So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

King Herod begins to persecute the believers - He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. Then he arrests Peter.

The church was praying for Peter, and no doubt had prayed for James too. Peter is miraculously delivered from Herod’s clutches, but James wasn’t.

We see prayer is not a kind of magic by which we induce God to give us whatever we want. Our prayers express our desires, what we think best. But always with the understanding that we trust God to answer in the way that He knows is in our best interest!

We don’t understand why God saved Peter and allowed James to die. We can only guess about these things. But we do believe that in both cases God did what was best.

Maybe James goes to heaven sooner and Peter remains to teach and write two books of the New Testament. God’s perspective is above and beyond us. For this reason - and because of His love for us – we simply trust Him.

Sometimes it is clear why our prayers are answered or not. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night of His betrayal. He asked God to remove the coming suffering. God did not. And we know why!

But Jesus also prayed – Not my will, but yours be done. He endured the cross of suffering in spite of His prayer to avoid it if possible. He had faith that His unanswered prayer was God’s way to something better for Him! And something better for everyone in the world!

Yet our prayers are not fatalistic exercises. They are powerful and mean something. Not only are they expressions of our desires, but God is moved by them. And we believe He always gives us what we ask when it is in our best interests.

But…what is in our best interest is better left to God.



The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

The word Christian means like Christ. That’s what students of Jesus seek to become. More like their Teacher.

Why were the Antioch believers the first to be called Christians?

Perhaps it was because this group of believers was the first fellowship comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. This inclusive spirit was new and very much like Jesus who came to unite all people.

Maybe it was because of their charitable spirit. While the Jerusalem church provided food for those in their own group who were in need, the Antioch church is the first to send relief to a those not in their immediate fellowship. They sent help to the believers in Jerusalem.

The Antioch church will also send missionaries out beyond its borders to Turkey and Greece. The Message of Jesus spread from the Jerusalem church too, but it was the persecution of Saul that sparked their mission work.

Whereas the Antioch believers – in the absence of outside influences - will prayerfully and purposely set out to evangelize beyond its borders!

Inclusive fellowship of both Jews and Gentiles, charitable giving to those not in their immediate fellowship, and purposeful mission work in other countries uniquely qualify the church in Antioch to receive the name – Christian.

Upon learning of the Gentile’s inclusion in the Antioch church, Barnabas went to Tarsus to enlist the help of Saul. Now Saul – soon to have his name changed to Paul – will embark on the prolific career of mission work for which he is remembered today.

So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Students of Jesus today seek to be inclusive, charitable to all and mission-minded. In this way, they too become more like their Teacher. And so, Christian!



The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

This is shocking news! Even though Jesus told His students to go into all the world and make students in every nation, at first they didn't understand what the Teacher meant by this!

Evidently, they mistakenly thought Jesus was telling them to go to the people of Israel who had been scattered and were now living in every nation. That’s why for some period of time everyone in the Christian Community was Jewish.

Now, in the home of a Gentile, Jesus miraculously shows Peter what He meant by every nation. Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his household.

The circumcised (Jewish) believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.

Understanding what has happened, Peter instructs Cornelius and his family to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus.

Returning to Jerusalem, Peter has some explaining to do - So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised (Jewish) believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

Peter carefully recounts the whole story. They are convinced. If God has given the Holy Spirit to Gentiles, then the Good News of Jesus is assuredly for them also.

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

From the cradle of Judaism to the entire Gentile world! The Teacher Himself had said it. They would be His witnesses beginning in Jerusalem and Judea, then in Samaria and finally to the uttermost parts of the earth!



I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.

Sometimes a new truth surprisingly dawns on us. An Eye-opener! It was there all along, but we were completely unaware of it.

Here Peter experiences just such a revelation when he finds himself in a position he never dreamed possible. God has called him to the home of a Gentile. He expresses his surprise to his host, Cornelius.

You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him.

But when Cornelius relates how God’s angel appeared to him and blessed him because of his prayers and gifts to the poor, Peter understands something he never thought possible.

It isn't Israel alone who is the object of God’s love and approval. Throughout history, Gentiles who feared and obeyed God were also accepted.

Peter immediately begins to share the Good News about Jesus. He told about the death and the resurrection of Jesus. It was then Peter received another shock - While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.

