Acts 1:1-5 - Jesus's Ministry On Earth
The book of Acts is an extremely exciting book. Acts has it all—supernatural intervention, astounding miracles, powerful preaching, breathtaking escapes, harrowing journeys, life-and-death decisions, courtroom dramas, thrilling rescues, action, mystery, and adventure! Acts will grab your attention, trigger your imagination, and tug at your emotions.
As we study through the pages of Acts, don’t miss the story behind the stories. Underlying the sermons and the display of miracles, look for God at work in individuals. In fact, as much as Acts could be called the story of the early church, I believe it could also be titled “The Miracle of Changed Lives.”
Consider this: When last we saw the disciples, they were running scared and abandoning their Lord (Matthew 26:56). Fleeing, denying, disillusioned, and crying, these men seemed the least likely candidates to be boldly proclaiming the gospel. Yet that’s what happened. Peter, James, John, and the rest of the boys had been transformed from cowardly to courageous, argumentative to articulate, and selfish to selfless. Then they were joined by Paul, whom God also miraculously transformed.
What made the difference? The power of the Holy Spirit in the life of ordinary men and woman.
The main purpose of the book of Acts is to show how the Spirit of God worked through the early Church to spread the Gospel, starting in Jerusalem and eventually reaching all areas of the known world. The following six minor purposes can also be seen for the writing of this book:
1. It shows the history and activities of the early Church.
2. It shows what Jesus continued to do through the Church (Acts 1:1-3).
3. It shows how the Church grew numerically (Acts 2:47, 5:14, 6:7, 9:31, 12:24, 16:5, 19:20).
4. It shows how the Church grew geographically (Acts 1:8). The Church started in Jerusalem and eventually reached into the known world.
5. It shows how the Church grew from a Jewish sect to include the Gentiles.
6. It shows what power the Church used to accomplish the Lord's purposes (Acts 1:8).
As you read of the Holy Spirit, the gifts, persecution and power, Paul’s dramatic conversion, and the rapid spread of the gospel beyond Jerusalem and Judea to the ends of the earth, look for yourself in the stories. Ask God to transform you into the kind of person he can use to change your world.
B. Luke wrote to Theophilus—reminded him of Jesus’ ministry (v.1a).
1. “The former account I made, O Theophilus…” (v.1a).
a) The Bridge.
(1) In the first sentence of this book, Luke makes it abundantly clear that he is the author of the third Gospel. He dedicates both his Gospel and Acts to Theophilus, a Gentile convert to Christianity.
(2) Although Luke refrains from mentioning his own name in either the Gospel or Acts, the style, vocabulary, and choice of words point to the same author for both books.
(3) The first two verses of Acts serve as a bridge between the Gospel account of Jesus’ life and ministry and the historical account of the developing church. In effect, Luke’s Gospel and Acts form one book in two parts; Acts is the continuation of the Gospel.
b) The Gospel.
(1) Luke refers to the third Gospel as “the first book.”
(2) In the Greek, the expression former or first signifies the first of either two or more items. In this case, Luke writes only two books, the Gospel and Acts.
(3) He distinguishes between the two documents by calling the first one the “former.”
!!!! c) The Name
(1) Theophilus is called “most excellent Theophilus” in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:3).
(a) The words, “most excellent Theophilus,” are a title of rank and honor. It is the same title used of Felix and Festus, two high ranking Roman officials (Acts 23:26; Acts 24:3; Acts 26:27). Theophilus must have been a Roman official of high rank.
(2) Theophilus was a personal friend of Luke, close enough to correspond with Luke about the Lord Jesus.
(a) He was either a man interested in knowing the truth about Christ or else a new convert who needed to be grounded in Christ.
(3) Note: Luke did not address Theophilus as “most excellent” in Acts. The title is dropped. Why? There are three possibilities.
(a) Luke and Theophilus were close friends, close enough to be on a first name basis.
(b) Theophilus had either retired or been removed from office between the writing of Luke and Acts.
