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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Acts 1



Other Authors
Verse 1

The Title is simply Acts (ΠραχειςPraxeis) in Aleph, Origen, Tertullian, Didymus, Hilary, Eusebius, Epiphanius. The Acts of the Apostles (Πραχεις αποστολωνPraxeis apostolōn) is the reading of B D (Aleph in subscription) Athanasius, Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Theodoret, Hilary. The Acts of the Holy Apostles (Πραχεις των αγιων αποστολωνPraxeis tōn hagiōn apostolōn) is read by A2 E G H A K Chrysostom. It is possible that the book was given no title at all by Luke, for it is plain that usage varied greatly even in the same writers. The long title as found in the Textus Receptus (Authorized Version) is undoubtedly wrong with the adjective “Holy.” The reading of B D, “The Acts of the Apostles,” may be accepted as probably correct.

The former treatise (τον μεν πρωτονton men prōton). Literally, the first treatise. The use of the superlative is common enough and by no means implies, though it allows, a third volume. This use of πρωτοςprōtoswhere only two are compared is seen between the Baptist and Jesus (John 1:15), John and Peter (John 20:4). The idiom is common in the papyri (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 662, 669). The use of μεν σολιταριυμmen solitariumhere, as Hackett notes, is common in Acts. It is by no means true that μενmenrequires a following δεdeby contrast. The word is merely a weakened form of μηνmēn=surely, indeed. The reference is to the “first treatise” and merely emphasizes that. The use of λογοςlogos(word) for treatise or historical narrative is common in ancient Greek as in Herodotus 6 and 9. Plato (Phaedo, p. 61 B) makes a contrast between μυτοςmuthosand λογοςlogos

I made (εποιησαμηνepoiēsamēn). Aorist middle indicative, the middle being the usual construction for mental acts with ποιεωpoieō

O Theophilus (Ο ΤεοπιλεO Theophile). The interjection ΟOhere as is common, though not in Luke 1:3. But the adjective κρατιστεkratiste(most excellent) is wanting here. See remarks on Theophilus on Luke 1:3. Hackett thinks that he lived at Rome because of the way Acts ends. He was a man of rank. He may have defrayed the expense of publishing both Luke and Acts. Perhaps by this time Luke may have reached a less ceremonious acquaintance with Theophilus.

Which Jesus began (ων ηρχατο Ιησουςhōn ērxato Iēsous). The relative is attracted from the accusative αhato the genitive ωνhōnbecause of the antecedent παντωνpantōn(all). The language of Luke here is not merely pleonastic as Winer held. Jesus “began” “both to do and to teach” (ποιειν τε και διδασκεινpoiein te kai didaskein). Note present infinitives, linear action, still going on, and the use of τεκαιtė̇kaibinds together the life and teachings of Jesus, as if to say that Jesus is still carrying on from heaven the work and teaching of the disciples which he started while on earth before his ascension. The record which Luke now records is really the Acts of Jesus as much as the Acts of the Apostles. Dr. A. T. Pierson called it “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” and that is true also. The Acts, according to Luke, is a continuation of the doings and teachings of Jesus. “The following writings appear intended to give us, and do, in fact, profess to give us, that which Jesus continued to do and teach after the day in which he was taken up” (Bernard, Progress of Doctrine in the N.T.).

Verse 2

Until the day in which (αχρι ης ημεραςachri hēs hēmeras). Incorporation of the antecedent into the relative clause and the change of case ηιhēi (locative) to ηςhēs (genitive).

Was received up (ανελημπτηanelēmpthē). First aorist passive indicative of αναλαμβανωanalambanō Common verb to lift anything up (Acts 10:16) or person as Paul (Acts 20:13). Several times of the Ascension of Jesus to heaven (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:2, Acts 1:11, Acts 1:22; 1 Timothy 3:16) with or without “into heaven” (εις τον ουρανονeis ton ouranon). This same verb is used of Elijah‘s translation to heaven in the lxx (2 Kings 2:11). The same idea, though not this word, is in Luke 24:51. See note on Luke 9:51 for αναλημπσιςanalēmpsis of the Ascension.

Had given commandment (εντειλαμενοςenteilamenos). First aorist middle participle of εντελλωentellō (from ενen and τελλωtellō to accomplish), usually in the middle, old verb, to enjoin. This special commandment refers directly to what we call the commission given the apostles before Christ ascended on high (John 20:21-23; Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:6; Luke 24:44-49). He had given commands to them when they were first chosen and when they were sent out on the tour of Galilee, but the immediate reference is as above.