First the Jews in Jerusalem became students of Jesus, and then the Samaritans and now even Gentiles receive the Gift of God’s presence through the Holy Spirit!

Peter receives An Eye-opener he never dreamed possible. Jesus death and resurrection isn’t just salvation for the chosen people of Israel. God’s love is without favoritism.

Jesus lived and died for everyone in the world. And now all peoples are offered the same opportunity to receive forgiveness of sins and become students of Jesus.



Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.

Cornelius sent some of his men to invite Peter to his home. But Peter is a Jew, and Cornelius is a Gentile. Will Peter accept the invitation?

This may be a problem for Peter. Samaritan people – Jews who had intermarried with Gentiles - had only recently been included in the Christian fellowship. But so far, the Good News was not shared with Gentiles.

And there was a reason for this. In the Jewish tradition, it was not customary to associate closely with Gentiles. As followers of Jesus, the Jewish Christians mistakenly continued to keep this restriction.

In addition to keeping separate from Gentiles, they also observed certain dietary restrictions. Some foods were not permitted under the Law of Moses. For example, certain animals could be eaten (clean) and certain animals were forbidden (unclean).

How will Peter respond to a request to break with these longstanding traditions and visit Cornelius’ home to share the Good News with him?

To change Peter’s thinking about Gentiles, God gives him a vision about dietary customs. It must have been very disturbing to Peter. The voice from heaven instructed him to eat unclean animals!

By removing the dietary restrictions, God is sending Peter the greater message that Gentiles are not to be excluded either. The Spirit then plainly told Peter - Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.

Peter responded by inviting Cornelius’s messengers into the home. And he will go with them too. And for the very first time share the Good News of Jesus with Gentile people.

Peter’s vision is the vision of every student of Jesus today. Not only does Jesus remove dietary restrictions of the Old Testament, He seeks to remove hostility between ethnic groups, bringing everyone together in close personal fellowship with Him.
Jesus' vision will become Peter's vision, because he's a good student of Jesus!



Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.

Here we are introduced to a good man and his family. Cornelius is a man over a hundred Roman soldiers. And he is a Gentile.

This leads us to think about the millions of people who lived before the time of Jesus who also were not Israelites and therefore were not living under the Law of Moses.

We might question. What kind of relationship with God was possible for all these people? Before the time when Jesus united both Jews and Gentiles in a unified global fellowship?

Apparently, it was possible for Gentiles to please God even without the Law of Moses. God was accepting them as their consciences led them to seek to please Him.

Of course, whether Jew or Gentile, God was forgiving and accepting them based on one very important future event – the death of Jesus for the sins of everyone who ever lived, past, present and future!

It is interesting that this man is recognized by God as reverent and devout. In fact, there are two particular things about Cornelius’s life that gain God’s approval. His prayers and his help to the poor!

An angel tells Cornelius that these actions are noticed by God and have created a personal memorial for him before God.

Students of Jesus are not surprised. When Jesus came to earth, His own life was full of both prayer and help to the poor.

Cornelius not only receives special recognition from God, he is about to be given a very special honor. He and his household will become the first Gentile students of Jesus!

Peter will be a reluctant instrument of God to bring the Good News of Jesus to Gentile Cornelius. But as we shall see in the Book of Acts, it will be Saul who is chosen to carry the Message to the Gentile nations.



There was a disciple named…Dorcas…who was always doing good and helping the poor.

Why do some students of Jesus excel in becoming more like the Teacher? Is theirs a greater trust in Jesus? A stronger faith that following Him more closely leads to the most meaningful kind of life!

Dorcas was such a student. She used what abilities and resources were hers to serve the needs of others. She employed her skill as a seamstress to make clothes for the poor.

In service to those with needs, her life mirrored the life of her Teacher. For Jesus' life was full of good works on behalf of the poor. In fact, His very coming into the world to die for everyone’s sins was a just such a blessing to all mankind.

For though He was rich, He became poor. That through His poverty we might become rich.

When Dorcas fell ill and died, all the widows gathered in her home to mourn for her. Peter was also present, having been summoned by the believers in that community.

All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

Their sorrow was turned to joy when Peter raised her from the dead!

By His life and teaching, Jesus elevates service to the poor to new heights. Dorcas understood and so provided clothes for the widows she knew. For to be a widow in those days was most often to be poor.

