One of the key themes of Acts is the unstoppable spread of the Gospel. Throughout the book, we will see potential barriers to its spread rise up, only to be overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit. This trend begins in chapter 2, with the story of Pentecost. The apostles are confronted with an obstacle - a crowd filled with people from more than a dozen nations and provinces, each with its own language. The Holy Spirit provides an answer by giving the apostles the ability to “speak in tongues” - that is, to speak in a language their audience could understand.
This, in turn, allows one of Acts’ other themes to emerge - impassioned speeches. Between one-third and one-half of Acts is composed of speeches, mostly delivered by Peter and Paul. These speeches frequently harken back to the Old Testament - reminding the audience both then and now that this Kingdom which is spreading throughout the world is not new, but rather a fulfillment of the work that God has been accomplishing throughout history.
In the aftermath of the speech, thousands are converted, and we see our first glimpse of the Kingdom lived out as Christians live in harmony with one another, sharing what they have and rejoicing in the new life that they have together.
As we read about the emergence of the church, we should remember that this is not merely a historical fact to remember, but something that we can and should aspire to. This joyous fellowship of men and women committed to God’s purpose is still available to us today. Just as we continue the mission of these first believers, we can also share in its rewards.