Acts Lesson Five

Acts Lesson Five – Acts 3:1-26 Miraculous Healing, Powerful Preaching

Now Peter and John were going up together to the temple complex at the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. And a man who was lame from birth was carried there and placed every day at the temple gate called Beautiful, so he could beg from those entering the temple complex. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help. Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us.” So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple complex. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had happened to him. 

11 While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, greatly amazed, ran toward them in what is called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us, as though we had made him walk by our own power or godliness? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you. 15 You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you. 

17 “And now, brothers, I know that you did it in ignorance, just as your leaders also did. 18 But what God predicted through the mouth of all the prophets—that His Messiah would suffer—He has fulfilled  in this way. 19 Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah. 21 Heaven must welcome Him until the times of the restoration of all things, which God spoke about by the mouth of His holy prophets from the beginning. 22 Moses said: 

The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to Him in everything He will say to you. 23 And everyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from the people.

24 “In addition, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, have also announced these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring. 26 God raised up His Servant and sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.” (HCSB)

As we look at this passage, it can be divided into two main parts:

  • Verses 1-11 centered around the power of Jesus.
  • Verses 12-26 centered around Peter’s message to the crowd.

Also, keep in mind the following ideas as we dig into this passage:

  • Verses 1-5: As we are involved in ministry, it may require us to see the opportunities and to determine the real needs of the people we minister to, and identify any resources we may have to help them.
  • Verses 6-11: As we serve, our service can’t be conducted in our own strength. It is only through divine power according to God’s will that will count in the end.
  • Verses 12-16: Our service for Jesus begins first with self-denial, centers on Him, and proclaims faith in His name.
  • Verses 17-26: By God’s grace, repentance brings forgiveness through Jesus, and that forgiveness is available to all who would call on His mighty name.

Verses 1-5

We’ll look at these verses in light of two key ideas. One idea is correctly understanding the needs around us. The second idea is a correct understanding of the rabbinical view on charity.

  • Correctly understanding the needs around us.
    • The lame man.
      • The man was born lame; all of us are born sinners.
      • The man couldn’t walk; no sinner can walk in a way that pleases God.
      • The man was outside the temple; sinners are outside God’s temple, the church.
      • The man was begging; sinners are beggars; they are searching for the fix that will satisfy their wants.
    • The need wasn’t money.
      • The man needed healing.
      • The man needed restoration to corporate worship. According to Old Testament Law, those who were crippled were not allowed inside the temple. Leviticus 21:18 No man who has any defect is to come near: no man who is blind, lame, facially disfigured, or deformed.
    • Peter and John were presented with an opportunity for ministry.
      • Peter didn’t perform the miracle to remove the man’s handicap.
      • Peter did it for two reasons.
        • To save the man’s soul.
        • To demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit.
    • The man illustrates the state of each of us who has not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus.
  • Correctly understanding the rabbinical view on charity.
    • There were three pillars in the Jewish faith; the Torah, worship, and charity.
      • Charity was one of the main ways of kindness.
      • Charity was considered a major expression of a person’s devotion to God.
      • Worshippers entering the temple would be drawn to giving charity to a lame beggar, thus demonstrating their piety.
    • Charity was not just a characteristic of the Jewish faith; it was an expected part of their worship life.

These first five verses illustrate how we, as believers, can practice charity in a lost world.

  • We can share the greatest gift possible, the Gospel message.
  • The lame man represents those who are in disobedience to God, sinners.
  • Each of us has opportunities, maybe daily, to be a “Peter” to a lame man.

Verses 6-11

The first section set the stage; a lame man in need of healing. However, from the study of the first section, we understand that he only looked at the surface need, money, so that he could eat. He didn’t understand his deeper need. If he were healed of his disability, he would be able to work and no longer have to beg.

You can almost feel the anticipation-the man begging for alms. Peter and John were staring intently at him and telling him to look at them. No doubt in his mind he was going to receive a gift, maybe even a large one since they engaged him in that manner. However, the gift he received was not what he was expecting, yet it went far beyond his grandest imagination. He was instantly and completely healed of his disability. 

Peter, in the name of Jesus, commanded the lame man to walk! In a biblical context, a name is more than a label. It is a representation of the person and is an extension of the person’s being and personality. To call in to use the name of Jesus is a call upon the authority and power of Jesus. Jesus, through Peter, was continuing the healing ministry He conducted while walking the earth. The healing power spread from his feet to his ankles. He jumped up and began to walk. Not only that, he entered the temple with Peter and John. Previously, as a lame beggar, he sat outside the temple begging for alms. Now, not only was he healed of his physical impairment, he was given spiritual acceptance as well. For the first time in his life, he was considered worthy to enter the house of worship.

There is little wonder that the man was not only walking, but he was leaping and praising God in God’s house. The word for “leap” used here is a rare one. It is the same word used in Isaiah 35:6a, “Then the lame will leap like a deer.” The people inside the temple recognized the man; doubtless, they had seen him hundreds of times, yet here he was inside the temple, and he was not only walking, but he was also leaping for joy and praising God. At the sight, they were filled with awe and astonishment, which prepared them for the message that Peter would now speak.

Verses 12-26

Peter now uses the opportunity presented to share the Gospel and for the members of the crowd to receive forgiveness for their sins. Just as in verses 2:14, 22, Peter addresses them as “Men of Israel.” Peter had preached Jesus to them and accused them of denying their Messiah. Just a few weeks earlier, Peter had denied Jesus three times. However, Peter has confessed his sin and was restored to Jesus; he was able to forget and move on from his failure.

In Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, he needed to refute the accusation that Jesus’ followers were drunk. Here, Peter needed to refute the idea that Peter and John had healed the man by their own power. Jesus was the true source of the power that healed the lame man. Not only that, Jesus was glorified by the God of their fathers; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

Before a sinner can be lead to repentance, there must be conviction. Imagine a sick patient. Before they will accept treatment, they must believe that they are sick. Only then will they take treatment from the doctor. Peter now turns the temple into a courtroom, laying out the evidence that Jesus is God. How could two ordinary fishermen perform a healing miracle unless God was working through them? Nobody could deny the fact of the miracle. They had seen the lame man countless times at the entrance to the temple. Yet, here he was leaping and praising God in the temple. To deny the miracle was not an option. This left only one choice. Accept the miracle as genuine, and since the miracle was done in the name of Jesus to admit that Jesus is the living Son of God and that His name has power.

This section also deals with the Jewish responsibility in the death of Jesus. There are four points regarding this topic contained in this section of the passage.