Through the Holy Spirit (δια πνευματος αγιουdia pneumatos hagiou). In his human life Jesus was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This applies to the choice of the apostles (Luke 6:13) and to these special commands before the Ascension.

Whom he had chosen (ους εχελεχατοhous exelexato). Aorist middle indicative, not past perfect. The same verb (εκλεχαμενοςeklexamenos) was used by Luke in describing the choice of the twelve by Jesus (Luke 6:13). But the aorist does not stand “for” our English pluperfect as Hackett says. That is explaining Greek by English. The Western text here adds: “And ordered to proclaim the gospel.”

Verse 3

To whom also (οις καιhois kai). He chose them and then also manifested himself to these very same men that they might have personal witness to give.

Shewed himself alive (παρεστησεν εαυτον ζωνταparestēsen heauton zōnta). To the disciples the first Sunday evening (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25), the second Sunday evening (John 20:26-29), at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-23), on the mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:6), to the disciples in Jerusalem and Olivet (Luke 24:44-53; Mark 16:19.; Acts 1:1-11). Luke uses this verb παριστημιparistēmi 13 times in the Acts both transitively and intransitively. It is rendered by various English words (present, furnish, provide, assist, commend). The early disciples including Paul never doubted the fact of the Resurrection, once they were convinced by personal experience. At first some doubted like Thomas (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:41; John 20:24.; Matthew 28:17). But after that they never wavered in their testimony to their own experience with the Risen Christ, “whereof we are witnesses” Peter said (Acts 3:15). They doubted at first, that we may believe, but at last they risked life itself in defence of this firm faith.

After his passion (μετα το πατειν αυτονmeta to pathein auton). Neat Greek idiom, μεταmeta with the articular infinitive (second aorist active of πασχωpaschō) and the accusative of general reference, “after the suffering as to him.” For πατεινpathein used absolutely of Christ‘s suffering see also Acts 17:3; Acts 26:23.

By many proofs (εν πολλοις τεκμηριοιςen pollois tekmēriois). Literally, “in many proofs.” ΤεκμηριονTekmērion is only here in the N.T., though an old and common word in ancient Greek and occurring in the Koiné{[28928]}š (papyri, etc.). The verb τεκμαιρωtekmairō to prove by sure signs, is from τεκμαρtekmar a sign. Luke does not hesitate to apply the definite word “proofs” to the evidence for the Resurrection of Christ after full investigation on the part of this scientific historian. Aristotle makes a distinction between τεκμηριονtekmērion (proof) and σημειονsēmeion (sign) as does Galen the medical writer.

Appearing (οπτανομενοςoptanomenos). Present middle participle from late verb οπτανωoptanō late Koiné{[28928]}š verb from root οπτωoptō seen in οπσομαι ωπτηνopsomaiοπτασιαōphthēn In lxx, papyri of second century b.c. (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 83). Only here in the N.T. For δι ημερων τεσσερακονταoptasia for vision, see note on Acts 26:19; Luke 1:22; Luke 24:23.

By the space of forty days (διαdi' hēmerōn tesserakonta). At intervals (τα περι της βασιλειας του τεουdia between) during the forty days, ten appearances being known to us. Jesus was not with them continually now in bodily presence. The period of forty days is given here alone. The Ascension was thus ten days before Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came. Moses was in the mount forty days (Exodus 24:18) and Jesus fasted forty days (Matthew 4:2). In the Gospel of Luke 24 this separation of forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension is not drawn.

The things concerning the Kingdom of God (ευαγγελιονta peri tēs basileias tou theou). This phrase appears 33 times in Luke‘s Gospel, 15 times in Mark, 4 times in Matthew who elsewhere has “the kingdom of heaven,” once in John, and 6 times in Acts. No essential distinction is to be drawn between the two for the Jews often used “heaven” rather than “God” to avoid using the Tetragrammaton. But it is noticeable how the word kingdom drops out of Acts. Other words like gospel (τα περιeuaggelion) take the place of “kingdom.” Jesus was fond of the word “kingdom” and Luke is fond of the idiom “the things concerning” (ta peri). Certainly with Jesus the term “kingdom” applies to the present and the future and covers so much that it is not strange that the disciples with their notions of a political Messianic kingdom (Acts 1:6) were slow to comprehend the spiritual nature of the reign of God.

