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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Acts 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-5

The Prologue: Reference to the Gospel of Luke - The prologue to the book of Acts serves as a brief summary of the Gospel of Luke , which is the first of the dual writings of Luke -Acts. This prologue also states the theme of these books. In Acts 1:1 the writer makes a clear reference to the Gospel of Luke , as a companion book to the book of Acts. He tells us that this "former account" was about all that Jesus began to do and to teach. If we examine the Gospel of Luke we can find two major divisions of Jesus' earthly ministry before His Passion. In Luke 4:14 to Luke 9:50 we have the testimony of His Galilean Ministry in which Jesus did many wonderful miracles to reveal His divine authority as the Christ, the Son of God. This passage emphasizes the works that Jesus did under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 9:51 to Luke 21:38 the narrative material places emphasis upon Jesus teaching and training His disciples to do the work of the Kingdom of God. Thus, the Gospel of Luke can be divided into this twofold emphasis of Jesus' works and His teachings. Acts 1:2-5 then makes a clear reference to the rest of Luke's Gospel beginning from His Passion until His ascension ( Luke 22:1 to Luke 24:53).

The Theme of the Book of Acts Reflected in the Prologue- The theme of each book in the Holy Bible is revealed in the first few verses of each book. The theme of the book of Acts is revealed in its opening verses, which is the testimony of the apostles under anointing of the Holy Spirit, which is emphasized in the opening verses of this writing, and are both referred to in the closing verses of Acts ( Acts 28:25; Acts 28:30-31).

Acts 28:25, "And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,"

Acts 28:30-31, "And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."

John's Gospel states that the book of Acts gives us the testimonies of the Holy Spirit and of the early disciples

John 15:26-27, "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning."

Comparison of the Structure of Luke -Acts with the Gospel of Matthew - We can also see the two-fold aspect Jesus and doing and teaching in the Gospel of Matthew , in which Jesus always demonstrated the work of the ministry before teaching it. For example, in Matthew 8:1 to Matthew 9:38, Jesus performed nine miracles before instructing His disciples and sending them out to perform miracles in Matthew 10:1-42. Then in Matthew 11:1 to Matthew 12:50, the Gospel records examples of how people reacted to the preaching of the Gospel before Jesus teaches on this same subject in the parables of Matthew 13:1-52. We then see examples of how Jesus handled offences in Matthew 13:53 to Matthew 17:27 before He teaches on this subject in Matthew 18:1-35. Jesus also prepares for His departure in Matthew 19:1 to Matthew 25:46 before teaching on His second coming in Matthew 24-25.

The Author's Rhetorical Use of Chiasm - Chiasm is a literary device used in antiquity that arranges thoughts and words into a symmetrical order. David Allen notes how Luke uses the rhetorical device of "chiasm" in the prologue and conclusion to the book of Acts. In his prologue to Acts , we find the key words "Jesus," "teach," and "kingdom of God" mentioned in this order, while the conclusion reverses this word order as "kingdom of God," "teaching," and "Jesus." Allen says this structure served as a "linguistic signature" of Luke. 103] Ancient literature used such rhetorical devices for emphasis or for the purpose of persuading one's listeners towards a particular view. 104] In this rhetorical device, Luke is testifying to the expansion of the Kingdom of God through the preaching and teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the apostolic office of Paul and others.

103] David L. Allen, "Class Lecture," Doctor of Ministry Seminar, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 25 July to 5 August 2011.

104] Gaston Boissier, trans. W. G. Hutchison, Tacitus and Other Roman Studies (London: Archibald Constable and Company, Ltd, 1906), 3.

The Author's Rhetorical Use of Alliteration - Alliteration is a rhetorical device that repeats the beginning sound of a word. Luke and the author of Hebrews employ alliteration in the prologues of their writings by using words that begin with the Greek letter " π." Within the opening sentences of Luke's prologue to his Gospel and to the book of Acts and in the epistle of Hebrews are found five words whose lexical form begins with the letter " π." David Allen cites this "signature" in Luke -Acts to argue for Lucan authorship to the epistle of Hebrews as well. 105]

105] David L. Allen, "Class Lecture," Doctor of Ministry Seminar, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 25 July to 5 August 2011.

