About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Introduction, Chapter 1
Next Section - Chapter
Commentary On The
Book Of Acts
following commentary is based on the New International Version of the Bible,
1994 edition. Chapter titles in this
commentary are taken from the NIV chapter titles that make for easy comparison.
all scholars believe that Luke, a Gentile doctor, was the author of the book of
Acts. It's also accepted that he
wrote the Gospel according to Luke. He
was one of Paulís closest co-workers and friends.
Paul mentions him three times in his letters.
In Colossians 4:14 Paul calls Luke "a dear friend and a
doctor". So, we know he is a
doctor. In Philemon 24 Paul mentions
him along with others in his final greeting to Philemon.
In 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul tells Timothy to send Mark to him because
"only Luke was with him" at the time of writing this letter to
reason why scholars believe Luke wrote Acts is because anytime there is an
illness or a physical problem with a person; he speaks in specific terms that a
Roman doctor would understand.
states that Luke grew up in
and was converted there. Tradition
also states that he died at the age of 84.
Acts 11 Luke describes a gathering of Christians in
that he was at, which appears to be Lukeís home town as an adult.
Christian tradition also states that Luke was a citizen of
Antioch. He was not a Jew, but a pagan
Greek. Paul did not lead him to the
Lord as he did Timothy and others. Paul
never calls him a "son in the faith" as he called Timothy.
It appears that Luke was already a Christian when Paul first visited Antioch
careful reading of Acts will tell you that there were times when Luke was
literally a part of the account he writes and other times when he wasnít. You
can tell this by the personal pronouns that he uses.
Sometimes he says, "we", while other times he says
"they". We can call
the sections of Acts where Luke speaks in the first person "we", the
"we sections". The first
"we section" begins in Acts 11:28.
The next "we section" begins in Acts 16:10.
The last "we section" begins in Acts 20:6 and appears to carry
on to the very end.
was in Jerusalem
when Paul was arrested after giving the gift of money to the
church that Paul collected from many of the churches in
Asia Minor. When Paul was quickly rushed to Caesarea and put into prison for two years,
Luke appears to be with him all that time and then accompanied him to
where he was in house arrest for another two years.
is interesting to note that the Christian church begins in Acts 2 in
, the centre for Jewish culture. On
that first day of church history, the church was totally Jewish, both in culture
and individual membership. Jerusalem
was the headquarters for the early church, but by the end of the book of Acts
the church was just as much Gentile as it was Jew, if not more Gentile, and the
headquarters was no longer in Jerusalem. This
was probably God's will. I'm not
convinced that it is God's will to have a headquarters for His church outside of
heaven itself. Such ecclesiastical
systems are more man-made than God-made. Many
people actually believe it was God's will for the Christians to be persecuted in
that forced them to relocate. Besides,
Jesus told the apostles in Acts 1:8 that after the Holy Spirit came into their
lives they would be witnesses to him in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, and
then to the uttermost parts of the earth. It's
clear that Jesus wanted these men to move on and not settle in Jerusalem.
it comes to dating the book of Acts there has been many opinions over the
centuries as there are with the dating of most of the New Testament documents.
Since Acts ends with Paulís house arrest in Rome, without anything said about his impending trial, many feel the book must have
been written around 62 to 64 AD. Paul
was beheaded in 66 A.D.. His house
arrest was somewhere around 60 A. D. to 64 A. D. and lasted two years.
Surely, if Luke had known the outcome of Paulís trial he would have written
about it, or so I think. Thus we
have to date the book shortly after his two years of house arrest and before his
trial and death. This would make the date around 62 to 64 A. D..
Acts 1:8 Jesus tells his followers that once the Holy Spirit came into their
lives they "would be witnesses", first in Jerusalem, then Judea, then
Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth.
Thus, this is the story how the transition of the gospel went, from
and the Jews, to the ends of the known earth,
and beyond, in Gentile territory; to you and I, wherever you live today.
book of Acts doesnít tell the whole story of the early church. It
centers around Peter in the first part, and then Paul in the second part.
Acts can be divided into three main parts. The first part is chapter 1,
the introductory. The second part is
chapter 2 through chapter 12, which is the progress of the gospel to the Jews
under Peterís preaching. The third
part is chapter 13 through to the end that shows the progress of the gospel
among the Gentiles under Paulís preaching.
I have said, Luke does not tell the whole story of the early church, only that
part he must have known well. There
were other apostles and preachers across the land that must have made
significant inroads in the preaching of the gospel as well. There was James, one
of the leaders of the Jerusalem
church. We know a little about him
from Luke, but I am sure there is more to know about him.
