Acts 1-2

Thursday Evening Bible Study

August 30, 2007


The book was written by Dr. Luke, a man who became Paul’s traveling companion somewhere around Acts 16:10, when Luke’s writing stops talking about “them” and starts talking about “we”.

The gospels are the accounts of Jesus’ ministry on the earth. The book of Acts has a more complete title “The Acts of the Apostles”, but in reality it’s an account of the work of the Holy Spirit through the church.

Some people have some crazy ideas about the work of the Holy Spirit and how to allow the Holy Spirit to work in the church.


Come Down Holy Spirit

A traveling evangelist always put on a grand finale at his revival meetings. When he was to preach at a church, he would secretly hire a small boy to sit in the ceiling rafters with a dove in a cage. Toward the end of his sermon, the preacher would shout for the Holy Spirit to come down, and the boy in the rafters would dutifully release the dove. At one revival meeting, however, nothing happened when the preacher called for the Holy Spirit to descend. He again raised his arms and exclaimed: “Come down, Holy Spirit!” Still no sign of the dove. The preacher then heard the anxious voice of the small boy call down from the rafters: “Sir, a yellow cat just ate the Holy Spirit. Shall I throw down the yellow cat?”

Hopefully as we make our way through the book of Acts, we can find a little more healthy, a little more balanced approach to the work of the Spirit, and no cats allowed.

Acts 1

:1-3 Intro

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

Theophilus – “lover of God”, may be a real person, may be just a way of addressing all believers.

: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.

After rising from the dead, Jesus didn’t just appear one or two times to the disciples, but many times. He appeared to them over a period of forty days. During that time He appeared to them both in Jerusalem as well as spending time with the disciples in Galilee.

:4-8 The Holy Spirit Promised

: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;

the Promise of the Father

We’re going to be seeing in the book of Acts a marvelous relationship between the early church and the Holy Spirit.

The work of the Holy Spirit has become a bit controversial for some folks in the Christian church. There are debates over how the Holy Spirit works, and whether He works today like He did in the early church.

Part of me isn’t as concerned about what you call this experience with the Holy Spirit, as long as you have it.
But the part of me that’s a Bible Student wants to be sure you see this experience as the Bible presents it, and not just how I present it or how some teacher presents it.
We’re going to pay special attention to this experience in the book of Acts – keep your eyes open!

which you have heard from Me

Jesus had already told them about the Holy Spirit earlier in His ministry:

(John 7:37-39 NKJV) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. {38} "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." {39} But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

During the Last Supper:

(John 14:16-17 NKJV) "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; {17} "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

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

baptized with the Holy Spirit

The word “baptized” speaks of immersion. The first time this concept of Spirit baptism is found is at John’s baptisms:

(Mat 3:11 NKJV) "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John immersed people in water at the Jordan River, Jesus immerses us in the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is simply repeating the same concept that John was teaching a few years earlier, that Jesus would be baptizing His disciples in the Holy Spirit.

One of the questions is over the term the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”.

There are churches that teach that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs when you first believe. They will teach that there is no further need for some experience, a “second blessing”, because you’ve already got it. They will point to:
(1 Cor 12:13 NKJV) For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

But pay attention to the verse. Paul is talking about the Spirit doing the baptizing, immersing us in the Body of Christ. The baptism of the Holy Spirit on the other hand is what Jesus does, immersing us in the Holy Spirit.

I find it interesting that these same churches will have no problem talking about being “filled” with the Holy Spirit. Paul commands us to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit:

(Eph 5:18 NKJV) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

But if you pay attention to our study tonight, you’re going to see this same experience being called many different things, including being “filled” with the Holy Spirit.

You might want to make a list as we go along of all the different ways that this experience is referred to in Acts.

We’ve seen it called “the Promise of the Father” (vs. 4)

It’s called the “baptism of the Holy Spirit (vs. 5) here.

One of the concerns that people have is whether or not a person can be saved without the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The question is not about salvation, the question is about power, the ability to live for Jesus in this world.
We see three types of relationships that the Holy Spirit has with people, characterized by three different “prepositions” in the Greek (para, en, epi)

1. “with” – Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit was “with” them (John 14:17). This is the relationship that the Holy Spirit has with every person in this world, wooing them, convicting them, drawing them toward Christ.

2. “in” – Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would be “in” them (John 14:17). For the disciples, this took place after the resurrection when Jesus breathed on them (John 20:22) and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. For the rest of us, this is what takes place at salvation, when we open our heart to Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes “into” us. We cannot be saved if we do not have the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9).