Acts 1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

Acts 1:1 — "The former treatise" - Comments- The Greek word translated into English as "treatise" in Luke 1:1 is λόγος. Goodspeed tells us that when the ancient Greeks would visit foreign lands, they would return and write down their memoirs as travel narratives and call them a " λόγοι," or "accounts," of their journey. Luke uses the same Greek word in the same context. 106] "The former treatise" is a reference to the Gospel of Luke.

106] Edgar J. Goodspeed, Introduction to the New Testament (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1937), 198; Wilmer Wright writes a chapter on ancient Greek "logographers." See Wilmer C. Wright, A Short History of Greek Literature (New York: American Book Company, 1907), 152-64.

"have I made" - Comments- Luke , the beloved physician, and traveling companion of Paul the apostle, is the author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Paul mentions his name a number of times within his epistles ( Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11).

Colossians 4:14, " Luke , the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you."

2 Timothy 4:11, "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark , and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry."

"O Theophilus" - Comments- The name of Theophilus is unique to the New Testament, but it was probably a common name in this period of Greco-Roman history. For example, there was Theophilus of Antioch, the sixth bishop of Antioch in the second century; 107] there was a patriarch of Alexandria by this name; 108] and there was a bishop of Caesarea in Palestine named Theophilus. 109] Why would Luke have chosen to dedicate his writings to such a man? St. Thomas Aquinas quotes Remigius of Auzerre (c. A.D 841to c 908) as saying that Luke wrote his Gospel while residing "in the parts of Achaia and Baeotia," "at the request of Theophilus." 110] Thus, history tells us that Theophilus played an important role in the writing of Luke's Gospel.

107] Theophilus to Autolycus, trans. Marcus Dods, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 2, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Buffalo, New York: The Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1885), 85-121.

108] F. L. Cross, and E. A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, c 1957, 1983), 1364.

109] Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, 7446, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 7, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Buffalo, New York: The Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1886), 477-8.

110] St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, vol 1, Matthew , pt 1 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 5.

As to the identity of Theophilus, the Constitutions of the Apostles, a collection of ecclesiastical law that is believed to have been compiled during the latter half of the fourth century, states that a man named Theophilus became the third bishop of the church at Caesarea.

"Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these:--James the bishop of Jerusalem, the brother of our Lord; upon whose death the second was Simeon the son of Cleopas; after whom the third was Judas the son of James. Of Caesarea of Palestine, the first was Zacchaeus, who was once a publican; after whom was Cornelius, and the third Theophilus." (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, 7446) 111]

111] Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, 7446, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 7, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Buffalo, New York: The Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1886), 477-8.

This may not have been the same person recorded in the books of Luke and Acts; but when the names of Zacchaeus and Cornelius are found alongside the name of Theophilus in the same sentence, and when all three names are found to be unique to Luke's writings, one is likely to believe that it was the same Theophilus. In other words, Luke's Gospel and Acts were a compilation of testimonies of the life and works of Lord Jesus Christ and the early church, and for Luke to use the testimonies of Zacchaeus and Cornelius, the living bishops of Caesarea at the time of his writing, would have fit the way in which Luke was gathering his testimonies. Theophilus, as a local bishop of a key city in Palestine, could have easily been an influence in Luke's ministry.

However, some modern scholars suggest that a probable occasion as to the writing of Luke was his need to prepare a defense for Paul's Roman trial, and that Theophilus was a Roman citizen who could influence the outcome of such a trial. The impending trial of Paul would be a proper time for Luke to write to a Roman official in order to justify the Christian message as being worthy of acceptance in the Roman world. The early Church tradition that Theophilus was a Roman of importance living in Italy finds some support within the text of Luke -Acts.

Acts 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

Acts 1:2 — "Until the day in which he was taken up" - Comments- Jesus' earthly ministry lasted approximately three and a half years. There must have been a purpose in God choosing this time frame in which to preach the Kingdom of God and raise up twelve apostles to take the message of the Gospel to the world. Having worked with and listened to missionaries in Uganda who disciple young men, it has become clear that one year of discipleship is much too short of a time for a person to experience enough transformation to be sent out on his own. I believe Jesus Christ discipled the Twelve for three and a half years because this was the time it took to bring about the necessary transformation in their lives.