  • They did it in ignorance. In the Old Testament, there was a difference between unintentional and deliberate sins; Leviticus 4-5, Numbers 15:22-31.
    • Those who sin deliberately were a rebel against God and were to be cut off from their people.
    • Those who sinned unintentionally were given an opportunity to repent and seek God’s forgiveness. Ignorance doesn’t remove the guilt, but it does alter the circumstances.
  • Nowhere in Acts is there a blanket condemnation of the Jews for the death of Jesus. Only the Jews in Jerusalem are given that responsibility.
  • Gentiles shared in the blame; lawless men 2:23, Pilate 3:13.
  • The suffering of Jesus was part of God’s plan of salvation for mankind, 3:18.

Peter now draws on the Old Testament, and the greatest prophet found there, Moses. Any Jew who had even a slight understanding and knowledge of Scripture would see the link Peter was making. Belief in Moses should produce belief in Jesus. At the same time, belief in Jesus does not nullify the belief in Moses. Peter demonstrates that Moses pointed to Jesus in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

Peter closes the sermon by reminding them that they are the natural heirs of the promises that date back to Genesis 22:18, “And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.” Every prophet of Yahweh looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, from Moses all the way to John the Baptist.

The “offspring” referred to in verse 25 is singular. The Abrahamic covenant points to Jesus. Jesus is the sole offspring through which the blessing would come. He was Israel’s Messiah.

As we look back on this passage, there are two points we would do well to remember.

  • Ministry is meant to be done in teams. Lone rangers often do not last long in ministry.
    • Throughout Acts, we see ministry done in teams.
    • When Jesus sent out the twelve along with the seventy, they were sent out in pairs; Mark 6:7 and Luke 10:1.
    • When Peter addressed the crows at Pentecost, he stood up with the eleven; Acts 2:14.
    • When Peter went to the home of Cornelius, he took six brothers with him; Acts 10:23 and 11:12.
    • Biblical context dictates that ministry is done with teams.
    • Each believer has one or more spiritual gifts to equip the team to function as a whole.
    • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 gives four benefits of teams:
      • Greater fruitfulness – Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.
      • Help in times of personal failure – For if either falls, his companion can lift him up, but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.
      • Warmth of affirmation in times of need – Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?
      • Strength to face attacks – And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
  • Ministry is meant to be done in power, the power of the Holy Spirit.
    • Throughout Acts and much of the New Testament, we see the power of the Holy Spirit evident in the life of the church.
    • In the example in this passage of the lame man, we see that spiritual poverty is a greater curse than economic poverty. An economically poor church that is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit is, in reality, a rich church.
    • With the increase in affluence within much of the church community in the West, the dependence on God has declined. The church is identified with its ornate building, its famous pastor, a worship team that could perform in any major theater, or any other worldly measure of richness. But it may not have any spiritual richness.


  • As we engage with individuals in the world around us, pray for wisdom and discernment for their actual needs, not their surface needs. Just as the example in this passage, there may be a distinct difference between the two.
  • As we are involved in ministry, do we try and do it in our own power, or do we submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit and work through His power?
  • Do we glorify Jesus in our work? We may never perform a miraculous healing, but whatever ministry work we are engaged in, we should always give glory where it is due, Jesus.
  • Do we try and engage in ministry by ourselves, or are we part of a team? Being a lone ranger is dangerous on a couple of points. First, it is easier to take the credit for success instead of glorifying Jesus with success. Second, it is much easier to succumb to sinful temptations when we go it alone. 

Acts Lesson Four

Acts Lesson Four – Acts 2:14-47 The Sermon, the Response, the Church

14 But Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: “Men of Judah and all you residents of Jerusalem, let me explain this to you and pay attention to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning. 16 On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 

17 And it will be in the last days, says God, 

that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; 

then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, 

your young men will see visions, 

and your old men will dream dreams. 

18 I will even pour out My Spirit 

on My male and female slaves in those days, 

and they will prophesy. 

19 I will display wonders in the heaven above 

and signs on the earth below: 

blood and fire and a cloud of smoke. 

20 The sun will be turned to darkness 

and the moon to blood 

before the great and remarkable Day of the Lord comes. 

21 Then everyone who calls 

on the name of the Lord will be saved. 

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. 23 Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. 24 God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. 25 For David says of Him: 

I saw the Lord ever before me; 

because He is at my right hand, 

I will not be shaken. 

26 Therefore my heart was glad, 

and my tongue rejoiced. 

Moreover, my flesh will rest in hope, 

27 because You will not leave me in Hades 

or allow Your Holy One to see decay. 

28 You have revealed the paths of life to me; 

You will fill me with gladness 

in Your presence. 

29 “Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: 

He was not left in Hades, 

and His flesh did not experience decay.

32 “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. 33 Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says: 

The Lord declared to my Lord, 

‘Sit at My right hand 

35 until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!” 

37 When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?” 

38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!”

41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. 

43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common.  45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.  46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. (HCSB)

The passage we will study today can be split into three sections. The first is verses 14-21, and the second is verses 22-41, and the final one in verses 42-47.

The Introduction: verses 14-21.

Peter refutes the claim of the scoffers that they were drunk. A Jew wouldn’t eat or drink anything before 9 AM on a Sabbath or feast day. Therefore, what the pilgrims were witnessing was not caused by drunken behavior. Another point to note is that throughout this passage, Peter only addresses the Jews (resident or pilgrim) who witnessed the event. Peter is addressing the Jewish nation and proving to them that the Messiah has been raised from the dead. He quotes Joel 2:28-32 in verses 17-21, not to say that the entire prophecy had been fulfilled, but that the first part, verses 2:17-18, had just occurred and that verses 19-21 would occur when Jesus returns. Between those two events is the age of the Church.

Here are some points to note in this section.

  • Raised his voice – a common Semitic expression when beginning to speak.
  • Proclaimed to them – means to speak seriously and with gravity. It was often used for prophetic or inspired speeches.
  • “Men of Judah” and “residents of Jerusalem” – refer to the same group. This is a typical Semitic style of speech or writing.
  • Peter directs them away from the faulty thinking that the pilgrims were witnessing drunken behavior to the correct understanding that they were witnessing the fulfillment of prophecy before their eyes.

In verses 17-21, Peter quotes from Joel 2:28-32. Some points to note about the setting when Joel uttered this prophecy.

  • It was given after a locust plague had devastated the land, creating a severe famine.
  • Joel called the people to repentance.
  • Repentance would lead to the restoration of their prosperity.
  • In turn, this would lead to the event that happened here, at Pentecost.