2. “upon” – this is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, when the Holy Spirit is not only in my heart, but the power of God is flowing over my life. We will see this mentioned in Acts 1:8.

:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

They were wondering if this was it – was this when Jesus would set up His throne and rule 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.

Not now boys.

: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."

powerdunamis – strength, power, ability. We often hear preachers talk about the “dynamite” power of God, and that’s okay – the word “dynamite” does come from this word. So does the word “dynamic” and “dynamo”. But even more important is the root word this noun comes from, the verb dunamai, which is simply translated “can” or “to be able”.

The word doesn’t as much speak of explosive electric power seeping out of your fingertips as it does the simple ability “to be able” to live for Jesus. It’s the power so that I “can” follow Jesus.

Paul wrote,

(Gal 5:16 NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
It’s the power to live after the leading of the Spirit and not my own sinful, rebellious flesh.

It’s the power to be His “witnesses”

witnessesmartus – a witness, it’s the guy that gets up on the stand during the trial and tells the court what he saw. The word eventually became synonymous with a person giving up their life for the faith, a “martyr”.

Note: Some of our more “Pentecostal” friends will say that the evidence of a person being baptized in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. We are indeed going to see more than a few people speaking in tongues in the book of Acts. But if I’m looking for evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I prefer to hold on to what Jesus promised –  The power to witness.

JerusalemJudeaSamaria … the end of the earth – In a sense, this becomes the outline of the book of Acts. On the day of Pentecost, the work will begin and the focus will first be on Jerusalem. As we progress through the book, the work of God progresses.

:9-11 The ascension

: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."

Jesus now ascends into heaven after having been with the disciples on the Mount of Olives. Two angels tell the disciples that Jesus’ return will be similar to the way He ascended. In other words, He’ll return in the air and come back to the Mount of Olives.

:12-14 Upper Room Meetings

:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey.

:13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.

:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem. They took this to mean spending time in prayer. It will be ten days before Pentecost and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

:15-26 New apostle chosen

:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said,

It’s not just the eleven in the upper room, but a group of 120.

:16 "Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus;

:17 "for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry."

Peter is probably referring to Ps.41:9, 55:12.

(Psa 41:9 NKJV) Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.

(Psa 55:12 NKJV) For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him.

Peter realized that Judas was not a fluke. There were prophecies that were fulfilled.

:18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.

:19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)

Judas had committed suicide when he realized that Jesus was being put to death.

:20 "For it is written in the book of Psalms: 'Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it'; and, 'Let another take his office.'

Peter is quoting from some pretty obscure Psalms: Ps 69:25; 109:8: 9-15. Yet the group seems to feel that it is important that they fill Judas’ place at the table – there needed to be twelve apostles, not eleven.

:21 "Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

:22 "beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection."

This was what the apostles considered as qualifications to be an apostle – someone who had been with them from the beginning who could be a witness with them of the resurrection.

:23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

:24 And they prayed and said, "You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen

:25 "to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place."

:26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Instead of the apostles voting, they cast lots. Some have found it interesting that this seems to be the last time the apostles make a decision by casting lots. After the Holy Spirit comes, they let the Spirit lead.

(Acts 13:2 NKJV) As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

Some have suggested that this was a mistake making Matthias an apostle, that the one they should have picked was Paul (even though Paul wouldn’t be saved for a couple of years yet). Perhaps they should have at least waited until the Holy Spirit came. I’m not sure we should be criticizing their decision.

Acts 2

:1-4 The Spirit comes

:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

one accordhomothumadon (“together” + “passion”) – with one mind, with one accord, with one passion. There’s a sense of unity among the believers as they have been “waiting” for the Holy Spirit in their prayer time.

:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

:3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

There was some interesting phenomena taking place – the noise of a wind, the visual image of flames of fire on each person.

:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

If you’re keeping track of terms used for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, here’s another one, they were “filled”.

speak with other tongues – they are speaking in languages they didn’t know. They are saying things that the Holy Spirit is prompting them.  It doesn’t seem that they were “taught” to speak with tongues.  It just happened.

:5-13 The people of Jerusalem respond

:5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.

The feast of Pentecost was one of the feasts where people from around the world would come to Jerusalem to worship God. There are people here who speak all kinds of languages.

:6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

The sound of the rushing wind drew a crowd.

:7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?

:8 "And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

:9 "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

:10 "Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

:11 "Cretans and Arabs; we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God."