What we do have is an account of the spread of the gospel by Peter and
then by Paul. Beyond Acts 13 we know
very little about Peter and his ministry. Tradition
has it that he was executed for his faith in Jesus, two years before Paul was
executed. Peter was killed in
in 64 A. D.. Tradition states that
he was hung up-side-down on a cross, by his request.
He did not feel he was worthy to die in the same fashion as Jesus, or so
it is said. It is said that
Paul was beheaded in
in 66 A.D..
important to understand that non-biblical books have supported and confirmed the
accuracy of the book of Acts. By
this I mean that all government officials that Luke speaks about in Acts are
historically accurate and can be accounted for in secular records.
did Luke write Acts? Some believe
that he wrote it to show
that Christianity was not a rebellious religion as was thought. Jews
at the time were rebelling in Judea which subsequently led to
in 70 A. D.. Others say, and
I tend to think this, that Luke
wrote the book of Acts as part of Paul's defense before the Roman court when he
was on trial.
Taken Up Into Heaven (ch. 1:1 - 11)
verse 1 we see right away that the author of the book of Acts wrote another
wrote both books to someone named Theophilus.
In Luke 1:3 Luke says that he "wrote an orderly account for you,
most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you
have been taught".
Since both Acts and Luke are written to Theophilus, it's pretty much an
established fact that Luke wrote both books.
reason why scholars think Luke wrote Acts is because of the medical terminology
he uses. It's
the type of language that doctors would have used in his day, and, we know that
Luke was a doctor from Colossians 4:14.
know nothing about Theophilus other than he is mentioned here and in Luke 1:1.
The name "Theophilus" means "lover of God".
"Theos" is the Greek word for "God' and "philos" in the
Greek word meaning "brotherly, or reciprocal love".
We don't know if his name reflects his character or not, but Luke is
writing to him for some reason.
Thus, Theophilus must have some reason to be further informed, not only
about Jesus, but about the first generation of Christians.
have thought that Theophilus is not a real man but a generic name representing
those who love God.
I believe he was a real person.
scholars have suggested that Theophilus had something to do with Paulís trial
and that this account was actually part of Paulís defense in Rome, but this can't be verified.
1:3 tells us that Theophilus was taught "these things" about Jesus and
that Luke wanted to write to him as a confirmation of what he was taught.
Some have said, because of certain verb tenses in Luke 1:3, that
Theophilus was not a Christian when Luke wrote his gospel account but became a
Christian before Luke wrote Acts.
point to note from Luke 1:3 is that Luke calls Theophilus "most
excellent". The use of these words strongly suggest that this man was a man
of influence, either politically or financially.
Such a title was never given to a common person. If
this was so, this might help confirm that Theophilus had some importance in the
trial of Paul in
Acts 1:1 Luke reminds Theophilus of his former book concerning Jesus and all he
did and taught, up to the point of when he was taken up into Heaven.
This gives us the reason why Luke wrote Acts.
It was meant to update Theophilus on the last few days of Jesus' earthly
existence and fill him in on the early church.
Jesus actually went home to Heaven, Luke says in verse 2 that He "gave
instruction through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen". Notice
at the very beginning of this book Luke mentions the Holy Spirit in his
narrative. Even Jesus needed the power of the Holy Spirit accompanying His words
when He taught his followers.
The Holy Spirit is especially prominent in the book of Acts, especially
the first half of the book.
see the word "apostles" in verse 2.
An apostle is one who is sent by someone.
In this case it was Jesus who sent his followers to carry the message of
the good news bout Jesus.
3 begins with the words "after His suffering".
This is an obvious reference to the cross of Christ.
The suffering and death of Jesus was a problem to the Jews.
They could not believe their Messiah would suffer in such a way, but they
missed many of the prophetic writings that predicted this; Isaiah 52 and 53
being just one example.
On the other hand, Greeks and Romans, whom Theophilus was, struggled with
the resurrection of Jesus. 1
Corinthians 1:23 states that Jesus is a stumbling block to the Jews (because He
suffered) and foolishness to the Greeks (because of the resurrection).
words "convincing proofs" in verse3 are important.
Many skeptics say Christians believe out of blind faith.
That shouldn't be the case, although I'm sure it is in many respects.
There are many convincing proves concerning, the life, death, and
resurrection of Jesus.
Christians should understand that their faith is not blind, and they
should know why they believe as they do. Knowing
why we believe is fundamental to the Christian life, but this is sadly lacking
among so many Christians these days. We must know why we believe and then we
must be able to explain to others why we believe. This
is even harder for many.
tells Theophilus in verse 3 that after "Jesusí suffering, He showed
Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive".
Before Jesus returned to His Father He showed Himself for forty days to
prove that He had actually risen from the dead.
The resurrection is fundamental to the gospel.
Jesus made sure that His followers knew for sure that He was alive. There
would be no gospel, no salvation, without the resurrection of Jesus.
might wonder why Jesus didn't show Himself to more people, like the Jewish
religious rulers and the civil authorities.
