God’s Message goes to All Nations

Unit 2

People Oppose Christians but more People Hear God’s Message

Acts 3 – 8

An EasyEnglish Study Unit (2800 word vocabulary) on the New Testament from Acts to Revelation


G. Barrie Wetherill and M. P. H. Stear

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

This commentary has yet to go through Advanced Theological Checking.


1. Peter and John Cure a Man who Could not Walk Acts 3:1-26

Most of the first Christians were *Jews. They still lived in the *Jewish way. One day, Peter and John went to the *Temple when it was time to pray. They entered the *Temple by the gate which men called the Gate Beautiful. There at the gate was a man who could not walk. He had never been able to walk. In those days a person who could not walk could not work. He had to ask other people for money. Friends carried this man to the Gate of the *Temple. He sat there and asked people for money. As Peter and John approached, the man asked them for money. Peter had no money to give him. But Peter spoke the name of Jesus Christ and cured him. The man stood up and walked. He ran into the *Temple to thank God.

This was a very great *miracle. The man had never walked. Now, at once, he could walk. A big crowd gathered, and Peter spoke to them about Christ. He said that Christ had done this. Peter had not done it. Peter then told everyone to be sorry for the wrong things that they had done. He told them how to believe in Christ. He would be their *Saviour, the one who would bring them to God.

Notice this about the *miracle and about what Peter said:

(a) We do not have much information about the man

We do not know if he trusted in God. We do not know if he was sorry for the bad things that he had done. Sometimes we think too much about the importance of this. We think that we can cure a person only if he trusts in God. He must be sorry for the bad things that he has done. But clearly, this was not so here. Peter and John were the people who trusted in God.

(b) Peter and John were very bold when they spoke

They said that their listeners were guilty. They had all killed Jesus Christ, the *Messiah. But notice what they say about the good news of Jesus. It is the same as they said on the Day of *Pentecost. They spoke about the death of Jesus. They also said that he came alive again. They said that he ruled now, and that he would come again. They often used words from the *Old Testament. They showed that the words of the *prophets had come true. The *prophets had spoken about Jesus before he came. They spoke about his life and his death. They said that he would come alive again after death. (For example, Acts 3:23; see Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, 19; Acts 3:18 see Isaiah 53; Acts 3:25 see Genesis 22:18; 26:4.) Peter and John also used many names from the *Old Testament. Their listeners would have understood how important and special these names were, e.g. The *Holy and *Righteous One.

(c) Peter told the people to be sorry for the wrong things that they had done

Then God can forgive them. They will know the love of God. They will have the help of the *Holy Spirit. It is important to understand that *sin is serious. We must pay attention to God’s command and to his *grace.

(d)     Peter reminded these *Jewish listeners that they were special

They were the people whom God had chosen. But still they had to be sorry for the bad things that they had done. They needed to believe in Jesus.

This great *miracle was very important for the *Jews who listened to Peter. Peter and John had cured this man because they trusted in Christ. They used Christ’s authority. But the *Jews had *crucified Christ some weeks before (Acts 3:12-16). They had heard that Jesus had come back to life again. They had heard that the *Holy Spirit had come. This *miracle was more evidence that Christ was really the *Saviour. Perhaps many *Jews remembered something that Jesus had done. In Jerusalem, not far from the place where they were now, Jesus had done a similar *miracle. Jesus was continuing his work, through his *apostles! Peter told the crowd that they should be sorry for the bad things that they had done. They should believe in Jesus. Many of the crowd did this, and the number of Christians grew.

Peter’s speech came to a sudden end. Men arrested him and John and put them in prison. Then they made them go to the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the group of about 70 *Jewish *religious rulers, and the High Priest was their leader. There Peter showed great courage. He spoke about Jesus to them.

2. Peter’s Great Courage Acts 4:1-31

The *Jewish leaders asked Peter and John about the power that they had. They asked them how they could cure people. This is how Peter replied.

Acts 4:8-12 Then Peter, filled with the *Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and *elders of the people! You ask us today to explain an act of kindness to a man who could not walk. You ask us how we cured him. Know this, you and all the people of *Israel: It is by the authority of Jesus Christ who lived in Nazareth. You *crucified Jesus, but God gave him life again. By the authority of Jesus, this man stands before you. Jesus is ‘the stone that you builders would not use. It has become the cornerstone (the most important stone).’ No-one else can bring men to God. No other name has authority to bring men to heaven.”

