Special Study: Preaching in the Book of Acts

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. What power their preaching had. It cut men to the heart. Does yours? How has preaching changed since the times of the book of Acts? How often are hearts pricked by the Word during the preaching in your congregation? What were the sermons preached by the apostles like?


You're sitting in church listening to another inadequate sermon on a subject that deserves so much more. If you are frustrated to a mind numbing level, how must the visitor feel? Is this the way god intended for our teaching and preaching to be done in his church? Does this level of teaching represent our best effort?

The bible is its own best instruction manual. As with so many other subjects, there is no better way to learn to preach effectively than to use the sermons from the bible as a textbook on how it should be done.

Following are fifteen sermons from the book of acts and a short analysis of each. The preaching in the book of acts had a large impact. It was this preaching that converted the world to Christianity. Those who heard it were either stirred to obey or enraged to persecute. What was the impact of the last sermon you preached.

Sermon At The Establishment Of The Church Acts 2:14-40

"But Peter, standing up(took the initiative) with the eleven, raised his voice (spoke loudly enough to be heard) and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. "For these are not drunk, as you suppose (had an understanding of the listeners and used their level of knowledge and understanding as a starting place), since it is only the third hour of the day. "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: (immediately went to the scriptures as a source for his own validity and authority) Joel And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' Men of Israel, hear these words: (an imperative statement to demand their attention. An attention getter) Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know--(gave them credit for what they knew and once again used their current level of knowledge as a starting point. This shows that Peter knew his audience quite well) Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; (without hesitation he accuses them of the sin that they are guilty of) whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. (at every turn he keeps the focus on Jesus and what He did especially His resurrection) For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. (with this new assertion he finds his authority in the scriptures) Ps 16:8-11Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in Your presence. 'Men and brethren, (attention getter) let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.(he sites evidence that was available to them) Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke (continues citing the scriptures as his authority) concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. (again gives them credit for what they know) Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. (tied back into the event that brought them all together) For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Ps 110:1 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." (began with what they knew and ended with Christ) Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (the things Peter had to say obviously were convincing to these people many of whom had just a few days earlier had been shouting, "crucify him".) Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." (answering a question is one of the most important thing a gospel preacher can ever do. His answer was short and to the point and answered their question with exactly the information they needed.) And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."

Sermon After The Healing Of The Lame Man: Acts 3:12-26

"So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?(had an understanding of the listeners and used their level of knowledge and understanding as a starting place), The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.(without hesitation he accuses them of the sin that they are guilty of) And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.(gives credit and authority to Jesus for the man being healed and in so doing also ascribes to Jesus Prince of Life and Just) Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers.(he gave them a way to save face but nevertheless did not abdicate them from their responsibility) But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.(uses the scriptures for his authority) (There are many times that the speakers attribute something to the "prophets". We will call these generic references) Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,(this is a call for action within the body of his sermon, something we don't do enough of) and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. Generic For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. Deut 18:15-19 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.' Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.(using the scriptures he tries to create fear in the hearts of the listeners about the end of time.) You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'(he gives them credit for who and what they are using that to try to move them to action) Gen. 12:3 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities."(his sermon was cut short by the guards who took them captive. I wish I could have heard the rest of it)

Sermon Before The Council: Acts 4:7-12

"And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?"(this is the only opening he needed to preach the gospel) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, (started with the current event) let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.(gives Jesus the credit) This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' (quoted the scriptures for his authority) Ps 118:32 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (he started with his own defense and ended with salvation in Jesus) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. (many things revealed here about what it takes to preach the gospel. The boldness of these men was clear, but it was not because of their great education or training but rather their conviction in what they believed. The council could say nothing against it. The fact they had no education or training gave the council no ammunition at all. The power of the message of Jesus is unstoppable)

