Home  |  New Testament Studies  |  Acts Table of Contents  |  Previous Section  |  Next Section  |

÷÷ACTS 1

ACTS 1

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS*

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Promise of the Holy Spirit Prologue Introduction; the Risen Christ Introduction Prologue
1:1-5 1:1-3 1:1-5 1:1-5 1:1-5
The Holy Spirit Promised
The Ascension of Jesus 1:4-8 The Ascension Jesus Is Taken Up to Heaven The Ascension
1:6-11 1:6-11 1:6 1:6-8
Jesus Ascends to Heaven 1:7-9
1:9-11 1:9-11
1:10-11
The Choice of Judas' Successor The Upper Room Prayer Meeting The Gathering of the Twelve Judas' Successor The Group of Apostles
1:12-14 1:12-14 1:12-14 1:12-14 1:12-14
Matthias Chosen Judas is Replaced
1:15-26 1:15-26 1:15-26 1:15-17 1:15-20
1:18-19

    (20)

    (20)

    (20)
1:20
    (20)

    (20)
1:21-22 1:21-22
1:23-26 1:23-26

* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions.
 In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspired—readers have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives.
  Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Brief Definitions of Greek Grammatical StructureTextual Criticism, and Glossary.

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Third paragraph, etc.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

÷ACTS 1:1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 1:1-5
 1The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

1:1 "The first account I composed" This is an AORIST MIDDLE INDICATIVE, literally, "I made." Luke is the obvious author of both the Gospel of Luke and Acts (compare Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-2). The term "volume" was used in Greek for a historical narrative. Technically (i.e., in Classical Greek) it implied one of at least three works. It is surely possible that the unusual ending of Acts might be explained by Luke's plan to write a third volume. Some even speculate that what we call the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) may have been penned by Luke.

▣ "Theophilus" This name is formed from "God" (Theos) and "brotherly love" (philos). It can be translated "God lover," "friend of God," or "loved by God."

The title "most excellent" in Luke 1:3 could be an honorific title for a Roman governmental official (cf. Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25), possibly used of the equestrian order of Roman society. He may have been the literary benefactor for the writing, copying, and distributing of Luke's two books. Church tradition names him as T. Flavius Clemens, cousin of Domitian (A.D. 24-96).

▣ "all that Jesus began to do" This refers to the Gospel of Luke. It is surprising that Luke says "all" that Jesus did, because the Gospel of Luke (like all the Synoptic Gospels) is very selective in what it records about Jesus' life and teachings.

1:2 "until the day when He was taken up to heaven" This is mentioned in Luke 24:51.

Special Topic: The Ascension

▣ "He had by the Holy Spirit" See Special Topic: The Personhood of the Spirit

▣ "given orders" This refers to information recorded in Gospel of Luke 24:44-49, in Matt. 28:18-20, and in Acts 1:8.

▣ "orders" This is an AORIST MIDDLE (deponent) PARTICIPLE. Some scholars see this as referring to 1:8 (cf. Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 24:45-47 or Luke 24:49). The church has a two-pronged function:

  1. evangelism and Christlike maturity; every believer must wait for God's power and equipping to achieve these
  2. others see it as referring to "wait in Jerusalem for the Spirit coming and empowering (cf. Acts 1:4; Luke 24:49)

▣ "the apostles" See Special Topic: Chart of the Apostles' Names and Special Topic: Send

▣ "He had chosen" "Chosen" (eklegō, AORIST MIDDLE INDICATIVE) is used in two senses. Usually in the OT it refers to service, not salvation, but in the NT it refers to spiritual salvation. Here it seems to refer to both ideas (cf. Luke 6:13).

Special Topic: He Chose Us

Special Topic: Election/Predestination vs. Human Free Will

1:3 "He also presented Himself alive" This probably refers to Jesus' three appearances in the upper room to the entire group of disciples on three successive Sunday nights, but also could refer to other appearances (cf. 1 Cor. 15:5-8). The resurrection of Jesus is crucial to the truthfulness of the gospel (cf. Acts 2:24,32; 3:15,26; 4:10; 5:35; 10:40; 13:30,33,34,37; 17:31; and esp. 1 Cor. 15:12-19,20). The following is a chart of the post-resurrection appearances from Paul Barnett, Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity, p. 185.

Special Topic: Jesus' Post-Resurrection Appearances


John Matthew Luke 1 Corinthians
Jerusalem Appearances

Mary (Jn. 20:15)

 

 

 

 

Women (Mt. 28:9)

 

 

 

 

Simon (Lk. 24:34)

Cephas (1 Cor. 15:5)

 

 

two on the road to Emmaus
(Lk. 24:15)

 


 

 

disciples (Lk. 24:36)

the Twelve (1 Cor. 15:5)

ten disciples (Jn. 20:19)

 

 

 

eleven disciples (Jn. 20:26)

 

 

 


Galilee Appearances
      500+ believers (1 Cor. 15:6; possibly linked to Matt. 28:16-20)
      James (1 Cor. 15:7)
seven disciples (Jn. 21:1)      
  the disciples (Mt. 28:16-20)    
Jerusalem Appearances
    the Ascension (Lk. 24:50-51) all the apostles (1 Cor. 15:7)

NASB, NRSV, NIV   "by many convincing proofs"
NKJV   "by many infallible proofs"
TEV   "many times in ways that proved beyond doubt"
NJB   "by many demonstrations"
REB   "ample proofs"
Peshitta   "with many wonders"

The word tekmērion is used only here in the NT. There is a good discussion of the terms used in Greek literature in Moulton and Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, p. 628, where it means "demonstrative evidence." This term is also used in the Wisdom of Solomon 5:11; 19:3 and III Maccabees 3:24.