Acts 1:2 — "after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen" - Comments- The book of Luke reflects Jesus Christ in His office as a prophet. Thus, Luke notes that He spoke His divine commissions under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

Acts 1:3 — "of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" - Comments- As Jesus is our example, our preaching today should pertain to the same message of the kingdom o f God, and not about myths and genealogies.

1 Timothy 1:3-6, "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;

Acts 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith Hebrews , ye have heard of me.

Acts 1:4Comments- The upper room mentioned in Acts 1:4 is the same place where the apostles partook of the Last Supper with the Lord Jesus Christ before His Passion. The story of how they found this place is recorded in Luke 22:7-13. They happened upon it by divine providence and under Jesus' instructions.

Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Acts 1:5Comments- The phrase "not many days" refers to a ten-day period if Jesus spoke these words on the day of His ascension. However, the text allows for the possibility that Jesus spoke these words during an earlier gathering during the forty day period. But why did Jesus not tell His disciples that the promise of the Holy Spirit would be fulfilled in ten days from His ascension? Perhaps Jesus was not specific because He Himself did not know the day nor the hour of this outpouring. Jesus will say in Acts 1:7 that the times and seasons have been placed under the authority of the Heavenly Father. Jesus taught them that only the Father knew the day and hour of His Second Coming ( Matthew 24:36).

Matthew 24:36, "But of that day and hour knoweth no Prayer of Manasseh , no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

Or, perhaps Jesus did not want them to know the exact day in order that they would seek the Father on a daily basis.

Acts 1:4-5Comments- Luke Quotes Jesus' Command to the Apostles to Tarry in Jerusalem Immediately After His Departure - In Acts 1:4-5 Luke records Jesus' last command to His apostles. In these verses Jesus tells them what to do immediately after His ascension. Luke first gives us an indirect statement from Jesus by saying, "…(He) commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father…" Luke then changes to a direct quote by saying, "which, saith Hebrews , ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." Perhaps the reason for this transition from an indirect quote to a direct one is to emphasize the most important statement that He said at this time. He must have spoken on a number of points, but Luke focuses upon those words that make up the theme of the book of Acts; for the infilling of the Holy Spirit will be emphasized throughout the book of Acts.


Verses 1-26

The Church's Duty (Predestination and Calling) - The prologue to the book of Acts serves as a brief summary of the Gospel of Luke , which is the first of the dual writings of Luke -Acts ( Acts 1:1-5). This prologue states the fact that Jesus Christ fulfilled His ministry and now stands as head of the Church, empowering it with the Holy Ghost. After a brief prologue, Luke begins his testimony in Jerusalem where the disciples receive the divine calling ( Acts 1:6-11), including the calling of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot ( Acts 1:12-26). This calling serves as the theme of the book of Acts , in which Jesus commissions the Church to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Prologue — Acts 1:1-5

2. Commissioning the Twelve & the Lord's Ascent — Acts 1:6-11

3. The Appointment of Matthias — Acts 1:12-26


Verses 6-11

Commissioning the Twelve and the Lord's Ascent ( Luke 24:36-49) - Acts 1:6-11 gives us the testimony of the ascent of our Lord Jesus Christ into Heaven. However, it is important to note that each of the three major divisions of the book of Acts has an introductory passage in which the disciples are commissioned. Acts 1:6-11 serves as an introduction to the Jerusalem ministry as Jesus commissions the apostles to take the Gospel to the world. Acts 6:1-6 serves as an introduction to the spread of the Gospel out of Jerusalem as the result of a great persecution. Acts 13:1-3 serves as an introduction to Paul's missionary journeys.

Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

Acts 1:6Comments- The apostles knew that the Old Testament prophesied about the restoration of the nation of Israel.

Acts 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

Acts 1:7Comments- In Acts 1:7 Jesus answers the disciples' question about the future of Israel's kingdom. He responds by referring to the future Millennial of Christ, when God will set up His kingdom on earth and when Jesus will rule as King of kings from the holy city Jerusalem.

Even Jesus Christ does not know the times and seasons of the Heavenly Father ( Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32).

Matthew 24:36, "But of that day and hour knoweth no Prayer of Manasseh , no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

Mark 13:32, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no Prayer of Manasseh , no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Song of Solomon , but the Father."

We often read Acts 1:7 and assume that it says the Heavenly Father has fixed and preordained times and seasons that cannot be changed. However, Daniel 2:21 tells us that God is able to change the times and seasons at His will.

