For Acts, I switched to recap posts, rather than chapter by chapter.
I completed the book of Acts during the month of January. I am continually amazed at how stories slow down and speed up in the Bible. Here’s what I mean by that:
The book starts slowly. The way I understand it, chapter 1 through the end of chapter 7 barely cover a year, if that. It’s all about the disciples gathering, praying, selecting a replacement for Judas, and the Holy Spirit coming down. Peter preaches a few sermons. The number of people who place their trust in Jesus is growing day by day. Stephen preaches, but then is killed. And by that point, we’re at the end of chapter 7.
Chapters 8 through 12 are a bit of a middle ground, where we hear of the persecution of the new converts, Philip’s witness and tele-porting(?!), then of Saul’s miraculous conversion. We hear of some new developments in the church and the imprisonment of Peter. All kinds of fascinating things are happening, as the Gospel starts to expand outside of Jerusalem. But now the time is accelerating. This section covers more time than the previous 7 chapters.
By this point, things really start to speed up. From chapter 13 through the middle of chapter 21, we’re looking at decades of Saul’s (turned Paul’s) ministry. He travels to city after city, region after region, thousands of miles all along the Mediterranean coasts. It’s mind-boggling how many places he went and how many people he witnessed to during those years. He was beaten many times, chased out of town, persecuted, shipwrecked, etc. But he stuck with it, never ceasing to provide love, encouragement, Gospel-preaching, and correction to everyone who followed “the Way” and called themselves a Christian.
All of the sudden, the book slows down again. From the middle of chapter 21 to the middle of chapter 28, we barely cover 3 years, mostly full of Paul’s discourses. We hear long accounts of radical Jews bringing accusations against Paul. We hear Paul’s lengthy defenses. We hear how he went from one ruler, to another, to another as he sought to defend himself in the courts. I can’t help but feel sorry for Paul. Just like Joseph in Genesis, he’s left to sit and rot in prison. A man of tremendous accomplishment, with much more potential and talent to reach the masses, is sitting still in shackles.
As we close out the book of Acts, we see the second half of chapter 28 speed up again. Just a few verses cover at least 2 years.
To recap this (roughly speaking):
- 7 Chapters (1-7): one year
- 4 Chapters (8-12): five to ten years
- 8 Chapters (13-21): ten to twenty years
- 6 Chapters (22-28): three years
- Half chapter (28): two or three years
You get a single discourse that can take up two chapters of text; then you get a single sentence that says someone stayed in such and such place for three months, or for two years, or for another two years, etc. It’s mind-bending. What else happened, what else was said, what other decisions were made during those times.
In the next post, I’ll cover some of my biggest takeaways from the book of Acts.
^Quick Disclaimer: I didn’t do a full-fledged scholarly study to gather this information. This is just what I could surmise from a quick and simple overview of the book as I was reading it throughout January. If there are any inaccuracies in what is written above, it is entirely my fault. I’m simply trying to show how the speed of the book changes section by section.