Acts 1. The Acts of the Apostles, Through the Holy Spirit
Key Notes: Acts is a book of unique events, firsts.
1. Jesus' Ascension.
2–4.The Holy Spirit comes in power.
5. First church discipline.
6. Deacons chosen.
7. The martyr.
8. An African proselyte converted.
9. A terrorist arrested.
10. Gentile Italians converted.
11. Gentiles officially accepted.
12. Peter disappears.
13–28. Paul's three missionary journeys.
William Barclay gives us a helpful outline of the book, which each segment ending in a similar phrase.
Peter. Acts 1–6:8 "The word of God increased...."
To Samaria. Acts 6:8–9:31. "So the church...had peace and was built up."
To Antioch. Acts 9:32–1:24. "The word of God grew and multiplied."
Galatia. Acts 12:25–16:5. "So the churches were strengthened in the faith and their numbers increased daily".
Europe. Acts 16:6–19:20. "So the word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily."
Rome. Acts’:21–28:31. " [Paul]... preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered."
(The Acts of the Apostles. W. Barclay. Westminster;’76, p.5).
Chapter Key Notes: Ascension vs. Return. Replacing Judas. Pentecost. The 54 Days that Changed the World.
1:1–5. Luke tells us that this book is a sequel to his life of Christ written to his friend, Theophilus. He gives an important clue to the theme of the book when he says that his Gospel (Luke) was about all what Jesus began to do and teach. The implication is that Acts will detail Jesus' continued ministry, otherwise hidden from human eyes. As we will see, the Holy Spirit is often directly involved in the work of the Apostles, but we also see Jesus intervene directly when Saul is converted.(Acts 9:5). It would take another major effort to find all of Jesus' teaching in Acts.
The book opens after the crucifixion and resurrection, and before the Ascension.
An important detail is that Jesus was seen alive for forty days before the Ascension. They were exposed to many proofs of his Resurrection. He was telling them about the Kingdom of God but they did not understand. He told them to stay in Jerusalem until they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
1:6–11 The disciples brought up a question that they have asked several times before. "Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel"? Is this the time for the Kingdom? Jesus has spoken much about the Kingdom during his ministry and many people were expecting a dramatic change, a real monarchy.
The Gospels are full of references to the Kingdom. Note especially the parables of Matt.13 which are far from looking at a Monarchy, but a subtle, growing and persuasive presence in the world.
The Pharisees asked when the Kingdom of God was coming. Lk.17:20
The disciples supposed that the Kingdom of God was to appear immediately. Lk.19:11
Jesus said that His power over Satan was proof that the Kingdom of God had come upon them. Lk.11:20
"Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord" was the cry of the crowd at the triumphal entry. Lk.19:38
Jesus said He would not eat bread or drink wine again until the Kingdom was fulfilled. Lk.22:16
Jesus replied to the disciples that the calendar was not theirs but God's. They should stay in Jerusalem. They would receive power and be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.
Then He ascended, as also described in Lk.24:51. Here additional details are given. Angels appeared and told them that Jesus would come again as He had left, that is, with the clouds of Heaven ---and with power and great glory. Jesus had given them a description of His Return in His discourse on the Mt. of Olives. (Matt.24:29–31; (Lk.21:25–27). When He returns, the reception will be world-wide. His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. (Zech.14:3). He will be seen everywhere after the Great Tribulation, and all the peoples will mourn. There will be wide-spread fear from massive cosmic and climatic disturbances. Then He will gather His Elect out of the world so the final outcome will be joyful.
1:12–14 The disciples did as they were told. The gathering in The Upper Room included the Eleven, Jesus' family, and the society of the women. They numbered 120. Jesus' family is notable because they had moved from fear of his strange work (Mk.3:21) to skepticism (Jn.7:4), to faith in Him.
1:15–26 The Disciples’ first order of business was the replacement of Judas. Judas' fate as described in Matt.27:5 was that he returned the money to the chief priests and went out and hanged himself. Luke reports that he fell and broke his abdomen open. The two accounts are harmonized if he fell when the tree or rope broke and his body landed on rocks.
