Acts 1:1
In my first book, O Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach,
Sermons
Alpha and OmegaR.A. Redford Acts 1:1
Ascension DayMartin LutherActs 1:1
The Apparent Incompleteness of Our Lord's LifeR. Tuck Acts 1:1
The AscensionAlexander MaclarenActs 1:1
The Origin of the Gospel RecordsR. Tuck Acts 1:1
The Theme of ActsAlexander MaclarenActs 1:1
The Threefold Aspect of Our Lord's Human LifeR. Tuck Acts 1:1
The Dawn of the Gospel DayR.A. Redford Acts 1:1-5
The Forty Days After the PassionE. Johnson Acts 1:1-5
Christ's Mission and OursS. Conway Acts 1:1-8
A True Commencement Must have Respect to What has Gone BeforeH. C. Trumbull, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
Aspects of Christ on the EarthActs 1:1-12
Christ Directs Thought to HeavenActs 1:1-12
Christ Preceding His Apostles to HeavenA. Maclaren, D. DActs 1:1-12
Christ's Finished and Unfinished WorkA. Maclaren, D. DActs 1:1-12
Jesus LivesJ. Stoughton.Acts 1:1-12
Literary HistoriesW. R. Campbell.Acts 1:1-12
St. Luke a Model for the Bible StudentR. Burgess, B. D.Acts 1:1-12
Teaching to be Combined with DoingGf. Pentecost.Acts 1:1-12
The Ascending LordMonday ClubActs 1:1-12
The Ascension of ChristJ W. Hamilton.Acts 1:1-12
The Ascension: its Central PositionNesselmann.Acts 1:1-12
The Beginning of Apostolicity (1J. Parker, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
The Beginning of Apostolicity (2J. Parker, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
The Coronation of ChristW. B. Campbell.Acts 1:1-12
The Ever-Active ChristA. Verran.Acts 1:1-12
The Gospels and the ActsW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
The Gospels the Living Picture of ChristLittle's "Historical Lights."Acts 1:1-12
The Last Days of the Gospel PeriodW. Hudson.Acts 1:1-12
The Memorabilia of ChristActs 1:1-12
The Ministry of Jesus a BeginningW. Hudson.Acts 1:1-12
The Permanence of Christ in HistoryA. Maclaren, D. DActs 1:1-12
The Pre-Eminence of the Doctrine of Christ IncarnateEvangelical MagazineActs 1:1-12
The Resurrection and Ascension of ChristD. Jennings.Acts 1:1-12
The Unchanged PlanW. R. Campbell.Acts 1:1-12
The Uniqueness of Christ's Earthly MinistryD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
TheophilusBp. Jacobsen.Acts 1:1-12
The introduction to this narrative of" the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" suggests to us truths concerning the mission of our Divine Lord and also concerning our own.

I. THE MISSION OF CHRIST. We gather front the opening words of Luke that this was fourfold, and may be included under these heads:

1. Miraculous works. He "began to do (ver. 1). The mighty works" of Jesus were far from being mere "wonders:" they were

(1)deeds of pure beneficence,

(2) acts called for by the circumstances of the hour, malting an irresistible appeal to the heart of love and the hand of power,

(3) illustrations of the Divine principles which he came to establish, as well as

(4) incidental proofs of heavenly origin and almighty power.

2. Teaching. He began "both to do and teach (ver. 1). The teaching of Christ covered all the ground on which we most urgently need enlightenment. He taught us all that we want to know concerning

(1) the nature and disposition of God, including his attitude toward guilty souls;

(2) the real nature of man, his true heritage and the way by which he could return to God;

(3) what constitutes moral excellency in God's sight: how man can do and be that which is due to himself and to all by whom he is surrounded;

(4) the truth respecting the future world.

3. Endurance. The story of his passion" (ver. 3) is the story of his life. In the case of all other of the children of men, the narrative of the last hours is felt to be but the necessary closing of the chapter. In his case alone the relation of the Passion is felt by us all to be the supreme and culminating point the one indispensable feature of his whole career; that to which everything led up, for which everything prepared, compared with which everything else was unimportant. Never, at any period of his ministry, did the Son of God so truly and so largely fulfill the mission on which he came, as when he was "putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself," as when he was betrayed and smitten and reviled, as when he was "lifted up" on the cross and "poured out his soul unto death."

4. Life. He came to be the holy, loving, patient, truthful, reverent One he was. The historian does not speak here of this his exemplary life before his Passion, but we may have it in our mind as a complementary thought; he does, however, refer to his life after the Passion (ver. 3). This is divisible into two parts.

(1) The forty days on earth. Then he bore witness to the reality of his work and the genuineness of his mission: he "showed himself alive... by many infallible proofs."

(2) Everlasting life in heaven. He is now doing the work of administration. "Jesus began both to do and to teach" when he was below; he continues now the great work he then began. As he arrested Paul on his way to Damascus and charged him to enter his service, as he inspired and directed his servants so that the "acts of the apostles" are his acts through them; so now he is administering the affairs of his blessed kingdom by enlightening, inspiring, governing his Church by his Spirit (see ver. 2).

II. OUR MISSION. We have here indications of the kind and method of service which it belongs to us to render. We are:

1. To look expectantly. We too are to "wait for the promise of the Father" (ver 4); often in our Christian life, from its very beginning to its very end, asking and waiting. We are to ask, to seek, to knock - if need be, again and again; not impatient to receive, but remembering that God knows when as well as how to bestow.

2. To receive gratefully. We too "shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost" (ver. 5, and see ver. 8). God will come to us in rich effusion if only we ask earnestly and wait patiently; then we shall receive joyfully, and our hearts will fill with sacred and happy gratitude.

3. To submit cheerfully. Our Lord ofttimes says to us, "It is not for you to know" (ver. 7). We long to know many things not revealed, and this is his reply to our vain curiosity. Or we long to effect impossible things, and then he says to us, "It is not for you to do." He imposes limits to our action as well as to our knowledge, and within these bounds we must be content to move, rejoicing that we are permitted to know anything of him and do anything for him; rejoicing, also, to believe that soon the circle of understanding and accomplishment will be immeasurably enlarged.

4. To testify faithfully. "Ye shall be witnesses unto me" (ver. 8). It was a far higher function for the apostles to bear witness to Christ - to the greatness of his person, the beauty and tenderness of his spirit, the fullness and joy of his salvation - than to be the depositaries of heavenly secrets as to dates and places. There is nothing we should so earnestly aspire and so strenuously strive to become, as faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ. We cannot conceive of a nobler work than to be, by life and lip, bearing testimony to him, constraining our fellow men to realize his readiness to receive, his willingness to forgive, and his power to bless and to ennoble them. - C.







