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Bible Commentaries
Acts 1

Dunagan's Commentary on the BibleDunagan's Commentary

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I. Introduction To This Volume: 1:1-5

II. The Promised Spirit: 1:6-8

III. The Ascension: 1:9-11

IV. The Fate of Judas And Selection Of Matthias: 1:12-26


Verse 1

Act_1:1 The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach,

'FORMER'-The first.

'TREATISE'-narrative. 'The use of "logos" (word) for treatise or historical narrative is common in ancient Greek..' (Robertson p. 3) 'In my first book' (Phi) Thus this verse admits the existence of the Gospel of Luke. It is interesting to note how the various New Testament books admit the existence of and actually endorse the inspiration of other books (see 2Pe_3:15-16 ; and 1Ti_5:18 , which contains a quotation of Luk_10:7 ).

'I MADE'-Luke was actually written by Luke.

'O THEOPHILUS'-(thih AHF uh luhs) (lover of God or friend of God).

Points to Note:

In the Gospel of Luke, this individual is addressed by the title "most excellent" ( Luk_1:3 ). The title "most excellent" could be used in a technical sense, indicating rank, or given by way of courtesy. From Luk_1:4 we learn that Theophilus was an individual who had been taught about Christ. The name Theophilus was a common name among both Jews and Gentiles from the third century B.C. onwards. Various theories concerning this man exist: (a) He was the defense lawyer for the hearing of Paul's appeal to Caesar. (b) He was a high Roman official who had converted to Christianity. (c) Reese notes, 'A more likely suggestion is that Theophilus was the patron of the book. He would see to the circulation of a large number of exact copies. He would pay for the publication of the book. It was a very common thing to name the patron who was sponsoring the book in the prologue.' (p. 2)

'ALL THAT JESUS BEGAN BOTH TO DO AND TO TEACH'-Reese says concerning the word "began", 'This is a Hebrew form of expression, meaning the same thing as "what Jesus did and taught".' (p. 2) Stott says the word "began" is significant, 'It is no exaggeration to say that they set Christianity apart from all other religions. These regard their founder as having completed his ministry during his lifetime; Luke says Jesus only began his.' (p. 34) All would agree that the book of Acts is a continuation of the work that Jesus started. And it is a record of Jesus working through and speaking through His apostles ( Heb_1:2 ; 1Co_14:37 ).

'TO DO'-i.e. His miracles, His acts of kindness and self-sacrifice. ( Act_10:38 'who went about doing good').

'AND TO TEACH'-People forget that Jesus "taught", He revealed definite doctrines that one must believe if they truly accept Him ( Luk_6:46 ; Joh_12:48 ; Joh_14:15 ).

Point to Note:

For Luke to keep on writing concerning events that happened after the ascension of Jesus Christ, is proof that all the information Christians need, isn't found in the Gospels. Luke didn't believe in the theory which says, 'Emphasize the Gospels, and downplay or ignore the rest of the New Testament.'

Verse 2

Act_1:2 until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

'UNTIL THE DAY IN WHICH HE WAS RECEIVED UP'-The Gospel of Luke ends with the ascension of Jesus Christ. Carefully note: From this statement we know that the book of Luke we currently possess correctly ends at the right spot! The Bible hasn't been corrupted. Books and chapters aren't missing! ( 1Pe_1:23 ).

'AFTER THAT HE HAD GIVEN COMMANDMENT THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT UNTO THE APOSTLES'-These instructions include the Great Commission ( Mar_16:15-16 ; Mat_28:18-20 ); and the injunction to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the promise from the Father ( Luk_24:44-49 ). Note how Jesus deliberately made provision for the continuance of the work that He had started.

'WHOM HE HAD CHOSEN'-( Luk_6:13 ). All the apostles, even the replacement for Judas ( Act_1:24 ); and Paul's selection (9:15; 22:14-15); were chosen personally by Jesus Christ. 'It is thus emphasized that all the apostles...were neither self-appointed, nor appointed by any human being, committee, synod or church..' (Stott p. 35).

Verse 3

Act_1:3 To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God:

'TO WHOM'-To the apostles.

