Acts Chapter One
Written by Luke the physician.
Thought to have been written sometime between 64 and 70 AD
Read Acts 1:1-5
v1. “THE FORMER TREATISE HAVE I MADE, O THEOPHILUS, OF ALL THAT JESUS BEGAN TO DO AND TEACH,”
What was the “former treatise”? To whom was it written?
Luke 1:3 “IT SEEMED GOOD TO ME ALSO, HAVING HAD PERFECT UNDERSTANDING OF ALL THINGS FROM THE VERY FIRST, TO WRITE UNTO THEE IN ORDER, MOST EXCELLENT THEOPHILUS.”
Some scholars would have us believe that since the name Theophilus means “friend of God” or “lover of God” that Luke was writing to all who love God. However, this is considered by most to be improbable. Theophilus is a Greek name, definitely someone Luke knew and some would speculate a doctor friend of Luke’s. Luke also tells us what he wrote in the first letter; those things concerning what “JESUS BEGAN BOTH TO DO AND TO TEACH,”
Do you think that there is some significance in the fact that Luke writes about both that which Jesus did as well as what he taught? Actions speak louder than words don’t they? Jesus tells us about doing and teaching as recorded:
Matthew 5:19 “WHOSOEVER THEREFORE SHALL BREAK ONE OF THESE LEAST COMMANDMENTS, AND SHALL TEACH MEN SO, HE SHALL BE CALLED THE LEAST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: BUT WHOSOEVER SHALL DO AND TEACH them, THE SAME SHALL BE CALLED GREAT IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.”
v2. “UNTIL THE DAY IN WHICH HE WAS TAKEN UP, AFTER THAT HE THROUGH THE HOLY GHOST HAD GIVEN COMMANDMENTS UNTO THE APOSTLES WHOM HE HAD CHOSEN:”
After spending only a chapter or two on the birth of John and Jesus, Luke in his “former treatise” spends the rest of his writing telling about what Jesus did and taught. Recording what Jesus did in his life was as he was lead by the Holy Spirit of God. Peter followed the same pattern when he taught the household of Cornelius:
Acts 10:38 “HOW GOD ANOINTED JESUS OF NAZARETH WITH THE HOLY GHOST AND WITH POWER: WHO WENT ABOUT DOING GOOD, AND HEALING ALL THAT WERE OPPRESSED OF THE DEVIL; FOR GOD WAS WITH HIM.”
See also Luke 4:1
v3. “TO WHOM ALSO HE SHOWED HIMSELF ALIVE AFTER
HIS PASSION BY MANY INFALLIBLE PROOFS, BEING SEEN OF THEM FORTY DAYS, AND
SPEAKING OF THE THINGS PERTAINING TO THE
Jesus showed himself to his disciples alive:
Matthew 28:17 “AND WHEN THEY SAW HIM, THEY WORSHIPPED HIM: BUT SOME DOUBTED.” See also Mark 16:12, Luke 24:34-36
Jesus did this in order to strengthen the faith of his disciples, the apostles and to seal without doubt the fact that he did indeed rise from the dead. He did this in several ways and at various times in such a fashion that his being alive could not be denied; providing infallible proofs that he was indeed who he was that could not be disputed. Paul testifies:
I Corinthians 15:5-7 “AND THAT HE WAS SEEN OF CEPHAS, THEN OF THE TWELVE: AFTER THAT, HE WAS SEEN OF ABOVE FIVE HUNDRED BRETHREN AT ONCE; OF WHOM THE GREATER PART REMAIN UNTO THIS PRESENT, BUT SOME HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP.”
He was seen of Peter, the twelve and even by 500 brethren at one time, the greater part of whom, Paul says, are still living at the time of his writing.
v4. “AND BEING ASSEMBLED TOGETHER WITH THEM,
COMMANDED THEM THAT SHOULD NOT DEPART FROM
Jesus had a purpose for his apostles and disciples. Luke himself had recorded in his “former treatise”.