Peter now applies this passage to the current situation.

  • Peter is convinced that the Messianic Age began with the resurrection of Jesus.
  • They were now living in the last days.
  • The rabbinic consensus was that the Spirit would return as a universal gift at the end times.
  • The pouring out of the Spirit on the believers at Pentecost was evidence that the end times had begun.
  • Support for all 120 of the believers, male and female, receiving the Spirit was Joel’s statement that sons and daughters would prophesy.
  • The Spirit was not just for the Jews. God will pour out His Spirit on all humanity. The Gentiles could now be included in God’s family.

Verse 21 must be viewed as the most crucial verse in this section of the passage.

  • “Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
  • In the sermon that Peter gives, the “Lord” was Jesus.
    • It tells of His death.
    • It tells of His resurrection.
    • It tells of His exaltation.
  • Whoever calls on His name or whoever confesses Jesus as Lord will be saved.

The Sermon: verses 22-41. 

Many scholars and theologians believe that this section of the passage reflects the most basic form of the Christian kerygma, the death of Jesus linked to His resurrection. It is found throughout the book of Acts and follows the basic formula, “Jesus of Nazareth whom you killed…but God raised.” Peter includes a prelude here to reflect on Jesus’ earthly ministry.

  • Miracles – the mighty acts of Jesus.
  • Wonders – points to a deeper reality and in Acts is only found in conjunction with “signs.”
  • Signs.

Peter is stressing to the audience that they should have understood that the miracles, wonders, and signs that Jesus performed should have led them to recognize that Jesus was the appointed Messiah. Verses 22-23 establishes the guilt of the Jewish crowd and puts them under conviction. This would lead to a large number repenting and professing faith in Jesus.

Now that Peter has stated the basic Christian confession that Jesus is God’s appointed Messiah, Peter sets out to support this claim with scriptural proof from Psalm 16:8-11. Let’s look at some points behind Peter’s usage of the passage from Psalms.

  • This psalm is written by David, which is important as its application to Jesus is based on the Davidic descent of the Messiah.
  • It may appear that the psalm was a plea to God for vindication and avoidance of death and Hades.
  • However, Peter applies this psalm messianically as it’s a prophecy that David can’t apply to himself.
  • Verse 27 is the key. 
    • David expresses confidence that he would not be abandoned to the grave. Yet, he did die and was buried.
    • The “Holy One” refers to Jesus as He was resurrected, and His body suffered no decay.
  • Verse 28 doesn’t add to the argument about the resurrection, but it does refer to Jesus as the “source of life” (Acts 3:15) and the path to a new life through His resurrection.

In verses 29-31, Peter explains his application of this psalm to Jesus.

  • David died, so the psalm can’t apply to him.
  • It is a prophecy David intended for a descendant who would sit on the Davidic throne.
  • It applies to Jesus, who has risen and is, therefore, the messianic descendant David spoke about.
  • The psalm is used to prove the messianic status of Jesus, not His resurrection.
  • The proof of the resurrection is the eyewitness account of the disciples.
  • It depicts David’s vision that the Messiah would not be bound by death.
  • Since Jesus burst the shackles of death by His resurrection, He is the Messiah that David saw.

Another point to remember about the crowd in general. Many would have been familiar with what had transpired two months earlier at Passover, Jesus’ crucifixion. Peter reminds them that they were witnesses to the entire process; crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection.

In verses 32-35, Peter gives an exaltation to Jesus.

  • God resurrected Jesus from the dead.
  • The resurrection fulfilled the prophecy of David.
  • The Apostle’s eyewitness accounts are proof of Jesus’ resurrection.
  • God has exalted Jesus to sit at His right hand.
  • God has given the gift of the Holy Spirit to Jesus.
  • Jesus has poured out the Holy Spirit on mankind.
  • The Apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. The crowds were witnesses to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
  • Only Jesus, exalted at God’s right hand, has the authority to dispense the Spirit.
  • Peter uses Psalm 110:1 as scriptural proof.
    • David spoke of someone ascending to heaven and sitting at God’s right hand. David didn’t ascend to heaven, so he couldn’t have been talking about himself.
    • David must have been speaking of a future descendent, the Messiah. 
    • The outpouring of the Spirit affirms that the Messiah ascended to heaven.
    • David predicted this ascent.
    • Therefore, Jesus is the Messiah.

Verse 36

The conclusion of Peter’s sermon comes full circle to the beginning point, Jesus is Lord. Peter’s use of the psalms was designed to resonate with the Jewish audience and their understanding of the Messiah. There was no doubt that Jesus was the prophesied living Lord, Master, and Messiah.

Verses 37-40

The Jewish crowd heard Peter’s point loud and clear. They were guilty of rejecting Jesus, and in some cases, implicitly or explicitly involved in Jesus’ crucifixion. The phrase “cut to the heart” is uncommon, in the original Greek, but an extremely strong term. Peter’s sermon had clearly impacted the audience, and now they desired to know what they could do in response. Peter’s response contains four elements:

  • Repent – turn from disobedience to God.
  • Be baptized – signifying dying to your old self and being raised a new creation.
  • Forgiveness – the person’s sins are forgiven.
  • Receive the Holy Spirit – all believers receive the Holy Spirit after submitting to Jesus.

Peter concludes with a promise; all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved! This promise is universal. It is not exclusive to any people group or country. The poorest believer is equal to the richest. God’s plan of salvation is for all to enjoy.

We can also surmise from the context that Peter’s sermon was longer than what is recorded here using the phrase “and with many other words.” We don’t know what those words were, but the essential portion is recorded for us. Additionally, his use of the phrase “corrupt generation” harkens back to the Old Testament that was used to depict stubborn, rebellious, and faithless people. The crowd was part of that generation. They had witnessed the Messiah and had rejected Him. 

Verse 41

Peter’s sermon and appeal to leave a corrupt generation resulted in around 3,000 new believers who were baptized and added to the original 120 believers. That is miraculous multiplication within the church.

First Characteristics of the New Testament Church: verses 42-47.

This section could be further subdivided; verse 42 and verses 43-47.

Verse 42

Not only does this show how the new converts were brought into the new church, but it also is an indication of the bare minimum but still essential components of any church and is still applicable today.

