The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Acts 1

Act 1:1

See Lesson, Acts, statement of faith.

"The Gospel of the Holy Spirit" (Findl 1): Acts is the continuation of the work among men of the Holy Spirit that conceived (Luk 1:35) and led Christ (Luk 4:1,14...) to wilderness, to baptism, to Jerusalem, to cross. A 2nd 33-year (approx) period: 1st 33: life of Christ (individual); 2nd 33: life of Christ (multitudinous).

Luke as author (JAF 39-48).

The "we" passages: Act 16:10-18; 20:5-21:18; Act 27; 28 (cp JAF 46).

Act 1: "The record of the Acts of the Apostles flows from the statement of the Lord on the stake: 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do' (Luk 23:34). Since the Father always answered the prayers of His Son, the result is seen in the work of the apostles, esp Peter and Paul. So the Gospel was extended to mankind. And in the 28 chapters, the drama of the work of Yahweh is expounded. The first chapter sets the stage in the ascension of the Master: [1] Christ's last instructions and commission to the apostles: vv 1-8. [2] Angelic message of promise and hope: vv 9-11. [3] A period of prayer and waiting in Jerusalem: vv 12-14. [4] Appointment of Matthias to the apostleship: vv 15-26" (GEM).

FORMER: Lit, the first of several; ie, more than two?

THEOPHILUS: No longer called "most excellent" (Luk 1:1-4). Impl that the author is on more personal terms with him now. Or that Theophilus has abandoned or forfeited his worldly honors, due to becoming a Christian?

BEGAN TO DO: Quoting Gen 2:3 (LXX). Here, in Act 1, Christ's early life concludes and his heavenly life (through Holy Spirit in disciples) begins.

Act 1:2

AFTER GIVING INSTRUCTIONS: The great commission: Mat 28:19; Mar 16:15; Luk 24:46-49.

THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT: This phrase may modify "he had chosen".

Act 1:3

MANY CONVINCING PROOFS: Eleven separate occasions are recorded. See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

KINGDOM OF GOD: Equivalent to the "restoring" the kingdom to Israel (v 6)! The kingdom was uppermost in Christ's mind -- the disciples continue to preach the Kingdom message after his ascension: Acts 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23.

Act 1:4

EATING: RSV has "staying" (a variant). For "eating", see Luk 24:43,49.

DO NOT LEAVE JERUSALEM: And in this way the Law will go forth from Zion: Mic 4:2!

THE GIFT: The promise of the Holy Spirit, to authenticate their preaching work (Mar 16:17,18). The "Comforter" of Joh 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7-16.

Act 1:5

JOHN BAPTIZED WITH WATER: Cp Luk 3:16... Although he performed no miracles: John 10:41.

IN A FEW DAYS: Within 10 days.

Act 1:6

Did they ask this because (1) they are standing on Olivet (v 12) and because Zec 13:7 is followed so closely by Zec 14:4? or (2) Act 1:5 says "in a few days"? or (3) they had just been discussing the Kingdom (v 3)? At any rate, the question was a reasonable one -- demonstrating their understanding of the gospel preached by Christ.

ASKED: Imperfect: denoting repetition.

AT THIS TIME: That is, the time not long off (v 5).

RESTORE: Cp Act 1:6 (restore) with Act 3:20,21 (restore everything). Peter has not changed his belief about the "kingdom of God" even after Holy Spirit was given. The "gospel" is the good news of the Kingdom of ISRAEL! (Ct this with Church of Christ, who believe that "kingdom" came at Pentecost: Act 2!)

Act 1:7

// Mat 24:36; Mar 13:32.

TIMES: Kronos = absolute time.

DATES: Kairos = time in regard to periods (cp Dan 2:21, LXX).

Act 1:8

An outline of the Book of Acts: (1) preparation (Act 1:1-2:4); (2) in Jerusalem (Act 2:5-7:60); (3) in Judea and Samaria (Act 8:1-25; ct Mat 10:5,6); and (4) to the ends of earth: Africa (Act 8:26-40), toward Asia (9:1-16:5), toward Europe (Act 16:6-18:17), Asia again (Act 18:18-26:32), and Europe, to Rome (Act 27:1-28:31). In a sense, this list is not yet complete even now: cp Mat 24:13,14: we are a continuation of this witness -- feeble though we be. God/Christ sends us, not angels... weak, frail people (1Co 1:20,21,26).

//Luk 24:50: "And he blessed them." Poss High Priest's blessing (Num 6:24-27).

