An Outline of the Books of the Bible

By James H. Brookes

Chapter 6


The Gospels and Acts


The best way to study this book is to compare carefully the facts it records with the same facts, as recorded in the other gospels. No one who does this with spiritual intelligence, and with honesty of purpose, can remain in doubt concerning the superhuman origin of any of the books, or concerning the truth of verbal inspiration. It will be seen that the Holy Ghost had a special design in each of the four gospels, and this design He keeps constantly in view even in the smallest particulars. The additions, the omissions, the so-called discrepancies, are all in perfect harmony with the object He had before Him in these various accounts of the life, and death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; and if there are some things we do not understand, it will be modest and becoming to confess that it is due to our ignorance^ which is often enlightened by patiently waiting at the feet of the Saviour, rather than conclude that the Spirit of the living God has made a mistake.

It is easy to perceive that in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus of Nazareth is presented as the promised king of Israel; in Mark, as the faithful Servant who has set us the example of prompt and perfect obedience to God's will; in Luke, as the Son of man; and in John, as the Son of God. It is easy to perceive also that Matthew does not observe any chronological order in his narrative, but ranges over the whole field of our Lord's ministry, in order to call out and group together the facts and incidents that illustrate the point he has before him. That point is to reveal Jesus Christ as the Messiah of the Old Testament, the anointed king of the Jews, and if we would know the meaning of the book, this must be kept before the mind in every chapter.

Chapter i., the genealogy of the king. Chapter ii., the birth of the king. Chapter iii., the baptism of the king. Chapter iv., the temptation of the king. Chapter v., the king announces the laws, and describes the subjects, of His kingdom, already anticipating His rejection by Israel. Chapter vi., the king passes from actions to motives and principles, in setting forth the character and conduct becoming those who belong to His kingdom. Chapter vii., the king shows the relation of His subjects to each other, with warnings against false prophets, and a formal profession of His name. Chapter viii., the king's presence manifested in grace and power to Israel. Chapter ix., effect of the king's presence upon the leaders in Israel. Chapter x., the king's messengers to Israel. Chapter xi., the king utterly rejected by Israel. Chapter xii., Israel rejected by the king. Chapter xiii., the mysteries of the kingdom, or the kingdom existing in concealment, and the state of things during the present age. Chapter xiv., the kingdom revealed in type. Chapter xv., Israel after the rejection of the king. Chapter xvi., the church revealed, occupying the interval during which the kingdom is in mystery. Chapter xvii., a glimpse of the kingdom, as it shall be at the close of the church period. Chapter xviii., the spirit becoming those who are waiting for the kingdom. Chapter xix., earthly relationships in the light of the kingdom. Chapter xx., sovereignty of the king in the awards of the kingdom, and service the test of position. Chapter xxi., the king presents Himself to Israel for the last time. Chapter xxii., the king appearing in grace, but despised. Chapter xxiii., the king pronounces the doom of apostate Israel. Chapters xxiv., xxv., the king's last message to His disciples, dwelling at length upon His second advent. Chapter xxvi., the king betrayed, forsaken, and denied. Chapter xxvii., the king crucified. Chapter xxviii., the king risen.

It is in this gospel we find the phrase, "the kingdom of heaven,'' or more literally, "the kingdom Ox the heavens." It occurs thirty-two times, and does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The word kingdom is found fifty-six times: and although the expression, "the kingdom of God" is used three times, there is an obvious reason for the change in the language. God's king was there in Israel, but being denied and disowned, he was taken up into the heavens, and "the kingdom of the heavens "began upon His ascension to the right hand of the Father. Hence the phrase is equivalent to the present. Christian dispensation, during which Christ from the heavens is exercising rule in an especial manner over that part of the earth in which His gospel is proclaimed.

But if the gospel is rejected, as it surely is rejected before our eyes by an overwhelming majority of men and women in Christendom, and as the Lord assures us it will be rejected to the end of the age, we need not be surprised to find the kingdom of heaven likened to that which is evil During the time the king is in the heavens, and not manifested in regal glory and power on the earth, He tells the disciples that only a fourth part of the seed will bring forth fruit, and this variously; that the tares and the wheat will grow together until the harvest at His coming; that, although the outward growth of the professing body will be like a great tree springing from the least of seeds, it will furnish shelter for the very birds that had interfered with the work of the sower; and that a woman, not the man, will hide leaven, sour doughy in three measures of meal, until the whole is leavened. He, however, comforts their hearts by the assurance that He has a treasure hid in a field, or Israel still dear to His heart, and one pearl of great price, or His loved church, for the sake of which He had sold all He had.