The rulers were astonished because Peter and John were so bold. They were ordinary men. Once again, Peter spoke about the death of Jesus. He told them that Jesus came alive again. He said that Jesus showed that the *Old Testament *prophets spoke the truth. Peter spoke words from Isaiah (Isaiah 28:16). The most important stone is Jesus. The rulers were like builders who would not use this stone. These rulers had now arrested Peter and John. (The shape of a building depends on the cornerstone. Jesus was shaping the church, which he was building.) This is a very bold and powerful statement.

[Jesus was not talking about a real building that people can see. He said that all who trusted in him were like stones. One stone can do nothing. Many stones can make a building. Together, all those who trust in Jesus are his church.]

The statement in verse 8 is also important. ‘No one else can *save us. There is no authority on earth that can *save us.’ Although they were speaking to *Jewish leaders, Peter and John would have been aware of other religions and traditions. Their statement is a bold statement. It says that Jesus is like no other person. This is as important today as it was then. People who are not Christians often feel deeply offended at such a statement. They say that Christians are proud. They say that Christians do not listen to what other people think. But it is necessary when we tell people about Jesus. It is a truth that can make a difference to a person’s life, now and after death. So it is an act of love. It is not pride.

However, the rulers had to free the *apostles, because they had done nothing wrong. They had cured the man, and he was standing there. The rulers said to Peter and John that they were not to speak in the authority of Christ.

Peter and John went back to the church and told them this. Perhaps the church would pray for safety. Perhaps the church would pray for protection. Perhaps the church would pray for a life without trouble. No. They did not pray for protection. But they prayed to be bold and to have courage.

The Book of Acts tells us how more and more people heard about Jesus. We can read about the growth of the early Church. But at the same time as the church was growing, more and more people opposed the church. This happened very quickly. We will read about this as we study the next few chapters of Acts. Jesus had warned his *disciples many times that this would happen.

John 15:18-20 ‘If the world hates you, remember this: It hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world. I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words that I spoke to you: “No servant is greater than his master.” If they attacked me, they will attack you also. Some obeyed what I taught them. Those people will obey what you teach them.’

Mark 8:34-37 Then he called the crowd to come to him with his *disciples. He said: ‘If anyone wants to obey me, he must do what I want. He must not do what he wants. It will not be easy. It will be hard. Because whoever cares about his own life will lose it. Whoever loses his life for me and for the *gospel will keep his life. It is no good for a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his *soul. There is nothing that a man can give to keep his *soul. If anyone is ashamed of me and of my words in this wicked world, the *Son of Man will be ashamed of him. That will be when the *Son of Man comes, with his Father’s *glory and with the *holy *angels.’

[Editor’s note about John 15:18-20 and Mark 8:34-37

‘the world’ here means those people and organisations that oppose God.

Jesus was honest. He did not try to persuade people to follow him by offering them an easy life. A *disciple must forget his own wishes if he wants to follow Jesus.

‘Whoever cares about his own life will lose it’ has two possible meanings:

1          A selfish way of living will not give anyone a life on earth of true worth.

2          Life on earth is not worth holding on to if the life with God after death is lost. Christians who suffer and die for their *faith know that they will gain life with God in *eternity.

‘The whole world’ may refer to possessions, power, pleasures and popularity. But all these are only temporary. What the world offers is nothing compared with the value of the *soul, which is for *eternity. It is foolish for a man to forget his *eternal *soul for pleasures in this world that do not last.

Fear of the opinion or laughter of other people may make a Christian ashamed to declare his *faith. Jesus said that he would then be ashamed to call them his *disciples. He referred to his second coming, when he would return in *glory.]

Men have always attacked those who tell other people about Jesus. However, here is an interesting fact. When this happens, the Church grows. It certainly grew in these early days of the Church. In the next section, we will read about this.

Acts 4:29, 30 Now, *Lord, consider the hard things that our enemies say about us. Help your servants to speak your word with great courage. Hold out your hand to cure. Do *miracles and wonderful things with the authority of your *holy servant Jesus.

