Setting

In the book of Acts, Luke continues where he left off in his gospel. In this first chapter, he narrates the work of the Lord Jesus Christ after His resurrection. The Lord appeared to the disciples and taught them. He promised them the Holy Spirit and gave them the great commission to preach the gospel to the end of the earth. Then, before their eyes, the Lord ascended to heaven, and the angels proclaimed that He will come again. Luke’s account of these events sets the stage for the establishment of the church and shows that it is through the Lord’s continual abidance that the church would fulfill her mission.

Key Verse

(1:8)

Did You Know...?

1. Apostles (1:2): the word “apostle” literally means “one sent forth.” Originally, this term was used to designate the twelve disciples whom Jesus had sent forth to preach the gospel and to be with Him during His ministry. Later, the word was used to also refer to Christian messengers and teachers (See 2Cor 8:23; Php 2:25). “In the New Testament [it was] originally the official name of those twelve of the disciples whom Jesus chose to send forth first to preach the gospel and to be with him during the course of His ministry on earth. The word also appears to have been used in a non-official sense to designate a much wider circle of Christian messengers and teachers (See 2Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 2:25).” [ref]

Outline

  • Prologue to Acts
    (1:1-2)
  • Appearances of the Resurrected Christ
    (1:3-8)
  • Speaking about things concerning the kingdom of God
    (1:3)
  • The promise of the the Holy Spirit
    (1:4-5)
  • The purpose of the Holy Spirit and the Great Commission
    (1:8)
  • The Ascension of Jesus Christ
    (1:9-11)

Keywords/Phrases

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General Analysis

  • 1.

    Where else in the Bible does it record the appearances of the resurrected Jesus and His ascension?

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    The appearances of the resurrected Christ were also recorded in Matt 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20, 21.

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  • 2.

    According to the four gospels and Acts, what are the final instructions and words of Jesus before His ascension?

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    Jesus’ final instructions and words may be summarized as follows:
    1. All authority had been granted to Jesus in heaven and on earth (Mt 28:18).
    2. All His disciples were to go into the whole world to preach the gospel to every one and make them disciples (Mt 28:19, Mk 16:15).
    3. The message of the gospel includes repentance and remission of sins through baptism and those who believe and do accordingly will be saved but those who do not will be condemned (Luke 24:47, Mk 16:16, Mt 28:19).
    4. The disciples were to teach the believers all that the Lord Jesus had commanded them (Mt 28:20).
    5. Miraculous signs would accompany the disciples’ ministry (Mk 16:17-18)
    6. The disciples were to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit before embarking on the preaching work (Lk 24:49, Acts 1:4-5)
    7. Once they were endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit, they would be Jesus’ witnesses beginning from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8)
    8. Jesus would be with them to the end of the age (Mt 28:20).

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  • 3.

    In what ways did the Lord Jesus prepare the apostles to be His witnesses during the forty-day post-resurrection period? Base your answer on the current passage.

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    1. He presented Himself alive by many infallible proofs (3) so that the disciples would have a firm faith in His resurrection.
    2. He spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (3) so that the disciples would have a clearer understanding of the gospel that they were to preach.
    3. He promised them the Holy Spirit (4,5,8), who would empower them to be the Lord’s witnesses.
    4. He prophesied and commanded them to be His witnesses to the end of the earth (8).
    5. He ascended to heaven before their eyes and indicated to them through the angels that He would come again (9-11).

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  • 4a.

    Record the promises in this passage.

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    1. The promise of the Holy Spirit (5,8).
    2. The promise of the Lord’s return (11).

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  • 4b.

    Why are these promises important to Christians?

