Jerusalem To Rome

The Acts of the Apostles

By Charles Fremont Sitterly




The world was aimlessly wandering across the trackless marshes of time at the midnight of human history. Even the Jews, the one nation possessing the Torch of Truth, had overlaid it with a pall of tradition, and lost the Way. The Greeks had philosophized every phase of thought and life, and had deified every virtue and vice, until for them there was nothing new. The Romans, in addition, had deified first their Capital and then the Emperor, and in the name of both had conquered all lands, so that there was the peace of exhaustion over the whole world.

Thus man’s extremity becomes the divine opportunity, and Christ, the Way for the Jews, the Wisdom for the Greeks, and the Power for the Romans, appears as Redeemer, Teacher, and King, and brings Life and Immortality to Light. The Way is so plain, the Light is so bright, and the Life so abundant that once realized He can never be lost again, and the one supreme business of men is henceforth to witness to and proclaim Him unto the ends of the earth. The author of Acts had experienced this transforming truth and given himself and his talents to this business. His dear friend and patron, Theophilus, had shared his joy, and to him Luke dedicates both his books of treasured miscellany gathered through many years of loving research and travels.

Both books are built about the same two dominant ideas, which spring out of the above facts. First, Jesus the Nazarene is the Anointed Son of God Most High. He is endowed with all power in His own right and as setting forth the undivided mind of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Having ended the period of His earthly humiliation and suffering, making plain thereby the way of salvation for sinful men, He has ascended to the highest heaven and does administer and through the Holy Spirit will administer mercy, righteousness, and truth to the end of the ages. Second, this Christ, though fulfilling to the letter every promise made of Messiah, is not alone the Saviour of the Jews, be they Hebrew-born or heathen proselytes, but He is the only and abundant hope of universal redemption without let or limitation of sex, race, land, epoch, or social status.


From every standpoint the opinion is valid that Luke, the beloved physician and friend of Paul (Col. iv, 14), was the writer of Acts. The fact that the author makes no use of the Pauline Epistles, and yet without design coincides with them in countless points, shows that he was almost always a member of Paul’s company. The remarkable accuracy as well as peculiarity of the book in matters pertaining to the government of various Roman provinces, including the islands, and in those of topography and racial characteristics, again go well with Lukan authorship. Luke was not a Jew (Col. iv, 11) but probably a Greek, and belonged to the second generation, not knowing Jesus according to the flesh (Luke i, 2). Quite possibly he was converted under the preaching of Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, as his friend Theophilus appears, in early tradition, to belong there, and Luke’s book takes up the narrative from the transfer of interest to Antioch with fuller detail and indications not infrequent of the testimony of an eyewitness. All of the “we” passages, including that of xiv, 22, fall in this half of the book. We therefore have in Paul and Luke himself the source of the larger part of Acts. For the first twelve chapters Peter, Philip, Barnabas, Mark, and James the Lord’s brother are first-class and all-sufficient sources, and Luke had abundant opportunity for consulting these as well as others of the Judean circle.


Having traced from the beginning the life of his Lord until His Ascension in the first volume, it is clear that Luke’s purpose in the book before us is to continue the narrative unbroken, showing how the Saviour, though ascended, continued active and dominant in guiding, inspiring, and protecting His followers in their work of spreading the news of the Gospel as far as their influence or power could be felt. The program is furnished by the Commander as He withdraws from sight. The power promised for its execution is at once fully given from on high. His spiritual presence is clearly manifest at every critical turn; courage, wisdom, diplomatic and dialectic adroitness, such as daunts Sanhedrins, Councils, and every form of organized persecution, mark the men of hitherto ordinary spirit and address, while everywhere their enemies take knowledge that they have learned of Jesus, and apparently propose to bring “this man’s blood” afresh upon that generation. The leaders themselves attribute their power and boldness in every case to the mind and touch of the Master. Miracle is as plentiful and employed for precisely the same ends here as in the Gospels, and to ignore or deny it is to do violence both to the spirit and letter of every page. The living, reigning Christ is the sole and sufficient key to the Acts and actors here brought forward, though but very few of either are mentioned out of a vast background of both which soon filled Egypt and all North Africa, Parthia and all the Fast, as fully as the provinces of Asia Minor, Greece, and all the West. The book at best is but a sketch, boldly and artistically drawn, but still a sketch, tracing in barest outline some of the experiences, teachings, and travels of two of the greatest men of that or, indeed, of any age. Peter and Paul are the foci about which everything turns. Other of the artist’s favorites, like Barnabas, Stephen, and Philip, are but understudies to these, and the multitudes behind them but lay figures. Finally, Peter, having played his part, gives way to the master Strategist, Advocate, and Organizer of early Christianity.


