Chapter One – Introduction and Choosing of Matthias
In this lesson, Luke will introduce us to the end of the former account that he has written to Theophilus, as a starting point for this letter. This over-lap contains the final exhortation of the Lord to His chosen, until He is “taken up” (ascends to the Father).
Acts 1:1-3 “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 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, 3 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.”
The Former Account - In this introduction, Luke refers to the previous narrative, which is the Gospel of Luke. The Gospel of Luke will record the Lord's coming, His earthly ministry , His choosing His disciples (soon to be Apostles), the instruction He has given them directly, and after His death; the final instructions to them.
Verses 4-8, will likewise be a window into these final instructions; however, we need to recognize the commandments to the Apostles He had chosen. It is in the recognition of the fact that the instruction has come to the Apostles that helps us understand that these commands specifically refer to their commission.
Apostle – From the Greek, ‘Apostolos'; meaning, ‘one sent forth', or ‘a messenger'.
The Lord, after His resurrection would give them instructions to this commission on several occasions:
• First, when He came to them in Jerusalem, before they would depart and go to Galilee.
Mark 16:14-16 “Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “ Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
John 20:21-23 “So Jesus said to them again, “ Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
• Second, when the disciples went to Galilee, He would appear to them there on a pre-appointed mountain.
“Then the eleven disciples went
away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.
When they saw Him, they worshiped
Him; but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
• Third, He would appear for the final time, once they returned to Jerusalem, before His ascension to the Father (this will also coincide with verses 4-8 of our text, which we will commentate on in that context).
“ Then He said to them, “These
are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that
all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and
the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
And He opened their understanding,
that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
• The presentation of himself to these Apostles has been recorded in our previous study of the Gospel of Luke –
http://www.plvcc.org/Luke241-12.htm - the first two appearances of the Lord (to the women who came to attend His grave and Mary Magdalene).
http://www.plvcc.org/Luke2413-27.htm - the third appearance (to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus).
http://www.plvcc.org/Luke2428-43.htm - the sixth through the tenth appearance (primarily to the disciples).
These appearances came for the purpose of evidentiary testimony, so that His chosen could state with emphatic certainty that Jesus was resurrected bodily!
Acts 17:31 “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Romans 1:4 “and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
1 Corinthians 15:20 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
1 Peter 3:21 “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”
Forty Days – Luke, as a good historian provides for us a time frame to work with. The Feast of Weeks, that would be later called Pentecost (from the Greek ‘ Pentecoste ' which meant ‘the fiftieth day), was fifty days after the Passover Sabbath (seven Sabbaths and a day – Leviticus 23:15-16).
There has been a great deal of speculation and controversy concerning the figuring the exact method in determining the feast of Pentecost; however, if we keep what has been revealed at face value, we learn that it is the day after the seventh Sabbath (49 days + 1 = 50; and the first day of the week!).
With this in mind, we can note that by these calculations, the final appearance of the Lord to His disciples before His ascension (at the end of the forty days), would leave just ten days before the day of Pentecost. We will learn that the disciples would receive the promise of the Father on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), so we also learn that they would only have to wait in Jerusalem ten days before they would receive the promise of the Father and begin their commission as Apostles of Jesus Christ.
Speaking of Things Pertaining to the Kingdom of God – We have already illustrated concerning all the points the Lord would speak of the kingdom of God in a previous lesson for reference to what He was reminding His disciples at this time – see: http://www.plvcc.org/Luke-PostLuke.htm
At this point though, I would like to share a passage in the Old Testament prophecies of Daniel. In the coming verses we will see from an earthly view point, the ascension of Jesus into the clouds. In this passage of Daniel (given as a description of visions given to Daniel of kingdoms to come and of God's glorious kingdom), we are given a view of this event from the view point of heaven, and hundreds of years before the event would transpire, note:
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.”
I have always liked the language of prophecy as given by God through the holy men who spoke as they were moved or directed by the Holy Spirit. There is certainty to the language. Not He might receive a kingdom, or if He receives a kingdom; but an unmistakable “was given dominion and glory and a kingdom”. It is this kingdom that the Lord is about to receive that He is speaking to His chosen about and their roll in its founding.
Next “The Promise of the Spirit”