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In The Beginning

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IN THE BEGINNING

Acts 1:1-8

acts 1.doc

 

 
I.      Opener

A.     Introduction

Today we are going to start a new book of the Bible, the book of Acts.  You will find it in the New Testament.  It is the fifth book, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John , Acts.  If you get to 1 Corinthians you have gone too far.  I called it: “In The Beginning” because in it we will see a lot of first for the church.

The Book of Acts is a bridge from the gospel’s to the church, from Jerusalem to Rome, from Jew to Gentile.  Imagine what it would be like if the Book of Acts were missing. You would pick up your Bible and see the ministry of Jesus ending in the Gospel of John; next you would read about a guy named Paul writing to followers of Jesus in Rome. Who was Paul? How did the gospel get from Jerusalem to Rome? The Book of Acts answers these questions. "A great New Testament scholar has said that the title of Acts might be, 'How they brought the Good News from Jerusalem to Rome.'" (Barclay)

1.     Author - Luke

The book has been attributed to a man named Luke.

a.     Gentile

By every indication, Luke was a Gentile. Colossians 4:10-11 and 4:14 show that he wasn't Jewish, because he is not included in the group who are of the circumcision.

Col 4:10-11

10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.

Col 4:14 14 Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.

This makes Luke unique in that he is the only New Testament writer who was a Gentile.  God gave this lone Gentile writer a great privilege. Because Luke wrote more of the New Testament than any other human writer did.

b.     The Beloved Physcian

Paul calls Luke “the beloved physician”


2.     Purpose

Why in the world did Luke write the book of Acts?  First it is the second volume of a two volume set.The purpose for the book acts can be seen from the prefix from the book of Luke.  It was common in that time for a two volume book for the prefix from first volume to apply to the second volume.  We can find the prefix in Luke 1

Lk 1:1-4

1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

1.     Luke’s Purpose in Luke

a.     To document Jesus Life and ministry from the beginning till in an orderly account.

b.     Sources eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word.

C.     Written to Theophilus to verify the truthfulness of what he’s already been told.

And then in Acts he picks up where he left off.

Ac 1:1-3

1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

D.     So we see that Acts is a continuation of the book of Luke showing the things that Jesus did through his apostles

a.     History

It is a historical book.  William Ramsay, a noted archaeologist and Bible scholar, proved that the historical record of Acts is remarkably accurate regarding the specific practices, laws and customs of the period it claims to record. It is definitely the work of contemporary eyewitnesses.

It gives us a first hand account of the beginnings of the church, where and how it all started for the first 30 years.

b.     Apologetic

There are some who think that the two volumes of Luke and Acts which are a legal brief for lawyers who would have been studying Paul’s case in Rome.  In that case they are not only historical books but they give an explanation for the faith.

c.      Holy Spirit 

A key to the book of Acts is seeing the Holy Spirit work through the church. 

3.     Outline

Acts 1:8 is the key to the book of Acts. 

8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

It is outlines the book and unlocks the

∙         the gospel went from Jerusalem (chaps. 1–7)

∙         to Judea and Samaria (chaps. 8–9) and then

∙         to the ends of the earth (chaps. 10–28).

The book of Acts describes a transition from ministry to Jews to ministry to the Gentiles and explains how the gospel got from Jerusalem to Rome.

THE BOOK OF ACTS IN OVERVIEW
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Chapters Acts 1–7 Acts 8–12 Acts 13–28
Spread of the Church The church in Jerusalem The church in all Judea and Samaria The church to all the earth
Time 2 years
(a.d. 33–35)
13 years
(a.d. 35–48)
14 years
(a.d. 48–62)
People Addressed Jews Samaritans Gentiles
Key Person Peter Philip Paul

II.     Study

Ac 1:1-11

1 The former account I made, O Theophilus,

A.     Why Theophilus

1.     Theophilus may have been Luke’s patron who financed the writing of Luke and Acts. At any rate he was a believer in Christ. These two books would confirm and instruct Theophilus, as well as the church of Christ, in the faith[1]

2.     Most Excellent Theophilus

In Luke Theophilus was addressed with the title most excellent. It could be that Theophilus is a high ranking official in the Roman government and Luke is writing a legal brief about the Christian movement.

