Sunday, March 07, 2010

the top 40 of acts

Acts TOP 40
by John D Barry
With a startling 164 individuals, groups of people, "gods" and nations mentioned in Acts, it's not surprising that it's a difficult read. The problem now has a remedy—the Acts Top 40.

The Good   All of His Own
Jesus (Son of God)
Poor man from Nazareth born of a virgin.
Incarnate Son of God and Savior of the world.
Primarily called Himself the Son of Man.
Pretty much everywhere in the New Testament.

Major Church Leaders/Speakers

Previously known as Saul of Tarsus,
the hit man for the Pharisees, who
beat and stoned Christians for their
beliefs. Converted to Christianity after
an encounter with the risen Christ that
left him temporarily blind. Became the
first church planter and the most widely
influential Christian. Acts 13–26; authored
Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians,
Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians,
1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy,
2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.

Fisherman who became a disciple of
Christ and denied Him three times before
His death. Was given tough love by Jesus
after His resurrection. Became an apostle
and leader of the central hub of the early
church, Jerusalem. Didn’t always get
along with Paul. Acts 1–5; 8–12; 15; 1 Cor 1:12;
3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Gal 1–2; 2:9–14; Matt 4; 8;
10; 14–19; 26; Mark 3; 5; 8–11; 13–14; 16;
Luke 5–6; 8–9; 12; 18; 22; 24; John 13; 18;
20–21; authored 1 Peter and 2 Peter.

John (Son of Zebedee)
Fisherman turned disciple of Christ. Rather
quiet through the gospels, but always there
for the big moments. Acts 3; 8; 12; Gal 2:9;
Matt 4; 10; 17; Luke 5–6; 8–9; 22; Mark 1; 3;
5; 9–10; 13–14; author of the Gospel of John, 1
John, 2 John, 3 John and Revelation.

A strong, no-limit Christ-follower from a
young age. Paul’s traveling companion.
Acts 16–20; Rom 16:21; 1 Cor 4:17; 16:10;
2 Cor 1:1, 19; Phil 1:1; 2:19; Col 1:1; 1 Thess 1:1;
3:2, 6; 2 Thess 1:1; Philemon 1:1; Heb 13:23;
1 Timothy and 2 Timothy were addressed
to him.

James (Brother of Jesus)
Jesus’ own flesh and blood (well, at least on
Mary's side) who became a disciple. Acts 12;
15; 21; 1 Cor 15:7, Gal 1:19; 2:9–12; Jude 1:1, Mark
6; Matt 13; author of James

Barnabas (Joseph)
A devout Jew from the Levite clan who
became a missionary to non-Jews
(Gentiles). Sought Paul’s help. Acts 4; 9;
11–15; 1 Cor 9:6; Gal 2; Col 4:10

A disciple of Jesus chosen to take the place
of Judas Iscariot. Acts 1

Philip (Evangelist)
An unsung hero who helped change the
world. The evangelist who was one of seven
chosen to assist the apostles. Acts 6–8; 21

Told Christ’s story to many people—
especially Greeks. Worked with Paul and on
his own. Acts 18–19; 1 Cor 1:12; 3; 4:6; 16:12;
Titus 3:13

The first martyr of the church who preached
the gospel by citing examples from the
Old Testament. Acts 6:5, 8–9; 7:59; 8:2;
11:19; 22:20

A prophet in the early church who
announced a coming famine. Acts 11; 21

A fellow worker and sometimes fellow
prisoner of Paul. Acts 19–20; 27; Col 4:10;
Philemon 1:24

Aquila and Priscilla (Married)
Financial and spiritual supporters of Paul’s mission to
spread the gospel and plant churches. Acts 18; Rom 16:3;
1 Cor 16:19; 2 Tim 4:19

An important official from Malta who hosted Paul after a
shipwreck. Acts 28:7–8

Ananias (Disciple)
A disciple of Christ who was sent to open the eyes of
Saul (prior to becoming Paul), when he was blinded on
the road to Damascus. Acts 9:10, 12-13, 17; 22:12

