Let’s read the biblical book of Acts together! A new month has just begun, and if we start reading a chapter today, we can read the whole book by the end of November.

Acts is the story of what happened after Jesus lived, died, rose and then ascended into heaven. It’s a glimpse into the development of the early Christian church. Acts is the transitional book that moves us between the four Gospels and the letters which comprise much of the latter portion of the New Testament. Acts introduces us to the ongoing movement of the Holy Spirit.

Before you dig into Acts, consider taking at least a brief exploration of the Gospel of Luke. Luke is part one, and Acts is part two. Same author. Two books. Pre-reading Luke isn’t a requirement, but it does provide a lot of excellent context.

Why read Acts?

It is in Acts that we meet Saul who later becomes Paul. This individual is the author of many letters in the New Testament and a biblical VIP.

Paul was likely born about the same time as Jesus, but they never met during Jesus’ life. Instead, Paul persecuted followers of Jesus until he had a conversion experience and heard the voice of the risen Christ (after Jesus had died and been resurrected). After his conversion, Paul was a changed man and worked to spread the story of Jesus far and wide.

In entering into the book of Acts, we will experience mystery and movement. We will travel by foot and by boat throughout the Mediterranean. We will sit in on early church gatherings when people were sorting through what it would look like to live in community.

Acts is full of excitement.

How to read the Bible?

The Bible is for everyone. No biblical experience is required for this November adventure. As is described in the book, My Word: The Bible is for Everyone: “The texts we hear, discuss, repeat, and wrestle with are truly the Spirit of God reaching out to us at every moment in our lives.”

As we encounter God’s living Word, we explore it through four primary lenses: devotional, historical, literary and theological (much more about this at bookoffaith.org). There is not one right way to read Scripture. Instead, there are a multitude of techniques we can use in reading the books of the Bible, and through each lens, we encounter new awarenesses about God and one another.

During the month of November, as we read the book of Acts, I’ll be experimenting with a technique called the Swedish Marking Method. This style of study involves drawing symbols in the margins of your Bible.

  1. One candle: This is a new idea, insight or understanding for me.
  2. Two candles: This is a verse or concept I want to remember.
  3. An arrow: This is a key idea of special significance.
  4. A question mark: This is something I don’t understand and desire to explore further.

Hopefully this will be an enjoyable way of engaging the God's good news with openness!

Join me!

Throughout this journey into Acts, I’ll share insights and photos of my Swedish Making Method reflections at www.instagram.com/emilyannecarson and on the blog at www.holyeverything.com. If it’s helpful, please join me in a way that’s right for you.

May the Spirit of God guide our exploration of this biblical book as we seek inspiration for what the Book of Acts means for our lives and faith communities today!

Holy Everything is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor serving at the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Office in Rochester. Visit her blog at emilyannecarson.com.

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