“AND SAID UNTO THEM, THUS IT IS WRITTEN, AND THUS IT BEHOVED
CHRIST TO SUFFER, AND TO RISE FROM THE DEAD THE THIRD
DAY: AND THAT REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS SHOULD BE PREACHED IN HIS NAME
AMONG ALL NATIONS, BEGINNING AT
Thus it is written: Read Psalm 22 and compare the wording there with the things that befell Jesus during his betrayal, crucifixion, death and resurrection. Isaiah 49:6, 22 talks about the light to the Gentiles, Jeremiah 31:34 tells of salvation to come because God will provide a way that man’s sins will he “REMEMBER NO MORE”, Micah records in 4:2 that “THE LAW SHALL GO FORTH OF ZION, AND THE WORD OF THE LORD FROM JERUSALEM.”
But they were to wait for the power, what power?
John “AND I WILL PRAY THE FATHER, AND HE SHALL GIVE YOU ANOTHER COMFORTER, THAT HE MAY ABIDE WITH YOU FOR EVER.”
John 14:26 “BUT THE COMFORTER, which is THE HOLY GHOST, WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, HE SHALL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS, AND BRING ALL THINGS TO YOUR REMEMBRANCE, WHATSOEVER I HAVE SAID UNTO YOU.”
v5. “FOR JOHN TRULY BAPTIZED WITH WATER; BUT YE SHALL BE BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY GHOST NOT MANY DAYS HENCE.”
John the Baptizer had even told them as part of his teaching that he would baptize them in water but there would be one greater that would come and baptize them with the Holy Ghost:
Matthew “I INDEED BAPTIZE YOU WITH WATER UNTO REPENTANCE: BUT HE THAT COMETH AFTER ME IS MIGHTIER THAN I, WHOSE SHOES I AM NOT WORTHY TO BEAR: HE SHALL BAPTIZE YOU WITH THE HOLY GHOST AND with FIRE.”
Read Acts 1:6-8
v6. “WHEN THEY THEREFORE WERE COME TOGETHER, THEY
ASKED OF HIM, SAYING, LORD, WILT THOU AT THIS TIME RESTORE AGAIN THE KINGDOM TO
They still didn’t understand the
nature of Jesus kingdom. We’re told that
the word translated restore here is the Greek word that means to restore
something to its former glory, or its former state. The apostles are asking him if he is going to
restore the physical
Isaiah “AND I WILL RESTORE
THY JUDGES AS AT THE FIRST, AND THY COUNSELLORS AS AT THE BEGINNING: AFTERWARD
THOU SHALT BE CALLED, THE CITY OF
Amos 9:11 “IN THAT DAY WILL I RAISE UP THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID THAT IS FALLEN, AND CLOSE UP THE BREACHES THEREOF; AND I WILL RAISE UP HIS RUINS, AND I WILL BUILD IT AS IN THE DAY OF OLD.”
Daniel “AND IN THE DAYS OF THESE KINGS SHALL THE GOD OF HEAVEN SET UP A KINGDOM, WHICH SHALL NEVER BE DESTROYED: AND THE KINDOM SHALL NOT BE LEFT TO OTHER PEOPLE, but IT SHALL BREAK IN PIECES AND CONSUME ALL THESE KINGDOMS, AND IT SHALL STAND FOR EVER.”
but they couldn’t yet visualize the spiritual kingdom that Jesus would establish, nor did they understand completely the purpose for his coming to live, die, be resurrected on the third day and by being that perfect sacrifice take away the sins of the world.
v7. “AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, IT IS NOT FOR YOU TO KNOW THE TIMES OR THE SEASONS, WHICH THE FATHER HATH PUT IN HIS OWN POWER.”
It wasn’t for them to know the plans of God, yet. Just like we don’t know when Christ will come again:
Matthew 24:36 “BUT OF THAT DAY AND HOUR KNOWETH NO man, NO, NOT THE ANGELS OF HEAVEN, BUT MY FATHER ONLY.”
Jesus doesn’t even know when He will come again:
Mark “BUT OF THAT DAY AND that HOUR KNOWETH NO MAN, NO, NOT THE ANGELS WHICH ARE IN HEAVEN, NEITHER THE SON, BUT THE FATHER.”