Stephen's Sermon That Got Him Stoned: Acts 7:1-60

Note: This whole sermon is based on the Old Testament story.
"Then the high priest said, "Are these things so?" And he said, "Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, 'Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.' (he starts with a subject they know well) (this also shows his strong Bible knowledge) Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him. But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years. And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,' said God, 'and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.' Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to the Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people. So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers. And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt till another king arose who did not know Joseph. This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live. At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; and he was brought up in his father's house for three months. But when he was set out, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand. And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, 'Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?' But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?' Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons. And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying, 'I am the God of your fathers-- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' And Moses trembled and dared not look. Then the Lord said to him, "Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I have surely seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt." This Moses whom they rejected, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?' is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush. He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.'(no matter what topic the preachers in the book of Acts start with, they always end up talking about Jesus) This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, (by mentioning the fact that the fathers did not hear Moses, he is setting them up for when he explains that they are doing the same thing in not hearing Jesus) saying to Aaron, 'Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets: 'Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, images which you made to worship; and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.' Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built Him a house. However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?' (when he reached this point he stopped rehearsing the history of Israel and began focusing his attention on the listeners. He had just shown that God is not interested in Temples built by mans hands. These people greatly celebrated their Temple. That is why he began explaining to them where they were going wrong) You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. (these were not kind words) Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it." When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; (sometimes preaching the truth will bring this result) and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Peter's Sermon To The House Of Cornelius Acts 10:34-43

"Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (introduction) The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ-- He is Lord of all-(he begins his sermon with Jesus) that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, (the resurrection is almost always used as proof of Christ authority and divinity. While miracles are used also, the resurrection is offered as the final and conclusive proof.) not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." (at this time the spirit fell upon them and Peter called for them to be baptized and they were) Generic

Paul's Sermon In Antioch Synagogue: Acts 13:15-41

"But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on." (it was traditional for visitors to a synagogue to be given an opportunity to speak. Knowing this, Paul often to advantage of the opportunity) Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. (this is essentially the same sermon outline that the Apostles had been using. Israel was promised a Messiah who would be of the lineage of David and Jesus of Nazareth was that Messiah.) Generic Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment. After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior-- Jesus-- after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. (he offers the testimony of John as proof that Jesus is the Messiah) And as John was finishing his course, he said, 'Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.' Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. (he gives them credit for being the nation of God and the ones salvation is being sent to first) For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. (he makes a very clear distinction between the Jews of Jerusalem and the ones here in Antioch. His tone is not accusatory at all like it was with Stephen and Peter earlier in Acts) But God raised Him from the dead. (once again the resurrection is central in telling the story of Jesus) He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings-- that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You.' Ps 2:7 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: 'I will give you the sure mercies of David.' Isa 55:3 Therefore He also says in another Psalm: 'You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.' :Ps 16:10 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. (He calls on them in a generic sense to follow Jesus. He doesn't specifically call for them to be baptized. It may be that his plan was to preach here over the course of several sabbaths instead of calling for immediate obedience and risk being ran out of the synagogue for good.) Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: Behold, you despisers, marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, a work which you will by no means believe, though one were to declare it to you.' " (he gives them a warning to not fall into the trap that the prophets predicted that the people of Jerusalem would. He had already insinuated that these in Antioch were not like the people in Jerusalem) Hab. 1:5 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. (Paul's approach of using a conciliatory tone obviously worked) But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. (Paul probably knew that these Jews were "loose cannons" and he was proven right by this display of envy on the following sabbath.) Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. (in the lesson that Stephen gave, he took a very direct and accusatory approach. His teaching was rejected. In the sermon, Paul took a none condemning, diplomatic approach. While he bought some more time, his message was still ultimately rejected. Sometimes the teaching of Jesus is going to be rejected no matter what approach we use.) For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.' " Isa 49:6 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Paul planted and watered but the increase came from God in the way that God wanted it) And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium.

