Acts: Catching Up with the Spirit (2020)

This book offers a straightforward and engaging introduction to Acts, to what Acts tells us about God and the gospel, and to the book’s ongoing relevance for how we believe and live. It’s the kind of book that can lead inexperienced Bible readers into the rich world of scripture. It orients readers to the wild story Acts tells about a God who continues to transform the world and expand our imaginations for what Jesus Christ makes possible. This book, along with the Leader Guide and DVD that accompany it, is a resource that will make Acts, an often misunderstood and intimidating book, more accessible and inspiring to all audiences, in both individual and small-group settings. Discover how Acts offers guidance our times of rapid change, uncertainty, hope, and opportunity!

Learn about and purchase this book

“Though this book, Skinner calls us to a daring life, risking not so much mere stormy seas, snakebites, magicians, but real daring, risking following the Holy Spirit into deep (even sacrificial) care of our neighbor at both the personal and social systemic levels, transformative hospitality, expansive inclusion, and, in Skinner’s words, ‘generous unity.’” —Jaime Clark-Soles, Perkins School of Theology

“Matt Skinner’s invitation is to notice how God has acted before in Acts, so that we might together wonder anew where God is leading us today. On this necessary but difficult journey, Skinner is a consummate scholar, a vivid writer, a gifted theologian, and a loving guide.” —Eric D. Barreto, Princeton Theological Seminary

“What happens when Star Wars, Johnny Cash, and earthquake preparedness all walk into a book about the Acts of the Apostles? They come together in ways that are engaging, instructive, and challenging—at least they do if Matthew Skinner wrote the book. This is a delightful read, suitable for individual or group study.” —Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Baylor University

“Come experience the travel narrative of Acts, tracking the exciting journey of the early church from Jerusalem to Rome, across land and sea, full of dramatic sights and sounds, twists and turns—all propelled by God’s dynamic Spirit. I know of no better guide for this amazing trek than Matthew Skinner, a frontline biblical scholar, master communicator, and dedicated servant of God and the church. Come enjoy the ride and get caught up in the Spirit of Acts!” —F. Scott Spencer, author of The Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles

A Companion to the New Testament (3 volumes)

This three-volume overview of the entire New Testament offers an accessible, reliable, and engaging guide to each New Testament book—the circumstances surrounding the book’s origins, what the book says, and how the book influences perspectives on Christian faith and life. The series is especially suited to seminary and other graduate students who are at the beginning of their study of the New Testament, although laypeople and congregational leaders will also benefit from the three books. Volume 1 covers the Gospels and Acts. Volume 2 explores Paul and the Pauline Letters. Volume 3 guides readers through the final nine books of the New Testament (Hebrews through Revelation).

Purchase volume 1

Purchase volume 2

Purchase volume 3

On Volume 1: “Matthew Skinner provides masterful orientation to the landscape of New Testament study that is both succinct and carefully nuanced, and informed by recent currents in biblical scholarship. Engagement with this perceptive volume will provide a grasp of both the diversity and coherence of the Gospels’ fourfold witness and will equip interpreters to continue the conversations―to consider anew what it means to live faithfully in their own particular contexts.” —Frances Taylor Gench, Union Presbyterian Seminary

On Volume 1: “Matthew Skinner has provided teachers and students with the ideal classroom resource. This publication illuminates Jesus’ place in history, sacred text, and ecclesial impact. Skinner navigates historical, literary, and cultural contexts with aplomb. Readers of A Companion to the New Testament will benefit from Skinner’s erudite treatment of ancient realities and contemporary scholarship.” —Anthony Le Donne, United Theological Seminary

On Volume 1: “Matthew Skinner offers a refreshingly clear resource for students as they begin their journey through the New Testament. A welcome guide to the theological complexity of the Gospels and Acts.” —Brittany E. Wilson, Duke Divinity School

On Volume 2: “Matthew Skinner’s impressive new three-volume companion to the literature of the New Testament offers readers a welcome travel guide through the sometimes-rough terrain of the New Testament world. A respected scholar and seasoned teacher, Matthew Skinner has listened carefully to the questions and concerns raised by his students―online and in the classroom, in faith communities and in the public square. As a result, these volumes offer not only scholarly signposts for understanding the ancient world, but also sage advice for those roadblocks that often leave contemporary readers stranded. Reading the New Testament is an exciting adventure; you will want this companion by your side the entire way.” ―Michal Beth Dinkler, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School

On Volume 3: “Written in a lucid and engaging style, Skinner’s Companion to the New Testament brilliantly explicates how the General Epistles and Revelation reveal key characteristics of early Christian communities but also shaped their identity. It offers profound insights about the sociopolitical and theological aspects of the nine books and is simultaneously very accessible―both to the scholar and to the lay reader.” ―Raj Nadella, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts (2015)

IntrusiveGodThe Acts of the Apostles repeatedly describes God upsetting the status quo by dramatically changing people’s lives, society’s conventions, and our basic expectations of what’s possible. It’s a strange book, full of miracles and incredible events. In this book, which takes a deeper dive into Acts than my Acts: Catching Up with the Spirit, I consider how the high-spirited story of Acts might shape our understanding of who God is and what the Christian gospel means for our lives today. This book is written for all Bible readers, not specialists in biblical studies. It’s suitable for self and small-group study.