Believers are not merely to wait for a coming of Christ at some indeterminate time (v 7). They are to work so long as Christ has not come (v 8)! Perhaps it is the very work of preaching that will be the sign that Christ is coming soon (v 6)!

MY WITNESSES: "Witnesses of me". Fruit-bearers abiding IN Christ (Joh 15:5); witness-bearers speaking FOR Christ (Act 1:8); cross-bearers following AFTER Christ (Luk 14:27); burden-bearers being LIKE Christ (Gal 6:2).

ALL JUDEA: Incl all land of Jews, ie Galilee, Gilead also.

SAMARIA: Ct command: Do not enter (Mat 10:5).

Act 1:9

A CLOUD: A luminous cloud sym divine presence (Exo 40:34; Num 9:15; 1Ki 8:10; transfiguration: Mat 17:5). The cloud = his chariot (Psa 104:3). A cloud of angels (Mat 24:30; 26:64). The same "cloud" to be seen in 1Th 4:16,17; Rev 1:7. Act 1:9.

The Divine glory revealed in Israel as cloud (Exo 13:21,22; 14:19,20,24; 16:10; 19:16-19; 20:18; 24:15-19; 33:18-21 with Exo 34:4-7; 40:34-38; Num 10:34; 12:5,10; 14:9,10,14,21,22; Deu 31:14,15; Psa 105:39; 1Co 10:1,2). The same Shekinah glory appeared to Abraham (Gen 15:17; Act 7:2), David (Psa 18:6-15), Ezekiel (Eze 1:4; 10:4); Elijah (1Ki 19:11-13), Job (Job 38:1), apostles (Luk 9:34,35). Judgments of God in last days are manifest in this cloud (Dan 7:13; Joe 2:2; Zep 1:15; Eze 30:3; Isa 19:1; 25:5). Jesus will so come from heaven (Act 1:9,11; Luk 21:27; Mat 26:64).

Act 1:10

TWO MEN DRESSED IN WHITE: Two angels of the heavenly "cloud", leaving behind a final message. Angels of God announced his birth. Angels sustained him in Gethsemane. Angels were at his resurrection, and now at his ascension. He ascended with a cloud and angels, and he shall return the same way: 2Th 1:7.

Act 1:11

MEN OF GALILEE: Prob only the apostles saw the ascension.

WHY DO YOU STAND HERE...?: In other words, 'Get busy as witnesses' (cp v 8). 'Don't stand here staring and dreaming! Get about your work. He'll be back soon enough, and the time will pass best if you stay busy!'

"I could just see myself standing there staring into heaven also. Such roller coaster of emotions over Christ's trial and death, his resurrection, then fellowshipping with him again, and now to see him taken up to the Father. I think I'd be standing there with my mouth hanging open... now he has left the ministry to us? But there is too much to be done to stand in confusion or doubt. Angels were sent to remind them of God's purpose -- the beautiful mystery revealed that Christ is to return the same way he left! And this is all it took for them to move forward. This promise is all it should take for us. It is our job to make things ready for the Master's return. We are to witness to the ends of the earth the glorious plan of God -- Christ's kingdom will be established and the Earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord!" (CPv).

THIS SAME JESUS: Not merely a "manifestation", but Jesus Christ himself: Luk 24:39 (myself); 1Th 4:16 (the Lord himself).

THIS SAME JESUS... WILL COME: For what purpose? Num 14:21 (to fill earth with glory); Isa 45:18/Psa 115:16 (to inhabit the earth); Gen 1:26,27 (to have dominion); 2Sa 7:12,13 / Isa 9:6,7 / Luk 1:32,33 (to rule on throne of David, forever). "They had learned their lesson; they knew that although the heavens had received him, he was with them still. With great joy in their hearts they returned to Jerusalem to offer their lives in his service. Two thousand years later we find ourselves in their place, the disciples of Jesus: loving the Lord they loved, serving the Lord they served. The world has changed strangely since their time, but the Gospel has not changed, nor has the commission. Where they failed, we find ourselves slipping. In the fountain of their strength we find the source of ours: the words of love that sustained and comforted them bring us peace and joy. As throughout their troubled lives they looked beyond to the final glory, so we echo their words, 'Even so, come, Lord Jesus' " (MP 360).

IN THE SAME WAY: That is, physically, bodily, and with angels and a cloud (Dan 7:13; Mat 26:64), visibly (Zec 14:4; Eze 43:1-5; Rev 1:7).

Act 1:12

Describing this same scene, Luke 24:52 adds "Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy."

