Jesus Ascends, Holy Spirit Comes, Signs and Wonders, Peter Preaches, Church is Born
Luke is thought to have been the author of the book of Acts. It is generally believed to have been written around 63 AD in Rome. Acts is considered the history of the beginnings of the Christian church and follows much of the missions of Paul and Peter in the spreading of the Gospel. Some of the other apostles have brief mention.
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 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. 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. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.” (1:1-8) Luke addressed the book of Luke to Theophilus. Since this book is also written to the same man it is considered to also be written by Luke. When Jesus told them to wait on the Holy Spirit they showed again that they did not understand his mission as they asked about the reign of the warrior/king’s restoration of the Jewish kingdom. They would soon receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “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.” (1:9-11) As Jesus left, so he shall return. The ascension of Jesus was in broad daylight and witnessed by many, leaving no doubt as to his divinity and the truth of his message.
The disciples then returned to Jerusalem and waited as the Lord had told them. They were constantly in prayer and worship. In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 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– he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.” (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. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “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.’ 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, 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.” So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (1:15-26) The disciples used this time to replace Judas as the scripture had directed. Remember, the Holy Spirit had not yet come so they used the ancient method of casting lots to determine the will of God. Both candidates had been with the group since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry so had witnessed all of Jesus’ words and deeds.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. (2:1) The day of Pentecost was mandated in the Law in Leviticus 23:15-16. It was a Jewish ceremonial event to celebrate giving life to the firstborn of every one who placed the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts back in Egyptian captivity. It was appropriate that the Holy Spirit should come on Pentecost to celebrate the new life given by the choice of accepting the blood of the perfect Lamb on the cross.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (2:2-4) The Holy Spirit came in such a manner that no one could doubt that something amazing had just occurred. They were “filled” means that the Spirit entered them. Typically until now the Spirit was “on” people rather than in them. It is the purification by the blood of Jesus that allows the Spirit to dwell within those who have accepted him as their Savior. Enablement to speak in other tongues is considered the prime evidence of the infilling of the Spirit by “Pentecostal” religions. There are several ideas of the meaning of “other tongues,” foreign languages, a prayer language or the language of heaven and angels. Belief in one does not preclude the possibilities of the others as we will see in this book.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs– we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (2:5-11) “Each one heard,” does not tell us if the miracle was the gift of speech and hearing or speech alone. We know that there was speaking in “other tongues” and somehow all heard the praises of God in their own language. All knew that this was a miracle. (Note: The speakers were followers of Jesus who were filled with the Spirit and the hearers were Jews in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost.)
After some of the onlookers said that those speaking in tongues were drunk, Peter said, “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-32): “‘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. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (2:14-21) There are those who believe the gifts of the Spirit (1Corinthians 12-14) were only for the apostles. This prophecy from Joel that Peter confirmed as happening makes it obvious that the gifts are for all. The purpose is for salvation not the boasting of man. It is not difficult to be saved. The only requirement is to call upon the Lord for forgiveness and recognize his power to save.
“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. 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. (2:22-23) Peter tells the people that God showed that he sent Jesus by the miracles they had seen him do, but like the prophets of old they had him killed.
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. David said about him (Psalms 16:8-11): “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ (2:24-28) To show that this passage in Psalms referred to Jesus not David, Peter continued, “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 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. 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. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. (2:29-32) Peter proves Jesus is the one prophesied by David and shows them that the resurrection substantiates his claim.
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. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ‘ “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (2:33-36) Peter again proves Jesus is the Promised One. Remember that the outpouring of the Spirit is promised not only to the apostles but to all who believe.
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off– for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (2:37-39) The promise of salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit is for all who repent and believe. The “far off” refers to future generations.
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. (2:40-43) Three thousand were baptized and became devoted to the teaching of Jesus and began to fellowship and eat together. It should be noted that baptism in the name of Jesus excluded the Jews from any fellowship with the Jewish leaders. Their faith led to many miracles.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 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, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (2:44-47) Possessions became meaningless in the light of the joy they felt in finding eternal life. They fellowshipped and sincerely praised God. This unity drew many others to salvation.
for Jesus Ascends, Holy Spirit Comes, Signs and Wonders, Peter Preaches, Church is Born
1. Why did Jesus tell them to wait on the Holy Spirit?
2. How did they know that the Holy Spirit had come?
3. What did Peter use to dispel the negative view of the disciples behavior?
4. How did Peter prove that Jesus is the Messiah?
5. What characterized the early church?
A. Discuss the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
B. Should we expect signs and wonders for those filled with the Spirit today?
C. Discuss the additions to the Body of Christ, compared to the time of Jesus’ ministry.