Acts Chapter One
I. Content of the Chapter
The Foundation of the Church
I. The appearing and teachings of the risen Lord (v.1-3).
II. The promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the mission to bear witness to the Lord (v.4-8).
III. The vision of Christ’s ascension and the hope of the Lord’s second coming (v.9-11).
IV. The prayer and supplication with one accord (v.12-14).
V. The filling up of the lot of the service and apostleship:
A. Declare the ending of Judas who betrayed the Lord (v.15-20).
B. Choose Matthias as the apostle (v.21-26).
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Acts. 1:1 “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,”
YLT: “The former account, indeed, I made concerning all things, O Theophilus, that Jesus began both to do and to teach,”
Meaning of Words: “Theophilus”: God’s friend, the one who loves God, the one whom God loves, the one whom God treasures, the one whom God values.
Literal Meaning: “Theophilus” is the recipient of this book and the Gospel of Luke, please see the details in the Recipients of the introduction of to the Acts of the Apostles.
“The former account I made” refers to the Gospel of Luke. It is said that the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were regarded by the early church as the first and second volumes of one book. Until the middle period of the second century, the Gospel of Luke in which the deeds of the Lord Jesus are recorded was put together with the other three Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in which the deeds of the disciples are recorded was put alone after the four Gospels.
“Of all that Jesus began both to do and teach” It summarizes the Gospel of Luke. “Began” refers to the period when the Lord Jesus incarnated and lived on the earth; “to do” refers to His deeds; “to teach” refers to His words and teachings.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “All that…both to do and teach” The works of the Lord Jesus include both the doings of the word and teachings. We, who serve the Lord, should pay equal attention to the deeds and words (Pill. 1:27; Eph. 4:20-22).
2) It is the lifelong feature of the Lord Jesus that He teaches by deed first and then by word. Before He teaches men to forgive others, He Himself forgave others; before He teaches men to pray, He Himself prayed; before He teaches men to leave all and walk on the way of the cross, He Himself left all and walked on the way of the cross; before He teaches men to wash one another’s feet, He Himself washed the feet of the disciples.
3) The two shortcomings of common Christians are that: a) what they do does not catch up with what they say; b) they are not fully aware of what they believe.
4) What the Lord Jesus did and taught according to the flesh is only the “beginning” of His works. Over the past two thousand years, He continually works through the Holy Spirit and teaches believers.
Acts. 1:2 “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,”
YLT: “till the day in which, having given command, through the Holy Spirit, to the apostles whom he did choose out, he was taken up,”
Literal Meaning: “after He through the Holy Spirit” This book stresses on that all things that are accomplished are done “through the Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit is the leading role through the whole book and therefore the Acts of the Apostles is also called the Acts of the Holy Spirit.
“Had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen” “Commandments” is the martial term and it refers to issuing the order in hope of the obedience of the other. “Apostles” refers to those who have been sent.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Lord does and teaches all “through the Holy Spirit”. We should also walk and speak in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25).
2) “Had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen” It shows that the Lord only commands those whom He had chosen, showing that those who have been commanded by the Lord cannot be overlooked. We should not regard the commandment of the Lord as unimportant.
3) “Had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen” The Lord hopes that we could obey and put into practice every word that He “had commanded” us. And therefore we should not talk about His words as reasons, without the intention to obey His words.
Acts. 1:3 “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
YLT: “to whom also he did present himself alive after his suffering, in many certain proofs, through forty days being seen by them, and speaking the things concerning the reign of God.”
Meaning of Words: “proof”: criterion of certainty, symptom; “present”: show.
Literal Meaning: “many infallible proofs” “proofs” refers to the numerous proofs that declares the facts with irrefutable evidence.
“He also presented Himself alive” indicates that He presented Himself real and vivid to the disciples.
According to the whole Bible, the
details that the Lord Jesus presented Himself to the disciples after His
resurrection are as follows: 1) He appeared to Mary (Mark. 16:9-11; John.
20:11-18). 2) He appeared to other women (Matt. 28:9-10). 3) He appeared to the
two disciples who went to Emmaus (Mark. 16:12-13; Luke. 24:13-35). 4) He
appeared to Simon Peter (Luke. 24:34; 1Cor. 15:5). 5) He appeared to the eleven
apostles except Thomas (Luke. 24:36-43; John. 20:19-23). 6) He appeared to the
eleven apostles (Mark. 16:14; John. 20:24-29). 7) He appeared in
“Being seen by them during forty days” It is the only verse that describes “the forty days” when the Lord Jesus stayed on the earth from His resurrection to His public ascension.
“Being seen by them” The risen Christ dwells in believers (2Cor. 13:5) and abides with them. Only that His presence sometimes is seen and more often is unseen.
