Focused in the book of Acts of the Apostles this course deals with Paul’s life, times and writings, including the background, purpose, message and themes of the Pauline epistles; his personal life and character; his companions; and the chronology of the apostle’s life. Emphasis is on the theology of his writings and the issues that Paul dealt with in the apostolic church. On completion, students should be able to show the message of Acts and each of the Pauline Epistles and their implication and application.


Welcome to the “Acts and the Writings of Paul". This biblical foundations core course in early church history focuses on the ministry of the Apostle Paul. The course explores the book of Acts and the Pauline epistles in their historical and contextual setting. Designed primarily for distance education, this course provides a means by which persons located away from the traditional college or university classroom can complete a university-level course in early church history. The course focuses students on assigned readings, conceptualization activities, vocabulary building, and upon leading issues.

Although there are no Prerequisites or Corequisitesfor this course, THL135 is strongly recommended.

Frank, Jr., Kenneth L.

Registrar and Director of Admissions
Full Time
B.A. (1973), Ambassador University; M.A. (2014), Grand Canyon University.
Subject Matter: 

Mr. Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA where he attended Monmouth College (now Monmouth University) for one year, majoring in history and government. Following that, he attended the three campuses of Ambassador College (later Ambassador University) in Big Sandy, Texas, USA; Bricket Wood, England; and Pasadena, California, USA.

In the summer of 1971 he participated in an archaeological project jointly sponsored by Ambassador College and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Upon graduation from Ambassador College with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology, he trained for the ministry in Canada and was ordained an elder in 1975. He pastored Canadian congregations in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario for twenty-six years before returning to the United States where he served as a Living Church of God pastor in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. He is married, father of four children (one of whom is Living University faculty member, Annette Triplett) and grandfather of seven. In 2014, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Christian Studies with an emphasis in Pastoral Ministry at Grand Canyon University. Presently, he serves at the Living University campus as instructor, Registrar and Director of Admissions. 

Course Credit: 
Three (3) semester hours
Instructional Objectives: 

Upon successful completion of this course, a student should be able to:

  1. Identify the cultural milieu and the geographical context in which first-century Christianity evolved;
  2. Identify and demonstrate the leading issues confronted by the early church, and their resolution, regarding Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity;
  3. Demonstrate the chronology of the early church in the C.E. 31-70 period, and identify and state the significant chronological markers of the apostolic period;
  4. Identify and state the background, purpose, and basic themes of the book of Acts and each of the Pauline epistles;
  5. State and demonstrate Paul's teaching on various doctrines and themes throughout all of his epistles, and in particular his views on Christian living;
  6. Demonstrate facility in finding, using and properly citing written resources in biblical study, and applying them in a well-reasoned manner;
  7. Demonstrate with particularity Paul's background and preparation for his unique responsibility as the apostle to the Gentiles through completion of a research paper; and
  8. State the definition of basic terms.


Required Texts: 

The textbooksfor this course are:

  • Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013. ISBN 9780801039645.
  • Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Readings from the First-Century World: Primary Sources for New Testament Study. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1998. ISBN 9780801021572.
  • While, Jefferson. Evidence & Paul’s Journeys: An Historical Investigation into the Travels of the Apostle Paul. Hilliard, OH: Pasagard Press, 2001. ISBN 9780970569509.
  • New King James edition of the Holy Bible.

Recommended supplementary references are:

  • Gaebelein, Frank, ed. The Expositor's Bible Commentary 5-Volume New Testament Set: Vols. 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982.
  • Goodwin, Frank. J. A Harmony of the Life of St. Paul According to the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1951.
  • Ramsay, William M. St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen. Ed. Mark Wilson. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2001.
  • Stirling, John. Atlas of the Acts and Epistles. London: George Philip, 1966.

As a Bible student, you will need to consult Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and biblically related magazine or journal articles for information. When you do this, you have to sort out the wheat from the chaff; that is, you must have sufficient grounding in the Bible to sort out the correct from the incorrect, the plausible from the implausible. This is a critical thinking skill that we want you to develop further in this course and in all LU courses.

The textbook we selected, Elwell and Yarbrough’s Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey, is a conservative approach written in an easy to read and well laid out fashion. A word of caution: it is a commercial publication and represents the views and ideas of its authors, editors, and publishers. Living University does not endorse the text, nor vouch for its accuracy; we simply employ it in helping you master the content of the course. There is some material in this book that is helpful, and some that is not. In the setting of this course we want you to not only discern the difference, but to know why there is a difference. Our quest is to help you to “rightly divide the word of God” (2 Tim. 2:15 KJV).