▣ "after His suffering" It was with great difficulty that Jewish believers accepted this aspect of the gospel (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23). The Messiah's suffering is mentioned in the OT (cf. Gen. 3:15; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; Zech. 10:12; and notice in Luke 24:45-47). This was a major theological affirmation of Apostolic preaching (kerygma).

Luke often uses the AORIST ACTIVE INFINITIVE of paschō (suffer) to refer to Jesus' crucifixion (cf. Luke 9:22; 17:25; 22:15; 24:26,46; Acts 1:3; 3:18; 9:16; 17:3). Luke may have gotten this from Mark's Gospel (cf. Acts 8:31).

Special Topic: Kerygma of the Early Church

Special Topic: A Suffering Messiah

▣ "appearing to them" We have ten or eleven accounts of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances recorded in the NT. However, these are only representative samples and not a definitive list. Apparently Jesus came and went during the period, but did not stay with any one group.

Special Topic: Jesus' Post-Resurrection Appearances

▣ "forty days" This is an OT idiom for a long period of indefinite time, longer than a lunar cycle. Here it is related to the time between the annual Jewish feasts of Passover and Pentecost (which is fifty days). Luke is the only source of this information. Since the date of the ascension is not the major issue (not even noted by Christian writers until the fourth century A.D.), there must be another purpose for the number. It could relate to Moses on Mt. Sinai, Israel in the wilderness, Jesus' temptation experience, or we just do not know, but it is obvious that the date itself is not the issue.

Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture, #7

▣ "speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God" The Gnostics claimed that Jesus revealed secret information to their group during the time between Passover and Pentecost. This is certainly false. However, the account of the two on the road to Emmaus is a good example of Jesus' post-resurrection teaching. I think Jesus, Himself, showed the church leaders from the Old Testament, the predictions and texts related to His life, death, resurrection and Second Coming.

Special Topic: The Kingdom of God

1:4
NASB   "gathering them together"
NKJV   "being assembled together with them"
NRSV   "while staying with them"
TEV   "when they came together"
TEVb   "while he was staying with them"
NIV   "while he was eating with them"
NJB   "while at table with them"
Peshitta   "And he ate bread with them"
REB   "while he was in their company"

Verses 4-5 use one appearance of Jesus as an example of one of His several appearances and proofs. The term sunalizomenos can be spelled differently. The spelling changes the meaning.

  1. long a ‒ assemble/gather
  2. short a ‒ eat with (literally "with salt")
  3. au (diphthong) ‒ stay with

It is uncertain which was intended, but Luke 24:41-43 (cf. John 21) describes Jesus eating with the apostolic group, which would have been evidence of His resurrected, physical body (cf. Acts 1:3).

▣ "not to leave Jerusalem" This is recorded in Luke 24:49. The first part of Acts is a review of the end of Luke's Gospel, possibly a literary way of linking the two books.

▣ "to wait for what the Father had promised" In Acts 2:16-21 Peter relates this to the eschatological prophecy of Joel 2:28-32. They waited ten days until Pentecost. Luke has specifically designated "the Father' promise" as the Holy Spirit (cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 2:33). Jesus had previously spoken to them about the coming of the Spirit in John 14-16. However, it is possible that Luke understands the Father's promise not as one thing only (i.e., the Holy Spirit), but also that the OT promised salvation will be brought to Israel in the person of the Messiah (cf. Acts 2:39; 13:23,32; 26:6).

▣ "Father" The OT introduces the intimate familial metaphor of God as Father:

  1. the nation of Israel is often described as YHWH's "son" (cf. Hos. 11:1; Mal. 3:17)
  2. in Deuteronomy the analogy of God as Father is used (1:31)
  3. in Deut. 32:6 Israel is called "his children" and God called "your Father"
  4. this analogy is stated in Ps. 103:13 and developed in Ps. 68:5 (the father of orphans)
  5. it was common in the prophets (cf. Isa. 1:2; 63:8; Israel as son, God as Father, 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:4,19; 31:9)

Jesus spoke Aramaic, which means that many of the places where "Father" appears as the Greek Pater may reflect the Aramaic Abba (cf. Acts 14:36). This familial term "Daddy" or "papa" reflects Jesus' intimacy with the Father; His revealing this to His followers also encourages our own intimacy with the Father. The term "Father" was used rarely in the OT (and not often in rabbinical literature) for YHWH, but Jesus uses it often and pervasively. It is a major revelation of believers' new relationship with God through Christ (cf. Matt. 6:9).

Special Topic: The Fatherhood of God

1:5 "John" All four Gospels (cf. Matt. 3:1-12; Mark 1:2-8; Luke 3:15-17; John 1:6-8,19-28) tell of the ministry of John the Baptist. "John" was the shortened form of the Hebrew name Johanan (BDB 220), which meant "YHWH is gracious" or "gift of YHWH." His name was significant because, like all biblical names, it pointed toward God's purpose for his life. John was the last of the Old Testament prophets. There had not been a prophet in Israel since Malachi, around 430 B.C. His very presence caused great spiritual excitement among the people of Israel.