YE SHALL RECEIVE POWER, AFTER THAT THE HOLY GHOST IS COME UPON YOU: AND YE
SHALL BE WITNESSES UNTO ME BOTH IN
The very questions they’re asking Jesus tells us that they needed special power in order to carry out God’s will. They needed to be able to remember and understand all of Jesus teachings, they needed the guidance of God in order to provide for us that which God wanted them to provide without fear of failure or compromise of God’s commands or God’s direction and without the perversion of God’s will. They would need the strength to stand before prison, persecution and even death because of their faith. And first of all the power would need to come as promised:
Luke 24:49 “AND BEHOLD, I SEND THE PROMISE OF MY FATHER
UPON YOU: BUT TARRY YE IN THE CITY OF
Then they would be prepared to bear witness, preach and teach Jesus to a lost and dying world:
John 15:26-27 “BUT WHEN THE COMFORTER IS COME, WHOM I WILL SEND UNTO YOU FROM THE FATHER, even THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, WHICH PROCEEDETH FROM THE FATHER, HE SHALL TESTIFY OF ME: AND YE ALSO SHALL BEAR WITNESS, BECAUSE YE HAVE BEEN WITH ME FROM THE BEGINNING.”
Read Acts 1:9-14
v9. “AND WHEN HE HAD SPOKEN THESE THINGS, WHILE THEY BEHELD, HE WAS TAKEN UP; AND A CLOUD RECEIVED HIM OUT OF THEIR SIGHT.”
John records for us the words of Jesus in telling Mary in the garden that he would ascend:
John “JESUS SAITH UNTO HER, TOUCH ME NOT; FOR I AM NOT YET ASCENDED TO MY FATHER: BUT GO TO MY BRETHREN, AND SAY UNTO THEM I ASCEND UNTO MY FATHER, AND YOUR FATHER, AND to MY GOD, AND YOUR GOD.”
And Luke had already described Jesus ascension in his earlier writing:
Luke 24:51 “AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHILE HE BLESSED THEM, HE WAS PARTED FROM THEM, AND CARRIED UP INTO HEAVEN.”
They saw him go, saw him very plainly and could describe vividly to all those to whom they were to be witnesses. Can’t you just see them standing there; perhaps open mouthed, watching, seeing, awestruck, astonished but not yet understanding the complete significance of what they see? We would be.
v10. “AND WHILE THEY LOOKED STEDFASTLY TOWARD HEAVEN AS HE WENT UP, BEHOLD, TWO MEN STOOD BY THEM IN WHITE APPAREL;”
God has sent his messengers to tell them what to do next; angels but in human form with white clothing just as in earlier examples:
John “AND SEETH TWO ANGELS IN WHITE SITTING, THE ONE AT THE HEAD, AND THE OTHER AT THE FEET, WHERE THE BODY OF JESUS HAD LAIN.” See also Matthew 28:3, Mark 16:5 and Luke 24:4
v11. “WHICH ALSO SAID, YE MEN OF
What are you waiting around here for? There is work to do, they had been told to go into the city and wait there for the power that would be forth coming to be able to carry out that work. But these angels go one step further and tell them that Jesus will come back some day the same way he left just as he had promised in:
John 14:3 “AND IF I GO AND PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU, I WILL COME AGAIN, AND RECEIVE YOU UNTO MYSELF; THAT WHERE I AM, there YE MAY BE ALSO.”
And his apostles continued to teach that he would come again just as he had taught. The brethren at Thessalonica were waiting for Jesus to come back again from heaven:
I Thessalonians 1:10 “AND TO WAIT FOR HIS SON FROM HEAVEN, WHOM HE RAISED FROM THE DEAD, even JESUS, WHICH DELIVERED US FROM THE WRATH TO COME.”