“Speaking of the things pertaining to
1) The reality of the
2) The appearance of the
3) The realization of the
This verse shows that the Lord trains the disciples
in two things during the forty days after His resurrection: 1) Make the
disciples know the reality of the Lord’s resurrection so that it could be the
center of their witness (Acts. 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40-41; 13:30, 34,
37; 17:3, 31; 26:8). 2) Make the disciples deeply comprehend the meaning of the
Spiritual Meaning: “the forty days” is the period of test and trial (Matt. 4:2).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Forty” is formerly the number of trial and suffering, however, it is also the number that the risen Lord appears to men. Our trail and tribulation are the right occasion for the Lord to present Himself to us “alive”. And therefore we should not fear the hard trials and we should be afraid that the Lord does not present Himself to us in trials.
2) What Christians receive is not the dead pope but the Savior who was dead and is alive (Rev.1:18). He accomplishes the work of redemption through His death and His resurrection confirms the reliableness of the redemption (1Cor. 15:17).
3) The risen Christ is not only the foundation of the church but also the deadly attack to Satan---God’s enemy. It is no wonder that Satan and its subordinates deny and attack the fact of Christ’s resurrection all the time from the time Christ is raised from the dead.
4) If Christians only know how to enjoy the effect of Christ’s death, and do not know how to enjoy the effect of His resurrection, they are difficulty saved. What a pity!
5) A Christian begins to experience God’s life subjectively from the knowledge of Christ’s resurrection. The one who does not know Christ’s resurrection does not have the real experience of life.
Acts. 1:4 “And being assembled
together with them, He commanded them not to depart from
YLT: “And being assembled
together with them, he commanded them not to depart from
Literal Meaning: “and being assembled together with them” “being assembled” in the original means “eating with them” and it is translated in some version that, “when He was eating with them”. And therefore we could read this verse with Luke. 24:43. However, “being assembled” could also refer to any meeting.
“Not to depart from
However, if we regard this gathering as
the meeting with the disciples in
“But to wait for the Promise of the Father” “The Promise of the Father” refers to the Holy Spirit (Joel. 2:28-32; Luke. 24:49). According to the Gospel of John, the Holy Spirit is also the promise of the Lord Jesus that He had prayed the Father (John. 14:16, 26).
“Which ‘you have heard from Me” Before the Lord Jesus was killed, He told the disciples many times that they should receive the Holy Spirit (John. 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7,13).
Enlightenment in the Word:
2) The Lord on one hand commanded the disciples
that “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). On the
other, He commanded them “not to depart from
3) “But to wait for the Promise of the Father.” If we want to gain the promise of God, we have to wait for it. If men are unwilling to wait, they cannot gain the promise of God. However, the waiting of Christians does not mean that they are occupied with nothing, but that they look upon God wholeheartedly.
4) “Waiting” also refers to the obedient attitude------God will absolutely not entrust any work to those who do not obey the Lord’s commandment or pour out the heavenly blessings to them.
5) Those who do not know God think that only “working” is serving God and do not know that “waiting” is also a kind of service. Those who know God not only know that “waiting” is serving God but also understand that “waiting” is a kind of service deeper than “working”.
Acts. 1:5 “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’”
YLT: “because John, indeed, baptized with water, and ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit after not many days.’”
Literal Meaning: “for John truly baptized with water” The baptism of John stresses on the negative dealing with. It shows that one ends his past sins in his rejection of God through his being immersed into water and therefore it is also called “the baptism of repentance” (Acts. 19:3-4). It is different from Christians’ baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus because the baptism of Christians stresses on the union with Christ which includes the negative burial------die with Christ and the positive resurrection------live with Christ (Rom. 6:3-5).
“Not many days from now” refers to the Pentecost that is ten days after the Lord’s being taken up (Acts. 2:1).
“You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” From the word of the Lord, it is a particular event that the disciples received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Namely, the Holy Spirit shall come upon the disciples on the day of the Pentecost. Luke said that “they were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts. 2:1-4). Peter the Apostle explained that this is the prophecy of “the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit” that was spoken by the prophet Joel (Acts. 2:16-18). And therefore many people lump “the baptism of the Holy Spirit”, “the descent of the Holy Spirit” and “the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit” together and they hold that they refer to the same thing. However, according to the whole Bible, the several acts of the Holy Spirit are the same in broad sense and they slightly differ from each other in the narrow sense:
A. “The baptism of the Holy Spirit”: believers are baptized in the Holy Spirit so as to become a part of the body of Christ and they could partake in the oneness of spirit (1Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:3). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled with two phases: the first phase is fulfilled on the day of the Pentecost on which the Jewish believers whom the disciples stood for were baptized into the body of Christ (Acts. 2:4). The second phase is fulfilled at the house of Cornelius. The household of Cornelius, standing for all Gentile believers, were baptized into the body of Christ (Acts. 10:44-47; 11:15-17). And therefore “the baptism of the Holy Spirit” is an objective fact that had been accomplished in the history. The true Christians at all times and in all countries have already partaken in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When we repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, this objective fact becomes our individual subjective experience.