I can't say if I know the reason for sure, but God has always wanted a
group of people who would represent Him to the world.
This was really the job of Old Testament Israel, but they failed to carry out their job as they were told.
This is also true of the church, and like
of old, we're not doing the best job at representing Jesus to the world.
I think Jesus didn't show Himself to the world because that was to be the
job of Christians.
1:3 is the only place in the New Testament that tells us the time line from the
resurrection to the ascension to be forty days.
The number forty in the Bible, so some say, is the number of testing.
Jesus was tested forty days in the wilderness.
If there is validity to Biblical numbers, which I believe there is, this
forty days might well have been a time of testing for the disciples of Jesus.
That being said, there was another ten days after the
ascension of Jesus before the Holy Spirit came to the believers.
Thus, we end up with fifty days of testing instead of forty days of
these forty days Luke tells us that Jesus taught His followers things concerning
God. The concept of the
is very important to Christians.
There are two aspects to the
is that the
is present on earth in a spiritual sense through the Body of Christ.
The second aspect of the
is material or physical and will come to earth when Jesus returns and rules
from Jerusalem. The
ultimate expression of the
will be seen when this present heaven and earth are replaced by a new heaven
and earth, as seen at the end of the book of Revelation
4 says, "On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this
command, 'do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with
the Holy Spirit'".
These words of Jesus are the foundation stone to the books of Acts.
that the NIV uses the word "eating" in verse 4.
Jesus was eating with the disciples.
There is some textual discrepancy among Bible scholars and translators
translators feel the word shouldn't be "eating' but "assembling".
told His followers not to leave
people to whom He was speaking were from
farther north from
might well have been eager to get home, especially in light of all that had just
recently happened with Jesus, but
is important to the prophetic history of God, and something real important was
about ready to take place in the city of God. So,
since the disciples might have been eager to get home, and since Jesus told them
to stay in Jerusalem, this might indeed been a forty day test for them.
need to ask, "What is the gift that Jesus is talking about here"?
Many have said that the gift is an experience called "the Baptism in
the Holy Spirit", but this is not the case.
The text clearly states that the gift is the Holy Spirit Himself.
The gift is not an experience.
Neither is the gift the means by which the believer gets the gift.
Luke confirms this later when he quotes Peter in Acts 2:38.
Peter says, "repent Ö and you will receive the gift of the
Peter understood the gift of God to be the Holy Spirit, not what some
call the experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
simple; the gift that the Father promised was the Holy Spirit.
We should not over emphasize the way in which we receive the Holy Spirit,
that being like a baptism. In
my opinion, Pentecostals emphasize the way in which one receives the Holy Spirit
over the Holy Spirit Himself.
They also claim that the gift spoken of here is an experience that they
call the Baptism in the Spirit.
As I've said, the gift is the Spirit, not an experience.
The word "baptism" relates to how one receives the Spirit.
It's not the gift.
At this point I will tell you that I am Pentecostal
by experience but not by doctrine. This
will be evident as we go along in this commentary.
I'm Pentecostal by experience because I do pray in tongues.
I'm not Pentecostal by doctrine because I do not believe the Pentecostal
experience called the "Baptism in the Holy Spirit" is Biblical, as
Pentecostals teach. This we will see
as we continue in this study.
have often heard people ask in Pentecostal or Charismatic circles, "have
you received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit"?
This should not be the question.
We should ask, as Paul did in Acts 19:1 Ė 8, "have you received
the Holy Spirit"?
Again, we should not major on how we receive the Spirit, but we should
major on the Spirit Himself.
I'll speak more to this issue as we work our way through the book of
said in verse 5 that John baptized with water but in a few days the disciples
would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus used the word "baptized" to tell His followers just how
they would receive the Spirit.
It would be similar to water baptism.
As one gets soaking wet in water when he is water baptized, so one gets
drench with the Holy Spirit when the Holy Spirit is poured out on him.
Again, the word "baptism" refers to how we receive the Spirit.
the word "baptize"; it is translated from the Greek word
"Baptizo" can mean, immerse, dip, or, to be overwhelmed.
Most Evangelicals believe that water baptism is an immersion into water.
The one being baptized literally goes under the water. So,
as I've said, the word "baptism" is a good word to use here because
when one receives the Spirit the means of receiving Him is like a baptism; like
The difference between water baptism and Spirit baptism, other than the
difference between water and Spirit, is that the Holy Spirit is poured out from
heaven on the believer, whereas with water baptism, one is immersed in the
an aside, because the Holy Spirit was "poured out" on the believers,
some suggest that you can "pour out" water on a believer in water
baptism as a substitute to being immersed. I
believe the preferable way of water baptism is by immersion, but if that is not
possible for some reason, I suggest a pouring out of water, or sprinkling is
question should be asked, "When did these disciples actually receive the
This is important because traditional Pentecostal doctrine states a two
The first experience is salvation.