Daniel 2:21, "And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:"

For example, it was God's timing that the children of Israel, after having come out of bondage from Egypt, enter the land of Canaan after encamping at Mount Sinai for one year. God changed the times and seasons for Israel by causing them to wander in the wilderness for forty years. But this was not God's initial time for this nation to possess the land.

It was God's will that the Jews receive Jesus Christ as the Messiah when John the Baptist manifested Him to all Israel and when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, for this was their "Day" ( Luke 19:42).

Luke 19:42, "Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes."

Again, this day was delayed when the Jews rejected Him by crucifying Him.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 1:8 — "But" - Comments - Instead of "knowing" God the Father's plan of redemption, His times and seasons, as the disciples requested in Acts 1:6, we are to understand the mind of Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who will guide us through the divine seasons of our spiritual journey in life. God the Father has a plan for each of His children, and we must pursue this plan by seeking fellowship with the Lord; otherwise, if we were given the overall plan of God's times and seasons, we would be more inclined to procrastinate in divine service. Instead, we are to join God the Father in fulfilling His divine seasons of redemption for mankind.

Acts 1:8 — "ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" - Comments - The book of Acts makes continual references to those early Church leaders who spoke boldly in the name of Jesus when filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 reads, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." The early Church ( Acts 2:4; Acts 4:31; Acts 10:44; Acts 13:52; Acts 19:6) was filled with the Holy Spirit. Men such as Peter ( Acts 4:8), Stephen ( Acts 6:5; Acts 7:55), Barnabas ( Acts 11:24), and Paul ( Acts 1:9) were all filled with the Holy Spirit and testified under the anointing. This anointing empowered the early Church to fulfill the Great Commission and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Although every believer receives the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation, only those filled with the Holy Spirit were empowered to fulfill the divine calling of the New Testament Church.

Acts 2:4, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Acts 4:8, "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,"

Acts 4:31, "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness."

Acts 6:5, "And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philippians , and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:"

Acts 7:55, "But Hebrews , being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,"

Acts 10:44, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word."

Acts 11:24, "For he was a good Prayer of Manasseh , and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord."

Acts 13:9, "Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,"

Acts 13:52, "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost."

Acts 19:6, "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied."

The advancement of the Kingdom of God begins in our heart, where the Holy Spirit dwells before it can spread to another human being. In John 14:16-17 Jesus says, "for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." Benny Hinn teaches on John 14:17 by saying this phrase means that the Holy Spirit is with us leading us to the Cross. He is with us to convict us of our adamic sins so that we might come to Calvary and received salvation. When we do come to Jesus for salvation, then the Holy Spirit comes to live "in us." When the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, then He will live in us "forever," as Jesus said in John 14:17. Soon after Jesus' teachings in John 14-16, and after His resurrection, He told His disciples, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." ( Acts 1:8) These disciples had walked with Jesus Christ for over three years, and so they had the Holy Spirit dwelling with them. Jesus breathed upon them in John 20:22 and they received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; for Jesus said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Now, the Holy Spirit will begin to come upon them on occasions for the work of the ministry. This is an outward manifestation of the anointing that we see operating in the Old Testament as well as in the book of Acts. Under this anointing, a man of God works miracles in the name of Jesus Christ, but we should make the distinction that the Holy Spirit comes up on us for a season and for a reason. It is not permanent like His indwelling presence in every believer. This anointing is for divine service rather than for salvation. 112]

112] Benny Hinn, "Fire Conference," 5-6 June 2009, Miracle Center Cathedral, Kampala, Uganda.

Benny Hinn makes a distinction between the presence of God and the power of God. When a believer receives the indwelling Holy Spirit at the time of salvation, he can immediately abide in the presence of the Lord. It is this presence that keeps him from falling away into sin. As a believer pursues the presence of God, he will come to a place where he is empowered as the Spirit of God comes upon him. We refer to this empowering as the anointing of the Spirit, which manifests Himself in various ways, as in Acts 1:8. Hinn warns that a person who strays away from the presence of God in his life and falls into a sinful lifestyle may still operate under the power of God. The deception for such a person is to think that he is still in God's presence just because he experiences the power of God during divine service and ministry. A person can continue with the power of God for a time, even when he has fallen away from the presence of God. The power of God does not means that a person is yielded to God. Hinn gives the example of Moses and the children of Israel. The fact that many of the Israelites still continued in disbelief in the midst of the power of God shows that a person can experience the power of God and still miss His presence. Although Moses walked in the power of God and performed signs and wonders, he still desired to know the presence of God. Therefore, the Lord revealed Himself to him on the Mount ( Exodus 33:12 to Exodus 34:9), so that he face shone when he came down to the children of Israel ( Exodus 34:28-30). Samson walked in the power of God on occasions, yet he fell into sin with Delilah for a period of time while still walking in the power ( Judges 13-16).

