SUMMARY.--The Preface. The Promise of the Father. The Command to Witness in Jerusalem, and in All Judea, and Unto the Uttermost Parts of the Earth. The Ascension. The Charge of the Angels. The Week of Prayer. The Fate of Judas. The Choice of an Apostle.
1. The former treatise. Luke's Gospel. Theophilus. See note on Luke 1:3. Luke, whose history of Acts is really a continuation of the history of his Gospel, very naturally refers to the former.
2. Through the Holy Ghost. Jesus received the Spirit without measure, and all he did was in the Spirit. He also imparted a measure of the Spirit, before he ascended, to the apostles to help them in their work (John 20:22). Commandments. The Great Commission. (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16; Luke 24:49).
3. To whom he shewed himself alive. He is a living Savior. Otherwise he could no more be a Savior than Socrates, Buddha, or any other sage. After his passion. Suffering on the cross. Seen of them forty days. At various times during forty days. Eleven appearances are recorded. There were probably others. Pertaining to the kingdom of God. His church, about to be established on the earth.
4. Commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem. Because, right in the citadel of his enemies, where he had been slain, the Risen Lord was to be first proclaimed, his Gospel preached, the Holy Spirit shed forth, and his kingdom established. Because, too, the prophet (Isa. 2:3, 5) had declared that Jerusalem should be the place where the Gospel should be first preached. But wait for the promise of the Father. Joel 2:28; Zech. 2:10; John 14:16; 15:26; Matt. 3:11. They must wait for the Spirit, that they might speak, on the great day of the inauguration of the kingdom, as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4). The conditions of citizenship in the kingdom must be spoken by the Spirit.
5. John truly baptized with water. They had received John's baptism; they were now to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Not many days. Only ten days after these words were spoken.
6. Wilt thou at this time, etc.? They still held to their old ideas of a worldly restoration of the kingdom of Israel. Their only question was, "Wilt thou restore it now?" After the Holy Spirit was given, this delusion was dismissed, and they understood that Christ's kingdom is not of this world.
7. It is not for you to know. This was a reproof, not only to them, but to those in all ages who seek to know "the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power."
8. Ye shall receive power. Not temporal power, such as they dreamed of, but spiritual and moral power. Shall be witnesses unto me. Testify of him of their personal knowledge. They all knew personally of his life, his miracles, his death, his resurrection, and the Great Commission. There could be no mistake. Their witness is true, unless they were deceivers. In Jerusalem. First, in the headquarters of Judaism, the capital of their own country, the place where the Lord was crucified; then in an ever-widening circle from that center; in Judea, then in Samaria, then to the uttermost parts of the earth. This order was followed exactly. It should always be followed in our efforts to evangelize the world.
11. Ye men of Galilee. The apostles were mostly, if not all, Galileans. This same Jesus . . . shall so come. The cloud received him from their sight. He shall come in the clouds of heaven (Dan. 7:13; Matt. 24:30; 26:24).
12. Then returned they . . . from the mount called Olivet. See Luke 24:50. The place of ascent was near Bethany. A church now stands on the supposed place. A sabbath day's journey. "The traditions of the elders" defined the distance that might be traveled on the Sabbath. It was a little less than a mile. Bethany is nearly two miles, but Luke here is stating the distance of the Mount of Olives from the city.
13. Went into an upper room. A guest chamber on the second floor. Where abode. All the apostles are named except Judas Iscariot, who had fallen away and was now dead.
14. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. The latter clause is omitted in the Revision. They were waiting for the "promise of the Father," and the time was spent in worship. There were ten days of prayer, the best preparation for the Pentecostal blessing; an example to all churches which seek an ingathering of souls. With the women. Especially those women who had followed and ministered to the Lord, lingered at his cross, and at his tomb. Mary. This is the last time she is named in the sacred history. Tradition reports that she lived until the near the time of the overthrow of Jerusalem. His brethren. The sons of Joseph and Mary. One of them, James, was afterwards the James of Jerusalem and the author of the Epistle of James. See Acts 15; also Matt. 13:55. They were unbelievers six months before (John 7:5), but now believed. James had seen the risen Lord (1 Cor. 15:7).
15. And in those days. The interval of ten days. Were about a hundred and twenty. This was the number of disciples at Jerusalem, but not all who were then disciples. See 1 Cor. 15:6.
16. This scripture must needs have been fulfilled. Psa. 69:26.
18. This man purchased a field. He returned the bribe money to the priests, who used it to purchase the potter's field. Peter here intends to say that his money bought the field. The Greek verb rendered "purchased," has the form that means "caused to be purchased." Falling headlong. Matt. 27:5 says he hanged himself. Peter tells some additional particulars, which Matthew omitted. He probably hanged himself on a tree projecting over the precipices of the Valley of Hinnom, and afterwards, on account of the rope or limb breaking, fell headlong with such force as to burst his body open on the jagged rocks. This is the traditional account of his death.
19. That field is called. The field bought with the bribe money of Judas. He came to such a bloody end that this, and the origin of the purchase money, gave the field its name.
20. His bishoprick let another take. Psa. 109:8. His office. This is, rather, an application of the spirit of the Psalm, than its exact words. It sets forth the desert of persecutors.
21, 22. Must one be ordained to be a witness with us. These verses set forth the necessary qualifications of an apostle. In order to be a witness, he must have been a disciple of John, left him in order to follow Jesus, attended his ministry, and seen him after his resurrection. He must be able to testify of all these as an eye witness.
23. They appointed two. Not the apostles, but the brethren, men who met these conditions, then cast lots between them in order that the Lord might make the choice. The two men named are not mentioned elsewhere.
24. They prayed. That the Lord might choose between them. A choice of men for any responsible church work ought to be made with earnest prayer. It is likely that one of the apostles offered the prayer, all joining in the petition.
26. The lot fell on Matthias. Some have held that the choice of Matthias was unauthorized and that he was never accepted as an apostle. The reasons for this view are that he is not named again, and Paul was finally chosen as an apostle. To this it may be replied: (1) Neither are more than half the other names in the apostolic band again mentioned, Thomas, Thaddeus and Bartholomew, for example. (2) Paul was not an apostle to the Jews, but to the Gentiles, and hence, not one of the Twelve. (3) There is no hint anywhere in Acts, or elsewhere, that the selection of Matthias was not recognized. (4) In Acts 6:2, "the twelve" are spoken of, and he must have been one of "the twelve," for Paul was not yet converted. These facts show that such speculations as those referred to above are without foundation.