▣ "baptized with water" Baptism was a common initiating rite among Jews of the first and second century, but only in connection with proselytes. If someone from a Gentile background wanted to become a full child of Israel, he had to accomplish three tasks:

  1. circumcision, if male
  2. self-baptism by immersion, in the presence of three witnesses
  3. a sacrifice in the Temple if possible

In sectarian groups of first century Palestine, such as the Essenes, baptism was apparently a common, repeated experience. However, to mainline Judaism, ritualism precedents can be cited for this ceremonial washing:

  1. as a symbol of spiritual cleansing (cf. Isa. 1:16)
  2. as a regular ritual performed by the priests (cf. Exod. 19:10; Leviticus 15)
  3. a regular ritual procedure before entering the temple to worship

Special Topic: Baptism

▣ "you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" This is a FUTURE PASSIVE INDICATIVE. The PASSIVE VOICE may refer to Jesus because of Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16. The PREPOSITION ev can mean "in," "with," or "by" (i.e., instrument, cf. Matt. 3:11). This phrase can refer to two events:

  1. becoming a Christian, (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13)
  2. in this context, the promised infusion of spiritual power for effective ministry

John the Baptist often spoke of Jesus' ministry by this phrase, (cf. Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16-17; John 1:33).

This is in contrast to John's baptism. The Messiah will inaugurate the new age of the Spirit. His baptism will be with (or "in" or "by") the Spirit. There has been much discussion among denominations as to what event in the Christian experience this refers. Some take it to refer to an empowering experience after salvation, a kind of second blessing. Personally I think it refers to becoming a Christian (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13). I do not deny later fillings and equippings, but I believe there is only one initial spiritual baptism into Christ in which believers identify with Jesus' death and resurrection (cf. Rom. 6:3-4; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:12). This initiating work of the Spirit is delineated in John 16:8-11. In my understanding the works of the Holy Spirit are:

  1. convicting of sin
  2. revealing the truth about Christ
  3. leading to acceptance of the gospel
  4. baptizing into Christ
  5. convicting the believer of continuing sin
  6. forming Christlikeness in the believer

Special Topic: Baptism of the Spirit

▣ "not many days from now" This is a reference to the Jewish festival of Pentecost which occurred seven weeks after Passover. It recognized God's ownership of the grain harvest. It came fifty days after Passover (cf. Lev. 23:15-31; Exod. 34:22; Deut. 16:10).

÷ACTS 1:6-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 1:6-11
 6So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" 7He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." 9And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."

1:6 "they were asking Him" This IMPERFECT TENSE means either repeated action in past time or the initiation of an act. Apparently these disciples had asked this many times.

▣ "Lord" The Greek term "Lord" (kurios) can be used in a general sense or in a developed theological sense. It can mean "mister," "sir," "master," "owner," "husband" or "the full God-man" (cf. John 9:36, 38). The OT (Hebrew, adon) usage of this term came from the Jews' reluctance to pronounce the covenant name for God, YHWH, which was a form of the Hebrew VERB "to be" (cf. Exod. 3:14). They were afraid of breaking the Commandment which said, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (cf. Exod. 20:7; Deut. 5:11). Therefore, they thought if they did not pronounce it, they could not take it in vain. So, they substituted the Hebrew word adon, which had a similar meaning to the Greek word kurios (Lord). The NT authors used this term to describe the full deity of Christ. The phrase "Jesus is Lord" was the public confession of faith and a baptismal formula of the early church (cf. Rom. 10:9-13; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11).

▣ "is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom of Israel" They still had a totally Jewish nationalistic perspective (cf. Ps. 14:7; Jer. 33:7; Hos. 6:11; Luke 19:11; 24:21). They possibly even were asking about their administrative positions.

This theological question still causes much controversy. I want to include here a part of my commentary on Revelation (see www.freebiblecommentary.org ) which discusses this very issue.

"The OT prophets predict a restoration of a Jewish kingdom in Palestine centered in Jerusalem where all the nations of the earth gather to praise and serve a Davidic ruler, but the NT Apostles never focus on this agenda. Is not the OT inspired (cf. Matt. 5:17-19)? Have the NT authors omitted crucial end-time events?

There are several sources of information about the end of the world:

  1. OT prophets
  2. OT apocalyptic writers (cf. Ezek. 37-39; Dan. 7-12)
  3. intertestamental, non-canonical Jewish apocalyptic writers (like I Enoch)
  4. Jesus Himself (cf. Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21)
  5. the writings of Paul (cf. 1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5; 1 Thessalonians 4; 2 Thessalonians 2)
  6. the writings of John (the book of Revelation)

Do these all clearly teach an end-time agenda (events, chronology, persons)? If not, why? Are they not all inspired (except the Jewish intertestamental writings)?

The Spirit revealed truths to the OT writers in terms and categories they could understand. However, through progressive revelation the Spirit has expanded these OT eschatological concepts to a universal scope (cf. Eph. 2:11-3:13). Here are some relevant examples:

  1. The city of Jerusalem is used as a metaphor of the people of God (Zion) and is projected into the NT as a term expressing God's acceptance of all repentant, believing humans (the new Jerusalem of Revelation 20-22). The theological expansion of a literal, physical city into the people of God is foreshadowed in God's promise to redeem fallen mankind in Gen. 3:15 before there even were any Jews or a Jewish capital city. Even Abraham's call (cf. Gen. 12:3) involved the Gentiles.
  2. In the OT the enemies are the surrounding nations of the Ancient Near East, but in the NT they have been expanded to all unbelieving, anti-God, Satanically-inspired people. The battle has moved from a geographical, regional conflict to a cosmic conflict.
  3. The promise of a land which is so integral in the OT (the Patriarchal promises) has now become the whole earth. New Jerusalem comes to a recreated earth, not the Near East only or exclusively (cf. Rev. 20-22).
  4. Some other examples of OT prophetic concepts being expanded are (1) the seed of Abraham is now the spiritually circumcised (cf. Rom. 2:28-29); (2) the covenant people now include Gentiles (cf. Hos. 1:9; 2:23; Rom. 9:24-26; also Lev. 26:12; Exod. 29:45; 2 Cor. 6:16-18 and Exod. 19:5; Deut. 14:2; Titus 2:14); (3) the temple is now the local church (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16) or the individual believer (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19); and (4) even Israel and its characteristic descriptive phrases now refer to the whole people of God (cf. Gal. 6:16; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9-10; Rev. 1:6)

The prophetic model has been fulfilled, expanded, and is now more inclusive. Jesus and the Apostolic writers do not present the end-time in the same way as the OT prophets (cf. Martin Wyngaarden, The Future of The Kingdom in Prophecy and Fulfillment). Modern interpreters who try to make the OT model literal or normative twist the Revelation into a very Jewish book and force meaning into atomized, ambiguous phrases of Jesus and Paul! The NT writers do not negate the OT prophets, but show their ultimate universal implication."

Special Topic: Why Do OT Covenant Promises Seem So Different from NT Covenant Promises?

1:7
NASB   "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority"
NKJV   "It is not for you to know times or seasons"
NRSV   "It is not for you to know the times or periods"
TEV   "the times and occasions"
NJB   "It is not for you to know times or dates"

The term "times" (chronos) means "eras" or "ages" (i.e., the passing of time), while the term "epochs" (kairos) means a "time of specific events or seasons" (cf. Titus 1:2-3). Louw and Nida: Greek-English Lexicon, says they are synonyms simply denoting duration of time (cf. 1 Thess. 5:1). It is obvious that believers are not to try to set specific dates; even Jesus did not know the time of His return (cf. Matt. 24:36; Mark 13:32). Believers can know the general season, but they are to remain ready and active for the actual event at all times (cf. Matt. 24:32-33). The twin emphases of the NT about the Second Coming are to stay active and be ready. The rest is up to God!

1:8 "but you will receive power" Notice that the coming of the Holy Spirit is linked to power and witness. Acts is about "witness" (i.e., martus). This theme dominates the book (cf. Acts 1:8,22; 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39,41; 13:31; 22:15,20; 26:16). The church has been given her assignment—witness to the gospel of Christ (cf. Luke 24:44-49)! The Apostles were witnesses of Jesus' life and teaching, now they were witnesses about His life and teaching. Effective witness occurs only by means of the Spirit's power.

It is interesting that The Jerome Biblical Commentary (p. 169) notes Luke's tendency to express a "delayed paraousia." Here is the quote.

"The Spirit is the substitute for the Parousia. This is the force of alla, 'but,' the conjunction that joins the two parts of Jesus' reply. The Spirit is the principle of continued Christian existence in a new era of sacred history, the era of the church and mission. These realities must take the place of an early Parousia as the focal point of Christian awareness. The Spirit in the Church is the Lucan answer to the problem of the delay of the Parousia and the continuance of history."

Special Topic: The Gospel

▣ "Jerusalem. . .Judea. . .Samaria. . .the remotest part of the earth" This is a geographical outline of Acts:

  1. Jerusalem, Acts 1-7
  2. Judea and Samaria, Acts 8-12
  3. ends of the earth (i.e., Rome), Acts 13-28

This outline may denote the author's literary structure and purpose. Christianity is not a sect of Judaism, but a worldwide movement of the one true God fulfilling His OT promises to restore rebellious mankind to fellowship with Himself (cf. Gen. 12:3; Exod. 19:5; Isa. 2:2-4; 56:7; Luke 19:46).

The phrase "the remotest part of the earth" is used again in Acts 13:47, where it is a quote from Isa. 49:6, a Messianic text which also mentions "a light to the nations." A Savior (cf. Gen. 3:15) for the nations (cf. Gen. 12:3; Exod. 19:5-6; Isa. 2:2-4) has always been God's plan.

The first Jewish leaders, knowing the Septuagint and the many prophetic promises of YHWH restoring Jerusalem, raising Jerusalem, bringing the world to Jerusalem, expected these to be literally fulfilled. They stayed in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 8:1). But the gospel revolutionized and extended the OT concepts. The world-wide mandate (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8) told believers to go into all the world, not wait for the world to come to them. Jerusalem of the NT is a metaphor for heaven (cf. Rev. 21:2), not a city in Palestine.

Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan

1:9 "He was lifted up" This event is known as the Ascension. The resurrected Jesus is returned to His place of pre-existing glory (cf. Luke 24:50-51; John 6:22; 20:17; Eph. 4:10; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 4:14; and 1 Pet. 3:22). The unexpressed agent of the PASSIVE VOICE is the Father.

Notice the variety in the VERB used to describe this ascension.

  1. "taken up," Acts 1:2 – AORIST PASSIVE INDICATIVE
  2. "lifted up," Acts 1:9 – AORIST PASSIVE INDICATIVE
  3. "has been taken up," Acts 1:11 (same VERB as Acts 1:2) – AORIST PASSIVE PARTICIPLE
  4. "was carried up into heaven," Luke 24:51 (textual variant) – IMPERFECT PASSIVE INDICATIVE

Special Topic: The Ascension

▣ "a cloud" Clouds were a significant eschatological marker.

Special Topic: Coming On the Clouds

1:10 "they were gazing intently" This is a PERIPHRASTIC IMPERFECT. They were continuing to strain hard to see Jesus as long as possible. Even after He had been lost from sight, they kept on looking.