The author’s style is identical with that of the writer of the Third Gospel, more than fifty words being common to these two books not elsewhere used in the New Testament. Moreover, these literary characteristics are as true of the “we” passages as of the other portions of the book.

The introduction and dedication are the same, and where the writer speaks for himself he writes like a native Greek, and in the best idiom of the New Testament. The Acts opens with the Ascension, an account of which is elsewhere given only at the end of Luke’s Gospel. The author introduces documentary data in the same way, with long reports of speeches, hymns, prayers, and official decrees. He has the same deep interest in women, and in matters concerning Samaria, the same genuine compassion for the poor, and the same peculiar accuracy in the use of medical language, common to both books. This group of data is sufficient in itself to prove the point, as Hobart and Harnack abundantly show. Of the same sort is the marked appeal to the author of both books of spiritual phenomena, both angelic and demoniacal. The personality and presence of the Holy Spirit and of the Angel of the Lord, the prominence of trance and of heavenly vision, and the use of the word “power” absolutely and as an attribute, are also of unique significance. The frequent and full references to the hold of magic, ventriloquism, charms, and various forms of necromancy, and in particular the burning of such paraphernalia and books in the market place of Ephesus, the well-known world center of such interests in the first century, also go well with the personality and interest of Luke as with that of no other writer of the New Testament canon.



As stated in the Preface, the time covered in the book lies between A. D. 30 and 63. In one brief generation the campaign of the Empire in the name of its new Sovereign was carried out in full, and we have no doubt that in addition to the record here given five years more were enough for Peter to carry it to Parthia on the Fast as Paul did to Spain on the West.

In view of the abundant data as to the time element in the Acts, and remembering the difference in methods of its measurement as between Hebrew and Roman, we have constructed the following schedule of approximate dates:


1. The Ascension of Christ I May 18, 30.
2. The Descent of the Holy Spirit II May 28, 30.
3. The First Outbreak of Persecution IV Spring, 31.
4. The Election of Deacons VI Spring, 32.
5. The Martyrdom of Stephen VII Spring, 33.
6. The Great Persecution Following VIII Summer, 33.
7. The Preaching of Philip at Samaria VIII Summer, 33.
8. Paul’s Conversion at Damascus IX Autumn, 33.
9 Paul’s Visit to Jerusalem IX Spring, 36.
10. Peter’s Tour to Joppa and Caesarea IX-X Spring, 40.
11. The Founding of the Church at Antioch XI Summer, 41.
12. Barnabas Brings Paul from Tarsus XI Spring, 43.
13. The Famine and Antioch Relief Fund XI 2 Years, 45-47.
14. Martyrdom of James, Son of Zebedee XII Spring, 44.
15. The Death of Herod Agrippa I XII Summer, 44.
16. The First Missionary Tour XIII  2 Years, 47-49.
17. Paul’s Experiences in Province Galatia XIV Summer, 47.
18. The Council at Jerusalem XV Spring, 50.
19. The Second Missionary Tour XV 2 Years, 50-52.
20; Paul Enters Europe XVI Autumn, 50.
21 Paul's; Visit, at Athens XVII Summer, 51.
22. The Third Missionary Tour XVIII 3 Years, 53-56.
23. The Labor Riot at Ephesus XIX Winter, 56.
24. Paul’s Farewell at Miletus XX Passover, 57.
25. Paul’s Arrival at Jerusalem XXI Pentecost, 57.
26. Paul’s Address from the Castle Stairs XXII Pentecost, 57.
27. Paul’s Imprisonment at Caesarea XXIII 2 Years, 57-59.
28. The Trial Before Felix XXIV Spring, 57.
29. The Appeal Before Festus XXV Spring, 59.
30. The Defense Before Herod Agrippa II XXVI Summer, 59.
31. The Winter Voyage to Malta XXVIII Sept.-Oct., 59.
32. The Arrival at Rome XXVIII  Spring, 60.
33. Paul’s Roman Imprisonment XXVIII 2 Years, 60-62.



