Waiting, Praying, and Preparing
This first chapter could be called “A Story of Succession,” as leadership changes hands and new leaders (the apostles) succeed Jesus. Or it could be called “Preparation for the Gift of the Holy Spirit,” the gift of God’s presence, which the resurrected Jesus will send to guide the church.
Verses 1-2: introduction
Verses 3-5: The risen Jesus is with the eleven for forty days
Verses 6-8: Purpose and promise
Verses 9-11: Ascension and promise of return
Verses 12-26: Selection of Judas Iscariot’s replacement
Theophilus – lover of God
Movement form Disciple to Apostle
Gift of the Spirit
Expanding center of Christianity – from Jerusalem out to the four corners (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the corners of the earth)
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’
So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son ofJames. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred and twenty people) and said, ‘Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.’(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) ‘For it is written in the book of Psalms,
“Let his homestead become desolate,
and let there be no one to live in it”;
“Let another take his position of overseer.”
So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.’ So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
In Acts 1:3 the phrase “forty days” occurs. What other instances of forty days can you recall in the Bible? What light do those other instances shed on this passage and meaning?
In Acts 1:4-5, Jesus orders the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait. What are they waiting for? What is the significance of this instruction?
In Acts 1:6-8 Jesus refuses to give one thing, but gives others to the apostles. What does he decline to give them? And what does he give them or promise to them?
What is the criteria for a new apostle?
Think about the selection of the 12th apostle as a time of discernment for the life of the church, a time seeking God’s will. What do you notice about this time of discernment? What are its elements or steps?