This thirteenth chapter marks the break and change in His ministry, as it is the turning point in the book, which for the sake of convenience may be divided as follows: First, the birth of the king, whose lineage is traced back through Joseph to David and Abraham, and the attempt to destroy the infant king of the Jews, i., ii. Second, the baptism of the king, succeeded by the temptation which reached its climax in the offer to Him of all the kingdoms of the world, iii., iv. Third, the actions and principles becoming the subjects of a king, already preparing His followers for sorrow and persecution, v.-vii. Fourth, the personal ministry and rejection of the king, leading Him no longer to recognize Israel after the flesh, viii.-xii. Fifth, the mysteries of the kingdom, or the state of things during the period He is in the heavens, xiii. Sixth, the king is seen on His way to the cross, xiv.-xxv. Seventh, His agony in the garden, His crucifixion, and resurrection, xxvi.-xxviii.

But it will be observed that in this gospel there is no ascension, as becometh the king of Israel, an earthly people, whose place corporately and dispensationally is here below. But while we see His relations to Israel all the way through, in every miracle, in every parable, in every action, there are bright intimations of His grace flowing out to the Gentiles. Hence in the opening chapter, there are only four women mentioned, and upon each of these there was a dark stain in the estimation of the proud Jew. There were many illustrious women in the line of His human ancestry, but only Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, belonging to the accursed race of Moab, and the wife of Uriah, are named, as if the Holy Ghost were hinting that the king knew how to go beyond Israel, in order to seek and to save that which was lost. Those who thoroughly study this precious book, and are taught by the Spirit its meaning, will have a key not only to the New Testament, but to the Old. The more it is studied, the more profound will be the conviction that every line has upon it the stamp of divinity.


It is the purpose of the Holy Ghost in this Gospel to set forth our Lord Jesus Christ as the faithful and obedient Servant, according to the terms of the prophecy, "Behold, my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.... Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord's servant?" (Isa. xlii. 1-3, 195 xlix. 6; lii. 13; liii. 11).

The blessed One was blind to every object but the glory of God, deaf to every call but the voice of God, and hence gave us an example of perfect service. It was a service, as described in the gospel of Mark, distinguished by many beautiful and significant features. First, it began with His temptation in the wilderness, when He "was with the wild beasts;" like another David who gains the victory in secret over the lion and the bear, before he went forth to open conflict with Goliath. This fact is recorded by Mark alone.

Second, it was a service undertaken in secret prayer, Mark alone informing us, that "in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." This statement is the more noteworthy because the evening before, after the sun did set, and we know not how far into the night, He was at work. But however busy, nothing must hinder the faithful servant from personal communion with God.

Third, it was a service promptly rendered. Ten times in the opening chapter we find the words immediately, straitway, forthwith, as indicating the haste and energy with which the obedient Servant did the bidding of Him who sent Him. The Greek word so translated occurs eighty times in the New Testament, and forty times it is found in the short gospel of Mark.

Fourth, it was an unwearied service. Again and again it is recorded, and it is peculiar to Mark, that when He sought retirement for prayer, and rest, and sleep. He suffered the need of others to call Him forth into the activities of His busy ministry; nor did He utter a murmuring word at the thoughtless selfishness of grief and want.

Fifth, it was a service that entered into minute details, as if nothing were too small for His notice. Mark alone mentions the fact that He took up the little children in His arms, or rather, folded them in His arms; that He not only set a little child in the midst of His disciples as the symbol of true greatness, but took him up in His arms; and that He took the mother of Peter's wife by the hand, and lifted her up. Many such striking incidents can be gathered by comparing the different gospels.

Sixth, it was a service rendered in great tenderness. Mark alone notices that He had compassion on the loathsome leper; that, beholding the young ruler. He loved him; and the same Evangelist tells us more frequently than the other gospels, of the touch of His hand, His looking. His sighing; as if the Holy Spirit would indicate the necessity of love and sympathy for the true servant.

Seventh, it was a service not performed for display, but carried on in secret. Hence we read that He took the deaf man, who had an impediment in his speech, aside, and when He had healed him, "charged them that they should tell no man f that He led the blind man out of the town, and when He had given him sight, said, "Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town;" and that "He entered into a house, and would have no man know it.'?

