Sunday, August 1, 2010

Acts Chapter One

If you don't have a Bible handy, you can read Acts 1 online here:

Acts Chapter One (NIV)
Acts Chapter One (NASB)


Verses 1-11: Luke reviews Jesus' post-resurrection teaching and ascension. Jesus promises that the disciples would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes.

Verses 12-26: The disciples prepare for their work. They devote themselves to prayer and select candidates to replace Judas as a witness to Christ's resurrection.


(A) Acts 1:1--Luke says that his Gospel covered what Jesus "began to do and teach." The word "began" indicates that Jesus' teaching and works in the Gospel of Luke were just the beginning. The risen Lord would continue to teach and work through His body, the church. In the Gospel of John, Jesus told the disciples that they should rejoice, because He was returning to the Father (14:28), where He would prepare a place for them (14:2), answer their prayers (14:13), and live within His followers (17:26).

(B) Acts 1:3--Jesus presented Himself alive to His disciples "by many convincing proofs." This would be strange if faith were contrary to evidence (as some claim today). Acts 1:3 and many other passages show that Biblical faith is rooted in evidence.

(C) Acts 1:7-8, 11--Jesus says that the disciples weren't given specifics as to God's future acts, but that they would receive power to do the work they had been given. Similarly, the angel asks why the Apostles were staring into the sky, when they clearly had work to do. The Bible gives us some clues about the end times; however, the opening chapter of Acts teaches us that we shouldn't have an unhealthy interest in figuring everything out. Instead, we should focus on the work that God has given us.

(D) Acts 1:24-26--The disciples pray to Jesus to choose a disciple to replace Judas. Since Jesus had chosen all of the disciples, it was important that He choose Judas' replacement as well. This passage (and several others in Acts) is confirmation of Jesus' claim in John 14:13 that He would be able to answer their prayers after returning to the Father. (Note to Muslims: What mere prophet can answer prayers?)


Zack_Tiang said...

I don't have my own commentary to share... but I do have a couple of FAQs that I would like more knowledge to answer..

1 - The most obvious is Judas' suicide... Here it reads as though Judas jumped off a high place and died on impact.. And in the previous gospel, it read he went and hung himself.
So, which is a more plausible explanation? He hung himself? Or jumped off? or hung himself and later rot and fell to the ground?
I have ever come across some commentaries saying that the word 'hung' in the previous gospel actually just means along the lines of 'he went to commit suicide', no actually explanation of how.

2 - Then in verse 15, it mentions of a gathering of 120 believers. But then Paul in Corinthians mentioned of Jesus making His post-resurrection appearances to 500 people (who would then become believers, for sure). So question is, why is it 120 believers here? Where'd the 380 others go to?
In that BibleGateway site, it adds a footnote that the word 'believers' in verse 15, can mean 'Greek brothers'. Can someone explain more?

Charis kai Eirene said...

I like the point that you make about Jesus offering "many convincing proofs" of how He is indeed alive and how this shows the complementary nature of faith and evidence.

Biblical faith seems to indicate that we can trust in the promises of God, i.e. what He will do, because we know what He has done. Many times in the Old Testament, we find references to the deliverance from Egypt as a means of encouraging trust in God for present troubles. For example, in Psalm 78, the writer tells the people to pass on God's miracles throughout the generations so that they will all "put their confidence in God" and "keep His commandments."

In the New Testament, the resurrection is the miracle which establishes Christ's claims and so it is essential that it is well-evidenced. Thus our knowledge of the historical event of Christ's resurrection gives us confidence that the Lord will fulfill His promises, that we have been saved from spiritual death and that He will guide us and empower us with His Spirit as we seek to do His will while we share the truth of this miraculous resurrection and live according to His righteous commands.

Traeh said...

Hey Zack,
I don't know if this is a good answer to your questions, maybe you've seen it. It's interesting:

Fisher said...

Resolving the apparent discrepancy between Matthew and Acts is quite a fascinating subject. While Holding's solution does make sense (I'd have to go through some other sources to verify some parts though), I still think it makes more sense that Judas hanged himself but that the branch couldn't support his weight and he fell onto some sharp rocks below.