I Thessalonians “FOR THE LORD HIMSELF SHALL
DESCEND FROM HEAVEN WITH A SHOUT, WITH THE VOICE OF THE
John describes Jesus’ second coming in the present tense, as though this wondrous event is actually happening as he watches:
Revelation 1:7 “BEHOLD, HE COMETH WITH CLOUDS; AND EVERY EYE SHALL SEE HIM, AND THEY also WHICH PIERCED HIM: AND ALL KINDREDS OF THE EARTH SHALL WAIL BECAUSE OF HIM. EVEN SO. AMEN.”
v12. “THEN RETURNED THEY
The time was come that they should await their final preparation and then the real work was to begin. So they left the mountain and returned to the city. No one knows the exact spot that Jesus ascended from, if they did there would probably be a shrine built there and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone hasn’t done that very thing were they think the event occurred. Men have enshrined many other locations related in scripture or that they thought were related to scripture. We are told that it was a sabbath day’s journey from the city. How far is that? Nave’s Topical Bible says 2000 paces; Boles commentary 2000 yards, that is just over a mile in distance.
v13. “AND WHEN THEY WERE COME IN, THEY WENT UP INTO AN UPPER ROOM, WHERE ABODE BOTH PETER, AND JAMES, AND JOHN, AND ANDREW, PHILIP, AND THOMAS, BARTHOLOMEW, AND MATTHEW, JAMES the son OF ALPHAEUS, AND SIMON ZELOTES, AND JUDAS the brother OF JAMES.”
When they returned to the city they went to an upper room. Some would have us believe that this is the same upper room that was used when Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper but that is supposition, we don’t know that but it would be logical. These men were all Galilean and we told that they didn’t really live there in the sense that we would use the word but rather this was the place they chose to wait for Jesus promises to be fulfilled. It was more of a gathering place.
And we have a list of the apostles, one of four we find recorded as lists (Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16 and here). What is significant about this list? There’s only eleven. Who is this Judas, brother of James? Jude
v14. “THESE ALL CONTINUED WITH ONE ACCORD IN PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION, WITH THE WOMEN, AND MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS, AND WITH HIS BRETHREN.”
In this upper room we have four groups of people; the eleven apostles, the women, including Jesus’ mother, his brothers and other disciples. There are a few significant things we should note about their gathering:
They were all in one place
They were all one in purpose, mind and soul
They were steadfast in their prayers, they didn’t let anything interfere with their prayers. They were also steadfast in that they were told to wait for Jesus’ promise to be fulfilled so they filled their waiting with prayer.
Read Acts 1:15-26
v15. “AND IN THOSE DAYS PETER STOOD UP IN THE MIDST OF THE DISCIPLES, AND SAID, (THE NUMBER OF NAMES TOGETHER WERE ABOUT AN HUNDRED AND TWENTY,)”
Peter is still taking the lead just as he seem to do during Jesus ministry speaking first and generally playing a leading role. Luke gives the number of those who were gathered as an aside; in English it is included in parentheses. Is there any significance to the number 120? No. Is this the only disciples left or are there others? Paul tells us that he appeared to more than 500 disciples just a few days before, that is, after his resurrection and before his ascension:
I Corinthians 15:6 “AFTER THAT, HE WAS SEEN OF ABOVE FIVE HUNDRED BRETHREN AT ONCE; OF WHOM THE GREATER PART REMAIN UNTO THIS PRESENT, BUT SOME ARE FALLEN ASLEEP.”
v16. “MEN AND BRETHREN, THIS SCRIPTURE MUST NEEDS HAVE BEEN FULFILLED, WHICH THE HOLY GHOST BY THE MOUTH OF DAVID SPAKE BEFORE CONCERNING JUDAS, WHICH WAS GUIDE TO THEM THAT TOOK JESUS.”
Peter here is referring to the words of David in:
Psalms 41:9 “YEA, MINE OWN FAMILIAR FRIEND, IN WHOM I TRUSTED, WHICH DID EAT OF MY BREAD, HATH LIFTED UP his HEEL AGAINST ME.”
and Jesus tells us that, first of all, this is prophecy and that secondly, it is related to Judas.
John “I SPEAK NOT OF YOU ALL: I KNOW WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN: BUT THAT THE SCRIPTURE MAY BE FULFILLED, HE THAT EATETH BREAD WITH ME HATH LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.”
v17. “FOR HE WAS NUMBERED WITH US, AND HAD OBTAINED PART OF HIS MINISTRY.”