  • Teaching – the faithful teaching of Scripture is a foundational aspect of any church. It is also a key component of discipleship. If we don’t know what’s in Scripture, how are we supposed to follow Jesus?
  • Fellowship – the basic meaning of the Greek word used here is “association, communion, fellowship, and close relationship.” In secular Greek, it could also denote the sharing of goods. From the context within this passage, it is clear this was intended for the early believers.
  • Breaking of bread – the primary meaning is participating in communion. It could also mean sharing a normal meal together, reminiscent of a pot-luck dinner. Everybody contributed as they could, and everybody enjoyed it together.
  • Prayers – there is no doubt that prayer was a key component of the early church. This could have involved keeping the formal prayer hours of Judaism, but most likely was an indicator of a vibrant personal and corporate prayer life among the believers.

Verses 43-47

Points to note from this section.

  • The Apostles were performing miracles (signs and wonders).
    • The people displayed reverent fear because of the miracles that they witnessed.
    • The word “everyone” indicates that even non-believers were impacted by what they witnessed.
  • The church enjoyed fellowship.
    • The Greek indicates a gathered community.
    • There was a strong sense of unity.
    • They shared with and took care of each other.
    • Shared resources were in keeping with the Old Testament ideal of community equality…no poor among them found in Deuteronomy 15:4.
  • They remained faithful to their Jewish heritage.
    • They devoted themselves to worshipping together.
    • They worshipped with a unity of purpose guided by the Holy Spirit.
    • By worshipping in the temple, they were able to present a recurring witness to the lost around them.
  • The temple may have been the place of worship, but the home was the place of fellowship.
    • Sharing a meal together.
    • A shared time of rejoicing.
    • A time of sharing burdens.
  • God responds to faithfulness.
    • The early church was blessed.
    • Their numbers grew exponentially.
    • They found favor with God and with their community.

This was a time of perfect innocence for the early church. They existed in unity, trusting each other and being truthful in their actions. They also had not yet experienced the dishonesty that would appear within the young church. Finally, opposition and persecution had not arisen.

Peter’s sermon, the first evangelistic sermon of the New Testament church, contains the following points. Each of the points is vital as we share the Gospel and should be included in our message.

  • Jesus’ life and ministry made it possible for Him to be our Savior (verse 22). It demonstrated that He was not a mere man; He was God’s answer to the issue of sin.
  • His death on the cross achieved salvation (verse 23).
  • His resurrection confirmed the success of over sin and death and validated His work (verses 24-25).
  • His exaltation enabled Him to send the Holy Spirit, who makes our salvation a reality in our daily lives.
  • His present exalted state confirms His Lordship and Messianic title representing His reign. During this period, He will defeat all rebellion to God (verses 34-36).
  • His second coming will complete His work (implied in verse 35).
  • In light of who Jesus is and what He has done, our salvation depends entirely on Him (verses 36, 38). Our receiving salvation requires us to admit our need through repentance and submitting to Jesus as Savior and Lord. This results in us receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptized in His name (verse 38).


  • Do we let the Holy Spirit lead and direct us, or do we work blindly in our flesh?
  • When we share the Gospel, do we include the elements that Peter used? Look back at the section covering this and craft your witness around this structure. 
  • When possible, let Scripture speak for Scripture. God’s Word is powerful, much more powerful than any message we could ever craft. 
  • Do our churches and small groups incorporate the elements listed in Acts 2:42? If they don’t, they should. If they won’t, find new ones.
  • We should be generous when fellow brothers and sisters have genuine needs. If we trust God, He will take care of us when our needs arise.

Acts Lesson Three

Acts Lesson 3: Acts 2:1-13 – Pentecost

2 When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech. 

There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were astounded and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that each of us can hear in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites; those who live in Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking the magnificent acts of God in our own languages.” 12 They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, “What could this be?” 13 But some sneered and said, “They’re full of new wine!” (HCSB)

Chapter one was preparation for what now transpires. The disciples had listened to Jesus’ instructions over a forty day period. They received His commission to take the Gospel to the world. They received the promise that the Holy Spirit would fill them with power for their assignment. After Jesus’ ascension, there was nothing left to do but wait and pray for the fulfillment of the promise. Now in chapter two, the promise is fulfilled. 

This passage is split into two sections. The first is the coming of the Spirit in verses 1-4, and the second is their witness to the power of the Spirit in verses 5-13.

Verse 1

The literal translation of the beginning of verse one reads, “when the day of Pentecost was fulfilled.” The period of waiting was over; the promise had arrived.

Let’s take a brief history lesson by looking at the feasts listed in Leviticus 23 and comparing them with the work of Jesus.

  • Passover – pictures the death of Jesus as the Lamb of God.
  • Feast of Firstfruits –  pictures His resurrection.
  • Pentecost – the pouring out of the promised Spirit to the church.

The location, “one place,” is somewhat vague. It was most likely the upper room where they had been praying. It is also likely that it was close to the temple because of the response of the people who had arrived in Jerusalem for Pentecost and who were drawn to what was occurring to Jesus’ followers.

Who was the Spirit poured out upon?

  • From the context of the passage, it appears that it was the 120 who were gathered together.
    • The large range of nations represented in verses 9-11 suggests it was more than the 12 Apostles who received the Spirit.
    • Peter also quotes Joel in verses 17-18, indicating that both men and women received the Spirit.

Verses 2-4 describe the coming of the Spirit in three consecutive verses, each pointing to a specific aspect of the event.

  • Sound that filled the house.
    • The picture is one of a blowing blast of wind, like the sound of a tornado.
    • Wind phenomena often accompanied the appearance of God in the Old Testament.
      • 1 Kings 19:11b At that moment, the LORD passed by. A great and mighty wind that was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.
      • Isaiah 66:15a Look, the LORD will come with fire – His chariots are like the whirlwind.
    • The Greek word used here, pneuma, has the double meaning of wind and Spirit. 
    • Just as in Ezekiel 37:9-14, Yahweh’s breath, the Spirit, brings life.
  • Tongues of flame.
    • The Greek word for tongue, glossa, can refer to the physical tongue, or it can refer to what is spoken by the tongue.
    • The flames described here were in appearance like physical tongues.
    • Throughout the Old Testament, flames were used to signify the presence of God.
      • Exodus 3:2a – Then the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush.
      • 1 Kings 18:38 – Then Yahweh’s fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
    • The illustration is of one great flame, representing the Spirit, which then separated into many tongues resting on each person.
      • Under the old covenant, the divine presence rested on Israel as a corporate body and many of its leaders for special purposes.
      • Under the new covenant, the Spirit rests on each individual believer. This doesn’t remove the importance of the corporate relationship with God (the church), but the corporate rises from the individual. This fulfills the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:33 that stated the law would be written on their hearts.
    • Luke is clearly using metaphorical language with the phrases “like that of a violent rushing wind” and “like flames of fire.”
  • Wind and fire together are symbols of judgment – wind blows away the chaff, and fire burns up the chaff.
  • The coming of the Holy Spirit means life for some and judgment for others. 
  • Speaking in other languages.
    • From the context of the passage, this is not talking about a heavenly language as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians.
    • The people from each of the nations listed in this passage heard the disciples in their own language.
    • The conclusion must be drawn that these were all “earthly” languages that were spoken by the various nations represented in the passage.
  • God intends the Gospel to be heard by the whole world, not just a select few. The imagery of everyone present hearing it in their own language reinforces the idea that the Gospel message is for everyone.
  • In addition, there is a reversal of the Tower of Babel scattering of the human race. Now, all people will be brought back together. 
  • People would no longer need to come to one central location using one language to worship God. Instead, people are now able to worship God in their own language and country.

