James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,Acts 1:1-26
FROM RESURRECTION TO PENTECOST
Following our plan in the preceding books, we waive the consideration of the human authorship of the Acts and other questions of Biblical introduction and enter at once on the text. It is assumed from verses one and two compared with the opening verses of the third gospel, that “Luke, the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14), was the author chosen by the Holy Spirit. It is also assumed from verse two, that it is not so much the acts of the apostles he here records, as the acts of Jesus Christ through the apostles in the power of the Holy Spirit.
These two verses constitute the first division of our lesson. The second includes verses 3-11, being an outline of the events from the resurrection to the ascension. The features to note are (1) the evidence of Christ’s bodily resurrection (Acts 1:3), accentuated by His mingling with the disciples for six weeks; (2) the teachings “pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:4-8); (3) the Ascension (Acts 1:9); and (4) the promise of His return (Acts 1:10-11).
Under point two above, our Lord taught three things: first, the distinction between receiving the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5); secondly, the distinction between the church of Christ and the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6-7); and thirdly, the distinction between the evangelization and the conversion of the world (Acts 1:8).
As to the first of these three things, these disciples had previously received the Holy Spirit in regeneration or else they were not His disciples at all (to say nothing of the specific experience in John 20:22), yet they were to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.” As to the second of the things, the kingdom of Israel promised in the Old Testament, and of which so much has been said in previous lessons, was not immediately to be set up, the church of Christ was to take its place for the time being, but that did not mean that the promise concerning it had failed. It was coming on the earth, but “the times” and the “seasons” were in the Father’s keeping. Witnessing unto Christ was left for the disciples in the meantime, but nothing was said about waiting for the conversion of the world before that witness could have accomplished its purpose. As to the Ascension, the probability is that the “cloud” was not the vaporous material of which we are cognizant, but the Shekinah Glory which overshadowed Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. The testimony of the angels to his return shows that it will be a personal in the sense of a visible appearing.
The remainder of the chapter requires but little explanation. The “upper room” (Acts 1:13) may have been the same as that in John 20:19. Observe the presence of Mary and the brethren of Jesus (Acts 1:14) with the others, and in no position of superiority whatever. The “scripture” Peter refers to (Acts 1:20) is Psalm 69:25; Psalm 109:8. That he should have been so intelligent and positive in his position is probably explained by such post-resurrection teaching of Jesus as Luke 24:27; Luke 24:46, and verse 3 of this same chapter. There is no contradiction between Acts 1:18 and Matthew 27:5, as doubtless the rope broke by which the traitor hanged himself. Notice the qualifications for an apostle (Acts 1:21). The “lot” was legitimate at that time, as the disciples were still on Old Testament ground (Proverbs 16:33), but for us to use it would not be equally so, as we have the complete Word of God and the Holy Spirit to lead us into the meaning of it.
1. Who was the human author of this book?
2. How does the text lead to that conclusion?
3. What four things are included in the second division of this lesson?
4. What three things did Jesus teach pertaining to the Kingdom of God?
5. What “cloud” may that have been in which our Lord ascended?
6. What is the testimony of the angels as to the character of His Second Coming?
7. What explains Peter’s intelligent leadership in the choice of Matthias?