Acts 1

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The Promise of the Holy Spirit

1 In the first book, O 1Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began 2to do and teach,
2 until the day when 3he was taken up, after he 4had given commands 5through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
3 6He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
4 And while staying[a] with them 7he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me;
5 for 8John baptized with water, 9but you will be baptized 10with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

The Ascension

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, 11will you at this time 12restore the kingdom to Israel?"
7 He said to them, 13"It is not for you to know 14times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
8 But you will receive 15power 16when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and 17you will be 18my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and 19Samaria, and 20to the end of the earth."
9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, 21he was lifted up, and 22a cloud took him out of their sight.
10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, 23two 24men stood by them in 25white robes,
11 and said, 26"Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, 27will 28come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then 29they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away.
13 And when they had entered, they went up to 30the upper room, where they were staying, 31Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon 32the Zealot and Judas the son of James.
14 All these 33with one accord 34were devoting themselves to prayer, together with 35the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and 36his brothers.[c]
15 In those days Peter stood up among 37the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said,
16 "Brothers, 38the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, 39who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.
17 For 40he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in 41this ministry."
18 (Now this man 42acquired a field with 43the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong[d] he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called 44in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 "For it is written in the Book of Psalms, 45"'May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it';and 46"'Let another take his office.'
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during 47all the time that the Lord Jesus 48went in and out among us,
22 49beginning from the baptism of John until the day when 50he was taken up from us--one of these men must become with us 51a witness to his resurrection."
23 And they put forward two, Joseph called 52Barsabbas, who was also called 53Justus, and 54Matthias.
24 And 55they prayed and said, "You, Lord, 56who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen
25 to take the place in 57this ministry and 58apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place."
26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven 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.

Cross References 58

  • 1. Luke 1:3
  • 2. Luke 24:19
  • 3. See Mark 16:19
  • 4. [Acts 10:42; Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21]
  • 5. [Acts 10:38; Luke 4:1, 18; John 20:22]
  • 6. Acts 10:40, 41; Acts 13:31; Matthew 28:17; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:34, 36-51; John 20:19-29; John 21; 1 Corinthians 15:5-7
  • 7. Luke 24:49
  • 8. Acts 11:16; See Matthew 3:11
  • 9. Acts 11:16; See Matthew 3:11
  • 10. Acts 2:1-4
  • 11. See Luke 17:20
  • 12. [Micah 4:8; Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:12; Luke 19:11]
  • 13. [Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32]
  • 14. Daniel 2:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:1
  • 15. Acts 4:33; Luke 24:49; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; [Acts 10:38; Luke 4:14]
  • 16. ver. 5
  • 17. [ver. 22]; See Luke 24:48
  • 18. [Isaiah 43:12]
  • 19. Acts 8:1, 14; [Matthew 10:5]
  • 20. Acts 13:47; [Mark 16:15; Colossians 1:23]
  • 21. ver. 2
  • 22. See 1 Thessalonians 4:17
  • 23. [Luke 24:4]
  • 24. Joshua 5:13; Daniel 9:21; Daniel 10:5; Daniel 12:6, 7; Zechariah 1:8-11
  • 25. Matthew 28:3; Mark 16:5; John 20:12
  • 26. Acts 2:7; Acts 13:31
  • 27. [Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10]; See Matthew 16:27
  • 28. 2 Thessalonians 1:10
  • 29. Luke 24:50, 52
  • 30. Acts 9:37, 39; Acts 20:8
  • 31. See Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16
  • 32. [Acts 21:20]
  • 33. Acts 2:46; Acts 4:24; Acts 5:12; Acts 15:25; Romans 15:6
  • 34. Acts 2:42; Acts 6:4; Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2; [Ephesians 6:18]
  • 35. Luke 8:2, 3
  • 36. See Matthew 12:46
  • 37. See John 21:23
  • 38. Luke 24:44; [Luke 22:37]
  • 39. Matthew 26:47; Mark 14:43; Luke 22:47; John 18:3
  • 40. John 6:71; John 13:21
  • 41. ver. 25; Acts 20:24; Acts 21:19; Romans 11:13; 2 Corinthians 4:1
  • 42. [Matthew 27:5-8]
  • 43. [Matthew 26:14-16]
  • 44. [Acts 21:40]
  • 45. Cited from Psalms 69:25
  • 46. Cited from Psalms 109:8
  • 47. [John 15:27]
  • 48. Numbers 27:17; Deuteronomy 31:2; 1 Samuel 18:13
  • 49. Acts 13:24; Mark 1:1-4
  • 50. ver. 2, 9
  • 51. Acts 4:33; [ver. 8; 1 Peter 1:3]; See Luke 24:48
  • 52. [Acts 15:22]
  • 53. [Acts 18:7; Colossians 4:11]
  • 54. ver. 26
  • 55. Acts 6:6; Acts 13:3
  • 56. See 1 Samuel 16:7; Romans 8:27
  • 57. See ver. 17
  • 58. Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 9:2; Galatians 2:8

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or eating
  • [b]. Or in
  • [c]. Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated "brothers") refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God's family, the church; also verse 15
  • [d]. Or swelling up

Chapter Summary


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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.