Serious students of Jesus always seek ways to serve the poor in whatever way their talents and opportunities provide. They remember the Teacher’s words – Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these…you did it to me.

How happy must be our Teacher when - like Dorcas - we pay attention to what He said. When we seek to please Him by becoming more like Him in service to the poor in our world.



Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace.

When Saul made peace with Jesus, peace fell sweetly upon all the students of Jesus.

That Saul was the chief architect of the persecution that swept the Christians from Jerusalem is made obvious, for when he began to follow Jesus the church once again enjoyed a time of tranquility.

But everything was not serene for Saul. He immediately began to preach about Jesus - At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

Saul’s former friends hatched a plot to kill him for his faith and boldness in Jesus. However, his newfound friends in Jesus let him down over the wall in a basket to avoid the assassins waiting for him near the gates of the city.

Nor was Saul’s life peaceful when he returned to Jerusalem. At first the Christians there were naturally afraid of him. They didn’t believe he was a real follower of Jesus, but rather trying to infiltrate the group in order to harm them.

But Saul found a friend in a man named Barnabas who assured the apostles of Saul’s truthfulness by telling them of how he preached fearlessly in Damascus.

So Saul was accepted and for a while even preached freely about Jesus in the city of Jerusalem. But this was short-lived. A new plot to kill him was formed, and once more he escaped the city and returned to his hometown of Tarsus.

In the end, the believers regained their strength and actually grew in number once more. This was a direct result of Saul's Peace.



Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?

Saul plans to chase down some of the Jesus’ followers who have fled the city of Jerusalem. With special permission from the authorities, he sets off for the city of Damascus to bring them back.

On the road, Saul is blinded by a light from heaven. The voice he hears is Jesus’. One can only imagine the shock he must have felt since he honestly thought persecuting Christians was God’s work.

Now, literally and figuratively, he sees the light!

Of all the evidences for the resurrection of Jesus, Saul’s conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a follower of Jesus is one of the most dramatic.

How can one possibly explain this about face in the life of Saul?

Saul’s turn to Jesus might be suspect if he had something to gain by switching sides. However, he will suffer the loss of everything he’s worked for up to this point in his life. This is not something one does unless there is a convincing reason to do so.

Now Saul will become a serious student of Jesus. He will be given a special assignment - This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.

Not only will Saul lose the position in Judaism for which his education has prepared him. He will suffer for Jesus - I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.

The persecutor will become the persecuted!

What is the explanation for Saul’s change of heart? A life dedicated to carrying the message of Jesus?
He met the resurrected Jesus!

Now he will become a tireless missionary, write half of the books of the New Testament and be enshrined in memory as one of the greatest students of Jesus who ever lived.



Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

Here we observe how a student of Jesus opens the possibility of enrollment in the University of Jesus to another. By telling about Jesus!

Philip finds the treasurer of Ethiopia sitting in a chariot on his way home. The man was reading from the prophet Isaiah. A prophecy about Jesus!

He was led like a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice…For his life was taken from the earth.

This is one of an estimated 300 prophecies about Jesus found in the Old Testament. For example, Micah 5:2 foretells Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus and Isaiah 7:14 predicts the virgin birth.

Psalm 22 describes Jesus’ death by crucifixion in advance, a method of execution not yet invented in David’s time. That Jesus fulfilled each of these 300 prophecies is evidence Bible writers were inspired by God.

Today most would begin to share about Jesus by reading in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. But since the New Testament was not yet written, Philip teaches about Jesus from the Old Testament.

Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

The Ethiopian man’s response to the good news of Jesus? - Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized? Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

A consistent pattern of response to the Good News of Jesus is emerging in the Book of Acts. At the beginning in Jerusalem, in Samaria, and now in the desert, those who decide to become students of Jesus are baptized. As Jesus said – Go make students…baptizing them…



when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Jesus is a descendant of Abraham. All the apostles are Israelites. And up to this point, all of the students of Jesus are Jewish.

Now a great persecution forces them out of the center of Judaism. Out from the city of Jerusalem! Jesus’ intention for everyone in the world to become His students is beginning to unfold.

But Even Samaritans?

This is a real test for those first students of Jesus. Samaritans were outcasts to the Jews because they inter-married with gentiles and set up an alternative worship site competing with the temple in Jerusalem.