Paul's Sermon In Lystra: Acts 14:11-18

"Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out (the apostle always took the initiative in declaring God to unlearned men) and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." (this was common theme in Paul's teaching. To offer as proof of God all the good things of nature. In doing this he gives Jehovah the credit he deserves that the heathen hadn't been giving) And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them. (as teachers of God's word we need to resist the temptation to allow people to put us on a pedestal. This is what creates teachers appealing to itching ears)

The Sermons At The Jerusalem Conference: Acts 15:7-21

"And when there had been much dispute, (even within the church there are going to times of "much dispute". These are times for turning to the word of God and level heads exercising discretion) Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they." (Peter sites the things that God had done for the Gentiles in making the case for the acceptance of Gentiles without placing them under the burden of the law. He didn't offer his opinions and he didn't attack the personalities involved.) Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. (a calm recitation of the facts) And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: (Note: Amos 9:11-12) After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things.' Known to God from eternity are all His works. (James uses the prophets for his proof that the Gentiles are to be accepted.) Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."

Sermons In Thessalonica's Synagogue: Acts 17:1-4

"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, (Paul had found a good starting point in every city that he visited. He found the people that was the closest to the truth as possible and gave them a chance to obey the truth. He rarely found wholesale change in these efforts but he would always win a few souls and give the church a foothold in that city so that more gentiles could be reached) Generic explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ." And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.

Paul's Sermon At The Areopagus: Acts 17:16-34

"Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. (this establishes another part of his mode of operation, that is to meet with people in the market place, whoever happened to be there, and reason with them.) Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, "What does this babbler want to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods," because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. (the resurrection was a central part of the apostles teaching) And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean." (opportunities are usually created by working toward an end, not by some happening of fate) For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. (what an opportunity. In the seat of the one of the worlds most dominate religions, Paul is going to get to explain the Christian religion. That would be like getting invited to speak to the largest denominational church in town.) Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; (both a veiled compliment and accusation) for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: (this was a stroke of genius. In doing this he gives them the credit for at least knowing that there was a God that they had failed to find. He gives them credit for trying. He also declares to them that their reach for God had fallen short. He is going to explain to them about the one true God of heaven and His son and show them that He is the God that they do not "know") God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; (he offers as he has done before, nature as the evidence of one all powerful supreme being) for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' (by using one of their own prophets to validate a truth of Genesis, he would hope to be more convincing. If their own prophets recognize this fact, it must be true.) Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. (using this assertion, he shows how ridiculous it is for man to make an idol with his own hands and call it a god. That which is created could never be greater that the creator.) Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (he calls them to action) because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." (his discussion is leading up to Christ and he offers the resurrection as proof of His right to judge the world of this ignorance that he had mentioned) And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, "We will hear you again on this matter." (his method was effective) So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Paul's Sermon Till Midnight At Troas: Acts 20:7-11

"Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. (preaching in the assembly) (length of sermon was obviously not an issue) There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, "Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him." Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.

Paul's Sermon To The Elders Of Ephesus At Miletus: Acts 20:17-38:

"From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. (this was an exclusive audience so his message was tailored to fit) And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (a personal recount of the time he had spent with them) And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. (because of his close relationship with these men he is telling them what is going to happen to them) Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. (in no uncertain words he told them of the things that will happen and even of their own number men would rise up. This is a very direct, no beating around the bush method of teaching) So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.

Paul's Defense In Jerusalem To The Jews: Acts 21:40- 22:23

So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying, (took advantage of the opportunity when all attention was on him to speak to the Jews about Jesus. He honoured them by speaking in the Hebrew language) Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now." And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said: I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished. Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' So I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.' And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. So I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.' And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus. Then one, Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight.' And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance and saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.' So I said, 'Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.' Then He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'" And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!" (he was using his personal story to tell them of Jesus. He was stopped before he got that far because of their terrible hatred of the Gentiles) Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air,

Paul's Defense Before Felix: Acts 24:10-21

"And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so. Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: "Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, (everytime there is preaching in the book of Acts there is a certain willingness and cheerfulness on the part of the speaker, even when their own death is on the line. To many today look at preaching to Gods people as a drudgery and a duty that must be done) because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me. Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, 'Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.'" (the resurrection of the dead and Christ resurrection was always central to what they said)

