Early Christian Church

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  1. Edward,

    Pretty good summary of Acts 1-11.
    I would like to comment that the early church until Acts10-11 and the conversion of Cornelius was made up believing Jews that Jesus was the Messiah; and the half-Jew, the Samaritans. The early church was known by the names “The Way” and “The Nazarenes.” Those titles would be fitting for a Jewish sect. But once the gospel began to go beyond Judaism, then those titles would no longer fit. That is why Acts 11:26, “Now it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.”

    The church was no longer a Jewish sect, but represented a non-ethnic group; or as Galatians 3:28 states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Thus, ethnicity, citizen status, or gender mattered as to who belong to the Church.

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