Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Acts 1 Notes
Waiting. Baseball. Legislative hearings. Pre-church. Boring, you invent things to do.
This is what the disciples faced between the time Jesus left and when the church began.
But the wait was worth it - for the most powerful force the world has ever known came from that period of waiting.
Date of writing - 63AD (The 2nd year of Paul's imprisonment in Rome) If after, he would have included Paul's death. Book begins in AD29 (Jesus born 4-6BC)
It is the first history of the church, but is not a complete history - it ignores many important events in the early church history - the doings in Jerusalem after Paul's conversion, journeys by Paul to Arabia, the spread of the church into Egypt, state of Christianity in Babylon.
1) To relate the giving of the Holy Spirit and the miracles that resulted from that gift
2) The admission of the Gentiles to the church (opposed by Jews when the book was written)
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach
2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.
It's unanimous that Luke is the author of Acts. It's a continuation of the story he started in his gospel - picking up where he left off, that is: with Jesus ascension into heaven.
Luke provides a few details of the days after the resurrection.
3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
These "many convincing proofs" included eating in front of them, physical touch, appearances to the 12 and to whole crowds of people. This is important because there were eye-witnesses to the fact that Jesus actually rose from the dead. This forms an historical and legal weight to the truth of the gospel.
But Luke zeros in on a particular conversation as the starting off point of the point of his book.
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Vs 4 Jesus' command to the apostles was "wait", and not just wait, but wait with expectation of a gift that Jesus promised to give.
He told them about it earlier:
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--
17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Jesus harkens back to a statement John the Baptist made at the beginning of Jesus' ministry:
11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Now, this baptism of the Holy Spirit is a big subject, and a controversial one at that. We will get into that next week in Acts chapter 2.
What I want to focus on here is the state of mind of the apostles - the 12 minus 1. Remember now, these guys had spent three years with Jesus and at the end still scattered like scared rabbits at his arrest - and even denied him.
Some had real problems believing that He had risen. Now here they are eating with Jesus after the resurrection. What would you ask? Here's what was on their minds.
6 So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
Vs 6 They were still caught up in the idea that Jesus was to restore the kingdom right then
This is what a lot of the Jews thought at the time. The reason is that Jewish leaders knew of the Messiah - but they didn't understand much about His mission or character.
They saw the conquering king of the second coming and missed the suffering savior of the first. Yes, Jesus will restore the earthly kingdoms to godly rule - but not to remove Rome only, but on a global scale. But first He was out to restore the soul of man to God's kingdom.
Jesus didn't rebuke them, but simply deflected the answer:
7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
Instead Jesus focuses right back on His real message for them - don't look for an external change in your circumstances, instead look for an internal change to your character.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Vs 7-8 It isn't our job to try to figure out God's timing and plans, but to walk in power as witnesses - witnesses in our home, our community, and our world. This is where the model for evangelism is laid out - we are to be witnesses - they actually saw Jesus walk and talk and die and rise - we have seen what He has done in our lives. We are simply to testify about that to others.
He gives us a plan too - start small, then grow bigger and wider. Don't bite off more than you can chew right away.
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.
11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
Vs 11 The disciples stood gaping at the sky as if Jesus would go up, and come back down to restore earthly kingdoms. How fixated are we on Jesus' return instead of doing what He wants us to do here?
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city.
13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.
14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Vs 14 At least they were doing the right thing while waiting - prayer "constantly" means: earnest towards something - strong, or steadfast. (prayer=worship, supplication=petition)
While waiting for God to move, we need to worship and petition - constantly.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)
Vs 15 Jesus, after his earthly ministry had a grand total of 120 followers
Vs 15 Peter became their natural leader
16 and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus--
17 he was one of our number and shared in this ministry."
18 (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.
19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
Vs 18 Interesting note on Judas Iscariot's death - hang or headlong?
Matthew 27:5. Some think he hung himself and his bowels burst open when he came down - others that it was on a dung heap after his body began decomposing. Some even feel that Judas repented of what he did by returning the money and that the Bible doesn't actually say Judas went to hell.
20 "For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms, "'May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,' and, "'May another take his place of leadership.'
Vs 20 Peter at least got the first part right - about the Scriptural prophesy of Judas' death
Psalm 69:25 and 109:8
But after that comes some questions.
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection."
Vs 21 Why was it necessary to choose another? Had God told them to do this? No.
23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.
24 Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen
25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs."
26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
Vs 26 They asked for the Lord's direction, then they drew straws (put stones in an urn)
Casting of Lots
(Barne's Notes) Used to divide the land of Canaan to the tribes of Israel
Jonathan son of Saul discovered to have violated command
Achan detected by lot (at Jericho)
Occurs nowhere else in the NT
Paul is the only other apostle mentioned in the New Testament. Matthias disappears without a trace. His position was to be a witness of Christ - nothing else.
A. The book of Acts can be summed up in one verse:
Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
1- Receive Power 2- Be a witness
One without the other doesn't work. Power without being a witness creates hyperspirituality, selfishness, and hypocrisy. Witness without power leads to ineffectiveness, fruitlessness, and frustration.
Also look at the order - power first, then witness.
B. Just because the Lord takes something away, doesn't mean He wants it replaced
Peter was correct in his analysis of Judas' fate, but the Lord told them only to "wait" not "be sure to replace Judas." Perhaps in your life a sudden change makes way for the Lord to do something new.
C. Turning over decision making to a lottery or a slot machine produces lemons.
Be careful about praying for doors to open or close - or for lightning to fall from the sky and consume the sacrifice, or dew to come or not come.
Rely instead on wisdom from above:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.
15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
1 - Check your motivations and actions - are they fleshly or spiritual?
2 - Look at the 8 characteristics of wisdom:
Pure - or polluted by the world
Peace-loving - from "Pacific" calm. - or does it stir up strife?
Considerate - appropriate or moderate - or extreme or rough?
Submissive - good for persuasion or does it not make sense
Full of mercy - active compassion or selfish ambition
Good fruit - beneficial fruit (as plucked) or will it hurt?
Impartial - to separate thoroughly - or prejudiced
Sincere - or fake
In the coming weeks we will see God take this rag-tag bunch of fishermen and transform them into a force the world has never seen - and can't handle. It is an exciting journey, with the possibility of much personal encouragement, growth, and power to effect God's kingdom.