Here is the inclusive Spirit of Jesus at work in the hearts of His students. The Teacher said, Go into all the world and make students in every nation. He died for the sins of the entire world. He wants everyone to become His student.

Now the Samaritan people are welcomed into the fellowship exactly as the first 3,000 were on the day of Pentecost. They believe the message and are baptized!

But here is an exception. They do not immediately receive the gift of the Holy Spirit - the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

Why did Jesus give the gift of the Holy Spirit when the first 3,000 were baptized – and when each new student is baptized – but exceptionally withhold the gift from the Samaritans when they were baptized?
The apostles dispatch Peter and John from Jerusalem.

Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps Jesus waited for the apostles to participate in the giving of the Spirit to remove all doubt about the inclusive nature of the Good News. There must be no doubt. Jesus is for everybody. Even Samaritans!



Here we are introduced for the first time to a man who will soon turn into a student of Jesus. Even an apostle of Jesus Christ!

Under a new name – Paul - this man will perhaps do more than any other to carry the Good News of Jesus to the world.

But for now his name is Saul, and he violently opposes Christianity. He sanctions the stoning of Stephen and is the de facto leader of the forces now fully mobilized against the believers in Jerusalem.

Stephen’s martyrdom becomes a flashpoint. The enemies of faith launch an offensive designed to eradicate this new movement. Saul is the spearhead.

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria…Saul began to destroy the church.

Saul personally leads a house to house search for students of Jesus. Those who do not get away are imprisoned. In a few short days, a community numbering perhaps over 20,000 is disrupted and scattered.

The enemies of Jesus intend to destroy the church in Jerusalem; instead their persecution actually causes the message of Jesus to break out beyond the borders of the city.

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there…So there was great joy in that city.

Saul didn’t understand the real consequence of his actions, but his persecution actually caused the spread of Christianity. Moved the comfortable and insulated group of believers out of Jerusalem with the message of Jesus to the world!

The enemies of God very often fulfill His plans in spite of their evil motives. Such were those who crucified Jesus. Now it is Saul’s turn…



In this lengthy reading, we have Stephen’s teaching about Jesus and the record of his stoning as a direct result of it.

Stephen has been called the first Christian martyr. The first to die for the faith!

But wait…Jesus died first for the faith. And it was His death and resurrection made possible the faith now beating so strongly in Stephen’s heart! A faith filled with the courage of his convictions, even to the death.

Yet even in suffering death, Stephen is following in His Teacher’s footsteps. He is being the very best kind of student of Jesus. Taking trust in Jesus to the ultimate level!

Stephen faced an extreme test of faith. For when you give up your life, you lose everything you have and everything you ever hope to have.

Unless…unless there is hope for something more beyond this life. And this something is the resurrection to a new life Jesus promises to all who follow Him.

Naturally, martyrs are held in the highest esteem by fellow students. Loving Jesus more than life, they become supreme examples faith and encouragement.

It is interesting to read early Christian writers. Some of their letters express a ready willingness to die for the faith also. However, it is not external threats of physical death that trouble them most.

Surprisingly, their greatest persecution seems to be internal. The struggle against temptations in their own lives!

Such was their focus on being a good student of Jesus. The personal failures and sins of the flesh to which they were liable were the greater persecution and suffering from which they most wanted to be delivered.

They expressed a longing to move beyond this life to perfection with Jesus - While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.



So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly…

Why is the church growing so rapidly?

Of course, it is because the Word of God is being shared. The message about Jesus is taught and more people believe in Him. Become His students too!

Yes, the message must be shared if the church is to grow. Hearing and knowing the Word of God is indispensable!

Yet, it would be a mistake to think that preaching is the only thing, or even the main thing, that attracts new students.

As Jesus said, the world will know you are my students if you have love for one another...

The primary attraction to the group is the love for one another flowing within it. A love so dynamic it is visible to those on the periphery looking in.

One example of the love of Jesus in this first fellowship is the way they took care of one another’s needs.

Here we learn about a daily distribution of food. This would have been a highly unusual in the First Century. People selling land and houses to provide food for others, non-relatives no less!

How intriguing this must have been to any hesitant outsiders! Curiosity alone would gain a hearing for the message about Jesus that creates such a community.

