Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Acts 1 - Beginnings

LINK: Acts 1


Book of Acts

The book of Acts unites the four gospel accounts to the Epistles. 

Acts 1:8 is a key verse in understanding this book:

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
Throughout the book you will see a progression of proclamation from Jerusalem (1:1-6:7), Judea and Samaria (6:8-9:31), and throughout the earth (9:32-28:31). 

At the end of each of these transitions, we will read summations of this progression:

1) "The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith" (6:7). 
2) "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase" (9:31). 
3) "So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing" in Asia Minor and the Aegean (19:30). Also, "Paul . . . was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered" in Rome (28:30-31). 
In addition to this progression, Acts is about the ministry of two different leaders: Peter, who will be part of the establishment of the church and the beginning of its expansion (1:1-12:25), and Paul, who will lead in extending the church into Asia Minor, the Aegean, and establishing a beachhead into Europe via Rome (13:1-28:31). 

The author is Luke, the Gentile physician, who also wrote the gospel named after him. Acts is meant to be a sequel to that book. It is believed that Luke meant to continue writing a third book. This is why it ends so abruptly!

Luke wrote it between A.D. 63 and 70 and is even a character in this exciting account of the birth and growth of the church. 

You will learn so much about the Holy Spirit as you read. You might want to keep a log of what you learn about this most important member of the Godhead. You will also learn about how the disciples shared the Good News (Ask yourself, "What is the the Good News?"), how the early church grew, prayer, boldly sharing your faith, and moving forward despite opposition.

It is a faced-paced, wild ride, and I am glad that you joined in on the fun!


Acts 1

We do not know exactly who Theopholis was, but the Gospel of Luke is also addressed to him. His name means "one who loves God."  He may have been the person who financed the writing of the book.  He may have been a Roman who wanted to know all about this new movement. He was a believer because Luke says, "so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:4).

Remember that Luke is continuing his account from the Gospel of Luke. Therefore, his comment about the Lord's Ascension in Acts 1:2 is referring back to Luke 24:51. Remember that Jesus' commands in the last part of Luke were to remain in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4; Luke 24:49) and go into all the world (Acts 1:8; Luke 10:4; 24:47). 

A key phrase in Luke's Gospel account was "kingdom of God." When you include the word "kingdom" alone when the word is referring to the kingdom of God, it is 120 references!  Luke continues this in the book of Acts with seven references. You might want to underline or mark all the references to the kingdom/kingdom of God as you read Acts. 

What is the definition of the kingdom of God? Here is my husband's:

"The kingdom of God is the sphere or realm of God's influence. 
Theoretically it is everywhere, but God chooses to limit Himself because He wants us to choose to be 'in' it."  
Also, ask yourself: 

What is the gospel? How is it presented?

Luke makes a case that Jesus convinced the world of the Resurrection because of 40 days of post-resurrection appearances. 

This chapter includes Jesus' ascension. Here are the Ascension Days for the next few years:

With Jesus' mention of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples assumed that the kingdom would be restored based on the Old Testament prophecy that is probably familiar if you have been reading with us from the beginning of the Bible Book Club (Isaiah 32:15-20; 44:3-5; Ezekiel 39:28-29; Joel 2:28-3:1; Zechariah 12:8-10). The kingdom Jesus is referring to is the rule and reign of God in our hearts and lives rather than any political or geographical kingdom (Matthew 6:33; Romans 14:7; 1 John 3:1-9). 

As Jesus ascended, the angels present assured the disciples that He would come again, and we can be assured of that too! They had to go to Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit, but we do not have to. If we have put our faith in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. While we wait for His return, we can follow the lead of the 120 in the Upper Room and continually devote ourselves to prayer with others. That prayer led to a new twelfth disciple to replace Judas, Matthias. 


Me on Waikiki, February 2012

I often liken the book of Acts to surfing!  The early disciples ride the wave of the Holy Spirit, and He is the one who propels them forward. It is such an exhilarating ride, but unlike a beach wave, it has not ended!  The church continues to increase throughout the world. 

It is my prayer that through the example of these early disciples, you will be challenged to "preach the kingdom of God and teach concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered" (28:31)! 


How long has it been since you gathered together with others to pray? Maybe this is a good time to ask just that! 
In April and May, we gathered with a fantastic group of people for two 26 hour prayer vigils. It was a blast!


Lord, help us not to be afraid to jump in to what you are doing in the world and ride the wave of the Holy Spirit.  We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 
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