Acts 1:8 — "ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" - Comments (1) - In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells His disciples to spread the Gospel from Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and to the Gentiles. We see the disciples ministering in Jerusalem in the first seven chapters of Acts. We read in Acts 5:28 where the apostles had filled Jerusalem with their doctrine. In chapter eight, the Gospel is spread to Judea and Samaria. The Gospel first reaches to the Gentiles when Philip meets the Ethiopian eunuch in chapter 8. Thus, the book of Acts follows this geographical pattern of spreading the Gospel that Jesus commanded. Thus, Acts 1:8 is a key verse in the book of Acts that gives us an outline of the contents of this book.

Acts 5:28, "Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man"s blood upon us."

In addition, Paul followed the same principle of church growth. He first placed churches in key cities in Asia Minor. We later read in Acts 19:10 where he and his ministry team preaches "so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."

Acts 19:10, "And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."

In Romans 15:20-28 Paul said that he strived to preach where no other man had preached, and having no place left in Macedonia and Asia Minor, he looked towards Rome, and later towards Spain.

Romans 15:20, "Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man"s foundation:"

Romans 15:23-24, "But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company."

Romans 15:28, "When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain."

The description of the Gospel expanding outward through geographical regions reflects the fact that God will divinely orchestrate similar progressive phases of outreach in our Christian service. God will first use us where we are in life, and as we demonstrate our faithfulness and obedience to Him, He will open ever increasing doors of opportunity for ministry in an effort to take our testimony to the ends of the earth. We must stay filled with the Holy Spirit in order for God to work mightily in our lives for such a ministry to expand.

Illustrations- Illustrations of the apostles being witnesses:

Acts 2:14-36 - Sermon at Pentecost- Jerusalem (Peter)

Acts 3:12-26 - Lame man healed- In Temple (Peter)

Acts 4:8-12; Acts 4:19-20 - Before high priest (Peter)

Acts 5:29-32 - Before high priest again (Peter)

Other illustrations of witnesses:

Acts 1:22, "Beginning from the baptism of John , unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection."

Acts 3:15, "And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses."

Acts 4:31, "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness."

Acts 4:33, "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all."

Acts 5:20-21, "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought."

Acts 5:28, "Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man"s blood upon us."

Acts 5:42, "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."

Comments(2) - In Acts 1:6 the disciples have just asked Jesus Christ when the physical restoration of the nation of Israel will occur. They were speaking about an earthly kingdom. Jesus responded by telling them that the time and season of His Second Coming would be set by the Heavenly Father, and not by Him. Jesus was referring to the Second Coming that immediately follows the Tribulation. In His eschatological discourse of Matthew 24-25, Jesus said that this Second Coming would not take place until the Gospel had been preached to "all nations."

Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."

Thus, we know that within the book of Acts , the Gospel was in fact preached up to Rome, which is used figuratively to represent the phrase, "uttermost part of the earth." Literally, Jesus is saying that His Second Coming is determined by the Father (verse 7), which will usher in the restoration of Israel (verse 6), in answer to their question. This event will not take place until the Gospel has been preached to all nations, or "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (verse 8). Thank God, we will be empowered with the Holy Ghost to accomplish this feat (verse 8). Jesus is longing for this event to take place so that He can be united with His bride. But this cannot take place until the Gospel is preached to all nations.

The mandate seen in the book of Acts is for the Church to obey the command to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. This means that the calling of every person on earth today falls under the overall divine mandate of God to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.

Acts 1:8Comments (1) - Acts 1:8 serves as a key verse that outlines the book of Acts , showing us Jesus' plan to use the Church to take the Gospel from a city to a region unto the ends of the earth. Thus, this verse also gives us the pattern of New Testament church growth. Jesus gives to us the secret to effect Church growth in this verse by saying that believers must be endued with power before they are equipped and capable of accomplishing this mission.

We can also apply the truths of this verse to our individual lives and ministries. This verse tells us how to become effective witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ. We learn that if we are ever going to fulfill God's purpose and plan in our individual lives, we will have to be filled with the Holy Spirit and stay filled ( Ephesians 5:18-20). Every person's calling, every ministry on earth, must fall under this commission that Jesus gave the Church. The very purpose for our redemption and existence falls under this commission to find our place in the body of Christ and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

As a young pastor the Lord spoke to me and said, "You will never walk in victory in your life until you spend two hours a day praying in tongues." When I became obedient to this Word from the Lord, my Christian walk was transformed. I experienced fewer obstacles in my daily life as I saw God's divine intervention open supernatural doors of opportunity. After many years, I was able to move into the place that God called me, which was into the mission field. Thus, we find throughout the book of Acts testimonies of churches and individual who were filled with the Holy Spirit being used by God to take this commission to the ends of the earth. This book shows to us men like Peter, Stephen, Philippians , Ananias and Barnabas, filled with the Holy Spirit, taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Acts 4:8, "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,"

Acts 6:8, "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people."

Acts 8:5-6, "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did."

Acts 9:17, "And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."

Acts 11:24, "For he [Barnabas] was a good Prayer of Manasseh , and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord."

Acts 1:8Comments (2) - In Acts 1:8 Jesus Christ told His disciples that they were to be witnesses of Him "both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." This statement must be placed within the context of the passage in which there is a question and answer regarding the times and seasons of the Father's divine plan of redemption. Thus, in Acts 1:8 Jesus simply gives His disciples God's specific plan for them during the current age that they were living in. In other words, the Church age began when Jesus came to earth and would continue until the Gospel is preached unto all nations, and then shall the end come ( Matthew 24:14). Thus, Acts 1:8 describes the Church age.

Acts 1:8Comments (3) - While the book of Acts places emphasis upon the apostolic ministry, Luke's Gospel emphasizes the prophetic ministry. Therefore, Jesus' final words to His disciples in Luke 24:49 reflect the infilling of the Holy Spirit by which prophecy proceeds out of Prayer of Manasseh , "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." The opening narratives of Luke all reflect men and women being filled with the Holy Spirit, followed by prophetic utterances. In comparison, the book of Acts will emphasize the apostolic calling that results from prophecy by saying, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." ( Acts 1:8) Jesus' words in Acts 1:8 emphasize the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth, while Luke 24:29 emphasizes the need to first be filled with the Holy Spirit. If we look at the commissions of the Gospels and Acts as a single commission, we see that the Gospel of John gives a pastoral commission, Matthew gives a teaching commission, and Mark gives an evangelistic commission. This means that the great commission includes all of these commissions reflecting the 5-fold ministry as listed in Ephesians 4:11. We can then conclude that the apostolic commission of Acts 1:8 cannot be fulfilled without the involvement of the other Gospel commissions. In other words, it takes the operation of the pastoral, evangelistic, teaching, prophetic/apostolic commissions to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. As a practical illustration, the church denominations that are reaching out to the nations and experiencing mass evangelism are those that have embraced the 5-fold ministry. Those denominations that only embrace the pastoral, evangelistic and teaching ministries are ineffective today in reaching to the ends of the earth with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Acts 1:9Comments- The cloud that received Jesus Christ into Heaven in Acts 1:9 was the same cloud that went before the children of Israel in the wilderness by day and shielded them from the sun ( Exodus 13:21), and the same cloud that came between the Israelites and Pharaoh's army at the Red Sea ( Exodus 14:19-20), and the same thick cloud that descended upon Mount Sinai ( Exodus 19:16), and the same cloud that descended upon the Tabernacle ( Exodus 40:34), and the same cloud that appeared above the mercy seat in the Tabernacle ( Leviticus 16:2), and the same cloud that covered the Tabernacle when it was reared and led the children of Israel through their wilderness journeys ( Numbers 9:15-17), and the same cloud that filled the Temple during Solomon's dedication ( 1 Kings 8:10-11, 2 Chronicles 5:13-14), and the same cloud that came like a whirlwind out of the north towards Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 1:4), and the same cloud that descended upon the Mount of Transfiguration ( Matthew 17:5), and the same cloud that Jesus will ride upon at His Second Coming ( Luke 21:27). Exodus 16:10 tells us that this cloud is the glory of the Lord.