B. “The descent of the Holy Spirit”: it is different from the indwelling Holy Spirit which indicates that the Holy Spirit dwells in believers and makes them be born from above and partake in the spiritual life (Rom. 8:11; John. 3:6). “The descent of the Holy Spirit” indicates that the Holy Spirit comes upon believers (the outward nature) and makes them have power to bear witness of the Lord (Acts. 1:8; Luke. 24:49). The indwelling Holy Spirit lays particular stress on life and the descent of the Holy Spirit, work.
C. “Being filled with the Holy Spirit” In the original, two different words are used to describe it: one refers to bathing in the Holy Spirit (outwardly) (pletho, Acts. 2:4; 3:10; 4:8, 31; 5:17; 9:17; 13:9, 45; 19:29), i.e. the Holy Spirit descends upon believers abundantly and makes them have the power of working. The other refers to the infilling of the Holy Spirit (inwardly) (pleroo, Acts. 13:52; Eph. 5:18), i.e. the Holy Spirit occupies more in believers and makes them be full of the spiritual life.
D. “The out-pouring of the Holy Spirit”: as if one pours of the anointing oil upon the heads of men (Lev. 8:12), God pours out the Holy Spirit from the heaven upon believers abundantly so that they could fulfill the special commission that God has entrusted them (Acts. 2:16-21).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Believers have to undergo the baptism of water and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We not only need to receive the procedure of the baptism of water but also should experience the reality of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
2) One experiences the baptism of the Holy Spirit through waiting (Acts. 1:4), showing that the sovereignty depends on God and the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes to believers according to God’s time and way instead of the exchange of men’s pursuit.
Acts. 1:6 “Therefore, when they had
come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord,
will You at this time restore the kingdom to
YLT: “They, therefore, indeed, having come together, were questioning him, saying,
`Lord, dost thou at this time restore the reign to
Meaning of Words: “come together”: convene (it is different from “being assembled” in v.4); “restore”: reconstitute.
Literal Meaning: “when they had come together” Some Bible exegetes think that this sentence is not the repetition of the fourth verse but the last gathering before the Lord was taken up.
“Lord, will You at this time restore
the kingdom to
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Men’s thoughts and minds would always obstruct our new vision. Even our past true knowledge of the Bible may become the obstruction for us to gain the Lord’s new revelation. And therefore every time we come to the Lord, we should empty ourselves and only look upon Him.
2) What the Lord pays attention to is “the things
pertaining to the
3) It is true that Christians should care for their
own kinsmen, country and nation (
Acts. 1:7 “And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”
YLT: “and he said unto them, `It is not yours to know times or seasons that the Father did appoint in His own authority;”
Literal Meaning: “in His own
authority” The Lord Jesus did not think that their question in v.6 was wrong
because “the restoration of the
“Times and seasons which the Father has put” “Has put” in the original is the past indefinite tense, showing that God the Father has established a time and it is a fixed fact.
“Times” refers to a period of time and it stresses on the extension of time. “Seasons” refers to some fixed time and it matters with both the length and nature of time.
“It is not for you to know” The realization of the kingdom of the Messiah shall be fully accomplished according to the time in the plan of God the Father. However, we could not predict the day or hour before the fullness of the fixed time.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The day and hour of the Lord’s second coming is the hidden thing that belongs to God (Deut. 29:29). Since God has not told us the day or hour obviously, we do not need to extrapolate it.
2) We should set our minds at rest and let God the Father arrange His things. And we should diligently do the things that we ought to do------bear witness of the Lord through the Holy Spirit (Acts. 1:8).
Acts. 1:8 “But you shall receive
power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me
YLT: “but ye shall
receive power at the coming of the Holy Spirit upon you, and ye shall be
witnesses to me both in
Literal Meaning: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” The disciples had received the Holy Spirit at night on that day of the Lord’s resurrection (John. 20:22) as the Spirit of life “within” them (Rom. 8:2). Now, the Holy Spirit should come upon them for the sake of the Lord’s witness, i.e. the Spirit of power “upon” them (Luke. 24:49).
“Be witnesses to Me” Bearing witness of the Lord is the important theme through the whole Acts of the Apostles (Acts. 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39; 13:31; 22:15).
There are three important aspects for the witnesses to the Lord: 1) the witnesses should have the personal experience and knowledge of the Lord (See v.22). 2) The true witness always lies on deeds instead of words. 3) “Witnesses” is the same with “martyrs” in the Greek and therefore the one who bears witness of the Lord should have the mind of laying down his life for the Lord.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Lord did not tell us the times and seasons
of the restoration of the
2) Today the Lord reserves us on the earth with an important aim that we should “bear witness” of the Lord, or that we shall be “the witnesses of the Lord”. This is the glorious mission of every Christian.
