Journey through the New TestamentBook of Acts with me. The plan is simple. Read ONE chapter a day. Blog or journal 5* things you learned that you previously didn't know and ask 5* questions about the chapter that you'll ponder all week. Let's go!
** You'll probably learn way more than 5 things and have more than 5 questions about each chapter. That's totally fine. The more the merrier!
QUESTION 1: What were the commands Jesus gave to His apostles through the Holy Spirit in verse 1? Were they different from the words He spoke directly to them? Or is this the author's (Luke) way of conveying that the Holy Spirit was powerfully present giving understanding to the disciples as Jesus spoke?
QUESTION 2: Did the disciples understand what or who they were waiting for when Jesus instructed them to wait for the baptism with/in the “Holy Spirit not many days from now.”? In John 20:22, Jesus had already “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” - So, how was that experience different than what they were going to experience upon the baptism with/in the Holy Spirit in Acts 2?
QUESTION 3: Having appeared to them so many times post resurrection from the tomb, did the disciples watch Jesus’ ascension in verse 9 and think to themselves, “He’ll be back later tonight”?
QUESTION 4: How is it that someone (Judas) who was so powerfully used by Satan found his way into the inner group of Jesus’ followers? His betrayal (and suicide – v.16-20) was clearly not a surprise to Jesus because He knew of Judas’ plan all along (Psalm 41:9, John 13:18). Heck, Jesus even said it directly to his face in Matthew 26:23-25, “Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.” - So, why did Judas not change course?
QUESTION 5: Why did God choose Matthias over Joseph called Barsabbas? How did Barsabbas take this news?
WHAT I LEARNED
INSIGHT 1: There were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb and His ascension to heaven on the mount called Olivet (verse 3).
INSIGHT 2: During that 40-day period, Jesus appeared numerous times to His disciples (staying and eating with them), teaching them about the kingdom of God. This not only gave them proof and confidence that He was alive and had conquered of sin, Satan, and death, but it would also embolden them in their ministry post-Pentecost. His teachings during this period is also what shaped much of their theology. It’s possible that Jesus appeared many more times, but He is recorded as appearing at least 10 times to his disciples in his resurrected body.
- To Mary Magdalene - (John 20:11-18)
- To a group of women, possibly Mary of Clopas, Mary the mother of James and Joanna - (Matthew 1; 28:8-10; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10)
- To the two disciples on the road to Emmaus - (Luke 24:13-43)
- To Peter - (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
- To the disciples, minus Thomas - (Luke 24:36-43)
- To the disciples, plus Thomas - (John 20:26-29)
- To seven of the disciples - (John 21:1-23)
- To 5000 of his disciples in one encounter - (1 Corinthians 15:6)
- To James his half-brother (the apostle) - (1 Corinthians 15:7)
- To his disciples right before His ascension - (Luke 24:49-53)
INSIGHT 3: In John 20:22, Jesus had already “breathe” on them the Holy Spirit and they had “received” the Holy Spirit then. This may have simply been a foretaste of a “fuller” version of what was to come. The Amplified Bible translates Jesus’ words in verse 5 this way, “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized and empowered and united with the Holy Spirit, not long from now.” In John’s account, the Holy Spirit may have functioned more like a drone in that He “hovered” above and only “came down” and empowered God’s people for a specific mission, then pulled back when the task was completed. However, in what Jesus was promising (that would take place on Pentecost), the Holy Spirit would take up more of a permanent residence in the hearts of those who welcomed Christ in their life.
INSIGHT 4: When the disciples ask Jesus in verse 6, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”, they were expecting Jesus to inaugurate the kingdom of God He so frequently spoke of sometime in the next few days. They had no comprehension of the age of the Church that was to come, the roles they would get to play in it, and the future millennial return of Jesus.
INSIGHT 5: Jesus’ words in verse 7, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” is the reason why we need not occupy our time with the dating and timing of Jesus’ return, but instead, focus on preparing for His return.
INSIGHT 6: The empowerment of the Holy Spirit in our life is for the sole purpose of being Gospel “witnesses”, starting from our neighborhood to our city, to our state, to our country, and to every nation on the globe (v.7). PRAY: “Father, help me be a faithful witness of your word to everyone you’ve placed in my life and community. Bless the work of my hands and the words of my mouth so I may also bear witness to your kingdom to the furthest corners of the world.”
INSIGHT 7: Christianity, up until the day of Pentecost, had been a primarily Jewish movement. In Acts 1:8, however, Jesus is hinting that the Gospel is about to burst racial and ethnic barriers as it spreads from the immediate region, through the country, and to the rest of the world.
INSIGHT 8: (Verse 9-11) In the same manner that Jesus ascended to heaven, so He will return. Therefore, there is a day coming when the whole world will gaze into the sky and watch Jesus descend in a cloud with angels surrounding Him announcing His return. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
INSIGHT 9: When waiting for the promises of God to come to fruition, the right course of action is always anticipatory prayer. Verse 14, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.