The former treatise have I made.
In any new beginning of study or work, it is important to have in mind what has been done before in the same line. No one can learn or do to advantage, unless he avails himself of what others have learned and done before him. Any other plan would utterly forbid progress. The world would be full of new beginnings — and nothing else. He who would study the New Testament wisely, must know what the Old Testament has disclosed. He who would get good from the Book of Acts must have in mind at the start the facts and teachings of the former treatise by the same author.

(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)

I. THEIR RELATION. In determining this it is not enough to say that while the Gospels contain the history of the Master's ministry, the Acts record that of the apostles. Both alike narrate the work of the Lord: the Gospels what He did in Person, the Acts what He did by His chosen witnesses. This relation is marked at its outset. If the former treatise records "all that Jesus began," then the present relates what Jesus continued. His incarnation, death, etc., were only the foundation. In the Acts He rears a lofty temple on that foundation. Nor does the work cease with the abrupt conclusion of the Acts. In a city map you mark the road which leads to another city a little beyond the wall, when it breaks off. To trace it further you require another map. So our Lord's path breaks off on the map of inspiration and is continued on the map of providence.

II. THEIR POINT OF UNION. The latter treatise does not begin precisely where the former ends. By design they overlap each other — both recording the Resurrection and the Ascension. Thus where a bridge of two arches spans a river, both arches lean on one pillar which rises in the middle of the flood. In the midst of the gulf which separated God and man, and in the midst of the tide of time stood Jesus — on Him rests the Old Dispensation and the New. In the end of the Gospel history we found. the first hemisphere of the Divine dispensation terminating in Christ crucified and ascended. Here we find the second arch springing where the first was finished. Resting there, it rises into heaven, and stretches away into the future. We lose sight of it as we lose sight of the rainbow, in mid-heavens; but we know assuredly that it will traverse all the intervening space, and lean secure on the continent of a coming eternity.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

I. HE COLLECTED HIS FACTS WITH CARE AND DILIGENCE (Luke 1:1-3). This complete knowledge of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach suggests the importance of endeavouring to gain a more perfect knowledge of the Word of God. There is a great readiness in quoting certain texts or favourite portions, but the fulness of which St. Luke speaks is rare. The Word of God cannot be said to be unknown, but it does not "dwell richly in us in all wisdom." Hence truths are magnified into undue proportions, and important doctrines are passed over slightly, because they do not well enter into some peculiar system.

II. HIS COLLECTION WAS LIMITED BY THE BOUNDARIES OF REVELATION. It did not go beyond what God made known by His Son. Here, again, we may learn the importance of not going beyond the revealed Word whenever we attempt to review God's dealings with mankind, anti especially of the redemption of the world by Christ. If there be danger in a partial knowledge of God's truth, there is perhaps more in adding to the things which God has revealed. It is this which has caused so much superstition.

III. He recognised that a knowledge of "all that Jesus began to do and to teach," however comprehensive and however free from mixture, will not prove a saving knowledge unless it be CONVEYED TO THE SOUL BY THE POWER OF GOD. St. Luke describes the commandments of Jesus as given unto the apostles by the Spirit. It is possible for any man to learn these commandments. The letter of the law and the facts of the gospel are within the reach of the poorest capacity. But, in order to make the knowledge available, the Spirit of God must take of the things so learnt, and show them to the soul. "No man can say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Ghost." It is impossible to read the Acts without seeing that the Holy Spirit was the acting Guide of all the sayings and actions of the first teachers of Christianity. Looking upon the doctrines of the gospel as a medicine to heal our spiritual sickness, we must suppose that the medicine is taken, and that it penetrates through the constitution of the sick soul.

IV. IT REQUIRES STRONG CONVICTIONS OF THE TRUTHS WE BELIEVE IN ORDER TO BE DILIGENT IN THE PROPAGATION OF THEM. Our zeal for the cause of the Redeemer, our desires for the advancement of His glory, our prayers for the prevalence of His truth, will all be in proportion to the depth of our conviction that this is the Word of God. The earliest impressions are liable to be effaced by time, by the world and its cares, by the changes of our own views, by the speculative views of others, etc. We have need, therefore, of watchfulness, lest that which is within us lose its power and freshness, and we begin in the routine of duty and form to think less and less of the power of godliness.

(R. Burgess, B. D.)

Luke was the Haydon of the sacred scribes; he sketched the perfect Man and drew in heroic size the figures and scenes of the new kingdom. Historians often become interested in a single character and turn aside to give us a monograph or biography on the object of their enthusiasm. Motley, after writing "The Rise of the Dutch Republic" and "The History of the United Netherlands," published "John Barneveld." Bancroft left his chosen field, the "History of the United States," to make us better acquainted with Abraham Lincoln. Froude has added to his "History of England" a "Life of Lord Beaconsfield." Writers of history describe the movements of an age as centring about their heroes. The records of a given period are seen to bear the stamp of a distinct personality. But Luke begins with a great character. His biography precedes his history and is the inspiration of it. There was a life which was the key to the Acts, and our writer was in touch with it. He did not gild an earthly tyrant and set him up like Nebuchadnezzar's image in the plain of Dura to fill the wastes of godless history, but he traces the way of the Church through the fiery furnace of events with a form "like a son of the gods." Gulzot wrote a "History of Civilisation in Europe and in France," and gave to the world as one of his latest works "Meditations on the Christian Religion." Edwin Arnold, after following the "Light of Asia" till it led him to a dim Nirvana, came back for another guide and traced the path of the "Light of the World." Gounod composed operas in his youth, and afterward turned his attention to such serious works as the oratorios of "The Redemption" and "St. Paul." It thus not infrequently happens that in later life men are led to dwell upon and portray that great personality they have passed by in search of the world's truth; but the Bible writers all had their study fires kindled by the rays of that Sun which illuminates the past and future, before they became scribes of Divine truth. The ancient penmen were friends of God, and those of the New Testament were disciples of His Son Jesus Christ before they essayed to describe the powers, the laws, and the institutions of redemption.

(W. R. Campbell.)

The whole value of the Gospels to Erasmus lay in the vividness with which they brought home to their readers the personal impression of Christ Himself. "Were we to have seen Him with our own eyes, we should not have so intimate a knowledge as they give us of Christ, speaking, healing, dying, rising again, as it were in our very presence. If the footprints of Christ are shown us in any place, we kneel down and adore them. Why do we not rather venerate the living and breathing picture of Him in these Books? It may be the safer course," he goes on, with characteristic irony, "to conceal the state mysteries of kings, but Christ desires His mysteries to be spread abroad as openly as was possible."

(Little's "Historical Lights.")

