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  • Writer's pictureALD

Acts 1: A Calling To The Future Church Of Christ.

Updated: Sep 3

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles is a very special book for several reasons. First is that it establishes the church, and second and equally as important, it connects the Old Testament and New Testament. The first four books of the New Testament aim to tell a story. Starting in Mark and Ending in John, these four books tell who Jesus was and how he acted. The book of Acts is the "now what" book that explains how a Jewish Savior would unite His Jewish followers with the new Gentile believers. This book is not anti-jewish or pro-Christian. The Book of Acts is an instruction manual for the new, united church of believers in Christ. The book is designed to help show Messianic Jews of the second temple era how to understand and worship a Savior from Isreal who opened up the role of "God's Chosen People" from the Hebrews only to anyone who calls Jesus their Lord and Savior.

It is important to note that originally, the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were not separate letters but one single correspondence. It was separated between 70 and 140 AD. Early Christian fathers rejected the Book of Acts as it was deemed "to Jewish" for the newly separated, gentile-centered religious system. All the writings of Peter, James, and Paul were not viewed as Holy but rather as documents of instruction. They did carry authority and were accepted by church leaders but were not considered "Holy Scripture." The first evidence that we have of man's accepted list of letters for the New Testament was not until 200 Ad, one hundred and seventy years after the death of Christ, in the Muratoian fragment. The earlier official list of books did not come until 367 AD when Athanasius of Alexandria published it in his annual Easter letter. In contrast, the Old Testament has written records dating all the way back to the 3rd century BC. These records, the Dead Sea Scrolls, were uncovered in 1946 by a young shepherd boy throwing rocks at the Caves of Qumran.


In the first book, - The Gospel of Luke

O Theophilus, - An unknown person. Many believe it is written for a high-ranking official in the Roman government. The name "Theophilus" in Greek means "loved by God."

I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, - Luke is referring to his Gospel which, through investigative journalism, aimed to share the actions and words of Jesus. It is interesting when we look at the order do first and then teach that Luke sets out. It is the ultimate version of "put your money were your mouth is" and the formula for almost every one of Jesus' discourses.

until the day when he was taken up, - Assened to Heaven.

after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. - As we see in the Bible, a pattern emerges, and God again chooses. God picks his people,

After his suffering - Christ suffered betrail at the hands of Jews and physical torture at the hands of the Romans.

he presented himself to them - Jesus made eight appearances to over five hundred people after the resurrection.


The Eight Apperences Of Christ

First, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb (Mark 16:9). Mary was weeping at the tomb, thinking she had lost Jesus forever. Jesus appeared and brought victory over despair.

Second, Jesus appeared to other women as they left the tomb (Matthew 28:9-10). They thought he was dead, but he appeared to them, and they worshipped Him there. Jesus brought victory over death.

Third, Jesus met up with two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32). These men were talking about all the week's events surrounding Jesus. They didn't understand what had happened. Jesus spoke with them and stayed with them until they understood. Jesus brought victory over confusion.

Fourth, Jesus appeared to ten disciples hiding together (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25). These disciples feared what might happen to them since Jesus had been killed. Jesus brought victory over fear.

Fifth, Jesus appeared to all 11 remaining disciples (Mark 16:14; John 20:26-31). Thomas, who had doubted Jesus' resurrection, was with them this time. Jesus brought victory over doubt.

Sixth, Jesus appeared to seven disciples, including Peter, who had denied Jesus three times (John 21). At this appearance, Jesus puts Peter back into ministry. Jesus brought victory over failure.

Seventh, Jesus appeared to the 11 disciples at a pre-arranged location on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20). There Jesus told them He had been given all power and authority. He gave His followers the great commission to make disciples. Jesus brought victory over any other power.

Eighth, Jesus finally simultaneously appeared to as many as 500 of His followers. He confirmed the completion of His mission and the promise of the Holy Spirit (Luke 22:44-49; Acts 1:3-8). Jesus had victory over all things.


and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. - It is important to note that Christ is alive. He was alive then, and two thousand-plus years later, He is still alive.

He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. - forty is a spiritually significant number.


Significance of "40" in Scripture 

In Scripture, "forty" signifies new life, new growth, transformation, a change from one great task to another, etc. For example: 

The rain of the Great Flood – the Great Deluge – lasted 40 days and nights. 