3) The Holy Spirit dwells “within” you for yourself------make you repent, listen to the word of God and know the Lord. The Holy Spirit comes “upon” you (i.e. outside of you) for others------make others repent, listen to the word of God and know the Lord.
4) When Christians bear witness of the Lord, the power of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary. Even if one is of great talent, has been strictly trained and has rich experience, his work is of no effort without the power of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, even if one does not have any knowledge and has the weak bodily presence, there will be the unexpected effect of work if he gains the power of the Holy Spirit.
5) Not by might, nor by power, but by the spirit of God (Zech. 4:6).
6) The Lord’s love is universal and His gospel benefits the whole land. We believers should be delivered from the conception of the narrow race and region (Col. 3:11) and bear witness to the whole world.
7) This verse reveals the principle of the expansion of the glad tidings: expanding from center to periphery. And therefore we should preach the glad tidings from the closest relatives and friends to the strange public.
8) Many Christians have an intention to preach the glad tidings for the Lord, however, they make two extreme mistakes: a) they aim too high and are willing to preach to the remotest corners of the earth. However they neglect the relatives, neighbors, colleagues and classmates who are beside them. b) they only care for those who are close to them and neglect the Lord’s need and calling.
9) “Witness” means “martyr” in the original. The Lord’s witnesses should: a) have the mind that “not love one’s life to the death” (Rev. 12:11). b) “always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2Cor. 4:10).
10) If we want to bear witness of the Lord, we should have the personal experience and knowledge of Christ besides the power of the Holy Spirit. We should not hold that the one who has been saved and has the knowledge of the Bible, good eloquence and mind is able to bear witness of Christ. What is important is the history that one has before the Lord. The qualification to be the witnesses to the Lord is the knowledge of Christ. You may be able to say much, however, you may be unable to be Christ’s witness. What men lack is the holy life and the Holy Spirit and only those who truly know Christ could quicken men.
Acts. 1:9 “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
YLT: “And these things having said they beholding he was taken up, and a cloud did receive him up from their sight;”
Literal Meaning: “while they watched, He was taken up” It shows that the Lord’s ascension is an obvious fact to all and many people could bear witness to it.
“And a cloud received Him out of their sight.” In the Bible “cloud” is often used to describe the glory of God (Exod. 40:34; 1Kings. 8:10-11; Matt. 17:5).
Acts. 1:10 “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,”
YLT: “and as they were looking stedfastly to the heaven in his going on, then, lo, two men stood by them in white apparel,”
Meaning of Words: “looked steadfastly toward”: gaze intently.
Literal Meaning: “behold, two men stood by them in white apparel” “two men” refers to angels (John. 20:12).
Acts. 1:11 “who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’”
YLT: “who also said, `Men, Galileans, why do ye stand gazing into the heaven? this Jesus who was received up from you into the heaven, shall so come in what manner ye saw him going on to the heaven.’”
Literal Meaning: “Men of Galilee” The
former twelve disciples of the Lord Jesus were all men of
“Will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” The word of the angel tells us: “the Lord’s second coming” does not mean that the Lord dwells in us in the Holy Spirit or that we will be with Him after our death. “The Lord’s second coming” does not refer to the coming of moral but the real coming.
At the same time, when the Lord Jesus comes again, there will be similar scenes with His ascension: 1) He will come to the Mount called Olivet as He was taken up on the Mount called Olivet (Acts. 1:11; Zech. 14:4). 2) His second coming will be visible as His ascension is obvious to all (Acts. 1:9; Matt. 24:30). 3) He will come in the clouds of heaven as He was taken up and a cloud received Him (Acts. 1:9; Mark. 14:62; Luke 21:27).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Why do you stand gazing up into heaven?” God does not want us to hesitate, suspect, or waste time. He asks us to act and carry out what the Lord has entrusted us.
2) If we indeed see the vision of Christ’s ascension, we must have the heavenly sight, seek those things which are above and not be deceived by the things which are on the earth (Col. 3:1-2).
3) “Will so come in like manner” Here the subject is not others but “Jesus who was taken up”. The Lord’s second coming does not mean that He is with us in the Holy Spirit or the descent of the Holy Spirit, but that He Himself will come for the second time.
4) “Will so come in like manner” Christ’s coming is absolutely true. The prophets predicted His second coming (Zech. 14:5), the Lord Himself spoke of His second coming (Matt. 24:44), the angel here guaranteed His second coming, the Holy Spirit mentions His second coming again and again through the authors of the epistles of the New Testament (1Thess. 4:16; Heb. 10:37) and the whole Revelation bears witness to His second coming. The Lord’s coming is affirmative.