The second experience is what they call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
I do not believe in this two stage approach when it comes to the Holy
believe you received the Holy Spirit when you first get saved and there is no
second important experience.
That being said, we have many varying experiences with Jesus over the
span of our life time.
In one sense of the word, these experiences should be a daily thing for
suggest that there is one special experience called the Baptism in the Spirit,
which people in Acts 2 received isn't Scriptural.
I'll explain as we go along, but until then, I'll start my explanation
believe that the disciples received the Spirit in Acts 2 when the Spirit was
first poured out on them.
I don't believe they had the Holy Spirit in their lives prior to Acts 2.
Why do I say this?
In John 7:38 and 39 Jesus says, "Whoever believes in me Ö streams
of living water will flow within him. By
this He meant the Spirit, who those who believed in Him were later to receive.
Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet
Jesus clearly says here that at this point in time the believers did not,
or could not, receive the Holy Spirit.
They had to wait for some later date, that is, after Jesus was glorified.
We then need to ask, "When was Jesus glorified"?
is my thinking that Jesus was glorified at His ascension, when He returned to
His Father. I
say this because of His prayer in John 17.
If you read His prayer carefully you will note that Jesusí desire was
to be with His Father, the way it was before the beginning of time, and before
He came to live within a human body.
He relates this to being glorified.
Thus, when Jesus ascended into Heaven to be with His Father, He was
after that point in time could the Holy Spirit be given to the believers. This
is also confirmed in John 16:7 when Jesus says that unless He goes away, the
Counselor, who is the Holy Spirit, cannot come.
Jesus must leave the earth before the Spirit comes to earth and lives
with God's people.
who know the Bible will immediately remind me of the event in John 20,
especially verse 22.
Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection.
At this gathering He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy
was obviously before He ascended into Heaven.
So what happened when Jesus breathed on them?
Did they really receive the Spirit?
I don't think so.
I believe this was symbolic, a prophetic demonstration of what would
happen in Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost.
If I am right by saying that Jesus was glorified at the ascension, there
is no way that these people could have received the Holy Spirit in John 20.
If they had received the Holy Spirit in John 20, why did Jesus tell them
to wait in
until they received the Holy Spirit here in Acts 1?
It would make no sense.
who believe that the disciples received the Spirit in John 20 believe Acts 2 to
be a second experience called the Baptism in the Spirit, as I've said.
They have to believe it's a second work of grace concerning the Spirit
because they say these people had already received the Spirit prior to Acts 2.
It makes no sense to say that eleven men received the Spirit in John 20,
especially in light of the fact the there were a hundred and twenty believers in
the upper room in Acts 2 waiting for the Spirit's arrival.
Acts 2 was definitely not a second experience concerning the Holy Spirit,
or second work of grace, as it has been called.
might say that Jesus was glorified when He rose from the dead.
It seems that He had His glorified body at that point.
I say "it seems", because I don't think we can know for certain
that He had His full glorified body prior to His ascension.
We don't know if any changes took place in Jesus' body once He passed
through the clouds when He ascended to heaven.
followers of Jesus received the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 in the way in which Jesus
Spirit was given through baptism.
The Holy Spirit was poured out on these people to such a degree that they
got totally drenched in Him, just as if they would have when they were immersed
in water at their water baptism.
We'll see this to be true when we get to Acts 2.
verse 5 we should note what Jesus exactly said.
He said, "You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit".
Note that the word "baptized" is a verb here.
A verb is an action word.
Jesus is saying "how one will receive the Holy Spirit".
He's emphasizing how they'd receive Him.
What we've done here as Pentecostals or Charismatics is that we've turned
the verb "baptized" into a noun when we use the phrase "baptism
in the Spirit".
Jesus is not talking about a second work of grace called the
"Baptism in the Spirit" here when He uses the word
He is simply saying that the way, or, the means, by which you will
receive the Spirit is a baptism.
disciples obeyed Jesusí words and stayed in Jerusalem, waiting for that day to come, even though they did not really understand what
Jesus was telling them.
I say this because of the way they responded to Jesusí command to wait.
In verse 6 they asked Jesus, "Lord, are you at this time going to
restore the kingdom to
just told them that they would receive the Holy Spirit, the gift the Father had
always promised, and they interpreted that as being freedom from Roman
domination and the coming of the long awaited
promised them through many Old Testament prophets.
Jews had been subject to many nations over the years, and at this point
in time they were subject to Rome. Israelis
rightly believed at some point the Messiah would come and free them from foreign
is how the disciples interpreted what Jesus told them.
reason why the disciples would have asked this question is that the restoration
goes back as far as the Abrahamic Covenant.
