[A note on terminology. The words “Jew,” “Jews,” and “Jewish” are avoided here when the subject is the people referred to in the New Testament. These words are later translations into European languages of the Greek word ’Ioudaíos, which, more literally translated, is “Judean” and “Judeans.” This is a respectful reminder that there are no “Jews” in the New Testament; only “Judeans” and peoples of the nations (“gentiles”).]
Contents of Acts.
- Part One, chapters 1-12, is about Peter and the spread of the Movement from
to Jerusalem . (This part does include the conversion of Paul, and Peter’s baptism of the first non-Judean congregation, both of which anticipate the main themes of the second part.) Antioch
- Part Two, chapters 13-28, is about Paul and the spread of the Movement from
to Antioch , bringing in mainly non-Judean peoples of the Greek and Roman world. (Peter, and the Rome church, are still present here, chapter 15, wrapping up topics from Part One.) Jerusalem
- Chapters 1-5 are about the beginnings in Jerusalem, with Peter interpreting the Movement in several speeches, starting at Pentecost.
- Chapters 6-12 are about the Movement's inclusion of "hellenists" (6:1), its first martyrdom, and its spread to Samaria (the Evangelist Philip), to non-Judean Roman citizens (Peter at Caesarea), and to Antioch in Syria (Barnabas).
- Chapters 13-20 are about Paul's missionary work, establishing mostly non-Judean assemblies ("churches") in cities throughout Galatia, Macedonia, Greece, and Asia (Roman provinces).
- Chapters 21-28 are about Paul's testimonies (many speeches) in Jerusalem, in Caesarea (capital of the Roman province of Judea), and finally in Rome, where he resided for two years, speaking "about the Lord Jesus with boldness and without hindrance" (Acts 28:31).
Overview of Acts – Summary Statements
N translation) RSV
The Origin and Character of Acts.
[Later addition, Sept. 2020: In the mid-to-late twentieth century, the French Roman Catholic scholars, Pierre Benoit and M.-E. Boismard and A. Lamouille produced massive studies of supposed "sources" of Acts. These are discussed and to some extent followed by Joseph Fitzmyer in The Acts of the Apostles, (Anchor-Yale Bible, 1998) pp. 80-89. Fitzmyer lists every passage in Acts, giving its origin as Luke's composition or some other "source," pp.85-88. All this after opening his discussion of "sources" in Acts by saying, "Nowhere in Acts does the author say or even hint at sources that he might have used...", p. 80.]