Acts 1

acts-1.jpgGreetings!  The Book of Acts picks up where the Gospel of Luke left off. 

Theophilus means “one who loves God” and may have been a real person or just a generic salutation.

Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven

1     In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 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. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Even after all of Jesus’ teaching, the resurrection and more teaching over forty days the Apostles still needed to wait for the Holy Spirit.  He would come ten days later and the world would never be the same.

6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Geographically speaking Jesus described how the Gospel would spread outward until it went to the whole world.  The truth of the Gospel has been passed down to us and we are the ones the Holy Spirit has empowered to be his witnesses.  What are we doing with the power of God that we have received? 

Jesus did not divulge precise dates for future events.  Otherwise it would probably distort our behavior – either going too quickly or too slowly or just missing the point altogether.

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” 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.”

We don’t know exactly how the ascension worked, but Jesus is now physically in Heaven.  He is fully human and fully divine with a resurrected body and will remain that way.

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

They were in constant prayer together.  We belong to a vibrant church but the times of group prayer are lacking.  It often feels formulaic or tacked on.  I am guilty of this as well.  This seems like something we’ve lost from the early church.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.”

18 (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

Matthew 27 records that Judas hanged himself, apparently on Good Friday.  At first glance it appears to conflict with this account, but there is no reason these can’t be reconciled.  The Jews would not have taken his body down on the Sabbath so it might have decayed somewhat and then fallen.  Or perhaps the branch broke after he died.

Judas was part of Jesus’ ministry yet wasn’t a true believer.  Still, if he would have repented like Peter did after denying Jesus three times Judas could have been forgiven and restored.  Note how Peter is back in a leadership role.

20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms,

“‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’

21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

It is interesting that they replaced Judas.  Matthias is mentioned in verses 23 and 26 but it is the last we hear of him in the Bible.

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One Response

  1. Theophilus is more likely to have been a person, rather than a generalization of those who love God. In Luke’s Gospel, he addresses Theophilus as being, “most excellent”, which supports the idea that he was a Roman official or at least of high position and wealth. He was possibly Luke’s patron, responsible for seeing that the writings were copied and distributed. Such a dedication to the publisher was common at that time.

    Theophilus, however, was more than a publisher. The message of the Gospel of Luke was intended for his own instruction (Luke 1:4) as well as the instruction of those among whom the book would be circulated.
    ——–
    So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Even up to this point, the disciples had a distored idea of Jesus’ mission on earth. Like their fellow countrymen, they were looking for the deliverance of the people of Israel from foreign domination and for the establishment of an earthly kingdom. The reference to the coming of the Spirit had caused them to wonder if the new age was about to dawn. —- Jesus saves, and yet it is the work of the Holy Spirit to instill faith in our hearts and to give us an understanding of Jesus and His role as Messiah in our lives. The same was true for the disciples.

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