'PASSION'-i.e. suffering

'BY MANY PROOFS'-'a convincing, decisive proof' (Stott p. 35); 'convincing manifestations' (Mon); 'convincing demonstrations' (Amp). We have a couple of these convincing demonstrations recorded in the Gospels ( Luk_24:38-43 ; Joh_20:26-29 ; Joh_21:1-22 ). 'The word speaks of proofs that carried certainty of conviction with them, as contrasted with those that were only probable or circumstantial.' (Reese p. 4)

'APPEARING UNTO THEM BY THE SPACE OF FORTY DAYS'-'The only passage where the interval between the resurrection and the ascension is given.' (Vincent p. 443) There are no less than 13 different appearances of Jesus to His disciples recorded in the New Testament. 'The idea conveyed by the Greek verb and preposition here is that our Lord was not with the apostles constantly..but that He came and again disappeared.' (Reese p. 5) 'At intervals during the forty days' (Robertson p. 6) See 1Co_15:5 ff.


Points to Note:

1. The same kingdom that Jesus said was "at hand" ( Mar_1:15 ) and would come with "power" ( Mar_9:1 ) within the lifetime of the apostles. This is the kingdom of O.T. prophecy ( Dan_2:44 ).

2. It is very easy to prove that the Kingdom of God was established in Acts Chapter 2: (a) The power came (1:8=2:1-4). (b) The kingdom is inherently connected with forgiveness of sins ( Rev_1:5-6 ; Rev_5:9-10 ), and the conditions to obtain such forgiveness is proclaimed by Peter (2:38). (c) Jesus is on His throne in Act_2:1-47 (2:30-32). If we have a King, then He must have a Kingdom to rule over.

3. Clearly, Jesus isn't teaching His apostles, 'The plan failed, God didn't anticipate Jewish opposition and rejection, therefore the Kingdom of God won't be set up until the Millennium.' By inspiration, Peter made it clear that no prophecies had been postponed ( Act_3:24 ).

4. Stott notes, 'He thus presented himself to their senses: their eyes, ears and hands. Such an objective experience of the risen Lord was an indispensable qualification of an apostle, which explains why Paul could be one ( 1Co_9:1 ; 1Co_15:8 ff)..and why there have been no comparable apostles since and can be none today.' (p. 35)

5. God made sure that people from all ages could have confidence in the apostles writings. These men were true eyewitnesses (1:21-22; 10:41).

6. Bruce notes, 'The Gnostic schools..claimed that He gave them certain esoteric teaching, not recorded..But Luke declares that He continued to instruct them on the same subjects as had formed the burden of His teaching before his passion--"the things concerning the Kingdom of God."' (pp. 33-34)

Verse 4

Act_1:4 and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me.:

'NOT TO DEPART FROM JERUSALEM'-The city from which the prophets had foretold that the House of God and the law of the Lord would spread out from ( Isa_2:2-4 'And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem'; Mic_4:1-5 ).

'THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER'-i.e. the promised Spirit or Comforter Who would guide them into all truth ( Joh_14:26 ; Joh_15:26-27 ; Joh_16:13 ; Luk_24:49 ).

Verse 5

Act_1:5 For John indeed baptized with water;but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence.

'FOR'-The statement that John made concerning the One who would baptized in the Holy Spirit ( Mat_3:11 ). Is only applied to two specific groups of people in the book of Acts, i.e. the apostles and the household of Cornelius (the first Gentile converts) ( Act_11:15-17 ). Jesus is telling His apostles, 'the time is drawing near when that prediction made by John would be fulfilled.' (Reese p. 7)

'NOT MANY DAYS HENCE'-'These words of Jesus were probably spoken not long before His ascension, and, of course, not many days before the day of Pentecost..' (Reese p. 10)

Points to Note:

1. Jesus isn't downplaying water baptism in the above verse. For He commanded it ( Mar_16:16 = Act_10:47-48 ). Those baptized under John's baptism, needed to be re-baptized under the baptism of the Great Commission ( Mar_16:15 ; Act_19:4-5 ). For it was only after His death that forgiveness of sins could truly be obtained.

2. The baptism with the Holy Spirit was a promise. But it wasn't promised to all. It was promised to specific individuals ( Joh_14:26 ), for a specific purpose ( Joh_16:13 ). You can obey a command, but you can't obey a promise.