Anonymous said...

To Zack_Tiang,

"2 - Then in verse 15, it mentions of a gathering of 120 believers. But then Paul in Corinthians mentioned of Jesus making His post-resurrection appearances to 500 people (who would then become believers, for sure). So question is, why is it 120 believers here? Where'd the 380 others go to?"

When Jesus revealed himself as ressurected, He didn't do it only on 1 place, but rather in more places: Grave(Mark 16:9; John 20: 1-24), House(John 20: 25-31), Emaus road(Luke 24: 13-18), Tiberiad Sea(John 21).

There were only 120 people waiting for the Holy Spirit to come(12 apostles+70 disciples of Jesus+Mary his mother and other women), but many more people saw him resurrected in different places(including his brothers and many others).
Others were at Emaus, other went back at their homes. But only Jesus apostles and disciples remain.

There is no contradiction here.


Zack_Tiang said...

Thanks, Traeh.
It's a good article and helps me somewhat. Though it'd be nice to have more opinions, explanations, etc from others, if possible.
That way I have a better understanding.

Anthony Rogers said...

In light of recent events, it is interesting to observe the thesis argued by John Mauck in Paul On Trial: the Book of Acts as a Defense of Christianity. He maintains that Luke-Acts was prepared as a legal brief for the apostle Paul as he was to stand trial in Rome. Perhaps I will type out some of the reasons he gives for this later. In any event, it is an interesting thesis.

MaMiKiKeYu said...

18(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.

So, is this how Judas died? His body burst open and all his intestines came out?

Charis kai Eirene said...

Judas' death is horrifying in every sense, in the circumstances leading up to it (betrayal of a friend to death for money), in the mental state of Judas (guilt and hopelessness), in the execution of it (violent, painful suicide by hanging), in its loathsome completion (Judas' body bursting with guts hanging out), in its posterity (the location is named Field of Blood and Judas is forever remembered as the one who betrayed Jesus Christ).

How different when compared with Christ's death! The circumstances leading to Christ's death were a sinless life punctuated by miraculous displays of power, gracious love, and His bold declaration that He is God and is come to save us from our sins. He had done nothing wrong, but only spoke the Truth. When confronted with the deepest anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus brought His incarnate body into full submission to the Father so that "for the joy set before Him, He advanced towards the cross despising the shame." Judas chooses to kill himself because he cannot bear his guilt nor a life where things did not go according to plan, whereas Christ willingly endures the Passion, innocent yet bearing all the sin of the world. The end of Judas' hanged body is humiliating deterioration and the result of Jesus' crucifixion is glorious resurrection. Judas life is a contemptible failure better to have never existed, whereas Jesus' incarnate life, death, and resurrection are the salvation of mankind and the renewal of all things.

Zack_Tiang said...

Thanks, Paul.. I'm just trying to gain more knowledge and find a good response to such FAQs.. Thanks again.

Anyone knows what happened to most of these 500 eyewitnesses?

Warkentins said...


"Anyone knows what happened to most of these 500 eyewitnesses?"

You asked the question before and Paul answered it quite fully for you. What did you miss? Or are you wondering what happened to each of them after wards? This last question we don't have full answers for as such details were not recorded. As for who were the 500 eyewitnesses, that was answered by Paul.

Zack_Tiang said...

The matter about who are the 500 eyewitnesses... most of them are not actually named or listed, as far as I know/understand.

Paul (bible) focuses a lot of the apostles and those closest to Jesus... then mentioned about 500 more witnesses... and then finally himself.

Paul (here) quote some verses but these verses were mainly of Jesus's 12 disciples and his closest female followers..
doesn't really cover the 500 eyewitnesses...

So I'm asking if there's more information about these 500 eyewitnesses, if any more...
Unless I'm overlooking something, which is very possible.

Ry said...

What a strategy!!-Jesus does not initially spread his message thinly over a whole world- but concentrates on the Jews.

He does not stop there. He method of reaching the world with the good news is to commission his disciples to WITNESS to what they have seen and heard... first in Jerusalem....then in all Judea and Sameria....then to us at the ends of the earth.