Verse 4

Being assembled together with them (συναλιζομενοςsunalizomenos). Present passive participle from συναλιζωsunalizō an old verb in Herodotus, Xenophon, etc., from sun, with, and αλιζωhalizō from αληςhalēs crowded. The margin of both the Authorized and the Revised Versions has “eating with them” as if from συνsun and αλςhals (salt). Salt was the mark of hospitality. There is the verb αλιστητε εν αυτωιhalisthēte en autōi used by Ignatius Ad Magnes. X, “Be ye salted in him.” But it is more than doubtful if that is the idea here though the Vulgate does have convescens illis “eating with them,” as if that was the common habit of Jesus during the forty days (Wendt, Feine, etc.). Jesus did on occasion eat with the disciples (Luke 24:41-43; Mark 16:14).

To wait for the promise of the Father (περιμενειν την επαγγελιαν του πατροςperimenein tēn epaggelian tou patros). Note present active infinitive, to keep on waiting for (around, περιperi). In the Great Commission on the mountain in Galilee this item was not given (Matthew 28:16-20). It is the subjective genitive, the promise given by the Father (note this Johannine use of the word), that is the Holy Spirit (“the promise of the Holy Spirit,” objective genitive).

Which ye heard from me (ην ηκουσατε μουhēn ēkousate mou). Change from indirect discourse (command), infinitives χωριζεσταιchōrizesthai and περιμενεινperimenein after παρηγγειλενparēggeilen to direct discourse without any επηephē (said he) as the English (Italics). Luke often does this (oratior ariata). Note also the ablative case of μουmou (from me). Luke continues in Acts 1:5 with the direct discourse giving the words of Jesus.

Verse 5

Baptized with water (εβαπτισεν υδατιebaptisen hudati) and with the Holy Ghost (εν πνευματι βαπτιστησεστε αγιωιen pneumati baptisthēsesthe hagiōi). The margin has “in the Holy Ghost” (Spirit, it should be). The American Standard Version renders “in” both with “water” and “Holy Spirit” as do Goodspeed (American Translation) and Mrs. Montgomery (Centenary Translation). John‘s own words (Matthew 3:11) to which Jesus apparently refers use ενen (in) both with water and Spirit. There is a so-called instrumental use of ενen where we in English have to say “with” (Revelation 13:10 εν μαχαιρηιen machairēi like μαχαιρηιmachairēi Acts 12:2). That is to say ενen with the locative presents the act as located in a certain instrument like a sword (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 589f.). But the instrumental case is more common without ενen (the locative and instrumental cases having the same form). So it is often a matter of indifference which idiom is used as in John 21:8 we have τωι πλοιαριωιtōi ploiariōi (locative without ενen). They came in (locative case without ενen) the boat. So in John 1:31 εν υδατι βαπτιζωνen hudati baptizōn baptizing in water. No distinction therefore can be insisted on here between the construction υδατιhudati and εν πνευματιen pneumati (both being in the locative case, one without, one with ενen). Note unusual position of the verb βαπτιστησεστεbaptisthēsesthe (future passive indicative) between πνευματιpneumati and αγιωιhagiōi This baptism of the Holy Spirit was predicted by John (Matthew 3:11) as the characteristic of the Messiah‘s work. Now the Messiah himself in his last message before his Ascension proclaims that in a few days the fulfilment of that prophecy will come to pass. The Codex Bezae adds here “which ye are about to receive” and “until the Pentecost” to Acts 1:5.

Not many days hence (ου μετα πολλας ταυτας ημεραςou meta pollas tautas hēmeras). A neat Greek idiom difficult to render smoothly into English: “Not after many days these.” The litotes (not many=few) is common in Luke (Luke 7:6; Luke 15:13; Acts 17:27; Acts 19:11; Acts 20:12; Acts 21:39; Acts 28:14; Acts 28:2). The predicate use of ταυταςtautas (without article) is to be noted. “These” really means as a starting point, “from these” (Robertson, Grammar, p. 702). It was ten days hence. This idiom occurs several times in Luke (Luke 24:21; Acts 24:21), as elsewhere (John 4:18; 2 Peter 3:1). In Luke 2:12 the copula is easily supplied as it exists in Luke 1:36; Luke 2:2.