5) Since we know that the Lord will come again, we should have the heart of desiring His coming (Rev. 22:20) and prepare ourselves to meet His second coming (Matt. 24:44; 25:1-13).
6) When the Lord comes, He will judge men on the earth and punish those who follow the bad example of the world. And therefore those who know that the Lord will come again should lead a life in all piety.
Acts. 1:12 “Then they returned to
YLT: “Then did they
Meaning of Words: “the mount called Olivet” the garden of Olives.
Literal Meaning: “from the mount
called Olivet” “the mount called Olivet” is the place where the Lord Jesus was
taken up and it is in the outside of the city of
“A Sabbath day’s journey” The Jewish rabbis deduced that men could walk two thousand elbows (about one kilometer) at most (Num. 35:5; Josh.3:4) according to the regulation that men could not walk far on the Sabbath (Exod. 16:29). If one walks beyond this distance, he shall be considered as disobeying the Sabbath.
“Then they returned to
Acts. 1:13 “And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.”
YLT: “and when they came in, they went up to the upper room, where were abiding both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James, of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zelotes, and Judas, of James;”
Meaning of Words: “Peter”: stone; “John”: God’s gifts; “James”: the seizer, usurper; “Andrew”: man, mighty, overcomer, strong, masculine; “Philip”: affectionate, fond of horses; “Thomas”: the twin; “Bartholomew”: son of Tholomew, son of wars; “Matthew”: God’s gift; “Alphaeus”: interchange; “Simon the Canaite”: listen to earnestly; “Judas”: worship.
Literal Meaning: “they went up into the upper room where they were staying” In the original, there is a definite article before “upper room”, showing that it is particular in the hearts of the Apostles. Probably it is the upper room of the large room where the Lord Jesus and disciples ate the dinner of the Passover (Mark. 14:15). It is said that it was the house of the mother of Mark and it seemed that believers in the early period often used this room as the gathering place (Acts. 12:12). Today many Bible exegetes called this room “the room of Mark”.
“Bartholomew” Many Bible exegetes think that the “Nathanael” in the Gospel of John (John. 1:45-50) is Bartholomew.
“James the son of Alphaeus” Two of the twelve disciples of the Lord named James. One is the son of Zebedee, i.e. the brother of John. The other is this James (Matt. 10:2-3; Mark. 3:17-18; Luke. 6:14-15). The general Bible exegetes call him “little James” for distinction.
“The Canaite” was a radical Jewish sect. Men in Canaite were zealous in the Law and they even resorted to force to defend the Law. They also resisted the dominion of the Roman Government.
“Judas the son of James” is also named Thaddaeus (Matt. 10:3; Mark. 3:18).
Acts. 1:14 “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
YLT: “these all were continuing with one accord in prayer and supplication, with women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”
Meaning of Words: “with one accord”: with one mind; “continued”: persevere, attend continually.
Literal Meaning: “with the women” Some of “the women” were the wives of the disciples and these women also included the ones who followed the Lord to the cross (Matt. 27:55-56; Mark. 15:40-41; John. 19:25).
“Mary the mother of Jesus” It is the place where Mary was mentioned for the last time in the New Testament and she was called “the mother of Jesus” instead of “God’s mother” in the Catholic Church. Moreover, she prayed with the disciples and did not receive the disciples’ prayer.
“And with His brothers” “Brothers” refers to His brothers according to the flesh. They did not believe Him previously (John. 7:5) and now they believed Him obviously and among whom James and Judas became leaders in the church later (Acts. 15:13-21; Gal. 2:9; Jude. 1).
“All continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” It shows the three conditions of prayer: 1) “with one accord”. 2) “continue”. 3) with the “urgent” mood and “real” burden.
Spiritual Meaning: There were both brothers and sisters who prayed in this upper room in the early church. There were both men and women (Acts. 1:13-14). In the Bible, men represent the objective truth (knowledge) and women represent the subjective truth (experience). The two aspects are indispensable and only the two aspects together could bring in the heavenly blessing.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The descent of the Holy Spirit is what the Lord has promised (Acts. 1:8). And the Lord is faithful and all that He has promised must be accomplished. Even so, the disciples still need to pray so that they could subjectively experience the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts. 2:1-4). The way of the fulfillment of the will of God must be paved by the prayers of the disciples. The will of God would be accomplished as far as our prayer could reach.
2) Though we could not ask God to do what He is unwilling to do, we could hold back what He is willing to do and the key of it is “prayer”. There is a principle of God’s working: only when the citizens of God are willing to pray for the will of God will He be willing to rise and work so as to accomplish His will.
3) Prayer is none other but that we express our “Amen” to the will of God. As long as believers sympathize with the will of God in their prayers, God is willing to accomplish His will.