Xenophon, the loving disciple of Socrates, has given an account of the last sayings of that great man, after he was imprisoned and condemned to death; and in all ages the "Memorabilia" has been regarded as one of the most precious records which classical antiquity has sent down to us. But sublime and heroic as they were, how immeasurably do these last utterances of the Grecian stage fall below the moral grandeur and the deathless interest inspired by the last words of Jesus. The nearer we stand to the Cross, and the more we enter into the spirit of its great central character, the more do we feel the force of Rousseau's eloquent eulogium, "Socrates lived and died like a philosopher; but Jesus Christ like a God."

Evangelical Magazine.
We have seen in mountain lands one majestic peak soaring above all the rest of the hills which out the azure of the horizon with their noble outline, burning with hues of richest gold in the light of the morning sun; and so should the doctrine of Christ incarnate, crucified, risen, and reigning, be pre-eminent above the whole chain of fact, doctrine, and sentiment which make up the sublime landscape — the magnificent panorama — which the Christian preacher unfolds, and makes to pass in clear form and brilliant colour before the eye of his people's faith.

(Evangelical Magazine.)

Theophilus
Not an ideal person with a name expressive of his religious character. That must have been Philotheus (cf. 2 Timothy 3:4). Probably a Gentile convert, not resident in the Holy Land, or he would not have needed the many explanations of places and usages. He is said by Theophylact to have been of senatorial rank; and the title prefixed in the Gospel has been thought to imply that he was a provincial governor (cf. Acts 23:26; Acts 24:3). The address here is less ceremonious, indicating that Luke's friendship had become more intimate.

(Bp. Jacobsen.)

Of all that; Jesus began
If it were not for the fact of a Christian life manifested in the holy lives of believers, Christian doctrine would command no attention beyond that of a speculative system. God begins, but never finishes. His works and His teachings are only movements in the march of infinite advance. But one thing we know is finished, and that is the redemption work of Christ, which He declared accomplished when He bowed His head and gave up the ghost; but even this gives birth to a progressive work of salvation, based upon, and springing out of, that foundation. Jesus intimated to His disciples that, through them, He would do greater works after He went to the Father than while He was on the earth, and that, as they became able to bear them, He would give them other teachings. In the Acts of the Apostles we find both of these promises being literally fulfilled.

(Gf. Pentecost.)

1. A Founder. He "began to do and teach," like an architect who draws the plan of a magnificent cathedral, and lays its foundations, then leaves it for others to finish. The Church of to-day at its best is only carrying out the purpose of its Founder.

2. A Lawgiver. Giving His commandments through the Holy Ghost to His apostles. His laws were not written on tables of stone, like those of Mount Sinai, but on the hearts of His disciples. Whoever becomes a follower of Christ pledges himself to obey His commands.

3. A Sufferer. "His Passion" is not omitted from this summary, brief as the summary is, for the death of Christ is far more important to us than was His life. His Passion brought to us our salvation.

4. A Conqueror. He was dead, He was buried, but He lived again; "He showed Himself alive after His Passion." Bug for the resurrection of Jesus the world would never have heard of His name.

5. A Revealer. "Speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Notice what was the theme of conversation during those forty days. The same subject is the object of all Christ's interest on the earth now. He cares little for the rise and fall of empires, except as they affect the salvation of men. One soul outweighs all the politics of a continent.

The lines of the kingdom run before the crucifixion were not changed. Christ's assumption of authority was the same as of old. His words were those of command. He had no mistakes to rectify, nor did He withdraw any offer or retract any promise. The scenes He had passed through had not shaken His mind in its loves, its powers, or its purposes. The old commissions were renewed, but there must be halt, not for orders or drill, but for power. Not as the heathen legionaries waited for the auguries from dead beasts, but for a descent of the Spirit from on high were these men to linger at Jerusalem. The moulds were set and the wicks were already dipped for the men who were to be the candles of the Lord, and only the spark of the Spirit was needed to light them.

(W. R. Campbell.)

I. IT WAS A NEW THING AMONG MEN.

1. His miracles. "We have seen strange things to-day."

2. His teaching. "Never man spake as this Man."

3. His character. "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" This originality presents —

(1)An example for all time.

(2)An argument for the Divine origin of Christianity.

II. IT WAS INTRODUCTORY TO THE WORK OF THE APOSTLES.

1. He prepared them for their work by instruction. He made them to feel that they could have no other Master. They were assured that to learn of Him was to find the truth. This relation continued during His presence, but they had to be prepared for His absence.

2. Accordingly He brought them to a conviction of His abiding supremacy in the Church. Though when with Him they in a degree lived by sight, even then faith was required; and after His departure faith was their chief directive principle. And Low realising was the faith in which they carried on their work (Acts 2:33; Acts 4:10).

III. IT WAS INTRODUCTORY TO THE WORK OF THE CHURCH IN SUCCEEDING AGES. Centuries have rolled by, and Christianity has not fulfilled all the desires of its friends. Yet the name of Jesus has never ceased to be spoken, and His Holy Spirit has wrought by means of the truth however partially known. Of His living ministry we have abundant proofs in buildings, institutions, and saved souls. And provision is made for the perpetual continuance of the work of Jesus. The Gospel history furnishes —

1. An inexhaustible theme.

2. An all-powerful motive.Conclusion: See here —

1. How to understand the history of the Christian Church. It presents the truth of Jesus in incessant contention with error, the world, and Satan, and it points hopefully to the time when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God, etc.

2. The magnificence of a right influence. The work which Jesus began has never ceased. Some of His followers have begun movements which have continued So bless the world ages after they have gone. If your life is short and sphere narrow you have the opportunity of beginning what may bless many.

3. The dignity of Christian effort. It is an honour to have distinguished associates, how much more to have your name in the long list headed by Jesus!

(W. Hudson.)

1. Luke's Gospel is confessedly but an imperfect sketch of an absolutely perfect life. Yet, in his Gospel, every beneficent act seems well-rounded off, every miracle seems complete, every parable seems to have received its finishing touches. And yet Luke says that his Gospel is only a narrative of what Jesus "began both to do and teach." There were greater things to follow — miracles of grace far surpassing the opening of blind eyes, the cleansing of lepers, or even the raising of the dead to life again.

2. The Acts of the Apostles contains an account of those greater works which were done in the name of Christ. In the Gospels Christ begins to do and teach; in the Acts of the Apostles He continues to do and teach; but His doing and teaching are not now restricted and limited, but assume larger and grander proportions.

