I have often wondered why the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ is called ‘The Acts of the Apostles’. In my mind it is not the best name for the book, it is not the most accurate name. I think if I were able to change the name I would make it ‘The Acts of the Holy Spirit’. The opening verses of Acts are about Jesus ascending into heaven and the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.” … After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. (Acts 1:5,9)
The book of Acts has no one human as its main character we see a lot of Peter in the first half and a lot of Paul in the second half. There are many others who we hear about in the book of Acts. The one person present throughout is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is moving and working in the lives of the early church as the good news starts to spread.
Many scholars think that Luke the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, intended to write a third book, to make a trilogy but perhaps died before he was able. His first book, Luke’s Gospel, starts in Judea and in the town of Bethlehem. We see Jesus travel and preach in Galilee. Eventually, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem the capital and the heart of Israel. Jesus dies on the cross and on the third day rises again. The Gospel of Luke ends with the ascension of Jesus in Jerusalem. The book of Acts picks up in the same place, in Jerusalem. And from there the coming of the Holy Spirit the good news spreads around the Mediterranean and ends up in the capital and centre of the known world Rome. So we have in the Gospel of Luke the coming good news which starts in the countryside and ends in the capital of Israel a small country in the Roman empire and then in the book of Acts we have the good news spread from the capital of Israel across much of the Roman empire ending up in the capital Rome. The third book would see the message ripple further from Jerusalem and Rome all the way to ends of the earth. Perhaps that third book wasn’t written because we are living that book. We are spreading the Good news of Jesus to ends of the earth, we are spreading the Good news into every community.
you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)