Verse 6

They therefore (οι μεν ουνhoi men oun). Demonstrative use of οιhoi with μεν ουνmen oun without any corresponding δεde just as in Acts 1:1 μενmen occurs alone. The combination μεν ουνmen oun is common in Acts (27 times). Cf. Luke 3:18. The ουνoun is resumptive and refers to the introductory (Acts 1:1-5), which served to connect the Acts with the preceding Gospel. The narrative now begins.

Asked (ηρωτωνērōtōn). Imperfect active, repeatedly asked before Jesus answered.

Lord (κυριεkurie). Here not in the sense of “sir” (Matthew 21:30), but to Jesus as Lord and Master as often in Acts (Acts 19:5, Acts 19:10, etc.) and in prayer to Jesus (Acts 7:59).

Dost thou restore (ει αποκατιστανειςei apokathistaneis). The use of ειei in an indirect question is common. We have already seen its use in direct questions (Matthew 12:10; Luke 13:23 which see note for discussion), possibly in imitation of the Hebrew (frequent in the lxx) or as a partial condition without conclusion. See also Acts 7:1; Acts 19:2; Acts 21:37; Acts 22:25. The form of the verb αποκατιστανωapokathistanō is late (also αποκατισταωapokathistaō) omega form for the old and common αποκατιστημιapokathistēmi double compound, to restore to its former state. As a matter of fact the Messianic kingdom for which they are asking is a political kingdom that would throw off the hated Roman yoke. It is a futuristic present and they are uneasy that Jesus may yet fail to fulfil their hopes. Surely here is proof that the eleven apostles needed the promise of the Father before they began to spread the message of the Risen Christ. They still yearn for a political kingdom for Israel even after faith and hope have come back. They need the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (John 14-16) and the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4.).

Verse 7

Times or seasons (χρονους η καιρουςchronous ē kairous). “Periods” and “points” of time sometimes and probably so here, but such a distinction is not always maintained. See note on Acts 17:26 for καιρουςkairous in the same sense as χρονουςchronous for long periods of time. But here some distinction seems to be called for. It is curious how eager people have always been to fix definite dates about the second coming of Christ as the apostles were about the political Messianic kingdom which they were expecting.

Hath set (ετετοetheto). Second aorist middle indicative, emphasizing the sovereignty of the Father in keeping all such matters to himself, a gentle hint to people today about the limits of curiosity. Note also “his own” (ιδιαιidiāi) “authority” (εχουσιαιexousiāi).

Verse 8

Power (δυναμινdunamin). Not the “power” about which they were concerned (political organization and equipments for empire on the order of Rome). Their very question was ample proof of their need of this new “power” (δυναμινdunamin), to enable them (from δυναμαιdunamai to be able), to grapple with the spread of the gospel in the world.

When the Holy Ghost is come upon you (επελτοντος του αγιου πνευματος επ υμαςepelthontos tou hagiou pneumatos eph' humas). Genitive absolute and is simultaneous in time with the preceding verb “shall receive” (λημπσεστεlēmpsesthe). The Holy Spirit will give them the “power” as he comes upon them. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit referred to in Acts 1:5.

My witnesses (μου μαρτυρεςmou martures). Correct text. “Royal words of magnificent and Divine assurance” (Furneaux). Our word martyrs is this word μαρτυρεςmartures In Luke 24:48 Jesus calls the disciples “witnesses to these things” (μαρτυρες τουτωνmartures toutōn objective genitive). In Acts 1:22 an apostle has to be a “witness to the Resurrection” of Christ and in Acts 10:39 to the life and work of Jesus. Hence there could be no “apostles” in this sense after the first generation. But here the apostles are called “my witnesses.” “His by a direct personal relationship” (Knowling). The expanding sphere of their witness when the Holy Spirit comes upon them is “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (εως εσχατου της γηςheōs eschatou tēs gēs). Once they had been commanded to avoid Samaria (Matthew 10:5), but now it is included in the world program as already outlined on the mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15). Jesus is on Olivet as he points to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost (last, εσχατουeschatou) part of the earth. The program still beckons us on to world conquest for Christ. “The Acts themselves form the best commentary on these words, and the words themselves might be given as the best summary of the Acts” (Page). The events follow this outline (Jerusalem till the end of chapter 7, with the martyrdom of Stephen, the scattering of the saints through Judea and Samaria in chapter 8, the conversion of Saul, chapter 9, the spread of the gospel to Romans in Caesarea by Peter (chapter 10), to Greeks in Antioch (chapter 11), finally Paul‘s world tours and arrest and arrival in Rome (chapter 11 to chapter 28).