3. Our Lord's beneficient activity did not cease when the last of the apostles fell asleep. Christ has been doing and teaching ever since, and never more than during the last hundred years. Christ is with us still, and He is not inactive. He is keenly alive to all that goes on in His Church. Indeed, it is the Christ in you that prompts to that noble deed, or to lay upon His altar that costly sacrifice. Apart from Christ you can do nothing. The Gospels are full of beginnings. The Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles are also full of beginnings. Now, if the beginnings are so glorious, what will the endings be? If the Spirit of Christ abides in the Church, leading us into all truth, then we ought to possess a larger and richer spiritual heritage than our forefathers possessed. The Churches of the New Testament were only the beginnings of Christ's redemptive activity. His influence on the world is immeasurably greater than it was when He died upon the cross, and immeasurably greater than it was when the Books of the New Testament were written. We know that He who in the time of His humiliation began to do and teach, until "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together," and "the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the mighty deep." Mr. Beecher somewhere speaks of "a Christ a thousand times more glorious than Jerusalem ever saw; a Christ a thousand times freer and fuller of the manifestation of love than any historical Christ; a Christ larger in every way than the Christ of the past; a Christ enwrapping every soul as the whole atmosphere of a continent broods over each particular flower; a Christ conceived of as living near, as overhanging, as thinking of each one, and as working for Him." Do we know anything of this Christ? The same Christ as we have in the Gospels, and yet not the same: for a man may know the Christ of history and yet be unsaved, but to know the risen, ascended, ever-present Christ is salvation itself.

(A. Verran.)

1. This Book is a letter addressed to one man. God always speaks to individuals. He does not address the great seething throng. He made Adam, called Abram, selected Mary; all through history God has called out the one person, and has started His kingdom oftentimes from very insignificant beginnings.

2. But great letters cannot be kept private: where there is anything in a letter it burns its way out. There are some letters which exercise a secret and wonderful power over the receiver, and he says the whole world must be taken into his confidence; to keep it back from others would amount to practical felony. We cannot hide gospels permanently. What is in a book and not what is said about it, determines its fate in the long run. Luke wrote a long account of Christ's ministry to Theophilus, and the whole world has Luke's narrative in its hand to-day! So Luke undertook further to write the Acts to this same man, and to-day the Acts are read in every school, perused by all students of history, and in it are the fundamentals of the most influential commonwealths.

3. Luke divides the great life into two portions — action and doctrine, miracles and truth. All Christian life admits of precisely the same division. If we do, but fail to teach, we shall be but barren puzzles. If we teach, and fail to do, we may incur the just imputation of being theorists and fanatics, or devotional sentimentalists.

I. And yet JESUS CHRIST ONLY BEGAN.

1. There can be no ending in anything that God does. Though it may appear to end in itself, yet itself is related to some other and broader self, and so the continuity rolls on in ever-augmenting accretion and proportion. There are no conclusions in truth; there may be resting-places, a punctuation of statement, so that we may take time to turn it into beneficent action, but God's hand never wrote the word "finis; though the Bible be, in point of paper and print, a measurable quantity, it opens a revelation that recedes from us like the horizon.

2. So then life becomes a new thing from this standpoint. Men talk about formulating Christian truth: you might as well attempt to formulate the light or the atmosphere. You cannot formulate quantities that are infinite. We have organised geology, botany, astronomy, why not theology? The answer is that geology, etc., represent finite and therefore measurable quantities. We can begin a theology, and in doing so we shall do well, provided that we never mistake beginnings for endings. As to verbal statements, we may never agree; the action of the mind is in advance of the action of the tongue. We know always more than we can tell.

3. So we may well be charitable. If Jesus only began, men can only do the same. No man has the whole truth. The Book itself is not a full grown garden, it is a seed-house. We are all beginners. The old grey-haired student lifts up his wrinkled brow from the glowing page and says, I have hardly begun it." Who, then, are we, fifty years his juniors, who should start up and say, "We have reached the goal"? Let us not account ourselves to have attained, but let us press forward, and ever say, "God hath yet more light and truth to bring forth from His Holy Word."

II. Though Jesus Christ only began, His BEGINNINGS HAVE ALL THE FORCE AND URGENCY OF COMPLETE ENDINGS. He gave "commandments," He did not offer mere suggestions for their consideration, to adopt or reject on further inquiry. Jesus Christ was never less than royal. "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." We are then the slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the Lord's freemen. We do not make the commandments, we obey them — we do not walk under the loose rule of license, we are kept within the limits of a specific moral gravitation, and we have come to know that there is no liberty without law, that life without law is chaos.

III. THESE BEGINNINGS PERTAIN TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Jesus Christ had but one subject. He never talked about anything less than a kingdom that rose above all other empires and enclosed them in its infinite sovereignty. The disciples never could get away from their little "kingdom" any more than Christ could detach Himself from His great royalty. So we often find ourselves talking Christian language without the full Christian meaning. The terms are identical with those Christ used, and yet the meanings are separated by the diameter of infinity. Let us know that the larger meaning is always the right one. Yet Jesus chided the apostles very gently. He told them that they were as yet incomplete men; but "ye shall receive power," etc. They were unbaptised in soul: the symbolic water had done its initial work, but they stood there without the sacred fire, the inspiring afflatus. Into what baptism have we been baptised? We have not received the Holy Ghost if we are conducting a narrow ministry. Jesus Christ said so much when He added, "Ye shall be witnesses both in Jerusalem," etc. No power but the Holy Ghost could take a man through those regions. The man who has been baptised with water only will choose his own parish, but the man in whom is the burning of the Holy Ghost will say with Wesley, "My parish is the world." You will know whether you are inspired or not by the vastness of your labours. If we are waiting until we be properly equipped and duly sent out, then know that we have been baptised with ice.

IV. WE NOW PASS FROM THE VISIBLE MINISTRY OF CHRIST — a cloud received Him out of their sight. Nothing more. Not out of hearing, sympathy, nor helpful ministry — only out of sight. We are not out of His sight, nor out of His memory!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

1. Who could have told beforehand that Christ would be the first to go? Our conception would rather have been that He would remain until the last lamb had been enfolded and the last pilgrim entered into rest. Instead of this, He Himself said, "It is expedient for you that I go away."

2. Being about to go, His last interview with the apostles took place. Last interviews are notably pathetic. The words that would be common on any other occasion acquire a new and significant accent. Little things that would not be noticed under ordinary circumstances, start up into unusual prominence. We should always listen as if in a last interview. "What I say unto one, I say unto all — Watch." We lose so much through inattentiveness.

3. Jesus Christ is about to go — how will He go? He cannot be allowed to die: that would be a fatal disappointment to the attention which He has strained and to the expectation He has excited. Dogs die: and if this Man die, He will contradict by one pitiful commonplace all that was phenomenal in His life. How will He go? Luke tells us that He was "taken up." In other places we learn that He "ascended." He entered within the action of another gravitation, into His own place in the heavens. It is enough: the mind is satisfied by the grand action. Were I reading this upon a poet's page, I would applaud the poet for one of the finest conceptions that ever ennobled and glorified human fancy.