It stated that
would be a great and powerful nation, and that she would be a blessing to the
whole world. This
prophecy was confirmed over and over again by the Jewish prophets.
Israelis, including Jesus' disciples, were waiting for the day to come.
The disciples thought that this day might just be around the corner, but
it wasn't. First
would come the spiritual
of God. Then,
at the end of the age the physical
would come to earth when Jesus returns to rule as King of the world from Jerusalem.
subject was far from a new subject talked about by the disciples.
In Luke 24:21, after Jesusí death, you can see that the disciples were
a little down hearted when they said, "But we had hoped that He was the one
who was going to redeem
thought that Jesus at some point would free them from Roman domination in order
to set up the Messianic kingdom.
There hopes were dashed to the ground when they saw Jesus dying on the
cross. Thus, the disciples' question asked to Jesus is only a continuation of
was not talking about restoring any kingdom to them at this moment of time.
He was speaking to them of the ď
Ē, a spiritual kingdom that they did not yet understand.
This kingdom would come to them when they received the Holy Spirit, for
the present day
is found only in the Spirit of God.
This was not the earthly kingdom that Jesusí followers expected.
is interesting to note Jesusí response.
He did not say that He would never restore the kingdom to Israel. In
verse 7 He just told the disciples that it was not up to them to know "the
times and dates the Father has set by his own authority".
The Greek word translated as "times" here means an era; a long
period of time.
The Greek word translated as "dates" means a specific date.
Jesus was telling these men that it was not for them to know when the
specific date would come that would end this era.
never refuted the fact that
would be restored at some future date.
I believe that Jesus' statement clearly implies that at some point the
kingdom will be restored to Israel
as they were hoping.
Jesus didn't even hint that the
wouldn't find restoration at some future point in history.
This verse should help dispel the false teaching of Replacement Theology
that states that
has no more prophetic significance in the eyes of God since she rejected Jesus.
Those holding to this view believe that the church has replaced
in prophetic history and that all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the
concerns the restoration of the church.
I don't believe in Replacement Theology, and this verse is one verse I
believe shoots this theology down.
who has the final word when it comes to the restoration of Israel. It's
in the Father's hand.
It's not even in Jesus' hand.
second part of Jesusí response to the disciples is seen in verse 8; "but
you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you shall be my
, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth".
This is the main point that Jesus wanted His disciples to understand.
He told them that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
They thought this meant restoring Israel
Jesus replied by saying that the restoration of Israel
is not for them to know or to be thinking about right now. What they needed to
know and understand was that when the Spirit comes on them, they would receive
This power was for one reason, and that was to enable them to be
we get to Acts 2, we'll note that when these men received the Holy Spirit, it
was a pretty far out experience.
What I've seen way to often in Pentecostal Charismatic circles over the
years is that interaction with the Holy Spirit is for some kind of a spiritual high.
It's similar to a drug addict wanting a high on drugs.
We should never view any experience with the Holy Spirit as a spiritual
should never seek the Holy Spirit for the sole purpose of feeling good.
Any experience we have with Him is to enable us to become better
witnesses for Jesus.
If we view Him as a spiritual high, I believe He will soon depart from
is the reason why many Pentecostal or Charismatic churches have dried up
spiritually, or so I think.
You might think that the Holy Spirit has been given
to us to help us feel good and to comfort us because Jesus calls the Holy Spirit
the comforter in John 14. The Greek
word translated as "comforter" in the KJV means "to come along
side". Some translations
translate this Greek word as "counselor".
Comfort might be a part of the reason why we have the Holy Spirit, but in
the long run, we're comforted so that we can be the witness to Jesus that we are
meant to be, thus fulfilling Acts 1:8.
Greek word "martus" is the word that is translated as
This is where we get our English word martyr. A witness is one who gives
testimony "to what he has seen and heard".
John says it best in 1 John 1:1 where he says, "that which was from
the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we
have looked at and our hands have touched Ė this we proclaim concerning the
word of life".
Concerning the Greek word "martus", where we derive our English
word "martyr", it should be noted that many of the men Jesus spoke
to this day were martyred for their allegiance to Jesus.
disciples would not only be witnesses in
Jerusalem, but wherever they would end up in the world.
Little did they know that most of them would be driven out of
because of persecution. This
is the story of Acts, that is, men and women being witnesses to Jesus throughout
the known world. This witness begins in
and found its way westward, all the way to Rome, and beyond. It
also spread east to
and south into
gospel was spread by the first generation church to many parts of the known
world, but today the gospel has been spread to the very ends of the earth, as
Jesus predicted. It
seems to be coming back to
in full circle here in 2013 with the revival taking place in many middle
eastern Islamic nations.
disciples didn't quite get what Jesus was saying here, because when He spoke of
them being His witnesses to the uttermost parts of the world, that meant they'd
be witnessing about Jesus and the coming Kingdom of God to Gentile pagans,
something Jews would never consider doing.
interesting to note the progression in geographic areas in verse 8. The
disciples would first be witnesses in
Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, and then the uttermost parts of the earth.
