Luke is the writer of this book, he was a physician and historian, so he CAREFULLY documented everything.
He is writing again to Theophilus (who he wrote to in the previous book Luke).
At first, Jesus is resurrected and appears to all the disciples for 40 days, and he tells them not to do anything until the gift of the Holy Spirit comes. Then, he ascends into heaven.
We know not when Jesus will return, so the best thing is for us to get ready to meet him.
They went to the Mt. of Olives (.75 miles). Most of the pious Jews would walk that far, but not much farther (or that would be considered work on the Sabbath).
Acts 2:33 “Exalted to the right hand of God, he, Jesus has received the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”
There is this kind of understanding that Jesus has been exalted and is now ruler over all humanity.
In Ephesians, Paul prays for the believers (everywhere) “May the eyes of your heart be enlightened so that you will know your glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength which he demonstrated in Christ when he raised him and exalted him above all the earth and heavens, in this present age and that to come. God placed everything under his feet and placed him as head of the church which is his body.”
Here Paul is tripping over himself describing the Supremacy of Christ.
In Philippians he says, “Christ humbled himself even to death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted him, raised him to the highest place, and gave him the highest name that at his name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.”
The apostles/disciples didn’t rest on a dead man’s memory, but on the living presence of Christ. Luke asserts that the Christian mission MUST be built on hope in a living Savior.
Then they returned to Jerusalem (after Jesus’ ascension) to the “upper room.” Maybe this was the same “upper room” that is mentioned in previous locations in the New Testament. In any case, it is clear that Luke is familiar with the early lives of the disciples and their habits, etc.
He’s listed all their names (Jesus designated them all as apostles) in Luke. Here he lists them again, without Judas (suicide) and John is not first place, but second here (probably because Peter is so important in the Acts). He also lists some women here.
John _:26-27 “Dear woman, here is your son.” “Dear son, here is your mother.” and from that time on John took Mary into his home.
There’s been a big change in attitude toward Jesus by other apostles. Many had thought he was crazy/demon-possessed (Mark 3). Such a crowd was gathered that Jesus and his disciples couldn’t even eat – so his family came to take him away because he was clearly “out of his mind.”
So, why did his family change their minds? Perhaps because of Jesus’ appearance to his half-brother James (not listed by Luke, but mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians). Joseph, Jude, Simon were his other half-brothers (Matthew 13:55-58). Jesus was preaching in his hometown and the people thought, “Ha! I know that crazy boy! Where did he come up with all these crazy ideas?”
Jesus said, “Only in his own house, his own town is a prophet not honored.” (Familiarity breeds contempt). So, Jesus didn’t do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
In Acts 15, when Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to give an account of their ministry, James spoke up, “Brothers, listen to me – Peter has been chosen for the Gentiles – the Gentiles will now turn to God.” His advice was heeded, the Gentiles rejoiced for not needing to take on the Law of Moses. (James has become a VIP in the Jerusalem church – I’ve read he was “head pastor” there at one point?)
Jesus’ other brothers also have more influence on the church.
Jude wrote the epistle of Jude (identified himself as the brother of James).
According to Luke, there are 120 people who met together in Jerusalem before Pentecost. There was a requirement in Jewish law to have 120 males to have a legitimate/legal synagogue with voted in leaders. This may be Luke’s attempt to show that this was all “legal” and he also includes women here.
Acts 8:3 “Saul began to destroy the church – dragging off men and women…”
Acts 12:12 “When Peter realized this, he went to the house of Mary…”
From the beginning, the new church broke through cultural barriers. (Galatians 3:28 “In Christ there is no longer any male or female…”)
1 Cor 15:6 “Christ appeared to more than 500 believers at once.”
They were probably in Galilee. 120 were in Jerusalem. Luke doesn’t give details of those 500. But in Acts, after Paul is converted, the church throughout “Judea, Galilee, and Jerusalem” grew in numbers.
This group of 120 in Jerusalem was “joined together constantly in prayer.” Besides waiting for the HS, the only other activity was prayer. They likely worshiped, interceded, etc. Luke mentions prayer as one of his themes – trying to show how Christians don’t just rush out and do stuff, but try to wait on the leading of the HS.
Later, they will pray for guidance (to find Judas’ replacement). Prayer is always good for guidance.
Prayer for empowerment (Acts 4:31) “After they prayed, the place they were meeting was shaken, and they were filled with the HS and started preaching the Word boldly.” They were already born of the Spirit, were washed in the Spirit, but they needed a fresh filling of the Spirit. At this time, the church was being strongly persecuted, threatened to keep quiet, and God heard their prayers and filled them afresh with the HS to preach boldly.