4. Jesus Christ then "ascended," and in doing so He but repeated in one final act all the miracles which had made His previous ministry illustrious. From the very beginning He had been ascending, so that when He took the final movement, it was but completing that which He had been continuing for years. Our life should be an ascent! We should not be to-day where we were ten years ago. Not that we are to ascend by sharp steeps that attract the attention. There are ascents so gradual that they do not seem to be ascents; yet looked at as from the beginning to the end, we see that the gradient has evermore lifted itself up until the very next thing to do is to step into heaven! You may know how you will die by knowing how you really live. If your life is a life of faith in the Son of God marked by, at all events, the desire to be Christ-like, then you shall "ascend." All that drops away from you will be the flesh and the bones, that have been a distress to you for many a day. Your self, your liberated spirit, shall "ascend." Who ever saw fire going downward? It is in fire to go up, to seek the parent sun out of which it came. We, too, living, moving, and ever having our being in God shall not die as the dogs die, but "rise" to our fount and origin "with Christ."

5. If the final interview was pathetic to Christ, it was also pathetic to the disciples. They had their question to ask as certainly as He had His commandments to give. "Lord, wilt Thou"? etc.(1) Mark how, after His resurrection, He had become "Lord" and the Restorer of kingdoms. Everything rests upon the resurrection of Christ: "if Christ be not risen," etc. No matter what He did, taught, or appeared to be: if it was in the power of men to kill and keep Him in the grave, all His protestations were lies and His promises vanity. Hence, Luke and all the apostolic writers insist that Jesus "showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs." The inquiry, then, that was put to Christ in this instance was put to a Man who had risen. It was this — "Wilt Thou restore?" etc. There are times when everything depends upon one man, crises which sum themselves up in the judgment of one thinker — we look to him, he carries the keys, he speaks the final word, and from him we expect the policy which alone can ennoble and save the life.(2) We learn from this inquiry how long-lingering and ineradicable is the influence of first impressions. The disciples had got it into their minds very early that this Man had come to liberate the Jews and to give them back their lost kingdom. What is so long-lived as prejudice? Therefore take care what impression you make upon the young mind about the Christian Sabbath, Book, Church, idea. Who can wonder that some men can hardly open the Bible with sympathy or hopefulness, because they remember that in early days it was the task-book? Are there not those who dread going to church, because their action is associated with early impressions of gloom and dreariness?

6. Christ's answer may be read in a tone of rebuke, but it was not spoken in that tone. You cannot report a tone — hence it is possible to express the very words the speaker said and yet entirely to misrepresent him! Features can be photographed, but not life. Jesus Christ spoke in a tone that was instructive, and followed with utterances of the largest and tenderest encouragement. "Ye shall receive power," etc. There is no gift equal to the gift of power. When a man in distress comes to you, if, instead of answering his immediate necessity, you could give him power to answer his own, you would bestow the most precious of treasures.(1) The gift of Christ to the Church is a gift of power —(a) Not intellectual only, though Christ has indeed sharpened every faculty of the mind, and blessed the Church with penetrating insight — but that is not the power referred to here.(b) Nor social power — the power usually associated with the idea of kingdom, rule, and authority.(c) But the power of holiness — "after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." Know yourselves to be powerful by the measure of your holiness, and contrariwise know yourselves to be weak, though your mind covers the whole register of intellectual possibility. We have lost the Holy Ghost. We betake ourselves now to Church questions and not to soul inquiries. The problem of to-day is ecclesiasticism, not evangelisation. We are building structures, arranging mechanics, instead of being carried away with the whirlwind of Divine inspiration, and displaying what the world would call supreme madness in consecration of heart. A grand, or learned, or rich Church — these may be but contradictions in terms, but a holy Church, an inspired Church, would go forth "fair as the moon," etc. The world can answer our argument so as to confuse the listener, but it can have no reply to an unimpeachable purity.(2) The power which Christ gave was to be used. When He puts the staff into my hand, He means me to walk with it; when He gives me opportunities, He means me to use them.(3) This power was to be used gradually — "Ye shall be witnesses unto; Me both in Jerusalem," etc. Do not begin at the end: grow little by little, but see to it that your motion is constant. It is not some dashing triumph that strikes beholders, but that subtle, quiet, imperceptible growth that proceeds night and day until a culmination is reached that surprises not by its violence but by its completeness and tenderness of its working.(4) The power was to be used enlargingly, from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria, to the uttermost parts of the earth, until there was no more ground to be covered. This is our Christian mission, and nothing so enlarges and emboldens the mind as sympathy with Christ. The Christian man cannot be a small-minded man. Find a sectarian and you find no Christian; pick out a man who says the kingdom of heaven ends here, and he is a man who has stolen his position in the sanctuary. All Christians are great men, great souls; all who are crucified with Christ see all men drawn to the Cross. Christianity never bends the head downward towards little and dwindling spaces: it always says, "The whole world for Christ." If men would have their minds enlarged, ennobled, inspired, it can only be by direct fellowship with Him who is the Head of all things, who fills all things, who ascended that He might rule by a longer line and by a more comprehensive mastery.

7. Christ's last words were about Himself. "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me." What sublime audacity! What magnificent confidence! The Church has one Lord, one thing to say — Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and went out of the world to pray for His Church and sustain His servants in all the stress of life and in all the anxiety of service.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Compare Acts 28:30, 31. So begins and so ends this Book. The reference to "the former treatise" implies that this Book is to be regarded as its sequel. Is not the natural inference that the latter treatise will tell us what Jesus continued "to do and teach" after He was taken up? I think so. And thus the writer sets forth at once, for those that have eyes to see, what he means to do, and what he thinks his Book is going to be about. So, then, the name "The Acts of the Apostles," which is not coeval with the Book itself, is somewhat of a misnomer. Most of the apostles are never heard of in it. But our first text supplies a deeper reason for regarding that title as inadequate. For, if the theme of the story be what Christ did, then the Book is, not the "Acts of the Apostles," but the Acts of Jesus Christ through His servants. He, and He alone, is the Actor; and the men that appear are but the instruments in His hands. It is the unfinished record of an incomplete work. The theme is the work of Christ through the ages, of which each successive depository of His energies can do but a small portion, and must leave that portion unfinished, the Book does not so much end as stop. It is a fragment because the work of which it tells of is not yet a whole. If, then, we put these two things — the beginning and the ending of this Book — together, I think we get some thoughts about what Christ began to do and teach on earth; what He continues to do and teach in heaven; and how small and fragmentary a share in that work each individual servant of His has. Let us look at these things briefly.

I. We have here THE SUGGESTION OF WHAT CHRIST BEGAN TO DO AND TEACH ON EARTH. Now, at first sight, the words of our text seem to be in startling contradiction to the solemn cry which rang out of the darkness upon Calvary. Jesus said, "It is finished! and gave up the ghost." Luke says He "began to do and teach." Is there any contradiction between the two? Certainly not. It is one thing to lay a foundation; it is another thing to build a house. And the work of laying the foundation must be finished before the work of building the structure upon it can be begun. It is one thing to create a force; it is another thing to apply it. It is one thing to compound a medicine; it is another thing to administer it. It is one thing to unveil a truth; it is another to unfold its successive applications, and to work it into a belief and practice in the world. The former is the work of Christ which was finished on earth; the latter is the work which is continuous throughout the ages. "He began to do and teach," not in the sense that any should come after Him and do, as the disciples of most great discoverers and thinkers have had to do: systematise, rectify, and complete the first glimpses of truth which the master had given. But whilst thus His work is complete His earthly work is also initial. And we must remember that whatever distinction my text may mean to draw between the work of Christ in the past and that in the present and the future, it does not mean to imply that when He ascended up on high, He had not completed the task for which He came. The revelation is complete, and He that professes to add anything to, or to substitute anything for, the finished teaching of Jesus Christ concerning God, and man's relation to God, and man's duty, destiny, and hopes, is a false teacher, and to follow him is fatal. In like manner that work of Christ, which in some sense is initial, is complete as redemption. "This Man has offered up one Sacrifice for sins for ever." And nothing more can He do than He has done; and nothing more can any man do than was accomplished on the Cross of Calvary as a revelation, as effecting a redemption, as lodging in the heart of humanity, and in the midst of human history, a purifying energy, sufficient to cleanse the whole black stream. Resurrection and Ascension needs no supplement, and can have no continuation, world without end.

II. But we have to notice WHAT CHRIST CONTINUES TO DO AND TO TEACH AFTER HIS ASCENSION. The theme of this Book of the Acts is the continuous work of the ascended Saviour. There is nothing more remarkable than the way in which, at every turn in the narrative, all is referred to Jesus Christ Himself. For instance, to cull one or two cases in order to bring the matter more plainly before you. When the apostles determined to select another apostle to fill Judas' place, they asked Jesus Christ to show which "of these two Thou hast chosen." When Peter is called upon to explain the tongues at Pentecost, he says, "Jesus hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear." When the writer would tell the reason of the large first increase to the Church, he says, "The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved." Peter and John go into the Temple to heal the lame man, and their words to him are, "Do not think that our power or holiness is any factor in your cure. The Name hath made this man whole." It is the Lord that appears to Paul and to Ananias, the one on the road to Damascus and the other the city. The same point of view is suggested by another of the characteristics of this Book, which it shares in common with all Scripture narratives, and that is the stolid indifference with which it picks up and drops men, according to the degree in which, for the moment, they are the instruments of Christ's power. As long as electricity streams on the carbon point it glows and is visible, but when the current is turned to another lamp we see no more of the bit of carbon. As long as God uses a man, the man is of interest to the writer of the Scripture. When God uses another one, they drop the first, and have no more care about him, because their theme is not men, and their doings but God's doings through men. On us, and in us, and by us, and for us, if we are His servants, Jesus Christ is working all through the ages. He is the Lord of Providence, He is the King of history. And thus He continues to teach and to work from His throne in the heavens. He continues to teach, not by the communication of new truth. That is done. But the application of the completed revelation is the work that is going on to-day and that will go on till the end of the world. Now these truths of our Lord's continuous activity in teaching and working from heaven may yield us some not unimportant lessons. What a depth and warmth and reality the thoughts give to the Christian's relation to Jesus Christ. We have to think, not only of a Christ who did something for us long ago in the past, and there an end, but of a Christ who to-day lives and reigns to do and to teach according to our necessities. What a sweetness and sacredness such thoughts impart to all external events, which we may regard as being the operation of His love, and moved by the hands that were nailed to the cross for us, and now hold the sceptre of the universe for the blessing of mankind! The forces of good and evil in the world seem very disproportionate, but we forget too often to take Christ into account. Great men die, good men die, Jesus Christ is not dead. He lives; He is the Anchor of our hope. What a lesson of lowliness and of diligence it gives us! "Be not wise in your own conceits." You are only a tool, only a pawn in the band of the great Player. If you have anything, it is because you get it from Him.

III. Lastly, we note THE INCOMPLETENESS OF EACH MAN'S SHARE IN THE GREAT WORK. As I said, the Book which is to tell the story of Christ's continuous work from heaven must stop abruptly. There is no help for it. If it was a history of Paul, it would need to be wound up to an end; but as it is the history of Christ's working, the web is not half finished, and the shuttle stops in the middle of a cast. The Book must be incomplete because the work of which it is the record does not end until He shall have delivered up the kingdom to the Father, and God shall be all in all. So the work of each man is but a fragment of that great work. Every man inherits unfinished tasks from his predecessors, and leaves unfinished tasks to his successors. It is, as it used to be in the Middle Ages, when the men that dug the foundations or laid the first courses of some great cathedral were dead long generations before the gilded cross was set on the apex of the needlespire, and the glowing glass filled in to the painted windows. Enough for us, if we lay a stone, though it be but one stone in one of the courses of the great building.

(A. Maclaren, D. D)

The mists of gathering ages wrap in slowly-thickening folds of forgetfulness all other men and events in history, and make them ghostlike and shadowy; but no distance has yet dimmed or will ever dim that human form Divine. Other names are like those stars that blaze out for a while, and then smoulder down into almost complete invisibility; but Christ is the very Light itself, that burns and is not consumed. Other landmarks sink below the horizon as the tribes of men pursue their solemn march through the centuries, but the cross on Calvary "shall stand for an ensign of the people, and to it shall the Gentiles seek."

(A. Maclaren, D. D)

Two facts here mark it off from every other.

I. IT WAS ORIGINAL.

1. His works were original — done in His own strength. The best deeds of the holiest men are done in the strength of heaven.

2. His teaching was original, not derived from others. He was "the Truth." His doctrines emanated from Him as living streams from a fountain of life.

3. His life was original. Such a life was never lived before; so blending the weak with the strong, the fleeting with the eternal, the human with the Divine. His whole life was a new fountain in earth's desert, a new light in earth's darkness.

4. His ministry was initiatory. Luke's Gospel was the commencement of a life here developed. Christ, absent corporeally, is with us always by His Spirit.

II. IT WAS POSTHUMOUS. Christ did not leave the world before He had made effective arrangements for the working out of His grand purpose. What He did He did through the Divine Spirit. It was in this might that He rose and continued for forty days. The ministry after the Passion was —

1. An undoubted reality (ver. 3).(1) His appearances were themselves infallible proofs. Nothing is better attested. They took place at ten different times, and before single disciples and hundreds, and in a veritable corporiety who could be touched, and could eat and drink.(2) The witnesses of these appearances were indisposed to belief in the resurrection (John 20:9; Luke 24:11; see also the case of Thomas). Yet in spite of this they were thoroughly convinced. They proclaimed it publicly and before the very Sanhedrim.

