Go Deeper


The following comments are designed to help you better understand the passage and stimulate your thinking on the implications of the scripture.

The book of Acts is filled with a variety of rich and beautiful theological themes. But the most central theme in the book of Acts is what is called the missio Dei, a Latin theological term that is translated as the “mission of God.” This should not surprise us, since the mission of God is not only the central theme of the book of Acts, but also of the whole Bible itself. As Dr. Christopher Wright notes:

The Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation. The Bible is the drama of this God of purpose engaged in the mission of achieving that purpose universally, embracing past, present and future, Israel and the nations,’life, the universe, everything,’ and with its center, focus, climax, and completion in Jesus Christ. Mission is not just one of a list of things that the Bible happens to talk about, only a bit more urgent than some. Mission is, in that much-abused phrase, “what it’s all about.” (Wright, The Mission of God, 22)

The Beginning

To understand God’s mission, let alone the breathtaking beauty of Acts, one must return to the very beginning. In Genesis 1, God sets out on a mission to create a people for his glory. God’s original design was for humanity to live in peace and joy in the presence of God. Devastatingly, the story goes awry in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve choose to reject God, both as a good Father and the Divine Creator, choosing instead to become their own gods and pursue pleasure in their own way. Genesis 3 ends with God kicking Adam and Eve out of his presence while also making them a hope-filled promise that he would send his Son to right their wrong, cover their shame and guilt, and bring them back to himself. This first announcement of the gospel in Genesis 3:15, referred to by theologians as the “Protoevangelium,” sets in motion the events of the rest of the entire Bible. God goes on mission to bring his people back into his presence for his glory.

God moves forward with his mission in Genesis 12 by taking a moon-worshipping pagan named Abraham and lavishing his love and blessing on him and his family. Eventually, God blesses Abraham to the point that his posterity turns into a nation of people called the Israelites, the special people of God. But from day one, God’s desire was not simply to rescue and redeem a small group of people from one nation in one place. Repeatedly, God communicates his heart for the nations scattered across the globe (Genesis 22:18, Psalm 22:27, Psalm 46:10, Isaiah 11:12, Isaiah 42:6, Malachi 1:11). The story of the Old Testament is ultimately God moving forward with his mission by redeeming the people of Israel so that they might be a light for the surrounding nations.

The New Testament

The New Testament opens with the coming of Jesus into the world. God himself as Christ steps into human history and becomes a man to rescue and redeem people from every nation, language, and culture. Jesus does this by living a perfect life, dying on a cross, and rising from the dead - all in our place. On the cross, Jesus bore our sin, shame, and guilt, and through his resurrection, Jesus lovingly gives us his perfect righteousness. Jesus came to fix what was broken at the Fall. Jesus came to bring his people back to his presence.

Into Acts

We finally arrive at the book of Acts. The resurrected Jesus calls his disciples to join in on the missio Dei by becoming witnesses of his finished work. Jesus ascends into heaven and eventually pours out the Holy Spirit in a powerful way, thrusting his disciples into God’s mission of redemption. Redemption, in the words of Tim Keller:

"…is much more than simply saving souls. It will ultimately entail the complete healing of creation, including social justice, the reunification of all humanity, and the end of physical decay and death (Isa. 11:1-10). But even now it means bringing the health and coherence of Christ’s lordship back into every aspect of human life. The Christian church is to be a new society in which the world can see exhibited what family, business practices, race relations, and all of life can be under the kingship of Jesus Christ." - (Keller, “The Church’s Call to Steward God’s Mission in the World”)

This mission that began in Genesis powers forward in dramatic ways in Acts. And this is the mission that God has given us to carry out until his return. Record any insights from this deeper study...