3.     Theophilus is a personification for a lover of God

1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

∙         We must remember that Acts does not give us a full history of the church during this period. For example, the churches in Galilee and Samaria are barely mentioned (Acts 9:31), and the establishing of a strong church in Egypt during this time isn't mentioned at all.

∙         Acts takes us up to about 60 or 61 A.D., with Paul in Rome waiting to appear before Caesar Nero. This same Nero began his infamous persecutions of Christians in 64 A.D.  So Acts covers the first 30 years of the church.

∙         Notice that the Lord’s ministry was one of both doing and teaching. It was not doctrine without duty, or creed without

2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

We talked about this some last week the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. What kind of infallible proofs did Jesus give of his resurrection?

1.     he was seen by over 500 people.

2.     He let them touch the nail prints and the place where the sword had pierced him

3.     He spent time with them explaining the Kingdom of God.  

So Luke know gives us the specifics of how Jesus was taken up and the commands he gave to his disciples.

4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;

What was the promise of the Father THAT Jesus had told them about?

Jn 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

Jn 15:26  “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

Jn 16:7 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

God had promised to send them the Holy Spirit.  The Hoy Spirit, what is the Holy Spirit?  We are going to go into detail the next couple of weeks about the Holy Spirit but right here we can see he is:

a helper, 

He’s the Spirit of Truth,

He comes from the father, and

He would never leave them.

WAIT

So Jesus tells his disciples actually commands his disciples to wait in Jerusalem.  What does that mean?  We will talk about this again in the next couple of weeks.  But I want to tell you that it is apparent.  I don’t think they knew what he was talking about when he said it.  I’m sure Peter was in the background going Holy Spirit what do you mean like Casper?  Gut I want to tell you it was apparent.  We actually see that receiving the Holy Spirit become the way that the disciples were able to be sure that some one was a Christian.  And you know what it is still true today.  Any Way more on that next week.

5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

        Jesus has nothing else for the disciples to do other than to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. He knows that they really can do nothing effective for the Kingdom of God until the Spirit comes and they can do nothing as far as works to make it come.  It is by grace that the spirit is given.  All they could do  is wait.

6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.

Jesus has nothing else for the disciples to do other than to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. He knows that they really can do nothing effective for the Kingdom of God until the Spirit comes and they can do nothing as far as works to make it come.  It is by grace that the spirit is given.  All they could do  is wait.

8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Here it is the key verse.  Acts 1:8. 

Don’t you know this was confusing?  What did that mean? When the Holy Spirit comes on you?  By the way what does he mean the Holy Spirit?

Receive power – now that’s what I’m talking about.  Can’t you just see John and James thinking about the thrones one on the right the other on the left.

Witnesses –1 a witness. 1a in a legal sense. 1b an historical sense. 1b1 one who is a spectator of anything, e.g. of a contest. 1c in an ethical sense. 1c1 those who after his example have proved the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by undergoing a violent death.  It comes from the Greek word we get Martyr from. 

So they were to receive power to be a witness for Jesus Christ.  That is the power to live in such a way that your life becomes a reflection of Jesus.  That’s what a witness is.  And that power enabled tem to live it at any and all cost.

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

o       Space Canter – Shuttle Launches

When I worked at the space center, thousands of people would come out for the shuttle launches.  I can remember standing there watching it take off.  You’d stand there looking up pointing into the sky.  I would stand there watching long after I couldn’t see the shuttle any more hoping to see the separation of the boosters.  I can imagine how much more you’d stand there looking up.

o       Why Ascend this way

Why did Jesus ascend this way? He certainly could have simply "vanished" to the Father's presence in a secret sort of way. But with the ascension, Jesus wanted His followers to know that He was gone for good, as opposed to the way He appeared and reappeared during the forty days after the resurrection.

i. Remember Jesus' words to His disciples in John 16:7: It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. Now the disciples could know that that promise would be fulfilled.

c. Why do you stand gazing up into heaven? The two men (apparently angels) told the disciples to put their attention in the right place (obedience to Jesus' command to return to Jerusalem), not in wondering where and how Jesus went. Jesus told them to go to the ends of the earth, and they stood gazing up into heaven.

d. Will come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven: Jesus will return just as He left: physically, visibly, and to the Mount of Olives.


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[1]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Ac 1:3). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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