3. Some people erroneously think the baptism of fire ( Mat_3:11 ), also came upon the apostles. But a careful examination of Act_2:3 reveals that the tongues were 'as of fire'. The baptism of fire mentioned in Mat_3:11 , involves a baptism of judgement and condemnation. See Mat_3:12 .

Verse 6

Act_1:6 They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?


Points to Note:

1. This question posed by the disciples has perplexed bible students for years. First of all, what are they asking? Most take their question to be, 'are you now going to make Israel an independent kingdom again' (Beck).

2. Reese notes, 'Their use of the word "restore" shows that they were still looking back to the glorious days gone by--the days of David and Solomon, when the Jewish nation was the ruler of the world--and were still hoping for such days to return..The apostles themselves had entertained ideas that in the restored kingdom they themselves would have places of honor ( Mar_10:35 ff). This false expectation was checked, and almost destroyed by his death ( Luk_24:21 ), but His return to life again excited their hopes..They saw now that His enemies had no power over Him. If they killed Him, He would just come back to life. They could not doubt that a being who could rise from the dead could easily accomplish His plans.' (pp. 10-11)

3. Some would say that it is hard to imagine that the disciples still have false ideas about the kingdom of God, seeing that this was the exact subject matter which Jesus had been discussing them (1:3), off and on over a period of 40 days. But we forget, that three years of teaching hadn't corrected some of their misconceptions either ( Mar_16:13-14 ).

4. God may have recorded this question, as proof that the apostles greatly needed the guidance of the Holy Spirit! They did need the help of the Holy Spirit before they began to spread the gospel message..'It was not possible for them to preach the gospel of the kingdom until they understood the "nature" of the kingdom' (Reese p. 11)

5. Now McGuiggan has an interesting slant on this question. He denies that the apostles were still operating under the misconception that the kingdom of God would be an earthly and political kingdom. For he argues that they had been taught ( Luke 24:25-26; 45 ; Act_1:3 ). In addition, he argues that there is nothing wrong with the word "restore", for the Church is the "restored" kingdom of God, it is true Israel under the reign of the Messiah ( Eph_1:22-23 ; Gal_6:16 ), it is the remnant ( Rom_11:5 ). He argues that the only misconception that the apostles were operating under-and would continue to operate under prior to Acts chapter 10, is that the kingdom either exclusively belonged to "Israel", or that salvation for Gentiles was inherently tied to them first becoming Jews. He points out that many O.T. passages had linked the salvation of the "nations" to the Jews ( Zec_8:23 ; Gen_12:3 ; Isa_2:2 ff; Amo_9:11-12 ). And that these men thought, until God told them different, that entering the kingdom of God was for the circumcised. That they had not anticipated that the kingdom of God could be entered by the uncircumcised, raw heathen. See Acts 10-11. 1 Hence the only misconception in the above question is there emphasis on the word "Israel".

Verse 7

Act_1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority.

'IT IS NOT FOR YOU TO KNOW TIMES OR SEASONS'-To their question of "at this time", Jesus will respond, "You just have to wait" (1:8). 'It is not your business to learn times and dates' (Wms). They would know that the time was right when the Holy Spirit came upon them.

'HATH SET WITHIN HIS OWN AUTHORITY'-This verse may sound "cold", but it reminds the apostles, that even though they will be the personal witnesses of Jesus Christ, and be guided into all truth, they are still mere men--and God is still God. Inspired men still only know what God has chosen to tell them ( Deu_29:29 ).

Verse 8

Act_1:8 But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

'BUT'-'It was not important for them to know the time at which the kingdom would be established; but it was all-important that they should receive the power necessary to the part which they were to take in its inception and progress.' (McGarvey p. 6)

'POWER'-Hence the Kingdom of God would come when the Holy Spirit would come. Compare Mar_9:1 with Act_1:8 .

