TIME FACTORS IN ACTS
September 9, 1975
Acts Chapter 1
Look at the title of the book. In your Bible it is called “The Acts of the Apostles.” Originally it just
had one or two words or one word really, because the article “the” is like the indefinite article “a” —
basically are not in the old Estrangelo text. Therefore, it was just called “Acts,” and shortly after this
it was called “Acts of the Holy Spirit.” By the time they got to translating it and getting a title on it
they called it “The Acts of the Apostles.” It is really not the Acts of the Apostles technically. It is
really the outreach of the ministry of two men, Peter and Paul. Other men come on the scene very
briefly and very shortly, but the whole thing is woven around basically two men, the ministry that
started in Jerusalem under Peter and the ministry that extended out to the Gentiles under Paul. The
first twelve chapters deal with Peter and Chapter 13 and following deal with Paul.
The book of Acts is the fulcrum, the pivotal point, between the Old Testament and the New
Testament. The gospels close up the Old Testament. Jesus Christ came as a minister to the
circumcision. When the Word says in John that God came unto His own and that He sent His son to
His own, who are His own? Israel. It is a great truth of God’s Word when you understand that the
gospels finish out the law. Everything Jesus Christ did he did to fulfill those laws. That’s why
Galatians says that Christ is the end of the law. A great portion of the book of Acts is knowledgeable
to some of you because of the classes you have taken, but I’m believing that with the type of work
we are going to do it will set itself even greater than before. I want you to acquire an in-depth
spiritual perception and awareness of the book of Acts and an awareness of the greatness of that
Word and how it really fits. You can take any major piece of work that God has given in the Word
and if you really work it with a minute accuracy, by the time you finish it you will have garnered the
principles that then can be utilized in every other book in every other walk in your life where you are
walking and developing that spiritual depth and awareness. It’s a walk, kids. It’s not something you
learn overnight; the new birth is something that happens like that. It’s like the first birth when you
were delivered or brought forth. The new birth is an instantaneous thing, but the growing up is in
many respects like growing up physically. Spiritual awareness and real sharp perception does not
happen overnight. It’s a growth in your walk, your knowledge of the Word and your overall practice
of the principles of the greatness of God’s Word.
Acts is the fulcrum. You get a big enough fulcrum and a long enough lever and you can move
anything. I would say that the fulcrum is fantastic. These are the acts of the Holy Spirit. It has the
truth regarding the rise and expansion of the Christian church. You all learned in the Foundational
and Advanced Class that the greatness of what God gave on the day of Pentecost was already there
but He couldn’t explain it or make it known to Peter because Peter was not big enough to receive it.
It wasn’t that God was not big enough. It was just that Peter couldn’t receive it. God gave everything
that was available on the day of Pentecost, but Peter could not receive the revelation so that he could
teach the greatness of it because Peter was not big enough. If you are a five gallon jug you can’t put
ten gallons in at one time. So even though Peter was God’s man and the one who received the
greatness of it in the opening part and really moved with it along with John and some of the other
men, it took time until Paul came along to set the greatness of the revelation that we are going to see
the background of in the book of Acts.
When we work the book of Acts you will see the historical background of the other epistles. So with
your knowledge of the book of Acts, as we go through our year together and go through it line by
line and word by word, you will lay for yourself your fulcrum right. Then as you develop yourself in
your knowledge of Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, you will have a long lever and then
you can move anything. The reason we are doing Acts this year again is because we lost it originally.
We don’t have any tapes left from the teachings of the first time, so I felt spiritually that we must lay
this foundation again and have it available to our people.
A great deal of Acts occurred in Palestine and with the missionary journeys it moved out to Rome
and the other places you will be reading about. I think you ought to know the six different names that
are used in Biblical times for Palestine. (If you have an opportunity read a book on the geography or
the topography of the Holy Land.)
1. Canaan - Genesis 16:3; 17:8 (Along with this sometime you will find it very profitable in
your understanding to read the first four chapters of I Chronicles.)
2. Israel - II Kings 5:2 - From the time Israel captured the land in their conquest until the
Babylonian captivity it was called Israel.
3. Judaea or Judah - Nehemiah 5:14; Mark 1:5 - After the Babylonian captivity it was called
4. Palestine - As far as I know there is not the name “Palestine” in the Bible and yet it was
called the land of Palestine since before the days of Christ. The word “Palestine” comes from
the word, “Philistia,” because the Philistines occupied very much of the area. Because these
people controlled so much of the land they called it Palestine.
5. Land or Promise - Hebrews 11:9 - The reason it’s called the Land of Promise is because
God promised it to them and God gave it to them.
6. The Holy Land - Zechariah 2:12
Today it’s called Israel, but the period of times that are covered in the Bible refer to it as the above
Most Biblical scholars agree that the year of the crucifixion was A.D. 29. The period of the book of
Acts covers four Roman emperors, Tiberius (the emperor of Rome), Gaius, Claudius and Nero. There
is no definite date in either the Bible or in sacred literature or history or in secular history to pinpoint
basically what day the book of Acts started and terminated. It opened in a period when Tiberius was
the emperor and it closed in the period when Nero burned the city and was emperor.
