Acts 1

1 Dear Theophilus: 1 In my first book I wrote about all the things that Jesus did and taught from the time he began his work
2 until the day he was taken up to heaven. Before he was taken up, he gave instructions by the power of the Holy Spirit to the men he had chosen as his apostles.
3 For forty days after his death he appeared to them many times in ways that proved beyond doubt that he was alive. They saw him, and he talked with them about the Kingdom of God.
4 And when they came together, [a] he gave them this order: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father promised. 2
5 John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." 3
6 When the apostles met together with Jesus, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom back to Israel?"
7 Jesus said to them, "The times and occasions are set by my Father's own authority, and it is not for you to know when they will be.
8 But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 4
9 After saying this, he was taken up to heaven as they watched him, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 5
10 They still had their eyes fixed on the sky as he went away, when two men dressed in white suddenly stood beside them
11 and said, "Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven."
12 Then the apostles went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is about half a mile away from the city.
13 They entered the city and went up to the room where they were staying: Peter, John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Patriot, and Judas son of James. 6
14 They gathered frequently to pray as a group, together with the women and with Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers.
15 A few days later there was a meeting of the believers, about a hundred and twenty in all, and Peter stood up to speak.
16 "My friends," he said, "the scripture had to come true in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, made a prediction about Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.
17 Judas was a member of our group, for he had been chosen to have a part in our work."
18 (With the money that Judas got for his evil act he bought a field, where he fell to his death; he burst open and all his insides spilled out. 7
19 All the people living in Jerusalem heard about it, and so in their own language they call that field Akeldama, which means "Field of Blood.")
20 "For it is written in the book of Psalms, 8 "May his house become empty; may no one live in it.' It is also written, "May someone else take his place of service.'
21 "So then, someone must join us as a witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He must be one of the men who were in our group during the whole time that the Lord Jesus traveled about with us, beginning from the time John preached his message of baptism [b] until the day Jesus was taken up from us to heaven." 9
23 So they proposed two men: Joseph, who was called Barsabbas (also known as Justus), and Matthias.
24 Then they prayed, "Lord, you know the thoughts of everyone, so show us which of these two you have chosen
25 to serve as an apostle in the place of Judas, who left to go to the place where he belongs."
26 Then they drew lots to choose between the two men, and the one chosen was Matthias, who was added to the group of 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 9

  • 1. 1.1Luke 1.1-4.
  • 2. 1.4Luke 24.49.
  • 3. 1.5Matthew 3.11;Mark 1.8;Luke 3.16;John 1.33.
  • 4. 1.8Matthew 28.19;Mark 16.15;Luke 24.47, 48.
  • 5. 1.9Mark 16.19;Luke 24.50, 51.
  • 6. 1.13Matthew 10.2-4;Mark 3.16-19;Luke 6.14-16.
  • 7. 1.18, 19Matthew 27.3-8.
  • 8. 1.20 aPsalms 69.25; bPsalms 109.8.
  • 9. 1.22 aMatthew 3.16;Mark 1.9;Luke 3.21; bMark 16.19;Luke 24.51.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. when they came together; [or] while he was staying with them, [or] while he was eating with them.
  • [b]. John preached his message of baptism; [or] John baptized him.

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