Verse 9

As they were looking (βλεποντων αυτωνblepontōn autōn). Genitive absolute. The present participle accents the fact that they were looking directly at Jesus.

He was taken up (επαιρωepe4rthe4). First aorist passive indicative of ανεπερετοepairō old and common verb meaning to lift up. In Luke 24:51 we have “he was borne up” (ανελημπτηanephereto) and in Acts 1:2, Acts 1:11; 1 Timothy 3:6 “was received up” (υπελαβενanelēmpthē).

Received (υπολαμβανωhupelaben). Second aorist active indicative of απο των οπταλμων αυτωνhupolambanō literally here “took under him.” He seemed to be supported by the cloud. “In glory” Paul adds in 1 Timothy 3:16.

Out of their sight (αποapo tōn ophthalmōn autōn). From their eyes (apo with ablative case).

Verse 10

Were looking steadfastly (ατενιζοντες ησανatenizontes ēsan). Periphrastic imperfect active of ατενιζωatenizō a late intensive verb (intensive αa and τεινωteinō to stretch). Common in Acts and also in Luke 4:20; Luke 22:56 as well as Acts 10:4, which see.

As he went (πορευομενου αυτουporeuomenou autou). Genitive absolute of present middle participle. They saw him slipping away from their eyes as the cloud bore him away.

Stood by them (παρειστηκεισαν αυτοιςpareistēkeisan autois). Past perfect active indicative of παριστημιparistēmi and intransitive (note ιi in B instead of ειei for augment, mere itacism).

Verse 11

Who also (οι καιhoi kai). Common use of καιkai pleonastic to show that the two events were parallel. This is the simplest way from Homer on to narrate two parallel events.

Why? (τιtōi). Jesus had told them of his coming Ascension (John 6:62; John 20:17) so that they should have been prepared.

This Jesus (ουτος ο Ιησουςhoutos ho Iēsous). Qui vobis fuit eritque semper Jesus, id esto4, Salvator (Corn. a Lapide). The personal name assures them that Jesus will always be in heaven a personal friend and divine Saviour (Knowling).

So in like manner (ουτως ον τροπονhoutōs hon tropon). Same idea twice. “So in which manner” (incorporation of antecedent and accusative of general reference). The fact of his second coming and the manner of it also described by this emphatic repetition.

Verse 12

Olivet (ΕλαιωνοςElaiōnos). Genitive singular. Vulgate Olivetum. Made like αμπελωνampelōn Here only in the N.T., usually το ορος των Ελαιωνto oros tōn Elaiōn (the Mount of Olives), though some MSS. have Olivet in Luke 19:29; Luke 21:37. Josephus (Ant. VII. 9, 2) has it also and the papyri (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 170).

A sabbath day‘s journey off (Σαββατου εχων οδονSabbatou echōn hodon). Luke only says here that Olivet is a Sabbath day‘s journey from Jerusalem, not that Jesus was precisely that distance when he ascended. In the Gospel Luke (Luke 24:50) states that Jesus led them “over against” (εως προςheōs pros) Bethany (about two miles or fifteen furlongs). The top of Olivet is six furlongs or three-fourths of a mile. The Greek idiom here is “having a journey of a Sabbath” after “which is nigh unto Jerusalem” (ο εστιν εγγυς Ιερουσαλημho estin eggus Ierousalēm), note the periphrastic construction. Why Luke mentions this item for Gentile readers in this form is not known, unless it was in his Jewish source. See Exodus 16:29; Numbers 35:5; Joshua 3:4. But it does not contradict what he says in Luke 24:50, where he does not say that Jesus led them all the way to Bethany.

Verse 13

Into the upper chamber (εις το υπερωιονeis to huperōion). The upstairs or upper room (υπερhuper is upper or over, the adjective υπερωιοςhuperōios), the room upstairs where the women staid in Homer, then a room up under the flat roof for retirement or prayer (Acts 9:37, Acts 9:39), sometimes a large third story room suitable for gatherings (Acts 20:9). It is possible, even probable, that this is the “large upper room” (ανωγεον μεγαanōgeon mega) of Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12. The Vulgate has coenaculum for both words. The word is used in the N.T. only in Acts. It was in a private house as in Luke 22:11 and not in the temple as Luke 24:53 might imply, “continually” (δια παντοςdia pantos) these words probably meaning on proper occasions.