This gospel, therefore, as compared with the others, is remarkable both for its omissions and its additions. It gives no account of the genealogy of Jesus, nor of His miraculous conception and birth, nor of the sermon on the mount, nor is the title of "Lord" given Him by the Evangelist or by the disciples, until after His resurrection; but He Himself declares, only in this gospel, "of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." This language which has perplexed so many becomes perfectly plain, when we remember that it is the purpose of the Holy Ghost in Mark to reveal Him as the faithful servant; and "the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth."

All the way through the gospel it is service, even in the four parables that are recorded, and in the miracles that are mentioned. Every chapter, except the first, seventh, eighth, and fourteenth, begins with the word and, as if there were scarcely a pause in His ministry of grace from first to last. Onward He moved with an obedience that never faltered, with a zeal for God's glory that never wavered, with a love for poor sinners that no coldness could chill, with a courage that no danger could shake. The opening chapter introduces Him as engaged in constant labor for others, and the last verse of the last chapter tells us the disciples "went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.''

It is important too to state that Mark observes the chronological order of events, as Matthew does not, and hence it is easy to follow his simple narrative. First, we have His unceasing toil in Israel, i.-vi. Second, His rejection by the leaders of Israel, vii. Third, the announcement of His approaching death, viii. Fourth, His journey from the mount of transfiguration to Jerusalem, ix., x. Fifth, His entrance into the city and final address to the people, xi., xii. Sixth, His farewell message to His disciples, and crucifixion, xiii.-xv. Seventh, His resurrection and ascension, xvi. In the study of the whole gospel we can only be "beyond measure astonished, saying. He hath done all things well,'' (vii. 37).


In this gospel the Holy Ghost presents the Lord Jesus to us as the Son of man. In Matthew we have the wise men asking, "Where is he that is born king of the Jews? Mark begins with His public ministry. But in Luke the angel says to the shepherds, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Zacharias before His birth' announced that He was "to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace;" and at His circumcision Simeon preached that He was to be "a light to lighten the Gentiles."

Thus at the beginning of this gospel He is exhibited in His broadest relations to the human race, and in that aspect of His wondrous character and life which brings Him before us as a perfect man. Hence here alone we read that "the child grew," that "when he was twelve years old," Joseph and Mary went with Him to the feast of the passover, and "as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem," that "He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them," and that "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." All of this is intensely human, and indicates a purpose distinct from the other gospels, that can not escape the notice of the attentive reader.

So in the genealogy which follows His baptism, unlike Matthew who gives us "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham, Luke traces His lineage through Mary back to David, back to Abraham, back to "Adam which was of God." This at once links Him to the whole family of man, and the thought is carried out in all of the parables and teachings, that are peculiar to the third gospel. Here only are we told that "a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho;" that "a certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard;" that "a certain man made a great supper;'' that "this man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them;" that "a certain man had two sons;" that "there was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen;'' that "two men went up into the temple to pray;" and that the centurion, deeply impressed by the scenes which attended the crucifixion said, "Certainly this was a righteous man." The last statement is the more striking when compared with the testimony of Matthew, "Truly this was the Son of God," and of Mark, "Truly this man was the Son of God."

Here too the human side of His character is brought out in the frequent mention of His praying. Nowhere else do we learn that "when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened;" that "He withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed;" that "He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God," before His choice of the twelve; that "as he was alone praying" Peter confessed Him "the Christ of God;" that " He went up into a mountain to pray; and as lie prayed "the transfiguration occurred; that "as he was x-raying in a certain place, when he ceased "He taught the disciples the Lord's prayer; that He said to Peter, "I have prayed for. thee, that thy faith fail not;" that "being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly;" that on the cross He prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Surely in all this He brings Himself very near to us as the pattern man.

There are many minor differences between Luke and the other Evangelists, in the narration of the same facts, which the diligent student of the Bible can discover for himself, if he will take a so-called harmony of the gospels, and notice the minute distinctions, every one of which proves a special purpose in each of the four, and every one of which proves verbal inspiration. One of these gospels was written before the others, and it would have been an easy matter for a copyist, if he had been a mere boy, to repeat precisely what he had before his eyes. But the distinctions, not contradictions, show that the pens of the writers were guided by superhuman wisdom, to subserve the specific design of the Holy Ghost in these several narratives.

