Recently Pope Benedict opened his Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei, with a quote from the Acts of the Apostles.
Chapter 15 of the book of Acts relates the decision of the Council of Jerusalem. This is considered the first ecumenical council of the Church.
After Stephen’s martyrdom a severe persecution broke out against the Church in Jerusalem.
As a general theme, the first half of Acts is the story of Peter’s ministry.
Following the martyrdom of Stephen a severe persecution of the Church broke out in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1).
Acts chapter 7 contains the longest speech in Acts followed by Stephen’s martyrdom as the first or proto-martyr of the Church.
The early Christian community in Jerusalem continued to witness through the power of the Spirit that they received at Pentecost.
The description of the ideal community in Jerusalem (Acts 2:42-47) forms a bridge to the next section of Acts which narrates the ministry of Peter and John.