They were abiding (ησαν καταμενοντεςēsan katamenontes). Periphrastic imperfect active. Perfective use of καταkata to abide permanently. It is possible that this is the house of Mary the mother of John Mark where the disciples later met for prayer (Acts 12:12). Here alone in the N.T., though old compound. Some MSS. here read παραμενοντεςparamenontes This could mean constant residence, but most likely frequent resort for prayer during these days, some being on hand all the time as they came and went.

Simon the Zealot (Σιμον ο ηλωτηςSimon ho Zēlōtēs). Called Simon the Cananaean (ο Χαναναιοςho Cananaios) in Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:18, but Zealot in Luke 6:16 as here giving the Greek equivalent of the Aramaic word because Luke has Gentiles in mind. The epithet (member of the party of Zealots) clung to him after he became an apostle and distinguishes him from Simon Peter. See note in Volume 1 on the Gospel of Matthew for discussion of the four lists of the apostles.

Judas the son of James (ουδας ΙακωβουJoudas Iakōbou). Literally, Judas of James, whether son or brother (cf. Judges 1:1) we do not really know. “Of James” is added to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot (John 14:22). However we take it, he must be identified with the Thaddaeus (=Lebbaeus) of Mark and Matthew to make the list in the third group identical. No name appears in Acts for that of Judas Iscariot.

Verse 14

With one accord (ομοτυμαδονhomothumadon). Old adverb in δον̇don from adjective ομοτυμοςhomothumos and that from ομοςhomos same, and τυμοςthumos mind or spirit, with the same mind or spirit. Common in ancient Greek and papyri. In the N.T. eleven times in Acts and nowhere else save Romans 15:6. See note on Matthew 18:19.

Continued (ησαν προσκαρτερουντεςēsan proskarterountes). Periphrastic imperfect active of προσκαρτερεωproskartereō old verb from προςpros (perfective use) and καρτερεωkartereō from καρτεροςkarteros strong, steadfast, like the English “carry on.” Already in Mark 3:9 which see and several times in Acts and Paul‘s Epistles. They “stuck to” the praying (τηι προσευχηιtēi proseuchēi notearticle) for the promise of the Father till the answer came.

With the women (συν γυναιχινsun gunaixin). Associative instrumental case plural of γυνηgunē after συνsun As one would expect when praying was the chief work on hand. More women certainly included than in Luke 8:2; Mark 15:40.; Matthew 27:55.; Luke 23:49; Mark 15:47; Matthew 27:61; Luke 23:55.; Mark 16:1; Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1.; John 20:1, John 20:11-18; Matthew 28:9. There were probably other women also whose testimony was no longer scouted as it had been at first. Codex Bezae adds here “and children.”

And Mary the mother of Jesus (και Μαριαμ τηι μητρι του Ιησουkai Mariam tēi mētri tou Iēsou). A delicate touch by Luke that shows Mary with her crown of glory at last. She had come out of the shadow of death with the song in her heart and with the realization of the angel‘s promise and the prophecy of Simeon. It was a blessed time for Mary.

With his brethren (συν τοις αδελποις αυτουsun tois adelphois autou). With his brothers, it should be translated. They had once disbelieved in him (John 7:5). Jesus had appeared to James (1 Corinthians 15:7) and now it is a happy family of believers including the mother and brothers (half-brothers, literally) of Jesus. They continue in prayer for the power from on high.

Verse 15

Brethren (αδελπωνadelphōn). Codex Bezae has “disciples.”

Multitude of persons (οχλος ονοματωνochlos onomatōn). Literally, multitude of names. This Hebraistic use of ονομαonoma = person occurs in the lxx (Numbers 1:2; 18:20; 3:40, 43; 26:53) and in Revelation 3:4; Revelation 11:13.

Together (επι το αυτοepi to auto). The word “gathered” is not in the Greek here, but it does occur in Matthew 22:34 and that is undoubtedly the idea in Luke 17:35 as in Acts 2:1, Acts 2:44, Acts 2:47; 1 Corinthians 11:20; 1 Corinthians 14:23. So also here. They were in the same place (το αυτοto auto).

About a hundred and twenty (ως εκατον εικοσιhōs hekaton eikosi). A crowd for “the upper room.” No special significance in the number 120, just the number there.

