The Risen Lord Upon the Earth (Acts 1:1-11)
This book, like the Gospel, of Luke, was written to Theophilus, probably a high-ranking Roman official. Luke tells him that Jesus, in His post-resurrection body taught the apostles He had chosen. For the first part of chapter 1 it is the eleven He is teaching. This was after the death of Judas Iscariot and before the selection of Matthias.
During the forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension, Jesus made many appearances to His followers. Thomas D. Thurman, in his book “The Jesus Years,” gives us this suggested chronology of the appearances of Jesus
In and Near Jerusalem
- Appearance to Mary Magdalene. Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18
- Appearance to the Other Women. Matthew 28:9-10.
- Appearance to the Two Disciples on the Emmaus Road. Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24;13-32
- Appearance to Peter. Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5
- Appearance to the Ten. Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25
- Appearance to the Eleven. John20:26-29; 1 Cor 15:5
- Appearance to the Seven by the Sea. John 21:1-23
- Appearance to the 500 brethren. Matthew 28:16-20; I Cor. 15:6
In and Near Jerusalem After His Return From Galilee
- Appearance to the Apostles. Mark 16:15-18
- Appearance to James. I Cor. 15:7
- Appearance at Bethany. Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8
- Appearance To Paul. I Cor. 15:8
- Appearance to John. Revelation 1:13
These were the appearances that Jesus made before many witnesses. In Acts 1:3 we have the only reference, in scripture, to the length of Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry.
They were told not to leave Jerusalem. He told them that ten days hence they would receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In verse 6 the apostles asked Jesus if it was at this time He would restore the kingdom to Israel. He told them “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7
In verse 8, He again told them of the promise of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. He made it known to them they would evangelize the world, starting from Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? Because that’s where they were. God wants all of us to start spreading the Good News from wherever we are.
In the next verse we have the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. The location was the Mount of Olives. It was located east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley from the village of Bethany (Luke 24:50). As He was speaking to them, He arose out of their sight in cloud. I’m sure they were astonished, I know I would be. It isn’t everyday you see someone rise up from you in a cloud, even though He is the Son of God. We’re told that while they were staring up in the sky two men (angels) in white clothing appeared to them. The two called them “men of Galilee.”
The remaining eleven were from Galilee, Judas Iscariot being the only non-Galilean. Here in verse eleven we have the promise that Jesus is coming back again for His church.
The Choosing of Matthias: Acts 1:12-26
We’re told that the distance between the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem was 3,000 feet. According to Josephus, 3,000 feet as the length of a Sabbath Day’s journey. In verse 13 we find the apostles back in the upper room. It was in all probability the same room where the Last Supper occurred (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:2), therefore it might have been in the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12). Here is a list of the eleven apostles who gathered in the upper room.
Peter, John, James, Andrew, Phillip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.
We find, early in the book, that the disciples were a praying group. In verse 14 we have the last mention of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Also, his half brothers had now come to accept His Messiah ship. We remember that not many days before that Peter had denied his Lord. Here we see him taking a position of leadership.
In the next few verse they had to choose a successor to Judas Iscariot. In verses 21-22, we have the qualifications set forth for the office of Apostle. Peter says that they must have been with them from the baptism of John until Jesus’ ascension. That way one was both a witness of His resurrection and His ascension . This clearly shows that the false practice of apostolic succession is anti-scriptural. After John’s death the office of Apostle ceased to exist here on the earth.
The record tells us that there were two men who fit these qualifications; Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. The apostles believed that God had already made His choice so there had to be a way for Him to relate His choice to them.
Charles Caldwell Ryrie gives us this account from the footnotes of the “Ryrie Study Bible.”
“Two names were written on stones and placed in an urn. The one that fell out first was taken to be the Lord’s choice (cf. Prov. 16:33; Jonah 1:7) The occasion was unique, for the Lord as not there in person to appoint and the Spirit had not been given in a special way on Pentecost.”
Did the apostles acts in accordance with God’s will in the selection of Matthias? Some have tried to say that the eleven were acting in haste when they selected Matthias. The critics say that God wanted Paul to be the twelfth apostles. This can be shown false by at least 3 reasons:
- Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that the choosing of Matthias was in contrast with the will of God. The fact that Matthias was filled with the Spirit on Pentecost proved that he, was in fact, God’s man for the job.
- If the choosing of Matthias was wrong, then Peter erred when he gave Old Testament passages to back his actions.
- Paul had a special apostleship. Also, Paul could not fulfill the qualifications laid down in verse 21-22. In 1 Cor. 15:5-8, he says that he was not one of the Twelve.
So, according to the purpose and plan of God, Matthias became the twelfth apostles. The office was complete again.
In the next lesson we are going to deal with the events in the second chapter of Acts. The lesson will titled “The Birthday of the Church of Christ.” We encourage all to prepare by reading the chapter through. Remember, no truth is truly yours until you find it for yourself in the Word of God.
-Larry Miles, Louisville, KY