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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Acts 1



Other Authors
Verse 1

The former ( τὸν πρῶτον )

Lit., the first. Luke refers to his Gospel.

Treatise ( λόγον )

Or narrative.

Began ( ἤρξατο )

This is interpreted in two ways. Either, (1), as a simple historical statement equivalent to “all that Jesus did and taught.” In favor of this is the fact that the synoptists often record that which is done or said according to its moment of commencement, thus giving vividness to the account. See Matthew 11:20; Matthew 26:22, Matthew 26:37; Mark 6:7; Mark 14:19; Luke 7:38, etc. According to this explanation the word serves “to recall to the recollection from the Gospel all the several incidents and events, up to the ascension, in which Jesus had appeared as doer and teacher” (Meyer). Or, (2), as indicating that the Gospel contains the beginning, and the Acts of the Apostles the continuation, of the doings and teachings of Jesus. “The earthly life of Jesus, concluded with the ascension, has its fruit and continued efficacy; and his heavenly life, commencing with the ascension, has its manifestation and proof in the acts and experiences of the apostles and first churches. The history of the Church was under the immediate control of the exalted Redeemer, and may justly be considered as the continuation in heaven of the work which he had begun on earth” (Baumgarten and Gloag). While the truth and importance of this statement are admitted, it is objected that such an intention on Luke's part would have been more clearly intimated, and not left to be inferred from a single doubtful phrase. As regards Luke's intention, I think the first explanation is more likely to be correct. The second, however, states a truth, the value and importance of which cannot be overestimated, and which should be kept in mind constantly in the study of the book of Acts. This is well put by Bernard (“Progress of Doctrine in the New TestamentLect. IV.): “Thus the history which follows is linked to, or (may I not rather say) welded with the past; and the founding of the Church in the earth is presented as one continuous work, begun by the Lord in person, and perfected by the same Lord through the ministry of men … . 'The former treatise' delivered to us, not all that Jesus did and taught, but 'all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when he was taken up.' 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.”

Verse 2

Had given commandment ( ἐντειλάμενος )

Special injunctions or charges. Compare Matthew 4:6; Mark 13:34; Hebrews 11:22.

Through the Holy Ghost

Construe with had given commandment: by means of the Holy Spirit, which inspired him. Not, as some interpreters, with whom he had chosen.

Verse 3

Shewed himself ( παρέστησεν )

This verb is rendered in a variety of ways in the New Testament, as give or furnish, present, provide, assist, commend. The original meaning is to place beside, and so commend to the attention. Hence, to set before the mind; present, shew.

Infallible proofs ( τεκμηρίοις )

The word is akin to τέκμαρ , a fixed boundary, goal, end; and hence a fixed or sure sign or token. The Rev. omits infallible, probably assuming that a proof implies certainty.

Being seen ( ὀπτανόμενος )

Only here in New Testament. Rev., appearing.

Forty days ( δι ' ἡμερῶν τεσσεράκοντα )

Lit., “through forty days.” Rev., by the space of. The only passage where the interval between the resurrection and the ascension is given.

Verse 4

Being assembled together ( συναλιζόμενος )

From σύν , together, and ἁλής , thronged or crowded. Both the A. V. and Rev. give eating together in margin, following the derivation from σύν , together, and ἅλς , salt: eating salt together, and hence generally of association at table.

Commanded ( παρήγγειλεν )

Originally to pass on or transmit; hence, as a military term, of passing a watchword or command; and so generally to command.

To wait for ( περιμένειν )

Only here in New Testament.

The promise ( ἐπαγγελίαν )

Signifying a free promise, given without solicitation. This is the invariable sense of the word throughout the New Testament, and this and its kindred and compound words are the only words for promise in the New Testament. Ὑπισχνέομαι , meaning to promise in response to a request, does not occur; and ὁμολογέω , Matthew 14:7, of Herod promising Salome, really means to acknowledge his obligation for her lascivious performance. See note there.

Not many days hence ( οὐ μετὰ πολλὰς ταύτας ἡμέρας )

Lit., not after many of these days. Not after many, but after a few.

Verse 6

Asked ( ἐπηρώτων )

The imperfect, denoting the repetition and urging of the question.

Verse 7

The times - the seasons ( χρόνους - καιροὺς )

Rev. properly omits the article. The former of these words, time absolutely, without regard to circumstances; the latter, definite periods, with the idea of fitness.

His own ( τῇ ἰδίᾳ )

Stronger than the simple possessive pronoun. The adjective means private, personal. Often used adverbially in the phrase κατ ' ἰδίαν , apart, privately. See Matthew 17:1; Matthew 24:3.

Verse 8

Unto me ( μοι )

The best texts read μου , of me; or, as Rev., my witnesses.


Formerly they had been commanded not to enter the cities of the Samaritans (Matthew 10:5).

Verse 10

Looked steadfastly ( ἀτενίζοντες ἦσαν )

See on Luke 4:20.

Verse 12

A Sabbath-day's journey ( σαββάτου ἔχον ὁδόν )

Lit., having a Sabbath's way. The way conceived as belonging to the mountain; connected with it in reference to the neighborhood of Jerusalem. A Sabbath-day's journey, according to Jewish tradition, was about three-quarters of a mile. It was the supposed distance between the camp and the tabernacle in the wilderness (Joshua 3:4).