4) All spiritual works should be prepared and begin in prayers. Prayer is the foundation of the spiritual works. The works without the foundation of prayers will not bring in the true blessing of God.
5) John Bunyan said that, “prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan”.
6) Someone said that, “prayer is the thermometer and thermostat of the church”.
7) Prayers of believers bring in “the Pentecost” (Acts. 2:1-4). The cross is the work that the Son of God has finished by Himself and the Pentecost is the work that the children of God have accomplished.
8) The individual prayer of believers is important and the corporate prayer of all believers is indispensible. Many times, the prayer of many people with one accord is of greater effect than the individual prayer.
9) God’s sons and daughters gather together and pray simply, wholeheartedly, truly and “with one accord”. It always brings in God’s answer and blessing.
10) If believers want to pray “with one accord”, we have to live in the life of the church “with one accord”.
11) The greatest shortcoming of believers in prayer is that they cannot “continue”------it is easy for them to lose heart and not to persevere.
12) If our prayer hasn’t been answered by God, it does not show that God rejects our prayer because God’s time has not come yet. It is also the reason why we should continue in prayer.
13) The best “waiting” (Acts. 1:4) is “prayer”. The most effective prayer is “continuing with one accord in prayer and supplication”.
14) According to this chapter of the Bible, there
are four conditions for “continuing with one accord in prayer and
supplication”: a) the same knowledge------the
15) God’s work must be accomplished by believers’ being “with one accord”. In other words, if believers are not “with one accord”, they will interrupt God’s work.
Acts. 1:15 “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said,”
YLT: “And in these days, Peter having risen up in the midst of the disciples, said, (the multitude also of the names at the same place was, as it were, an hundred and twenty,)”
The Background: according to the regulations of the Jewish council, if they want to elect someone to take up an important post of the council officially, the legal number of people who attend the meeting should be more than one hundred and twenty.
Literal Meaning: “the number of names
was about a hundred and twenty” At that time there were at least five hundred
believers (1Cor. 15:6) and therefore these people were only a part of them.
Probably, all of them cannot gather together because of the limitation of the
capacity of the upper room. Or probably most of the disciples stayed in Galilee
and did not return to
“Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples” “disciples” refer to brothers who all have receive the life of God (John. 20:17).
Spiritual Meaning: “was about a hundred and twenty” “A hundred and twenty” is ten times the number “twelve”, symbolizing the complete oneness.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples” Peter denied the Lord three times and was offended severely. However, he “stood up” in the Lord. We should not be afraid of failure. We should be afraid of is that after failure, we are unwilling to and dare not to stand up in the Lord.
2) Believers should pray for each other and ask the Lord to rise many men among brothers to “speak” for Him.
Acts. 1:16 “‘Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus;”
YLT: “`Men, brethren, it behoved this Writing that it be fulfilled that beforehand the Holy Spirit spake through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who became guide to those who took Jesus,”
Literal Meaning: “Men and brethren” This appellation often occurs in this book (Acts. 1:11; 2:29, 37; 7:2; 13:15, 26, 38; 15:7, 13; 22:1; 23:1, 6; 28:17).
“The Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David” It refers to the psalm that David had made: “who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Ps. 41:9). The Lord Jesus said it at the last dinner (John. 13:18), implying that Judas was about to betray Him.
Enlightenment in the Word: we should be “a guide to those who believe in Jesus” and should never be “a guide to those who arrest Jesus”.
Acts. 1:17 “for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.’”
YLT: “because he was numbered among us, and did receive the share in this ministration,”
Meaning of Words: “number”: reckon among, count, number with; “ministry”: official service, service, provision; “part”: lot (Acts. 1:26).
Acts. 1:18 “(Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.”
YLT: “this one, indeed, then, purchased a field out of the reward of unrighteousness, and falling headlong, burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed forth,”
Meaning of Words: “wage”: pay for service, reward; “purchase”: obtain, possess.
Literal Meaning: “Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity” Though that field was actually purchased by the priests after they took counsel, it could still be considered that it was purchased under the name of Judas because they bought it with the wage that Judas betrayed the Lord (Matt. 27:3-10).
“And falling headlong” Judas hanged himself (Matt. 27:5). Probably, the rope could not carry the burden and split so that he fell headlong.
“He burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out” When the body fell from the high place and hit the ground, the belly burst open so that all his entrails gushed forth.
Acts. 1:19 “And it became known to
all those dwelling in
YLT: “and it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem, insomuch that that place is called, in their proper dialect, Aceldama, that is, field of blood,”
Meaning of Words: “Akel Dama”: Filed of Blood (Aramaic).
Literal Meaning: “so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood” Undoubtedly, this name was called by those who knew the situation at that time because this filed was purchased by the wages of blood that Judas had gained (please see the note of v. 18 in this chapter).