They had seen the heavenly glory and heard the heavenly voice. We are there with them. Now, history merges into eternity. We now hear the same voice, promising the same return. And we still wait for that return. Those men, and untold numbers of every age since, wait in the dust of the earth. We are yet alive, perhaps to hear the Trumpet, and the voice of the Archangel, when the Lord himself will descend from heaven. Will we be ready?

A SABBATH DAY'S WALK: Approx 2,000 cubits (1,000 yards). The basic concept is derived from Exo 16:29: "Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out." And the distance seems to be derived from Num 35:4,5: the basic measurement from the town to the suburban pasturelands.

Act 1:13

UPSTAIRS TO THE ROOM: "To the upper room": Large meeting room, on upper floor of house. Word used only by Luke (cp Luk 9:37; 20:8). This, prob same house where Passover supper had been held -- poss home of Mark's mother (Act 12:12-17; SB 13:9).

Act 1:14

TOGETHER: Homothumadon: 11 times in Acts (with one accord); once elsewhere (Rom 15:6).

ALONG WITH THE WOMEN: Ct Jewish custom, keeping women separate (cp Gal 3:28).


AND WITH HIS BROTHERS: Who had previously been hostile: Mar 3:21; John 7:5.

Act 1:15

The Acts is concerned with the growth of the ecclesia through the preaching of the gospel. There is, through the early chapters, a delineation of the growth: (1) 120 (Acts 1:15); (2) 3,000 (Acts 2:41); (3) 5,000 (Acts 4:4); (4) multitudes, men and women (Acts 5:14); (5) great increase -- many priests (Acts 6:7); (6) the churches were multiplied (Acts 9:31); and (7) much people (Acts 11:24).

Act 1:17

SHARED: "Was allotted his share" (or inheritance: Eph 1:11; Col 1:12). The process of casting lots. An example of that usage is Luk 1:9.

Act 1:18

Vv 18,19: A parenthetical expression, not in original discourse of Peter.

THE REWARD HE GOT FOR HIS WICKEDNESS: The "wages of sin" (Rom 6:23).

THERE HE FELL HEADLONG, HIS BODY BURST OPEN AND ALL HIS INTESTINES SPILLED OUT: Retranslation: "Being downcast, he screamed out (his remorse) in the midst (of the priests), and poured out all his feelings" (WAc 17). "Bowels" is always figurative in OT; cp Psa 109:18.

Difficulties appear when comparing with Mat 27:3-8. The first is: who bought the field, the priests or Judas? The second is: what funds Judas used to purchase the "field"? These may be resolved by noting that the Greek word for field in Mat 27:7 is "agros", commonly meaning a piece of ground as normally meant by "field". That in Acts 1:18 is "chorion" -- better rendered by our word "smallholding". It seems likely therefore that Acts 1:18 is recording what has only now become apparent, that (John 12:6) "Judas was a thief", and that he had been salting away funds over a long period to acquire this smallholding for a personal possession.

The rather gruesome explanation of the details of Judas' death may now be reconciled: Judas in his remorse fled to his smallholding, remote from the city, and there hanged himself and was not found for some time. His body may well have hung and decayed there in isolation, until the rope rotted and he fell headlong with the associated detail of Acts 1:18, and was subsequently found (Derek Palmer).

Act 1:19

FIELD OF BLOOD: In Mat 27, the blood is Christ's (ref the betrayal); here, the blood is Judas' (ref the suicide). Both the blood of Christ and that of Judas were memorials.

Act 1:20

PLACE (first): Gr "epaulis" = farm building; country house.

LET THERE BE NO ONE TO DWELL IN IT: Totally uninhabited, as a graveyard: Mat 27:7!

PLACE (second): Gr "episkopen" = superintendence, oversight.

Act 1:21

WENT IN AND OUT: An expression of constant social intercourse (Deu 28:6,19; 1Sa 18:13,16), or assuming leadership, as a shepherd (Num 27:17; 1Sa 18:13; 2Ch 1:10; Jos 14:11).

AMONG US: Or, "over us" ("epi").

Act 1:22

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

Act 1:24

The first prayer addressed to an ascended Christ.

YOU KNOW EVERYONE'S HEART: Later, Peter seems to have the same power: Act 5:1-11.

Act 1:26

The lot falls to the one last mentioned and (apparently) least prominent. The appointment was the prerogative of Christ (Act 26:16; Joh 6:70). The idea of voting is inconsistent with "fell". Holy Spirit guidance replaced lots after Pentecost. Cp also FCE 1,128; Xd 89:49.

When the lot was employed in Israel, it was done thoroughly, as in the case of Achan: first a tribe, then a family, and finally an individual. "Try the test several times, and see if it comes out the same way every time" (RR, Ber 67:412).

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