People Who Helped Church Leaders/Speakers
Influential Believers

A paralytic in Lydda who was healed at Peter’s
command. Acts 9

A Gentile woman converted under the
preaching of Paul in Philippi. Acts 16

A Roman Proconsul (Governor) who became
a Christian through the preaching of Paul and
Barnabas. Acts 13

Dorcas (Tabitha)
A woman at Joppa. Peter prayed and she returned
to life. Acts 9

A commander of a Roman army who transferred Paul
to Caesarea with an escort for protection. (May or
may not have been a believer.) Acts 23–24

A Roman centurion (official) at Caesarea,
whose family was among the first Gentiles to
receive the gospel and be baptized. Acts 10

The person to whom Luke addressed his Gospel and
Acts. Likely wealthy since he commissioned Luke’s
works. Acts 1; Luke 1

The book of Acts is almost as much of a maze
as Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It’s hard
to keep the cast of characters in your head.
As you navigate Acts, you inevitably run into
someone you don’t recognize and wonder,
“Should I know who this person is? Will I
need to remember them for later?” And the
problem just compounds when the next
character is introduced.
With a startling 164 individuals, groups of
people, “gods” and nations mentioned in
Acts, it's not surprising that it's a difficult
read. Fortunately, the problem now has
a remedy—the Acts Top 40. If someone is
crucial to the plot of Acts, they made our cut.
Consider this a character-based Cliff Notes
to Acts.

Rulers  The Bad

The Roman Emperor’s title.
Acts 25–28; Phil 4:22;
Matt 22; Mark 12; Luke 2–3;
20; 23; John 19

Paul’s case was sent to this fourth emperor of Rome,
who reigned from 41–54 ad. Acts 11; 18; 23

Proconsul (Governor) of Achaia when Paul was in
Corinth. Acts 18

Pontius Pilate
Roman prefect who issued the decree for Jesus to
be beaten and crucified. Acts 4:27; Luke 23; John

Herod Agrippa I
The Judean king who executed James the son of
Zebedee. Acts 12

Herod Agrippa II
The governor over Judah when Paul was imprisoned
in Jerusalem. Acts 25–26

Ananias (High Priest)
High priest during Paul’s hearing in Jerusalem.
Acts 23–24

A governor in Caesarea who heard Paul’s case.
Acts 23–25

Succeeded Felix as governor. Sent Paul’s case
to Rome. Acts 24–26

Phonies and the Ridiculous

The hired spokesman of the Jews who accused Paul
before Felix at Caesarea. Acts 24

A Jewish false prophet, who opposed Paul and
Barnabus on Cyprus. Acts 13

A silversmith of shrines of Artemis in Ephesus, whose
livelihood was threatened by the gospel brought by
Paul. Acts 19

Disobedient Believers

Simon (Magician)
More influential magician than Houdini or Criss
Angel. Became a Christ follower under Phillip the
Evangelist and Peter’s ministry. Acts 8

Ananias and Sapphira
Struck dead by God for lying about a donation
they made to the early church. Acts 5

The Ugly Spiritual Advesaries

Ultimate adversary of God and the Church.
Unsuccessfully tempted Jesus. Acts 5; 26;
Rom 16:20; 1 Cor 4 5:5; 7:5; 2 Cor 2:11; 11:14; 12:7;
1 Thess 2:18; 1 Tim 1:20; 5:15; 2 Thess 2:9; Matt 4:10;
12:26; Mark 1:13; 3–4; Luke 10:18; 11:18; 13:16; 22;
John 13:27; Rev 2–3; 12; 20

The chief god of the Greek Pantheon, and the focus
of worship for many Greeks. Acts 14

The Greek goddess of wild animals and hunting, as
well as the patron deity of Ephesus. Acts 19

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