It seems better to date the Acts soon after the last event recorded. The air of verisimilitude and freshness so characteristic of it is thus preserved and the difficulty of Luke’s utter silence, both here and in his Gospel, concerning the momentous doings which fell at and after the close of Nero’s reign, both in Rome and in Jerusalem, is escaped. If either Paul had died or Jerusalem fallen before the author sent forth his book, it seems impossible that either event should have escaped conscious or unconscious implication. On the one hand, Paul is always presented as advancing from one scene of triumph to another, while on the other hand, the vigor of the mother church and the opposition of the Judaizers in Jerusalem, each centering in the Temple courts, upper and lower, never appears in the least abated. Presuming, as we do, that both the Third Gospel and Acts were written, as they pretend to be, for the further enlightenment of Theophilus as to matters he knew in part, the natural view is the rational one, namely, that they were not written widely apart nor either of them later than the decade A. D. 60-70.



The most marked and perhaps important group of phenomena in the Acts is connected with the personality and operations of the Holy Spirit; indeed, the book has sometimes most aptly been called the Acts of the Holy Spirit.


1. Dominant in the Teachings of the Saviour Acts I, 2.
2. Promised by the Saviour to His Followers Acts I, 5.
3. Poured Forth upon Them at Pentecost Acts II, 4.
4. As Promised in the Prophet Joel Acts II, 17.
5. Manifest in Peter’s Address to the High Priest Acts IV, 8.
6. Poured Forth Anew in Answer to Prayer Acts IV, 31.
7. Grieved, by Ananias Acts V, 3.
8. Grieved by Sapphira Acts V, 9.
9. A Prime Qualification for the Diaconate Acts VI, 3.
10. Fully Manifest in the Character of Stephen Acts VI, 5.
11. Rejected of that Generation Acts VII, 51.
12. Shining Forth in Stephen’s Death Acts VII, 55.
13. Prayed for by the Apostles at Samaria Acts VIII, 15.
14. Given, in Answer, to the Samaritans Acts VIII, 17.
15. Earnestly Coveted by Simon Magus Acts VIII, 18.
16. Attempted Purchase by Simon Magus Acts VIII, 19
17. Given to Saul at Damascus. Acts IX, 17.
18. Poured Out Anew on the Churches of Judea, Galilee and Samarian Acts IX, 31.
19. Referred to as Anointing Jesus with Power Acts X, 38.
20. Poured Forth on Cornelius and His Family Acts X, 44.
21. Witnessed with Astonishment by Jews present Acts X, 45.
22. Made Sufficient Ground for Baptism Acts X, 47.
23. Peter’s Warrant for the Visit to Cornelius Acts XI, 12.
24. Peter’s Account of His Outpouring There Acts XI, 15.
25. Given in Fulfillment of Christ’s Promise Acts XI, 16.
26. Barnabas a Man “Full of the Holy Spirit” Acts XI, 24.
27. Agabus “Instructed by the Holy Spirit” Acts XI, 28.
28. Dictates Election of the First Missionaries Acts XIII, 2.
29. Sends Them to Seleucia and Cyprus Acts XIII, 4.
30. Dictates Paul’s Rebuke to Elymas Acts XIII, 9.
31. Fills the Believers at Antioch of Pisidia Acts XIII, 52.
32. Peter’s Witness to His Bestowal at Caesarea Acts XV, 8.
33. The Council’s Conclusion Inspired by Him Acts XV, 28.
34. Forbids Paul’s Preaching in Province Asia Acts XVI, 6.
35. Forbids Paul’s Preaching in Bithynia Acts XVI, 7.
36. His Acceptance Necessary on Believing Acts XIX, 2.
37. Not Included in John’s Baptism Acts XIX, 2.
38. Poured Out upon the Twelve at Ephesus Acts XIX, 6.
39. The Compelling Motive in Paul’s Life Acts XX, 22.
40. The Enlightening Guide in Paul’s Life Acts XX, 23.
41. The Ground of Christian Stewardship Acts XX, 28.
42. The Inspirer of Agabus’s Prophecy Acts XXI, 11.
43. The Basis of Isaiah’s Prophecy Acts XXVIII, 25.



In keeping with the method of the Master, all the great teachers of the New Way make much use of the Old Testament. Eleven different books are referred to in Acts, the Pentateuch, Psalms, and Isaiah having most prominent place. Paul’s use of Aratus or Cleanthes in Athens (chapter xvii, 28) is, of course, noteworthy, as is also his reference to an otherwise unknown saying of Jesus (chapter xx, 35). Note also that Stephen quotes from seven books in his single address, aggregating forty separate references.