Moses fasted for 40 days and nights to prepare himself to receive the Law. 

Moses was atop Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, receiving the Law. 

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years after fleeing the Egyptians. 

The Manna rained down on the Israelites for 40 years. 

The Prophet Elijah walked 40 days and nights to reach the Mountain of God, Horeb.

Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights to prepare for His public ministry. 

Jesus Ascended into Heaven 40 days after His glorious Resurrection from the dead.


On one occasion, while he was eating with them, - Despite their lack of faith, their failure to understand His messages, and their failure to remain true to their first love, Christ still broke bread with his disciples because he desired a personal relationship with his followers.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

-Romans 8:1

he gave them this command: - as our Lord, we are under the authority of Christ. This does not only include the commands that "feel good" or "feel fair" in our hearts. We should know that our feelings come second to Scripture when choosing between God's truth and man's way. If our opinions differ from scripture, we know we are the ones viewing life from the wrong perspective.

And while staying with them, - This version of staying represents eating.

he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, - This lets us know that the Apostles were still in Jerusalem.

but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; - The coming of the Holy Spirit.

for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” - This is a big departure from how the Jewish viewed baptism. Baptism in Palestine was an entanglement of Torah commands surrounded by additional laws and rules applied by the Pharisees based on man-made teachings. Baptism was seen as "ritualistic cleansing" only, an act done for temporary purification. John the Baptist was a man, made of flesh and bone, a physical being, and therefore only had the power to immerse people in a physical substance, water, and can only purify a person for a limited time. The Holy Spirit, however, has no such physical limitations and can therefore baptize spiritually and permanently.

So when they had come together, - At the meal

they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” - Israel was in need of two separate restorations, a physical restoration in which Rome would no longer rule it as well as a spiritual restoration. Most contend that the disciples were referring to the former.

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. - Only God the Father knows the complete plan and timeline. As the Most High, He alone plans and empowers others with authority. What can we tell from the reply? It is coming. We see no denial of the fact. Jesus says the times and seasons have been fixed, meaning it has already been decided, which ensures us that it will happen. The question left to the disciples, as well as to modern-day believers, is, "when"?

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, - The power to witness and speak the Word of God. Here is where it begins for us. This is where man is cast in a supporting role as herald of the Good News of Jesus Christ (The Gospel)

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.”

And when he had said these things, - The promise of the Holy Spirit

as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. - The Greek word for cloud is nephelé which indicates overcast conditions. We have to remember that this was written in Greek but by a Jewish man who more than likely understood cloud as "shekinah," which hints more towards a divine dwelling or place of God. Its literal translation is God's manifested glory or God's presence.

With regard to the location of the assertion, Luke provides us with what appears to be conflicting information but with a quick visit to the flat earth (a map), we can see that both accounts seem to point to the eastern side of the Mt. of Olives. One account names the mountain specifically, while the other names the geographic location. Bethany is on the eastern side of the mountain, so both accounts are accurate.


Jesus and the clouds.

There are two clear places in the Bible that connect Christ to clouds. The first place we find the Messiah/cloud connection is in the book of Daniel, and then again, we see an even clearer reference in Matthew.

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. - Daniel 7:13-14

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. - Matthew 25:29-30


And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, - The word used for heaven in this verse is "ouranos," which is a singular form. This is not the heavens we hear about in the Old Testament, which refers to layers of the atmosphere and space. This is the heaven that God created in verse 1 of Genesis. Christ is returning to His fathers' house to prepare our rooms.

behold, two men stood by them in white robes, - Many will say these men are angels, which would be logical, but the word used for men is "anér" which conveys the concept of a male human. White robes generally signify the Father's love and the washing away of sin.


The "Two" Who Have Not Tasted Death.

While our Lord and Savior ascended into heaven, He was not the first in the Bible to accomplish this action. Both Enoch and Elijah were brought to heaven without first experiencing human death. Much speculation surrounds this, with many believing that their earthly deaths are still to come.

And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. - 2 Kings 2:11-12

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah.22 Enoch walked with God[a] after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. - Genesis 5:21-24

When might these two mighty prophets return to finish the work God entrusted to them?

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit[ will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically[b] is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

- Rev 11: 4-13


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.” - What do we know about the way Jesus leaves?

  • It was not invisible; people saw it, so when He returns, people will see it.

