Acts 1:1-3 These three verses are one sentence. Easy to get confused with the descriptive clauses, but the subject and verb is actually I made. Luke is saying he made a former account of the life of Jesus, the gospel of Luke, and now he is continuing the story of the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit in His disciples. That is an important point. The book is usually titled Acts of the Apostles, but it is actually the acts of the Holy Spirit over earthly obstacles as shown through the followers of Christ. My Bible teacher brought this to my attention years ago. He is correct. The books of acts is a fitting sequel to Luke as it continues the story of Christ through the acts of the Holy Spirit. There will be several obstacles, division in the church, martyrdom, but the biggest may be that Gentiles are included in the salvation of Christ without going through Judaism. Will note those as we come to them.
1 “…O Theophilus…”
Same person Luke wrote to in the gospel of Luke. Nothing is recorded about him or who he was. Commentaries suggest he may have been an early gentile convert whom Luke wanted to help by giving him the story of Christ. The fact that Luke doesn’t use the phrase most excellent in Acts leads some to speculate that his relationship with Theophilus had become closer than when he wrote the gospel.
3 “…by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days…”
The appearing of Jesus to His disciples after His resurrection wasn’t hidden. And it wasn’t just once or twice. He appeared to them over the course of forty days. Many today wish to discount the resurrection as nothing but myth, but the evidence was there. Always amazes me that we will believe in the existence and acts of someone such as George Washington even though all we have now is what was written of him and a marker of his supposed remains, yet we won’t take the same type of evidence for Jesus, written testimonies of eye witnesses, the changes in lives, and the continued spreading of His message. We believe what we choose to believe.
4 “…not to depart…but to wait for the Promise…”
Don’t get started without being prepared. Wait for the Holy Spirit then follow His lead.
5 “…shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit…”
Not just a onetime filling as had happened at different times throughout history, but a total immersion which is permanent.
6 “…Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
First obstacle, and it comes before Jesus had even left. Throughout His ministry here, the disciples had been holding on to their understanding that the Messiah’s coming would be as an earthly king. They had been taught the Old Testament, but had never seen the two comings of the Messiah, one as a suffering servant, the other as King of Kings. I wonder how Jewish Rabbis reconcile the two prophecies. At this point, Jesus doesn’t go into it, but tells them God will handle the timing. Their job from now on is to spread His good news after they have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
8 “…Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”
Ever expanding circle of influence. We can use the same model. Those closest to us, those we come in contact with on a regular basis, and those we have encounters with perhaps only once or twice. We share Christ with others as we go about our business here. It should be the primary focus of why we’re here, not an additional task. We should incorporate Christ into all aspects of our acting and thinking so sharing Him is as natural as breathing. I believe that is where we’ve messed up in our understanding of witnessing for Him. We’ve tried to make it a totally separate action from our normal behavior when it should be our normal behavior. In all thy ways acknowledge Him. I find it hard to do myself, but only because I wasn’t taught to and have been doing it another way for so long. But that’s no reason to not keep working on it. Bring up the Lord in passing at every opportunity.
9-11 “…He was taken up…This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
One day Christ will return to this earth in bodily form just as He left. He will land on the Mount of Olives at the point of His departure and will then set up His earthly kingdom which the disciples referred to earlier.
12 “…a Sabbath day’s journey”
The amount of distance one could legally travel on the Sabbath according to Levitical law. Not sure what it is. Commentaries suggest it was two thousand paces or cubits, which would be just over half a mile.
14 “…the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers”
Not sure if this means His brothers had now become believers after seeing His crucifixion and resurrection, or if they were still together due to fear of retribution from the Jewish leaders. Forty days have passed, and they’ve seen Him resurrected, so maybe they have all come to believe.
15 “…a hundred and twenty…”
Quite a number. Not as large as the crowds that had followed Jesus, but a good core number of real believers before the arrival of the Holy Spirit. May answer my previous question about His brothers believing.
18 “…this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity…”
Judas didn’t actually purchase the field. The Jewish leaders purchased the land using the money Judas returned to them as they didn’t want to be defiled with money that had been used to purchase blood. Their own piety showed their deep depravity.
18-19 Luke includes a bit of history regarding the final disposition of Judas. His note that it became known to those dwelling in Jerusalem gives credence to the idea that he checked local sources and eye witnesses for his gospel and this record.
26 “…Matthias…was numbered with the eleven apostles”
Some have speculated that God actually intended for Paul to replace Judas as one of the original twelve. If you think that having the twelve as a specific group has great meaning, I guess that could make sense. But I see nothing here that would say that. Peter and the others used that as their reason for replacing Judas. They prayed about it before acting. I think God would have told them to wait if it was of that much importance. I think we place too much emphasis on the people and not enough on the Spirit. God certainly used the first Apostles mightily for His glory, but He also used Paul when it was time to do so. I think it was good to replace Judas with Matthias for the work the original would do, then God moved Paul to start another vein of witnessing toward the Gentiles when the time came.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.