For example, when our Lord sent forth the twelve, according to Matthew He commanded them, saying, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;" because Matthew gives us the gospel of the king of Israel. But in Luke we are told that "they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere;" because here we have the gospel of the Son of man in His relations to the whole world. Other illustrations of carefully prepared differences of statement can be easily found, and it is recommended to those who would receive a full impression of the divinity and import of the Scriptures, to place before them four copies of the gospels, thoughtfully examining the miracles, parables, sayings, and events, that are recorded in two or more.

The divisions of Luke's gospel are very simple and natural: First, Jesus the son of man from His birth, through His childhood, to the time of His baptism, when He "began to be about thirty years of age, i.-iii. Second, His public ministry in the sympathies of a human heart, leading Him about the cities and towns of Galilee, iv.-viii. Third, His sending forth the twelve and the seventy, in connection with the stedfast setting of His face to go to Jerusalem in order to accomplish His exodus, ix., x. Fourth, His grace and love manifested during the progress of His last journey, and His entrance into the city, xi.-xix. Fifth, His last message to the people, and to His disciples, xx., xxi. Sixth, His betrayal and death, saving a poor sinner even on the cross, xxii., xxiii. Seventh, His resurrection, showing Himself to be still the son of man by eating, and His ascension, xxiv.


This sublime and beautiful gospel is necessary to complete the view of the wonderful character and life of our blessed Lord. As already noticed Matthew describes Him as the Son of David, Mark as the unwearied Servant, Luke as the Son of man, while it was reserved for John to present Him as the Son of God. Hence it is not strange that through all the history of the Church, the four gospels have been seen to answer somewhat to the four cherubim mentioned in the book of Revelation. The first was like a lion, and is therefore connected with the gospel of Matthew, which reveals Jesus Christ as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The second was like a calf, or, as Ezekiel has it, an ox, the symbol of patient service and uncomplaining sacrifice, and therefore belongs to Mark. The third had the face of a man, and is linked to Luke; and the fourth was like a flying eagle, the suitable emblem of the gospel of John, setting forth the heavenly Stranger.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life 5 and the life was the light of men.'' Such is the marvellous opening of the fourth gospel, and if it does not prove the true and proper divinity of Jesus Christ, the doctrine can not be taught in human language. In the same chapter there are twenty-one distinct names and titles given to Him, to which may be added the sevenfold testimony of John the Baptist concerning One, in whose ever-increasing greatness he was glad to decrease. (1) He testifies that Jesus is Lord, i. 23; (2) that He is the Lamb of God, i. 29, 36; (3) that He is the Son of God, i. 34; (4) that He is the Bridegroom, iii. 29; (5) that He is above all, iii. 31; (6) that all things are given into His hands, iii. 35; (7) that faith in Him is essential to the salvation of the soul, iii. 36.

In chapter ii., we have His first miracle, the turning of water into wine, as typical of the cheering and joyful dispensation He had introduced, followed by the scourging from the temple of those who polluted its sanctity; showing that this gospel commences, as it were, where the others leave off.

In chapter iii., we are told of the new birth, and therefore of the Spirit, who is presented in the gospel, (1) as quickening, iii. 5-8; (2) as indwelling, iv. 14; (3) as outflowing, vii. 38, 39; (4) as comforting, xiv. 16, 17; (5) as teaching, xiv. 26; (6) as testifying, xv. 26; (7) as showing things to come, xvi. 13.

In chapter iv., we see our Lord in Samaria, and again in Cana of Galilee, talking with a sinful woman at Jacob's well, meeting her six words of ignorance, longing, and confession with seven words of matchless grace, and then in divine power giving life to the son of a certain nobleman, which was His second miracle.

In chapter v., an impotent man, lying helpless at the pool of Bethesda, is healed, and this gives rise to a wonderful discourse, that can leave no room for doubt in the mind of any, who are subject to the word, concerning the full equality of the Son with the Father. The chapter mentions four witnesses to the fact that Jesus is the source and maintainer of life, and to these are added three other witnesses in the rest of the gospel. (1) The Old Testament Scriptures; (2) John the Baptist; (3) The Father; (4) the works of Jesus; (5) Jesus Himself in distinct and oft-repeated testimony; (6) the Spirit of truth; (7) all true believers.

In chapter vi.. He goes over the sea of Galilee, feeds an immense multitude on five barley loaves and two small fishes, walks on the sea at night. when a great wind blew, and being willingly received by the terrified disciples, "immediately the ship was at the land whither they went," suggesting most precious thoughts of His sufficiency for our need, and of His coming again when His people are tossing in the dark upon a strange sea. The remainder of the chapter is occupied with the revelation of Himself as the Bread of life.