(c) Theophilus, having grown in Christ, had grown so loving and humble he did not want his title used among his Christian friends, not in times of personal communication and fellowship.
(4) Think About This: This is a great lesson for us, a lesson of love and humility that is so needed by the world a lesson the Pharisees needed as well as us today (Matthew 23:7-12).
(5) The name Theophilus means “beloved by God” or “the friend of God.”
(a) Some take this to be a general reference to any believer who might be reading this book, while most interpreters see this as a common name.
C. Jesus’ work and teaching (v.1b-2).
1. “All that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day He was taken up…” (v.1b-2a).
a) Until He was taken up and ascended (v.2a)
(1) Christ worked and taught until He was “taken up,” into heaven. He was faithful, using all He had for God until His life upon earth was completed.
(a) The believer is to use his gifts for God until he enters heaven:
We need to be ready now "Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" (John 4:35, NKJV)
There is coming a time when opportunities will be gone "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work." (John 9:4, NKJV)
(2) Jesus proclaimed the Gospel, healing diseases and the sick:
Jesus was busy about His Fathers business, He "Went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them." (Matthew 4:23-24, NKJV)
(3) How about the blind, lame, lepers, the deaf and poor?
When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the One they are looking for, and "Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." (Matthew 11:4-6, NKJV)
(4) He not only left us His work and teaching but also His example:
Peter said "For to this you were called [suffering], because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;" (1 Peter 2:21-23, NKJV)
2. “He through the Holy Spirit…” (v.2b).
a) Through the Holy Spirit (v.2b)
(1) Jesus was empowered & anointed by God to do the miracles, wonders and signs. Christ was totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
Peter, in his sermon in chapter 2 said "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—" (Acts 2:22, NKJV)
The Scriptures declare "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed… for God was with Him."(Ac 10:38)
(a) If Christ was so dependent upon the Spirit of God, how much more are we! How much more do we need to make ourselves available to Him!
During his ministry, Paul said "for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake." (1 Thessalonians 1:5, NASB95)
Jesus said "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8, NASB95)
3. “Had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen…” (v.2c).
a) Gave commandments to His chosen servants (v.2c).
(1) This verse is a reference to the 40 days in which the Lord appeared to the apostles after His resurrection and communicated His desires to them. Four important things happened during this time:
#1- He provided for His disciples an understanding of the Scriptures: (Luke 24:28-35, 24:44-45). He gave them the ability to understand how the Psalms, the Prophets and the Writings (the entire Old Testament) related to His life, death, burial and resurrection.
#2- He proved to His disciples His divine Sonship: (Matt 28:16-17; Mk 16:14; Lk 24:36-43; Jn.20:19-29). Some of the disciples doubted the reports they had heard of His resurrection, so He appeared to them to authenticate His Messiahship and the claims He made while He was alive.
#3- He prepared His disciples for Pentecost: (Lk.24:49,Acts 1:4). He told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit had come upon them to empower them for their ministry.
#4- He proclaimed to His disciples His desire to reach all the nations with the gospel (Matt 28:19-20,Mk 16:15-16,Lk 24:46-49,Jn 20:19-23). The Lord revealed to His disciples that the gospel was to start in Jerusalem and eventually spread out to every nation.
D. Jesus’ death and resurrection (v.3a-b).
1. “To whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering… “(v.3a).
a) His death is our victory,
(1) By death He paid the penalty for man’s sin.
Speaking about His death, Peter says Jesus "Bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24, NASB95)
The death that He died, He died "For sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;" (1 Peter 3:18, NASB95)
(2) By arising from the dead He conquered death for man and now makes available a new life of power for the believer.
Just as Jesus was buried "We have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4, NASB95)
That is why Paul says "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB95)
2. “To whom He also presented Himself… by many infallible proofs…” (v.3a).
a) Proof 1: Showed Himself alive (v.3a)
(1) He appeared to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18).
(2) He appeared to the women running to tell the disciples about the empty tomb (Matt.28:8-10).