But even a loving fellowship experiences problems. And as it happened, some resentment arose because some of the widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. The apostles lovingly handle this by appointing seven godly men as attentive administrators.



Day after day…they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Here is the message…Jesus!

He is the Christ, the Anointed One! The expected Savior of the world! Promised to Abraham and confirmed by all the prophets!

Now all the apostles are arrested and questioned about their refusal to stop preaching the Message.

How do they answer?

With the Message!

The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed…God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins…

It takes courage to preach The Message to the very leaders who previously threatened you to stop talking about it. To those who have the power of life and death over you!

And all the apostles would surely have been killed, if not for the wise advice of one influential man on the counsel, Gamaliel.

Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

Instead of the death penalty, the apostles suffer painful flogging and a final warning to stop the Message. But even this will not stop The Message… as they told their tormentors – We must obey God rather than men!

We are witnesses of these things: and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God gives to those who obey Him.



Then the high priest and all his associates… were filled with jealousy.

Jealousy, envy, the green-eyed monster! Whatever you call it, sometime or other, each of us senses this malicious passion creeping into our heart.

Unchecked, this pernicious sensation throttles every noble impulse and crowds out every positive emotion. Its victim temporarily blinded to everything but self! What about me?

Jealousy is such a kindred spirit to our fallen human nature that many make peace with it. Allow it to find comfortable residence in their hearts.

And here is a great irony. Jealousy not only disrupts the life of the one against whom it is directed, it reserves the greater harm for its host. It spoils everything for them.

Personal experiences teach us that of all the temptations to which we are liable, jealousy is the most destructive. Throughout human history - persistent and unobservable – it is the one recurring emotion most responsible for the terrible things humans plot, speak and do against one another.

Here the religious leaders are filled with jealousy. Being filled with something leaves no room for anything else. Not joy at the good fortune of another, not peace or mercy and certainly not love. Reason also takes its leave.

Here the religious leaders are found to fight against God Himself by arresting His servants for preaching about Jesus. They are so blinded by envy, that even when God miraculously frees them from jail, they seek to arrest them again.

To become a student of Jesus is to be freed from jealousy.
The Teacher leads us to recognize its insidious entry into our hearts and empowers us to reject it. Resting instead in the peace that God still cares for us completely and in the unthreatening truth that very often He blesses others in ways we hope for ourselves.



Peter said…"How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord?"

Here a married couple - Ananias and Sapphira - conspire to deceive the apostles. They sold some land, kept back a portion of the money, and acted as if they were giving the full amount to help the needy.

Their mistake was not in keeping a portion of the land sale. The sin was in attempting to deceive God – You have not lied to men but to God.

Peter asks a pointed question – What made you think of doing such a thing?

Like we say, What were you thinking? Why didn’t they just say here is part of what we received? Why lie?

The most obvious answer is they wanted to appear more generous than they actually were. They wanted to be applauded in the same way as those who gave everything, when in fact they hadn’t. This required a lie.

A lie that cost them their lives!

But Ananias and Sapphira are surely not the only ones in the past 2,000 years who wanted to appear more religious than they actually were. The only ones who lied…

But they are the only ones we know of who immediately died because of it. Why?

This is a test. A test of the authority and discernment of the apostles! At this time, the validity of Faith and so the entire future of Christianity rests on the authority of the apostles' witness.

For now, so much depends on their credibility God grants them infallible discernment. It was of paramount importance that no fraud be perpetrated on the apostles. They cannot be fooled or discredited in any way for it is the Holy Spirit working in them.

How could you agree to test the Spirit…?



The number of believers is growing rapidly now, but many are far from home. They traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover, never expecting the events that would change their lives forever.

They were there when Jesus died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven!

And became a part of the first real Community of Students of Jesus when they believed the message of the apostles!

The fellowship became very precious to them. They didn't want to return home. And so they stayed there in Jerusalem!

What a surprising dynamic of unity is created when Jesus’ love and love for Jesus fills the heart.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.

This unity of love prompted those who had lands or houses to sell them and give the money to the apostles. In this way, even those far from their homes and resources could stay with the group.

Astounding! The locals would rather part with their money than to part with their newfound brothers and sisters!

There were no needy persons among them.

Unity not only provided for everyone’s needs, it also created a powerful force within the group. A force of grace radiating even to those outside the community! Drawing them in with a living message of inclusion!

