ACTS CHAPTER ONE
The Period of Preparation
Suggested Teaching Objectives:
1. To familiarize the pupils with the author, the purpose, and the characteristics of the Book of Acts.
2. To reemphasize the certainty (infallible proofs) of the resurrection.
3. To teach the full meaning of the Key Verse 1:8.
4. to show that Jesus will come again in the same manner in which He left.
5. To show that empowering for Christian usefulness is preceded by obedience, by a constant dependence upon the Lord and by prayer.
Introduction: The first chapter tells to whom the book was written, "Theophilus," who was probably a Christian. It also reports about the command and ascension of Christ and of the ten day waiting period for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
I. Preparation for the Promised Power -- Verses 1-8.
A. Verses 1&2 - Jesus "began to do and teach." what He began to do and teach on earth as recorded in Luke, He is to continue doing and teaching from His place at the Father's right hand, by the Holy Spirit in this age.
B. Verse 3 - Jesus showed Himself to His followers at least 11 different times as recorded in the Bible after His resurrection over a 40 day period. His appearances gave infallible proofs of His resurrection.
C. Verses 4&5 - Jesus taught His disciples that they must wait for the promise of the Father and that this promise was the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. CF. Matthew 3:11. Baptism means to be immersed, overwhelmed, covered or buried. It does not always refer to water baptism which of course means immersion. Eg. the term is used also for being overwhelmed in suffering (Luke. 12:50), for the placing of people into a body of Christ (a church - I Corinthians. 12:13), for being overwhelmed, covered, surrounded with the Holy Spirit as was done on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Until then they were to wait. We all need patience (Isa. 40:31).
D. Verses 6&7 - The disciples were Jewish Christians and still were concerned about the literal reign of their Messiah on the earth. Jesus said, It=s not the time for you to be concerned about that. They needed to do much service for Him and it would be a considerable time before He would come to reign.
E. Verse 8 - This is the Key Verse to the book. At Pentecost they would receive power and then they were to go into all the world as His witnesses. Notice they and we are to be witnesses both in Jerusalem (at home) in Judea (in our city and state), in Samaria (a little further away), and to the uttermost parts of the world (worldwide). The book of Acts records the early church's ministry in this manner. The witness in Jerusalem is found in Ch. 1-7, the wider Palestinian witness in Ch. 8-12, the uttermost witness in Ch. 13-28.
II. PREPARATION BY PRAYER -- VERSES 9-14
A. Verses 9-11 - They were on the Mount of Olives. Verse 12. They saw Him bodily ascend into Heaven. Two angels gave an angelic, heavenly message that Jesus would so come again (visibly, bodily). This is a promise that has sustained Christians and churches in hours of need since that time. Regardless of the trial, the hope of His imminent return has blessed and strengthened Christians.
B. Verse 12 - A sabbath's day journey was 4\5 of a mile.
C. Verses 13-14 - The eleven apostles (Judas Iscariot had hanged himself - Matthew 27:5) were present along with 109 others. Jesus' mother was there and His brethren (half brothers). We suppose they were James and Jude or Judas (who wrote the books of James and Jude in the Bible) and Joses and Simon (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6;33). These all were in one accord, praying and worshiping together.
There is a spiritual application here for us. If we as an individual or as a church would have power, we must be in one accord with each other and we must pray for God's blessings and power on our lives.
III. PREPARATION BY OBEDIENCE -- VERSES 15-26
A. Verse 15 - They did not only have a "fellowship", but evidently a roll of their membership, "the number of names together."
B. Verse 16-20 - CF. Psalm 41:9; Matthew. 27:3-8. Although many expositors say these people made a mistake in choosing a successor to Judas, we believe they were following the leading of the Lord; and since the Holy Spirit had been breathed upon these apostles as we were told in John 20:22 (which was 50 days before Pentecost), we believe they were Spirit led and that God answered their prayer.
C. Verses 21-23 - Matthias and Barsabas qualified. The man who would take the place of Judas must be one who had associated with the apostles all the time that the Lord had been with them. Since he was to witness with them of the Resurrection, he must have the same background as the others.
At least two men in the group met all the qualifications. These two were "nominated" but the apostles did not feel qualified to which of the two was God's choice. They therefore committed the decision to the Lord and settled the question in accordance with the custom of their day. CF Jonah Ch. 1.
D. Verses 24-25 -They prayed and committed the matter to the Lord as we should all do of all things. This selected one was to "take part in this ministry and apostleship." He was to witness of the resurrection and probably be one of those who would sit upon 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Matthew. 19:28).
E. Verse 26 - Matthias chosen. The lot, which was common custom in that day, was not necessarily a hindrance at all to God's leading in the selection. Matthias and not the apostle Paul fits into the picture. Paul was "one of the twelve." He was, as he himself said, "one born out of due time." I Corinthians 15. It is of interest to note that 17 people are mentioned as apostles. The original 12, Matthias, Barnabus, and Paul (Acts 14:14),James, the brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19) and then Jesus Himself . (Hebrews 3:1).
Conclusion: This group of believers, called, chosen, saved, instructed, assembled, waiting, obedient, praying are now ready for the work God has called them to do. Now they will be empowered by the Holy Spirit as we will see in next weeks lesson. God would have us learn that if we would be used greatly by Him, He would have us to be obedient, to have learned to be dependent on Him and to be in prayer for usefulness. Then He will greatly use us for His Glory.