There is a point in Acts 12:20-23 that we can document and give historical facts on. Herod died
during a festival that he gave for Claudius (who had been to Britain and returned to Rome) and this
occurred in A.D. 44. The festival was held at Caesarea which was the Roman capital of Palestine and
that’s where Herod died in A. D. 44. He was 54 years old when he died.
You might want to note these facts when you put all of this together. Gaius ascended to the throne on
March 16, 37 A.D. He was murdered on January 24, 41 A.D. Then when Claudius was emperor
Herod was made king over all Judaea, and the word “all” becomes very important. You see, when it
said “all Judaea” that included the area of Samaria and the other provinces involved. History also
tells us that Herod Agrippa died in the seventh year of his reign, which was soon after the completion
of his third year as king over “all” Judaea. He was 54 years when he died. Gaius ascended to the
throne on March 16, 37 A.D. You add 7 to 37 and you get 44 A.D. You take the 3 years when he was
king over all Judaea and Claudius came on the scene in 41 A.D. and you add 3 to that and you get 44
A.D. So you tie these together and we know the dating of the twelfth chapter. So the year of the
crucifixion, A.D. 29, is where the book of Acts begins and up to the twelfth chapter will take us to 44
A.D. Now it’s much more difficult to work the last part of Acts to find out its termination point than
the twelfth chapter. The best way I know to get to this is to give you some historical facts and then
finally work this out for yourself to the best of your ability.
July 19, 64 A.D. was the great fire of Rome.
Paul was arrested at Jerusalem and was sent to Caesarea (Acts 23:33). He was prisoner in Caesarea
for two years by Felix. Felix was the procurator at this time of Judaea. To the best of my ability of
working this historically there is a variation of two years as to just when he was the procurator there.
One man gives it as A.D. 51, another as A.D. 52 and another as A.D. 53.
Felix had not just become the procurator for he had been the procurator for many years.
“great quietness” - At this time when Paul was brought before Felix there was quietness and that
becomes very significant when you try to document the last chapter of Acts. It’s from the crucifixion,
29 A.D. Chapter 12 is 44 A.D., but what about the end? This great quietness that occurred happened
after the record of Acts 21:38 where they mistook Paul for that Egyptian, that false prophet. This
Egyptian was the leader of about 30,000 fanatical Jews who moved out and went across the Cedron
and up in the mountains and just waited for Jerusalem to fall.
The word “murderers” here is sort of interesting. The word is not at all what it is when we talk of
releasing a murderer.
“Murderer” - Sikarion
The plural is sicarii. That word in the Word is really significant because the Sikari were men who
boldly just murdered people in broad daylight and these groups did not start until the reign of Nero,
which started on October 13, 54A.D. He was captured and sent to Rome in 57 A.D. So that’s the
latest date we can have because there was quietness in the land. You may want to note that Felix
before whom Paul appeared was recalled to Rome in 61 A.D. He was recalled because of the
accusations that the Jews had lain against him; that he had misruled.
When Felix returned to Rome Festus became the procurator. Nero’s wife was married to Festus in 62
A.D. This becomes interesting when you tie this together with the burning of Rome and the
persecution of the Christians.
“the captain of the guard” in the text reads - the prefect of the Praetorian Guard. The Greek word is to
stratopedarche. It says the “prefect” whereas the King James Version says the “captain.” But it
technically is perfect. Not plural - and that is real significant because the man by the name of
Burrhus, according to history, held this office singularly in Rome until February of 62 A. D. Then
after that there were two prefects, so when Paul arrived in Rome there was only one, so it had to be
before February of 62 A. D. You just get amazed at Acts when you really work this thing because the
writer of the book of Acts is Luke.
“from the very first” - onothen - from above
“perfect” - “divine
The centurion, according to Acts 28:16, delivered the prisoners to the captain. Had it been after
February of 62 A.D. it would have had to say the “captains” - plural. You talk about the accuracy of
God’s Word — it’s not a book of history but when it speaks historically it is always accurate. So we
know the latest he could have gotten to Rome was February, 62 A.D. He could have gotten there
earlier but not later. That we know.
Acts 28:1, 7-12
The sea was not opened for navigation until after February, so if the prefect of the Praetorian Guard
was singular until February, 62. A.D. and Paul had wintered at Malta and could not leave until
February because the sea would not be navigable; therefore, 61 A.D. would be the latest date. Do you
That’s the Feast of Tabernacle which was September 24. So that date in verse 8 has to be after
September 24. The two finest scholars I know disagree on this date, so I’ll give you both. Harnet says
that this was the year 56 A. D. when the embarkation date for Rome was. Turner says 58 A.D. We
know he was in jail for three years, so if you add three to 56 you get 59, and if you add three to 58
you get 61. When did Nero take over? October 13, 54 A.D. When was the city burned? 64 A.D. So if
Paul got out in 59 A.D. or even in 61 A.D. that would give him enough time that he could revisit all
of the churches mentioned in Acts and it would allow for time for writing Hebrews, I & II Timothy
and Titus, which were written after his Roman imprisonment. The latest date for the ending of Acts
would be 61 A.D. (I go with the early date if I have a choice.) The persecution of the Christians
started under Nero; therefore, sometime between 59 and 64 with the burning of Rome Paul lost his
life. Therefore, the latest you could go for the ending of Acts would be 64 A. D. The earliest I think
you can go is 60 or 61 A. D., allowing for the time for Paul to revisit the cities and to send off
Hebrews, I&II Timothy and Titus. Well, that’s where I think Acts ends. Acts begins in 29 A.D. and
ends in 62, 63 or 64 A.D. (not later than 64 A.D.).