Acts 1:10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

Acts 1:10Comments- We know that the Jews believed that a matter was confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Therefore, in a court of law, at least two witnesses were needed to prove that a matter was true. This may be the reason why the Lord sent two angels in the appearance of men dressed in white apparel in order to testify of his Second Coming. This is very likely why the Lord sent two angels to the tomb to testify to the disciples of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This may help explain why Peter and John went to the tomb together to verify the resurrection ( Luke 24:4). Thus, we see how Luke frequently used two individuals in his writings when testifying of a particular event.

Acts 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Acts 1:11 — "Ye men of Galilee" - Comments- Why do the angels call this gathering "men of Galilee"? Luke tells us in this passage of Scripture that Jesus had called the apostles together and led them out to the Mount of Olives. We know from the Gospel accounts that most of these eleven apostles were Galileans. Luke then lists them by name in Acts 1:13 of this passage.

Acts 1:11 — "shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" - Comments- Jesus will return on the clouds:

Daniel 7:13, "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him."

The Day of the Lord will bring Jesus back upon the Mount of Olives:

Zechariah 14:4, "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."


Verses 12-26

The Appointment of Matthias - Acts 1:12-26 gives us the account of the early Church choosing a replacement for Judas Iscariot.

Acts 1:12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day"s journey.

Acts 1:12 — "Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet" - Comments- The mount of Olivet held its name as far back as King David ( 2 Samuel 15:30), through the inter-biblical period ( Zechariah 14:4). John Gill tells us that Jarchi (Rashi), a Jewish scholar, also identifies it as "the hill that is before Jerusalem" in 1 Kings 11:7. 113] This is why Mark describes the location as "over against the Temple" ( Mark 13:3). It was named for the olive trees that grew on this hill.

113] John Gill, 1 Kings , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on 1Kings ; The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary, ed. A. J. Rosenberg (New York: The Judaica Press Company, 1963) [on-line]; accessed 13December 2009; available from http//www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16445/showrashi/true; Internet, comments on 1Kings 11:7.

2 Samuel 15:30, "And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up."

Zechariah 14:4, "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."

1 Kings 11:7, "Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon."

Mark 13:3, "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,"

Acts 1:12 — "which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day"s journey" - Comments- According to Jewish tradition, a Sabbath day's journey was two thousand cubits from any city or town. One place in Scripture used to come up with this distance is Numbers 35:4-5, in which the Mosaic Law defined the boundaries of city suburbs as two thousand cubits. A cubit was considered to be a midsized stride.

Numbers 35:4-5, "And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about. And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits; and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities."

Acts 1:13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James , and John , and Andrew, Philippians , and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew , James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

Acts 1:13 — "And when they were come in" - Comments- That Isaiah , when they entered into Jerusalem.

Acts 1:13 — "they went up into an upper room" - Comments- This upper room is the same place where the disciples partook of the Last Supper with the Lord before His Passion. The story of how they found this place is recorded in Luke 22:7-13. They happened upon it through divine providence under Jesus' instructions.

Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Acts 1:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

Acts 1:15 — "(the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)" - Comments- There were five hundred disciples who witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 15:6), but only one hundred and twenty of them, about one fourth of the disciples, took His commandment serious to tarry into Jerusalem until they be endued with power from on high ( Luke 24:49).

1 Corinthians 15:6, "After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep."

Luke 24:49, "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."

This ratio of response of one fourth corresponds to the Parable of the Sower, where only one fourth of the seeds bore fruit.

Acts 1:15Comments- Jesus told the disciples in verse 4to "wait," but not to elect another disciple. Scholars debate if this was the will of God to chose a twelfth apostle.

Acts 1:4, "And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith Hebrews , ye have heard of me."

Acts 1:16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

Acts 1:16 — "which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas" - Comments- In Acts 1:20, Peter is going to quote from Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 as a quote from David by the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:16 reflects David operating in a prophetic office, which office is the underlying theme of the Gospel of Luke. The author is now making a transition into the office of the apostle, which will be emphasized in the book of Acts.

Acts 1:17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.