Verse 5

The point behind this seemingly simple verse is that “Jews…from every nation” would be able to understand the sermon that Peter would give starting in verse 14 in, most likely, Aramaic that they would be able to understand.

Verse 6-8

A logical question to ask is, “what was the sound that the Jews heard that caused them to gather?” Luke doesn’t give us much explicitly in this passage, but we can deduce from the context what occurred.

  • The followers of Jesus likely left the upper room and moved into the area close to the temple.
  • Because of the fact that over 3,000 became believers that day, it would require a location of sufficient space for that many to gather.
  • The “sound” they heard was the believers speaking in the various earthly languages.
  • Considering what the believers had just experienced, they were probably acting in an energetic and excited manner, praising God and speaking in various languages as they moved from the upper room to the temple area.
  • Their actions would naturally draw a crowd.
  • The pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for Pentecost would initially be confused by what they saw and heard. Some estimates placed their number at 200,000 people.
  • What they witnessed would naturally amaze them. It is safe to say that they’d never seen anything like what was now happening.
  • What made it even more amazing is that a sizable portion of Jesus’ followers likely came from Galilee, not an area known for higher education.
  • Verse 8 is basically a repeat of verse 6, with the addition of the word “native.” This adds further support to understand that the term “tongues” is referring to an earthly language.

Verses 9-11a

These verses list the locations of the pilgrims. There is much that could be said about this list, and scholars have debated various meanings or interpretations over the years. The following is a simple listing of the predominant interpretations.

  • It starts in Parthia (modern-day Iran) to the east and works its way all the way to Rome in the west.
  • It progresses in a relatively steady curve from southeast to north to southwest.
  • Judea likely referred to the Davidic kingdom, which stretched from the Euphrates to Egypt. This would follow the geographic flow of coming after Mesopotamia. It would also include Syria, which is omitted from Luke’s list.
  • Each territory listed has extensive Jewish communities.
  • The “visitors” from Rome is probably a reference to the occupying forces.
  • The inclusion of the Cretans and Arabs would complete the picture by adding those who lived on islands as well as those who lived a nomadic life in the desert.
  • The list paints a picture of the Jewish Diaspora and its presence at Pentecost.

Verses 11b-13

We now read again that the pilgrims were amazed that they heard Jesus’ followers speaking in their native tongue. We also know that what they were proclaiming were the magnificent acts of God. Jesus’ followers were praising God, maybe even singing songs of praise. However, what they were witnessing provoked two divergent trains of thought.

Verse 12

The group identified here was “astounded and perplexed,” yet they also expressed curiosity in finding out what they were witnessing. 

Verse 13

The second group was not receptive to what they were witnessing. They believed that they were observing a group of people who had consumed too much alcohol.

As we share the Gospel with the lost around us, we often face the same divergent attitude. Those who are curious and/or accept the message and those who reject it for various reasons. The basic response to the Gospel hasn’t changed over the centuries, and we shouldn’t be surprised or discouraged when our message is rejected by an unbelieving generation.

Let’s summarize what Luke is trying to get across with this passage and his treatment of Pentecost.

  • The new church has been empowered for its mission. Everything so far in Acts has led to the moment of the pouring out of the Spirit. Without this event, the rest of the book would be blank.
  • This initial pouring out of the Spirit led to an immediate harvest of 3,000 believers, which we’ll see in the next lesson.
  • Pentecost, also known as the festival of firstfruits, was the firstfruits of the harvest of the Spirit.
  • The spiritual harvest didn’t conclude at Pentecost. It continues in an ever-widening arc as the Gospel is spread to the ends of the earth.
  • It contains eschatological significance, beginning the final period of God’s plan of salvation to the world. The Spirit is the sign of these last times.


  • Ask yourself whether you believe all people groups are equal to you as brothers and sisters in Christ. Scripture clearly says this is true. It is not difficult for us to slip into the mentality that we are “better” than nation “A.” The Gospel was meant for all of us. As you interact with the lost of the world, don’t pick who gets to hear the message. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you each day in sharing the message.
  • Some of us may not be comfortable with the “sign gifts.” Some are cessationists, who believe that the sign gifts ceased during the Apostolic Age, while others are continuists, who believe that the sign gifts continue. This debate has gone on through the centuries. Whichever side of the debate we fall on, what is essential is that we extend grace to the countering view. Personally, I am a continuist. However, the sign gifts, especially tongues, must be exercised in keeping with what Scripture says.
  • Do we proclaim the magnificent acts of God in our lives? Many of us would think nothing of cheering or jumping as we support our favorite sports team. But how many of us would act in the same manner when praising God? I’m not suggesting out of control behavior, but I am suggesting acting freely in our praise of God. 

Acts Lesson Two

Acts Lesson Two – 1:12-26 Replacing Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they arrived, they went to the room  upstairs where they were staying: 

Peter, John, 

Bartholomew, Matthew, 

James the son of Alphaeus, 

Simon the Zealot, 

and Judas the son of James. 

14 All these were continually united  in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers. 

15 During these days Peter stood up among the brothers —the number of people who were together was about 120—and said: 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David spoke in advance about Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was one of our number and was allotted a share in this ministry.”  18 Now this man acquired a field with his unrighteous wages. He fell headfirst and burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. 19 This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that in their own language that field is called Hakeldama (that is, Field of Blood). 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: 

Let his dwelling become desolate; 

let no one live in it; and 

Let someone else take his position.

21 “Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day He was taken up from us—from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 

23 So they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “You, Lord, know the hearts of all; show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take the place in this apostolic service that Judas left to go to his own place.” 26 Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias. So he was numbered with the 11 apostles. 