Paul's Defense Before Agrippa: Acts 26:1-30

"Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself." So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: (nothing like gesturing with your hands to add visual communication to the audio) I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. (honor and decorum always are called for) My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? (resurrection was always central to their theme) Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come-- that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." (Paul is using his personal story to bring the discussion to Christ) Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!" (ridicule comes with the territory) But he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe." (when Paul got the feeling that his defense was over he called for action on the part of Agrippa, whom he seem to know something about) Generic Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains." When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them;
NOTE: These are no doubt just a small collection of the sermons preached during the years of the record of the book of Acts and they are no doubt in many occasions abridged versions of what was really said.
  1. Additional Notes On The Material Used.
    1. There are over 17 individual quotes and references to the Old Testament.
    2. The material was always directed at the audience. It was never just general info.
    3. Not one sermon on adultery, lying, commitment or how to worship in Acts. Every sermon was aimed at turning people into disciples of Christ.
    4. There was always respect for the crowds background, knowledge and culture.
    5. Begin with current situation and end up with Jesus and an appeal for obedience.
    6. They always used a strong train of thought and never rambled. Linear logic.
  2. The Methods Of Delivery
    1. They were never vague or uncertain in what they said. They were always clear, concise and many times "pointed the finger" of accusation to the guilty.
    2. They preached the truth without regard for personal safety, popularity or what might happen to them afterwards.
    3. They asserted themselves but were never intrusive. When opportunity availed itself they always took the lead and spoke with authority.
    4. They used personal stories and testimony when needed.
    5. They preached like they meant it and many times died for it.
  3. Weaknesses Heard In Today's Preaching
    1. Setting
      1. Most of our local teaching is done in the church assembly
      2. Somehow we seem to not consider the opportunities we have on a daily basis to preach to the people we come in contact with.
    2. Method
      1. At times there appears to be a lack of conviction
      2. Some ramble with no train of thought
      3. The apostles preached without the benefit of notes. They preached from the heart the things that they deeply believed and knew that people needed to hear. This kind of impromptu knowledge is missing from many of our lessons today.
    3. Material
      1. There is a general weakness in Bible knowledge
      2. Little to no usage of the prophets
      3. Not enough focus on the resurrection
      4. It seems that most sermons are subject driven instead of text driven. I think I'll preach about "__" instead of "This passage has a wonderful message "
      5. Often sermons are to generalized. Not enough detail, sin is not specifically defined and named plainly enough.
      6. Unfortunately there is frequent sloppiness in preparation.
      7. And a lack of observable conviction.

The Settings And Circumstances:







Acts 2:14-40One place Because of miraclePeter Visitors to JerusalemNo
Acts 3:12-26Gate of Temple Because of miraclePeter People at the templeNo
Acts 4:7-12Before the council In own defensePeter CouncilYes
Acts 7:1-60Before the council In own defenseStephen CouncilYes
Acts 10:34-43Cornelius house Invited to private homePeter Cornelius' family & friends Yes
Acts 13:15-41Antioch Synagogue Invited to speakPaul Local JewsYes
Acts 14:11-18Gate of Lystra Because of miraclePaul Multitude @ LystraNo
Acts 15:7-11Council at Jerusalem To settle a disputePeter & Jerusalem Elders, Apostles, etc. Yes
Acts 15:13-21Council at Jerusalem To settle a disputeJames Jerusalem Elders, Apostles, etc. Yes
Acts 17:1-4Thess. Synagogue Invited to speakPaul Local JewsYes
Acts 17:16-34Areopagus Invited to speakPaul All those gathered at this place Yes
Acts 20:7-11Church assy @ Troas Church assemblyPaul Local church membersYes/No
Acts 20:17-38Unknown Paul called EldersPaul Elders of EphesusYes
Acts 21:40 - 22:23Stairs of barracks Responded to mobPaul Jerusalem mobNo
Acts 24:10-21Legal hearing In his own defensePaul Felix and Jews in attendance Yes
Acts 26:1-30Auditorium In his own defensePaul Agrippa and Audience Yes

The Materials That Were Used


OT Quotes

Subject Matter


Major Points

Acts 2:14-40Joel 2:28-32,

Ps 16:8-11,

Ps 110:1,

Jesus is the Messiah & you crucified Him Accusatory. You by wicked hands Fulfilled prophets

Attested by God with miracles including tongues. Resurrected.

