Bible Study - Acts Chapter 1 , Verses 1-7
Many of us today do not remember a time where we were urged not to gather together for church services. What we are doing is not a test of our faith, but an act of compassion for our neighbor. Even though we are absent from one another, we can engage in prayer, Bible Study, and online worship services. If you have not already, please be sure to like our Facebook page, or visit our Website to engage with each other, and view sermons. I will post links below.
Please know: I am not an expert. However, I do enjoy studying the Bible. I thought it would be interesting to have a platform that I can throw some things out there, and we could discuss them.
Since we are in an unprecedented time, I thought it would be appropriate to see how the early Church handled an unprecedented time for themselves. For the Apostles, this would be the first time that they are physically separated from Jesus since they met Him (in the sense that they are on this Earth physically, and He is not). For the Jews, this will be a time that they will see as a threat to their beliefs and way of life. For the gentiles, this will be a time of salvation. So, we will begin in Acts.
A Little Background
· The continuation of the narrative wrote by Luke. Luke was regularly referred to as a physician as well as a traveling companion of Paul.
· Acts was addressed to Theophilus (as well was the Gospel of Luke). It is not known if Theophilus was the name of Luke’s benefactor, or used as a general term for Christians (literally, “Lover of God”)
· Acts documents the spread of the Christian church, just as Jesus had planned for it to spread: first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles.
· A theme that runs throughout the narrative: God’s sovereignty.
Luke begins the narrative explaining to Theophilus that the first part of his narrative was to document the things that Jesus began to teach and do, up to the day of Pentecost and Jesus' ascension. You can infer already, that Jesus was not done interacting with his Church or the world. Jesus stuck around for forty days before he left Earth. During this time, He spoke about the kingdom of God. Now, these two statements have ties to the Old Testament. Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18). The Old Testament refers to the kingdom of God as God's dominion (Psalms 145:13, Isa 9:7). The Messiah will reign in grace and righteousness over the whole earth, when the kingdom of God is at hand (Isa 11:1-9, Dan 2:44). You can see here that the Old Testament pointed to Jesus' return many, many years ago. The book of Acts is commonly called "The Acts of the Apostles", but after study, you might come to know it as "The Acts of Jesus and the Spirit."
The Holy Spirit is Coming
During those forty days, Jesus instructed the disciples not to leave Jerusalem. It was in Jerusalem that they would receive the Father's promise: The Holy Spirit. Once the disciples had all gathered together, they asked Jesus if He would be restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time. This is important to note. The disciples are, at this point, still worried about themselves, their way of life, and their sense of prestige. They have lived under Roman rule, and expect to be freed to live in their own land ruled by their own people. They still thought that Jesus was to usher in this new kingdom. But, as Jesus had said before, His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Not only was Jesus bringing about something new, but He was going to do it in a way that the world was not accustomed to. So, in response to the disciples' question, Jesus responds in this way:
"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 end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8) This is the very basis of Acts. You will find that the growth of the Christian church begins in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria, and finally concludes in Rome, which was all the known world at that time.
Some questions to consider:
- What other ways could you compare this time of Pandemic and social isolation to that of the early church?
- What do you think that Jesus meant when he said that his kingdom was not of this world?
- Can you see an example of God's sovereignty already made in these beginning passages? Can you see examples of God's sovereignty in your life?
Please let me know if this is something of interest! If it is, I can continue to post articles like this to discuss.