This passage splits into two parts; verses 12-14 and 15-26.

Verses 12-14

We now see that the last conversation between Jesus and His followers, as well as His ascension, occurred on the Mount of Olives. This location presents an interesting contrast. Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, located at the foot of the Mount of Olives, and He ascends from the Mount of Olives. Jesus was taken from His followers at approximately the same location twice, once in a heartbreaking manner and again in glory. 

According to rabbinic tradition, a Sabbath day’s walk was 2,000 cubits, which equates to about three-fourths of a mile.

Once they arrived back in Jerusalem, they went to an upper room to engage in prayer. The location of the room is unknown, although there are various ideas on where it could have been located. What we do know is that it was large enough to accommodate the group.

The list of disciples is the same as in Luke 6:13-16, except for the omission of Judas and a reordering of the names. Andrew was moved from the second position to the fourth, and John was moved to the second position. The reordering may have been deliberate. The ordering in Acts would give importance to Peter, John, and James, who are the only apostles to have an individual role in Acts.

The women could have included the wives of the apostles. They certainly included the women who accompanied Jesus from Galilee and witnessed His crucifixion.

  • Luke 8:2
  • Luke 23:55
  • Luke 24:10

Not only did they pray, but they prayed together as a group, and they prayed continually.

This was also the time right before Pentecost. It was a time of waiting, a time of prayer for the promised Spirit, and a time of prayer for the power to testify to the truth of Jesus. Without the Spirit, there is no effective witness; the way to spiritual empowerment is to wait in prayer.

Verses 15-26

This section revolved around the issue of replacing Judas in the leadership circle of the twelve. 

Verse 15

It is also no coincidence that Luke mentions that the group numbered about 120 believers, both men and women. In rabbinic tradition, 120 was the minimum number required to form a local Sanhedrin. Peter assumed the leadership mantle among the group and convened the assembly. Throughout the narrative of Acts, Peter is the leader. He was the spokesman and the representative apostle. The other apostles were present and active, but Peter was the mouthpiece for the group.  

Verse 16

Peter tells the gathering that Scripture had to be fulfilled (past tense), referring to Judas. The passage Peter pointed to was Psalm 69:25, which is quoted in verse 20, along with Psalm 109:8 (future tense), which pointed to Matthias taking Judas’ place. The fulfillment of Scripture was the main agenda item for the meeting. This is a theme that runs through Acts; Scripture that has a prophetic idea must be fulfilled.

Verse 17

The business at hand is the process to replace Judas. Peter reminds them that Judas was a full member of the group and shared in their work. 

Verses 18-19

Luke now provides the reader with some details regarding Judas’ death. Some may ask the question as to why this account differs from the account in Matthew. First, two people who witness event may see the same thing, but describe it in a different manner. Each account would be accurate. In the passage in Matthew, Judas is said to have committed suicide by hanging. When we consider that the body would be hanging in the hot sun for days, remember this wasn’t an execution so there was no formal execution or removal of the body, bacteria inside the body would break down the tissues and cells. This would produce gas, which would bloat the body and force fluid into the body cavities. Tissue decomposition would also reduce the toughness of the skin and internal tissue. In a sense, Judas’ body was an overinflated balloon. Whether the branch he hung himself on broke or the rope broke, either would cause his body to burst open when it hit the ground. Hence the name “Field of Blood.”

There’s another lesson in these two verses. This lesson is the difference between apostasy and backsliding. Judas revealed his true nature when he betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders. He was an unbeliever. He didn’t have the faith to ask for forgiveness and restoration. Instead, he succumbed to despair and suicide. In contrast, Peter was a temporary backslider when he denied Jesus at His trial. He repented and was restored.

Verse 20

The two passages referenced here were already discussed under verse 16. There is both a reference to fulfilled prophecy (Judas) and future prophecy (Matthias).

Verse 21-22

Peter now lays out the minimum qualifications for the person chosen to replace Judas.

  • They must have been a witness to the entire ministry of Jesus, from the baptism given by John the Baptist until the ascension.
  • They had to have been a witness to the resurrected Jesus.

The role of the apostles in Acts is defined by these qualifications.

  • Witnesses to His teaching and could, therefore, share His teaching.
  • Witnesses to His resurrection.
  • Witnesses to His ascension.

Because of this, there could not be any apostolic succession. Also, Judas was replaced because he betrayed Jesus, not because he died. James was martyred in Acts 12:2, and he wasn’t replaced. The number twelve also corresponds to the twelve tribes of Israel. In Luke 22:28-30, we see that Jesus tells the twelve that they will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. There is also a reference to twelve foundations in Revelation 21:14. They represent the restored Israel, God’s chosen people. This connection required twelve apostles. Since the church is built on the foundation of the twelve apostles, their number must be complete before the coming of the Spirit and the birth of the church.

Verse 23

Two candidates are nominated who met the requirements outlined by Peter.

  • Joseph, also called Barsabbas, which means “son of the Sabbath.” Later tradition cited by Eusebius said that as a result of his missionary work, he was forced to drink poison and suffered no ill effects. Nothing else is known about him.
  • Matthias, whose name means “gift of God.” Later tradition speculates that he became a missionary to Ethiopia or that his bones are buried in Trier, Germany. Nothing else is known about him.

Verses 24-25

They now followed the example set by Jesus before He chose the twelve; they engaged in prayer. Their prayer implied that the person chosen would be the one with stronger inner faith, “You, Lord, know the hearts of all.” The prayer closes by identifying the need to replace Judas and stating that he had gone to the place of his choosing. 

The centrality of prayer is a lesson for the church today. Prayer is a thermometer and a thermostat for the local church; the church’s spiritual temperature goes up or down, depending on the prayer habits of the members of the church. Prayer is a way for the church, and its members, to engage in spiritual warfare against Satan, demons, and evil people. 

Verse 26

It may seem strange that the assembly would cast lots in the process instead of the church voting for the replacement. However, there are several things to keep in mind.

  • The casting of lots was an accepted practice recorded throughout Old Testament history.
  • The casting of lots was not a result determined by “chance.” The outcome was always determined by God.
  • Proverbs 16:33 – The lot is cast into the lap, but its every direction is from the LORD.
  • God the Son (Jesus) had chosen the original twelve, and it was His position to select the replacement.
  • The Spirit had not been poured out on the church. Therefore, the church was not yet “Spirit led.” After Pentecost, the church would make decisions based on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Lots are not recorded as being cast after this point.


