Wow! I didn’t realize that I was going to write four posts before even getting to the first Chapter! Thanks for sticking with me so far :0)
Now’s the part where I make observations, ask questions, and depend on all of you to help me with the answers. This past Sunday’s message by Bro. Mike spoke of a warning. He made a statement about many people taking verses of scripture out of context, and I really pondered on that for a bit. My earnest intention is to not do that, but if I should stray, please help bring me back on the right track. I am by no means an educated theologian, and many times rely on information that I have picked up by reading commentaries or hearing the opinions of others. I’m just a normal gal, desiring to further my walk with the Lord as I study through Acts, and if by some way I am able to share it with any of you in writing these posts, I pray that God will use this blog as a tool for your growth and walk with the Lord to deepen. So, please forgive me if I make a mistake, or miss something in the “big picture”.
Chapter 1 – The “Who”
As I understand it, Luke, the physician, supposedly wrote the book of Acts. He is writing to a Gentile believer named Theophilus an account of the information he had gathered about Jesus. Luke, apparently, was not an eye-witness to the events but gathered undisputable evidence of all that had happened.
Wow! I never realized until my husband pointed out that there is a really long sentence beginning chapter one. I picture it like this, Luke had gathered all this evidence, and was really excited to share it with his friend, Theophilus. He listed thing after thing after thing about Jesus, hardly stopping to take a breath:
“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” v. 1-3
See what I mean? Just try reading all that in one breath — something you should normally be able to do when reading one sentence. To me, it seems that Luke was excitedly telling Theophilus “all about it”. Nowadays, it might sound something like this:
“Theo, listen to this because I want you to know about all that Jesus did and taught until he was taken up after He through the Holy Spirit gave commandments to the apostles because He…and then He did this, and then He did that, and then…….”
There was, indeed, alot to be told — good stuff, and Luke wanted Theophilus to hear it all!
He goes on to explain the commandment of Christ to the apostles to stay in Jerusalem, until the Holy Spirit arrives. Christ reminded the apostles to wait for the “Promise of the Father”. I’m gathering that the “Promise of the Father” is the promise of the Holy Spirit, right? Regarding this, Jesus said, “you have heard from Me”. Again, I take this to mean that He had told them of the coming of the Holy Spirit before, for example as in Luke 11:13?
Another thing that stands out to me in these verses is that when Jesus tells the apostles that they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit, what do you think they were thinking? He pointed out that it wasn’t going to be done with water. Still, if I had been there, I would be dumbfounded as to how to truly understand that comment. I can only settle on the thought that they probably had no idea, really, what it meant to be baptized with the Spirit, only that something “big” was about to happen, something that might even restore the kingdom to Israel.
“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” Acts 1:7
This one is hard for me. Everyone that knows me well, knows that I am a “sticky note” girl. I use check lists, I write things down, use a calendar, and if there’s an order to do things, that’s the order that I attempt to follow. I’m a rules person. I guess that’s what helped me in the banking industry. My co-workers knew me for the attention to detail, policies, rules and regulations. Internal auditing was my specialty because I had the processes and plans memorized, almost to a fault at times.
So, for me to proceed with something without knowing what comes next, is difficult. I acknowledge and confess this to God often. Gratefully, He is reshaping my focus, and strengthening my faith in allowing Him to be in control of the future. It is not for me to know the things that God is going to do, just to be ready when the time comes to follow Him in whatever His will is.
Finally, in verse 8, we are told of the awesome power of the Holy Spirit who enables us to fulfill the great commission….to be witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, even to the remotest parts of the earth, as one translation states.
Again, I cannot fathom being there as Jesus ascends into the cloud!! Then, two men in white apparel (angels, right?) said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?” Well……with no disrespect, I’m thinking, “duh”!? Jesus Christ just floated up in the air on a cloud and disappeared out of sight, and you want to know why I’m still looking at the sky? I would sure be doing the very same thing!
Then the promise and reminder….”This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Cool! Very Cool!
The 11 remaining apostles returned to the upper room in Jerusalem. Verse 14 says that they were there, along with “the women” (who are they?) and Mary the mother of Jesus and Jesus’ brothers. They were praying in one accord.
Again, not trying to read too much into the scriptuers, but wondering about their prayers, I asked myself what were they praying for? I can only imagine that it was for direction, for wisdom, and for guidance. Jesus had just left them in bodily form again, and though He promised the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the mood in the upper room might have been one of sadness at the thought of being without Him, to anticipation of what was to come, and yet knowing that God still loved and cared for them. I’m thinking it was a “hodge-podge” of emotions and a time for absorbing all the events of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Still, they prayed — together, and in one accord.
Verse 15 mentions that “in those days” Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples which was about 120. Can anyone tell me about “those days”? Was there many days between the scene in the upper room and the day that Peter began talking about Judas? Also, concerning the number of disciples, what information is known about the 120? How did there come to be 120, and were the apostles and the disciples the same? My initial reaction to this is that there were 12 original apostles, Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot. A footnote in my NKJV bible shows the greek word, episkopen, for apostle means “overseer”, so these men were charged with leadership responsibility. Might I assume that the apostles were the modern-day equivalent of elders in an elder-led fellowship? Out of these 12, and through their teaching of Christ, there multiplied other people who were “discipled” by the apostles and admonished to continue in the evangelism of the world. Therefore, the 120 were the eleven remaining apostles and 109 other followers (disciples) who had joined in ministry together? So, again in modern day terms, unless you’re an elder, minister or pastor, you would be a disciple as a follower of Christ? Am I wrong?
The account of Judas’ body bursting open proves that the media was alive and well in those days, just as it is today. All it took was one gorey story and the news became known to “all those dwelling in Jerusalem”. I bet they spent more time reporting the death of Judas than they did the life of Christ!
Why did Judas’ body burst open? J. Vernon McGee believes that Judas may have hung himself, but fell, causing his body to burst open. It must have been an awful sight.
Verse 21 gave the qualification of the replacement for Judas: Must be a man that had accompanied them all the time that Jesus was with them beginning from the baptism of John to the Ascension.
Two names were proposed: Joseph called Barsabas who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Then, they
held a campaign, sold “vote for me” t-shirts, held a debate, pointed out each other’s weaknesses, called each other names, made promises to cut taxes, …..oh, sorry……I got off track there 😉
What did they do to choose the right man? — They prayed. They asked God, the One who truly knows the hearts of man, to show them who should be selected.
If only the people of the United States would use this scripture as an example on who to vote for, it would make a huge impact on the leadership and direction of this country. Before taxes, military engagements, federal programs, social security, gasoline prices, mortgage woes, and other considerations are made, we should always seek God’s opinion first. The right President can only be the one who acknowledges Christ as Lord and is seeking God’s guidance in all matters.
Anyway….getting back to Acts, Matthias became the newest, 12th apostle, and Chapter 1 ends.