This term is characteristic in Luke's writings (cf. Luke 4:20; 22:56; Acts 1:10; 3:4,12; 6:15; 7:55; 10:4; 11:6; 13:9; 14:9; 23:1, found in the NT outside of Luke and Acts only twice, in 2 Corinthians 3). It implies "to look at intently," "to gaze upon," or "to fix one's eyes upon."

▣ "into the sky" The ancients believed heaven was up, but in our day of a fuller knowledge of the universe, up is relative. In Luke 24:31, Jesus vanished. This might be a better model for our culture. Heaven is not up and out there, but possibly another dimension of time and space. Heaven is not a direction, but a person!

▣ "two men in white clothing" The NT often identifies angels by their bright white clothing, (cf. Luke 24:4; John 20:12). Angels appeared at His birth, His temptation, in Gethsemane, at the tomb, and here at His ascension.

1:11 "Men of Galilee" Several times in Acts Luke records the Galilean origins of the disciples (cf. Acts 2:7; 13:31). All of the Twelve, except Judas Iscariot, were from Galilee. This area was looked down on by residents of Judea because it had a large Gentilepopulation and it was not as "kosher" (i.e., strict) in its performance of the Oral Traditions (Talmud).

One wonders if Luke structured this exchange to answer the later questions about the delayed Second coming. Christians should not focus on the Parousia but on service, evangelism, and missions!

▣ "Jesus. . .will come" Some theologians try to make a distinction between "Jesus" and "the Christ." These angels affirm that it is the Jesus who they knew who would return. The glorified, ascended Christ is still the glorified Jesus of Nazareth. He remains the God/man.

Jesus will come again as He left, on the clouds of heaven (cf. Matt. 10:23; 16:27; 24:3,27,37,39; 26:64; Mark 8:38-39; 13:26; Luke 21:27; John 21:22; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 1:10, 4:16; 2 Thess. 1:7, 10; 2:1,8; James 5:7-8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John 2:28; Rev. 1:7). The Second Coming of Jesus is a recurrent and major theme of the NT. One reason the gospel took so long to be put into written form was the early church's expectation of the very-soon return of Christ. His surprising delay, the dying of the Apostles, and the rise of heresies all finally prompted the church to record the life and teachings of Jesus in written form.

▣ "come" See Special Topic: NT Terms for Christ's Return

÷ACTS 1:12-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 1:12-14
 12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, 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. 14These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

1:12 "returned" Luke 24:52 adds "with great joy."

▣ "mount called Olivet" This seems to contradict Luke 24:50 (i.e., Bethany); however, compare Luke 19:29 and 21:37 with Mark 11:11-12 and 14:3. The ridge known as the Mt. of Olives was a 2.5 mile ridge about 300-400 feet above Jerusalem that ran from Bethany opposite the Kidron Valley, across from the Temple. It is mentioned in OT eschatological prophecy (cf. Zech. 14:4). Jesus had met the disciples there many times to pray and possibly camp out.

▣ "a Sabbath day's journey away" The distance a Jew could travel on the Sabbath was set by the rabbis (cf. Exod. 16:29; Num. 35: 5). It was a distance of about 2,000 cubits (or steps), which the rabbis set as the maximum one could walk on the Sabbath and not break the Mosaic law.

Special Topic: Sabbath (NT)

1:13 "the upper room" This was probably the same site as the Last Supper (cf. Luke 22:12; Mark 14:14-15). Tradition says it was the upper level (2nd or 3rd floor) of the home of John Mark (cf. Acts 12:12), who wrote the memories of Peter into the Gospel of Mark. It must have been a large room to accommodate 120 persons.

▣ "they" This is one of four lists of the Apostles (cf. Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; and Luke 6:14-16). The lists are not identical. The names and order change. However, they are always the same persons named in four groups of three. Peter is always first and Judas is always last. These three groups of four may have been for the purpose of allowing these men to return home periodically to check on and provide for their families.

Special Topic: Chart of the Apostles' Names

▣ "Peter" Most Jews of Galilee had both a Jewish name (e.g., Simon or Simeon [BDB 1035, cf. Gen. 29:33], meaning "hearing") and a Greek name (which is never given). Jesus nicknames him "rock." In Greek it is petros and in Aramaic it is cephas (cf. John 1:42; Matt. 16:16).

Special Topic: Peter

▣ "Andrew" The Greek term means "manly." From John 1:29-42 we learn that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and that he introduced his brother Peter to Jesus.

▣ "Philip" The Greek term means "fond of horses." His call is elaborated in John 1:43-51.

▣ "Thomas" The Hebrew term means "twin" or Didymus (cf. John 11:16; 20:24; 21:2).

▣ "Bartholomew" The term means "Son of Ptolemy." He may be the Nathanael ("gift of God," BDB 681 and 41) of the Gospel of John (cf. John 1:45-49; 21:20).

▣ "Matthew" Possibly related to the Hebrew name Mattenai, means "gift of YHWH" (BDB 683). This is another designation for Levi (cf. Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27).

▣ "James" This is the Hebrew name "Jacob" (BDB 784, cf. Gen. 25:26) There are two men named James in the list of the Twelve. One is the brother of John (cf. Mark 3:17) and part of the inner circle (i.e., Peter, James, and John). This one is known as James the less.