'MY WITNESSES'-2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39; 13:31; 22:15. This power not only enabled the apostles to speak by inspiration, but it also enabled them to work miracles, which demonstrated that their "witness" was truthful ( Heb_2:3-4 ). Stott reminds us that the word "apostle" means 'an envoy, delegate or ambassador, sent out with a message and carrying the authority of the sender.' (p. 36)

Points to Note:

1. Notice that Jesus in answering their question says nothing about the Kingdom being postponed.

2. Jesus had taught by word and example that the Kingdom of God He was talking about, was a spiritual kingdom ( Joh_3:5 ; Joh_18:36 ). In fact, He has personally rejected the offer to be king over a physical empire ( Joh_6:15 ). Act_1:8 once again reminds us of the spiritual nature of this kingdom. 'The kingdom of God..is spread by witnesses, not by soldiers, through a gospel..not a declaration of war..and not by force of arms, political intrigue or revolutionary violence.' (Stott p. 42)

3. Let us be impressed that the apostles were the "witnesses". They were uniquely and purposefully qualified to give not only eyewitness, but inspired testimony. We are not the "witnesses". Like all others, we simply have the choice to accept or reject their testimony.

'IN JERUSALEM'-Where the testimony must start- Isa_2:2-3 . In addition, this would vindicate Jesus in the city in which He was so wrongly condemned. McGarvey notes, 'the most devout portion of the Jewish people, that portion which had been most favorably impressed by the preparatory preaching of John and Jesus, were always collected in Jerusalem at the great annual festivals, and hence a beginning could be made there with greater success than elsewhere.' (p. 7)

'ALL JUDEA'-The southern division of the land of Palestine.

'SAMARIA'-The region between Galilee and Judea, to the north of Jerusalem. The gospel will penetrate this region in Acts chapter 8.

'UNTO THE UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH'-i.e. to all the Gentile nations. The same concept as found in Mar_16:15 .

Points to Note:

1. Many have pointed out that Act_1:8 provides the reader with a kind of "Table of Contents" for the whole book. 'Chapters 1-7 describe events in Jerusalem, chapter 8 mentions the scattering of the disciples "throughout Judea and Samaria" (8:1), and goes on to record the evangelization of a Samaritan city by Philip (8:5-24)..while the conversion of Saul in chapter 9 leads on in the rest of the book to his missionary expeditions, and finally to his journey to Rome.' (Stott p. 43)

2. This verse reminds us that everyone needs the gospel message, for all have sinned ( Rom_3:23 ), and the only forgiveness available for sin is found in Jesus Christ ( Act_4:12 ).


Verse 9

Act_1:9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

'AS THEY WERE LOOKING'-Reese notes, 'it was important to state that the apostles witnessed His ascension. It was not affirmed in the New Testament that anyone actually saw Jesus while He was coming out of the tomb at His resurrection.' (p. 14) Notice how God is always trying to assist us in reaching the right conclusions. The fact that Jesus ascended proved: (a) The appearances (1:3) had come to an end. Stott notes, 'The reason for a public and visible ascension is surely that he wanted them to know that he had gone for good...This time his departure was final. So they were not to wait around for his next resurrection appearance. Instead, they were to wait for somebody else, the Holy Spirit (1:4).' (p. 49) (b) His kingdom is spiritual, for He will reign from Heaven. (c) They hadn't been deceived, for Jesus didn't vanish secretly or mysteriously, but ascended into heaven before their very eyes.

'A CLOUD RECEIVED HIM OUT OF THEIR SIGHT'-'a cloud closing beneath Him hid Him from their sight' (Wey)

Verse 10

Act_1:10 And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

'LOOKING STEDFASTLY INTO HEAVEN'-'gazing intently' (NASV); 'strained their eyes' (Knox). You would stare too!

'TWO MEN STOOD BY THEM'-The tense seems to suggest that the apostles didn't immediately notice these two men.

'IN WHITE APPAREL'-i.e. angels ( Luk_24:4 ).

Verse 11

Act_1:11 who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.

'WHY STAND YE LOOKING INTO HEAVEN?'-'There seems to be a slight degree of censure implied in these words, and the angels are calling the apostles away from their vain attempt to see the departed Savior one more time.' (Reese p. 16)

'THIS JESUS..SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER'-( 1Th_4:16 ). Reese says, 'Note that neither the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost, nor the destruction of Jerusalem, nor the death of the believer, is the "second coming" of Jesus. Jesus himself is to return!' (p. 16)

Points to Note:

1. The practical application of this "rebuke", is that the apostles are not to be "sky-scanners". Looking intently at the sky won't bring Jesus back, nor will it make Him came back that much sooner. 'Their calling was to be witnesses not stargazers.' (Stott p. 51)

2. '"this same Jesus" certainly indicates that his coming will be personal, the Eternal Son still possessing his glorified...body.' (Stott p. 50)


Verse 12

Act_1:12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is nigh unto Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey off.

