The Holy Spirit Continues Everything Jesus Began to Do and to Teach: Acts 1:1- 2:13

An Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles

Acts 1:1-2:13, The Holy Spirit Continues Everything Jesus Began to Do and to Teach

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Luke 1:1–4 (CSB) — 1 Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

Acts 1:1 (CSB) — 1 I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach

Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts as one two-part series to explain the origins and life of Christianity to Theophilus, whose name means “Lover of God”, so that Theophilus may know the certainty of those things about which he had been instructed.

If Luke’s gospel was about all that Jesus began to do and teach, then Acts is implicitly about all that Christ continued to do and teach through the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church.

Theophilus himself remains a mystery to us:

  • Some suggest the meaning of his name presents him as a figure into which Luke’s readers are meant to place themselves
  • Some suggest his honorific title – i.e. “Most Honorable Theophilus” – presents him as a lawyer or judged, possibly even the lawyer or judge involved in Paul’s trial at Rome, which makes Acts a defense of both Paul and the Church
    • This explains the positive light in which Roman Gentiles are presented
    • This explains the attention given to Paul’s personal testimony
    • This explains the open-ended nature of Luke’s conclusion
    • This explains the reason why Luke went to so much trouble to write these two volumes for just one person

Whatever may be said about Theophilus, however, remains speculative and there are many convincing theories available.

As important as it is to understand the original audience, in this case, we can only know that Theophilus was a Greek name with some symbolic relevance, he was someone who held an honorific title, and was a person of such importance that Luke was willing to write an orderly account of the origins and purpose of Christianity.

We may also surmise that Theophilus had received some previous instruction about Christ, but was unsure about the meaning and implications of Christ’s death and resurrection for the followers of Christ.

All of these points fit both scenarios that I have presented about the identity of Theophilus, as well as a number of others.

The purpose of Acts seems to be multifaceted in nature, meaning that Acts weaves together many different themes in such a way that it is hard to identify one “single” purpose for Luke’s writing.

However, we may say that Acts attempts to demonstrate the meaning and implications of Christ’s resurrection and ascension to heaven through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of the Church.  

 

The Book of Acts does not purport itself to be a theological model that we are meant to follow today.  In other words, there are events described in Acts that are demonstrably unique in the experience of the Church and are not found in the broader witness of Church history.

The Book of Acts is best used as a theological narrative to illustrate the teachings found throughout the rest of Scripture so that we can see God’s vision for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of the Church.

ACTS 1:1-11

John 15:26-27 (CSB) — 26 “When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 You also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

This is part of the theological setting of Acts as Luke opens with introducing the apostolic ministry and the promise of the Holy Spirit.

ACTS 1:1 EVERYTHING JESUS BEGAN TO DO AND TEACH

I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach

The most striking point to me that sets the tone for this book comes from the implication that Acts is about all that Christ continued to do and teach through the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of the Church.

The Acts of the Apostles narrates the meaning and implications of Christ’s resurrection and ascension to heaven through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of Christ’s disciples so that we may know with certainty what the meaning of Christ’s resurrection and ascension is for the Church.

ACTS 1:2 THE INSTRUCTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

…until the day he was taken up, after he had given instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

The Lord gave instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles that he had chosen to confirm his witness on earth.  The witness of the apostles became the foundation of the Church that rests upon Christ Jesus himself as our chief cornerstone.

2 Peter 1:16 (CSB) — 16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Ephesians 2:19-20 (CSB) — 19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.

ACTS 1:7-8 YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The disciples ask Jesus for the last time about the restored kingdom of Israel before they become empowered witnesses of Christ on earth.

The Book of Acts illustrates the theological realities of the Lord’s Great Commission to “go into all the world and make disciples”; in this book we see Christ’s vision for how we become his witnesses on earth through the testimony of the word.

Revelation 6:9 (CSB) — 9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the word of God and the testimony they had given.

ACTS 1:11 CHRIST WILL RETURN, SO GO!

They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen him going into heaven.”

Some scholars have observed that the Acts of the Apostles places little emphasis on the eschatological return of Christ, and seems instead to focus on guiding the Church in how she ought to live in this world.  But, this passage puts into focus the whole book by suggesting that the following testimony describes how the Church ought to live in this world because Christ is returning.

 

ACTS 1:12-14

Luke 6:13–16 (CSB) — 13 When daylight came, he summoned his disciples, and he chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

The list in this text is identical to the disciples named in Luke’s gospel.

ACTS 1:14 UNITED IN PRAYER

All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer…

Prayer is driven by purpose in those who are seeking Christ as the great ambition of their life.

1 John 5:14–15 (CSB) — 14 This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him.

1 Timothy 2:1–4, 8 (CSB) — 1 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.

Throughout Scripture we see the saints of God pouring out their hearts to God in prayer as they pursue the glory of God.

Prayer was never a selfish exercise among God’s saints:

  • It adores God with reverent worship
  • It exalts the glory of God with joyful praise and thanksgiving
  • It petitions the power of God with earnest faith and expectation
  • It seeks the will of God with conviction and determination

Prayer is an integral theme in the book of Acts that will carry its message forward as the saints bring the gospel through Jerusalem into the whole world.

Yet one of the most important points in this text is their praying together in unity.

The events leading up to the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the history of the world was characterized by Christian unity expressed before God in prayer!

God is pleased when his holy priesthood of believers come together to commune with one another in prayer with unity of heart and mind to seek Him!