This is exactly how it is recorded in the book of Acts.
In Acts 2 they witness in Jerusalem. As
the disciples left home after Acts 2 they witnessed in
Acts 8 we see the gospel being witnessed and accepted in Samaria. Samaritans
were racially and religiously half Jews and half pagan Gentiles. Beyond
in Acts 8 we see the Gentiles receiving the gospel in Acts 10.
Note that the gospel first came to the Jews, then to half Jews, and
lastly, to Gentiles, fulfilling the Scriptural principle "to the Jew first
and then to the Gentile".
Jesus says here in Acts 1 are the last recorded words of Jesus on earth. Verse
9 says, "After saying this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a
cloud hid Him from their sight". The
men and women who saw this happening were astonished, as you and I would be as
kept gazing wondrously into the sky until in verses 10 and 11 "two men in
white stood beside them.
', they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus who has been taken from you into Heaven will come back in
the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven'".
general consensus is that these two men dressed in white were angels.
I believe they were.
Some believe they were Elijah and Moses since Jesus spoke to them on the
Mount of Transfiguration, and that might be true, but it is a bit speculative.
It wouldn't surprise me that they were Elijah and Moses.
There's a good chance that the two witnesses we see in the book of
Revelation are also Elijah and Moses.
1:14 calls angels "ministering spirits".
Angels are spirits, so when they appear on earth, they have to appear in
some visible form, if they are to be seen by humans.
Whatever the case, Jesus had left the earth in dramatic fashion.
I am sure His observers were astonished, if not terrified.
It took Elijah and Moses, or two angels to bring these people back to
their senses by announcing to them the great hope of the church, that is, this
same Jesus would return in the clouds, the same way in which He left this earth.
two angels, or Elijah and Moses, said that "this same Jesus", the
Jesus you see ascending into the clouds; not another Jesus, will return in the
way He has left.
This fact is important in our day and age when new age people as well as
liberal churchmen say that Jesus will return, but the way in which He will
return is in us.
That is to say, the Christ within us all (or so they say) will arise and
bring peace to the earth.
This is far from Scriptural.
This verse plainly says that the Jesus these people saw go up; will
return in the same way He left.
As said in other verses, Jesus will physically return to earth in the
second coming is not a mystical appearing in people.
It is a real event.
word "cloud" is significant here.
I do believe that this was a physical cloud, but clouds in Scripture have
lots of significance.
Throughout the Old Testament clouds are seen as the glory of God.
If you do s simple word search on the word cloud or clouds, you'll see
hearing these words the disciples returned to Jerusalem
to do as Jesus told them to do, and that was to wait for the coming of the Holy
had lived His earthly life of roughly thirty three years.
He had completed His three year ministry.
He walked with His followers and taught them for forty days after He rose
from a terrible execution.
Now He was gone, but as Jesus told them, He would not leave them alone.
The Spirit of Truth would come into their lives and replace Him until the
day would come for His return or their death.
All that they could do now was to wait in obedience to the command of the
Lord, and that they did.
Chosen To Replace Judas (ch. 1:12 - 26)
12 tells us that the ascension took place on the
Mount of Olives. Note
that Luke in the NIV, in Luke 24:50, tells us that Jesus was taken up
"in the vicinity of Bethany. Note
also that the KJV in Luke 24:50 says that the ascension took place in
Bethany, not the "vicinity of
Bethany" as the NIV reads.
This might not be the problem you think it is.
Both the Mount of Olives and Bethany
were on the same mountain ridge about two miles apart.
This is why the NIV uses the word "vicinity" to describe
the location being spoken of.
the base of the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem
was ďa Sabbath dayís journeyĒ.
Based on Exodus 16:29 and Numbers 35:5 the Jews figured out the
distance an adult man could walk without disobeying the Sabbath laws in
the Law of Moses was 2000 steps.
This tells you how detailed the Jewish religious leaders got when
interpreting the Law of Moses.
This would be anywhere between a half and three quarters of a mile,
depending on the individual doing the walking.
did not ascend at the bottom of the hill.
He ascended somewhere up the hill as seen in Luke 24:50, where the
road branches in two.
One branch went to Bethany. It
was around here, at this point where Jesus ascended into heaven; roughly
another 4000 feet from the bottom of the hill.
13 tells us that the disciples went back to
and most scholars say that the room they went to was the same upper room
where they ate the Passover with Jesus.