'FROM THE MOUNT CALLED OLIVET'-Which is a north-to-south ridge of hills east of Jerusalem, rising to about 2,676 ft. 'The Mount of Olives is on the east of Jerusalem, and must be passed by those who go from Jerusalem to Bethany.' ( Luk_24:50 ) 2

'A SABBATH DAY'S JOURNEY OFF'-about 2000 cubits or 3/5 of a mile. According to Jewish tradition, it was the distance that one could lawfully travel on the Sabbath day, without violating the prohibition about working on the Sabbath. "It was the supposed distance between the camp and the tabernacle in the wilderness." (Vincent p. 444) Hence, 'no part of the camp was more than 2000 cubits from the tabernacle--and of course, the Jews would be allowed to travel this distance as they were coming to worship.' (Reese p. 17)

Point to Note:

Nothing in the text indicates exactly where on the Mount of Olives Jesus ascended. Boles notes, 'Luke says here that the Mount of Olives was a Sabbath Day's journey from Jerusalem, not that Jesus was precisely that distance when he ascended.' (p. 24) Nothing in the text says that when Jesus comes He will descend in the vicinity of the Mount of Olives. In fact, the Bible says that we will meet Him in the air ( 1Th_4:17 ).

Verse 13

Act_1:13 And when they were come in, they went up into the upper chamber, where they were abiding; both Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.

'THE UPPER CHAMBER'-'With the article, denoting some well-known place of resort. It was the name given to the room directly under the flat roof. Such rooms were often set apart as halls for meetings ( Act_20:8 ; Act_9:37 ).' (Vincent p. 444)

'ABIDING'-'The participle and finite verb denoting continuance or habitual residence.' (Vincent p. 444)

Point to Note:

This is the last place in the New Testament where many of the apostles are mentioned by name.

Verse 14

Act_1:14 These all with one accord continued stedfastly in prayer, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

'WITH ONE ACCORD'-'one mind' (Wey). 'denotes entire harmony of their views and feelings. There were no schisms, no divided interests, no discordant purposes.' (Reese p. 19)

'CONTINUED STEADFASTLY IN PRAYER'-'Since early in the 20th century, some have tired to use this verse to prove that it took the apostles ten days to "pray down" the Holy Spirit.' (Reese p. 19) Unfortunately, such a concept completely misses the point. God would give them the Holy Spirit-in His own time (1:8). They were praying, because prayer was simply a part of their lives. And this emphasis upon prayer continued after Pentecost ( Act_2:42 ; Act_6:4 ).

'WITH THE WOMEN'-i.e. probably those mentioned in the Gospels, Mary Magdalene, Salome, Johanna, Susanna, Mary and Martha of Bethany and others. 'These women would have been mentioned in this informal way because they would be remembered by one who, like Theophilus, had read the first volume of Luke's history.' (Reese p. 19) This statement may also include the various wives of the apostles ( 1Co_9:5 ; Mat_8:14 ).

'MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS'-The last time Mary is mentioned in the New Testament. One writer said, 'She has a position of respect, but there is no halo about her head. She is loved but not worshipped.' 3

'AND WITH HIS BRETHREN'- Mar_6:3 ; Mat_12:46 . These are younger brothers of Jesus. Four are mentioned by name in the New Testament, James, Joses, Judas and Simon ( Mar_6:3 ; Mat_12:46 . At one point they didn't believe in Jesus ( Joh_7:5 ). But now they do believe. Mat_13:55-56 reveals that Jesus also had younger sisters. James is the most prominent brother, being mentioned often in the New Testament (12:17; 15:13; 21:18; 1Co_15:7 . Most believe that it was this James who wrote the book of James and the brother by the name of Judas wrote the book of Jude.

Points to Note:

1. Because Roman Catholicism argues for the perpetual virginity of Mary ('The Virgin Mary'), they argue that these "brothers", were either children from a previous marriage (on Joseph's side) or cousins.