  • His body physically left; a corpse was not left behind; when He returns, He will physically return.

  • He announced His departure; when He returns, it will be announced.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. - A sabbaths journey was 2000 cubits or 3/4 of a mile.

And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. - It is estimated that one hundred and twenty people were present at this prayer meeting. We know that there were eleven disciples, their wives, Mary, Martha, and Christ's brothers. We are not told who the additional members are. It is interesting to note that this group, despite hiding in a room, waiting for the Holy Spirit, hoping He would come before the Order of The Watch (The Temple Guards), found them and murdered them as they had done to Jesus.

Another interesting point to consider is that at the very beginning, before doctrine and denominations, the entire set of believers was in one accord; there was actual unity because they were dealing in fact and not feeling.

In those days, Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120 and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, - Peter takes the first step in fulfilling Christs' mission for him as leader of the church as he addresses the group. Peter explains that Christ had to be betrayed by Judas and sacrificed. His death was prophesied in all three sections of the Old Testament (Torah/Prophets and wisdom books).

which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. - David prophesizes about Judas in Ps 69:25 and Ps 109:8, although without the full knowledge of the Gospels, it is hard to discern that Judas is the person David is speaking about.

For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” - Judas spent three-plus years with the ministry team. He had done some good in his time, despite his final betrail of Christ,

Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, - Judas purchased a field with the thirty pieces of silver.

and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. - If this scripture is matched with what we learned in Matthew 27:5, it would appear that Judas attempted to hang himself but failed and died when he split his head open in the ground.


Hurling the pieces of silver into the sanctuary, he left; then he went off and hanged himself. - Matthew 27:5


And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) - This shows the fulfillment of the scripture.

“For it is written in the Book of Psalms, - Psalms 69:25

“‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.’ - God had written a plan for this vacancy long ago. Since God knew Judas would be the betrayer, it only makes sense that He would provide a replacement. This again illustrates God's pattern of choosing who He wants, which we see carried all the way through to salvation.

So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” - This is our first hint to a major responsibility of the church, discipleship. Churchs must direct their attention away from mega growth and towards building up believers so that they can move out into the world and pick up witnessing where the last person left off. Peter doe not start a recruitment campaign to find new disciples; on the contrary, Peter turns inwards to the men that have been trained up by Christ.

And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” - Following the lead that Christ set, the group begins this process by praying to God the Father, petitioning him for the wisdom that men do not possess.

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the

eleven apostles. - Casting lots can take on many forms in biblical times. Sometimes they drew straws; other times, they rolled colored rocks as wooden dice. The term is a generic term used to show that they played a game of "chance" to decide which allowed God to act.


Why Replace Judas at all?

What could twelve men do that eleven could not? Sit in judgment in heaven, that's what.

“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. - Luke 22:28-30

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. - Matthew 19:28

Peter was not on a power trip now that he was leading the disciples; Peter was filling in the twelfth spot so that all twelve tribes would have a judge. You will remember that God initially instituted a line of judges, not Kings, to rule the Israelites, not Kings.

According to Scripture, what must a person have done to be accepted as a true apostle?

  • Witness the resurrection of Christ - 1 Corinthians 1:9

  • To be called by Jesus, directly - Mark 3:13–19

  • Show signs - 2 Corinthians 12:12

Certainly, the twelve (including Matthias; Acts 1:26) and Paul were apostles, as we have seen, and there is a case to be made that these alone were apostles. However, a few more candidates in the NT may present themselves as meeting these qualifications, including Barnabas (Acts 14:14), James (Gal 1:19), Timothy, and Silas (1 Thess 2:6).

Nobody today is an Apostle, or are they?


Bible Study Questions - Week 1

  • What did you learn or rediscover about God the Father in this Chapter?

  • What did you learn or rediscover about Jesus Christ in this Chapter?

  • What did you learn or rediscover about the Holy Spirit in this Chapter?

  • What did you learn or rediscover about the church in this Chapter? Does it Differ from what you understood?

  • What did you learn or rediscover about what a pastor should do in this Chapter? Does it Differ from what you understood?

  • What can you do to live out what you learned from this chapter better in your personal life?

  • What verses of the Old Testament did you cross-reference to understand this chapter?

  • What is the biggest thing you learned or rediscovered in this chapter?

  • So what? How will the answer to the question above change how you live life on a day-to-day basis?

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