After this, we read that the *Holy Spirit filled the *disciples. There is sometimes confusion about what this means. In Acts 1, Jesus promises that he would *baptise the *disciples with the *Holy Spirit. *Baptism can mean a beginning of something. It can also mean that something covers you completely. As a wave of the sea can cover a boat. On the Day of *Pentecost, Acts 2, the *Holy Spirit came upon the *disciples and covered them. But in Acts 3 and 4, we read that the *Holy Spirit filled Peter and John and then all the *disciples. This was not because it did not happen on the Day of *Pentecost. It means that the *Holy Spirit filled them again. This happened at special times for special circumstances. The *Holy Spirit comes on people today. The experience can be different for different people. What happens the first time can be different. How it happens can be different. Why it happens can be different. God is in control. He does not do the same for each person. He knows that we are different from each other. The Bible does not say that there is one experience of the *Holy Spirit for all. The Bible does tell us that the *Holy Spirit should fill us.

The people in the church became like a family. They shared everything with each other. This would help when enemies opposed them. The *apostles and the *disciples in the church continued to speak about Christ with courage. The *Holy Spirit had really given the *apostles power, as Jesus had promised. These men had run away. Peter had said that he did not know Jesus. They were afraid then, but they were quite different now. The *Holy Spirit had changed them completely!

3. The First Problems in the Church

More and more people heard the *gospel. More and more people became Christians. But more and more other people opposed the Christians. But now the church began to have some problems. Members of the church started to sell possessions and property. They gave the money to those who were poor. Ananias and his wife, who was Saphira, sold some property. They kept some of the money for themselves. But they pretended to give all the money. They did not act wrongly when they kept some of their money for themselves. This was not bad. But they did act wrongly when they lied to the church. Worse, they had tried to cheat the *Holy Spirit. The punishment was severe. They both fell down, dead. Peter did not do this. God did this. This reminds us that God is *holy. Paul wrote, several years later, ‘Be sure about this: you cannot cheat God. A man gets the results of the way that he lives’ (Galatians 6:7). But God is good. He does not act in this way every time that someone tries to cheat him.

4. The *Apostles Cure more People Acts 5:12-42

The *apostles continued to do *miracles. People even carried sick people into the street on mats, so that Peter’s shadow could come on them. Because of what the *apostles and the early *disciples did, very many people became Christians (Acts 5:12-16).

It is important to take notice that the *apostles did not encourage people to do this. They did not tell them to put sick people where their shadows would come on them. People did this because they were so worried. They had false ideas about the power of the *disciples. The Bible never encourages false ideas.

As a result of this, the *Jewish rulers were extremely jealous. They arrested the *apostles and put them in prison. However, an *angel freed them during the night. He told them to go and stand in the *Temple again. He said that they must speak about Jesus with courage, in the authority of Christ. The rulers found the prison empty. They heard that the *apostles were speaking about Jesus again. This was a great puzzle for them. Again they arrested them and brought them in front of the *Council. Peter again spoke up boldly:

Acts 5:29-32 Peter and the other *apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers made Jesus alive after he had died. You had killed him when you hung him on a tree. God took Jesus and gave him the place of honour as Prince and *Saviour. This was so that he might give *repentance and *forgiveness of *sins to *Israel. We are witnesses to these things. So is the *Holy Spirit. God has given the *Holy Spirit to those who obey him.’

At this, the rulers were very angry. One wise *Pharisee, whose name was Gamaliel, spoke to them. He helped them to be calm. He warned them to let God himself deal with it. If they took strong action, they might oppose God. As a result, the rulers whipped the *apostles, and freed them. (This was a very severe punishment.) The *apostles were happy to suffer for Christ. Once these men who followed Christ had been nervous. They had not really believed in him. Now they had a new strength!

5. More Problems in the Church Acts 6:1-7

If the *Devil cannot cause problems from outside the church, he will cause problems among church members. In the time of Christ, there were many *Jews who lived all over the world. People called this the dispersion. People thought that it was very good to die in Jerusalem. Many of the *Jews of the dispersion came to Jerusalem when they were old. They wanted to die there. Now there were many people who belonged to the church. Some were *Jews who had grown up in *Judea or *Galilee. Many other *Jews from the dispersion also now lived in Jerusalem. There were many widows. These people had lived for all of their lives in other countries. They had different customs. We must not be surprised that there were problems among them. There were protests. The *Jews who spoke Greek said that some people did not pay attention to their widows. Every day they gave food to some people, but not to those widows. This is typical of many quarrels in the church since that time.

The *apostles were very wise. This is what they did.

(a) They knew that their work was to pray. They also taught the people, and told them about Jesus. Their work was not to give out food. There were more and more people in the church now. It would have been easy for them to spend time only in organisation.