1. Peter. Psa. LXIX, 25. I, 20.
2. Peter. Psa. CIX, 8. I, 20.
3. Peter. Joel II, 28-32. II, 17-21.
4. Peter. Psa. XVI, 8-11. II, 25-28.
5. Peter. Psa. CXXXII, 11. II, 30.
6. Peter. Psa. CX, 1. II, 34-35
7. Peter. Deut. XVIII, 15-19. III, 23.
8. Peter. Lev. XXIII, 29. III, 23.
9. Peter. Gen. XII, 3, and XXII, 18. III, 25.
10. Peter. Psa. CXVIII, 22. IV, 11.
11. Ancient Hymn. Psa. II, 1-2. IV, 25-26.
12. Stephen. Gen. XII, 1. VII, 3.
13. Stephen. Deut. II, 5. VII, 5.
14. Stephen. Gen. XVII, 8. VII, 5.
15. Stephen. Gen. XV, 13-14 VI, 7.
16. Stephen. Exod. III, 12. VII, 7.
17. Stephen. Gen. XVII, 10. VII, 8.
18. Stephen. Gen. XXI, 4. VII, 8.
19. Stephen. Gen. XXXVIII, 11, 28. VII, 9.
20. Stephen. Gen. XXXIX, 2, 21. VII, 9.
21. Stephen. Gen. XLI, 37, 40, 43. 55 VII, 10,
22. Stephen. Psa. CV, 21 VII, 10.
23. Stephen. Psa. XLI, 54. VII, 11.
24. Stephen. Gen. XLII, 1. VII, 12.
25. Stephen. Gen. XLV, 4. VII, 13.
26. Stephen. Gen. XLV, 9. VII, 14.
27. Stephen. Gen. XLVI, 5, 27. VII, 15.
28. Stephen. Gen. XLIX, 53, VII, 15.
29. Stephen. Exod. I, 6. VII, 15.
30. Stephen. Gen. L, 13. VII, 16.
31. Stephen. Josh. XXIV, 32. VII, 16.
32. Stephen. Exod. I, 7-8. VII, 18.
33. Stephen. Exod. I, 10, 22. VII, 19.
34. Stephen. Exod. II, 2. VII, 20.
35. Stephen. Exod. II, 5, 10. VII, 21.
36. Stephen. Exod. II, 11-15. VII, 29.
37. Stephen. Exod. III, 10. VII, 34.
38. Stephen. Deut. XVIII, 15, 18. VII, 37.
39. Stephen. Exod. XXXII, 1-8. VII, 40.
40. Stephen. Amos V, 25-27. VII, 43.
41. Stephen. Isa, LXVI, 1-2. VII, 47.
42. Philip. Isa, LIII, 7-8. VII, 32-33.
43. Paul. 1 Sam. XVI, 1, 12. XIII, 22.
44. Paul. (Comp. John I, 20 and Mark I, 7) XIII, 25.
45. Paul. Psa. II, 7. XII, 33.
46. Paul. Isa. LV, 3. XIII, 34.
47. Paul. Psa. XVI, 10. XIII, 36.
48. Paul. Hab. I, 5. XIII, 41.
49. Paul. Isa. XLIX, 6. XIII, 47.
50. James. Amos IX, 11-12. XV, 16-18.
51. Paul. Exod. XXII, 28. XXIII, 5.
52. Paul. Isa. VI, 9-10. XXVIII, 26-27.



The Acts is fuller of varied and formal sermons, public speeches, apologies, and appeals than any other New Testament book. The facilities for record and preservation in the first century, as now known, better explain their internal peculiarities than the usual theory of their total construction by Luke. The Scripture-filled sermons by Peter, the unanswerable defense by Stephen, the longest discourse of all, and the matchless addresses by Paul are alone enough to make the Acts immortal.

