Significant Events in the Book of Acts

The Book of Acts is an account of the works of the Holy Spirit through the lives of the early Jesus followers. Here are three significant events in the book: 1) the coming of the Holy Spirit, 2) the conversion of Saul, 3) the Jerusalem Council.

1) After Jesus’ resurrection and before his ascension, Jesus appeared to his disciples and told them to stay in Jerusalem until they have been “clothed with the power from on high” (Luke 22:48). He was referring to the gift of the Holy Spirit that was promised by the Father (Acts 1:4). Jesus explains to his disciples that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them which would enable them to be Jesus’ “witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). At the Jewish Festival of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came and filled the followers of Jesus, so they could become part of God’s new transformative work in the world. Through the filling of the Holy Spirit, believers can live by the energy and influence of God’s Spirit empowering them to love others and share the good news about Jesus’ kingdom and his new humanity.

2) The next significant event is the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul. Saul’s background information is best summarized in his own words in Philippians 3:5-6 where he describes himself as “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless” (NIV). These statements point to his strong Jewish heritage, education and commitment to the Jewish faith. Saul was driven to protect his Jewish heritage and faith, and so he sought to eradicate the Jewish Christian sect. This attempt to squash the Christian faith was the nature of his trip to Damascus, but while on the road, he was confronted by the risen and exalted Christ which led him to become Christ’s follower (Acts 9). At this point, Saul became the Apostle Paul, and he became the most influential missionary to the Gentiles. Most of the Book of Acts details his missionary journeys throughout the Greco-Roman world. Everywhere Paul went, he preached the Gospel of Jesus and established Jesus communities. God used Paul in a powerful way in order to fulfill his Old Testament promises concerning the inclusion of the Gentiles.

3) With the inclusion of the Gentiles into the Kingdom of God, the early church experienced some challenges between the Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians which led to the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15). As the number of Gentile Christians grew, some Jewish Christians became concerned about the moral standards of the church. Therefore, they proposed that Gentile Christians needed to keep the Jewish law and undergo circumcision. After much debate on the matter, Peter explained that God had already revealed his will in the matter by giving the Holy Spirit to the Gentile Christians. God purified the hearts of the Gentile Christians and made no distinction between them and Jewish Christians. Paul and Barnabas concurred and spoke about the miracles and wonders that God had been doing among the Gentiles. Then, James spoke to the issue saying, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19). Thus, the leaders of the church were in agreement which prevented a major schism between the Jewish and Gentile Christians.

Messianic Prophecies and Jesus

Before presenting specific messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfills, a good verse to consider is Luke 24:27 which states, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Jesus fulfills the Hebrew Scriptures (OT) as a whole. He fulfills God’s promises to Abraham in that he redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit (see Gal 3:14) and God’s promises through the prophets (Acts 10:43 “All the prophets testify about him [Jesus] that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”)

Jesus fulfilled prophecies about division among the people concerning him, and their rejection and betrayal of him. Psalm 118:22-23 states, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” A similar prophecy appears in the New Testament in Luke 2:34-35 which states, “Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Jesus fulfilled these prophecies through his life and ministry, in that people were divided over him. The haughty, the arrogant and the religious elite rejected him and were rebuked and judged, but the humble, the meek and the poor in spirit accepted him and were exalted.

More specific to a messianic betrayal is Jesus’ betrayal by Judas.

OT Prophecy: Psalm 41:9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.

NT Fulfillment: John 13:18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’

OT Prophecy: Jeremiah 19:1-13; Zechariah 11:12-13

NT Fulfillment: Matthew 27:9-10 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Isaiah spoke of a future messianic figure who would bring good news to the people. He prophesied this messianic message,

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,  because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,to comfort all who mourn (61:1-2).

Jesus proclaims that he fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy from 61:1-2 (and 58:6.) Luke 4:16c-19 states,

He [Jesus] stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

Jesus fulfilled this messianic prophecy throughout his ministry by carrying out the role of a prophet proclaiming the good news of deliverance and salvation through his life and ministry.

Furthermore, Jesus connects the Jonah story with his death and resurrection. Thus, in Jesus’ view the Jonah incident is a prophecy concerning his death and resurrection, which is later confirmed by eyewitnesses to his resurrection.

Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Matthew 12:39-40 He [Jesus] answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Acts 2:31-32 that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.