  • Describe the Vision of our Thursday night prayer fellowship
  • Encourage them to begin prayer fellowships in their own homes
  • These prayer fellowships are for pursuing the will and power of God together in unity of fellowship

ACTS 1:15-26

2 Peter 1:16 (CSB) — 16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

1 John 1:1–4 (CSB) — 1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—2 that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us—3 what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Many scholars like to speculate about different names by which Acts could be known, but Acts was rightly named The Acts of the Apostles because it narrates the apostolic ministry that bore witness to the resurrection of Christ and laid the foundations of the Church.

ACTS 1:15-16 JUDAS’ SUCCESSOR CHOSEN AMONG THE FIRST DISCIPLES

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers and sisters—the number of people who were together was about a hundred and twenty—and said: 16 “Brothers and sisters, it was necessary that the Scripture be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David foretold about Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.

The one who had previously denied Christ at his crucifixion has now been restored by Christ in his resurrection and is standing up with conviction to lead this small band of disciples in their heavenly mission on earth.

Fully 90% of Luke’s vocabulary is found in the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament), demonstrating that Luke was heavily dependent upon the Old Testament for the message and theme of Acts (Polhill, J. B. Acts [Vol. 26, p. 43]).

ACTS 1:21-22 AN APOSTOLIC WITNESS OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION

Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us—22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us—from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of his resurrection.

Luke records three central criteria necessary to the qualifications of apostleship:

  1. Was with Christ from his baptism to his ascension (v. 21)
  2. Witnessed the Lord’s resurrection (v. 22)
  3. Chosen by Christ to be in the apostolic ministry (v. 24)

This illustrates an important theological reality about apostleship:

2 Peter 1:16 (CSB) — 16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Apostles were not primarily miracle workers, but rather, they were eyewitnesses of Christ:

Hebrews 2:1–4 (CSB) — 1 For this reason, we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, 3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? This salvation had its beginning when it was spoken of by the Lord, and it was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to his will.

We will examine the unique case of the apostle Paul when we come to his conversion and divine commissioning in Acts 9, but at this point, Luke is illustrating the primary mission of the apostles.

  • Bear Holy-Spirit-Empowered witness to the resurrection of Christ
  • Confirm the message of salvation that was being delivered to the Church through the apostles and prophets

ACTS 2:1-13

Joel 2:28–32 (CSB) — 28 After this I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. 29 I will even pour out my Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days. 30 I will display wonders in the heavens and on the earth: blood, fire, and columns of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the Lord promised, among the survivors the Lord calls.

John 16:8-15 (CSB) — 8 When he comes, he will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything the Father has is mine. This is why I told you that he takes from what is mine and will declare it to you.

These passages shape the theological setting for the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church.

ACTS 2:1 ALL TOGETHER ON PENTECOST

When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place.

The resurrection of Christ occurred on the first day of the week (Luke 24:1), which was followed exactly one week later by the Day of Pentecost, which was always held on the first day of the week.

Luke’s account of Christ’s resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost occurring on the first day of the week illustrate (though not “mandate”) the theological reasons why the Church continued to meet for worship on “The Lord’s Day”.

This point will continue throughout Acts and all the way into Revelation:

Acts 20:7 (CSB) — 7 On the first day of the week, we assembled to break bread. Paul spoke to them, and since he was about to depart the next day, he kept on talking until midnight.

Revelation 1:10 (CSB) — 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard a loud voice behind me like a trumpet

ACTS 2:2-4 THE GOD WHO ACTS

Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. 3 They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them. 4 Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.

The Holy Spirit enters the Church in the midst of a world ruled by pagan idolatry and a mighty oppressive political regime.  The Holy Spirit empowers the Church to be Christ’s witnesses on earth and deliver to the world his message of salvation!

Hebrews 2:1–4 (CSB) — 1 For this reason, we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, 3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? This salvation had its beginning when it was spoken of by the Lord, and it was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to his will.

This witness is the foundation upon which you and I stand in the world today to declare the good news of Jesus Christ by the authority of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Most importantly for us today, we must realize that you and I are the continuation of what Christ started through the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost!

This does not necessarily mean that we are meant to copy the events that transpired on Pentecost, nor that we are necessarily meant to copy the events that followed.  But that the same Holy Spirit that was poured out upon the Church on Pentecost continues to live and move within us to fulfill all that Christ is doing in the Church today!

This is Christ’s vision for the Church: that we should be his vessel to fulfill through the Holy Spirit all that Christ is doing in the Church today.

Each one of us must pursue life in the Holy Spirit by devoting ourselves to prayer, to the faith that comes through hearing the word, and to the holiness of love and unity with our Christian brothers and sisters.  These are the simple devotions that filled the early Church and continued throughout Acts, the epistles of the New Testament, and the history of the Christian Church.

This is why we are focusing so much on these three things:

  1. Prayer
  2. The ministry of the word (Teaching & Evangelism)
  3. The fellowship of the saints

These are the central pillars of Christian living in the Holy Spirit by which the Church glorifies Christ on earth.

ACTS 2:11-13 DECLARING THE GLORY OF GOD

Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the magnificent acts of God in our own tongues.” 12 They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But some sneered and said, “They’re drunk on new wine.”

When the Holy Spirit came upon these first disciples, they were filled not with mere babblings and nonsense, but with declarations of the glories of God.

Psalm 96:1–3 (CSB) — 1 Sing a new song to the Lord; let the whole earth sing to the Lord. 2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; proclaim his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his wondrous works among all peoples.

When the Holy Spirit enters a person’s soul, he fills them with a new song for the LORD and sends them out into the world to declare the praises of God among the nations!

CONCLUSION

This was why the Church was united in devotion to prayer.

Their purpose was to be filled with the glories of Christ so that they could go out into the world empowered by the Holy Spirit and magnify the name of Christ!

 

Psalm 96:7–9 (CSB) — 7 Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; bring an offering and enter his courts. 9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him.

 

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