Tag Archives: Acts

Acts 2

acts-2.jpgGreetings!  This chapter describes Pentecost, the birth of the church.

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

2     When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

The concept of speaking in tongues is often misunderstood and misapplied.  There is not a lot written about it in the Bible, but what is written is rather clear (mainly here and 1 Corinthians 14).  In this case people spoke in different languages that others could understand. 

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.

20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope,

27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand

35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

What a sermon!  Note how simple it was and how it emphasized the resurrection.  I wish we knew what other words he said. 

And consider that it was Peter who spoke these words.  After denying Jesus three times before the crucifixion he was restored to fellowship after the resurrection.  But he still needed the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish what he did.  Watch how bold he is throughout Acts.  Instead of denying Jesus he boldly proclaims him – and he does so to the people who had Jesus crucified!

The Apostles claimed to be eyewitnesses of the resurrection here (v. 32) and in other places.

V. 38 can be a little confusing as it makes it appear that baptism is required for salvation.  It is probably more of a parenthetical note or just a logical thing to do after repenting and believing.  When you read this in light of all the other passages addressing the requirements for salvation (i.e., by grace, through faith) it makes more sense.

The Fellowship of the Believers

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

This was not Socialism or Communism.  The believers willingly and gladly gave of their possessions.  They lived with joy and many people were drawn to the faith.  We should live the same way today. 

Acts 1

acts-1.jpgGreetings!  The Book of Acts picks up where the Gospel of Luke left off. 

Theophilus means “one who loves God” and may have been a real person or just a generic salutation.

Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven

1     In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Even after all of Jesus’ teaching, the resurrection and more teaching over forty days the Apostles still needed to wait for the Holy Spirit.  He would come ten days later and the world would never be the same.

6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

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

Geographically speaking Jesus described how the Gospel would spread outward until it went to the whole world.  The truth of the Gospel has been passed down to us and we are the ones the Holy Spirit has empowered to be his witnesses.  What are we doing with the power of God that we have received? 

Jesus did not divulge precise dates for future events.  Otherwise it would probably distort our behavior – either going too quickly or too slowly or just missing the point altogether.

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

We don’t know exactly how the ascension worked, but Jesus is now physically in Heaven.  He is fully human and fully divine with a resurrected body and will remain that way.

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

They were in constant prayer together.  We belong to a vibrant church but the times of group prayer are lacking.  It often feels formulaic or tacked on.  I am guilty of this as well.  This seems like something we’ve lost from the early church.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.”

18 (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

Matthew 27 records that Judas hanged himself, apparently on Good Friday.  At first glance it appears to conflict with this account, but there is no reason these can’t be reconciled.  The Jews would not have taken his body down on the Sabbath so it might have decayed somewhat and then fallen.  Or perhaps the branch broke after he died.

Judas was part of Jesus’ ministry yet wasn’t a true believer.  Still, if he would have repented like Peter did after denying Jesus three times Judas could have been forgiven and restored.  Note how Peter is back in a leadership role.

20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms,

“‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’

21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

It is interesting that they replaced Judas.  Matthias is mentioned in verses 23 and 26 but it is the last we hear of him in the Bible.

Acts overview

acts.jpgGreetings!  This begins our study of the Book of Acts.

The Book of Acts is fast-paced and full of action.  It chronicles the early church, from Jesus’ ascension into Heaven through Paul’s imprisonment shortly before his death in Rome roughly 30 years later. 

I used to not like this book, but I think that was because I read it too quickly and got mixed up with all the people and places (My study Bible listed 20 “key” cities in this book alone).  Now it is one of my favorites. 

The author is Luke, who also wrote the Gospel of Luke.  If you’ve read the Gospel of Luke you’ll notice the similarity in style.  Luke was a very detailed historian.  He was a Gentile (non-Jew) who was a close companion of the Apostle Paul.  He gets every detail just right and his writings have been repeatedly validated by archeology.

It was probably written in the early 60’s AD (not the 1960’s) since it ends without documentation of the Apostle Paul’s death in Rome in roughly 65 AD.

Also see Love in the Book of Acts.  It starts with a trivia question: Roughly how many times is the word love mentioned in the book of Acts?  Then it addresses the theme of evangelism in Acts. 

There are many powerful and exciting stories and lessons in the Book of Acts.  We’ll cover the ascension of Jesus, the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, Peter’s ministry, Paul’s conversion and ministry, the first martyr (Stephen) and much more.

I hope you will join the study!