Moreover, in daily life and particularly in the life of ministers, you will encounter people who identify with the evangelical thinking of this book’s authors. For example, many if not most Protestants and Roman Catholics believe that the Kingdom of God exists today and equate it with the church or salvation. We hold that Jesus and the Apostles taught primarily that the Kingdom of God was not to come into being until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Part of a good theological and biblical education is coming to understand what others believe and why they believe it. You need to develop sufficient understanding and skills to demonstrate and effectively communicate what the truth of God is in such matters.

Our suggestion is that you take the time to mark the text, correcting errors and underlining helpful points so it can be a useful handbook for you. The paper the publisher selected for this text and its fairly wide margins lend themselves to note taking. We suggest you use a fine point Pilot pen.

Additional Readings: 

Recommended supplementary references are:

  • Gaebelein, Frank, ed. The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976. Volumes 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. ISBN 9780310365686.
  • Goodwin, Frank J. A Harmony of the Life of St. Paul According to the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Epistles. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1951. ISBN 9781176433748.
  • Ramsay, William M., and Mark Wilson. St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2001. ISBN: 9780825436390.
  • Stirling, John. Atlas of the Acts and Epistles. London: George Philip, 1966. ISBN 9780540050345.

In addition to the main lectures by Dr. Meredith, there is a lecture or two presented by some guest speakers. Links to lectures are on the lesson webpages.

The principal lecturer for this team-taught course is senior evangelist Dr. Roderick C. Meredith. Dr. Meredith has taught this course to thousands of students over the span of four decades. His recorded lectures, designed specifically for this online course, help students master the details of early church history with a focus upon the growth and development of the early church and the travels and ministry of the Apostle Paul.  He is assisted by Mr. Kenneth L. Frank who serves as the instructor of record. Michelle R. Broussard (LU’s Assistant Registrar) serves as the instructional associate. To contact them on course details, please use the email feature in the E-Learning system (Populi).

Course Calendar: 
Lesson 1 The Beginning of the Church of God [Jan 10-28]

Topic 1: The Great Commission
Topic 2: Equipping the Disciples for Their Task
Topic 3: The Work Proceeds From Jerusalem
Topic 4: Paul the Apostle

Lesson 2 The Gospel, Barnabas and Paul [Jan 29-Feb 13]

Topic 1: Salvation is for Jews and Gentiles
Topic 2: Simon the Sorcerer and Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
Topic 3: Saul (later Paul) - His Conversion & Early Years
Topic 4: The Antiochene Ministry of Barnabas and Saul (CE38-46)

Lesson 3 First Apostolic Tour - Acts 15 Conference [Feb 14-Mar 11]

Topic 1: First Apostolic Tour (CE 45-49)
Topic 2: Paul's Sojourn at Antioch of Syria (CE 49-50)
Topic 3: Galatians: Background and Major Themes
Topic 4: The Apostolic Conference: Issues and their Resolution (CE 49/50)

Lesson 4 The Second and Third Apostolic Tours [Mar 12-Apr 1]

Topic 1: Paul's Second Apostolic Tour (CE 50-52)
Topic 2: Ancient Corinth
Topic 3: Paul's Third Apostolic Tour (CE 53-56)
Topic 4: Paul's Corinthian and Roman Epistles

Lesson 5 Arrest and Confinement at Caesarea (C.E. ca. 57-59) [Apr 2-17]

Topic 1: Arrest at Jerusalem
Topic 2: Imprisonment at Caesarea

Lesson 6 Detention in Rome and Paul's Final Ministry (C.E. 60-68) [Apr 18-May 11]

Topic 1: Paul's Appearance before Herod Agrippa II and His Journey to Rome
Topic 2: Civil Detention in Romce (CE 60-62)
Topic 3: Likely Trip to Spain and the West (CE 61-66)
Topic 4: Paul's Final Imprisonment in Rome and Execution

Course Requirements: 

Due dates and extensions
Submit assignments on or before the due date. Students must complete the course by the last official day of instruction as set forth in the current Academic Calendar.

