Acts 1

1:1 In my former book [Gospel of Luke], Theophilus [means “loved of God” or “friend of God” (Lk. 1:3)], I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach [Acts is record of what Jesus continued to do and teach through His followers]

The book of Acts opens with a brief account of the events between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:3-11). After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples at various times “over a period of forty days” (Acts 1:3). During that period, He spoke to the disciples “about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Jesus used the Old Testament (Luke 24:27) to help the disciples understand the necessity of His death and resurrection (Luke 24:45-46). He also commissioned the disciples to share His message of salvation with all nations (see Luke 24:47 and Matt. 28:19-20).

1:2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles [“one sent forth;” they would spread message] he had chosen.

1:3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men [apostles] and gave many convincing proofs [evidence manifest to the senses to assure the disciples they were not the victims of a delusion] that he was alive. He appeared [not an optical illusion] to them over a period of forty days [only NT passage that notes time between resurrection and ascension] and spoke about the kingdom of God [the rule and reign of God in the hearts of people; kingdom of God is not political or geographical’].

1:4 On one occasion [Lk. 24:43], while he was eating with them [a “convincing proof” that He was alive (cf. 1:3)], he gave them this command [Lk. 24:49]: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait [note: disciples not instructed to rush out and spread news about resurrected Christ, instead told to wait for the power to do so effectively; they would need power to spread the message and to endure persecution] for [reason for waiting] the gift my Father promised [outpouring of Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33); cf. Jn. 14:16-17; Lk. 24:49], which you have heard me speak about [cf. Jn. 15:26].

On one occasion prior to His ascension, Jesus commanded His disciples to stay in Jerusalem. Instead of fleeing opposition or going their separate ways, Jesus’ followers were to wait patiently for the Holy Spirit—the gift His Father had promised. Jesus had previously spoken to His disciples about the Holy Spirit’s role (John 14:16-17; Luke 24:49). They would need the Spirit’s power in order to effectively preach the gospel and endure the persecution they would undoubtedly experience.

1:5 For John baptized [means to immerse or totally submerge; Matt. 3:11] with [or “in”] water [John spoke of One who would baptize them “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Lk. 3:16)], but in a few days [the time of the Spirit’s coming was near; at Pentecost (Acts 2:4) ten days after Jesus’ ascension] you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit [Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, “all that Jesus is, is made available through all that I am.” (Ray Stedman)].”

Jesus reminded His disciples that John had baptized with or immersed others in water. John’s baptism in the Jordan River demonstrated repentance or a willingness to turn from sin. His baptism did not give salvation (in fact, no water baptism gives salvation) but prepared people to welcome the Messiah who would baptize them “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). In a few days, the Spirit would come to indwell believers at Pentecost. However, from that time on, believers have received the Holy Spirit and been baptized by Him into the Body of Christ—the Church (1 Cor. 12:13)—at the moment of conversion.

Note: “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.” (Phillips Brooks)

1:6 So when they [apostles] met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel [restore Israel’s political sovereignty; Israel had been under Roman domination since 63 BC]?”

Jesus spoke to His disciples about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). His teaching prompted the disciples to ask a question that was not entirely unreasonable, but reflected their misunderstanding of the kingdom. Like other Jews, they expected the Messiah to set up a political kingdom—restoring Israel to the political sovereignty and glory the nation had enjoyed in the days of King David. On one occasion they had argued among themselves as to who would have the highest rank in the kingdom (Luke 22:24-30). They now wondered if Jesus was going to free the nation from Roman rule.

1:7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times [general period of an event] or dates [precise time of an occurrence] the Father has set by his own authority.

Jesus gently rebuked the disciples for asking about God’s timetable for the restoration of the kingdom. The Father alone has the authority to set the timetable for all events. Instead of speculating about the future, they needed to focus on more immediate concerns—namely their new assignment. Perspiration for the kingdom is more important than speculation about the end times! We should live and serve as though Jesus will return at any moment (Mark 13:32-37).

1:8 [the promise of power] But you will receive power [supplied by the Holy Spirit; “Divine work can only be accomplished in dependence upon divine power.” (Nee)] when [the Person of power] the Holy Spirit comes on you; and [the purpose of power] you [all disciples, believers] will [the plan of power] be my witnesses [those who tell what they have experienced] in Jerusalem [Acts 1–7], and in all Judea and Samaria [Acts 8–12], and to the ends of the earth [Acts 13–28].”

In His last recorded statement on earth, Jesus gave His disciples a task rather than a timetable. He charged them with the responsibility of being His witnesses. Witnesses are those who testify about what they know and have experienced. Jesus also promised His followers that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit. This divine power would enable them to effectively tell others about Jesus. Starting in Jerusalem (Acts 1-7), Jesus’ followers were to take the good news to Judea and Samaria (Acts 8-12) and all the way the ends of the earth (Acts 13-28).

