Thursday, November 8, 2007

Acts, Chapter 1

I was going to step into the Old Testament briefly, well, not so briefly when you consider the book, and do some work on Isaiah. This morning when I woke up and opened my Bible, however, I felt drawn to Acts because of the way it builds a base for what we have studied recently in Romans, Hebrews, and the rest of the New Testament. So on to Acts it is, where we begin with Jesus Himself and we are introduced to the person that is Paul.

"7He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 9After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight." – Acts 1:7-9

One would think that the final words Jesus had for his disciples on earth would be important, and what could be more important than the blessing of the Holy Spirit? His message here is one of faith. We must wait faithfully for the Father to work and deliver what He has promised. Next we see the promise of the Holy Spirit, which lives in all of us and allows for the message of Christ to be carried to the ends of the earth. After He was taken up to heaven Christ wanted His disciples to get right to work, as they were told to begin spreading the good news almost immediately after he had faded from sight. There would be no waiting for His return as promised because there was work to do.

This left the church at a key crossroads, and when you think of things strictly from a secular perspective it is amazing that the church has come has far as it has. We see in verse 15 that there was a core group of about 120 believers. Sure there were more, but this is the core group. They had just had the object of their faith physically leave them, and they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. How easily could the whole message died right there? Yet we know through Scripture that this group spread the message like wildfire across centuries of war, persecution, and disbelief to what we have today. We know so little about the first century world yet this message has been the most enduring across the ages from that time. Is this mere coincidence? I don't think so.

20"For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms, 'May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,' and, 'May another take his place of leadership.' 21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." – Acts 1:20-22

The first order of business was to replace Judas. As much as the church would grow over the next several years there was still a strong need for leadership and continuity among the twelve. The early church had come to rely on 12 solid leaders to function, therefore Judas needed to be replaced. Though we hear little of Matthias in Scripture beyond his selection here in Acts, we can rest assured that he served a role similar to the other apostles. It is not known if he suffered a martyr's death like everyone else but John suffered, but surely he spread the message of Christ far and wide because he was called.

Much of what we see here at the end of chapter one is merely window dressing for the events of chapter two, where the Holy Spirit is given to the early church. I won't spoil the message for tomorrow, but the anointing in the Holy Spirit may be the most important gift to mankind short of the actual birth, life, and sacrifice of Christ.


  1. What did Christ mean when he said they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit?
  2. How has the faith of His return endured through nearly 2,000 years of waiting?
  3. Why was it important for Matthias to replace Judas?

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