2. But there is no Scriptural reason to keep Mary a perpetual virgin, unless one has a distorted view of the "goodness" of marriage and the sexual relationship ( 1Ti_4:1-4 ).


Verse 15

Act_1:15 And in these days Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren, and said (and there was a multitude of persons gathered together, about a hundred and twenty),

'IN THESE DAYS'-'at this time'. Since 50 days constituted the time period between Passover and Pentecost. And 40 days have already transpired (1:3). We know that this event happened at least 10 days before the day of Pentecost.

'PETER STOOD UP'-Peter took the lead, not because he would take Jesus' place. For he often spoke out first, even when Jesus was present ( Mat_16:16-17 ). Jesus had made it clear that all the apostles stood on equal ground with each other ( Mat_23:8-11 ). Paul agrees ( Gal_2:6 ). 'Some think that Peter was the oldest of the apostles; hence, he took the lead.' (Boles p. 26) It could also be that during the 40 day period of instruction, Jesus had commanded the apostles to fill the space left vacant by Judas' death.

'ABOUT A HUNDRED AND TWENTY'-We know that at least 500 brethren existed at this time ( 1Co_15:6 ). The 120 may be the brethren that lived in the area of Jerusalem.

Verse 16

Act_1:16 Brethren, it was needful that the Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spake before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus.

'THAT THE SCRIPTURE SHOULD BE FULFILLED, WHICH THE HOLY SPIRIT SPAKE BEFORE BY THE MOUTH OF DAVID'-Another Scripture which asserts that David was an inspired man. And that Scripture is the result when the Holy Spirit speaks through someone ( 2Pe_1:20-21 )

'THE SCRIPTURE'-The specific Scripture that Peter is referring to could be the Scripture he later cites in 1:20, which is a quotation from Psa_69:25 ; Psa_109:8 . We know that Jesus, in Joh_13:18 , applied Psa_41:9 to Judas. See also Joh_17:12 .


Points to Note:

1. Some think that since the betrayal of Jesus was foretold, that Judas didn't have any choice in the matter. But carefully note that nothing in the above cited passages specifically mentions Judas by name. McGarvey notes, 'They occur in the midst of curses pronounced..concerning wicked men in general who persecute the servants of God. But if it be proper that the habitations of such men in general should be made desolate, and that any office they held should be given to others; it was preeminently so in the case of Judas.' (pp. 14-15)

2. We can't say that Jesus purposefully picked a traitor, for He spent a whole night in prayer before He selected the 12 ( Luk_6:12 ). In addition, we must add that Jesus let the straying Judas know, that He knew what was going on in Judas' heart ( Joh_6:66-71 ; Joh_13:27 ).

3. Some writers try to excuse Judas' actions. But the fact of the matter is that the Bible offers no excuse for him and uses the strongest language possible in speaking of his character ( Joh_12:3-6 ; Joh_17:12 ; Act_1:18 'price of his wickedness.')

'WHO WAS GUIDE TO THEM THAT TOOK JESUS'-Some argue that Judas' intentions for betraying Jesus were good. Barclay says, 'it may well be that Judas never meant Jesus to die. He may well have betrayed Jesus with the intention of forcing Jesus' hand. He may have sought to put Jesus into a position in which, if He was to save His own life, He would be bound to use His power, and where He would be forced to act against the Romans.' (p. 9) In light of Joh_12:3-6 and Act_1:18 , I think we must reject this interpretation. And especially in light of Joh_12:3-6 , we must conclude that Judas simply betrayed Jesus for the money.

Verse 17

Act_1:17 For he was numbered among us, and received his portion in this ministry.

'HE WAS NUMBERED AMONG US'-'one of our number' (Wms). 'Peter is not ashamed to state that one of the twelve betrayed the Master; inspiration has been true to the fact and recorded this betrayal.' (Boles p. 27)

'RECEIVED HIS PORTION IN THIS MINISTRY'-From this verse we must deny the claim, that Jesus purposely chose a spy and traitor to be one of his disciples. This verse teaches us that Jesus fully intended for Judas to be one of the apostles. All the privileges, advantages and powers that the other 11 received, Judas also received. 'The Master chose him and gave him his opportunity.' (Robertson p. 16)

'PORTION'-2819. kleros klay'-ros; probably from 2806 (through the idea of using bits of wood, etc., for the pively) to assign (a privilege): -obtain an inheritance.