This was in Corinth in the territory of Achaia. Remember in Acts 18:26 Aquila and Priscilla took
Apollos and showed him more perfectly in the way of the Lord. Where did these two people get such
great knowledge? They had been with Paul at Corinth for 1 1/2 years.
Claudius ruled from 41-54 A.D. The historical document is that the orders were given in A.D. 52 that
every Jew had to leave Rome. And if they left Rome in 52 A.D. and they just lately came to Rome
and Paul spent a year and six months (verse 11) let’s say they got there by February in 52 A.D., then
it would have been August, 53A.D. when Paul left Corinth. That is documented.
Acts 18:12, 17-18
In verse 12 “deputy” - proconsul
In verse 18 “a good while” - literally is - certain days
You see, when they had proconsuls they were not like an imperial province. They were just like a
little town. This area of Achaia came from the proconsul under Augustus and became an imperial
province under Tiberius. Then it was changed back to proconsul by Claudius in A.D. 44. Then finally
under Nero it was made free. Gallio’s brother is a very famous man in history, Sinica, who was the
leader of the Stoics. Having founded this philosophical group and not being in agreement with a lot
of the leadership, he was banished from the empire. But he was recalled according to history in 49 A.
D. Gallio was recalled to Rome to appear before the emperor for his misdeeds and his brother
interceded for him and his brother was recalled in 49 A.D. Therefore, he could not have interceded
before this and the records say that Gallio was not in Achaia in A. D. 54. If this is true, which it is
historically, then A.D. 53 is the latest date that Paul could have been brought before Gallio in
Chapter 18. If you take 54 A. D. when Gallio was not in Achaia and date it back 1 1/2 years, this will
bring you to 52 A. D. which is that year when Aquila and Priscilla had been thrown out of Rome and
came to Corinth and Paul ministered to them for 1 1/2 years.
When Paul left Corinth he sailed to Syria and then went to Jerusalem. That would be the Feast of the
Tabernacle, September 16 in the year of AD. 53, documenting Acts 18:21. And he then moved on
from Antioch to Galatia and Phrygia and that will bring you to the spring of A. D. 54.
Acts 19:1 and Acts 20:31 are covered during that time during those three years that Paul was in
Ephesus. Remember Acts 19:1 Paul came to Ephesus and in Acts 20:31 it brings you to that A.D. 54
There are two other records in Corinth that I would like to set for you tonight.
II Corinthians 11:32
Tiberius was the king from 34-40 A.D. This record here I believe, according to history occurred
where Tiberius assigned Aretas in 37 A. D. So that’s when they tried to apprehend him.
Claudius ruled from 41-54 A.D. Josephus tells us that the famine began in the year of Herod’s death,
which was 44 A. D., so that is documented as 44 A.D.
Acts begins at 29A.D.
Acts Chapter 12 is 44A.D.
Then you get to 61 A.D. - before 64 A.D. closes the book of Acts.
In Acts Chapter 1 “the former treatise” is the book of Luke. A treatise is somewhat longer than an
Luke Chapter 1 - The top of the Bible says “The Gospel According to St. Luke.”
In verse 3 “in order” - explains why Acts is historically accurate.
This is also the background of Acts — that you might know and that you might know in order. If I
were going to put a title on this I would put “The Treatise According to Luke” because in Acts it says
“the former treatise.”
“Theophilus” - beloved of God
Perhaps the criticism of the Christians was the reason they used the word “Theophilus.” That was so
everyone who read it would know that it wasn’t a man but that it was addressed to beloved of God. In
the catacombs and other places you will see carved into the stones things like a fish and other signs
because you couldn’t walk up to anyone in those days when people were beginning to take a crack at
the Christians and say, “Look, are you a Christian?” because by that time someone would cut your
ears off. Every time there is a persecution and fear, people clam up and won’t talk. The early
Christians changed their symbols monthly. They did this to keep the Word moving, not because they
were afraid of losing their own lives.
“until the day” - ascension
So the gospel of Luke has to take us all the way through the ascension.
Luke is never mentioned in his gospel or in Acts as the writer of it.
Luke is mentioned in the following places: Colossians 4:14; II Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24
When you read about Luke, the beloved physician, don’t see him in white gloves doing surgery, etc.
The beloved physician means, I believe, the natural organic things that were available for healing.
There are four sections in Acts called the “we” sections. In those sections Luke was with Paul. These
sections are as follows: