Acts 1

The Preface

1 I produced the former account, O Theophilus, about all {that}[a] Jesus began to do and to teach,
2 until the day he was taken up, [after he][b] had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen,
3 to whom he also presented himself alive after he suffered, with many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking the things about the kingdom of God.
4 And [while he][c] was with[d] [them],[e] he commanded them, "Do not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for what was promised by the Father, which you heard about from me.
5 For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit {not many days from now}."[f]

The Ascension

6 So [when][g] they had come together, they began asking[h] him, saying, "Lord, [is it] at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"
7 But he said to them, "It is not for you to know [the] times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority.
8 But you will receive power [when][i] the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest part of the earth."
9 And [after he][j] had said these [things], [while][k] they were watching, he was taken up, and a cloud received him from their sight.
10 And as they were staring into the sky [while][l] he was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood by them
11 who also said, "Men {of Galilee},[m] why do you stand there looking[n] into the sky? This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven like this will come back in the same way you saw him departing into heaven!"

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain that is called Olive Grove[o] which is near Jerusalem, {a Sabbath day's journey away}.[p]
13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upstairs room where they were staying--Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James [son] of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas [son] of James.
14 All these were busily engaged with one mind in prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with[q] his brothers.
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (and it was a crowd of persons of about one hundred twenty at the same [place]) [and][r] said,
16 "Men [and] brothers, it was necessary [that] the scripture be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit proclaimed beforehand through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus,
17 because he was counted among us and received a share in this ministry."
18 (Now this man acquired a field for the wages of [his] wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines spilled out.
19 And it became known to all who live in Jerusalem, so that that field was called in their own language[s] "Akeldama," that is, "Field of Blood.")
20 "For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his residence become deserted, and let there be no one to live in it,' and, 'Let another person take his position.'
21 Therefore it is necessary for [one] of the men who have accompanied us during all the time [in] which the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us,
22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day [on] which he was taken up from us--one of these [men] must become a witness of his resurrection together with us."
23 And they proposed two [men], Joseph called Barsabbas (who was called Justus) and Matthias.
24 And they prayed [and][t] said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show clearly which one of these two you have chosen
25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to depart to his own place."
26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was added [to serve][u] 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.

Footnotes 21

  • [a]. Literally "of what"
  • [b]. *Here "[after]" is supplied as a component of the participle ("had given orders") which is understood as temporal
  • [c]. *Here "[while]" is supplied as a component of the participle ("was with") which is understood as temporal
  • [d]. Or "was assembling with," or "was sharing a meal with"
  • [e]. *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
  • [f]. Literally "not many days after these"
  • [g]. *Here "[when]" is supplied as a component of the participle ("had come together") which is understood as temporal
  • [h]. *The imperfect tense has been translated as ingressive here ("began asking")
  • [i]. *Here "[when]" is supplied as a component of the temporal genitive absolute participle ("has come")
  • [j]. *Here "[after]" is supplied as a component of the participle ("had said") which is understood as temporal
  • [k]. *Here "[while]" is supplied as a component of the temporal genitive absolute participle ("were watching")
  • [l]. *Here "[while]" is supplied as a component of the temporal genitive absolute participle ("was departing")
  • [m]. Literally "Galileans"
  • [n]. Some manuscripts have "gazing"
  • [o]. This is a variation of the name "Mount of Olives"
  • [p]. Literally "having a journey of a Sabbath"
  • [q]. Some manuscripts omit "with"
  • [r]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("stood up") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [s]. That is, Aramaic
  • [t]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("prayed") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [u]. *The words "[to serve]" are not in the Greek text, but are implied

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