Acts 1:18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

Acts 1:18Comments- Acts 1:18-19 tells us the horrible story of Judas Iscariot's death by falling headlong and his bowels bursting. We find a parallel account of his death in Matthew 27:3-10. However, in this account we are told that he went out and hanged himself. Scholars have some difficulty in reconciling these two different descriptions. The traditional account says that he fell from the place that he hung himself, the rope may have broken, and burst open his bowels upon some rock or protruding object. John Lightfoot suggests that Satan, who dwelt in him, caught him up high, strangling him, and threw him down headlong; so that dashing upon the ground, he burst in the midst, and his guts issued out, and the devil went out in so horrid an exit." 114] Others suggest he may have died of a suffocating disease that also ruptured his body.

114] John Lightfoot, Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae: Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations Upon the Gospels, the Acts , Some Chapters of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans and the First Epistle to the Corinthians, vol 2, ed. Robert Gandell (Oxford: The University Press, 1859), 138.

Acts 1:19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

Acts 1:19 — "insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue" - Word Study on "tongue" - Strong says the Greek word "tongue" ( διά λεκτος) (G 1258) means, "a dialect," and it comes from the Greek verb ( διαλέ γομαι) (G 1256), which means, "to say thoroughly, i.e. discuss." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 6 times in the New Testament, being translated in the KJV as "tongue 5, language 1." From this Greek word we get the English word "dialect."

Comments- The Greek literally reads, "in their own dialect," or "in their own native tongue."

Acts 1:18-19Comments - The Potter's Field- We read the story of the naming of the potter's field in Matthew 27:3-10.

Matthew 27:7-8, "And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter"s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day."

We read in Gospel of Mark of the woe that Jesus prophesied over Judas.

Mark 14:21, "The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born."

Acts 1:20 For it is written in the book of Psalm , Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

Acts 1:20 — "Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein" - Comments- This is a quote from Psalm 69:25, "Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents."

Acts 1:20 — "his bishoprick let another take" - Comments- This is a quote from Psalm 109:8, "Let his days be few; and let another take his office."

Acts 1:21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

Acts 1:22 Beginning from the baptism of John , unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

Acts 1:21-22Comments - The Qualifications of Apostleship- Why would this become a qualification for apostleship? They wanted someone who had been with them from the beginning, who was an eye-witness of the accounts in which he was testifying as an apostle. Luke opened his Gospel with a statement that he had gathered eye-witness accounts of Jesus' life and ministry. Such eye-witness accounts are the most credible testimonies.

I remember the early days of moving to Texas to go to seminary. Those first few people I met held a special relationship with me throughout those seminary years. Some of us started out together, and some finished together. This builds a bond that lasts a lifetime. This seems to be a natural part of our make-up. So it was in the early ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those early disciples developed a special bond that would last a lifetime, just as is developed with schoolmates.

Acts 1:23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

Acts 1:24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,

Acts 1:25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.

Acts 1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Acts 1:26Comments- This is the last recorded time in the Holy Scriptures when the righteous Jews, those serving the Lord, would cast lots to determine God's will. The dispensation of the Law was now ended. The disciples were about to be filled with the Holy Spirit in a few days, and would then realize that the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit was lead and guide the Church. God is often patient with our ignorance as we are learning. Had Peter and the apostles insisted on casting lots after Pentecost, the Lord would have corrected them in some way. In Acts 6:1-7 the early Church chose the first seven deacons, not by casting lots, but by looking out for men who were "of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom" ( Acts 6:3).

This decision to cast lots did not actually benefit the Church. Matthias is referred to in Acts 6:2 indirectly as a part of "the twelve." Otherwise, Matthias' name is not mentioned anymore in the Scriptures.

Acts 6:2, "Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables."

Many scholars believe that the book of Acts is structured so as to show that Paul the apostle was indeed the twelfth apostle. The fact that Acts opens with this story and focuses on the ministry of Paul the apostle from 13-28 implies that Luke sets a basis for why Paul was the twelfth apostle.

It is interesting to note that in the heavenly Jerusalem, there are twelve foundations, each one with the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Revelation 21:14, "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

Whose name is written as the twelfth? We may have to wait until we get to heaven to find out?

Scripture Reference- Note:

Proverbs 16:33, "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Acts 1:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/acts-1.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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