Carries the idea of one chosen by Divine appointment ( Act_1:26 ; Act_26:18 ; Col_1:12 ; 1Pe_5:3 ). Obviously, Judas' wasn't predestined to fail.

Point to Note:

Judas poses a big problem for the advocates of once saved, always saved. The above passages clearly teach us that Judas had the same portion, position and advantages as the rest of the apostles. But he ended up lost. He even had miraculous powers ( Mat_10:1 ).

Verse 18

Act_1:18 (Now this man obtained a field with the reward of his iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

'OBTAINED A FIELD WITH THE REWARD OF HIS INIQUITY'-Matthew records that the chief priests took the betrayal money left by Judas and purchased a field with it (27:3-10). Hence, indirectly Judas purchased the field. Some even say that the chief priests purchased it in the name of Judas.

'INIQUITY'-93. adikia ad-ee-kee'-ah; from 94; (legal) injustice (properly, the quality, by implication, the act); morally, wrongfulness (of character, life or act): -iniquity, unjust, unrighteousness, wrong.

-The Holy Spirit doesn't assign any good, noble, well-meaning intentions or motives to the actions of Judas.

'FALLING HEADLONG, HE BURST ASUNDER IN THE MIDST, AND ALL HIS BOWELS GUSHED OUT'-According to Matthew, after Judas threw the betrayal money, he went out and hanged himself (27:5). Luke gives us some additional information. Evidently either the rope broke, or whatever he had attached the other end gave way. This verse indicates that the body of Judas fell to the ground from some height and also when it fell, it was in a "ripe" condition.

'HEADLONG'-'flat on the face as opposed to..on the back' (Robertson p. 16)

'IN THE MIDST'-'in the middle' (NASV). 'It should be noted by the English reader that "in the midst" does not mean "in the midst of the field", but refers of Judas's body.' (Bruce p. 49)

'If he fell and burst asunder, he must have fallen a considerable distance; or when he fell his abdomen must have been in a somewhat decayed condition; or both may have been true.' (McGarvey p. 13)

Verse 19

Act_1:19 And it became known to all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch that in their language that field was called Akeldama, that is, The field of blood.)

'AND IT BECAME KNOWN TO ALL THE DWELLERS AT JERUSALEM'-Reese notes, 'Some one found the body. And by and by, the scene in the temple, the acts of the priests in purchasing the field, and the discovery of Judas' body (possibly in that very field-even though the text doesn't say), all would become known.' (p. 25) Luke is telling the reader, that he has been to Jerusalem, and the cat is out of the bag. People know why the priests bought the potters field, they know the bargain transacted between Judas and the priests, etc..

'IN THEIR LANGUAGE'-Notice how God helps us to properly understand His revelation. For the non-Jewish reader, words are defined. Carefully note that what is found parenthesis in verses 18-19, is Luke by inspiration assisting the reader to understand what had transpired. Verses 18-19 are his inspired editorial comments to help the reader understand Peter's speech.

'AKELDAMA'-(ah kell DA mah) 'A tradition from the fourth century places this plot of ground on the Hill of Evil Counsel, a level plot overlooking the Valley of Hinnom.' (Nelsons p. 33)

'THAT IS, THE FIELD OF BLOOD'-The people nick-named this field 'the field of blood', either because they realized that it had been purchased with 'blood-money', and or the mangled body of Judas was found there.

McGarvey notes: 'The probability is that the piece of land had been rendered comparatively worthless by the excavations which the potter had made in search of potter's clay ( Mat_27:7 )..' (p. 13) And this is why the chief priests were able to pick of this piece of land which so was close to the city of Jerusalem.

Verse 20

Act_1:20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be made desolate, And let no man dwell therein: and, His office let another take.

'FOR IT IS WRITTEN'-As we journey through Acts be impressed that the apostles firmly believe that O.T. prophecy is being fulfilled in the First Century (2:16; 3:24, etc..). These inspired men are not acting like the prophecies of the O.T. have been postponed. Rather, they act like everything is on track.