▣ "Simon the Zealot" The Greek text of Mark has "Cananean" (also Matt. 10:4). Mark, whose Gospel was written to Romans, may not have wanted to use the politically "hot-button" word "zealot," which referred to a Jewish anti-Roman guerrilla movement. Luke does call him by this term (cf. Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13). The term "Cananean" may have several derivatives.

  1. of the area of Galilee known as Cana
  2. from the OT use of Canaanite as merchant
  3. from a general designation as a native of Canaan

If Luke's designation is right, then "zealot" is from the Aramaic term for "enthusiast" (cf. Luke 6:15; Acts 1:17). Jesus' chosen twelve disciples were from several different and competing groups. Simon was a member of a nationalistic group which advocated the violent overthrow of Roman authority. Normally this Simon and Levi (i.e., Matthew the tax collector) would not have been in the same room with each other.

▣ "Thaddaeus" He was also called "Lebbeus" ("man of heart," cf. Matt. 10:3) or "Judas" (cf. Luke 6:16; John 14:22; Acts 1:13). Thaddaeus means "beloved child" (lit. "from the breast").

▣ "Judas Iscariot" There are two Simons, two Jameses, and two Judases. "Iscariot" has two possible derivations: (1) man of Kerioth in Judah (cf. Jos. 15:23) or (2) "dagger man" or assassin, which would mean he also was a zealot, like Simon.

Special Topic: Iscariot

1:14 "these all with one mind" This term is a compound of "this same" (homo) and "emotion of the mind" (thumos). It was not a prerequisite as much as it was the atmosphere of anticipation. This attitude is mentioned again and again in Acts (i.e., of believers, cf. Acts 1:14; 2:46; 4:24; 5:12; 15:25; and of others in Acts 7:57; 8:6; 12:20; 18:12; 19:29).

NASB   "continually devoting"
NKJV   "continued"
NRSV   "constantly devoting"
TEV   "gathered frequently"
NJB   "joined constantly"

This term (pros and kaptereō) means to be intent or persistent or intently engaged. Luke uses it often (cf. Acts 1:14; 2:42,46; 6:4; 8:13; 10:7). It is a PERIPHRASTIC PRESENT ACTIVE PARTICIPLE.

▣ "with the women" There was a group of women who traveled with and provided for and cared for Jesus and the Apostles (cf. Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:2-3; 23:49; and John 19:25).

Special Topic: Women Who Traveled with Jesus and His Disciples

▣ "His brothers" We know the names of several of Jesus' half-brothers: Jude, James, and Simon (cf. Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3 and Luke 2:7). They were once unbelievers (cf. John 7:5), but now part of the inner group of disciples. For an interesting brief discussion of the historical development of the doctrine of the "perpetual virginity" of Mary, see F. F. Bruce, New International Commentary, Acts, p. 44, footnote 47.

Special Topic: James, the Half Brother of Jesus

÷ACTS 1:15-26

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 1:15-26
 15At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, 16"Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17"For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry." 18(Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 19And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20"For it is written in the book of Psalms,
  'Let his homestead be made desolate,
  And let no one dwell in it'; and,
 'Let another man take his office.'

21"Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection." 23So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." 26And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

1:15 "at this time" This is literally "in these days" (en tais hēmerais) This phrase is used often in the opening chapters of Acts (cf. Acts 1:15; 2:18; 5:37; 6:1; 7:41; 9:37; 11:27; 13:41). Luke is using other eyewitness sources. He also uses "from day to day" (kath hēmeran) as common, ambiguous time indicator in the early chapters of Acts (cf. Acts 2:46,47; 3:2; 16:5; 17:11,31; 19:9). After Acts 15, Luke is personally acquainted with many of the events he is recording. He still uses "day" often, but not as often as in these ambiguous, idiomatic phrases.

▣ "Peter stood up" Peter is obviously the spokesman for the Apostles (cf. Matthew 16). He preached the first sermon of the church after the coming of the Spirit (cf. Acts 2) and the second sermon in Acts 3. Jesus appears to him first in the post-resurrection appearances (cf. John 21 and 1 Cor. 15:5). His Hebrew name is "Simeon" (cf. Acts 15:14; 2 Pet. 1:1). This name is spelled "Simon" in Greek. The term "Peter" is a Greek term (petros) for a "detached rock." It is "Cephas" or "bedrock" in Aramaic (cf. Matt. 16:18).

Special Topic: Peter, the Man

▣ "a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons" This phrase is a parenthesis in the UBS4 Greek text (but not Acts 1:18-19). This group must have included the eleven Apostles, the women who accompanied Jesus, and other disciples from Jesus' preaching and healing ministry.

1:16 "the Scripture" All references to "Scripture" in the NT (except 2 Pet. 3:15-16) refer to the OT (ex. Matt. 5:17-20; 2 Tim. 3:15-17). This passage also asserts the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Pet. 1:21) through David. It also implies the canonization of "the Writings" section of the Hebrew Bible.

Special Topic: Canon (Hebrew)

▣ had to be" This is dei, which means necessity. It is an IMPERFECT ACTIVE INDICATIVE and refers to the first quote in Acts 1:20.

The term is characteristic of Luke's sense of the life of Jesus and the early church being an extension of OT Scriptures (cf. Luke 18:31-34; 22:37; 24:44). Luke uses this term often (cf. Luke 2:49; 4:43; 9:22; 11:42; 12:12; 13:14,16,33; 15:32; 17:25; 18:1; 19:5; 21:9; 22:7,37; 24:7,26,44; Acts 1:16,21; 3:21; 4:12; 5:29; 9:6,16; 14:27; 15:5; 16:30; 17:3; 19:21,36; 20:35; 23:11; 24:19; 25:10,24; 26:9; 27:21,24,26). The term means "it is binding," "it is necessary," "it is inevitable." The gospel and its growth is not a chance occurrence, but the predetermined plan of God and fulfillment of OT Scripture (LXX usage).