In chapter vii., He is walking in Galilee j but about the midst of the feast of tabernacles suddenly appears in the temple at Jerusalem, and, looking upon the longing crowds in vain endeavoring to satisfy their souls with empty forms. He utters the sweet invitation, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink."

In chapter viii.. He is on the Mount of Olives, but, coming early in the morning into the temple, He pardons a woman who was taken in the act of adultery, writing with His finger in the dust, which is the type of death, while her equally guilty accusers fiercely demanded her condemnation; and then again revealing Himself as the light, and the life, and the Son of God, closing with the declaration, "Before Abraham was [literally, was made, or came into existence] I AM."

In chapter ix., passing out of the temple to avoid the stones hurled at Him by the infuriated Jews, He gave sight to a man born blind, and when the man was excommunicated for the confession of His name, He sought him, and made Himself known to him as the Son of God, and received his grateful worship.

Chapter x., should be connected with the preceding chapter, and it brings out the relation of Christ to His people as that of a tender Shepherd, but He again declares that He is the Son of God. Chapter xi., gives us the resurrection of Lazarus, with its momentous consequences to Jesus Himself. In chapter xii., we behold Him at the brazen altar, as it were, speaking of His death. In chapter xiii., He stands at the laver, washing the disciples' feet. In chapter xiv., He turns His face to the temple with its numerous chambers, and tells of the Father's house and its many mansions, and of His going to prepare a place for His saved ones, and of His coming again. In chapter xv.. He approaches the vine-clad porch, and gives us a wonderful word about fruit bearing. In chapter xvi., we may think of Him as entering in spirit the holy place; and in chapter xvii., the high priest is in the holiest of all, offering up His precious and inexhaustible intercessory prayer.

The remaining chapters are occupied with His arrest, trial, crucifixion, resurrection, and final appearance to the disciples, all in perfect keeping with the design of the Holy Ghost in this gospel. When the risen Lord came to those whom for the first time He addressed as brethren, three times He met them with the glad message, " Peace be unto you," as if He would say, I have been down into the dark domain of death, and not an enemy, nor an accuser is left. When in touching love He restored Peter to peace of conscience, which he had lost by his cruel denial of his Master, the humbled Apostle, going up from the feet of Jesus, had strength to drag the net of fishes to land, although even men had previously failed.

The whole gospel may be divided as follows: First, the introduction, i. Second, the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus, largely in Judea, embracing three passovers, at which He appeared successively as prophet, priest, and king, ii.-xi. Third, His royal entrance into Jerusalem, and announcement of His death, xii. Fourth, His observance of the passover, and farewell words, setting forth the perfect safety of believers, the abiding presence of the Holy Ghost, the secret of constant fruit-bearing, and Himself as the source of peace in a world of tribulation, xiii.-xvi. Fifth, His intercessory prayer, xvii. Sixth, His trial and death, xviii., xix. Seventh, His resurrection and revelation of Himself to His followers, xx., xxi. So far as this gospel goes, they are still following Him along the shores of Galilee.


Luke, who was employed by the Holy Ghost to record these acts, begins his Gospel narrative with the statement, "It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus." The word rendered from the very first is elsewhere translated from above, (John iii. 31 j xix. 11; Jas. i. 17; iii. 15, 17); and it may refer to the fact that he had perfect understanding of all things by divine inspiration. Here He says, "The first narrative, indeed, made I, concerning all things, O Theophilus, which Jesus began to do and teach." Such is Rotherham's translation, to which he adds in a foot-note, "The FIRST narrative told of all things which Jesus, while on earth, began to do and teach; this SECOND narrative tells of all things which Jesus, from heaven, went on to do and teach. This emphatic implication is a key to the following history."

Hence it would have been more properly called "The Acts of the Holy Ghost," for it contains His name nearly sixty times, and it is largely but the manifestation of His power through the Apostles and others. The book opens with the ascension and promised return of the Lord Jesus in like manner as He was seen to go into heaven; and it closes with the Apostle in prison, as if to indicate the rejection and persecution of His faithful witnesses, just before His second advent. But the interval should be filled, as we learn here, with prayer, scriptural testimony, and evangelistic services, not, indeed, in the expectation of the world's conversion, for the Apostles plainly declare, when all these were employed with an energy and power never since equalled, that such is not God's purpose in the present dispensation. His revealed design is to take out of the Gentiles a people for His name; and after this the Lord will return in person to resume covenant relation to the Jews, that the residue of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles, (xv. 14-18).