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.

What a community Jesus creates when His students open their hearts to His life and love!



After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.

What to do when trouble comes?

Students of Jesus pray!

That’s exactly what happens when Peter and John are released from custody. They tell the other believers about how they were warned to stop talking about Jesus. And their first response is to pray together!

What a surprising prayer meeting. No doubt about heaven’s answer either when God immediately shakes the place!

The earth tremor isn’t the only thing – or even the main thing – that makes this an unusual event. The prayer itself is surprising.

These students of Jesus aren’t praying for the usual things. Lord, take care of us. Keep us safe and well.

No, they make a most unusual request - Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness…

It is very surprising they aren’t asking for protection? Not begging for the threat to be removed? There focus is on something else altogether!

They are concerned about having the personal courage to stand up for Jesus in the face of opposition. They are asking God to help them keep talking about Jesus - following Jesus - no matter what happens.

Hmm…Maybe surprising prayers begin with hearts set on asking for help to do what God already wants done in our lives. We too may be surprised how quickly God moves to help us when we pray to become more like Jesus.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.



…the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus was the focus of the apostle’s teaching. They were eye-witnesses of an event that changed everything for them and for the world.

The memory was fresh in their minds and even with the miracles to confirm their message; there must have been the look of sincerity in their eyes and the ring of truthfulness in their voices that impressed their audiences.
Jesus lives! People can live again!

The implication of their message staggered the imagination. Throughout human history people died. Now something new!

This idea captivated the people who heard it for the first time, and more and more decided to follow Jesus - …many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

The reality of a resurrection attracts and changes people. It changed the apostles. Once fearful, they now courageously preach Jesus even though it means beatings, imprisonment and death. They know Jesus will also provide a resurrection for them.

The religious leaders attempt to stop their message. They are losing followers.

The apostle’s response to those who threatened them?

Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.

Death is no longer a dread to them. Nor for any student of the Teacher. We have His promise.

The resurrection of Jesus changes everything!



Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…

Here Peter shares the secret to the happiest kind of life. Guilt-free and joy-filled! A life refreshed each new day by the presence of Jesus.

This new way of living begins with a decision to incline our hearts toward Jesus. To listen to what He says about right and wrong ways of thinking, of living.

He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.

All the prophets of the Old Testament spoke of the day when God would bless the world through Jesus’ coming. Even Moses foretold of Jesus saying – The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet…you must listen to everything He tells you!

This is what students of Jesus do and why becoming a student of this Teacher not only turns us from the wrong path, it leads us to the times of refreshing.

Through the Holy Spirit, students of Jesus are strengthened in their spiritual life as they are empowered to become more like the Teacher. They learn to think like Jesus and act like Him. The quality of life dramatically improves.

This leads to the best kind of life now possible to everyone who listens to Him.

And ultimately it leads to the heaven - He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago…

When Jesus returns in person, everything that sin destroyed will be permanently restored. Peace in place of guilt. Unity among people instead of division! Life without death! Everlasting fellowship with God!

Only now – because of Jesus – can we change our lives.



You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

Testify. That’s what faithful witnesses do. And the apostles continue to use every opportunity to tell about the resurrection of Jesus. And heaven continues to authenticate the Message.

Here Peter and John are empowered to heal a man lame from birth. This man was known to the people, so naturally, when the man began to walk and jump around, the people were impressed.

…they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging…and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

With the beggar hanging onto Peter and John, the people are now attracted to them - all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade.

Peter seizes the opening to testify about Jesus - It is Jesus’ name…that has given this complete healing to him…You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

Because of the miracle, the people will believe the message. But for those of us who didn’t see it, there’s something even more important.

Consider…the message of Jesus is being preached in the very city where His death and resurrection took place. At the very time, within a few short days of the events! And to the very people who were in a perfect position to investigate if the facts were true or not.

This is enormously significant to the validity of our faith today. For the apostles did not wait for some time to pass, travel to a remote location where nobody could verify their testimony, and there among strangers attempt to create faith in Jesus. Quite the contrary!

These witnesses are successful in gaining new students for Jesus from among the very people who are in a position in both time and location to either verify or discredit the claims they are hearing. What does this demonstrate concerning the validity of our faith in Jesus today?



Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The Church Jesus promised to build is begun! In one day, 3,000 new students receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Forgiven, they are empowered to begin the life-long process of following Jesus. With the help of the Holy Spirit, they will gradually become more like the Teacher. The fruit of the Spirit will grow in their hearts.

For information about Jesus that will lead to transformation of their lives, they must rely on the teaching of the apostles. Lest there be any doubt about the authenticity of their message, the Holy Spirit continued to put His stamp of approval on them.

Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

The believers stayed together in close fellowship. They met every day. They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching about Jesus and to prayer.

They took care of one another by selling some of their possessions to help those in the group who were in need.

Their lives were marked with increasing joy and gratitude for what God was doing in their lives – They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God…

These dramatic changes were evidence of the presence of Jesus in their lives. Other people took notice and new students were constantly being attracted to the group of believers.

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.



Exalted to the right hand of God, He (Jesus) has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

Jesus gives the Holy Spirit as He promised. The ability of the apostles to speak in foreign languages is a clear manifestation of the Spirit’s presence with them.

With their credibility established in the minds of the people, Peter immediately proceeds to share the Good News of Jesus.

Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know…you with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead...Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

The people’s reaction was also immediate - When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Wonderful! Forgiveness of sin is now possible through the death of Jesus on the cross! For the greater purpose of making us a suitable dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.

Here is the Good News! God comes to live in the lives of students of Jesus! For if people can be continually cleansed from all sin, the Holy Spirit of God can permanently dwell in their hearts!

Forgiveness of sins is for the greater blessing of the indwelling presence of God.

Peter makes it clear. The gift of the Holy Spirit is available to everyone - The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call.



In the last days…I will pour out my Spirit on all people …And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Here Peter lets the crowd know that what they are observing is a sign the Holy Spirit is working through them.

He also gives them the good news. The Holy Spirit of God is now available – not only for the apostles – but for everyone!

I will pour out my Spirit on all people

And this also means a close personal relationship with Jesus isn’t just for these first students of Jesus.

When Jesus came to earth He was called Emmanuel, God with us. The first students of Jesus enjoyed a close personal relationship with God Himself in the Person of Jesus.

Then, before Jesus ascended He promised His students that His physical absence would not end their close connection. He would be with them forever through the Holy Spirit whom the Father would send.

Peter informs the people that this has been God’s intention all along. In fact, the prophets foretold of a time – in the last days - when God’s Spirit would be with all people.

That Day has come! Because Jesus has come and died for the sins of the world! He rose from the dead. And He ascended into heaven.

The Holy Spirit has come to create the more intimate spiritual relationship Jesus promised to the apostles, now open to all.

Only because of Jesus - everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Saved from sin! Cleansed and made a temple of the Holy Spirit Himself.

What incredible news the apostles shared with the world for the first time that special Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago!



All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now fifty days after His resurrection, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit as He promised. He will enable them to recall with unerring accuracy everything Jesus taught them during the past three years.

This very day the Spirit will help them share this good news about Jesus and 3,000 people will believe and be baptized.

But first a sign! A sign for the people this message is from God! The apostles begin to speak in foreign languages they never studied.

The timing is perfect. The city of Jerusalem is filled with pilgrims from around the world who have come to celebrate the Passover and have remained for Pentecost.

The sign is perfect for the situation, because of the different dialects in the crowd. How better to show the credibility of these witnesses than to allow them to speak in each of those languages?

Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?”

It must have been a most amazing event. These uneducated Galileans speaking in all those different languages at the same time! And it must have been confusing for some also, for in this large crowd some of the languages were naturally unknown to many of the people.

Perhaps this is why some accused the apostles of gibberish – Some… made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

But many heard the apostles speaking their own native language. They understood this would be impossible without Divine Intervention. How else could these witnesses speak in a language they had never studied?

This sign prepares the people to listen with a degree of trustful expectancy to the message they are about to hear.



May his place be deserted…May another take his place of leadership.

Judas could have been with the other eleven apostles, waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. Empowered to be one of the chosen witnesses of the Teacher!

Now another must take his place of leadership. But not just anyone!

Hearsay evidence is unacceptable. To be an apostle – a replacement for Judas – the person must be an eye-witness of Jesus. Someone who accompanied Jesus from the time of His baptism until the day of His ascension!

Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time… For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.

Faith in Jesus is based on facts. Details, particulars, specifics, the whole story! And these can only be corroborated by those who actually saw and heard Jesus.

How do we know Jesus lived? How do we know what He said and did? How do we know He rose from the dead?

The same way we know anything about anyone in the past. Exactly the same way we know what Socrates said or what Napoleon did.

Why do we believe - have faith - that these two men existed and said or did anything when no person alive today heard or saw them?

The historical record! Contemporaneous accounts recorded by eye-witnesses!

This is how we believe what we do about Napoleon and Socrates.

And this is the same sure foundation upon which faith in Jesus rests today. Eye-witness accounts, recorded testimony on Jesus’ life and teaching by those who actually saw Him after His resurrection and gave their lives for their testimony!

Belief in Jesus is not BLIND FAITH!



But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

It’s no exaggeration. The faith of every student of Jesus in the world today is built on the foundation of the testimony of these Witnesses.

These first students are the ones who were with Jesus. Saw His miracles, heard His teaching and more importantly witnessed His death and resurrection.

Now to them He assigns the task of establishing the credibility of faith.

They will need special supernatural help for this unique task. That’s why Jesus tells them – you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.

To preach Jesus' message with perfect recall and to put into writing the life and teachings of Jesus with precision, they must be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Then to be credible witnesses, they must have the Spirit’s help to personally live out their lives in faithfulness to the Teacher.

Finally, they must put the ultimate stamp of authenticity on their message through a willingness to die for the truth of what they said. These witnesses must seal their testimony in their own blood!

All this they did! And for this, every student of Jesus today is in their debt. For without the acts of the apostles, there would be no reliable foundation for our faith today.

But how would those who first heard these eye-witnesses know if their testimony was true or not?

Why could their contemporaries be expected to believe even before the life of Jesus was accurately recorded? And prior to the time when these witnesses would confirm their testimony by dying for it?

For that first generation, Jesus gave His messengers power to perform miraculous signs and wonders to immediately show the power of heaven was behind their message – you will be my witnesses.



Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about…the Holy Spirit.

Now Jesus will return to heaven.

Will His departure signal the end of the University of Jesus?

How will the Teacher/student relationship continue when Jesus is no longer physically present with them?

Here the Teacher reminds His students of something He told them earlier. When He spoke of a time when He would temporarily leave them, but quickly return to live with them representatively through the power of the Holy Spirit!

As Jesus promised, they will not be orphans (without the Teacher). He will continue to be with them forever. The Teacher/student relationship will carry on through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

This Gift from heaven, The Promised Holy Spirit, will empower them to follow the Teacher more closely than ever before. For to become more like the perfect Son of God must require Divine Help!

Such radical transformation is only possible because the Teacher will come into their hearts, re-shaping and strengthening them to be more like Him.

While Jesus physical presence with His students was intense, now the Teacher will create a closer connection than ever before through the internal presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Teacher will no longer be with them, but in them!

Soon they will have this Gift of Heaven on the inside. The Holy Spirit will help them change their hearts and lives. They will actually begin in earnest the process of becoming more like their beloved Teacher.

They won’t have long to wait - For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.




Through the pages of this book, we are able to observe how those first students of Jesus – in the physical absence of the Teacher - continued to enjoy a close relationship with Him.

A personal connection with the Teacher was sustained – as it is today – by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Living Presence that Jesus promised to send into the life of every student!

The Book of Acts also chronicles how the church grew. How those first students of Jesus actively recruited other students to enroll in the University of Jesus.

It is the story of how they proceeded to accomplish Jesus’ final instruction – Go into all the world and make students in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Therefore the book is best understood and interpreted as an inspired account of how those first students – in the bodily absence of Jesus – not only maintained a relationship with Him but also enlisted other students in the same process.

Acts shows how those closest to Teacher, both in time and in personal relationship, viewed their responsibilities as His students.

Like the story of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the framework of Acts is a narrative. Yet is more than a history of the early years of Christianity. It is how every student of Jesus will follow the Teacher until His glorious final return.

A modern-day student of Jesus might well conclude the Book of Acts shows how students of Jesus can continue to listen to the Teacher who is now reigning from heaven.

Acts might also be styled: The Teacher/student Relationship Continues by the Power of the Holy Spirit!