Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 1:1-14

Acts 1:1‑14  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The following meditations, beginning with Acts 1, are not expository, exegetical or apologetic in nature. Rather, they are meant to present simple, practical Scriptural principles.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). “Doctrine” is mentioned first, and this is morally beautiful to notice. Every right thought must always be based on the unchanging truth the “doctrine” of God’s divine Word.
However, doctrine is but one of four areas in which the Spirit of God applies the Word to our profit. The other three reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness all have to do with the moral, practical aspects of our lives as believers.
We trust that our readers will find value in applying these simple meditations to the daily circumstances of life. May He be honored in all!
Acts 1
1. The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.
In Luke’s gospel, the Spirit presents Christ to our hearts as the Son of Man perfectly dependent in every step of His pathway here. As man, He began to do and He began to teach. What perfect moral order! He did before He taught. Even as a child of twelve, we find Him “both hearing them, and asking them questions.” He listened; then He spoke. We ought to listen to our God before we speak and then do what we have heard, before trying to teach others!
2. Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen.
Knowing that He was about to be received up into glory, He gave commandments, in the power of the Spirit of God, to the apostles. Having completed His divine service (John 17:4), He thus puts all in order before ascending in glory to the Father.
Believers should thus order all things pertaining to this life with that same divine wisdom by the Spirit (which is available to each saint; see James 1:5, 1 Corinthians 2 and Proverbs), doing so with a view to leaving, not staying in, this world.
3. To whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
The risen Saviour’s conversation with His beloved disciples concerned the things of the kingdom of God, not the things of this present evil world. Resurrection life (the life all believers have) ought to be a living reality with us one which has a visible effect on all our words and actions.
4. And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me.
Though the Lord was leaving, He would not leave them “comfortless.” However, to enjoy the promised blessing, they must obey the Lord’s word, waiting patiently for its accomplishment at Jerusalem, the place of His appointment. Any other gathering center, no matter how much they might love Him, would miss the blessing of the Father’s promise. “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17).
5. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
John’s water baptism was to repentance, in preparation for an earthly kingdom. The King had come, had been rejected and had gone back to heaven. Now there was a baptism coming which would mark something much more blessed than an earthly kingdom. The Holy Spirit would baptize them into one glorious body the Christ the church of God. Our lives ought to give public testimony to the blessed place that is ours in Christ.
6. When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
The disciples’ thoughts didn’t rise above this world. They knew by faith that the time was coming when the promised kingdom in all its glory would be restored to Israel, under Messiah. They knew, too, that Jesus was Messiah. But, unable to rise above thinking about the earthly glory of Israel’s kingdom (and their part in it), they forgot what is most important His glory.
It is easy to look for the Lord’s coming because of what we will gain fullness of joy and no more sorrow, sin or sickness! But there is so much more. What about His joy His glory? “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isa. 53). How exceeding much joy He will have at His coming! What a motive to pray, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”!
7. And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.
Here, there is not a word of rebuke from His gracious lips to the disciples! Yet, as always, He speaks the truth. May the Lord help us to always speak in that spirit and at all times! The Father’s perfect wisdom and love would determine the time for Israel’s restoration. Knowing that was to be enough for them. They were as we are to wait and trust.
8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
To witness for Him they needed divine power, not human knowledge. Let’s not place undue emphasis on knowledge. While knowledge of the truth is important, love for the Lord Jesus and submission to His will is more important. It was the revelation of Himself in the Scriptures that caused the hearts of those early disciples to burn (Luke 24:32).
9. And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
The Lord Jesus’ earthly communications end. The disciples see a Man received up to heaven. That scene of glory into which He is received hidden from their eyes is open to faith. Elisha saw the flaming chariot; Jacob saw a ladder upon which angels ascended and descended from heaven. But we see Jesus, crowned with glory (Heb. 2:9). He who is “God has been manifested in flesh... has been received up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16 JND). Our affections will be engaged (Col. 3:14) with what our eyes, by faith, behold.
10. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel.
Steadfastly! Nothing in or of this world could attract them away from the object of their hearts’ affection. Let’s also be steadfast in spirit, occupied with that glory where Jesus sits at God’s right hand.
11. Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.
They weren’t to continue to stand there gazing. The Lord had given them His commandments and they were to obey. Normal Christianity does not remain inactive while waiting for the rapture. Remember the admonition to Archippus in Colossians 4:17: “Take heed to the ministry... fulfill it.” That ministry, however, is not one of setting things right in this world. When the Lord comes in “like manner” as He left, He will set all according to His will.
12. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.
The distance of a “sabbath day’s journey” was five furlongs about one half mile. In Exodus 16:29 Moses commanded the people, “See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore He giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”
Jerusalem was the place which belonged (and still belongs) to the Lord Jesus. Though He will reign as great David’s greater Son in the “city of David,” for now He has been cast out. In perfect submission to this, He goes “outside” the city. Though outside Jerusalem to ascend to glory (even as He had gone outside it to die), yet in obedience to the law the Lord stays within a Sabbath day’s journey of His place.
What a beautiful pattern: obedience to the Word of God and submission to all that God allows for this life! The disciples themselves are an example of this obedience. The Lord had told them to wait at Jerusalem, and, unlike Peter’s previous failure (“I go a fishing”), they obey and return to Jerusalem to wait.
13. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
Love for Christ doesn’t always need specific instructions. They were to “tarry... in... Jerusalem,” but it is not recorded that He told them where. Affection led them back to that room where He had said, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” In the J. N. Darby translation it is, “They went up to the upper chamber.” Those who desire to meet around Himself must be guided by the same thing affection for Himself. Knowledge of truth, though vitally important, is no substitute for love for the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
14. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.
Dependence and obedience! What vitally important traits which marked these early disciples and ought still to mark believers today! Obedience, born of love for the Lord Jesus, brought them to the place of His appointment. Dependence (prayer and supplication) preserved them there.