Who is the Book of Acts about? Who is/are its main character(s)? Dubbed “Acts of the Apostles” in the second century, it is easy to assume the Apostles are front and center in this book as it chronicles many of their actions from cover to cover. Some, like author A.T. Pierson who wrote Acts of the Holy Spirit, believe the Holy Spirit is the focus of Acts. Were the disciples the main role players in Acts, or is the Holy Spirit the main Character? Who is it really about? Let’s examine the candidates.
All throughout Scripture, the focus is never on the human players themselves. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). The treasure is in us rather than of us. Instead of exalting any power they may have thought they possessed, the Apostles were to be witnesses. A witness testifies to what he has seen or what he knows; he is not the subject of his own testimony. The Apostle Paul said, “…we preach not ourselves…” (2 Corinthians 4:5). So while the book of Acts does record the Apostles’ actions, it could not have these men as its primary focus.
What about the Holy Spirit? Could He be the main Character in Acts? As a Person of the Godhead, He certainly could be. But is He? I don’t believe so. Listen to what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would do after His ascension into heaven: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27). Jesus continues His upper room discourse: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-14).
That leads me to who I believe the main Character in Acts is: the same Person the entire Bible is about – the Lord Jesus. The Apostles and the Spirit were both to be witnesses for Christ (Acts 1:8, John 15:26-27)! Going back to 2 Corinthians 4:5, the verse in its entirety says, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Peter, in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, filled with the Holy Spirit, wastes no time testifying to Jesus and His resurrection. After quoting Joel’s prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days, Peter’s next sentence emphasizes Jesus and the Resurrection, and he then proves it from Scripture (Acts 2:24-36).
Peter, again filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly preaches Christ’s resurrection to the Pharisees and Sadducees (Acts 4:8-12), the very ones who crucified Jesus barely two months prior. In fact, every sermon in the Book of Acts centers around Jesus’ Messiahship; every sermon explains how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy and presents proofs of His resurrection.
Luke himself also gives us a clue about his intention to keep Jesus as the central subject of his second volume. He introduces Acts in this way: “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up…” (Acts 1:1, italics added for emphasis). If Luke’s “former treatise” – his Gospel – covered “all that Jesus began to do and teach,” then I think we can safely assume, based on this statement, that this, his second treatise, covers what Jesus continues to do. Although no longer with His disciples in the flesh, Jesus continues to be with them by His Spirit and acts through them as members of His Body. Considering all of this, I believe the Book can be titled, The Acts of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles, though “Acts” is certainly a lot shorter!