(3) He appeared to Peter, probably to assure him of his restoration (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5).
(4) He appeared to the disciples with Thomas absent (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; Jn.20:19-25).
(5) One week later, He appeared to the disciples who had gone fishing (John 20).
(6) He appeared to 500 believers (1 Cor. 15:6).
(7) He appeared to the apostles (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18).
(8) He appeared to James, the Lord’s half-brother (1 Cor. 15:7).
(9) He appeared to the believers at His ascension (Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12).
3. “Seen by them for forty days…” (v.3b).
a) Proof 2: Many proofs, seen for forty days (v.3b)
(1) During the forty days Jesus allowed the disciples to touch his physical body and eat with Him (Lk 24:36-43).
(2) He knew the mind and words of Thomas and met his doubts (Jn 20:24-29).
(3) He appeared to them and was able to walk though walls (Jn 20:19).
(4) He appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-25).
b) Other proofs of His resurrection are:
(1) The fact all the apostles were martyred and were willing to die for this claim.
(2) The fact the apostle Paul saw the risen Lord and went though a radical transformation.
(3) The fact the Church is in existence today.
(4) The fact many people are experiencing the life transforming power of the resurrection though the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised (Jn 7:39,Acts 1:8).
E. Jesus’ Promise of the Kingdom (v.3c).
1. “Speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God…” (v.3d).
a) The preparation concerning His plan.
(1) During the forty days Jesus was preparing the disciples for the work that they were called to do in all the world.
(2) The last part of verse three says He was speaking to them of the things concerning the Kingdom of God.
(3) Part of this preparation was to explain to them their need for a power beyond themselves which they would need to accomplish God's plan to reach the nations. We are not told in detail what exactly Jesus taught them but we do have glimpses of His messages in the Gospels and here in (Acts 1:1-8).
!!!! b) Explanation of the Kingdom of God – has two basic aspects.
(1) The universal kingdom refers to God’s sovereign rule over all of His creation.
Psalm 103:19 reads, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all.”
(2) The mediatorial kingdom refers to God’s spiritual rule and authority over His people on earth through divinely chosen mediators.
(a) Through Adam, then the patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, the judges, prophets, and the kings of Israel and Judah, God revealed His will and mediated His authority to His people.
(3) With the end of Israel’s monarchy began the times of the Gentiles.
(a) During that period, which will last until the second coming of Christ, God mediates His spiritual rule over the hearts of believers through the church:
Paul put it this way "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17, NASB95)
We were controlled by the power of darkness but Christ "Has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love," (Colossians 1:13)
(b) He does so by means of the Word and the living Christ:
Our old mans has been "Crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NKJV)
(c) During the church age, then, God mediates His kingdom rule through believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit and obedient to the Word.
That is why Peter calls believers “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9).
(4) Today, Jesus Christ does not manifest Himself physically and visibly to believers.
Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29).
While Peter wrote, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
(a) His manifestation to us is no less real, however:
That’s why Paul said "To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” (Colossians 1:29, NKJV)
(5) Through His ministry, He was talking to them about the Kingdom of God.
(a) The world is under the kingdom of darkness & Darkness reigns in the kingdom of men. The world is under Satan’s power, so The world system is Satan’s system.
(b) Jesus came to redeem the world from the power and the hold of Satan. Satan, when Jesus came, took Him up to a high mountain and offered to give them to Him if Jesus would just but bow down and worship Satan.
(c) Jesus did not challenge the ability of Satan to do so, because He knew that the world was under Satan’s power.
Paul the Apostle writing to the Ephesians, writing about their former life said, "You once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience," (Ephesians 2:2, NKJV)
F. Jesus’ promise of the Spirit (v.4-5).
1. “He commanded them not to depart… but to wait for the Promise of the Father...” (v.4a).
a) The disciples had to “wait” (v.4a).
(1) In (Matt.28), Jesus told His disciples to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations” but here in (Acts 4) He says to “wait.”
