If there were ever an action book present in the Bible that moves quickly from one scene of action to the next, it would have to be The Acts of the Apostles. The Apostles arrested and thrown in jail, a young man persecuting Christians and throwing them in jail, his conversion through a powerful light and resonant voice, a building shook by a powerful wind and descent of tongues of fire, the downpour of stones crashing upon and crushing the skull of a young, eloquent, and courageous preacher—these dynamic and dramatic events issue forth in the The Acts of the Apostles. You almost feel as if you are on the edge of your chair or on the edge of a cliff once you finish one chapter and proceed to the next.
As an introduction to The Acts of the Apostles, we present ten basic truths to help us delve deeper into the immense treasure-house of riches that this book, inspired by the Holy Spirit, offers for our prayerful reading and spiritual enrichment.
1. Place in the Bible
The Book, The Acts of the Apostles, follows on the heels of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. After John Chapter 21, we enter into the gateway and threshold of The Acts of the Apostles. In a certain sense, the Acts will build upon our knowledge, love, and ardent desire to follow Jesus the Lord.
2. The Author
The Acts of the Apostles, its writing and composition, is attributed to Saint Luke. A man of many talents, Saint Luke was a physician, painter, Evangelist, writer, missionary, companion to Saint Paul, and most important saint, ending his life by shedding his blood as a martyr.
3. Starting Point: Two Mysteries of the Rosary
The actual starting point of The Acts of the Apostles—Chapter One and Two—are two of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary: The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven (Acts 1), and The Coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), also known as Pentecost. Therefore, we invite the Blessed Virgin Mary to be with us as we meditate upon The Acts of the Apostles. Among Mary’s many titles is that of the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
4. Key Protagonist: The Holy Spirit
One of the key figures or protagonists in The Acts of the Apostles is the Person of the Holy Spirit. This action book can even be given the appropriate title, “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit.” A suggestion: while carefully reading and meditating upon The Acts of the Apostles, note mentally, or in a notebook, the many times that the Holy Spirit appears in these action pages.
5. Number 28
By Number 28, we mean the number of Chapters in The Acts of the Apostles. A mini-month course can be given by delivering 4 to 5 talks and inviting the people to read and meditate upon one chapter per day for four weeks—perfect timing and synchronization!
6. Easter Season Reading
Once the Church moves from the Lenten Season into the Easter Season, the first reading in the daily Masses, as well as the Sunday Masses, offers for our listening and meditation The Acts of the Apostles.
7. Saints Peter & Paul
The title of the book is The Acts of the Apostles. However, not too many of the Apostles appear in the limelight, with the exception of two prominent ones: Saint Peter and Saint Paul. In chronological order, Peter appears in the first chapters, then disappears and gives way to Saul of Tarsus, who is converted into the fiery Apostle Paul. An interesting note: as you walk through the front doors of the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome, you walk in between two statues—Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Saint Peter holds the Keys of the Kingdom; Saint Paul, a sword!
8. Suffering & Martyrdom
A common theme in the Acts is the readiness and willingness of the early followers of Christ to suffer for their Master. The Protomartyr—meaning first martyr—was Saint Stephen. Under the guidance and approval of Saul of Tarsus, Saint Stephen was stoned to death. Like Jesus, Saint Stephen prayed for and forgave his persecutors. Mercy always triumphs over anger and revenge!
9. Missionary Book
Not only is the Acts of the Apostles an action book, as well as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit, it is also a model program for missionary activity. Saul of Tarsus, converted into the fiery Apostle Saint Paul, paves the way. We have outlined in the Acts of the Apostles missionary journeys, activities, sufferings, successes and failures, tactics and methods on how to evangelize as a missionary. No doubt, upon reading the missionary activities, especially carried out by Saint Paul, Saint Luke, Saint Barnabas and others, you will feel the urge and motivation to also become a modern missionary.
10. Mary and the Holy Spirit
The great Marian saint, Saint Louis de Montfort, who left us the spiritual classic True Devotion on how to consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary, speaks of the deep union between Mary and the Holy Spirit. Mary is intimately related to the Blessed Trinity because she is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, but she is also the Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Saint Louis goes on to say that those who love Mary, the Holy Spirit, flings Himself into that soul. Therefore, in the opening pages of the Acts of the Apostles, we find Mary making the first novena with the Apostles in the Upper Room. After fervent prayer, penance, and silence for nine days, the Holy Spirit descends on Mary and the Apostles in tongues of fire—the Church is born!
Let us turn to Mary as we read and meditate upon “The action book of the Bible”, the Acts of the Apostles, and beg that through her most powerful intercession we might experience a renewed Pentecost experience in our own lives and become the saint that God has destined us to become for all eternity.