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Acts Chapter 1

The Outline of Chapter One

1.The Authoritative Person (v.1, 2)

2.The Attested Proofs (v. 3)

3.The Anticipated Promise (v. 4, 5)

4.The Absorbing Problem (v. 6, 7)

5.The Adequate Power (v. 8)

6.The Audible Proclamation (v. 9-11)

7.The Assembly of Prayers (v. 12-14)

8.The Announced Procedure (v. 13-24)

 

Chapter one, verses 1-11 comprise the introduction to the book. These verses reveal that Acts is a continuation of the four Gospels.

v. 3 connects with the Resurrection at the end of Matthew;

v. 9, 10 with the Ascension at the end of Mark;

v. 7, 8 with the promise of the Spirit at the end of Luke;

v. 11 with the Second Advent at the end of John.

 

The Scope of the book covers about 30 years – A.D. 33 to 63 – extending from Jerusalem through Antioch to Rome.

A textbook for evangelism and missions, Acts is a book of actions. Here we find that the Word and work go hand in hand.

Equipping the Christian Believers;
Extending the Kingdom;
Establishing the Church.

In all Christian work there are three indispensable elements.

1.The Spirit of God (38 times) – The Might (ch. 1-11)

2.The Word of God (23 times) – The Message (ch. 12-20)

3.The Man of God – The Medium (ch. 21-28)

In the first two verses Luke makes reference to several matters of importance, such as:

Treatise, a former writing (the Gospel of Luke)
Theophilus, the addressee (Luke 1:3)
Teachings of Jesus

The Book of Acts, therefore, is a sequel to Luke’s Gospel. It takes up where the gospel leaves off and continues to address the things that Jesus began to do in the gospel. Luke is a record of the things Jesus did before His ascension. Acts is a record of the things that Jesus continued to do, through the Holy Spirit, after His ascension.

Verse 3 – The “forty days” mentioned here is that period of time between the Lord’s resurrection and His ascension. During these days His disciples saw him and He spoke to His disciples. They were eyewitnesses of His resurrection. The Gospel of Luke closes with a mention of several post-resurrection appearances. The Bible records at least eleven of these appearances. Our Lord made five on the day of His resurrection:

-to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)
-   to the women (Matt. 28:9, 10)
-   to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-33)
-   to Peter (Luke 24:34)
-   to the ten Apostles (Luke 24:36-43)

 

After these appearances, the Lord later appeared:

-to the eleven Apostles (I Cor. 15:5)
-   to the seven disciples by Galilee (Mark 16:14)
-   to above 500 (I Cor. 15:6)
-   to James (I Cor. 15:7)
-   to the disciples here at His Ascension (Acts 1:3-12)
-   to Paul much later (I Cor. 15:8)

 

If the plans of the risen Christ were to be fulfilled, then someone had to lead in the crusade against sin. There was not a disciple capable of doing this, unless a miracle changed Incompetent Men into Invincible Messengers. Here Luke is about to describe how this happened. Their task was humanly impossible. Thus they would need the Holy Spirit to:

 

A.Enlighten Them

1.Their Memories

Many things Jesus had taught them had to be recalled and written down under the same inspiration that had produced the Old Testament Scriptures (John 4:26)

2.Their Message

The Old Testament Scriptures would have to be seen in a new light and preached with a new emphasis. The significance of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection would have to be understood and proclaimed.

3.Their Movements

They would need the Holy Spirit to guide them as to: When to go! Where to go! Who should go!

B.Energize Them

They would need a power outside of themselves to make the Lord Jesus real to a lost world, blinded by Satan, and enslaved by sin. Their lives must be lived in the light of the message they proclaimed. They would need the Holy Spirit for that.

C.Encourage Them

They would no longer have the Lord with them physically. They would need to be encouraged when they were alone, in prison, scourged and threatened with death. They would need the Holy Spirit for that. This brings us to:

I.The Promise (v. 4, 5)

-Its Exhortation (v. 4) – “wait”

-Its Expectation (v. 5) – coming of the Spirit

II.The Perplexed (v. 6, 7)

Request (v. 6) did not see Church age

-Rebuke (v. 7) not important to know times and seasons

III.The Plan (v. 8)

Its Power – ye shall receive
Two-fold Power

1.Authority – witness authorized in Heaven

2.Ability – equip and enable them

-Its Promise – Holy Spirit

-Its Purpose – “witnesses”

-Its Place – “Both”

The disciples were to Wait (v. 4). In a few days they would be Baptized with the Holy Spirit (v. 5). The vast amount of information being propagated on the subject today has no scriptural foundation in New Testament Scripture. Thus we need to pause here and deal with the subject.

There are only seven direct references to the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” in the New Testament. These seven references tell us all there is to know about the subject. The first five references are prophetical. Four of them simply record the words of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33), when he announced to Israel that he “baptized with water, but there was One coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This is a reference to this present dispensation. The fifth prophetic reference is the one found here in Acts 1:5.

The sixth reference is found in Acts 11:16, which is clearly historical. It is found in Peter’s report to the Jerusalem church of what had happened in the house of Cornelius.

