To The Ends of the Earth
Comments for Study 1
Memory Verse: 8
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I. The Ministry of the Risen Christ (1-5)
>1. Who writes to whom? (1)
"In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach" -Acts 1:1
* "In my former book" -The Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:3). Luke is called a historian because of these two books.
* "Theophilus" -"Theo" is Greek meaning God and "phil" means love. The author is writing either a person or as the meaning (one who loves Jesus) indicates this book is written to anyone who loves Jesus. In verse 15 of Luke it says, "most excellent". So if it is a person it might be a Roman dignitary. If a real person there is no other Biblical evidence of a Theophilus.
* "I wrote" -Luke the Physician. Luke was with Paul's ministry for a long time. (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Phi. 24, and in this book he uses the word "we" when describing events.)
* There is no conclusion for this book of Acts. It is just the beginning of Jesus' work in the age we are in often called the church age, the age of grace, and the age of the preaching of the gospel. The later is the best term for this age.
>What is the difference between the book of Acts and the gospel of Luke? (1:1-5)
"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." -Acts 1:1-5
* "about all that Jesus began to do and to teach" -Luke's gospel and the other three gospels are about Jesus' ministry until he ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of his Father. Jesus' life is also mentioned in other historical documents like Josephus, a Jewish History born four years after Jesus' crucifixion. Josephus never converted to Christianity and yet recorded Jesus' life and death as well as John the Baptist, James the disciple and half-brother of Jesus, and four generations of Herod.
* "began to do" -Jesus is still working in the lives of his people to this very day through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Because of this truth some have said that this book should be called, The Acts of Jesus After He Ascended into Heaven."
* "until the day he was taken up to heaven" -The breaking point between The Gospel of Luke and Acts is Jesus' ascension.
* Luke's gospel scope is in Israel because that is where Jesus' ministry was located.
* Act's scope is the world. It starts in Jerusalem (chapters 1-7). Then the focus increases to Judea and Samaria. (chapters 8-12) Then the focus spreads through the rest of the world and continues spreading to this very day.
* In Luke's gospel the disciples are like little children. In Act's the disciples are powerful leaders.
* In Luke's gospel Jesus is on the stage doing God's work. In Act's the apostles are on the stage doing Jesus' (God's) work.
* For reasons unknown this book focus' on the ministry of Peter and then Paul. Perhaps this is because Luke worked with these two apostles. The other apostles' work has only been handed down to the areas they went into.
>2. What is the main themes of the book of Acts?
* The gospel going out to the ends of the earth.
* The key verse of this book is 1:8.
>What are other themes in the book?
* The Holy Spirit's work through the disciples.
* Not to let obstacles keep us from sharing the gospel.
* Defense of the gospel in various groups of people.
* Work of the word of God. (6:4, 7)
* Work of Peter and Paul (apostles).
* Work of the church.
* Prayer in preaching the gospel and sending out missionaries.
* Gentiles included in the church.
* Church growth.
* External and internal obstacles against the church.
* Glory and cross of mission.
>Why are they important?
* God's way of working needs to be understood.
* They are God's will.
* They are God's desire.
>3. What did Jesus do after his resurrection? (3; John 20:1-21:23)
"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." -Acts 1:3
* "He showed himself to these men" -to:
1) plant resurrection faith (proof)
2) plant hope of the kingdom of God
3) restore the apostles
4) reinstate the apostles
* Jesus limited himself to his disciples after his resurrection.
* Christians these days emphasize to many other things. Those other topics may be good, but these (1-4) are much more important.
* "over a period of forty days" -The timing is important for it fulfilled prophecy concerning the Feast's of the LORD. The first fulfilled is Passover, starting at twilight on the fourteenth day of he first month. The fifteenth day starts of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of the Wave of the First Fruit is the first Sunday after Passover. Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified on Passover which started at twilight on a Thursday that year and lasted to twilight Friday. He was in the tomb Friday evening and thru Saturday until Sunday dawn, all during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He rose and first appeared Sunday morning, the Feast of the Wave of the First Fruit and continued appearing for forty days. Then the disciples prayed and awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the end of the Feast of Weeks, a forty-nine day count (seven weeks) after the Feast of the Wave of the First Fruit. (Lev. 23)
>What command does Jesus give his apostles? (4; Luke. 24:49)
"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." -Acts 1:4
* "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." -Luke 24:49
* "Do not leave Jerusalem" -They wanted to leave because of fear of death and they were country boys so they felt strange in a large city. Sometimes we have to stay where God wants us to even if it isn't easy. We need to wait for the work of the Holy Spirit.
* "while he was eating with them" -Jesus was in the same body that was crucified and buried. The body he walked out of the grave with was able to eat food. He was not a ghost or angle. He was human, though a new human, the first of his kind, the second Adam as Paul called him. (1 Cor. 15)
* "command" -Commands are not a bad thing. They are good. However, they go against the sinful nature. When the sinful nature hears a command it naturally does not want to do it. In fact it wants to do the opposite. Jesus death and resurrection put to death our sinful nature and all its desires. We look forward to our resurrection so that we will be like Jesus in every way. (Rom. 7:4-6, 18-25)
* "Jerusalem" -The starting point for world mission as Jesus told them it would be. The gospel has circled the whole world and has now returned to Jerusalem, a city restored after nearly two thousand years of being a dead city.