2. Confined to the disciples. Before His death He spoke to promiscuous crowds; hut now only to those between whom and Himself there was a vital spiritual connection. Henceforth He would deal with the unconverted world through them. Observe here:(1) The grand subject of His ministry was the kingdom of God. Science, philosophy, politics, were left behind for "things" of a higher type; things compared with which the greatest realities of earth are but as passing shadows; things which restore apostate spirits to God. Before His death He spoke much of His kingdom, and death had not changed His views.(2) The grand endeavour of His ministry was to prepare propagandists.

(a)By giving them distinct impressions of the work He required them to discharge (Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15, 16).

(b)By giving them an immovable conviction of His resurrection.

(c)By preparing them for the reception of their great Helper, the Holy Spirit.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Until the day in which He was taken up
We can never forget a long corridor in the Vatican Museum, exhibiting on the one side epitaphs of departed heathens, and on the other mementoes of departed Christians. Opposite to lions leaping on horses, emblems of destruction, are charming sculptures of the Good Shepherd bearing home the lost lamb, with the epitaph, "Alexander is not dead, but lives above the stars."

(J. Stoughton.)

Luke narrates the ascension twice — showing the importance of the event. The first mention is at the end of the Gospel — forming the keystone to the life of Jesus; the second at the beginning of the Acts — forming the keystone for the edifice of the Church.

(Nesselmann.)

I. THE FACT. Seneca said: "The ascent from earth to heaven is not easy." But Seneca was an atheist, if we may believe his adversaries. The atheist will not receive the witness of men. And Jesus said: "How shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?" The difficulties concerning supernaturalism are all difficulties of disbelief. To the mind of the believer there appears nothing that is difficult to Jesus in His miracles. The ascension of Jesus, like the resurrection or birth of Jesus, was only natural supernaturalism. It "was a necessary consequence of the resurrection," as it was the consummation of the series of His redemptive miracles. It was natural with Him; it would have been unnatural with His disciples. The time, the place, the nature, and the witnesses of the ascension will corroborate the supernatural claim. The time was opportune. "After having lived awhile on earth; after having offered His body as a sacrifice for sin; after having been raised from the dead; after having shown Himself alive to His disciples by many infallible proofs, then He led them out as far as Bethany, and in the presence of the whole Church then collected together He was taken up into heaven." Equally interesting, fitting, and convincing was the locality of the ascension. The nature of the ascension is evidence of the fact of the ascension. Jesus simply arose from the earth to go into the heavens. He had brought His body from the grave, and it belonged no more with corruptible things. It was not subject to the conditions or limitations of the earth. To go away was all that remained to be done. There was nowhere else to go but into the heavens. The witnesses of the ascension were not deceived, and could not be deceivers. They were the friends of Jesus. It accorded with their faith to expect that, like Enoch and Elijah, He should be caught up in the air. They were overcome with their sorrow when He was crucified. But now they had returned to Jerusalem with great joy. The angels who had announced His birth and proclaimed His resurrection were present to confirm His ascension. Stephen, when permitted to answer to the accusation of blasphemy in his apology, uttered in the very article of death, said: "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God." And among his last words were: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And John, from the isle of Patmos, saw in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks the Son of Man, whom he heard saying: "I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." So also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath sent, is a witness. His presence in the hearts of men is the greatest witness. "He shall testify of Me." If Jesus had not ascended the Holy Spirit would not be here.

II. THE DOCTRINE. The ascension of Jesus was essential to the plan and work of redemption. It was necessary to relate again the work which Jesus had come to do in the earth with the world from whence He came. He had accomplished a virtual redemption. He was thenceforth to make it actual. It was prophesied that He would ascend on high, lead captivity captive, and receive gifts for men. He himself had foretold that He should go away. The ascension was the fulfilment of prophecy and the verifiaation of His own words. Without the ascension the world could not have understood Him. It was the explanation of His character and work on the earth. Christianity was triumphant at the ascension. Sin was mastered, death was dead, and man was free. In the ascension of Jesus there was given to all believers the surety of their ascension. The heavens are now the pledge of another advent of the Son of Man.

III. THE RESULTS. There were both direct and indirect results of the ascension. The ascension was the dividing point between the gospel and the apostolic histories. It concluded the one and introduced the other. The peasant becomes a prince. He is given a name which is above every name. He is returned to the honours which He had with the Father before the world was. The last act of Jesus as He ascended was to lift up His hands and bless. In the very sight of Gethsemane and Calvary, "with malice toward none and charity for all," He went away blessing the cruel world which had received Him not, and dispensing gifts not to His friends only, but to the rebellious also. Of the great gift, in which all other gifts are included — the gift of the Holy Ghost which came on all men-we are all witnesses and partakers. The indirect influences of the ascension have been and are multifarious as the intellections and emotions of men. With the ascension the personal element of the Christ who had gone about doing good was taken from the earth, and it no longer excited malefactors to persecute Him. His disciples were exalted with Him. They were raised "into union and fellowship with a higher nature." The Father and the heavenly world were brought nearer and made dearer to the children of men. It is now the aspiration of all Christians to explore with the Son of Man the heavenly spaces.

(J W. Hamilton.)

Monday Club.
I. THE PREPARATION OF THE WITNESSES. You cannot lay hands on any man at random, and ask him to bear testimony even to undisputed facts. He must have seen the things, and be a man of truthful spirit. What Christ did that day before their eyes gave them knowledge of the final fact which was to complete the circle of their testimony. It is the consummation of His resurrection. But what He said was needful, too. It was essential that their spiritual vision should be illumined, and so the Holy Spirit was promised to complete what their outward vision had begun. Through the mere vision they might have light: only through the spiritual baptism could they have power; but not to be warriers, but witnesses. "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth, go ye, therefore, and" — not fight, not reign, but — "teach." This is ever the divinest thing that men can do, and is the work of the disciples in every age. For this the Master Himself came into the world.

II. THE LIMITATION OF THE WITNESSES. "While they beheld, a cloud received Him out of their, sight."

1. There was clear vision for a while, and then a mystery. So all our knowledge ends. The strength of the witnessing of the early disciples lay in this that they testified up to the limits of their knowledge, and then relapsed into utter silence. It will be well for the later witnesses to follow their example. Many an earnest witness has lost his power because there was no clear line between things known and things fancied; because the unfaltering testimony was not contrasted with the emphasis of silence, but dribbled off into vague surmisings.

2. But because a cloud hides, it need not cast a shadow upon us. The cloud which underlies the mysteries of heavenly truth is not black with thunder, nor scarred with lightning, but edged at least with the silver glory which it hides, and only laden for us with showers of peace and plenty. The cloud is the condescension of Divine love to our weak sight. As the rainbow repeats the promise of the early covenant, so the cloud tells us of hope and reminds us of our risen and returning Lord.

