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Bible Commentaries
Acts 1

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-3

Setting the Stage

Luke tells his reader that his first book set forth those things Jesus did and taught. It seems significant that he would mention actions first, then words. Unlike those of us who have sinned, Jesus' actions were consistent with his preaching. In fact, they underscored his teachings. Those actions and words were concluded on the day our Lord ascended into the heavens to be seated on the right hand of the Father. In his instructions following the resurrection, the stage was set for the remainder of the book of Acts (1:1).

While on earth, Jesus took the form of a man and relied on the Holy Spirit to empower him to work miracles. Such resulted in the warning Jesus gave those who would attribute his power to work miracles to the devil. After all, he really worked miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit ( Mar_3:20-30 ). Paul even told the Roman brethren he was raised by the power of the Spirit ( Rom_1:4 ). Luke tells us Jesus also gave commands through the Holy Spirit (1:2).

The apostles were the ones who received those commands of the Christ. After all, they had seen him alive after his death and burial, as could be proven by over five hundred witnesses ( 1Co_15:1-11 ). For forty days, the resurrected King taught his chosen apostles important truths concerning the kingdom of God, or church (1:3). From the time Jesus ascended, he spoke to his apostles through the promised Spirit ( Joh_16:13 ). So, in the truest sense, the title for this book could be "The Acts of Jesus As Seen in the Workings of the Spirit in the Lives of the Apostles."

Verses 4-5

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

During the days following the resurrection, Jesus appeared to his apostles on several different occasions. On the one mentioned in Act_1:4 , the Lord may have eaten with the apostles, as the margin of the American Standard Version suggests. Certainly, we know Jesus did eat with his disciples following the resurrection. Luke records one incident in Luk_24:36-43 . Peter told those assembled in the house of Cornelius that Jesus ate and drank with certain witnesses following being raised from the dead.

However, what really matters is that he instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until the Father's promise, about which he had told them, came. The promise he refers to is the coming of the Comforter, or Helper ( Joh_14:15-18 ; Joh_16:5-15 ). All the apostles had been baptized by John in water at their repentance, but Jesus told them before many days passed they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit ( Act_1:5 ; Mar_1:4 ).

Verses 6-8

Questions Concerning the Kingdom

Concepts developed in childhood are sometimes difficult to change. Such was certainly the case with the apostles' thinking about the kingdom Jesus would establish. They believed it would be an earthly kingdom that would conquer all of its enemies. So, "they asked Him saying, 'Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?'" The Lord told them only the Father knows the precise timing of events he has planned, which would include the establishment of the kingdom and the end of time ( Act_1:6-7 ; Mat_24:36 ).

While they could not know God's timetable, it was important for the apostles to know they were to receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Then, they were to take their witness into all the world, radiating out in ever widening circles from Jerusalem ( Act_1:8 ).

Verses 9-11

Jesus Ascends Into Heaven

Having issued these final instructions, Jesus began to bless the apostles. At that moment, Jesus was taken up into a cloud. This is the fulfillment of the Lord's own prediction when he asked his disciples, "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?" ( Joh_6:62 ; see also Mar_14:62 ). Before he came to earth, Jesus was with the Father in Heaven. The apostles saw him begin his ascent back to the throne.

One can almost imagine the apostles standing, mouths agape, looking up into the clouds where they had last seen the Savior. While they were looking, Luke tells us two men in white clothing stood by and told them Jesus would come again in the same way they had seen him go. Matthew describes the appearance of the angel who rolled away the stone by saying, "His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow." Since it seems the two men in shining garments in Luk_24:4 are called angels in Joh_20:12 , it is very likely the two "men" who Luke says stood by the apostles are angels who appeared in the form of men ( Act_1:9-11 ; Luk_24:50-51 ). The statements of the angels in reference to the Lord's return clearly indicate he will come literally, visibly and in his glorified body.

Verses 12-14

Praying in Jerusalem

In full accord with the Lord's instructions, those who had seen Jesus ascend went into the city of Jerusalem and assembled in an upper room. In his previous writing to Theophilus, Luke had said their return to the city was a joyful one. He also reported that they "were continually in the temple praising and blessing God" ( Luk_24:52-53 ). Clearly, the time of sorrow following the crucifixion was over and the apostles realized the events they had witnessed were reason for rejoicing. The eleven, Mary, the Lord's mother, his half-brothers and some other unidentified disciples were constantly found in prayer as they awaited the promise of the Holy Spirit ( Act_1:12-14 ).

Verses 15-19

Matthias Chosen to Take Judas' Office

Sometime during that period of waiting, Peter addressed a group of about 120 disciples in reference to the office formerly held by Judas. He had to be replaced because he had been numbered with them and had a part in the ministry the Lord had given to the apostles.

The entire assembly would have been acquainted with the facts surrounding Judas' death and the purchase of the "Field of Blood." Having realized what he had done, Judas threw the thirty pieces of silver down in the temple and went out and hanged himself. From what Luke further reports, we conclude either the branch he used to hang himself on or the rope itself broke and Judas' body fell and burst open. The chief priests did not feel blood money should be placed in the treasury, so they purchased a field in which to bury strangers ( Act_1:15-19 ; Mat_27:3-10 ).

Verses 20-22

Quoting from Psa_69:25 ; Psa_109:8 , Peter reported that the Holy Spirit, through David, had said the habitation of Judas, perhaps as Ash suggests referring to the Field of Blood, would become desolate and another would be chosen to take his office. So, Peter set forth certain qualifications necessary for one to be chosen to take the office of an apostle. He had to have been with the Lord from the time of the baptism of John to the ascension. He would especially need to be able to stand forth as a witness of the resurrection ( Act_1:20-22 ).

Verses 23-26

Two men were selected who met those qualifications, Barsabas, surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Then, they addressed a prayer to the One who knows hearts, thus acknowledging their own inability to see into the inward thoughts of others. Their prayer was also a means of expressing complete dependance upon God for making a correct decision. They asked that the Ruler of the universe guide the selection process so that the right man would be chosen. "And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles" ( Act_1:23-26 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Acts 1". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/acts-1.html. 2014.
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