▣ "fulfilled" When one reads these OT quotes (Acts 1:20), Judas' betrayal was not the intent of the writer of the Psalms (i.e., Ps. 69:25; 109:8). The Apostles interpreted the OT in light of their experience with Jesus. This is called typological interpretation (cf. Acts 1:20). Jesus Himself may have set the pattern of this approach as He walked and talked with the two on the road to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:13-35, especially Acts 1:25-27). The early Christian interpreters saw parallels between the events of the OT and Jesus' life and teachings. They saw Jesus as the prophetic fulfillment of all the OT. Believers today must be careful of this approach! Those inspired NT authors were under a level of inspiration and personally familiar with the life and teachings of Jesus. We affirm the truth and authority of their witness but cannot reproduce their method.

Special Topic: Typology

▣ "Judas" It was Judas' apostasy, not his death, which caused this election of a substitute Apostle. In Acts 1:20b, Judas' actions were seen as a fulfillment of prophecy. The NT does not record another Apostolic election after the death of James (cf. Acts 12:2). There is much mystery and tragedy in the life of Judas. He was possibly the only Apostle who was not a Galilean. He was made the treasurer of the apostolic group (cf. John 12:6). He was accused of stealing their money throughout the period of Jesus' time with them. He is said to be a prophetic fulfillment and an object of Satanic attack. His motives are never stated, but his remorse resulted in his taking his own life after returning the bribe.

There is so much speculation about Judas and his motives. He is mentioned and vilified often in John's Gospel (John 6:71; 12:4; 13:2,26,39; 18:2,3,5). The modern play "Jesus Christ Superstar" depicts him as a faithful, but disillusioned, follower who tried to force Jesus into fulfilling the role of Jewish Messiah—this is, to overthrow the Romans, punish the wicked, and set up Jerusalem as the capital of the world. However, John depicts his motives as greedy and malicious.

The main problem is the theological issue of God's sovereignty and human free will. Did God or Jesus manipulate Judas? Is Judas responsible for his acts if Satan controlled him or God predicted and caused him to betray Jesus? The Bible does not address these questions directly. God is in control of history; He knows future events, but mankind is responsible for choices and actions. God is fair, not manipulative.

There is a new book that tries to defend Judas—Judas Betrayer or Friend of Jesus? by William Klassen, Fortress Press, 1996. I do not agree with this book, but it is very interesting and thought provoking.

Special Topic: Judas Iscariot

▣ "who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus" Here is a quote from my commentary on Matthew 26:47-50 (see www.freebiblecommentary.org ).

"There has been much discussion about the motivation of Judas. It must be said that this remains uncertain. His kiss of Jesus in Acts 1:49 either (1) was a sign to the soldiers that this was the man to arrest (cf. Matt. 26:48); or (2) lends support to the modern theory that he was trying to force Jesus' hand to act, (cf. Matt 27:4). Other Gospel passages state that he was a robber and an unbeliever from the beginning (cf. John 12:6).

From Luke 22:52 we know the make-up of this crowd. There were Roman soldiers involved because they were the only ones who could legally carry swords. Also, the Temple police were involved because they usually carried clubs. Representatives from the Sanhedrin were also present at the arrest (cf. Matt. 26:47, 51)."

1:17 Judas was chosen by Jesus, heard Jesus speak, saw Jesus' miracles, was sent on mission by and for Jesus, was present in the upper room and participated in these events and, yet, betrayed Jesus!

1:18
NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NJB, NIV, Peshitta, REB   "falling headlong, he burst open"
TEV   "where he fell to his death and burst open"

It is possible that "falling headlong" was a medical term for "swelling up" (cf. Moulton and Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, pp. 535-536), which is found in some English translations (e.g., Phillips, Moffatt and Goodspeed). For a good discussion of the different versions of Judas' death (Matt. 27:5 vs. Acts 1:18) see Hard Sayings of the Bible, pp. 511-512.

▣ "this man acquired a field" Acts 1:18-19 is parenthetical (cf. NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NJB, NIV). The author provided this information for the reader's understanding. From Matt. 27:6-8 we learn the priests bought this piece of land in fulfillment of OT prophecy (cf. Matt. 27:9). It was Judas' money, which the priests considered unclean and used to buy a field for burying unclaimed bodies. Acts 1:18-19 tells us it was the very field in which Judas died. This information about Judas' death is not repeated elsewhere.

1:19 "in their own language" Many of the Jews of Jesus' day did not read or speak Hebrew, but a similar Semitic language, Aramaic, which they learned from their years under Persian rule. The educated people could speak and read Hebrew. Jesus used it when He reads Scripture in the Synagogues.

Many people in Palestine would have been bilingual (Koiine Greek and Aramaic) or tri-lingual (Koine Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew).

Jesus spoke Aramaic most of the time. The phrases and words in the Gospels that are transliterated are all Aramaic.