The final reference to the baptism of the Spirit is found in I Cor. 12:13. This is the doctrinal passage for the Church. It explains what the baptism of the Spirit is and what it does. The baptism of the Spirit is that operation of the Holy Spirit, which takes an individual believer in the Lord Jesus and makes that believer a part of the body of Christ, which is the Church.

Notice that the verb “baptized” is in the past tense. Thus it is unscriptural to ask God to do for you that which He has already done. Nowhere does the Bible say or even suggest that speaking with tongues and the so-called “charismatic” gifts are proof of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It happened automatically at the moment of salvation.

Thus the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a sovereign act of God which places Jew and Gentile together into the body of Christ. Paul makes this clear in I Cor. 12:13. This happens at the moment of salvation — Never to be Repeated! In this dispensation there is:

 

The Fivefold Work of the Holy Spirit

1.The Regenerating Work (Rom. 8:9, 10). This puts Christ into the believer.

2.The Baptizing Work (Rom. 6:13; Gal. 3:2). This puts the believer into the body of Christ

3.The Indwelling Work (John 14:16, 17). This is for fellowship

4.The Filling Work (Eph. 5:18). This is empowerment for service. This is the only work that is repeated. This is a moment-by-moment experience.

5.The Sealing Work (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). This is for security.

 

Every one of these happens simultaneously at the moment of conversion. None are repeated, except the filling, which is a moment-by-moment experience. You can be empty one moment and filled the next, or vice versa. Filling depends upon yieldedness and obedience. It has to do with attitude as well as action. Filling is not only felt by the individual, but also sensed by others.

Verses 6 and 7 – Nothing reveals the spiritual blindness of the disciples more than the question they asked the Lord here. From childhood they had been taught that Israel’s Messiah would one day come and set up a literal physical kingdom on earth, and that Israel would be restored to her former glory under the rule of David. They were right as to the Truth of that, but they were wrong as to the Time of it. They had grasped Old Testament teaching, but had failed to understand the Lord’s teachings.

The Jewish national clock had stopped ticking. The Church was about to dawn. Jerusalem would be destroyed. The Jews would be scattered. The curse the nation had invoked upon its own head – “His blood be on us and on our children” Matt. 27:25 – would soon fall. Thus they must stop looking for a physical kingdom and start looking for a spiritual one. The things He had told them about the kingdom of heaven were now going to happen.

The kingdom will one day be restored to Israel, but the question as to when is God’s business. They had apparently forgotten the commission to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” They had a responsibility. They were to “occupy” until He returned. God will take care of the Time, — we are to be busy at the Task He has set before us. “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Matt. 24:46).

How often do we worry about things that we can do nothing about! Thus though their question seemed sensible, it was definitely not spiritual. The best way to be prepared for the future is to be busy in the present.

The world had to be made ready for the establishment of God’s Kingdom, and that was precisely their task. Thus they needed to pay attention to their work and let God take care of the rest. Remember, The ways of God do not always coincide with the desires of men.

This brings us to verse 8, which is the theme of the book. Until the kingdom should come the disciples were commissioned to be occupied with witnessing for their Lord.

The Servants of witness – “Ye”

The Sufficiency of witness –“shall receive power”

The Source of Witness – “after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you”

The Subject of Witness – “ye shall be witnesses unto Me”

The Sphere of Witness – “both in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, uttermost part of the earth”

 

It is essential that a witness have personal experience and knowledge of the facts to which he testifies.

Three Methods of Witnessing

1.By WordConfession of Lip

2.By WorkConsistency of Life

3.By WritingCirculation of Literature

 

In order to be a true and strong witness we must:

1.Realize what Christ is to you;

2.Remember those to whom He is nothing;

3.Receive the Holy Spirit’s power for service;

4.Respond to His claim and call.

 

There is a life to live as well as a story to tell – a living example of the message.

The law of God specified that the Word of one witness was insufficient evidence to support a major charge (Deut. 17:6, 7; 19:15; Num. 35:30). And in relation to Jesus, God honored His own laws.

1.Christ’s Royalty (Matt. 3:16, 17)

2.Christ’s Redemptive Work (Luke 9:28-31)

3.Christ’s Resurrection (John 20:11, 12)

4.Christ’s Return (Acts 1:9-11)

 

This brings us to the Final Event, the Ascension (v.9, 10a). The ascension of our Lord marked a period of transition. It was an event that closed the old dispensation and opened the new. It meant the consummation of our Lord’s public ministry on earth, but it meant the continuation of that same ministry through the person of the Holy Spirit. Thus the ascension was necessary to complete the work of redemption. It was never intended that earth should be our Lord’s permanent habitation. Our Head and Representative has gone on before us to prepare our dwelling place (John 14:1-3)

In the process of regeneration the child of God passes through the same steps spiritually that our Lord Jesus passed through physically.