Many scholars feel this upper room belonged to John Mark, the Mark
who wrote the gospel of Mark.
Simon the Zealot In verses 13.
The word "Zealot" means that Simon was an Israeli
That would have meant he was strongly opposed to Roman rule and
would have been in favour of military action against
this in mind, it is interesting that Jesus picked an Israeli Zealot and an
Israeli Roman tax collector named Matthew to be part of the Twelve.
Simon would have viewed Matthew as a traitor.
Matthew would have viewed Simon as a rebellious revolutionist.
In the natural sense of the word, these two men would have been at
each other's throats, but after meeting Jesus things do change.
the brothers of Jesus listed here, in John 7:1 Ė 5 we note that Jesusí
brothers were not believers, but it appears that they were here in Acts 1.
It is most probable that the resurrection of Jesus brought a change
of heart to these men.
be accurate, Jesus simply told His disciples to wait in
did do that, but they prayed as well, as seen in verse 14.
These people knew something important was about to happen.
They were praying for that and preparing their hearts for what
would soon take place.
this upper room, Luke says in verse 13 that the one hundred and twenty
were "staying" there. Verse 14 tells us that these people
"joined together constantly in prayer".
This upper room must have been large for all these people to be
staying there for so long. We're
not certain just where this room was, but many believe it was near the
temple if not at the temple. One
reason for this is because the temple would have had rooms large enough to
house that many people. Another
reason is that the temple area would have been very crowded this time of
year because of the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Pentecost.
We know from chapter 2 that when the believers began to speak in
tongues there was a crowd already in the neighborhood of the upper room.
If the upper room had have been on the outskirts of town, there
might not have been such a large crowd to hear the believers speaking in
this, Luke 24:53 tells us that the believers stayed continually at the
temple, suggesting the upper room was at the temple or at least near it.
15 tells us that there were a hundred and twenty people in this upper room
when Peter got up to speak. From
Peter we learn in verse 16 and 17 that the Scriptures must be fulfilled
concerning Judas. The Scriptures predicted that Judas would betray Jesus.
He will quote Psalms in a couple of verses to back up his point.
places a great emphasis on the Old Testament.
This is seen when he says that the Holy Spirit spoke through David.
This is the meaning of the doctrine called the "Inspiration of
The Holy Spirit "inspires, not dictates" what should be
When I use the word "inspire" and not
"dictate", I mean that the one being inspired uses his own
He is not writing a word for word dictation from the Holy Spirit.
18 is a bit controversial.
It says that Judas bought a field where he hung himself.
Matthew 27:7 says that the Jewish leaders bought the field.
Judas threw the money he got from finding Jesus for the Jewish
leaders back at them.
It appears they actually bought the field
on behalf of Judas, using his money and maybe his name in the
transferring of land.
verse 19 we note the "field of blood" was so named because this
is where Judas hung himself and spilled his blood on the ground.
It's also called the Potter's Field where aliens to
verse 20 Peter quotes from Psalm 69:25 which he believes is in reference
The Psalm reads; "may his place be deserted.
Let there be no one to dwell in it'.
The pronoun "he" is obviously in reference to Judas, but,
if you turn back to the Psalm, at least in the NIV, there is no pronoun
The Psalm says, "May 'their'
place be deserted Ö"
There's a big difference between "he" and "their".
What I believe Peter is doing here is that he is taking an Old
principle that applies to wicked people and he applies it to one
also uses Psalm 109:8 to back up his point.
It reads; "may another take his place of leadership.
The pronoun "his" is in reference to Judas.
We don't have the same pronoun problem here as we had in the last
word "he" is in both the Psalms and here in Acts.
Peter associates "he" with Judas.
Either Psalm 108 has more than one meaning or else we should
understand that part of the Psalm to be as Peter interprets it. We do need to understand that when it comes to
prophetic passages, including prophetic Psalms, many of these passages
have a double, sometimes even triple, fulfillment, which might be the case
verse 21 Peter says that because of these Scriptures, "it is
necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole
Judas' replacement had to have been with Jesus and the disciples
from Johnís baptism up to and, including the ascension. Peter
says that Judas' replacement would "be a witness of the
Once again, it is the resurrection that formed the basis of the
apostolic gospel and whoever would be one of the Twelve must have seen the
resurrection of Jesus.
We know from 1 Corinthians 15:6 that many people saw the
resurrected Jesus, including five hundred at one point in time.
Peterís mind the qualification of being a true apostle, or, at least one
of the original apostles, was that he had to have known and seen Jesus,
but especially he had to have seen the risen Lord.
Is this a distinguishing factor for all apostles?
Remember, the word apostle simply means "sent one".
The Twelve, now the Eleven, were sent by Jesus personally while He
was on earth to be a witness.