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    1. Although the Lord Jesus has ascended to heaven, He now dwells in the heart of the believers and abides with the church through the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16-20; 20:21-23). The Holy Spirit empowers believers to witness for Christ (Acts 1:8), grants them boldness (cf. Acts 4:31), and gives them words of power and wisdom (cf. Acts 6:10). The Holy Spirit also directs the disciples in their ministry (cf. Acts 16:6) and leads the church in making decisions (cf. Acts 15:28). The Holy Spirit also plays a vital role in the believer’s life. He testifies to our spiritual sonship (Rom 8:16), seals us for the heavenly inheritance (Eph 1:13-14; 2Cor 5:1-5), renews us (Tit 3:5-6), quenches our soul (Jn 7:37-39), sanctifies us for salvation (2Thess 2:13), teaches us the truth (Jn 14:26; 16:13), intercedes for us (Rom 8:26- 27), gives us life (Rom 8:11), and enables us to overcome our sinful nature (Rom 8:13).
    2. The Lord’s return is the ultimate hope of all believers. We eagerly look forward to His coming because when He comes, He will save us (Heb 9:28; 1Thess 1:10), transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body (Php 3:21; 1Cor 15:52 54), reward us (Mt 25:14-23; Lk 12:42-44; 2Tim 4:8), usher in the new heavens and new earth (2 Pet 3:12-13), and receive us to Himself (Jn 14:2 3). We shall be like the Lord and see Him as He is (1Jn 3:2; Rev 22:4-5; 1Cor 13:12), and we will be with the Lord forever (1Thess 4:16-17).

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Segment Analysis

  • 1:1-2

    1.

    Who was the Acts of the Apostles addressed to?

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    It was addressed to Theophilus, most likely a Gentile official.

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  • 2.

    What is Luke referring to when he mentions the former account?

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    He was referring to the Gospel according to Luke, which was also addressed to Theophilus.

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  • 3.

    What is the content of the former account?

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    It includes all that Jesus began both to do and teach as well as His death, resurrection, post-resurrection appearances, and ascension.

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  • 4.

    Why were the disciples called “apostles” (2)?

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    The Greek word for “apostle” is derived from the verb that means “send.” Therefore, an apostle is someone who has been sent, or a messenger. In this sense, the disciples were called apostles because they had been chosen by the Lord and sent forth to preach the gospel.

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  • 1:3-8

    5.

    What did Jesus teach His disciples during this period?

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    Things pertaining to the kingdom of God (3).

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  • 6.

    What did Jesus command His disciples to do?

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    To wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit (4) and to be His witnesses (8).

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  • 7a.

    Compare the disciples’ question (6) and the Lord’s answer (7-8). What was the disciples’ concern? What did the Lord Jesus tell them to focus on instead?

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    The disciples wanted to know the timing of God’s activities. But the Lord Jesus told them to focus on their mission of expanding the kingdom of God.

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  • 7b.

    What teachings can we gather from this dialog?

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    Sometimes, we may simply wonder about why God still has not done what He promised He would do or when He would fulfill His promise. But, in the meanwhile, we forget to do our part and carry out what God has commanded us to do. For example, it is not for us to know when God will fulfill His promise of expanding His church to the whole world. God’s promise will surely come true in due time. Instead of speculating on God’s timing and worrying about what God will do, we should just focus on our divine mission, which is to pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit and preach the gospel to all nations.

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  • 1:9-11

    8.

    From where did Jesus ascend to heaven?

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    Mount of Olives (12).

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  • 9.

    The apostles personally saw the Lord’s ascension into heaven. How does the Lord’s ascension motivate us, as it must have motivated the disciples, to witness for Christ?

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    The Lord’s ascension into heaven shows that God has exalted Him to the highest place and that He is truly Lord and Savior (Acts 2:33; 5:31; Php 2:9-11; Heb 4:14; 7:26-27). Because Christ has received all authority in heaven and on earth, and that it is in His exalted name that we make disciples (Mt 28:18), we know that He will work with us and empower us when we witness for Him. Because He has accomplished the work of salvation, we have confidence that the gospel message we preach is true and effective.

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  • 10.

    What did the angels tell the disciples?

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    The angels told them that Jesus would come in like manner as He went into heaven.

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  • 11.

    In terms of fulfilling the Great Commission, why is it important to constantly remind ourselves of Jesus’ coming?

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    In view of the Lord’s coming and His judgment, we need to reach out to as many people as we can so that they may hear the gospel and be saved from condemnation. The time for preaching is limited, so we must make the most of every opportunity to save souls while the door of God’s grace is still open. Such realization gives great urgency to our mission.
    Knowing that our Lord is returning should also remind us to be faithful. Since the Lord has entrusted us with an assignment and told us that He would return one day, we must diligently discharge our duty so we may receive a reward from the Lord when He comes (cf. Mt 25:14-30).

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