Category Archives: ACTS 1:1-8

Luke continues his account, begun in his gospel, of the way Christ has manifested Himself to men. In the Book of the Acts it is through the preaching of the gospel.

ACTS 1:1-8

ACTS 1:1-8

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF ACTS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 1 TO 8:

1:1  The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
1:2  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:
1:3  To whom also He shewed himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
1:4  And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me.
1:5  For John truly baptised with water; but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
1:6  When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
1:7  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.
1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

 

1:1  The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

The former treatise have I made- a treatise is “a written narrative”, a “continuous account of things done”.  It is often used in classical writings in this way, so Theophilus would be familiar with the idea.  The reference is to Luke’s Gospel, so the Acts of the Apostles is also a treatise.  The difference being that in the Gospel it is what Christ has done; in Acts it is what apostles, and others, have done.  The fact that the treatise is made shows that Luke put time and effort into constructing his writings, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God.
O Theophilus- Luke calls him “most excellent Theophilus” in Luke 1:3, indicating he was educated and eminent in some way.  The title is used of both Festus and Felix, when they are called “most noble”.  It is fitting that Luke should write to a noble and excellent person about the most noble person ever, the Lord Jesus.  Theophilus’ name suggests he was a Greek, as Luke was.  As such, he was deeply interested in man as a concept.  The Greeks were searching for ideal manhood, for themselves and for others.  The Greek playwright Terence wrote the lines, “I am a man.  I feel an interest in everything that is human”.  When his play was first performed, the whole audience rose to its feet when it heard those words.  Luke is not embarrassed to tell a noble man like Theophilus about the carpenter from Nazareth, crucified on a cross, for He is God’s Ideal Man, and worthy to be imitated.
Of all that Jesus began both to do and teach- none of the gospel writers records everything, so Luke cannot mean all in that sense.  He is thinking of the whole range of His working and His teaching.  To begin to do and teach does not mean He did not finish.  The idea is that He set out to do and teach with the intention of finishing.  The doing and teaching extended until He ascended, as the next verse says.  John speaks of what he saw, (His miracles, the doing), and what he heard, (His teaching).  This sums up Christ’s ministry.  He Himself summed it up with the words, “If I had not come and spoken unto them…if I had not done among them the works”, John 15:22,24. 

1:2  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:

Until the day in which He was taken up- those who use the NIV have a dilemma here, for their version stops short of saying in Luke 24:51 that He was carried up to heaven.  But Luke says here that he wrote about the ascension in his former treatise, so Luke would not recognise the NIV as the word of God, because the Bible has no contradictions, whereas the NIV has.  (See also Mark 1:2 where the words of Malachi are said, by the NIV, to be the words of Isaiah). 
We learn here that the Lord continued His teaching ministry up to His ascension.  That He was taken up is emphasised in verse 9, and its mode is told us there.  But He also continued to do, until His ascension, so this must be a reference to the many infallible proofs of the next verse.
After that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen- this probably refers to the Upper Room ministry, but Luke phrases it in terms of what happens now, where, in the absence of Christ, the Holy Spirit teaches us. 

1:3  To whom also He shewed himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

To whom also He shewed himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs- an infallible proof is one that cannot possibly be denied.  Peter declared to Cornelius that He ate and drank with them after He rose from the dead, Acts 11:41.  He also showed that He still had the body that was crucified, for the marks of the crucifixion were upon Him. 
Note Luke calls His death His passion, or suffering, which is the word the Lord Himself had used, “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day”, Luke 24:46.  The word sufferings emphasises the trauma of His mode of death, showing that He was really man on the cross.  Now He is really man in resurrection.  The nail-prints and spear-wound are marks of His passion.  The Greeks would think of a crucified man as having failed, but Luke is not afraid to use the word passion, for it showed the Lord’s real manhood. 
Being seen of them forty days- this word for “see” means “to allow yourself to be seen”, whereas the word in 1 Corinthians 15:5-6 means “to appear”, that is, to deliberately present to view.  In the latter case, the thought is that they could not mistake Him, for He confronted them at close quarters.  Here the idea is of the disciples assuring themselves that it was really the one they had known before the cross. 
Forty is the number of testing, and so the Lord put Himself to the test of their scrutiny, and the disciples were put to the test as to their belief in Him.  There had been the forty days after His birth, before He was presented in the temple, and now there are forty days after His death.
And speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God- He did not speak of church matters as such, since they would need the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to understand such things.  He confines Himself to reaffirming things about the coming kingdom that they already knew as godly Israelites.  Their faith in these things might have been shaken by His rejection by the nation.  As the two sad souls on the road to Emmaus said, “We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel”, Luke 24:21.

1:4  And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me.