Purchase this book

“Matthew Skinner probes the book of Acts in an impressively effective way. He successfully negotiates the vexed issue of history and theology and offers a concise, accessible theological twist to every text he considers. His study shows the way in which the narrative text of Acts continues to be compelling for the church’s self-understanding and mission.” —Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

“There is no doubt that Acts is an entertaining read, full of the stuff of legend and tall tales. But what is a twenty-first-century Christian to do with such an unusual collection of stories about the early years of our faith? In this book, Skinner grips our attention, all of it, as he honestly, artfully, judiciously, concisely, and consistently connects our experience with the book of Acts. Chapter by chapter, Skinner teaches us, raises crucial questions–the raw, complex questions that we real readers have–and then offers bold conclusions born from his observations as both a scholar and a Christian.” —Jaime Clark-Soles, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

“The book of Acts tells an exciting story that warrants the sort of engagement it is afforded here. Skinner takes us beyond the pedantic concerns of academia to experience the power of the story itself, to participate in its transformations and discoveries. Anyone who is spiritual and/or religious will benefit from this disruptive encounter with ‘absurdly good news.’” —Mark Allan Powell, Trinity Lutheran Seminary

A “pithy, exquisitely written volume…highly recommended for clergy, seminarians, and laity.” —F. Scott Spencer, in Interpretation

“One of the strengths of the book is Skinner’s willingness to ask real and pressing questions about how Christians think about God and [God’s] activities in the world. He does not shy away from controversial passages but tries to understand them on their own terms.” —Sean A. Adams, in Expository Times

“This book will be eminently helpful to a church Bible study group working through Acts. It will also inform and help preachers or teachers engaging with Acts, and students who want to see ways in which the book’s themes and issues relate to Christian life and experience today. I commend it very warmly.” —Steve Walton, in Themelios

The Trial Narratives: Conflict, Power, and Identity in the New Testament (2010)


In this book I explore the four accounts of Jesus’ trial (in the Gospels) and the numerous trials of his followers in The Acts of the Apostles. The focus is less on “What really happened?” and more on “How do these trials describe conflicts over authority within the world of the Roman Empire?” I wrote the book to help Bible readers better understand the sociopolitical struggles that were a part of the world in which Christianity emerged.

Purchase this book

“The clashing narratives, social worlds, and claims to authority in our own courtrooms are all too familiar. In this engaging study, Matthew Skinner takes us into the same drama in the Gospels and Acts.” —Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Princeton Theological Seminary

“Skinner deftly explores early Christian interactions with the sociopolitical structures of the Roman Empire.” —Warren Carter, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University

“Skinner demonstrates the pivotal role played by stories of judgment and political power in the formation of Christian identity.” —Gail R. O’Day, Wake Forest University, School of Divinity

Reading Acts in the Discourses of Masculinity and Politics (2017)

I co-edited and contributed an essay and an afterword to this book. It is a collection of academic essays that explore the Acts of the Apostles in light of a variety of methodological approaches. By viewing Acts with an eye toward how the book manifests (or fails to manifest) concerns about gender and the politics of Roman imperial rule, we understand better how issues related to power and the construction of societies and Christian identity matter for the story Acts tells and the theologies it spawns.

Purchase this book

The Unrelenting God: Gods Action in Scripture: Essays in Honor of Beverly Roberts Gaventa (2013)

UnrelentingGodI co-edited and contributed an essay to this book. It is a collection of academic essays, focusing on how the Bible speaks about God’s activity in the world. The essays examine what it means for scripture (especially Luke, Acts, and the writings of Paul) to describe God acting decisively on behalf of human beings and all creation.

Beverly Roberts Gaventa is one of my teachers. She was my dissertation director at Princeton Theological Seminary, and in fall 2013 she became Distinguished Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Baylor University. My co-editor, David J. Downs, and I join with 14 other biblical scholars and theologians to create a collection of essays inspired by Gaventa’s relentlessly God-focused approach to understanding the Bible.

Purchase this book

Shaping the Scriptural Imagination: Truth, Meaning, and the Theological Interpretation of the Bible (2011)


By Donald H. Juel

I co-edited and wrote an introduction for the book. It consists of writings and sermons by one of my teachers, the late great Don Juel. Don was pivotal in my education, teaching me that the only things more interesting than the Bible are its interpreters, who usually will do whatever they can to make it behave.

Purchase this book

“An inspiring read for those whose passion, like Juel’s, is for God and for the Bible as God’s living, unsettling address.” —Janet Soskice, University of Cambridge

“This collection shows Juel at his very best. Here you will find a humble and very much real Christian.” —Alan F. Segal, Barnard College

Locating Paul: Places of Custody as Narrative Settings in Acts 21–28 (2003)


This a revised version of my PhD dissertation, which means it’s rather technical and includes lots of laborious footnotes. The book tries to do a couple of things: (1) make sense of the final quarter of The Acts of the Apostles, in which the extended account of Paul’s incarceration, judicial contests, and transfers makes for much less interesting reading than the rest of the book, and (2) explore the importance of settings in biblical storytelling. Maybe the most valuable aspect of the book is its argument that Paul’s status as a prisoner does not prevent him from continuing his missionary activity. Acts thus suggests that Paul continues to live out his calling as a witness to Jesus even despite official attempts to keep him quarantined, out of wider circulation.

Purchase this book

A “very competent, innovative study” —Robert C. Tannehill, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly

“This is a fine study which is essential reading for anyone working on Acts, particularly Paul in Acts or Acts 21–28” —Steve Walton, Journal for the Study of the New Testament

New Proclamation, Year B, 2006: Easter through Pentecost (2005)


I am a co-author of this book, a collection of short essays commenting on biblical texts assigned for preaching by the Revised Common Lectionary.

Purchase this book