1, Of Jesus; at His Ascension Acts I, 4-8.
2. Of Peter, at the Election of Matthias Acts I, 16-22.
3. Of Peter at Pentecost Acts II, 14-36.
4. Of Peter, in Reply to the Inquiry. “What shall we do?” Acts II, 38-40.
5. Of Peter, at the Beautiful Gate in the Temple Acts III, 12-26.
6. Of Peter, Before the Sanhedrin Acts IV, 8-12.
7. Of Gamaliel, Before the Sanhedrin Acts V, 35-39.
8. Of Stephen, Before the Sanhedrin Acts VII, 2-53.
9. Of Peter, at the House of Cornelius Acts X, 34-43.
10. Of Peter, on Circumcision, in the Council of Elders Acts XI, 4-17.
11. Of Paul, at Antioch of Pisidia (First Great Address) Acts XIII, 16-41.
12. Of Peter, at the Council in Jerusalem Acts XV, 7-11.
13. Of James, as President of the Council Acts XV, 13-21.
14. Of Paul, Before the Areopagus at Athens Acts XVII, 22-31.
15. Of Demetrius, to the Silversmiths and Artisans Acts XIX, 25-27.
16. Of the City Recorder of Ephesus Acts XIX, 35-40.
17. Of Paul, to the Ephesian Elders at Miletus Acts XX, 18-35.
18. Of Paul, at Jerusalem, on the Stairs of Antonia Acts XXII, 1-21.
19. Of Paul, Before the Court of the Tribune Acts XXIII, 1-8.
20. Of Paul, Before Felix at Caesarea Acts XXIV, 10-21.
21. Of Paul, Before Festus at Caesarea (Appeal to Caesar) Acts XXV, 8-11.
22. Of Paul, Before King Agrippa and His Court Acts XXVI, 2-29.
23. Of Paul, Before the Jewish Elders at Rome Acts XXVIII, 17-20.
24. Of Paul, to the Roman Populace Acts XXVIII, 23-28.



Another unique feature of the book is its narrative of travels. These again show a cosmopolitan interest and breadth truly remarkable. Despite all the ingenuity of the moderns, not a single error has been established as against Luke’s extraordinary knowledge of life in every corner of the empire.

1. Of the Witnesses to the Ascension, from Jerusalem to Bethany Acts I, 12.
2. Of Those Scattered Abroad on the First Great Persecution Acts VIII, 1, & IX, 19.
3. Of Peter and John to Samaria Acts VIII, 14.
4. Of Philip to Gaza, Azotus, and Caesarea Acts VIII, 26-27.
5. Of Saul and His Company to Damascus Acts IX, 1-9.
6. Return from Damascus to Jerusalem Acts IX, 23-26.
7. From Jerusalem via Caesarea to Tarsus Acts IX, 30.
8. Journey of Peter to Joppa via Lydda and Sharon Acts IX, 32-39.
9. Of Peter from Joppa to Caesarea Acts X, 23.
10. Peter’s Return from Caesarea to Joppa and Jerusalem Acts XI, 2.
11. Journey of Barnabas from Jerusalem to Antioch Acts XI, 22.
12. Of Barnabas from Antioch to Tarsus and Return Acts XI, 25.
13. Of Agabus and the Prophets from Jerusalem to Antioch Acts XI, 27.
14. Of Peter in Hiding from Herod Agrippa I Acts XII, 17.
15. Of Herod from Jerusalem to Caesarea Acts XII, 19.
16. Of Paul and Barnabas through Cyprus and Asia Minor. First Missionary Tour Acts XIII, 4-14.
17. Their Return Journey to Antioch Acts XIV, 24-28.
18. Journey of “Certain Persons” from Judea to Antioch Acts XV, 1.
19. Of Paul and Barnabas from Antioch to Jerusalem Acts XV, 2-5.
20. Return of Paul and Barnabas with Judas and Silas to Antioch Acts XV, 25-30.
21. Journey of Barnabas and Mark from Antioch to Cyprus Acts XV, 39.
22. Of Paul and Silas from Antioch to Corinth and Return. Second Missionary Tour Acts XV, 40, to XVI, 22.
23. Of Paul and Silas from Antioch to Illyricum and Return to Jerusalem. Third Missionary Tour Acts XVIII, 23, to XXI, 17.
24. Paul’s Night Ride from Jerusalem to Caesarea Acts XXIII, 31-33.
25. Journey of Ananias, Tertullus, and Their Party to Caesarea Acts XXIV, 1.
26. Of Festus from Cęsarea to Jerusalem and Return Acts XXV, 1-6.
27. Of Agrippa and His Party from Caesarea Philippi to Caesarea Palestine Acts XXV, 13.
28. Of Paul and His Party from Cęsarea to Malta Acts XXVII, 1-44.
29. Of Paul and His Party from Malta to Rome Acts XXVIII, 11-16.