Verse 13

An upper room ( τὸ ὑπερῷον )

With the article, denoting some well-known place of resort. It was the name given to the room directly under the flat roof. Such rooms were often set apart as halls for meetings. In such an apartment Paul delivered his farewell address at Troas (Acts 20:8), and the body of Dorcas was laid (Acts 9:37). Used by Luke only.

Abode ( ἦσαν καταμένοντες )

The participle and finite verb, denoting continuance or habitual residence. Hence more correctly, as Rev., “where they were abiding.

Verse 14

Continued ( ἦσαν προσκαρτεροῦντες )

Participle and finite verb, as above. The verb is from καρτερὸς strong, stanch, and means originally to persist obstinately in. In this sense here, and in Romans 12:12; Romans 13:6. Hence to adhere firmly to. So in Mark 3:9, “that a small ship should wait on him; i.e., keep near at hand. The idea of steady persistence is supplied by the Rev., steadfastly.

With one accord ( ὁμοθυμαδὸν )

See on agree, Matthew 18:19.

In prayer

The best texts omit and supplication.


Mentioned here for the last time in the New Testament.

Verse 15

Of the disciples ( τῶν μαθητῶν )

The best texts read ἀδελφῶν , brethren.

The number of the names together were about, etc. ( ἦν τε ὄχλος ὀνομάτων ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ )

Much better as Rev., and there was a multitude of persons gathered together, about, etc. Ὄχλος , multitude, would not be used of a number about to be stated.

Verse 16

Men and brethren ( ἄνδρες ἀδελφοὶ )

Lit., men, brothers. Brother-men. More dignified and solemn than the simple brethren.

This scripture

The best texts substitute the. See on Mark 12:10.

The Holy Ghost ( τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον )

Lit., The Spirit,the Holy.


See on lead, Luke 6:39.

Verse 17

Numbered ( κατηριθμημένος )

Only here in New Testament

With ( σύν )

The best texts read ἐν , among. So Rev.

Obtained ( ἔλαχε )

Strictly, “received by lot. Rev., better, received. Compare Luke 1:9. In classical Greek, of receiving public magistracies.

Part ( τὸν κλῆρον )

The A. V. does not give the force of the article, the lot which was his. So Rev., “his portion:” lit., lot.


See on minister, Matthew 20:26. Compare bishopric, Acts 1:20.

Verse 18

Purchased ( ἐκτήσατο )

See on possess, Luke 18:12. Better, as Rev., obtained. Judas did not purchase the field, but the priests did with the money which he returned to them, (Matthew 27:7). The expression means merely that the field was purchased with the money of Judas.

Falling headlong ( πρηνής γενόμενος )

Lit.,having become headlong.

He burst asunder ( ἐλάκησε )

Only here in New Testament. Lit., to crack, to burst with a noise. So Homer, of the bones cracking beneath a blow (“Iliad,” xiii., 616). Compare Aristophanes, “Clouds,” 410.

Verse 19


Or, more properly, Akeldamach The word is Aramaic, the language then spoken in Palestine.

Verse 20

Habitation ( ἔπαυλις )

Only here in New Testament. The word is used in classical Greek of a place for cattle. So Herodotus (i., 111): “The herdsman took the child in his arms, and went back the way he had come, till he reached the fold” ( ἔπαυλιν )Also of farm-building, a country-house.

Bishopric ( ἐπισκοπήν )

See on 1 Peter 2:12. Rev., better, office, with overseership in margin. Compare Luke 19:44.

Another ( ἕτερος )

And different person. See on Acts 2:4.

Verse 21

Went in and went out

An expression for constant intercourse. Compare Deuteronomy 18:19; Psalm 121:8; John 10:9; Acts 9:28.

Among us ( ἐφ ' ἡμᾶς )

The margin of Rev., over us, i.e., as our head, is a sound rendering, and supported by Matthew 25:21, Matthew 25:23; Luke 9:1. The rendering before, in the presence of, occurs Matthew 10:18; Luke 21:12.

Verse 22

Witness ( μάτρυρα )

One who shall bear testimony: not a spectator, a mistake often made on Hebrews 12:1. Compare Acts 2:32.

Verse 23


A patronymic, son of Saba: like Bar Jona, Matthew 16:17.

Verse 24

Which knowest the hearts ( καρδιογνῶστα )

Only here and Acts 15:8. Lit.,heart-knower.

Verse 25

That he may take part ( λαβεῖν τὸν κλῆρον )

Lit., to take the lot. But the best texts read τὸν τόπον , the place. Rev., to take the place.

By transgression fell ( παρέβη )

See on trespasses, Matthew 6:14. The rendering of the A. V. is explanatory. Rev., better, fell away.

His own place

Compare “the place in this ministry.” Τὸν ἴδιον ,his own, is stronger than the simple possessive pronoun. It is the place which was peculiarly his, as befitting his awful sin - Gehenna.

Verse 26

He was numbered ( συγκατεψηφίσθη )

Only here in New Testament. See on counteth, Luke 14:28.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Acts 1:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020
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