Acts 1

Prologue

1 I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach
2 until the day He was taken up, after He had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen.
3 After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit Promised

4 While He was together with them,[a] He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father's promise. "This," [He said, "is what ] you heard from Me;
5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
6 So when they had come together, they asked Him, "Lord, at this time are You restoring the kingdom to Israel?"
7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends [b] of the earth."

The Ascension

9 After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10 While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them.
11 They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven."

United in Prayer

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olive Grove, which is near Jerusalem-a Sabbath day's journey away.
13 When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.
14 All these were continually united in prayer,[c] along with the women, including Mary[d] the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Matthias Chosen

15 During these days Peter stood up among the brothers[e]-the number of people who were together was about 120-and said:
16 "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David spoke in advance about Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.
17 For he was one of our number and was allotted a share in this ministry."
18 Now this man acquired a field with his unrighteous wages; and falling headfirst, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out.
19 This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that in their own language that field is called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.
20 "For it is written in the Book of Psalms: Let his dwelling become desolate; let no one live in it; [f] and Let someone else take his position. [g]
21 "Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us-
22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day He was taken up from us-from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of His resurrection."
23 So they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
24 Then they prayed, "You, Lord, know the hearts of all; show which of these two You have chosen
25 to take the place[h] in this apostolic service that Judas left to go to his own place."
26 Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias. So he was numbered with the 11 apostles.

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Acts 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

This book unites the Gospels to the Epistles. It contains many particulars concerning the apostles Peter and Paul, and of the Christian church from the ascension of our Saviour to the arrival of St. Paul at Rome, a space of about thirty years. St. Luke was the writer of this book; he was present at many of the events he relates, and attended Paul to Rome. But the narrative does not afford a complete history of the church during the time to which it refers, nor even of St. Paul's life. The object of the book has been considered to be, 1. To relate in what manner the gifts of the Holy Spirit were communicated on the day of Pentecost, and the miracles performed by the apostles, to confirm the truth of Christianity, as showing that Christ's declarations were really fulfilled. 2. To prove the claim of the Gentiles to be admitted into the church of Christ. This is shown by much of the contents of the book. A large portion of the Acts is occupied by the discourses or sermons of various persons, the language and manner of which differ, and all of which will be found according to the persons by whom they were delivered, and the occasions on which they were spoken. It seems that most of these discourses are only the substance of what was actually delivered. They relate nevertheless fully to Jesus as the Christ, the anointed Messiah.

Proofs of Christ's resurrection. (1-5) Christ's ascension. (6-11) The apostles unite in prayer. (12-14) Matthias chosen in the place of Judas. (15-26)

Verses 1-5 Our Lord told the disciples the work they were to do. The apostles met together at Jerusalem; Christ having ordered them not to depart thence, but to wait for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. This would be a baptism by the Holy Ghost, giving them power to work miracles, and enlightening and sanctifying their souls. This confirms the Divine promise, and encourages us to depend upon it, that we have heard it from Christ; for in Him all the promises of God are yea and amen.

Verses 6-11 They were earnest in asking about that which their Master never had directed or encouraged them to seek. Our Lord knew that his ascension and the teaching of the Holy Spirit would soon end these expectations, and therefore only gave them a rebuke; but it is a caution to his church in all ages, to take heed of a desire of forbidden knowledge. He had given his disciples instructions for the discharge of their duty, both before his death and since his resurrection, and this knowledge is enough for a Christian. It is enough that He has engaged to give believers strength equal to their trials and services; that under the influence of the Holy Spirit they may, in one way or other, be witnesses for Christ on earth, while in heaven he manages their concerns with perfect wisdom, truth, and love. When we stand gazing and trifling, the thoughts of our Master's second coming should quicken and awaken us: when we stand gazing and trembling, they should comfort and encourage us. May our expectation of it be stedfast and joyful, giving diligence to be found of him blameless.

Verses 12-14 God can find hiding-places for his people. They made supplication. All God's people are praying people. It was now a time of trouble and danger with the disciples of Christ; but if any is afflicted, let him pray; that will silence cares and fears. They had now a great work to do, and before they entered upon it, they were earnest in prayer to God for his presence. They were waiting for the descent of the Spirit, and abounded in prayer. Those are in the best frame to receive spiritual blessings, who are in a praying frame. Christ had promised shortly to send the Holy Ghost; that promise was not to do away prayer, but to quicken and encourage it. A little company united in love, exemplary in their conduct, fervent in prayer, and wisely zealous to promote the cause of Christ, are likely to increase rapidly.

Verses 15-26 The great thing the apostles were to attest to the world, was, Christ's resurrection; for that was the great proof of his being the Messiah, and the foundation of our hope in him. The apostles were ordained, not to wordly dignity and dominion, but to preach Christ, and the power of his resurrection. An appeal was made to God; "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men," which we do not; and better than they know their own. It is fit that God should choose his own servants; and so far as he, by the disposals of his providence, or the gifts of his Spirit, shows whom he was chosen, or what he has chosen for us, we ought to fall in with his will. Let us own his hand in the determining everything which befalls us, especially in those by which any trust may be committed to us.

Footnotes 8

  • [a]. Or He was eating with them, or He was lodging with them
  • [b]. Lit the end
  • [c]. Other mss add and petition
  • [d]. Or prayer, with their wives and Mary
  • [e]. Other mss read disciples
  • [f]. Ps 69:25
  • [g]. Ps 109:8
  • [h]. Other mss read to share

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO ACTS

This book, in some copies, is called, "The Acts of the holy Apostles". It contains an history of the ministry and miracles of the apostles of Christ, and is a sort of a journal of their actions, from whence it takes its name. It begins at the ascension of Christ, and reaches to the imprisonment of the Apostle Paul at Rome; and is a history of upwards of thirty years: it gives an account of the first Gospel church at Jerusalem, and of the progress of the Gospel there, and in Judea, by the means of all the apostles, and particularly Peter, the minister of the circumcision, and who also first opened the door of faith to the Gentiles: it shows how the Gospel went forth from Jerusalem, and was spread in the Gentile world, especially by the Apostle Paul, whose companion Luke was, that was the writer of this book; for that it was written by him is very evident from the beginning of it, it being dedicated to the same person his Gospel is, and of which he makes mention; and in the Complutensian edition the book is called, "The Acts of the Apostles of Saint Luke the Evangelist"; and so the title of it in the Syriac version is, "the Book of the Acts: that is, the history of the blessed apostles, which my Lord Luke the Evangelist collected for the saints". It was by him written in the Greek language; and we are told {a}, that there was a version of it into the Hebrew language, and which was laid up in the library of the Jews at Tiberias; and is cited by R. Azarias {b} under the name of twlweph, "the Acts": of the authority of this book there has been no doubt, among the ancients, only Cerinthus the heretic endeavoured to discredit it; and it was not received by another sort of heretics called Severiani, from Severus, a disciple of Tatian {c}. It is a most excellent and useful work, showing the first planting of Christianity, and of Christian churches, both among the Jews and Gentiles; the spread and progress of the Gospel in several parts of the world; what sufferings the apostles endured for the sake of it; and with what patience and courage they bore them; and what success attended them; and is a standing proof and confirmation of the Christian religion.

{a} Epiphan. Contr. Haeres. l. 1. Haeres. 30. {b} Meor Enayim, p. 167. {c} Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 4. c. 29.

Acts 1 Commentaries