Verse 16

Brethren (ανδρες αδελποιandres adelphoi). Literally, men, brethren or brother men. More dignified and respectful than just “brethren.” Demosthenes sometimes said Ανδρες ΑτηναιοιAndres Athēnaioi Cf. our “gentlemen and fellow-citizens.” Women are included in this address though ανδρεςandres refers only to men.

It was needful (εδειedei). Imperfect tense of the impersonal δειdei with the infinitive clause (first aorist passive) and the accusative of general reference as a loose subject. Peter here assumes that Jesus is the Messiah and finds scripture illustrative of the treachery of Judas. He applies it to Judas and quotes the two passages in Acts 1:20 (Psalm 69:25; Psalm 109:8). The Holy Spirit has not yet come upon them, but Peter feels moved to interpret the situation. He feels that his mind is opened by Jesus (Luke 24:45). It is a logical, not a moral, necessity that Peter points out. Peter here claims the Holy Spirit as speaking in the scriptures as he does in 2 Peter 1:21. His description of Judas as “guide” (οδηγουhodēgou) to those who seized (συλλαβουσινsullabousin) Jesus is that of the base traitor that he was. This very verb occurs in Luke 22:54 of the arrest of Jesus.

Verse 17

Was numbered (κατηριτμενος ηνkatērithmenos ēn). Periphrastic past perfect passive indicative of καταριτμεωkatarithmeō old verb, but here only in the N.T. (perfective use of καταkata).

Received his portion (ελαχεν τον κληρονelachen ton klēron). Second aorist active indicative of λαγχανωlagchanō old verb, to obtain by lot as in Luke 1:9; John 19:24, especially by divine appointment as here and 2 Peter 2:1. ΚληροςKlēros also means lot, an object used in casting lots (Acts 1:26), or what is obtained by lot as here and Acts 8:21, of eternal salvation (Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:12), of persons chosen by divine appointment (1 Peter 5:3). From this latter usage the Latin cleros, clericus, our clergy, one chosen by divine lot. So Peter says that Judas “obtained by lot the lot of this ministry” (διακονιαςdiakonias) which he had when he betrayed Jesus. The Master chose him and gave him his opportunity.

Verse 18

Now this man (ουτος μεν ουνHoutos men oun). Note μεν ουνmen oun again without a corresponding δεde as in Acts 1:6. Acts 1:18, Acts 1:19 are a long parenthesis of Luke by way of explanation of the fate of Judas. In Acts 1:20 Peter resumes and quotes the scripture to which he referred in Acts 1:16.

Obtained (εκτησατοektēsato). First aorist middle indicative of κταομαιktaomai to acquire, only in the middle, to get for oneself. With the covenant money for the betrayal, acquired it indirectly apparently according to Matthew 26:14-16; Matthew 27:3-8 which see.

Falling headlong (πρηνης γενομενοςprēnēs genomenos). Attic form usually πρανηςpranēs The word means, not “headlong,” but “flat on the face” as opposed to υπτιοςhuptios on the back (Hackett). Hackett observes that the place suits admirably the idea that Judas hung himself (Matthew 27:5) and, the rope breaking, fell flat on his face and burst asunder in the midst (ελακησεν μεσοςelakēsen mesos). First aorist active indicative of λασκωlaskō old verb (here only in the N.T.), to clang, to crack, to crash, like a falling tree. Aristophanes uses it of crashing bones. ΜεσοςMesos is predicate nominative referring to Judas.

Gushed out (εχεχυτηexechuthē). First aorist passive indicative of εκχεωekcheō to pour out.

Verse 19

Language (διαλεκτωιdialektōi). Not a dialect of the Greek, but a different language, the Aramaic. So also in Acts 2:6; Acts 21:40. ΔιαλεκτοςDialektos is from διαλεγομαιdialegomai to converse, to speak between two (διαdia).

Akeldama (ακελδαμαχHakeldamach). This Aramaic word Peter explains as “the field of blood.” Two traditions are preserved: one in Matthew 27:7 which explains that the priests purchased this potter‘s field with the money which Judas flung down as the price of the blood of Jesus. The other in Acts describes it as the field of blood because Judas poured out his blood there. Hackett and Knowling argue that both views can be true. “The ill-omened name could be used with a double emphasis” (Hackett).