And, being assembled together with them- this word for assemble means to throng together, suggesting a large company crowded together in a mass, and not just the eleven apostles.  Perhaps the “five hundred brethren at once” of 1 Corinthians 15:6. 
Commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem- they had been commanded to go to Galilee to meet Him, and now they are commanded to stay in Jerusalem.  All this is a test of their obedience.  The Lord had said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter”, John 14:15,16.  It is almost as if the Spirit is sent in response to their obedience.  The age is to be marked by obedience from the very beginning.
But wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me- this means the fulfilment of the promise that the Father had given to the Son, that He would give the Holy Spirit to His people once He had returned to heaven.  Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, “having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath shed forth this”, Acts 2:33.  “The promise” in that quote means “the fulfilment of the promise”. 
They heard of this promise when He spoke of the coming of the Spirit in the upper room, and now He confirms it to them.  The Holy Spirit was sent in His name, John 14:26, so both the Father and the Son are involved.  They also heard the promise in Luke 24:49, when He said, “And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high”.

1:5  For John truly baptised with water; but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

For John truly baptised with water- John himself made this distinction between his baptism and Christ’s, between water and the Spirit, to show that Christ’s was superior.  It was a question with Him of one Divine Person using Another, which supposes their equality.  The word truly tells us that the Lord looked on John’s baptism as a genuine baptism.  Just as genuine as the baptism with the Spirit.  John’s baptism was of God, Matthew 21:25.
But ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence- in Matthew, the baptism is for the solidarity of the nation; in John it is the sign of Christ’s Sonship, but here it is the source of their power.  They will be “endued with power”, and “receive power”, to preach.
He does not give them the exact day, in order to test their obedience.  But it will not be a long time, for the interval can be measured in days.

1:6  When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?  This was a natural question, seeing He had been speaking of the kingdom of God, verse 3.  The kingdom of God is a wider concept that the kingdom of the Messiah over Israel in the Millenium.  It may be defined as everywhere the rule of God is exercised.  “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”, Romans 14:17.  Where those things are known the kingdom is known. 
There was confusion in their minds, for He was speaking of the coming of the Spirit, and not the coming of the Kingdom, and they no doubt wondered how the kingdom fitted in with the programme.

1:7  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.

And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons- this answer shows that He knew that they did not think the kingdom would never come.  Their question was “at this time”, so the timing was on their minds.  Times have to do with the chronology, seasons have to do with the character of the period.  Clearly we are thinking of earthly things, with the reference to time. 
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.  For yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night”, 2 Thessalonians 5:1,2.  In that passage the contrast is between the coming of the Lord to earth, about which there is much in the Old Testament, and the rapture, on which the Old Testament is silent, and will not be accompanied by any signs of its arrival.
Which the Father hath put in His own power- He has told us much about the character of the season when the kingdom is set up, but the actual day is a secret, since an indefinite period has intervened between the 69th and the 70th week of Daniel.  If it had run on straight after the cutting off of the Messiah, the date would have been known.  So the Father has kept the date of the rapture a secret, so it follows that the date of the setting up of the kingdom is unknown.  It is not for us to know, so that we may keep busy, and be prepared for His coming at any moment.  This may have something to do with the shortening of the days for the sake of the elect, Matthew 24:22.

1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you- it is not the kingdom they are to work for, but that souls might be saved so as to be in the church.  For this they need Holy-Spirit power; they cannot preach in their own power, for the enemy is strong, and he will not give up his victims easily.
And ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth- they are to begin at “the city next to the slain man”, Deuteronomy 21:3.  The very city that cast Christ out is to first to hear of salvation through Him.  This is the marvel of God’s grace.  They are not to rest until the furthest part of the earth is reached.  It is a sad fact that this has not really yet been done.  95% of missionaries go to places where the gospel is already known.  Paul could write that the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven, Colossians 1:23, but we could not say that today.  Every day the population of the world increases by 276,000 people.
These words set the agenda that was followed in the Acts of the Apostles, as they gradually radiated out from Jerusalem.

The ascension of Christ and its implications:
1.  He ascended up where He was before, John 6:62. His pre-existence.

2.  He was invited to sit at God’s right hand, Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34-36.  He has been made Lord and Christ.

3.  He is at God’s right hand as David’s Lord, Matthew 22:41-46.  He is equal with God.

4.  He said to Nicodemus, “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven”, John 3:13.  He is the only man in heaven with a body.

5.  He has been exalted by the right hand of God, Acts 2:33.  He is in the place of authority.

6.  He was exalted by God far above all heavenly beings, Ephesians 1:20,21.  He has ascended to the supreme place.

7.  His exaltation is the guarantee of His people’s place of security, seated in heavenly places in Him, Ephesians 2:6.

8.  He said, “If I go away…I will come again”, John 14:3. His ascension is the guarantee of His coming for the church.

9.  The angels said, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven”, Acts 2:11.  His ascension is the guarantee of His coming to earth to reign.

10.  “He humbled Himself…wherefore God hath highly exalted Him”, Philippians 2:8,9.  His exaltation is the answer by God to His self-humbling.

11.  He has passed into the heavens, qualified to act as our sympathetic High Priest, Hebrews 4:14-16.

12.  “above…where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God”, Colossians 3:1. His place in heaven is the incentive to mind heavenly things, and not the things of the earth.