III. THE ATTITUDE OF THE WITNESSES. They stand gazing after Him up into heaven; long enough, it is evident, to lead to the rebuke and reassurance of the two angels. While they could look at Jesus they were best fitting for their witnessing; but gazing at the cloud would only make them less strong and confident, Note —

1. Their obedience. Christ had told them to go to Jerusalem and witness first where it is hardest and most perilous to do so; and where their testimony will reach the thousands of Pentecost. It is not by peering into mysteries that we gain grace to be faithful witnesses, but by unquestioning obedience to plain commands. They who are willing to do His will shall know His teaching.

2. Their fellowship. Christ had appointed them a common mission and promised a common gift. And so they stayed together till it should come. As it is in the way of obedience that we learn the truth, it is in the way of fellowship that we most often receive the richest spiritual gifts.

3. And then, of course, they prayed; not of necessity only for that which He had promised, but quite as much, perhaps, for patience to wait for it, and then for grace to use it. Obedient souls, waiting together for the promised gift of Christ, will always pray. These three things shall make you strong to be witnesses, martyrs if need be, unto Him.

(Monday Club.)

I. THE RESURRECTION.

1. The proofs of the fact. They are said to be not only many, but of infallible certainty.(1) The number of the witnesses was very sufficient (1 Corinthians 15:5, 6).(2) They had all proper advantages and opportunity of knowing the certainty of the matter.(3) They were very unwilling to be deceived (Luke 24:11).(4) They published it as soon as the thing was done.(5) The effect which their testimony had.(a) Upon themselves: they gave the best proofs that they firmly believed it; for they preached it at the hazard of their lives, and many sealed their testimony with their blood.(b) On others. Though these witnesses were but poor illiterate fishermen, and the story which they told ungrateful to the Jews, and contemptible to the Gentiles. Yet their testimony was presently received by many thousands, and nothing could possibly give a check to it.

2. The manner and circumstances of His resurrection.(1) The time is particularly recorded — the third day; not immediately, lest any should doubt whether He had been quite dead. Therefore, when He had lain in the grave long enough to satisfy everybody that His death was real, He arose (Acts 10:40; Matthew 12:40).(2) The ministry of angels in the affair (Matthew 28:2).(3) Christ was accompanied in His resurrection by several of the saints departed (Matthew 27:52, 53).

3. The uses:(1) To establish our faith in Christ's doctrine and religion (Matthew 12:39, 40).(2) To encourage our trust in Him, and our hope of salvation by Him (1 Peter 1:21; Romans 4:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Corinthians 15:16; 1 Peter 1:3, 4).

II. THE TIME OF CHRIST'S STAY IN THIS WORLD AFTER HIS RESURRECTION, AND OF WHAT HE DID DURING THAT TIME. Our Saviour's ascension was delayed so long:

1. To confirm the truth of His resurrection. When He first appeared to His disciples they were so transported that they hardly believed the thing was real (Luke 24:41), and therefore, if they had not seen Him again and again, very likely it would have passed for a vision only.

2. His love to and care of His disciples detained Him with them.

III. THE ASCENSION.

1. The manner and circumstances.(1) Where He ascended unto — Heaven (vers. 9, 11; Ephesians 4:10).(2) From whence He ascended — Olivet (ver. 12).(3) The manner was very honourable — as a triumphant Conqueror (Psalm 68:17, 18; Ephesians 4:8).(4) The witnesses who, besides the angels, were His own disciples. There was no need of their seeing Him rise, for it was proof enough of His resurrection, that they saw Him alive; but as they could not see Him in heaven, it was more necessary that they should see Him ascending.(5) He departed with a blessing (Luke 24:50, 51).

2. The ends and purposes.(1) That He might receive the due reward of His own past labours and sufferings (Philippians 2:8, 9).(2) For the encouragement and comfort of His disciples. "Ye cannot follow Me now, but ye shall follow Me afterwards; and where I am, there shall My servant be."(3) As the Forerunner (Hebrews 6:20; John 14:2).(4) To appear in the presence of God for His people, and to be their Advocate with the Father.

3. Inferences. Since Christ is ascended into heaven —(1) It is an absurd thing to look for His bodily presence anywhere in this world.(2) Let us follow our dear Saviour with our frequent thoughts, and with our warmest affections.

(D. Jennings.)

Jesus's resurrection might have been regarded as a private return to a select circle, had it not been followed by the assumption of the symbols of world-wide and heavenly authority. The Czar of Russia began to reign on the death of his father, but there was an interval of two years before he was crowned. Then it was at Moscow, the ancient seat of the rulers of the realm, where representatives of the empire and the world were gathered in unwonted splendour. The coronation signifies something. It is a time for renewing old constitutions and cementing the different parts of the dominion. Christ was formally to connect the dispensation of the chosen people with that of a universal sovereignty. There were new states to be added to His rule. Instead of remaining an illustrious citizen, He receives and wields an imperial sceptre.

(W. B. Campbell.)

As one who precedes a mighty host, provides and prepares rest for their weariness, and food for their hunger, in some city on their line of march, and having made all things ready, is at the gates to welcome their travel-stained ranks when they arrive, and guide them to their repose; so Christ has gone before, our Forerunner, to order all things for us there.

(A. Maclaren, D. D)

It is said that Socrates brought men down from heaven to earth because he diverted attention from astronomy to a philosophy that considered the duties and relations of man in this life. Christ, on the other hand, exalts the thoughts and purposes of men from earth to heaven.

The crucifixion had seemed to put an end to Jesus's ministry. But not so: the period of Gospel history was yet forty days from its end. Consider —

I. HOW THEY RESEMBLED PREVIOUS DAYS.

1. In the visible presence of Jesus.

2. In the personal ministry of Jesus. No one else could have done what was required.

3. In the verbal instruction of Jesus. "The things pertaining to the kingdom of God" had been Christ's themes at the commencement (Matthew 4:17; John 3:3), and throughout His public life.

4. The exercise of the authority of Jesus. Long ago He had chosen them, now He gave them commandments. They were to understand that death had not broken His authority.

5. In the mysterious agency of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:16; John 3:34; Hebrews 9:14).

II. HOW THEY DIFFERED.

1. He who was now seen had been hidden in the grave. Here was a testimony to the reality of the invisible. Then He could be present with them in thought, though not to sense when He returned again to the unseen.

2. The voice now heard had been silent in death. Surely then His words must have been listened to with the deepest reverence.

3. Strange experiences had increased the fitness of the disciples to receive Christ's instructions. Their misunderstandings had been rectified, and their attachment deepened. When attention has been secured a speaker can say more in a minute than in an hour otherwise.

4. The visible presence of Jesus was not constant. To give His disciples —

(1)Intervals for reflection.

(2)Evidences of His permanent interest in them.

III. THEIR LEADING IMPRESSION. That Jesus was alive. He still lives, and because of that we shall live also.

(W. Hudson.)

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John 21:25
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