These peoples were from areas as far south as northern Africa (Egypt, Libya), as far east as Persia (modern Iran, “Elamites”), as north as from modern Turkey (Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia) and the Caspian Sea (Parthians), and as far west as Rome.

One of the characteristics of “tongues” is that it is words addressed to God and often words of praise.

(1 Cor 14:2 NKJV) For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

:12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?"

:13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine."

There is a mixed reaction to what was going on. Some even think the Christians are drunk.

:14-39 Peter’s Sermon

:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.

:15 "For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

It was only 9:00am.

:16 "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

Peter is going to quote from Joel 2:28-32.

:17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

:18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.

:19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.

:21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.'

Peter used the quote from Joel to explain the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It’s interesting that the passage he uses is also a passage that speaks of the last days.

Peter also uses a verse that encourages the people to call on the Lord to be saved.

:22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know;

:23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

It’s only been fifty days since Jesus had been crucified. This was very recent history.

:24 "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

:25 "For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.

:26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.

:27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

:28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.'

Paul now quotes from Psalm 16 to speak about the truth of the resurrection. This truth of the resurrection was not some quirky thing that the apostles were just making up, but a fulfillment of Scripture.

:29 "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

:30 "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,

:31 "he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.

David wasn’t talking about himself in Psalm 16, because David was dead and buried. He spoke prophetically of Jesus.

:32 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come upon the apostles and they would be His witnesses. And that’s exactly what’s happening.

:33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

:34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand,

:35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."'

Peter quotes Psalm 110. Peter is connecting the resurrection to the Messiah, showing that Jesus the Lord over Israel.

:36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

:39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

Peter’s response to “what shall we do” was very simple:

Repent (turn from your sins)

Be baptized (make a public statement that you’re following Jesus).

Baptism isn’t an act that saves you, it’s a public declaration, an outward symbol of what Jesus has done for you in your heart.

Note: For those of you keeping track of terms used to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit here’s a new one – “the gift of the Holy Spirit”.

You don’t “earn” the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit came as a result of works, it would not be a “gift”.

(Gal 3:2 NKJV) This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

:40-47 The church grows

:40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."

:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

From this group that represented so many nations, three thousand respond by being baptized. (we’ve got a baptism coming up in two weeks)

:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

We see in the following verses a snapshot of what the early church was like at the very beginning. It seems that people are constantly looking for new ways of doing church. I know there is a danger of church becoming so caught in traditions that it doesn’t relate to real people in the real world. But it seems to me that the early church in Acts 2 is what we ought to be modeling ourselves after.

1. The apostles’ doctrine – the early church was about teaching. They apostles’ teaching is what we have recorded in our New Testament.

2. Fellowship – koinonia – the word means “sharing” or having things in “common”. Potlucks and going out for Starbucks after church can be a part of that. But it’s not just having “coffee” as the thing that we have in common, it’s having Jesus be the center of everything. It’s becoming a part of each others’ lives to encourage, support, and build up one another.

3. Breaking of bread – it could be that Luke was just elaborating on “koinonia”, but it seems to be a separate item in the list. Luke could be referring to having dinner over at each others’ houses. He is more likely talking about communion, the bread and wine that represent what Jesus did for us. Jesus wanted us to remember what He did.

4. Prayers – the word used here is a general word for prayer and so this would include all kinds of prayer – Adoration, confession, and supplication – making specific requests from God. I sometimes wonder if we really understand how important prayer is. I know for years prayer was something I mostly did at church, and my personal prayer time was not more than a few seconds each day. I’m finding that prayer is both one of the hardest as well as one of the most powerful things I participate in each day. I wonder what it would be like if even half of the people that come to our church spent fifteen minutes every day in regular prayer, praying for their family members, praying for people at church, and praying for the lost world around us.

:43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

God continued to do miraculous things.

:44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,

:45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

They were a church committed to helping each other, meeting needs.

:46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

in the temple – the met every day. Hmmm.

gladnessagalliasis – exultation, exuberant joy, gladness; At feasts, people were anointed with the oil of gladness.

simplicityaphelotes – simplicity, singleness; comes from the word for a stone that you stub your toe on and the negative, in other words, “not stubbing the toes”, not causing people to stumble.

:47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

the Lord added – it seems to me that “church growth” is God’s responsibility.

I think we need to do our part – we need to be close to the Lord, we need to be sensitive to the Lord, we need to be filled with the Spirit, we need to be living like the church is supposed to live. We need to be open to what God would want to do.

Are we open to people being saved? Do we want to be used?

But what happens from there seems to be God’s job.