Does this mean that there are no longer apostles for today?
The church has been divided over this point.
Some feel that apostles were only these original twelve, plus Paul.
All other so-called apostles could not really be true apostles
because they did not see the risen Lord.
Then, what about Paul?
He did not see the risen Lord, in the same sense that Peter is
talking about here.
Paul himself claims that he did see the risen Lord on the road to
, thus being "born out of season", being born spiritually late.
(1 Corinthians 15:8)
I donít presume that I can end this discussion with my words, but
I think that we should be able to conclude that if there are modern day
apostles, whom I believe there are, they are somewhat different than the
original Twelve, plus Paul.
Modern day apostles do not form their own gospel, they only repeat
what the original Twelve, plus Paul, clearly state as being gospel.
Therefore, all modern day apostles are secondary apostles, when
compared to the original apostles.
use the term "original apostles" because I believe this is what
Peter was really doing.
He wanted to replace one of the original apostles, and to be like
the other original apostles, the replacement had to have been with them
from the beginning just like Judas was.
you remember, back in verse 2 Luke specifically states that Jesus
personally "chose" the twelve apostles.
I believe this might also be a reason why Peter stipulated that
Judas' replacement had to have been with them since the beginning.
The personal touch had to remain in tact.
23 tells us that those in the upper room chose only two men to be
considered for Judas' replacement.
They clearly thought these two men were qualified for the task at
were Joseph and Matthias.
Lots were cast after Peter prayed.
What most likely happened here, since it was a custom in those
days, was that the names of these two men were written down and placed in
some kind of container.
The container was shaken so hard that the first name to fall out
was the one chosen.
In this case Matthias was chosen.
We can't know this for sure, but however they did it, on the
surface the replacement was made by a game of chance.
That being said, Peter and the rest believed this was God's will.
24 tells us that they had corporate prayer prior to the casting of the
you know everyoneís heart. Show
us which of these two you have chosen Ö"
The question should be asked at this point, "why choose a
replacement with such a method"?
Obviously Peter trusted that Jesus would determine the outcome,
thus Matthias would be Jesusí choice.
point to be made here is that Peter and the rest of these people still
lived in the Old Testament era.
Acts 1 actually is the closing chapter of Old Testament times.
The New Testament era begins in Acts 2 with the giving of the Holy
Spirit to the believers.
After that, Godís will was not determined by casting lots.
The Holy Spirit Himself spoke to His people, leading and guiding
them in the ways that they should go.
We need to see this event as an Old Testament event, something that
we do not need to copy.
do need to note that the Law of Moses permitted such ways to find God's
will in certain matters.
This can be seen in Leviticus 16:8.
above being said, this doesnít totally answer our question, whether this
act was really Godís will or Peterís will.
Was Peter being "impetuous Peter"?
Was he stepping out in his own human thinking, and trying to
Peter could easily have done such a thing.
We really do not know the answer to this question for sure, or so I
thing is certain, we do not ever hear about Matthias from this point on.
This should not be a determining point though.
We donít hear about most of the original Twelve from this point
do believe that God will and can use human methods like this to get His
will done, even though they might not be His favourite method.
I'm reminded of Jacob tricking his father into believing that he
was actually his brother Esau.
This resulted in Jacob inheriting all that was Isaac's.
We know that this was God's will because God told Rebekah that it
would be Jacob that receives the birthright, not Esau.
The way in which this happened was pure humanism, and sinful
humanism at that, but God's will was done.
tradition states that Matthias eventually went to Ethiopia
and preach the gospel there.
in verse 25 that part of the prayer these people prayed includes the point
that Judas went where he belongs.
I do not expect to see Judas in heaven.
The main reason why I say that is that even though he felt so bad
about what he did that he killed himself, he showed no evidence of
repenting and returning to Jesus to find forgiveness.
For this reason Judas was lost.
I think it's clear from this prayer that those in the upper room
did not believe Judas ended up in heaven.
Judas didn't end up in hell, or Hades, because he killed himself.
He ended up in Hades because he did not repent and have genuine
faith in Jesus.
26 simply states that they cast lots and Matthias was determined to be
With this in mind, many have asked over the years if Matthias was
really God's choice here.
Some have said that God's choice was really Paul.
I don't think we can know this for sure.
Paul was obviously called by Jesus to be an apostle, but to be one
of the original twelve might be a different story.
Whatever the case, I believe that Paul ranks up with the original
twelve, and I believe he thought the same, according to what he said in
the first ten verses of 1 Corinthians 15. When it comes to Paul, it's my thinking that as Moses
was to Old Testament times, so Paul is to New Testament times.
He is that important. It's
primarily his teaching that
forms the basis of New Testament teaching.
Next Section - Chapter 2