The Book of Acts is clearly one of the most action-packed segments in the storyline of Scripture. The title, “The Acts of the Apostles,” cues us in on this clue from the start. As many commentators have suggested, a more accurate title would be something to do with the acts of the Holy Spirit, or perhaps “The Action of the Ascended Christ by His Spirit Through His Church.”
The book opens with Jesus ascending as a human to the throne of the universe, sending the Spirit and commissioning his messengers. “You will be my witnesses,” he promises, “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And so Luke recounts the movements in that outline — all action and no slush.
There are powerful proclamations, riveting dialogues and thousands of conversions. There is everything from miracles that disgruntle the white-collar villains to prison sentences that end in wild escape. There is character development — absolute transformation — when Paul is knocked off his horse by a shining light and propelled to play a prominent role thereafter.
Then there is religious controversy and political trials and the backstory of Jewish factions and Roman rule. Add in the maritime adventures of suspenseful decision making and shipwreck to an unknown island of nice natives and venomous snakes.
Sometimes Jesus’ messengers were mistaken as gods, other times they were killed by the sword. Sometimes they were stoned to death, other times they were stoned, but survived. There are disputes among the protagonists, ironic encounters and affectionate goodbyes. The world, honestly and truly, was being turned upside down (Acts 17:6), everywhere from the scruffy blacksmith who lost his business to the highest court of international law. This story has all the pieces for a box-office hit.
And then there’s the way it ends.
Throughout the book, the action has ramped up, up, up. Paul’s voyage to Rome has been like a symphonic crescendo. The percussion is blaring louder, louder, louder. And then the story closes with a bivocational leader talking to folks who visit him at his house. All of that action — head spinning action — leaves us with an old man inviting everyone into his home to tell them about Jesus.