Acts. 1:20 “‘For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it'; and, ‘Let another take his office.'”
YLT: “for it hath been written in the book of Psalms: Let his lodging-place become desolate, and let no one be dwelling in it, and his oversight let another take.”
Meaning of Words: “office”: the office of a ‘bishop’, visitation.
Literal Meaning: the first sentence was quoted from Ps. 69:25 and the last sentence was quoted from Ps. 109:8.
Acts. 1:21 “‘Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,”
YLT: “`It behoveth, therefore, of the men who did go with us during all the time in which the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us,”
Meaning of Words: “among”: in face of.
Literal Meaning: “all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us” it refers to the time of three and a half years when He began to preach publicly from His thirty years old (Luke. 3:23).
Acts. 1:22 “beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.’”
YLT: “beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day in which he was received up from us, one of these to become with us a witness of his rising again.’”
Literal Meaning: “become a witness of His resurrection” “Resurrection” proves that: 1) Jesus indeed died in order to redeem sinners. 2) His death was acceptable to God. 3) He is the originator of life. And therefore the message of resurrection is extremely important and it is the key to the faith of Christians. If one does not believe that God has raised Jesus from the dead, he won’t be saved (Rom. 10:9).
Controversial Clarification: some Bible exegetes hold that, according to this verse, only those who have the following two conditions could be qualified to be called apostles: 1) beginning from the baptism of John to the time when the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead, he must always accompany Jesus. 2) He must have seen the risen Jesus.
They, according to the above-mentioned qualifications, hold that: there were “apostles” only in the early church; there are only “shepherds and teachers” in the later church and there aren’t the so-called “apostles”. They hold so probably because they honor the special stature of the twelve apostles (Rev. 11:14). However, they limit the meaning of apostles.
Paul the Apostle had seen the risen Christ (Acts. 9:5), however, he had not followed Jesus (Acts. 7:58). We do not know the condition of Barnabas before he believed the Lord (Acts. 4:36-37), however, he and Paul were both called the “apostles” (Acts. 14:14). Even the young Timotheus who obviously had not followed Jesus or seen the risen Lord was also called the “apostle” (1Thess. 1:1; 2:6).
Moreover, we have to learn the differences between the apostles for “the witness of His resurrection” and the apostles for “the edification of Christ’s body” (Eph. 4:11-12). Here the twelve apostles are the ones for the witness of Jesus’ resurrection. However, the apostles (e.g. Paul) that the Lord had established after them are the ones for the edification of Christ’s body. Undoubtedly, the twelve apostles partake in the mission of the up-building of Christ’s body. However, their original identity is unreplacable (Rev. 21:14).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty (1Cor. 15:14, 17).
2) “Become a witness of His resurrection” It is not only talking about the objective truth but also displaying the subjective experience. And therefore we have to experience the Lord’s life of resurrection more.
3) If we want to “become a witness of His resurrection”, what’s the most important is that we have to know the power of His resurrection (Pill. 3:10). Only when we know the great power of Christ’s resurrection will Christ truly become our aim. What you could declare before God and men depends on how much you know the great power of Christ’s resurrection. If you know the power of resurrection, you will know what Christ is, and naturally you will be qualified to be a witness to Christ.
4) The Lord whom we believe is not a foregone figure but a living person------He is the living and true God (1Thess. 1:9).
5) The true sign of Christians is not that they know the things concerning Jesus, but Jesus whom they experience and know.
6) Only when Christians meet the Lord in their life will they bear witness of Him. Our true witness is to bear witness of the Lord through our whole life and what we bear witness of is the risen Lord whom we know.
7) “Become a witness with us of His resurrection” It shows that the companions with whom one bears witness are indispensable. Believers should not be satisfied with the individual witness to the Lord because the individual could not bear witness fully. Only when witnesses are many will the witness be strong.
8) “Become a witness with us…” The individual preaching is like “fishing with a fishhook” and only one fish could be fished one time. The corporate preaching is like “fishing with the net” and many fish could be shut in by the net (Luke. 5:6-7; John. 21:11).
Acts. 1:23 “And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.”
YLT: “And they set two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias,”
Meaning of Words: “Barsabas”: the son of Sabas, the son of the Sabbath; “Matthias”: God’s gift, the gift of Jehovah.
Literal Meaning: “Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus” “Justus” is the Latin name of Joseph.
Someone holds that he is “Judas called Barsabas” in Acts. 15. Though he had not been chosen to be the apostle, he still acted actively in the church and was generally acknowledged as the leading men among the brothers (Acts. 15:22, 32). On the contrary, Matthias who was chosen to be the apostle had not been mentioned in the Bible.
“Joseph…, who was surnamed Justus” “Justus” was the Greek name of Joseph.
