Chapter 1: Acts 1:1-26, salutation, Christ’s ascension
Heavenly Father, thank You for enabling us to start this journey of faith from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and Rome, through the eyes of Paul’s disciple and traveling companion, Luke. Help us travel with Luke and follow the footsteps of Apostle Paul from Jerusalem to Rome. Help us to fasten our seat belts in anticipation of turbulence, drama, and excitement along the way, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-3, 1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Luke, wrote the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts to someone called Theophilus. Theophilus is a Greek word that means lover of God. Luke did not say anything more about the identity of Theophilus. A lot of speculations had been suggested in the literature concerning the identity of Theophilus. In Acts, Luke continued the story of Jesus’ resurrection appearance to His disciples for forty days until His ascension to heaven on the Mount of Olives. According to Paul, Jesus appeared to 500 disciples and many were still alive at the time of Paul’s writing.
1 Cor 15:6, ‘’After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep’’.
VV 4-8, 4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of baptism by the Holy Spirit. The disciples asked the Lord concerning the timing of His second coming. The Lord replied that only God, the Father knew the date of this event. Soon, the Holy Spirit would empower the disciples to be His witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Rome. Greek for witness is “martus”, which means martyr. Except for John, the rest of the apostles would be martyred for their faith.
VV 9-11, 9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
After these, Jesus ascended to heaven at the Mount of Olives. Two angels in white apparel assured the disciples that Jesus Christ will return to earth in the same way and in the same place. According to Zechariah 14:4. Jesus will return to earth on the Mount of Olives and there will be an earthquake splitting the Mount of Olives into two.
Zechariah 14:4, ‘’And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley. Half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south’’.
VV 12-14, 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
The disciples return from the Mount of Olive to Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s walk. A Sabbath day’s walk is 2/3rd of a mile. This is the maximum distance that a Jew is allowed to walk on a Sabbath without violating the law of Sabbath. The 11 disciples went up to the upper room in Jerusalem and prayed. Mary, the mother of Jesus, the other women, and Jesus’ half-brothers were also there. This is the last mention of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in scripture.
VV 15-19, 15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem, so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)
Peter was the main character from Acts 1-12. Paul became the main character from Acts 13-28. About 120 disciples gathered in the upper room where Peter delivered his first sermon. Peter quoted Psalm 41:9 concerning David’s prophecy of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of the Lord. Judas Iscariot fell into the Field of blood, or Akel Dama, his abdomen burst open, and he died.
Psalm 41:9, ‘’Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.”
VV 20-26, 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’ 21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed, Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Peter quoted Psalm 69:25, concerning the Field of Blood. Peter proposed to select another disciple to replace Judas Iscariot. This disciple must be following with apostles from Jesus’ baptism until His ascension. Joseph Justus or Barsabas, and Matthias were shortlisted. After praying, they cast lots and the lot fell on Matthias. Matthias became the 12th apostle in the place of Judas Iscariot. Jews in the Old Testament discern God’s will by throwing lots using the ‘’urim’’ and the ‘’thummin’’, Exodus 28: 30. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, drawing lots to discern God’s will was terminated.
Psalm 69:25, “Let their dwelling place be desolate, let no one live in their tents.”
Exodus 28:30, You shall put in the breastpiece of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the Lord; and Aaron shall carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually.
Proverb 16: 33, ‘’The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word for us today. Thank You for the Holy Spirit empowering the disciples to spread the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and Rome. We pray that You will use us to spread the gospel to our family, neighbours, friends, colleagues, and others, in Jesus’ name, Amen.