NASB, NRSV   "Hakeldama, that is Field of Blood"
NKJV   "Akel dama, that is, Field of Blood"
TEV   "Akeldama, which means Field of Blood"
NJB   "Bloody acre. . .Hakel-dama"
Peshitta   "Koriath-dem, the field of blood"
REB   "Akeldama, which means 'Blood Acre'"

This is a Greek translation of an Aramaic word. It is always difficult to uniformly transpose from one language to another. Despite the Greek spelling variations, the Aramaic means "field of blood." This could mean

  1. a field bought with blood money (cf. Matt. 27:7a)
  2. a field where blood was shed (cf. Acts 1:18)
  3. a field where murderers or foreigners were buried (cf. Matt. 27:7b)

1:20 These are two quotes from the Psalms. The first is Ps. 69:25. Originally it was PLURAL. It functions as a curse formula related to Judas. The second quote is from Ps. 109:8 (LXX). It provides the prophetic precedent for the replacement of Judas discussed in Acts 1:21-26.

Modern believers cannot reproduce this method of typological hermeneutics because none of us in this period of history are inspired. The Spirit guided these Bible authors/scribes at a level He does not do for later believers. We are illumined by Him but we sometimes disagree.

NASB, NKJV, NJB   "office"
NRSV   "positions of overseer"
TEV   "place of service"
Peshitta   "ministry"
REB   "homestead"

In the Septuagint the term episkopē carries the connotation of a charge or service of an officer (cf. Num. 4:16; Ps. 109:8). It came to denote an office in the Roman Catholic clerical system, but in Greek it simply was the Greek city-state term for leader (cf. NIV), as "elder" (presbuteros) was the Jewish term for leader (ex. Gen. 50:7; Exod. 3:16,18; Num. 11:16,24,25,39; Deut. 21:2,3,4,6,19,20 and others). Therefore with the possible exception of James, "overseer" and "elder" after the death of the Apostles refer to the pastor (cf. Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5,7; Phil. 1:1).

1:21 "it is necessary" This is the word dei (see full note at Acts 1:16). Apparently Peter felt that the Twelve Apostles somehow represented the twelve tribes or some other symbolism that must not be lost.

1:21-22 These are the qualifications for Apostleship. Notice that it shows they presence of other believers besides the Twelve who followed Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. These criteria were later used by some to rejectj Paul's Apostleship.

Luke apparently includes these two verses to show the priority of Apostolic witness, not the election of Matthias, about whom we hear no more. The church and NT Scripture will be built on Jesus' life and teachings, but it is mediated through eyewitness, authoritative witness, selected theological witness, the NT. This is the theological issue, not the symbolism of "twelve"!

Special Topic: The Number Twelve

Special Topic: Send

1:23 "they set two" There is a Greek manuscript variant which shows the theological issue in this phrase:

  1. estēsan ("they set") in MSS א, A, B, C, D1, E
  2. estesen ("he set") in MS D* (fifth century), Lectionary 156 (tenth century), two Old Latin manuscripts (fifth and thirteenth centuries), and Augustine (A.D. 354-430)

If number one, this is an example of the whole group of disciples voting on the possible replacement of Judas (a form of congregational polity (cf. Acts 15:22), but if number 2, then this is evidence for the supremacy of Peter (cf. Acts 15:7-11,14). As far as Greek manuscript evidence, the wording of number one is certain (UBS4 gives it an "A" rating).

▣ "Joseph. . .Matthias" We know nothing about these men from the NT. We must remember that the Gospels and Acts are not western histories, but selected theological writings to introduce Jesus and show how His message impacted the world.

1:24
NASB   "who knows the hearts of all men"
NKJV   "who knows the hearts of all"
NRSV   "you know everyone's heart"
TEV   "you know the thoughts of everyone"
NJB   "you can read everyone's heart"

This is a compound word, "hearts" and "known" (cf. Acts 15:8). This reflects an OT truth (cf. 1 Sam. 2:3; 16:7; 1 Kgs. 8:39; 1 Chr. 28:9; 2 Chr. 6:30; Ps. 7:9; 17:3; 26:2; 44:21; Pro. 15:11; 16:2; 21:2; 24:12; Jer. 11:20; 17:9-10; 20:12; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Rom. 8:27). God knows us completely and still loves us (cf. Rom. 8:27).

The disciples affirm that YHWH knows their motives as well as the motives and lives of the two candidates. They want God's will in this choice (AORIST MIDDLE). Jesus chose the Twelve, but He is now with the Father.

1:25 "to his own place" This is an euphemism for "damnation." Satan used him for his purposes (cf. Luke 22:3; John 13:2; 27), but Judas is responsible for his choices and actions (cf. Gal. 6:7).

1:26 "they drew lots for them" This has an OT background related to the High Priest's use of the Urim and Thummim in Lev. 16:8, or to individuals using some similar type of method (cf. Pro. 16:33; 18:18). The Roman soldiers also cast lots for Jesus' clothes (cf. Luke 23:34). However, this is the last time this method of knowing God's will is mentioned in the NT. If one tends toward proof-texting, this method could become normative for how to make spiritual decisions, which would be very unfortunate (e.g., opening the Bible and putting one's finger on a verse to determine the will of God). Believers are to live by faith, not by mechanical means of determining God's will (e.g., sheep fleece, cf. Jdgs. 6:17,36-40).

Special Topic: Urim and Thummim

▣ "Matthias" Eusebius says he was involved in the mission of the seventy (cf. Luke 10). Later traditions assert that he was martyred in Ethiopia.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did Jesus stay with the disciples for 40 days?

2. What is the "baptism of the Spirit?"

3. Why is Acts 1:7 so important?

4. Why is the ascension important?

5. Why did Peter feel a need to fill Judas' place?

6. How can Paul be an apostle when he did not fulfill the qualifications? (Acts 1:21-22)

 

Home  |  New Testament Studies  |  Acts Table of Contents  |  Previous Section  |  Next Section  |