1.Christ was crucified; we are crucified with Him (Gal. 2:20)

2.Christ died; we are dead in Him (Rom. 6:8)

3.Christ was buried; we are buried with Him (Rom. 6:4)

4.Christ was made alive; we are made alive in Him (Col. 2:13)

5.Christ was raised up; we were raised up with Him (Eph. 2:6)

6.Christ lives; we live with Him (II Tim. 2:11)

7.Christ is seated in the heavenlies; we are seated in the heavenlies with Him
(Eph. 2:6)

 

Thus we see that:

1.The Ascended Christ is the Church’s Head (Eph. 1:22; 5:23)

2.The Ascended Christ is the Christian’s Help (Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34)

3.The Ascended Christ is the Christian’s Hope (John 14:1-3)

 

We move now from the Final Event, the Ascension to the Future Event, the Assurance of our Lord’s Return (v. 10b, 11).

Thus our Lord’s Second Coming is just as certain as His ascension – “If I go, I will come again” (John 14:3). The First Coming was completed; the Second Coming was now the goal.

Notice the term “ in like manner” found in verse 11.

He left bodily – He will return bodily.

He left visibly – He will return visibly.

He left in person – He will return personally.

He left on a cloud – He will return on a cloud.

He left from Mount of Olives – He will return to the Mount of Olives.

 

-The Place (v.12, 13a)

The distance from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem is set at a Sabbath Day’s journey, which was about 2000 cubits (18 inches to a cubit equaled about 3000 feet). This upper room may have been the same place where they had observed the last Passover Supper.

 

-The People (v. 13b)

All the disciples were present except Judas Iscariot. The women were probably those women who came early to the sepulcher (Luke 24:10). Many believe that “with his brethren” signifies His family was also present (Matt. 13:55, 56). There were 120 present in all (v. 15).

 

-The Prayer (v. 14)

They “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” Prayer is spiritual communion with God with an awareness of His presence. It includes supplication (to make urgent request), confession, thanksgiving, and praise. (This prayer meeting is the last time Mary is mentioned.)

They were persistent – “continued”

They were unified – “one accord”

When people pray like this, things happen – this is real praying!

 

-The Spokesman – Peter (v. 15)

The Disciples had always depended upon Jesus, who at all times told them what to do. But Jesus was no longer in their midst, therefore, somebody had to assume leadership. And since Peter had been the spokesman for the other Disciples, it was only natural for him to take charge here. His disgrace is now Forgotten, because it has been Forgiven.

 

-The Scripture (v. 16-19; Ps. 41:9)

Peter’s speech is recorded in verses 16 and 17; then Luke’s explanation is found in verses 18-20. The Divinely appointed number of the Apostles was twelve, and since Judas was dead, it was necessary that someone be appointed to take his place.

 

The strange statement that Judas “purchased a field with the reward of his iniquity” is easily understood when viewed against the background of Jewish customs. Money that was considered to be tainted and unclean was often used to purchase something of value for a community. The law demanded that any money thought to be unworthy of use for Temple services should be returned to the donor. If this was not possible, it was then to be used for some public project to benefit the community. Hence, Luke’s statement found in v. 18 (compare Matt. 27:6-8 and Zech. 11:12).

In the last part of verse 18 Luke adds information that was not previously known. Judas hung himself, but evidently the rope snapped, and he fell headlong some distance and was dashed on some rocks. All knew that Judas had committed suicide, but they knew none of the details.

 

-The Selection (v. 20-26)

The Old Testament method of selecting was casting lots. This is the last recorded incidence of that method. Today the Holy Spirit reveals God’s will to us.

Peter continues quoting from Psalms 69:25 and 109:8. Then in verses 21, 22 he states the Qualifications of an apostle:

-He must have personal experience of Christ’s earthly ministry, beginning with baptism of John.

-He must have personal knowledge of Christ’s resurrection.

-He must have been aware of the ascension.

 

Two were set aside and one was chosen.

Peter believed that whoever took the place of Judas should be a man who had personal knowledge of the Lord from the beginning to end. Evidently there were several who qualified, but two stood out (Joseph and Matthias). We know nothing about these two beyond their names.

 

Verses 22-26 have led to much controversy among the brethren. Many contend that the express command of Jesus was that they should “tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power.” They claim that Peter did not wait for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, thus a great mistake was made. They point out that Matthias was never mentioned before or after this incident. They also state that Matthias was this group’s choice, but Paul was God’s choice.

 

This argument has merit, but it is certainly not conclusive. The Holy Spirit does not seem to contradict this choice. All the Apostles that were present were Apostles to the Jews, but Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles.

It is true that Matthias is not mentioned again but neither are many of the other Apostles. It is quite evident that he met the qualifications laid down by Peter.

Since all the apostles represented Israel and there were twelve tribes of Israel, thus the number twelve had a special meaning to Jews. And we know that Jesus told His disciples that they would “sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). Thus there had to be someone to take the place of Judas. And the Holy Spirit definitely endorses their selection (Acts 2:14 – “with the eleven”).

 

So take your choice whichever side you take, you will have plenty of company. I personally believe that no mistake was made. Matthias fulfilled the scriptures. Paul is another matter altogether. He is special and distinct from all other Apostles.

Keep in mind this fact that Judas fell from an official position, not from salvation. See John 6:64, 70, 71. Judas was chosen to fulfill Scripture (John 13:18; Ps. 41:9)

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