(b) Some *Jews spoke Greek. So the *apostles told these men to appoint a group of seven men of their own. These men would organise everything. They would help everybody who needed help. It did not matter which country people came from. Some people might think that this job was not very important. But it was important to choose the right men. They had to be men with *faith. The *apostles prayed and put their hands on them. They appointed them in this way for this work. (Compare Numbers 27:18.)

It is important to see that they took care about this problem. These arguments could have brought trouble to the church. This kind of provision for poor people was new at the time. However, the Bible teaches about provisions for the poor. This church did not only read the Bible. They also obeyed it. The *Holy Spirit was teaching them to obey. The *apostle James saw the importance of this. This is what he wrote:

James 2:14-17 My friends, a man may say that he trusts God. But he does nothing good. That is no good. Trust like that cannot *save him. Suppose a brother or sister has no clothes and daily food. Perhaps one of you will say to him, ‘Go, I wish you well. Keep warm and eat well.’ If you do nothing to help that person, that is no good. In the same way, trust by itself, with no action, is of no use.

6. Enemies Kill Stephen because he is a Christian Acts 6:8–8:1

One of these seven men was Stephen. Everybody noticed Stephen. He did *miracles. He was a powerful speaker for the *gospel. People could not argue with what he said. As a result, the *Jewish rulers told lies about him and arrested him. Stephen was bold when he spoke in court. We can read this in Acts chapter 7. He spoke about all that God had done with his people, from the very earliest time. The people he was speaking to would have known this. They had not understood what God was doing. *Jews in the past had not understood it. The *Jewish rulers now did not understand it. Stephen finished his speech like this:

Acts 7:51-53 ‘You proud people, who have not listened to God! You are the same as your fathers. You always oppose the *Holy Spirit! There was never a *prophet that your fathers did not attack! They even killed those who spoke about the arrival of the *Holy One. And now you have murdered him. God gave you the law. *Angels brought it to you, but you have not obeyed it.’

Immediately they threw stones at Stephen and killed him. As he died, he fell on his knees. He cried out, ‘*Lord, do not blame them for this *sin.’ Criminals and other people usually swore when they died. Stephen was doing what Jesus did. When men *crucified Jesus, he prayed for them. He called out, ‘Father forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.’ A death like this affects other people very much. A young man, whose name was Saul, was watching. He thought that Stephen should die, but he never forgot Stephen’s death. It would be one of the experiences that would change him.

After Stephen died, many people attacked the Christians. Saul was one of the men who were responsible for this. He looked for Christians and put them in prison. Many of the Christians left Jerusalem because of this. Wherever they went, they told people about Jesus. The result was that even more people believed.

7. People in *Samaria Become Christians Acts 8:2-25

The Christians continued to tell other people about Jesus. This was the next important event. One of the seven men whom the *apostles had chosen to help them was Philip. He went to a city in *Samaria and spoke about Jesus. This was something new. *Jews did not talk to *Samaritans. They thought that the *Samaritan religion was false. Philip spoke very well. Many people believed, and he *baptised them.

Notice what happened to evil *spirits. When a Christian told them to leave a person, they left. When the command was in the authority of Jesus, they had to go. It would seem that many people in *Samaria had a problem with evil *spirits. Simon the *magician had some responsibility for this. He used secret powers that were not from God. These powers had astonished many people. They also caused many people to suffer from evil *spirits.

The devil and his *demons can cause extraordinary things to happen. When we see a *miracle, or something very unusual, it is important to find out about it. It is important to think about the power that is there. Some people believe that anything *miraculous must be from God. This is not true. Look at events here, when Philip told the people the good news about Jesus. This shows us what comes from God. It also shows us what does not come from God. This is very important. Joy replaced fear (verse 8). This often happens when people give up the *occult or false religion. They become free and very happy.

The church in Jerusalem heard about this work by Philip. They sent Peter and John to *Samaria. Peter put his hands on the *Samaritans who believed in Jesus. The *Holy Spirit came to them. As a result of this, *Samaritan Christians and the Christians in Jerusalem had unity. For hundreds of years the *Jews and the *Samaritans had been enemies. This ended with the *gospel! The *apostles who were leaders did this. This is very important. The other people in the church knew about this. If the *Samaritans had become Christians in any other way, the *Jews and the *Samaritans could have been enemies in the church for many more years.

