The Challenge calls for us to read one New Testament book at a time, which we have divided into what we hope are logical sections for you. If you prefer to read a whole book at one time, that is perfectly fine. What we are hoping to help readers achieve is a sense of each book’s flow of its presentation, in effect to gain the “big picture” which is being painted. Feel free to use the following comments and questions to aid you in your reading.
August 20, 2017 – Acts 1: 1-26. Note how this book is meant to be a continuation of what “Jesus began to do and teach.” (1:1) [It’s Volume 2 of Luke’s Gospel.] Jesus will pour out His Spirit on His disciples, so they can be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (1:8) These words provide, in effect, an outline of Acts and project the Gospel’s spread and the growth of the church.
August 21 – Acts 2:1 – 5:42. As you read this longer section, ask yourself, “What does the Holy Spirit enable the disciples and the new believers to do? What was the heart of the apostles’ message?” Note too how the message of Jesus Christ met opposition. Why?
August 22 – Acts 6:1 – 8:40. Note how the church handles its internal tensions in 6:1-6. In Stephen’s speech (chapter 7), we hear how God has never been limited to a particular building or piece of land. He appears wherever He wants to, and in chapter 8, we see how the Gospel moves to Samaria and Ethiopia (Africa).
August 23 – Acts 9:1 – 12:40. The prime persecutor of the church is confronted and changed by Jesus (9:1-19). Saul now proclaims Jesus as the Christ (9:22) and the church has peace. Peter too is converted to realize that Jesus is for all people, including the Gentiles (10:1-11:18). The church in Antioch models it (11:19-30). The Word of God increased and multiplied.
August 24 – Acts 12:25 – 16:5. The Holy Spirit commissions Saul and Barnabas to go from Antioch to extend the reach of God’s Word to Cyprus and what we now know as southeast Turkey. Although the message of Jesus Christ was rejected by many Jews, it was received favorably by some Jews and many Gentiles. The Jerusalem Council recognizes that people are saved by grace and Gentiles do not need to become Jews (=get circumcised) to be saved. They are asked, however, not to violate Jewish sensitivities.
August 25 – Acts 16:6 – 19:20. The Holy Spirit leads the missionaries from Asia (Turkey) to Europe (Greece). Note the different receptions they receive in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth. Eventually Paul ends in Ephesus, where the unit is summarized, “the Word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”
August 26 – Acts 19:21 – 24:27. Enjoy reading how Paul continues to carry out his ministry, making his way to Jerusalem, where he is arrested in trumped up charges. See how masterfully he handles his situation, even as he continues to witness.