  • Pray often and pray with other believers. 
  • If you are a backslider like Peter, repent and be restored.
  • If you are a fake believer like Judas, submit and follow Jesus.
  • Submit to the leading and wisdom of the Holy Spirit in all areas of your life.

Acts Lesson One – Introduction and the Promise of the Holy Spirit

Acts Lesson One – Introduction and the Holy Spirit

With this lesson, we will embark on a lengthy journey through the Book of Acts. It is a fascinating account of the birth of the church and the early missionary journeys to spread the Gospel. In our modern world, with so many gadgets and gimmicks used in the church, it is refreshing to go back to the basics and see how the Gospel spread through faithful servants empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Before we begin the first lesson on the Book of Acts, let’s look at background information to establish the basic facts or positions surrounding the entire book.

Author – There is almost universal acceptance that Luke wrote both Acts and the Gospel by his name. There is no reason to doubt Luke’s authorship of the Book of Acts.

Date – There are three main positions regarding the dating of Acts.

  • Sometime between A.D. 57-64.
    • Because of the book’s abrupt ending, which doesn’t talk about the outcome of Paul’s arrest.
    • Nero’s persecution of Christians is not mentioned in the book.
    • The writing doesn’t indicate that Luke was aware of Paul’s epistles, which could have influenced or been included in Acts.
  • Sometime between A.D. 70-90.
    • Because verse one states, “the first narrative” in reference to his Gospel, Acts must have been written after it. 
    • Since Acts was written after Luke’s Gospel, a dating of the Gospel is critical to identifying the dating of Acts.
      • From the structure of the Gospels, it appears that Luke borrowed material from Mark’s Gospel, which is dated around A.D. 65. 
      • Allowing for a reasonable period of time between Mark and Luke would point towards a date after A.D. 70 for Luke’s Gospel.
      • Most scholars who support a middle dating place Acts between A.D. 70-80.
    • Scholars and theologians who support late dating are in the minority. However, there is a split within the “late date” camp.
      • A.D. 95-100
        • The basis for this dating is on references to the information contained in Antiquities by the Jewish historian Josephus, published in A.D. 93. 
        • However, the connection to Josephus’ book is weak at best as the references pertained to commonly known Jewish events.
        • The favorable picture between Christians and Roman authorities doesn’t fit this later dating as imperial persecutions had begun.
      • A.D. 125-150
        • This dating is based solely on the language contained in Acts when compared to writings by the Apostolic Fathers.
        • Understandably, this is the weakest position.

The most convincing dating of the book is somewhere between A.D. 70-80.


There are numerous possibilities that scholars and theologians have wrestled with through the centuries, some more believable than others. The origin of “Theophilus” in Greek means “lover of God.” So does this mean that it could have been written to a group of people and not an individual? That’s a possibility. However, “Theophilus” was a widely used name at the time Acts was written. Additionally, the phrase “most excellent” would also suggest a single person and not a group of people. Although we can conclude that Acts was most likely originally written to one person, there is no arguing that its final destination was intended to the broader Christian community.

Purpose – To reinforce the certainty of the Gospel message and the early church through a historical account of followers of Christ.


  • World Mission
  • Providence of God
  • Power of the Holy Spirit
  • Restored Israel
  • Inclusive Gospel
  • Faithful Witnesses
  • Relationship to the World
  • Triumph of the Gospel

We should also read Acts on three levels.

  • It is the story of the early church.
  • It is a book about Jesus.
  • It is a book that continues today with the principal characters being us, present-day believers in Jesus who continue to carry out His mission to reach the lost.

Acts 1:1-11

I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach  until the day He was taken up, after He had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen.  After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” He said,“is what you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. 10 While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.” (HCSB)

Verses 1-3

This section presents the introduction of the book from Luke to Theophilus. I won’t restate the discussion on the recipient raised in the introduction to the book, but I will expand a bit on the style presented in the first.

Book dedications were common in Greek culture. Luke had dedicated his Gospel to Theophilus in Luke 1:3, and now he continues that trend in the first verse in Acts. Luke summarized his Gospel in the first verse with the concise statement, “about all that Jesus began to do and teach.”  Looking at that statement, there is one key observation centered around the word “began.” This implies that the work is not finished. As we take our journey through Acts, we’ll see that the work that Jesus began continued, and it continues today. The work will not be finished until Jesus returns. The summary ends at the beginning of verse two with the phrase “until the day He was taken up.” 

Beginning in the second half of verse two, the “new” story begins in Acts. 

  • There was a period of instruction given to the apostles to carry on the work He began.
  • This was a transition period as Jesus handed over the keys to them.
  • Luke points out that the same Spirit that empowered Jesus during His earthly ministry would now empower the apostles as they continued the work. 
  • Jesus taught them directly during His earthly ministry. Now, they would be taught and led by the Spirit.

Starting in verse three, Luke presents the fact that Jesus rose after His crucifixion and is alive. The phrase “after He had suffered” refers to the trial, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. However, His death was not the end. After He rose on the third day, He appeared to His followers repeatedly over a period of forty days. The imagery from the wording of the passage is not that Jesus was with them for the entire time; rather, He came and went during the forty-day period. The fact that Jesus appeared to the apostles during this time was essential for their primary role in Acts of being witnesses to His resurrection.

  • Acts 1:22
  • Acts 2:32
  • Acts 3:15
  • Acts 5:32
  • Acts 10:39-41
  • Acts 13:31

Here is a summary of Luke’s argument that Jesus is the resurrected Messiah.

  • The resurrection is a fact – the disciples knew Jesus had been raised from the dead.
  • If the resurrection is a fact, it proves Jesus’ deity. Jesus claimed to be divine before His crucifixion. God would not have raised Jesus from the dead if His claim to deity was false.
  • A divine Christ must speak the truth because God is truthful and must speak truthfully.
  • If Jesus speaks the truth, we can trust everything that He teaches. We can trust the Bible because Jesus taught it was the Word of God. We can believe that God has forgiven our sins because Jesus taught that God would do that for all who believe in Him.

The reference to forty days has strong ties to Old Testament events and the period after Jesus’ baptism.

  • Moses spent forty days on Mt. Sinai receiving the law.
  • Elijah spent forty days on Mt. Horeb.
  • Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness was forty days.
  • Now Jesus will spend forty days preparing His followers to carry on the mission.
  • Forty days also fit the dating of Pentecost.
    • Resurrection on the third day.
    • Appeared for forty days.
    • Approximately one week in the upper room.
    • Pentecost, fifty days after the crucifixion.