(2) The apostles may have been tempted to assume they were ready to minister in their own strength; however, all the preparation and training that knowledge and experience can bring are useless without the proper might. Power had to accompany truth.
Again, that’s why Paul said to the Thessalonians "for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit…” (1 Thessalonians 1:5, NASB95)
(a) Jesus speaks about this to His disciples (John 16:7-15).
(b) We see this take place in the apostle Peter (Acts 2:37).
When Jesus sent them out on a preaching tour, He told them, “It is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt.10:20).
b) The promise of the Father (Joel 2:28-32).
(1) This promise of the Father to which Jesus is referring is found in Joel, chapter 2.
Joel says "And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days…And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved." (Joel 2:28-32, NKJV)
(2) The general promise was at the heart of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the New Covenant (Ezekiel 36:25–27).
At Christ’s baptism, Scripture says, “heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3:21–22).
(3) This was emblematic of the fullness of power He would receive from the Spirit for His work.
One chapter later, Luke records that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” (4:1).
When He spoke in the Nazareth synagogue He began by saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19).
(4) During the Old Testament period the Holy Spirit was only poured out on certain individuals:
(a) Samson – the Spirit of the Lord came upon him (Judges 13:25; 14:6, 19).
(b) Samson – the Spirit of the Lord departed from him (Judges 16:20-22).
2. “Which He said, you have heard from Me…” (v.4b).
a) The disciples had heard this promise earlier (v.4b).
(1) Jesus further defines the promise of the Father for them as what you heard of from Me (John 14:16–21; 15:26; 20:22).
Jesus said in John 15 that "When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me." (John 15:26, NKJV)
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:21-22, NKJV)
!!! 3. “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…” (v.5).
a) The disciples were to be baptized with the Spirit (v.5).
(1) Jesus is separating the experience of baptism in water from the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
(a) John baptized with water & John was the one that was baptizing.
(b) Water was the element in which they were baptized & the issue was repentance. It was the baptism of the repentance from sin (Matt.3:1-12).
(c) Repent means more than having a regret or sorrow (Heb.12:17); it means to turn around, to change direction, to change the mind and will. It does not denote just any change, but always a change from the wrong to the right, away from sin and to righteousness.
(d) Repentance involves sorrow for sin, but sorrow that leads to a change of thinking, desire, and conduct of life.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10, NKJV)
(e) Repentance was exactly the same message with which Jesus began His preaching and the apostles began theirs.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand,” Jesus proclaimed; “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15; cf. Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Luke 5:32).
Mark 6:12 says of the twelve: “And they went out and preached that men should repent.”
In his Pentecost sermon, Peter’s concluding words were, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38; cf. Acts 3:19; 20:21; 26:18).
(2) In the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is the baptizer.
(a) The Holy Spirit is the element in which a person is baptized. And of course, the issue is love. The fruit of the Spirit is love.
(b) Love will be manifested when a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35, NKJV)
(c) I like to use the illustration that, just as you are immersed in the water and come up, drippy all over, I want to be immersed in the Holy Spirit overflowing with the Spirit!
Jesus spoke about this in John 7 when "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37-39, NKJV)
(3) Such Scriptures as (Jn.7:37-39, 14:15-17) reveal the fact the Holy Spirit would take over where Jesus left off. John merely baptized people in water but there was coming a time when people would be immersed (baptized) with the Holy Spirit.
b) Difference of born in the Spirit & baptized with the Spirit.
(1) Being born in the Spirit is an experience that begins when you accept Jesus Christ as Savior.
(2) The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the outflowing of the Holy Spirit from your life.
c) Rekindling the Fire of the Holy Spirit.
(1) It’s no secret that the world we live in needs a revival.
(2) When God Speaks of Turning a Nation Around:
(a) He doesn’t Direct His Comments to Unbelievers, they are dead in sin (Eph.2:1-3).
(b) Were the ones that need revival, His people (2 Chron.7:14 cf. Ps.84:11).
We read "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NKJV)