Verse 20

For it is written (γεγραπται γαρgegraptai gar). Luke here returns to the address of Peter interrupted by Acts 1:18, Acts 1:19. Perfect passive indicative, the usual idiom in quoting scripture, stands written. Ps 69 is often quoted as Messianic in Matthew and John.

His habitation (η επαυλις αυτουhē epaulis autou). Only here in the N.T., a country house, cottage, cabin.

His office (την επισκοπην αυτουtēn episkopēn autou). Our word bishopric (Authorized Version) is from this word, office of bishop (επισχοποςepiscopos). Only that is not the idea here, but over-seership (επι σκοπεωepiskopeō) or office as in 1 Peter 2:12. It means to visit and to inspect, to look over. The ecclesiastical sense comes later (1 Timothy 3:1).

Verse 21

Must (δειdei). Present necessity corresponding to the old necessity (εδειedei) about Judas (Acts 1:16). This sentence in Acts 1:21, Acts 1:22 begins with δειdei

That (ωιhōi). Locative case of the relative attracted to the case of the antecedent.

Went in and went out (εισηλτεν και εχηλτενeisēlthen kai exēlthen). Constative aorist active.

With us (επ ημαςeph' hēmas).

Over us, the margin has it. But the full phrase would be επ ημας και απ ημωνeph' hēmas kai aph' hēmōn He came to us and went from us (Knowling).

Verse 22

Beginning (αρχαμενοςarxamenos). Aorist middle participle of αρχωarchō agreeing (nominative) with ο κυριος Ιησουςho kurios Iēsous (the Lord Jesus). The ministry of Jesus began with the ministry of John. Strictly speaking αρχαμενοςarxamenos should be the accusative and agree with μαρτυραmartura (witness) in Acts 1:22, but the construction is a bit free. The ministry of Jesus began with the baptism of John and lasted until the Ascension.

A witness with us of his resurrection (μαρτυρα της αναστασεως αυτου συν ημινmartura tēs anastaseōs autou sun hēmin). This Peter considers the essential thing in a successor to Judas. The one chosen should be a personal witness who can speak from his own experience of the ministry, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus. One can easily see that this qualification will soon put an end to those who bear such personal testimony.

Verse 23

They put forward two (εστησαν δυοestēsan duo). First aorist active indicative (transitive) of ιστημιhistēmi (not intransitive second aorist, though same form in the third person plural). Somebody nominated two names, Justus and Matthias.

Verse 24

Show us the one whom thou hast chosen (αναδειχον ον εχελεχωanadeixon hon exelexō). First aorist active imperative of αναδεικνυμιanadeiknumi to show up, make plain. First aorist middle indicative second person singular of εκλεγωeklegō to pick out, choose, select. In this prayer they assume that God has made a choice. They only wish to know his will. They call God the heart-searcher or heart-knower (καρδιογνωσταkardiognōsta vocative singular), a late word, here and Acts 15:8 only in the N.T. Modern physicians have delicate apparatus for studying the human heart.

Verse 25

Apostleship (αποστοληςapostolēs). Jesus had called the twelve apostles. An old word for sending away, then for a release, then the office and dignity of an apostle (Acts 1:25; Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 9:2; Galatians 2:8).

To his own place (εις τον τοπον τον ιδιονeis ton topon ton idion). A bold and picturesque description of the destiny of Judas worthy of Dante‘s Inferno. There is no doubt in Peter‘s mind of the destiny of Judas nor of his own guilt. He made ready his own berth and went to it.

Verse 26

He was numbered (συνκατεπσηπιστηsunkatepsēphisthē). To the Jews the lot did not suggest gambling, but “the O.T. method of learning the will of Jehovah” (Furneaux). The two nominations made a decision necessary and they appealed to God in this way. This double compound συνκαταπσηπιζωsunkatapsēphizō occurs here alone in the N.T. and elsewhere only in Plutarch (Them. 21) in the middle voice for condemning with others. ΣυνπσηπιζωSunpsēphizō occurs in the middle voice in Acts 19:19 for counting up money and also in Aristophanes. ΠσηπιζωPsēphizō with δαπανηνdapanēn occurs in Luke 14:28 for counting the cost and in Revelation 13:18 for “counting” the number of the beast. The ancients used pebbles (πσηποιpsēphoi) in voting, black for condemning, white (Revelation 2:17) in acquitting. Here it is used in much the same sense as καταριτμεωkatarithmeō in Acts 1:17.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 1:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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