It is a most suggestive fact that prayer, and united prayer, occupies so prominent a place in this instructive book. The Apostles "all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women," (i. 14); "and they prayed," (i. 24); "they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers," (ii. 42); "Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer," (iii. 1); "when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together," (iv. 31); "we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word j" and it will be observed that prayer is placed before the ministry of the word, (vi. 4); "and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them," (vi. 6); Stephen died praying, (vii. 60); Peter and John went down to Samaria to see the new converts, and "prayed for them," (viii. 15); "pray God," (viii. 22); "pray ye to the Lord for me," (viii. 24); "behold, he prayeth," (ix. 11); "Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed," (ix. 40); "Peter went up upon the housetop to pray," (x. 9); "I prayed in my house," (x. 30); "I was in the city of Joppa, praying," (xi. 5); "prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him," (xii. 5). See also xii. 12; xiii. 3; xiv. 23; xvi. 13, 16, 25; XX. 36; xxi. 5; xxii, 17; xxviii. 8. Truly, Christians prayed, and had prayer meetings, in those days.

Another striking fact is the scriptural preaching of the Apostles. Almost the whole of the effective sermon delivered by Peter on the day of Pentecost consists of quotations from the Old Testament; and so it is of Stephen's address, when he stood before the council, and they "saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." These discourses, that are the longest in the book, would be regarded at present as nothing more than "Bible readings;" but the Holy Ghost put upon them the seal of His approval. "Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,'' (xvii. 2). To king Agrippa he testified that he had been "witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than the prophets and Moses did say should come," (xxvi. 22); and in the last notice we get of him in Rome, the Jews gathered around him, "to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening," (xxviii. 23). Thus it is with every sermon of which we catch a glimpse throughout the book. Jesus was the subject, and the Scripture furnished the proof. If any think they improve upon this method when they put a text at the beginning of their essays, and then shun it, and all other scripture, as carefully as if it had the small pox, they may well consider whether in their desire to please men, they do not dishonor and grieve the Holy Ghost.

Still another fact seen in the study of this portion of God's word is the dependence of the Apostles and early Christians upon the Spirit. The promise of the Saviour was that they should receive power, after that the Holy Ghost was come upon them; and a few days later, when there came a sound from heaven, " as of a rushing mighty wind," and as if the Holy Ghost were in haste to bear witness to the ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Majesty on high, "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance," (ii. 4). They might be threatened and imprisoned, but "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness," (iv. 31). So filled, earthly possessions were nothing in their esteem; and when it became necessary to select seven men to look after the wants of the Hellenist Jews, who complained "because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration," among others Stephen was chosen, "a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost;" and the next record is, "full of faith and power," (vi. 5-8). The way to obtain power is the same to-day it was then: full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost, and of power, is still the divinely prescribed mode.

There are two leading divisions of the book, of almost equal length. The first gathers about Jerusalem as the centre, and Peter as the prominent figure, i.-xii.; the second gathers about Antioch, a Gentile city, as the centre, and Paul, "the apostle of the Gentiles," as the prominent figure, xiii.-xxviii. More minutely we have First, the ascension and promised return of the Lord Jesus, i. Second, the descent of the Holy Ghost in manifested power, and the founding of the Church, ii. Third, the active ministry of the Holy Ghost through the apostles and others, the presence of evil, put down by a sharp stroke as it will be in the day of Christ, the martyrdom of Stephen, the persecution of the saints, the conversion of Saul, the calling of the Gentiles, but still in connection with Jerusalem, and the tyranny and pride of Herod, as a type of the antichrist, iii.-xii. Fourth, Paul's first missionary journey, extending over the large island of Cyprus, and a portion of Asia Minor, terminating with the authoritative announcement of the freedom of Gentile believers from the law of Moses, xiii.-xv. Fifth, Paul's second missionary tour, reaching into Europe, where he gathered a company of believers at Philippi, preached Jesus and the resurrection in cultivated Athens, and continued in dissolute Corinth a year and six months, determined to know nothing among them, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, xvi.-xviii. Sixth, Paul's third missionary expedition, all starting from Antioch, and his labor for two years in Ephesus and the surrounding region, xix., xx. Seventh, his last visit to Jerusalem, his arrest in the temple, his imprisonment for two years in Caesarea, and his stormy voyage to Rome, where in the closing words of the book, we see him still "preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ," xxi.-xxviii.