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Studies in the Book of Acts Chapter: 1 The Days Prior to Pentecost (Acts 1:1-26)

by Larry Miles

     This book, like the Gospel, of Luke, was written to Theophilus, probably a high-ranking Roman official. Luke tells him that Jesus, in His post-resurrection body taught the apostles He had chosen. For the first part of chapter 1 it is the eleven He is teaching. This was after the death of Judas Iscariot and before the selection of Matthias.

     During the forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension, Jesus made many appearances  to His followers. Thomas D. Thurman, in his book “The Jesus Years,” gives us this suggested chronology of the appearances of Jesus

In and Near Jerusalem

  1. Appearance to Mary Magdalene.  Mark 16:9-11John 20:11-18
  2. Appearance to the Other Women.  Matthew 28:9-10.
  3. Appearance to the Two Disciples  on the Emmaus Road.  Mark 16:12-13Luke 24:13-32
  4. Appearance to Peter. Luke 24:341 Cor. 15:5
  5. Appearance to the Ten. Mark 16:14Luke 24:36-43John 20:19-25
  6. Appearance to the Eleven.  John 20:26-291 Cor. 15:5

In Galilee

  1. Appearance to the Seven by the  Sea.  John 21:1-23
  2. Appearance to the 500 brethren.  Matthew 28:16-20I Cor. 15:6

In and Near Jerusalem After His Return From Galilee 

  1. Appearance to the Apostles.  Mark 16:15-18
  2. Appearance  to James. I Cor. 15:7
  3. Appearance  at Bethany. Luke 24:44-49Acts 1:3-8

Later Appearances

  1. Appearance To Paul. I Cor. 15:8
  2. Appearance to John. Revelation 1:13

     These were the  appearances that Jesus made  before many  witnesses. In Acts 1:3 we have the only  reference, in  scripture, to the  length of Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry.

     They were  told  not  to leave Jerusalem. He  told them that  ten days  hence they would  receive the  Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In verse 6 the   apostles asked Jesus  if it was  at this time He would restore the kingdom  to Israel. He  told them “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7

     In verse 8, He  again told them of the promise of the  Baptism of the Holy Spirit. He  made it known to them they  would evangelize the world, starting from Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? Because that’s where they were. God wants all of us to start spreading the Good News from  wherever we are.

     In the  next  verse we have the  ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. The location was the Mount of Olives. It was  located  east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley from the  village of Bethany (Luke 24:50). As He was  speaking to them, He  arose out of their sight in  cloud. I’m sure they were  astonished, I  know I would be.       

     It isn’t  everyday you see someone rise up from you in a cloud, even though He is the Son of God. We’re told that while they were staring up in the  sky two men (angels) in white  clothing appeared to them. The  two called them “men of Galilee.”

   The remaining  eleven were from Galilee, Judas  Iscariot being the only non-Galilean. Here in verse  eleven we have the  promise that Jesus  is coming  back again for His  church.

The Choosing of Matthias: Acts 1:12-26

     We’re told that the distance between the  Mount of Olives and the  city of Jerusalem was  3,000 feet. According to Josephus, 3,000 feet as the  length of a  Sabbath Day’s journey. In  verse 13 we  find the apostles back in the upper room. It was  in all probability the  same  room  where the Last Supper occurred (Mark 14:15Luke 22:2), therefore it might have been in the  home of  Mary, the  mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12). Here is a  list of the  eleven apostles who  gathered in the upper room.

     Peter, John, James, Andrew, Phillip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot and  Judas the son of James.

     We find, early in the book, that the  disciples were a praying group. In verse 14 we have the last mention of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Also, his  half brothers had now  come to accept His Messiah ship. We  remember that not  many  days before that Peter had denied his Lord. Here we see him taking a position of  leadership.

     In the next few verse they had to  choose a  successor  to Judas Iscariot.  In verses 21-22, we have the qualifications set  forth for the  office of Apostle. Peter says that they must have been with them from the baptism of John until Jesus’ ascension. That  way one was  both a  witness of His  resurrection and His  ascension . This  clearly shows that the  false practice of  apostolic  succession is  anti-scriptural. After  John’s  death the office  of Apostle ceased to  exist here on the earth.

     The record tells  us that there were two men who fit these  qualifications; Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was  also  called Justus, and  Matthias. The  apostles believed that God  had  already made His choice so there had to be a way for  Him to relate His choice to them.

     Charles Caldwell Ryrie gives us this  account from the  footnotes of the “Ryrie Study Bible.”

“Two names were written on stones and placed in an urn. The one that fell out  first was taken to be the Lord’s choice (cf. Prov. 16:33; Jonah  1:7) The occasion was  unique, for the Lord as not there in person to  appoint and the  Spirit had not been given in a  special way  on Pentecost.”

     Did the apostles acts in accordance with God’s will in the  selection of Matthias? Some have tried to say that the  eleven were acting in haste when they  selected  Matthias. The  critics  say that God wanted  Paul to be the  twelfth apostles. This  can  be shown false by  at least  3  reasons:

  1. Nowhere in the New Testament does it  say that the choosing of  Matthias was in contrast with the  will of God. The fact that Matthias was  filled with the  Spirit on Pentecost proved that he, was in fact, God’s man for the  job.
  2. If the  choosing of Matthias was  wrong, then  Peter erred when he  gave Old Testament passages to back his  actions.
  3. Paul had a  special apostleship. Also, Paul could not fulfill the  qualifications laid down in  verse  21-22. In 1 Cor. 15:5-8, he says that he was not one of the Twelve.

So, according to the purpose and plan of God, Matthias became the twelfth apostles. The office was   complete  again.

In the  next lesson we are  going to deal with the  events in the  second chapter of Acts. The lesson will be titled “The  Birthday of the Church of Christ.” We  encourage all to prepare by reading the chapter through. Remember, no truth is truly yours  until you  find it for yourself in the Word of God.


Larry Miles is Co-Editor of the Word and Work and worships at Cherry St. CofC, New Albany, IN.

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