Mankind might think that it was a disgrace that one of Jesus disciples, one of the chosen twelve, betrayed him but in reality it was just part of God’s plan wasn’t it? Another prophecy:
Psalms 109:2-5 “FOR THE MOUTH OF THE WICKED AND THE MOUTH OF THE DECEITFUL ARE OPENED AGAINST ME: THEY HAVE SPOKEN AGAINST ME WITH A LYING TONGUE. THEY COMPASSED ME ABOUT ALSO WITH WORDS OF HATRED; AND FOUGHT AGAINST ME WITHOUT A CAUSE. FOR MY LOVE THEY ARE MY ADVERSARIES: BUT I give myself unto PRAYER. AND THEY HAVE REWARDED ME EVIL FOR GOOD, AND HATRED FOR MY LOVE.”
One writer says that “Judas had a mouth of deceitfulness, the lying tongue, the groundless enmity, the requital of evil for good; yet he was numbered among the twelve apostles.” He is described in Matthew’s list of the apostles as such:
Matthew 10:4 “SIMON THE CANAANITE, AND JUDAS ISCARIOT, WHO ALSO BETRAYED HIM.”
We know from our recent study that he was not predestined, God did not cause him to become such as he was, but rather he, himself, allowed the influence of Satan to enter into him and use him for his purposes.
v18. “NOW THIS MAN PURCHASED A FIELD WITH THE REWARD OF INIQUITY; AND FALLING HEADLONG, HE BURST ASUNDER IN THE MIDST, AND ALL HIS BOWELS GUSHED OUT.”
We all remember the reward that Judas sought from the Jewish rulers:
Matthew 26:15 “AND SAID unto them, WHAT WILL YE GIVE ME, AND I WILL DELIVER HIM UNTO YOU? AND THEY COVENANTED WITH HIM FOR THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER.”
And even though he didn’t really buy the field, he paid for it as we can read in:
Matthew 27:5, 8 “AND HE CAST DOWN THE PIECES OF SILVER IN THE
Is there any conflict in the seemly two different ways the apostles describe Judas’ death? Matthew says he hanged himself and Luke says his body burst asunder? No, both, being given by inspiration are accurate, and also both could have occurred.
v19. “AND IT WAS KNOWN UNTO ALL THE DWELLERS AT
JERUSALEM, INSOMUCH AS THAT FIELD IS CALLED IN THEIR PROPER TONGUE,
Luke is telling his friend that the Aramaic word for the field bought with the money Judas received from the Sanhedrin was the Field of Blood. What name was given to this field by the Sanhedrin? They called it the potter’s field, a place to bury strangers. How did the name get changed? By common usage by people who knew its history.
v20. “FOR IT IS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF PSALMS, LET HIS HABITATION BE DESOLATE, AND LET NO MAN DWELL THEREIN: AND HIS BISHOPRIC LET ANOTHER TAKE.”
Peter here quotes from two of the Psalms:
Psalms 69:25 “LET THEIR HABITATION BE DESOLATE; and LET NONE DWELL IN THEIR TENTS.”
Psalms 109:8 “LET HIS DAYS BE FEW; and LET ANOTHER TAKE HIS OFFICE.”
Peter points out the all this was a fulfillment of prophecy. He changes the plural used by David who had many enemies to the singular to illustrate Judas as a similar enemy of Christ. He helps them understand that these things were all part of God’s plan. Now the time has come to exercise another part of God’s plan and let Judas “bishopric” be taken by another. What does this word mean? Office or diocese; we have to remember that in the KJV this was translated from Greek into English by men who used the common language of the 1600’s.
v21. “WHEREFORE OF THESE MEN WHICH HAVE COMPANIED WITH US ALL THE TIME THAT THE LORD JESUS WENT IN AND OUT AMONG US,”
Why did it have to someone who “companied” with them “all the time that” Jesus was with them? It had to be someone that could be a witness for Christ, having been with him from his baptism through all his teaching, his trials, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. They had to be careful in their selection of a replacement for Judas.
v22. “BEGINNING FROM THE BAPTISM OF JOHN, UNTO THAT SAME DAY THAT HE WAS TAKEN UP FROM US, MUST ONE BE ORDAINED TO BE A WITNESS WITH US OF HIS RESURRECTION.”