Acts 3:12-26

Deut 18:15-19

Gen. 12:3

Jesus is the Messiah & you crucified Him Accusatory You denied the Holy one Fulfilled prophets in suffering. Like Moses. A day of Judgment in coming
Acts 4:7-12Ps 118:32 Man was made whole by Jesus. You builders have rejected Him Accusatory. By you builders The healed man proved the Authenticity of Jesus. The prophets predicted your behavior.
Acts 7:1-60Whole Sermon Jesus is the completion to the Old Testament story. Accusatory. You stiffnecked, uncircumcisd, God would send a prophet like Moses. God doesn't need temples made with hands.
Acts 10:34-43Generic Salvation in Christ is available to all men as the prophets had said. Message of hope and salvation Jesus, sent to Israel is authentic because of miracles and resurrection is for all men.
Acts 13:15-41Generic, Ps 2:7, Isa 55:3,

Ps 16:10,

Hab 1:5,

Isa 49:6,

Jesus sits on the throne of David. He was rejected, crucified & resurrected. Through you can be justified. Conciliatory

The rulers in Jerusalem rejected him but not you.

Fulfilled the prophets. Sits on the throne of David. John prepared the way. He was resurrected with corruption. Call for action.
Acts 14:11-18None The God of Heaven is responsible for all good things. Why are you doing scarcely restrain We are the same as you. God of Heaven witnessed by things in nature did this good work.
Acts 15:7-21Amos 9:11-12 The Gentiles are to be accepted and no yoke of the law placed on them Disputing ended by civil discussion Peter saw H.S. given to Gentiles. James cites prophets as authority.
Acts 17:1-4Generic Using the prophets to show that Jesus is the Christ Reasoned Explained demonstrated & persuaded Using the prophets
Acts 17:16-34None There is one God of Heaven that you don't know and He is calling for repentance. You are to religiousGod doesn't need our hands. Nature is a proof of Him. His Divine nature is above physical things. He calls on men to turn to Him. The resurrection of Christ is the proof.

Major Sermons in Acts

Several important sermons and speeches are recorded in the Book of Acts. Over twenty are included, with the majority coming from Peter (7 total) and Paul (11 total). Below are listed the more significant, together with the theme and Bible Reference.
SermonThemeBible Reference
Peter to crowds at PentecostPeter's explanation of the meaning of PentecostActs 2:14 40
Peter to crowds at the templeThe Jewish people should repent for crucifying the MessiahActs 3:12 26
Peter to the SanhedrinTestimony that a helpless man was healed by the power of JesusActs 4:5 12
Stephen to the SanhedrinStephen's rehearsal d Jewish history, accusing the Jews of killing the MessiahActs 7
Peter to GentilesGentiles can be saved in the same manner as JewsActs 10:28 47
Peter to church at JerusalemPeter's testimony d his experiences at Joppa and a defense d his ministry to the GentilesActs 11:4 18
Paul to synagogue at AntiochJesus was the Messiah in fulfillment of Old Testament propheciesActs 13:16 41
Peter to Jerusalem councilSalvation by grace available to allActs 15:7 11
James to Jerusalem councilGentile converts do not require circumcisionActs 15:13 21
Paul to Thessalonian SynagogueSufferings and resurrection of ChristActs 17:1-4
Paul before AreopagusPaul's indictment of idolatry and showing the true God they ignorantly worshippedActs 17:16-34
Paul to Ephesian eldersRemain faithful in spite of false teachers and persecutionActs 20:17 35
Paul to crowd at JerusalemPaul's statement of his conversion and his mission to the GentilesActs 22:1 21
Paul to SanhedrinPaul's defense, declaring himself a Pharisee and a Roman citizenActs 23:1 6
Paul to FelixPaul's defense, says arrested for teaching resurrectionActs 24:10-21
Paul to King AgrippaPaul's statement of his conversion and his zeal for the gospelActs 26
Paul to Jewish leaders at RomePaul's statement about his Jewish heritageActs 28:17 20