Peter quoted from Psa.69:25, and Psa.109:8 regarding Judas, passages that are not commonly considered prophecy. The traditional view is that the whole OT is a witness to the Messiah. Already Peter was speaking with Biblical authority, in addition to his natural leadership.
The criteria used for Judas' replacement were:
•one who had been with the disciples from John's baptism to the Ascension.
•a witness of the Resurrection.
They found two among their number that had these experiences and Matthias was chosen by lot. (Note that Paul would not have qualified.) Although we may be skeptical about drawing straws as a way of determining the will of God, Prov.16:33 says God is in control of the outcome. Note that they did not vote.
2:1–4 Seven days later, long enough to test their patience, but not so long as to be discouraging, when the whole group of 120 was together (Acts 1:15) in the morning, the Holy Spirit came upon them with such power that there were outward, natural signs: the sound of a great wind (like a tornado), and tongues of fire distributed and resting on each of them. I should think it would have been awesome, even frightening.
The Holy Spirit is represented by wind (Ezek.37:9–14; Jn.3:8) and fire (Lk.3:26; Rev.4:5). His descriptive name (Gr."Pneuma") means wind or breath.
2:5–13. Speaking Aramaic, they were heard in the languages of at least 15 people-groups that had gathered for the festival of Pentecost. Probably everyone could speak some Greek (the trade language) and Aramaic (the mother tongue), but Arabic, Egyptian, Persian or Libyan? It was a miracle. The disciples had been given a special gift for language which was never to be repeated. It magnetized the group of pilgrims and made listening to the preaching of Peter compelling.
•Jesus' death was at Passover, the memorial to Israel's liberation from Egypt, which we now call Easter.
*One day after Passover is the festival of First Fruits, when early crops were donated. Jesus is the first fruits from the dead. ICor.15:20
*Pentecost (50 days) is the traditional harvest festival that comes 7 weeks after Passover. (Deut.16:9, Lev.23:15). The harvest of souls began at Pentecost.
These three festivals have prophetic fulfillment in Christ.
The question the disciples asked was "Is this the time that you will restore the Kingdom? Jesus' answer was "Wait." But the answer came in a way the disciples did not immediately grasp. In ten days, Jesus released the power of the Holy Spirit, and a visible body of God's subjects appeared. The release of the Holy Spirit into the world at Pentecost followed The Triumphal Entry, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension as a fifth explosive event, all occurring in rapid succession--in less than two months.[ We think God moves slowly.] Over the next 35 years of the Book of Acts, this tiny visible Kingdom spread out rapidly like yeast in dough and turned the civilized world upside down.
The reason Jesus did not give them a simple yes or no answer, I believe, reflects the complex nature of the Kingdom, as we can see in reading the parables. (Matt.13). The Kingdom is as small as a mustard seed or yeast in dough.. The Kingdom is also God's rule over His subjects, bringing an end to sin, Satan and death as well as final resolutions in judgment. The final end to these evils belongs to the Age to Come. Jesus began a beach-head of the Kingdom in each of these areas. During His three years of ministry He was bringing people out of darkness, binding Satan in his stronghold, and winning His personal victory over death. He brought the miraculous powers of the Age to Come into This Age.
The Apostles were given great powers to pursue this work through the Holy Spirit whose coming depended on Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension. (Jn.7:39). Thus Phase II of the Kingdom was begun. Phase III awaits Jesus' return at the Consummation of the Age. Then death will be abolished; Satan will be put into the Lake of Fire; sin, sorrow, suffering, and tears will be gone forever.
Speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost was a unique event. What Paul later describes as the gift of tongues is different because it required an interpreter: "What does this mean?" (I Cor.14:27). Some individuals today have the ability to master foreign languages for literacy, and some unique experiences of perception have been described. Such gifts are prized by Bible translators.
Rather than explain all that, Jesus' pragmatic command was to wait and see. Sometimes God's answer to our prayers is the same: “wait and see”.
FIFTY-FOUR DAYS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD.
On Palm Sunday He presented Himself to Israel.
At Passover 4 days later He was crucified.
After 3 days He was resurrected.
He ascended to Heaven 40 days after the Resurrection.
Seven days later, Pentecost (50 days after Passover) came and the Holy Spirit burst out.