Acts. 1:24-25 “And they prayed and said, ‘You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.’”
YLT: “and having prayed, they said, `Thou, Lord, who art knowing the heart of all, shew which one thou didst choose of these two to receive the share of this ministration and apostleship, from which Judas, by transgression, did fall, to go on to his proper place;’”
Meaning of Words: the word “apostle”
is made up of two words: ministry (Acts. 1:17) and apostleship (
Literal Meaning: “he might go to his own place” refers to the everlasting fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God will not let others have our “ministry” easily because of our failure (Acts. 1:20). However, if we remain in our failure for a long time and are unwilling to repent, God will rise others to gain our “ministry”. Only those who abandon the “ministry” shall lose the “ministry”.
2) The place where Judas went is the hell and his way to go to hell is suicide. Suicide is a short cut to go to hell and it is also the quickest way for one to go to hell.
Acts. 1:26 “And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
YLT: “and they gave their lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
The Background: In the past, when the Jews wanted to choose someone to do service in the temple, they would write the name of the suitable one on a piece of stone. They would put these stones in a container and shake it until a stone dropped out. The name on that stone was the elect.
Literal Meaning: “And they cast their lots” “Casting lots” is the traditional way for the Jews to seek the will of God (Lev. 16:8; Josh. 14:2; 1Samuel. 14:41; Neh. 10:34, 11:1; Prov. 16:33). Please note that the scripture here is the last time for men to decide one thing by casting lots in the Bible and they no longer use this way.
“And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” It indicates that he entered the line of apostles.
Spiritual Meaning: “cast their lots” spiritually means that: reject the favor of the natural men, honor the sovereignty of God and look upon God simply for the manifestation of His will.
1) Believers in the dispensation of the New Testament do not use the way of casting lots to seek the will of God because the Spirit of truth is their guidance.
2) Someone said that Matthias could not be counted as the apostle because of the casting of lots and Paul acceded to the apostleship of Judas among the twelve apostles. Actually it is not so because the Holy Spirit admitted him as one of the twelve apostles. In Acts. 2:14, Matthias was within them when “Peter, stood up with the eleven”. In Acts. 6:2, Matthias was also within them when “the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples”. As for Paul, he was a chosen vessel of the Lord and the apostle of the Gentiles (Acts. 9:15; Gal. 1:16; 2:9).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The meaning of “Matthias” is “the gift of Jehovah”. It is truly the God’s gifts for anyone to partake in the witness of the Lord.
2) Today, when men decide something in the church, they should let the mind be in them which is also in Christ Jesus and should never be influenced by the individual likes and dislikes and relations. And therefore the best way is to seek the will of the Lord in the Spirit through their continuing with one accord in prayer and supplication.
3) It commits the clique to gather companions by the agreement of gains and losses or the relations of men and it will not last for a long period.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Five Stages of Jesus Christ
I. The word became flesh, He became a man on the earth------“all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (v.1).
II. He was crucified on the cross------“His suffering…” (v.3a).
III. He was raised from the dead------“He also presented Himself alive by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days” (v.3b).
IV. His ascension------“the day in which He was taken up” (v.2); “He was taken up” (v.9).
V. His second coming------“This same Jesus…will so come” (v.11).
The Aim that the Lord Presented Himself to the Disciples
II. He spoke of the things pertaining to the
III. He commanded them to wait for the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit (v.4-5, 8)------make them rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
IV. You shall be witnesses to Me in
How to Wait for the Promise of the Father
I. The place------not to depart from
II. The time------it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put (v.7).
III. The aim------you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (v.8).
IV. The way------continue with one accord in prayer and supplication (v.14).
The Key to Be Witnesses to the Lord (v.8)
I. The power of witness------“the Holy Spirit”.
II. The tool of witness------“you” (believers).
III. The way of witness------“in
IV. The realm of witness------“the end of the earth” (the whole world).
V. The center of witness------“I” (the Lord).
How to Be with One Accord In Prayer And Supplication (v.14)
II. We should have the single-minded burden------receive the Holy Spirit so as to be witnesses to the Lord (v.8) and then we are able to be urgent.
III. We should all see the vision of Christ’s ascension (v.9-10) and then we could be with one accord.
How to Become A Witness of His Resurrection
I. Wait for the descent of the Holy Spirit (v.8).
II. Continue with one accord in prayer and supplication (v.14).
III. Always gather together (v.15a).
IV. Learn from Peter to “stand up” (v.15b).
V. Do not follow Judas’ “falling” and “out-gushing” (v.18).
VI. Desire to take the office to be a witness (v.20b).
VII. Experience and know the Lord more (v.21-22a).
VIII. Give earnest heed to companions who are witnesses (v.22b).
IX. Magnify the Lord------cast the lots after prayer (v.24-26).
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Sharon Ren