Icebreaker assignment
To officially begin this course you must complete an Icebreaker assignment by which you introduce yourself to your classmates through posting a short autobiography on the Icebreaker discussion forum thread. A student will earn points by posting the Icebreaker assignment on time. This assignment is to be submitted by the eighth day of class. You must read and comment on at least two other student icebreakers by the due date in order to get full credit for this assignment.

Reading assignments
Refer to each individual lesson webpage for reading assignments and the program schedule. 

Discussion forums
Each lesson will have an associated discussion question posted by the instructor. Students will be required to post online comments to the discussion thread and interact with fellow classmates.

Writing assignments
Any writing assignments in this course should follow the MLA style (8th edition). Instructions for this style will be provided. Please cite your sources and use quotation marks where needed. The Files feature on an Assignment Submission page lets you submit your work so your instructor can have it handy for download, review, and grading. To turn in writing assignments, click on the Assignments tab and then click on the assignment you want to turn in. On the Assignment Submission page, use the File feature located below the textbox to upload your WORD document. DO NOT PLACE YOUR ASSIGNMENT IN THE TEXTBOX, as this box is meant for student/instructor communication purposes only.

    There are five online exams of approximately 20-50 questions. They are closed-book, closed-notes exams. Students are allowed one hour to complete each exam. Exams are multiple choice and true or false questions. You will be asked to answer questions covering required readings, lectures, and vocabulary words. 


    Your course grade will be determined based on the number of points you have earned over the semester as follows:

    • Icebreaker (40 points)
    • Short Writing Assignments (three, each worth 70 points, for a total of 210 points)
    • Discussion Forums (six, each worth 40 points, for a total of 240 points)
    • Exams (four worth 80 points, one worth 160 points for a total of 240 points)
    • Course Evaluation (30 points)
    • TOTAL 1,000 points

    Grades are assigned in the traditional American style of an A, B, C, D, or F. In distance learning we believe that mastery of the subject matter is achieved when a student can demonstrate that they have achieved 80% of the objectives for a course. That means that we want you to earn at least 800 points in this course. If you do not do so, then you have not developed the mastery we would like you to have.

    We want this course to be competency-based, and so it is possible for the entire class to receive an A or a B. There is no artificial curving of scores in the assignment of grades. Also, do not go on a guilt trip if you get a C; that is an honorable grade. If you receive a D or below, then you might want to retake this course. Mastery of the material is what your goal should be.

    Grades are assigned by points as follows:

    A - 900-1000 points
    B - 800-899 points
    C - 700-799 points
    D - 600-699 points
    F - Below 600 points

    Students With Disabilities
    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities have a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Students having a disability requiring an accommodation should inform the instructor by email (on the “Course Info” page click on the instructor’s name and then select “Send Email”).

    Technology Access
    This course requires web access and the student has to have an established e-mail account. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is necessary to view documents that are PDF files. One can download the reader free at

    Course Evaluation
    Student input is welcome for improving this course. Making suggestions by e-mail is helpful. Our goal in this course is to facilitate the successful achievement of all instructional objectives by all students. At the end of the course students have the opportunity of assessing the course. We want to make e-learning courses as effective as we can. We may also ask some other questions concerning a student’s experience in distance learning to help us improve our program. We appreciate students letting us know how we can improve our products and services for them and other distance learners.

    Withdrawing From or Dropping This Course
    It is the responsibility of a student to drop a course if he or she cannot meet the requirements of the course. Any student who stops attending a course without officially withdrawing from it risks receiving a punitive grade for that course. Withdrawal requests may be conveyed in any manner to the course professor, Registrar, or Vice President of Academic Affairs. This action is sufficient for ensuring any refund owed you. Please note the following: If a student drops a course on or before the “Last day to withdraw from a course without a grade penalty” as published in the University Academic Calendar, even if his or her work is not of a passing grade, then a “W” is recorded. If a course is dropped after that date, but before the last 21 calendar days of the semester, then the instructor determines the grade. The faculty member will at this time record a grade of “W” if passing (not computed in GPA) or “WF” if failing (computed in GPA). Students who drop a course, yet remain in one or more other courses during the last 18 calendar days of the semester, will receive a grade of “WF.” Students who completely withdraw from the University at any time during the semester may be given a grade of “W” on all courses. If students do not initiate the withdrawal process, the instructor is required to initiate the administrative process and to record a grade of “W” or “WF” for the course depending on the date the faculty member drops the student from the course. Students who register for a course as an audit, but then withdraw will be assigned a grade of “W” for the course.