Point to Note:

Some writers actually argue that the apostles acted wrongly in appointing another apostle. But notice how Peter is appealing to O.T. Scripture as justification for this selection. Note: He isn't appealing to "feelings" or "we just think it is a good idea".

Verse 21

Act_1:21 Of the men therefore that have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us,

Verse 22

Act_1:22 beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up from us, of these must one become a witness with us of his resurrection.

'OF THESE'-'Peter probably refers to the 70 disciples, when he speaks of men who have accompanied us ( Luk_10:1-2 ).' (Reese p. 27)

'MUST ONE'-This was the only remaining loose end before Pentecost arrived. Bruce notes, 'it would not be fitting to leave the apostolic total short by one, when the total was intentionally fixed by Jesus to correspond to the twelve tribes of Israel ( Luk_22:30 ; Mat_19:28 ).' (pp. 49-50)

Points to Note:

1. Definite qualifications existed for the apostles. This is why Paul claims that he saw the resurrected Christ ( 1Co_9:1 ), as proof of his apostolic status. Clearly, no man can meet these qualifications today ( 1Co_15:8 ).

2. The ministry of Jesus began with the baptism of John. This exactly agrees with the Gospels ( Luk_3:23 ), and when the future apostles first came into contact with Him ( Joh_1:40 ).

3. Carefully note. Jesus didn't have a ministry before this. He hadn't been off teaching in Tibet or India as some claim.

4. The apostles had to be actual eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. For this event would form the very heart of the Gospel message. Notice how God is compassionate. The apostles would suffer much for their preaching. And God knew that. But He made it so that they knew they were suffering for something absolutely true and right--for they had seen the resurrected Jesus with their own eyes.

Verse 23

Act_1:23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

'PUT FORWARD TWO'-Possibly only two fit the qualifications.

'BARSABBAS'-His Hebrew name, meaning 'born (son of) on the Sabbath'.

'JUSTUS'-His Latin name.

'MATTHIAS'-(muh THIGH us) (gift of Jehovah).

Verse 24

Act_1:24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show of these two the one whom thou hast chosen,

'WHO KNOWEST THE HEARTS OF ALL MEN'-( 1Ch_28:9 ; Jer_17:10 ). 'They appealed to God himself to select one who would be true, and not bring dishonor to the cause of Christ. The apostles knew only the qualifications--but God knew the heart.' (Reese p. 29) This appears to indicate that Judas had "looked" righteous on the outside. In fact, the truth that the other disciples never caught on to his hypocrisy, until after the fact, would confirm the same suspicion.

'THE ONE WHOM THOU HAST CHOSEN'-Indicating that the apostles already knew that the Lord had made His choice.

Verse 25

Act_1:25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place.

'TO HIS OWN PLACE'-i.e. a place of destruction. 'It is the place which was peculiarly his, as befitting his awful sin--Gehenna.' (Vincent p. 447) Carefully note that the text says that Judas "fell away". He had freewill ( Heb_3:12 ).

Verse 26

Act_1:26 And they gave lots for them; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

'GAVE LOTS FOR THEM'-A practice often used in the O.T. ( Num_26:55 ; Jos_7:14 ; 1Sa_10:20-21 ; Lev_16:8 ; Pro_16:33 . 'A specially marked stone was place among other stones in a cloth (like we place slips of paper in a hat), or in a container of some kind, and then drawn out, or shaken out..This is the only instance of the use of lots in the New Testament.' (Reese p. 31)

Points to Note:

Bruce wisely observes, 'It should be observed that they did not cast lots haphazardly; they first selected the two men whom they judged worthiest to fill the vacancy. It may well be that there was nothing to choose between Joseph and Matthias...was a very reasonable way of deciding on one of the two.' (p. 51)

In addition, we often forget that Jesus may have commanded the disciples to use this method when He was instructing them concerning the Kingdom of God. It appears that this whole section is simply the disciples carrying out a command of Jesus before the Spirit comes.

'HE WAS NUMBERED WITH THE ELEVEN APOSTLES'-'the statement of Luke..was written long after the inspiration of the twelve, and it expresses their final judgement in the case...All was now in readiness, and the next section of the story opens with the advent of the expected Spirit.' (McGarvey pp. 17-18)

Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Acts 1". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dun/acts-1.html. 1999-2014.
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