Introduction to Acts
Ac 1:1-11. INTRODUCTION--LAST
1, 2. former treatise--Luke's Gospel.
began to do and teach--a very important statement, dividing the work
of Christ into two great branches: the one embracing His work on earth,
the other His subsequent work from heaven; the one in His own Person,
the other by His Spirit; the one the "beginning," the other the
continuance of the same work; the one complete when He sat down at the
right hand of the Majesty on high, the other to continue till His second
appearing; the one recorded in "The Gospels," the beginnings only of
the other related in this book of "The Acts." "Hence the grand history
of what Jesus did and taught does not conclude with His departure to the
Father; but Luke now begins it in a higher strain; for all the
subsequent labors of the apostles are just an exhibition of
the ministry of the glorified Redeemer Himself because they were
acting under His authority, and He was the principle that operated in
them all" [OLSHAUSEN].
2. after that he, through the Holy Ghost, had given commandments,
&c.--referring to the charge recorded in
It is worthy of notice that nowhere else are such communications of the
risen Redeemer said to have been given "through the Holy Ghost." In
general, this might have been said of all He uttered and all He did in
His official character; for it was for this very end that God "gave not
the Spirit by measure unto Him"
But after His resurrection, as if to signify the new relation in which
He now stood to the Church, He signalized His first meeting with the
assembled disciples by breathing on them (immediately after
dispensing to them His peace) and saying, "Receive ye the
thus anticipating the donation of the Spirit from His hands (see on
Joh 20:21, 22);
and on the same principle His parting charges are here said to have
been given "through the Holy Ghost," as if to mark that He was now all
redolent with the Spirit; that what had been husbanded, during His
suffering work, for His own necessary uses, had now been set free, was
already overflowing from Himself to His disciples, and needed but His
ascension and glorification to flow all forth. (See on
3-5. showed himself alive--As the author is about to tell us that
"the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" was the great burden of
apostolic preaching, so the subject is here filly introduced by an
allusion to the primary evidence on which that great fact rests, the
repeated and undeniable manifestations of Himself in the body to the
assembled disciples, who, instead of being predisposed to believe it,
had to be overpowered by the resistless evidence of their own senses,
and were slow of yielding even to this
after his passion--or, suffering. This primary sense of the word
"passion" has fallen into disuse; but it is nobly consecrated in the
phraseology of the Church to express the Redeemer's final endurances.
seen of them forty days--This important specification of time occurs
speaking of--rather "speaking."
the things pertaining to the kingdom of God--till now only in germ,
but soon to take visible form; the earliest and the latest burden of His
teaching on earth.
4. should not depart from Jerusalem--because the Spirit was to glorify
the existing economy, by descending on the disciples at its metropolitan
seat, and at the next of its great festivals after the ascension of the
Church's Head; in order that "out of Zion might go forth the law, and
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem"
(Isa 2:3; and compare
5. ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence--ten
days hence, as appears from
Le 23:15, 16;
but it was expressed thus indefinitely to exercise their faith.
6-8. wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?--Doubtless
their carnal views of Messiah's kingdom had by this time been modified,
though how far it is impossible to say. But, as they plainly looked for
some restoration of the kingdom to Israel, so they are neither
rebuked nor contradicted on this point.
7. It is not for you to know the times, &c.--implying not only that
this was not the time, but that the question was irrelevant to their
present business and future work.
8. receive power--See
and ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . in Jerusalem . . . in all
Judea . . . and unto the uttermost part of the earth--This order of
apostolic preaching and success supplies the proper key to the plan of the Acts, which relates first the progress of the
Gospel "in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria" (the first through
ninth chapters), and then "unto the uttermost part of the earth"
(the tenth through twenty-eighth chapters).
9-11. while they beheld, he was taken up--See on Lu 24:50-53.
Lest it should be thought He had disappeared when they were looking in
some other direction, and so was only concluded to have gone up
to heaven, it is here expressly said that "while they were
looking He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their
sight." So Elijah, "If thou see me when I am taken from
thee" (2Ki 2:10); "And Elisha saw it"
10. while they looked steadfastly toward heaven--following Him with
their eager eyes, in rapt amazement. Not, however, as a mere fact is
this recorded, but as a part of that resistless evidence of their senses
on which their whole subsequent testimony was to be borne.
two men in white apparel--angels in human form, as in
11. Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven, &c.--"as
if your now glorified Head were gone from you never to return: He is
coming again; not another, but 'this same Jesus'; and 'as ye have seen
Him go, in the like manner shall He come'--as personally, as
visibly, as gloriously; and let the joyful expectation of this
coming swallow up the sorrow of that departure."
RETURN OF THE
JERUSALEM--PROCEEDINGS IN THE
12-14. a sabbath day's journey--about two thousand cubits.
13. went up into an upper room--perhaps the same "large upper room"
where with their Lord they had celebrated the last Passover and the
where abode--not lodged, but had for their place of rendezvous.
Peter, &c.--(See on
14. continued with one accord--knit by a bond stronger than death.
in prayer and supplication--for the promised baptism, the need of
which in their orphan state would be increasingly felt.
and Mary the mother of Jesus--distinguished from the other "women,"
but "so as to exclude the idea of her having any pre-eminence over the
disciples. We find her with the rest in prayer to her glorified Son"
This is the last mention of her in the New Testament. The fable of
the Assumption of the Virgin has no foundation even in tradition
with his brethren--(See on
15-26. in those days--of expectant prayer, and probably towards the
close of them, when the nature of their future work began more clearly
to dawn upon them, and the Holy Ghost, already "breathed" on the Eleven
was stirring in Peter, who was to be the leading spirit of the infant
the number . . . about an hundred and twenty--Many,
therefore, of the "five hundred brethren" who saw their risen Lord "at
must have remained in Galilee.
18. falling headlong, &c.--This information supplements, but by no
means contradicts, what is said in
20. his bishopric--or "charge." The words are a combination of
and Ps 109:8;
in which the apostle discerns a greater than David, and a worse than
Ahithophel and his fellow conspirators against David.
21. all the time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us--in the close
intimacies of a three years' public life.
22. Beginning from the baptism of John--by whom our Lord was not only
Himself baptized, but first officially announced and introduced to his
unto that same day when he was taken up from us, must one be ordained
to be a witness with us of his resurrection--How clearly is the primary
office of the apostles here expressed: (1) to testify, from personal
observation, to the one great fact of "the resurrection of the Lord
Jesus"; (2) to show how this glorified His whole previous life, of which
they were constant observers, and established His divine claims.
23. they appointed--"put up" in nomination; meaning not the Eleven but
the whole company, of whom Peter was the spokesman.
two--The choice would lie between a very few.
24. prayed and said, Thou, Lord, &c.--"The word 'Lord,' placed
absolutely, denotes in the New Testament almost universally THE SON; and
the words, 'Show whom Thou hast chosen,' are decisive. The apostles are
just Christ's messengers: It is He that sends them, and of Him they bear
witness. Here, therefore, we have the first example of a prayer offered
to the exalted Redeemer; furnishing indirectly the strongest proof of
His divinity" [OLSHAUSEN].
which knowest the hearts of all men--See
Joh 2:24, 25; 21:15-17;
25. that he might go to his own place--A euphemistic or softened
expression of the awful future of the traitor, implying not only
destined habitation but congenial element.
26. was numbered--"voted in" by general suffrage.
with the eleven apostles--completing the broken Twelve.