Jesus founded the real first Christian Church in Jerusalem with repercussions for Jews and Gentiles. Even today the profound implications of ACTS 1 in the New Testament are for all people to consider. ♦
After the four Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, the New Testament continues with the Book of ACTS. Written by the historian/doctor named Luke as the continuation of his well-researched Gospel account, ACTS tells the story of Christ’s final instructions to the disciples, physical departure from this earth, and then the supernatural occurrences that led to the explosive growth of the Christian Church throughout Asia Minor and the Roman Empire.
And it was all supernatural. All of Christianity is supernatural. To try to explain Jesus Christ in natural terms is to be foolishly naive and miss the point of His Deity as God incarnate.
Christians, non-Christians, and non-believers alike should take heed of a book that factually lays out key events during these exciting yet difficult days of the early Christian Church.
The implications of the events written by Luke in ACTS are enough to wake up any casual Christian who once said an “I accept Jesus” prayer years ago and now lives a life going through the Christian motions.
For the non-Christian and non-believer, the Book of ACTS will force one to honesty pause and consider just what is occurring here in a series of events that involve large groups of people and witnesses, interactions with documented historical leaders, and recurring references to this Jesus of Nazareth that some would still attempt to acknowledge as a mere nice teacher or one who did not even really exist.
ACTS 1 – Jesus After the Resurrection
Right at the onset, and just as he does at the beginning of his Gospel account, Luke establishes his diligence here to present an orderly account of Jesus and what transpired after the resurrection:
…I have dealt with 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 presented himself to them 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)
I would note that ACTS Chapter 1 is all occurring 40 to 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem. The 40 days are mentioned in these early verses above after that fateful Passover weekend when Christ, the ultimate symbolic Passover Lamb of God, was slain. We will find that the advent of the Holy Spirit in ACTS Chapter 2 occurs specifically on the Day of Pentecost, a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 50th day after the Passover holiday.
It is interesting to note that later in his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes about Jesus being seen alive by the other disciples and over 500 other people. Paul’s reference to these sightings of Jesus by some still living witnesses would have been during this initial 40 days after Christ’s resurrection:
…that he appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:5-6)
Jesus and the Ascension
Next in ACTS Chapter 1, Luke shares the state of mind of the disciples, who to this point are still actively looking forward to a physical kingdom of Israel led by Jesus that will overtake their current Roman rulers:
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Jesus deflects the timing question and addresses the kingdom question with a reference to the coming Holy Spirit:
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.”
This coming power of the Holy Spirit was going to equip them to go way beyond Jerusalem and the Judean region. Then there comes the accounting of Jesus leaving the earth in a rather spectacular way:
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.”
Even angels in their midst appear and confirm that Jesus/God/Holy Spirit will return again soon in this same manifested supernatural spiritual power.
The First Praying Christian Church
There were about 120 believers at this time in Jerusalem. The group of disciples and believers joined together in one accord constantly in prayer.
When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying…. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1:13-14)
In the last part of Chapter 1 there is a reference to the death of Judas and the need to replace him as one of the original twelve.
Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living 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.”
The leaders nominated two men and then prayed and cast lots:
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.
Regardless of our religious status today, ACTS Chapter 1 shows all of us real people who witnessed real Jesus alive and giving them specific instructions which will play out in Chapter 2. And these people are about to launch a God-infused spiritual movement that will become that promised blessing to all the nations of the world. God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) is about to be realized and unleashed.
If the Book of ACTS is true, what are the implications for you?
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. – Acts 1:14