This was clearly a special work of the *Holy Spirit. What Jesus had said in Acts 1:8 was now true:

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the *Holy Spirit comes on you. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all *Judea and *Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

We see from Acts 8, how Philip’s *miracles surprised Simon the *magician. The *miracles and the gift of the *Holy Spirit interested Simon, but in the wrong way. He thought that he could buy this power. Perhaps he wanted to get money if he had this power. Perhaps he thought that he could sell it to other people for profit. What Peter said to him was powerful. It made Simon afraid of the power of God!

The words of Acts 1:8 were now coming true. The message about the *gospel had gone to Jerusalem and *Judea, and now to the *Samaritans. When you drop a stone into water, circles appear in the water. They spread further and further out. In the same way, the *Holy Spirit was causing the good news about Jesus to spread further and further. He did this through the witness of the early Church.

8. Philip and the *Ethiopian man Acts 8:26-40

Philip continued to work in *Samaria. Crowds of people came to listen to him. He was very busy. Then something very important happened. God told him to go into the desert. There he met an important government official from *Ethiopia. The man was probably a *Gentile who now believed in the *Jewish *faith. (The name for a person like this is a *Jewish proselyte.) He was studying one of the great *Old Testament passages which speak about the *Messiah. He was reading from the book of Isaiah, chapter 53. That says that the *Messiah will come to the world. He did not know that the *Messiah had already come. He did not know that this had just happened. It was true.

Philip began with that passage, and spoke about Christ to him. As a result, the man became a Christian. Afterwards, God took Philip away to another place, but the man went on his way, very happy. He took the good news about Jesus to *Ethiopia. (Since then there has always been a Christian church in *Ethiopia.) The *Lord was at work. He helped people to tell other people everywhere about the *gospel. He used servants like Philip, who were ready to hear. They were also ready to obey, when God spoke.

There are occasions when God asks us to do unusual, even strange things. This is to bless someone else. He sent Philip to meet with one man, from another country, in the most unlikely place. This shows us how God cared for that one man. But it also shows something else. God can use one person. That person can help another person to trust in Jesus Christ. Then that second person may affect many other people. We should not think that speaking to one person about Jesus is not important. It can be just as important as speaking to great crowds of people. Jesus always had time to speak to one person.

9. Paul Becomes a Christian Acts 9:1-31

See Unit 3 in these studies.

10. Peter Tells *Gentiles about Jesus Acts 10:1-48

The next important action for the church was when Peter spoke about Jesus in the home of Cornelius. Cornelius was a *Roman centurion. (A centurion was a *Roman soldier who commanded 100 men.) It is difficult for us today to understand how important this was. Jesus had emphasised several times that he had come for everyone. He wanted the *apostles to tell everyone about him. They had not understood this. Most *Jews – and Peter especially - obeyed the *Jewish laws about food. [Kosher food is the name for *Jewish food.] *Jews would not eat with *Gentiles. They would not enter a *Gentile’s house. *Gentiles kept images of false gods in their houses. *Jews did not want to honour these false gods. Therefore they would not enter a *Gentile’s house. The *apostles still had a great prejudice against *Gentiles. The story in this section of Acts therefore shows us that Peter overcame great difficulties. (He would have more difficulties when he reported back to the Jerusalem church. That church included people who had been *Pharisees.) Today the world is full of people with great prejudices. It is wonderful to see how God overcame this.

Cornelius was a man who respected God, but he did not have the *Jewish *faith. An *angel from God told him to send for Peter. Cornelius sent for Peter. He chose carefully which servants he should send. While they were on the journey, God gave Peter three *visions. He told Peter to eat food that was not kosher (not *Jewish). Peter refused to do this. He said ‘No, *Lord’. ‘No’ and ‘*Lord’ have opposite meanings! If Jesus IS *Lord, you cannot say ‘No!’ (Peter had said something like this before – see Matthew 26:22.) While Peter was still thinking about the *vision, Cornelius’s men arrived. The *Lord told Peter to go with them. Peter wisely took some friends with him. He knew that he would have to report to the church. He would have to tell them what he was about to do. He would need other people to report this also.

When Peter arrived at Cornelius’s house, he went in without a protest. He found a crowd of *gentile friends and relatives there. Cornelius had invited them to come. Peter now realised that God has no favourite people. Since Jesus died on the *cross, *Jew and *Gentile were the same. God saves both, because Jesus died on the *cross. He frees *Jew and *Gentile from the results of their wrong beliefs and actions.

