Practical Reflections on Acts: Acts 1:15-2:13

Acts 1:15‑2:13  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 8
15. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about a hundred and twenty).
The Spirit of God takes care to record the number of those who gathered. Does this teach that we are to be concerned about numbers? No. But how comforting to know that each one gathered in the place of His appointment is of individual note and joy to our Lord’s heart.
16-20. Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take.
The little company, having previously displayed love, obedience and dependence, now exercises administrative care. All things are done “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:4040Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Corinthians 14:40)) done according to Scripture. All Jerusalem was aware of Judas’s awful end, but the Word of God, not public opinion, was the sole guide upon which the apostles acted.
21. Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us.
The one chosen must have companied in fellowship with the Lord and the other apostles. Public service for the Lord Jesus requires private fellowship with Him (Rev. 3:2020Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)) and His own. “Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:2222Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)).
22. Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.
The one to be chosen must also be identified with the public ministry of the Lord Jesus from His baptism to His ascension. Every aspect of our Lord’s ministry contains vital principles for our service.
23-26. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two Thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
As far as men were concerned, either disciple was qualified. Perhaps some felt that Justus was better qualified than Matthias. The Lord Jesus alone knew who was to serve according to His purposes.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:99For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)).
Acts 2
1. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Oneness of mind and togetherness in fellowship marked the little company of believers while they waited in Jerusalem! Today professing Christianity has become a sad example of “every man” doing what is “right in his own eyes,” thus rendering a public testimony to confusion rather than unity. “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:33Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)).
2. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Those outside the place of His appointment missed the moving of the Spirit which took place in the house. The house being thus filled with the Spirit had no room for the world! Happy condition for the assembly collectively and for the individual! “Be filled with the Spirit... speaking... singing... giving thanks” (Eph. 5:18-2018And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:18‑20)).
3. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
The tongues’ appearance was “parted” (JND), their character was “fire,” and their dwelling was “upon each” of the disciples. Though we live in a day of great spiritual weakness, these same three things ought to mark us. Each child of God, indwelt by the Spirit of God, ought to live in separation from evil, display holiness in his conduct, and walk in submission to Christ.
The heavenly tongues are here referred to in the singular “it.” The revelation of God is infinite in its varied ways. But God is one, and those who belong to Him are one with Him one in Christ (Gal. 3:2828There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)). Dissension and conflict ought not to mark the testimony today, for we are “members one of another” (Rom. 12:55So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Romans 12:5)), indwelt by one Spirit (Eph. 4:46).
4. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
As vessels fit and ready for the Master’s use (2 Tim. 2:2121If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:21)), they are filled with the Spirit, so they could be used to pour out blessing to others.
5. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
These devout men give striking contrast to the despised, little company in the “upper room.” It is no longer an earthly, outward religion, but a heavenly one, laid hold of by faith, with which God begins a new thing.
6. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
Though they understood the languages being spoken, they couldn’t understand its message. Religion doesn’t give spiritual understanding.
7. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?
The 120 despised Galileans didn’t have wealth or reputation; they didn’t possess great religious knowledge, but their hearts were filled with love for the Lord. The devout men only saw the outward appearance—Galileans—and were perplexed.
8. And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
“How hear we.” The Spirit gave these despised believers the ability to render a testimony in a manner that the world understood. “Whatsoever shall be given you... that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost” (Mark 13:1111But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. (Mark 13:11)).
9-11. Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
“The wonderful works of God”! In this glorious message man has no place. May such be the subject of our testimony too! Then God is glorified, Christ is honored and the Spirit free to work.
12. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
These pious Jews were part of the guilty nation who thought they worshipped God, yet they had rejected and slain the Messiah, which resulted in this doubt and consternation.
13. Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
Natural man can never understand God, and divine things are foolishness to him (1 Cor. 2:1414But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)). But this wrath is made to praise God (Psa. 76:1010Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. (Psalm 76:10)). The disciples were not, as contemptuously accused, drunken through natural excess. But they most surely were filled with new wine joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:1717For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 14:17)). The “old bottles” who witnessed this marvelous work mocked that which they themselves could not contain or appreciate.