What did Jesus speak to His followers about during this time of instruction? It is likely from looking at other conversations that He had in the Gospels that Jesus used the Old Testament to show that He was the expected Messiah. His followers would now carry on the work He had started.

Verse 4

The original construction of this verse in Greek sheds light on what Jesus’ followers had been doing. The verse literally means “stop departing from Jerusalem.” This implies that they had been coming and going from Jerusalem. Jesus tells them to stay in the city and wait for the Father’s promise, introduced in Luke 24:49 and explicitly revealed in the following verse.

There is a lesson here for us. How often do we try and rush off and do things before the proper time? Or even worse, how often do we try and do things in our strength and not in the power of the Holy Spirit? 

Verse 5

Here Luke presents a reminder to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry with reference to the water baptism that John the Baptist was conducting in the Jordan River. However, the reference here is to the one-time occurrence of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. John’s baptism was one of repentance and is still used today to signify a person committing their life to Christ and entering into the spiritual family of God. In contrast to the water baptism, new converts to Jesus would now receive the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. As we move through Acts, we will see this pattern repeated in various sequences. However, two things are essential to the conversion experience; repentance and the gift of the Spirit.

Verses 6-8

These verses tie neatly together with the disciples asking when the kingdom will come, Jesus rebuking their speculation, and refocusing them on the task He give them.

Although initially, the location of the conversation is vague, it becomes clear over the next several verses that this conversation is the last one that takes place between Jesus and His followers. It occurs right before His ascension and takes place on the Mt. of Olives. Because of Jesus’ previous comments to His followers about the coming of the Spirit and the fulfillment of God’s promises, the disciples had come to the conclusion that the final appearance of God’s kingdom could be right around the corner.

However, Jesus redirects their attention to the task at hand for all of His followers. 

  • They are not to worry about when that would occur.
    • That is solely in line with God’s purposes and authority.
    • Even Jesus had no knowledge of when this would occur.
  • To speculate on dates and times is pointless.
  • The return of Jesus doesn’t revolve around speculation about the timing.
  • It does revolve around God’s purpose.
    • Salvation of the lost in the world.
    • The quickest way to the return of Jesus is worldwide evangelism.

Verse eight puts the disciple’s question in the proper perspective. The restoration of the kingdom would involve a worldwide missions movement. Jesus’s statement is looking towards the future, both imminent and long-term. Jesus promised His followers two things.

  • They will receive power through the Holy Spirit.
    • Jesus’ followers receive divine power once they repent and place their faith in Him.
      • This applied to the original disciples.
      • It applies to us today.
    • The Greek word used for power is the same word that described the miracles that Jesus performed in the Gospels. Jesus’ followers receive the same power that He used when performing miracles.
  • They will be Jesus’ witnesses.
    • The geographical picture presented in verse eight is a rough outline for the entire book.
      • Jerusalem
        • Jerusalem is central to Luke’s Gospel.
          • The temple scenes of Jesus’ infancy.
          • The long journey to Jerusalem.
          • Jesus’ passion in the city that killed its prophets.
        • The story of Jesus led to Jerusalem.
        • The story of the church led from Jerusalem.
      • Judea – Understood as the Davidic kingdom to include the coastal territories and Galilee.
      • Samaria – Because of its non-Jewish population.
      • The ends of the earth – In the setting of the Acts, it would be understood as Rome since that is where the book ends. However, the same phrase is found in the prophets to mean distant lands. Our understanding today is that it represents the entire world where people live. The ends of the earth will not be fulfilled until all people groups have been reached by the Gospel.

Christians are constantly faced with two temptations regarding missionary work.

  • One is the temptation to idleness.
    • Jesus has saved me, so I’m good.
    • I have a nice church.
    • Everything is comfortable.
    • I’ll just sit back and wait for Jesus to return.
  • The second temptation is the one that the disciples were getting caught up in, thinking they could do the Lord’s work in the world’s way and their own power.
    • Establish the kingdom politically.
    • Put Christians into high positions in the government.
    • Impose our vision of society on the world.
    • Although we shouldn’t accept the evil in the world, it is foolish to think we can change things without God’s power.

Verses 9-11

The passage ends with the disciples witnessing Jesus’ ascension and the encounter with the angels.

Some things to note about the ascension.

  • It is found only here, in Acts 1:2 and Luke 24:51.
  • It is closely related to many New Testament passages that speak of Jesus’ exaltation to the Father. Two examples are:
    • 1 Timothy 3:16
    • 1 Peter 3:21
  • It depicts Jesus’ final departure of the resurrected Lord from the earth, ending the forty-day period of appearances.
  • There are connections with other biblical narratives.
    • The taking up of Enoch.
    • The taking up of Elijah.
    • The cloud that enveloped Mt. Sinai.
    • Clouds were often associated with theophanies.
      • The transfiguration in Luke 9:28-36.
      • The same picture occurs here as Jesus is surrounded by a cloud as He ascends.
  • It also gives further basis for the witness of the disciples who testify to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension as first-hand witnesses.
  • Luke stresses this point no fewer than five times in these three verses.

Now that the ascension is complete, two angels appear on the scene. There are several points to note about this.

  • Angels often accompanied heavenly visitations as interpreters of the event.
    • The significance of the empty tomb in Luke 24:4-9.
    • The disciples who stood looking into the sky in this section.
    • They addressed the disciples as “Men of Galilee.”
      • A strong Galilean witness is a central theme in Luke-Acts.
      • The women of Galilee witnessed the crucifixion.
    • Although it is understandable that the disciples would stare at the sky in amazement, the rebuke of the angels is necessary.
      • Events of a high spiritual experience are not the end.
      • It was time to act on what they had seen and become witnesses and testify to the truth of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.
      • The rebuke was followed by a promise, Jesus would return in the same way that He departed, on the clouds.


  • Have we placed our faith and trust in a  resurrected Jesus and received power from the Holy Spirit? 
  • Do we study God’s Word so that we understand and can speak to the deity of Jesus? It doesn’t necessarily mean we need to memorize all the prophecies in the Old Testament about Him, but we do need to have an understanding and know where to look as we witness to the lost around us.
  • Do we wait until the correct time in our ministry endeavors and do them in the power of the Holy Spirit and not from our desire?
  • We should never pay attention, get involved with, or think we know when Jesus will return. Jesus was clear that He didn’t know when that would occur, so how can we make ourselves higher than Jesus?
  • Are we involved in mission work of some type? This doesn’t necessarily mean we need to go live in another country. However, it does mean that we are prepared and intentional about sharing the Gospel message to those we interact with and not being lazy Christians.