Peter told the people there about Jesus. He told them about Christ’s death. He told them how Jesus came alive again. He told them that Jesus is *Lord of all. One day he will come back as a judge of everyone. He told them that God only forgives wrong beliefs and actions when we trust in Christ.

The *Holy Spirit thought that Peter had spoken enough. While Peter was still speaking, the *Holy Spirit came to the *Gentiles. He came in the same way as he had earlier come to the *apostles. These *Gentiles also spoke in other languages that they had not learned. They praised God, just as the *apostles had done at first. Peter then realised something else. No-one could forbid the *baptism of *Gentiles. They could be members of the church, even although they were *Gentiles. No one had *circumcised the men, but they believed in Jesus. Now there was a *gentile church!

11. Peter Reports to the Church in Jerusalem Acts 11:1-18

When he went to Jerusalem, Peter had a difficult time. There were Christians there who thought that every Christian man had to have *circumcision. These people had been *Jews who had obeyed all the *Jewish customs. They thought that Peter had done something wrong. At this, Peter merely reported all that had happened, including the *visions. He told them that God had given the *Gentiles the gift of the *Holy Spirit. Then the people who opposed him became silent. (They became silent for a moment. They would speak again soon!) Their decision was very surprising. This is what the group decided:

Acts 11:18 When they heard this, they did not argue any more. They praised God, and said, ‘So then, God has given even the *Gentiles a chance to trust him and belong to him.’

We might wonder that these Christians did not understand these events. Before Jesus went back to *heaven, he spoke clearly about this. His message was to be to the whole world. The *prophets had also spoken about this – there was plenty of evidence. There were many people among the *Gentiles who would belong to the *Lord.

Sadly, this shows us that we are sometimes like blind people. We do not learn well. We do not listen carefully to what God says to us through the Bible! How much we need to listen to the word of God. (We often call the Bible or Jesus the word of God.) We need the *Holy Spirit to teach us. He will teach us God’s truth.

This whole incident shows that God has *grace and wisdom. Peter was a man with great prejudices against *Gentiles. God used Peter to teach the good news about Jesus to *Gentiles. This also shows us the great power of God. The *Holy Spirit clearly acted, as part of his plan to tell everybody about Jesus.

It was now time for people to take the good news about Jesus even further. It was to go to every part of the world that they knew then. But for this, God needed another man. He needed someone who was familiar with the ways of both *Jews and Greeks.

When a church has existed for some time, some of the members may complain. They may not like what is happening. They may not like what is not happening. They say, ‘If only we were like the early church.’ By this, they usually mean that they want the excitement of the early church. It had energy and power. But as this study has shown us, the early church had its own problems. We can learn important lessons from these chapters in Acts about membership and power in the church. We can learn how to deal with people who cheat. Some people want to divide the church. We can learn how to deal with these. We can learn about people who oppose or attack the church from outside. We can learn that there are real *spiritual powers who oppose the good news about Jesus. We can also learn how to recognise our own prejudices.

We can learn things about prejudice in ourselves, in our church and in our society. We can realise again that God is powerful. He asks us to trust him. He also wants us to obey the *Lord Jesus. We can obey him in the power of the *Holy Spirit. Then we will be ready for anything. We will even be ready for what we do not expect.

Some Questions

1. When people opposed the early church, what happened? How did God help the *disciples to be strong?

2. Jesus commanded his *disciples to love each other, (John 15:17). He prayed that they might be united, like one person, (John 17:21). What did the *Lord do to stop divisions in the early church? Are there divisions in our churches? If so, what should we do about it? Do we just do nothing?

3. The early church had quickly arranged to help poor people. Is there anything similar that we should do?

4. How do we identify the kind of power that the *miracles show? How do we decide whether it is from God? How should we deal with power from *demons?

Word List

angel ~ a servant from God who brings messages to men.

apostle ~ one of the 12 men that Jesus chose to be his helpers. He chose them to teach other people about him. Christians call Paul an apostle.

baptise ~ put a person in water, or pour water on a person, to show that the person belongs to Christ and his church.

baptism ~ when a person is *baptised.

circumcise/circumcision ~ to cut off the loose skin from the end of the sex part of a boy or man; an *Old Testament act that showed that the person agreed to keep God’s laws.

council ~ important men who meet together to discuss events; a meeting of leaders who make decisions.

cross ~ two pieces of wood fixed together.

crucifixion ~ a cruel way to kill someone. Men make a large wooden cross and fasten a man to it with nails. He must hang there until he dies.

crucify ~ to kill a person by fixing him to a *cross.

demon ~ a devil who works for Satan, the chief devil.