Jesus said that the ones to whom he would send the Comforter would need to be what?
John “AND YE ALSO SHALL BEAR WITNESS, BECAUSE YE HAVE BEEN WITH ME FROM THE BEGINNING.”
v23. “AND THEY APPOINTED TWO, JOSEPH CALLED BARSABAS, WHO WAS SURNAMED JUSTUS, AND MATTHIAS.”
With these qualifications at hand they began a search amongst them to determine who might meet these qualifications. How should this parallel the selection of elders in the church today? God gave the qualifications didn’t he? These men, either the apostles or the whole company, did the selection from those qualified. Do we hear from Matthias again? Not that I could find. Do we hear from Joseph Barsabas again?
Acts “THEN PLEASED IT THE
APOSTLES AND ELDERS, WITH THE WHOLE CHURCH, TO SEND CHOSEN MEN OF THEIR OWN
v24. “AND THEY PRAYED, AND SAID, THOU, LORD, WHICH KNOWEST THE HEARTS OF ALL men, SHOW WHETHER OF THESE TWO THOU HAST CHOSEN,”
They prayed for guidance. Why do you think they did that? Do we have precedent in scripture for God giving direction regarding who should be chosen to lead other than Paul’s writing to Timothy and Titus?
I Samuel 16:7 “BUT THE LORD SAID UNTO SAMUEL, LOOK NOT ON HIS COUNTENANCE, OR ON THE HEIGHT OF HIS STATURE; BECAUSE I HAVE REFUSED HIM: FOR the lord seeth NOT AS MAN SEETH; FOR MAN LOOKETH ON THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE, BUT THE LORD LOOKETH ON THE HEART.”
What is the context of I Samuel 16:7? Samuel is to chose Israel’s next king, he’s looking at one of Jesse’s older sons Eliab and he’s impressed; but God tells him no. God judges men righteously, he looks at their hearts, their inner strength, what they’re really made of, not just what we see.
Jeremiah “BUT, O LORD OF HOSTS, THAT JUDGEST RIGHTEOUSLY, THAT TRIEST THE REINS AND THE HEART,…..”
Revelation “AND I WILL KILL HER CHILDREN WITH DEATH; AND ALL THE CHURCHES SHALL KNOW THAT I AM HE WHICH SEARCHETH THE REINS AND HEARTS: AND I WILL GIVE UNTO EVERY ONE OF YOU ACCORDING TO YOUR WORKS.”
v25. “THAT HE MAY TAKE PART OF THIS MINISTRY AND APOSTLESHIP, FROM WHICH JUDAS BY TRANSGRESSION FELL, THAT HE MIGHT GO TO HIS OWN PLACE.”
Peter is following through with the requirement that Judas be replaced, his office be given to another as we looked at in verse 20 is carried out. Judas as Peter says fell from this office due to his transgression, his sin, his consort with the devil. And now Peter also says, remember this is provided by inspiration, that he did this that he “might go to his own place.” What place might Peter be referring to? Hell?
v26. “AND THEY GAVE FORTH THEIR LOTS; AND THE
What do Luke mean when he says “they gave forth their lots”? Was Matthias chosen by chance, was it a gamble,….? Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says that this process was done as follows:
a) an object used in casting or drawing lots, which consisted of bits, or small tablets, of wood or stone; these were sometimes inscribed with the names of persons, and were put into a receptacle or a garment (a lap, Proverbs. 16:33), from which they were cast, after being shaken together; he whose lot first fell out was the one chosen. (Sort of like drawing names, wasn’t it?). The method was employed in a variety of circumstances, e.g., of dividing or assigning property, Matthew 27:35, Mark ; Luke ; John (Jesus garments), Numbers 26:55 (dividing the land of promise).
There are many others we could refer to but this is sufficient. Was this process in these instances really left to chance?
Should we expect the Lord to dispose of the matter today if we cast lots? God does not intervene directly in man’s activities today so