Prayer for healing and restoration to life. Acts 9:40 (Dorcas – Tabitha) – she was a wonderful believer, full of good works and faith, and Peter was summoned there, and Peter sent all out of the room, and he prayed, turned to the dead woman and said, “Tabitha, GET UP!” And she turned to him and got up. (He’d seen Jesus do it, now he’s doing it too.) Peter is frail – he denied Christ 3 times, he was wishy-washy, flip-floppy, yet God honored his faith (he was QUICK to repent).
Now, here is Peter ministering to this dead woman.
Prayer for salvation. Acts 10:9 – two servants going to Joppa on the way to Cornelius’ house. Peter went up on the roof to pray – God gave him a vision to go with the Gentiles “What God has cleansed, don’t call unclean.” The cross is for all people, all nations.
Cornelius explained why he’d prayed (Acts 10:30) – “Cornelius, God has heard your prayer, send to Joppa for Peter.” Peter went and prayed, the HS fell on these Gentiles, and they preached boldly, spoke in tongues, etc, giving every evidence of the filling of the HS.
Peter went to Jerusalem to recount this event, how the HS had been given in the same way (eating with a Gentile at that time was “illegal”) – yet he told how an angel had sent for him through Cornelius – through Peter he and the whole household would be saved. When they heard that, they rejoiced that even the Gentiles had been given this door to salvation.
Acts 12 Peter was in prison. Herod wanted to bring him forth later, but the church was earnestly praying for him and God released him from prison. In Acts 12:12, he realized this wasn’t a dream. So he went to the house of Mary, mother of John (Mark).
Prayer is effective for release from bondage (not only physical, but also spiritual). Prayer is the key – not only our own, but also the prayers of others. It can release from bondage/slavery.
Acts 22:10 – Guidance once more.
Paul is giving witness to his conversion. He said, “What shall I do Lord?” short, simple, sweet, but he was given guidance “Go into the city – there you will be told what to do.”
Prayer for encouragement.
During the shipwreck (Acts 27:23) “Last night, an angel of the Lord stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid Paul, you must stand trial before Rome, and God has given you the lives of these men.’” All the people were saved.
The death of Judas.
The Scripture had to be fulfilled.
Acts 1:16-19, 20-22
Luke obviously thought this event was important because it’s the only described event between the ascension and Pentecost.
The first speech here is given by a man not unlike Judas. Judas betrayed Jesus for money, Peter betrayed Jesus 3 times for his personal safety. Judas committed suicide. Peter repented. He didn’t know the weakness of his own character.
The end of Judas is described by one who also denied and cursed Jesus. The church meets nothing in the world that isn’t first found in itself – even among the leaders of churches.
Satan goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (Thess?)
How did Judas die?
- Matthew = he hung himself
- Luke = his intestines spilled on the ground
It is possible both are correct.
Judas may have hung himself on a branch that broke and fell on the rocks and his intestines spilled out. Or, he hung himself, rotted, fell, spilled, etc.
Anyway, both are possible and probable.
Peter wants to replace Judas with another. Though the Scriptures are inspired, the disciples can use them creatively. In Psalms that Peter quotes, David is referring to his enemieS, “Let THEIR places…”
Such adaptation may strike us as taking undue liberties with Scripture, but it is believed that ALL Scripture points to Christ and the events around him. They were justified in explaining, interpreting in this way because Jesus had already described this about himself, “ALL the Scriptures refer to ME.” He spoke from Moses and the Law all the way through the Scriptures everything that was referring to him. The Law, the Prophets, the Psalms. He opened their minds so that they could understand it.
Why the need for replacement? Jesus had said that the 12 would sit on thrones and judge the 12 tribes of Israel. So, they needed a new one. 2 guys qualified (had been with Jesus from the beginning, John the Baptist’s ministry). Notably, after Pentecost, there is no use of casting lots – from here on, the disciples are fully guided by the HS.
Now, here, we see the importance of prayer, humility, repentance. Maybe sometimes, Peter felt like he wasn’t too far removed from the fate of Judas. Peter went and wept bitterly, repented, so the Lord restored him. But Judas, though sorrowful, didn’t repent. Repentance is a CONTINOUS process. Joel: “Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord. He’s slow to anger and abounding in love and he relents to send calamity.”
Let us abide in him, seek his fullness, and rejoice in his salvation.