Devil ~ another name for Satan, the evil one who opposes God.

disciple ~ a person who believes in Jesus and obeys him. The 12 men whom Jesus chose to be with him were the first of his disciples.

elders ~ church leaders, usually older, wiser men.

eternal ~ what has always been and always will be.

eternity ~ the state that lasts for ever.

Ethiopia ~ a country in north-east Africa.

Ethiopian ~ a person who belongs to the country called Ethiopia.

faith ~ belief and confidence in something or someone; trust in God and in his Bible.

forgiveness ~ when you choose not to remember the bad things that someone has done.

Galilee ~ the area of the country where Jesus came from.

Gentile ~ a person who is not a *Jew; a person who does not know God.

gospel ~ the good news for everybody that God sent Jesus to die for our *sin instead of us.

glory ~ the power and greatness of God.

grace ~ the gift of God that we do not deserve and cannot earn; his help and protection.

heaven ~ where God lives and rules.

High Priest ~ the most important priest in the *Jewish *temple.

holy ~ perfect, completely good.

Holy Spirit ~ God’s spirit; Jesus sent him to help people.

idolatry ~ honour that people give to an image of a false god.

Israel ~ another name for the *Jewish people.

Jew ~ a person from the same big family and country as Jesus.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.

Judea ~ the country of the *Jews.

Lord ~ another name for Jesus, which shows us that he is over all.

magician ~ a person who seems to do something which is impossible.

Messiah ~ the name that God chose for Jesus Christ; he separates people from God’s anger and makes them right with God.

miracle ~ a wonderful event that shows that God is at work.

miraculous ~ like a *miracle.

mission ~ work for Jesus.

occult ~ beliefs which are not Christian; beliefs in magic and wrong spirits.

Old Testament ~ the part of the Bible that tells about the time before Jesus came.

Pentecost ~ the time each year when the *Jews thank God for their food; the time when God gave the Holy Spirit to the church.

Pharisee ~ a *Jew who thought that he had kept all of God’s commands. Pharisees did not like what Jesus said. They thought that they were always right and they became very proud.

preach ~ tell and explain the good news about Jesus to someone, or to a group of people.

prophet ~ a person who can tell other people what God wants.

religious ~ pure, holy, pleasing to God.

repentance ~ you are sorry that you have done wrong things; you let God be your *Lord.

resurrection ~ when you come back to life, after death.

Roman ~ Romans were people from Rome. They ruled over Israel. Rome was a large city.

righteous ~ with no *sin, pleasing God.

Samaria ~ the country between Galilee and Judea.

Samaritan ~ a person who belongs to *Samaria.

Satan ~ the evil one who opposes God.

save ~ free a person from the results of wrong beliefs and actions.

Saviour ~ Jesus, who brings us to God.

Scriptures ~ another name for the Bible.

sin ~ wrong things that we do or say; things that do not please God.

Son of Man ~ a name for Jesus.

soul ~ the part of us that we cannot see; it is in us during life, and it lives on after death.

spirit ~ (1) a part of us that we cannot see; (2) a ‘person’ with no body. We cannot see it. It belongs to God or *Satan.

spiritual ~ something that belongs to the *spirit.

temple ~ the special building in Jerusalem where the *Jews went to pray to God and to sing his praises.

vision ~ a dream; sometimes a dream that comes to a person who is awake.

Book List

Craig Keener ~ Bible Background *Commentary NT ~ IVP

B. M. Newman and E. A. Nida ~ A Translators Handbook on The Acts of The *Apostles ~ UBS

F. F. Bruce ~ The Book of The Acts ~ MMS

Donald Grey Barnhouse ~ Acts – An expositional commentary ~ Zondervan

In the Footsteps of Paul ~ CWR (Daily Bible Readings 1988)

I. Howard Marshall ~ Acts ~ Tyndale

Campbell Morgan ~ Acts of the *Apostles ~ Pickering and Inglis

Paul Barnett ~ ‘Bethlehem to Patmos’ ~ Biblical Classics Series ~ Paternoster ~ ISBN 0-85364-874-3

Werner Keller ~ ‘The Bible as History’ ~ Hodder and Stoughton

F. F. Bruce ~ ‘Israel and the Nations’ ~ Paternoster ~ ISBN 0-85364-762-3

Also: Personal notes and material from many other sources


© 1999-2003, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

July 2003

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