The Acts of the Apostles is unique. The Gospel readings give an account of what Jesus did during his life and after the resurrection. The letters from Paul, Peter, Jude, and John are letters to the various communities. They give advice on how to live as Christians and they give some corrections for the people. The Acts of the Apostles give an account of what the apostles did after Jesus ascended into heaven. It may have advice and corrections, but the point of the book is to give an account of the actions the apostles took.
It becomes a window into which you can see how the early Christians lived, what they believed, and how they acted on that belief. You get to see the early Catholic Church and how the apostles lived out their authority. To catch what happened in the initial birth of the Church, they back up the truck to the ascension of Jesus into heaven. So, the ascension into heaven is not in the gospels, but rather, in the acts of the Apostles. This may throw some people off who are just beginning to get to know the Bible. Right after this event, they realized that “The Twelve” are broken up because of Judas’ suicide. They need one more to make things right; they need twelve. Why twelve? It goes back to the twelve tribes of Israel that make up the Kingdom of God. The Jewish people are God’s people making up God’s kingdom. They all come from the twelve tribes, so there must be twelve apostles that replace the twelve tribes. The book of revelation reiterates this idea (Rev 4:4). Revelations mentions the twenty-four elders who we consider to be the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles. This shows that the apostles understand that they are the foundation that Jesus is building His Church upon. Even how they act after Pentecost shows their comfort in displaying their authority when they could be killed for being recognized as members of such a different religion.
Chapter Two starts with Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes down upon the twelve and Mary, and establishes their authority in an official manner. The Holy Spirit gives His seal on the apostles and they go out and immediately face opposition for bringing the good news that the Kingdom of God has truly come upon us. They produce miracles with the authority that Jesus gave to them and told them they would be able to do (Jn 14:12 & Acts 1:8). Their authority in the Church is real and manifests itself. They showed the same authority that Jesus Himself had. The shadow of Peter would fall upon people as he passed by and they were healed (Acts 5:15-16). What seems to some people today to be superstition, was God’s way of healing. There was a radical shift in the peoples’ understanding of God’s goodness and the discovery of His immense grace.
The people of that time who got to encounter the apostles, encountered Jesus Himself. They had an experience of His grace and He chose the apostles as a means of His grace for others. This was their vocation, and they were driven to bring that grace to others. God supplied what was lacking in their souls. Their encounter with God’s grace transformed them. They brought that transformation to the people Jesus loves so much. Jesus wants this grace for you, too. Have you made your decision to follow such grace and allow Him to change your life?