* "the gift" -The Holy Spirit is his gift to us to enable us to do the work he requires of us.
>What promise does he include? (5)
"For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." -Acts 1:5
* "the Holy Spirit" -God's promise to the disciples, including us. This book will show that God has poured out his Spirit greatly in the age we are in.
* "John baptised with water, but" -There is a clear distinction between water baptism and Jesus' baptism. The gospel authors makes it a point to say Jesus did not water baptize. (John 4:2)
* Why does the Holy Spirit come? To empower us for the gospel work, which is to be a witness to Jesus' work.
* We do not seek the Holy Spirit for the sake of receiving the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Holy Spirit is not the end of our efforts but the beginning.
* How do we receive the Holy Spirit? obey (4-5), by God (4-5), through prayer (next study).
II. To The Ends of the Earth (6-11)
>4. What is the main concern of the disciples at this time? (6)
"So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" -Acts 1:6
* Restoration of Israel had been on the mind of Jews since they returned from captivity in Babylon.
* Jesus often taught about the kingdom of God. When he did so everyone assumed he referred to the nation of Israel. Now, after his resurrection the disciples old worldly hope was renewed. They did not fully understand that God's will was to bring all the gentiles into his kingdom too. God was working to fulfill the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that they would become "a group of nations". (Gen. 48:19 and other places.)
>5. What is Jesus' answer? (7)
"He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority." -Acts 1:7
* Jesus doesn't seem to be upset with them. He did not harshly rebuked them, but gently instructed them in the truth.
* Jesus didn't answer directly. He addressed the question but not as they expected. They expected a, "Yes" or a "No". Instead Jesus redirected the disciples to what really matters. He refocused their eyes on what was really important.
* Jesus was straight forward in his answer.
* Jesus really was saying not only an indirect, "No" but was saying, "Don't concern yourselves about the times and dates." Many in the past one hundred years have been more concerned about the dates than about obeying Jesus' world mission command. They study with concerns about things that Jesus didn't command us about. Knowledge is good, but obeying a command is better.
* They thought the nations external problems were the cause of their and their countries problem.
* Mankind sees human problems as the main problem to society and the individual.
* If Jesus explained all future history to them now it wouldn't have sunk into their heads.
>Instead, what does Jesus promise for them? (8a)
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;" -Acts 1:8
* Peter proclaimed this in his first message delivered at Pentecost. (2:38)
* Jesus said that if we ask we will recieve as recorded in Luke 11:11-13. Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit and not knowledge of all.
* "you will" -it would happen not by their power but God's. They would be compelled by God.
* In a way the disciples were thinking about a powerful position when they asked about restoring Israel as they had before his resurrection. Jesus did say they would receive power but not the power that they were thinking of.
* Jesus promised:
1) Spiritual power.
2) be witnesses. In Greek it also means martyr. (John 12:25)
* Receiving the Spirit and preaching the gospel was the most urgent problem to address.
* They had to change from human thinking to godly thinking.
* Following this command probably seemed like betraying their country and friends.
>What command does he give them to obey? (8b)
"and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." -Acts 1:8
* "you will" -it would happen not by their power but God's. We are compelled by God.
* "Jerusalem...Judea...Samaria" -step by step. They could not be irresponsible. They needed to do what needed to be done first.
>6. What happen to Jesus after this instruction? (9)
"After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight." -Acts 1:9
* "he was taken up before their very eyes" -He didn't disappear.
* "cloud" -A cloud hid Jesus from their eyes like the cloud hid God's glory from the Israelites when they were at they were at the mountain. It was not a moisture cloud, but the "shekinah glory". When Jesus was before the Sanhedrin before they condemned him to death Jesus told them "you will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven" (Mk. 15:62) referring to the same glory cloud. The cloud of heaven is the bright shining glory of the Lord. Glory is "kabad" in Hebrew meaning a bright sinning cloud surrounding the LORD God. The glory of the Lord came on Mt. Sinai just after the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt (Ex. 16:7-10, 24:16-17), in desert Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-38; Lev. 9:6, 23; Num. 14:10), and in the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Ki. 8:10-11; and 2 Ch. 5:14, 7:1-3, Isa. 6:1-4). Jesus going and soon coming in the glory of the Lord is prophecies by Isaiah (Is. 4:2-6; Isa. 35:1-2; 40:4-5; 59:19-20; 60). Ezekiel also saw the glory of the Lord. (Ez. 1:25-28; 3:12, 22-23; 9:3-4; 10:3-4, 18-22; 11:22-23; 43:1-5; 44:4). Luke 2:9 says the glory of the Lord shown over the shepherds when they angles said Jesus was born. Paul calls Jesus the "Lord of glory" in 1 Cor. 2:8 and the "radiance of God's glory" in Hebrews 1:3.
>What was his disciples doing? (10)
"They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them." -Acts 1:10
* Perhaps they wanted Jesus to come back down. They were sad to see him go.
* Perhaps in awe.
* They probably felt like orphans.
>What is the rebuke and promise of the angels? (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.'" -Acts 1:11
* "Men of Galilee" -not "most sacred apostles".
* Paraphrased, "Go back to Jerusalem like Jesus instructed in verse 12."
* The angles promised the disciples that Jesus would come back.
* This was a promise of Jesus' presents.
* Don't think about Jesus who went away, but Jesus who will come back again. (Mat. 16:27)
* Zechariah 14:3-5 says, "Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him."
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