Acts 1 – 2019-08-12
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- CHAPTER 1 Commentary
Introduction to the Book of Acts
“Some scholars have regarded Acts as the most important book in the New Testament, or at least as its pivotal book, coming as it does between the Gospels and the letters. It records the origin and growth of the Christian movement, telling us how the first believers lived out Christianity. It describes its message and ministry, and its life – including its triumphs and trials, the passions that drove it, and the source of the power that energized it. Any Christian wanting to know how to be a disciple of Christ in this world should turn to Acts to know how the first Christians lived.”
“Contemporary Christians who read Acts with an open mind will find themselves challenged with pointed applications by what happened in the early church.
- To a society where individualism reigns and where the church also seems to have adopted a style of community life that “guards the privacy of the individual,” the early church presents a radical community where members held all things in common.
- To a society where selfishness is sometimes admired and each one is left to fend for himself or herself, Acts presents a group of Christians who were so committed to Christ and the cause of the gospel that they were willing to sacrifice their desires for the good of others.
- To a society where pluralism defines truth as something subjective and personal, Acts presents a church that based its life on certain objective facts about God and Christ – facts that were not only personally true but also universally valid and therefore had to be presented to the entire world.
- To a society that denies absolute truth and therefore shuns apologetics and persuasion in evangelism in favor of dialogue, Acts presents a church that persuaded people until they were convinced of the truth of the gospel. Instead of aiming at mutual enrichment as the main aim of interreligious encounter, as many do today, the early church proclaimed Christ as supreme Lord with conversion in view.
- In an age when many churches spend so much time, money, and energy on self-preservation and improvement, Acts presents churches that released their most capable people for reaching the lost.
- In an age where many churches look to excellence in techniques to bring success, Acts presents a church that depended on the Holy Spirit and gave top priority to prayer and moral purity.
- In an age when many avenues are available to avoid suffering and therefore many Christians have left out suffering from their understanding of the Christian life, Acts presents a church that took on suffering for the cause of Christ and considered it a basic ingredient of discipleship.”
v.1: The author of Acts, Luke, refers to his “former book”, the gospel of Luke. The books of Luke and Acts are considered by scholars to be actually one book entitled “Luke-Acts”.
“Theophilus means “friend of God” or “loved by God,” but it is unlikely, as some (e.g. Origen) have suggested, that this name is a symbol for an anonymous person or group of people. This particular name was in use at that time, and the description of Theophilus as “most excellent” (Luke 1:3) suggests that a real person is meant.”
v.3: “Luke then reports that Jesus’ appearances were proof of his resurrection (v.3a). The objective reality of the resurrection was the ultimate proof of the amazing claims that the apostles were to make about Jesus (Acts 17:31). The fact that the apostles were witnesses to this resurrection was a key to their preaching. So right at the start of his book, Luke presents the resurrection as an event attested by ‘many convincing proofs.’”
“Over a period of forty days between his resurrection and ascension Jesus appeared at intervals to his apostles and other followers in a manner which could leave no doubt in their minds that he was really alive again, risen from the dead. The most primitive and comprehensive list of these appearances is that given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7, although the Gospel narratives indicate that even Paul’s list is not exhaustive.”
v.6: “It must have saddened the heart of Jesus to hear his disciples ask about the time of restoring the kingdom to Israel (v.6). He had taught them about the kingdom of God, but they talk about the kingdom of Israel. John Stott points out that the verb, the noun and the adverb of their sentence all betray doctrinal confusion about the kingdom. The verb restore shows that they were expecting political and territorial kingdom; the noun Israel that they were expecting a national kingdom; and the adverbial clause at this time that they were expecting its immediate establishment.”
v.7-8: The disciples were to be the true, “restored” Israel, fulfilling its mission to be a “light for the Gentiles” so that God’s salvation might reach “to the ends of the earth” (Isa. 49:6).
The geographical scope of Acts 1:8 provides a rough outline of the entire book: Jerusalem (1-7), Judea and Samaria (8-12), the ends of the earth (13-28). As such it can be considered the “theme” verse of Acts[…] 
v.21-22: “Peter laid down the qualifications for Judas’ replacement. He had to be one who had witnessed the entire ministry of Jesus from the time of baptism by John to the ascension. Above all he had to have witnessed the resurrection appearances. Here we have the basic understanding of the apostles’ role in Acts. They were primarily ‘witnesses’ to Jesus, eyewitnesses who could share his teaching and confirm his resurrection and ascension. As such, the role of apostle was limited to the Twelve. It was a unique, irreplaceable office (Eph. 2:20; Rev. 21:14). There could be no apostolic succession, since there were no further eyewitnesses to succeed them. …
Luke 22:28-30 speaks of the apostles’ unique role of sitting in the kingdom and judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Their number corresponds to the tribes of Israel, for in a real sense they represent the restored Israel, the people of God. The continuity with Israel necessitates the restoration of the full number of twelve.
 Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 21.
 Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 40-41.
 Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 50
 Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 50.
 F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), 31.
 Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 51-52.
 John B. Pohill, The New American Commentary: Acts. vol.26 (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), 84-86.
 John B. Pohill, The New American Commentary: Acts. vol.26 (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), 93-94.
- Bible Text: Acts 1:1-11 (ESV)
1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He 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 with them he 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 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, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed 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 and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
- Study Questions:Acts 1:3
- Reflect on what this period with Jesus must have been like for the disciples.
- In the exchange between the apostles and Jesus, note the difference in scope between their perspectives. In what ways has walking with Christ enlarged the scope of my life?
- What is the primary role of the Holy Spirit’s coming?
- Who are the people in my spheres of influence to whom Jesus is sending me as his witness?