Sharing the gospel with others is the responsibility of every believer. However, we cannot effectively share Christ with others apart from the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The divine work of evangelism can only be accomplished in dependence upon divine power (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit plays a key role in every aspect of evangelism. He guides believers as they communicate the message of salvation with unbelievers (see Luke 12:12).

The Holy Spirit also convicts unbelievers “of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). He persuades unbelievers to place their faith in Jesus for salvation. You can count on the Holy Spirit to empower you to share the gospel with others. But, can the Holy Spirit count on you?

Like the early disciples, Christians today need the Holy Spirit’s power as we live for Christ and witness to others about Him. We must not keep silent about Jesus. The cost of such silence is high for those waiting to hear.

Note: The early Christians never witnessed about the church at all; they witnessed about the Lord—what He could do, how He would work, what a fantastic person He was, how amazing His power was, and what He could do in human hearts.” (Ray Stedman • Acts 1–12: Birth of the Body • p. 21)

1:9 After he said this, he was taken up [the Ascension confirms deity of Jesus; to His heavenly home] before their [those who witnessed the Ascension now had the responsibility of carrying on the work] very eyes, and a cloud [a symbol of God’s glory; cf. Ex. 13:21-22; 16:10; 19:9,16; 24:15-18; 33:9-10; 34:5; 40:34-35; cf. Lk. 9:34-35 re: cloud at Transfiguration] hid him from their sight.

1:10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.

1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven [cf. Lk. 21:27; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mk. 13:26].”

1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk [a half mile] from the city.

1:13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the [use of the definite article indicates this was a specific place known to the disciples] room [may have been the upper room in which they had eaten the Last Supper (Lk. 22:12); this particular room became the first meeting place of he church] where they were staying. Those present were Peter [an Aramaic word meaning “stone” or “rock”], John, James [along with Peter and John formed Jesus’ inner circle (see Mk. 5:37; 9:2)] and Andrew [Peter’s brother; had the gift of introducing others to Jesus as per John 1:40-42; 6:8-9; 12:20-22]; Philip [see Jn. 1:43-45] and Thomas [means twin; see John 20:24-29], Bartholomew [or Nathanael; recruited by Philip; see John 1:43-51] and Matthew [the tax collector]; James son of Alphaeus [possibly Matthew’s brother; see Mk. 2:14] and Simon the Zealot [either a man of religious zeal or a member of the revolutionary (terrorist) party known as the Zealots (committed to the violent overthrow of Roman rule in Israel)], and Judas son of James [most likely Thaddaeus (cf. Lk. 6:16].

1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer [a mark of the early church], along with the women [cf. Lk. 8:2-3; 23:49; 23:55–24:10 re: the women present at the Crucifixion] and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers [the other sons of Mary and Joseph who did not believe Jesus was the Messiah (Jn. 7:5) and that He was out of His mind (Mk. 3:21-35)].

Note: According to Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3, Jesus’ brothers were…
• James
• Joses (or Joseph)
• Judas (or Jude)
• Simon

1:15 In those days Peter [served as spokesman for the group] stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)

1:16 and said [Peter pointed those assembled to the Scriptures], “Brothers, the Scripture had to be [a divine necessity; because verses were regarded as a prophecy] fulfilled [these words put Judas’ betrayal and suicide into biblical perspective] which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David [cf. Ps. 69:25; 109:8] concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus—

1:17 he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.”

1:18 [vv. 17-18 are not part of Peter’s speech but Luke’s explanation of Judas’ suicide] (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he [cf. Matt. 27:7 re: Judas’ suicide] fell [likely because the branch from which he hung broke] headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.

1:19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

1:20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms, “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it [cf. Ps. 69:25],’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership [cf. Ps. 109:8].’

1:21 [the first decision of the church was to replace Judas] Therefore it is necessary [perhaps to fulfill the promises in Matt. 19:28 and Lk. 22:28-30] to choose [note two qualifications for Judas’ replacement…] [1] one of the men [an indication that, in addition to disciples, others had followed Jesus] who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us [thus one who was an eyewitness and could serve as a credible witness to what Jesus said and did],

1:22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. [2] For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

1:23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas [name means “son of the Sabbath”] (also known as Justus) and Matthias [name means “gift of God”].

1:24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen

1:25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.”

1:26 Then they cast lots [an OT method of determining God’s will; cf. Prov. 16:33; cf. Urim and Thummim in Lev. 8:8; 1 Chron. 26:13; Ezra 2:63; Neh. 7:65; this is the last biblical instance of seeking God’s will by casting lots; Holy Spirit guided Christians at Antioch to set aside Paul and Barnabas for missionary work (Acts 13:2)], and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles [“apostle” means messenger or missionary].

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