Introduction—Last Days of Our Lord upon Earth—His Ascension.
1, 2. former treatise—Luke's Gospel.
Theophilus—(See on Lu
began to do and teach—a very important
statement, dividing the work of Christ into two great branches: the one
embracing His work on earth, the other His subsequent work
from heaven; the one in His own Person, the other by His Spirit;
the one the "beginning," the other the continuance of the same work;
the one complete when He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on
high, the other to continue till His second appearing; the one recorded
in "The Gospels," the beginnings only of the other related in
this book of "The Acts." "Hence the grand history of what Jesus did and
taught does not conclude with His departure to the Father; but Luke now
begins it in a higher strain; for all the subsequent labors of the
apostles are just an exhibition of the ministry of the glorified
Redeemer Himself because they were acting under His authority, and
He was the principle that operated in them all" [Olshausen].
2. after that he, through the Holy Ghost, had
given commandments, &c.—referring to the charge recorded
in Mt 28:18-20; Mr 16:15-18; Lu 24:44-49. It is worthy of notice that nowhere
else are such communications of the risen Redeemer said to have been
given "through the Holy Ghost." In general, this might have been said
of all He uttered and all He did in His official character; for it was
for this very end that God "gave not the Spirit by measure unto Him"
3:34). But after His
resurrection, as if to signify the new relation in which He now stood
to the Church, He signalized His first meeting with the assembled
disciples by breathing on them (immediately after dispensing to
them His peace) and saying, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost"
20:22) thus anticipating the
donation of the Spirit from His hands (see on Joh
20:21, 22); and on the same principle His parting charges are here
said to have been given "through the Holy Ghost," as if to mark that He
was now all redolent with the Spirit; that what had been husbanded,
during His suffering work, for His own necessary uses, had now been set
free, was already overflowing from Himself to His disciples, and needed
but His ascension and glorification to flow all forth. (See on Joh 7:39.)
3-5. showed himself alive—As the author
is about to tell us that "the resurrection of the Lord Jesus"
was the great burden of apostolic preaching, so the subject is here
filly introduced by an allusion to the primary evidence on which that
great fact rests, the repeated and undeniable manifestations of Himself
in the body to the assembled disciples, who, instead of being
predisposed to believe it, had to be overpowered by the resistless
evidence of their own senses, and were slow of yielding even to this
after his passion—or, suffering. This
primary sense of the word "passion" has fallen into disuse; but it is
nobly consecrated in the phraseology of the Church to express the
Redeemer's final endurances.
seen of them forty days—This important
specification of time occurs here only.
speaking of—rather "speaking."
the things pertaining to the kingdom of
God—till now only in germ, but soon to take visible form; the
earliest and the latest burden of His teaching on earth.
4. should not depart from
Jerusalem—because the Spirit was to glorify the existing
economy, by descending on the disciples at its metropolitan seat, and
at the next of its great festivals after the ascension of the Church's
Head; in order that "out of Zion might go forth the law, and the word
of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa 2:3; and compare Lu 24:49).
5. ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not
many days hence—ten days hence, as appears from Le 23:15,
16; but it was expressed thus
indefinitely to exercise their faith.
6-8. wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to
Israel?—Doubtless their carnal views of Messiah's kingdom had
by this time been modified, though how far it is impossible to say.
But, as they plainly looked for some restoration of the kingdom
to Israel, so they are neither rebuked nor contradicted on this
7. It is not for you to know the times,
&c.—implying not only that this was not the time, but
that the question was irrelevant to their present business and future
8. receive power—See Lu 24:49.
and ye shall be witnesses unto me … in
Jerusalem … in all Judea … and unto the uttermost part of
the earth—This order of apostolic preaching and success
supplies the proper key to the plan of the Acts, which relates
first the progress of the Gospel "in Jerusalem, and all Judea and
Samaria" (the first through ninth chapters), and then "unto the
uttermost part of the earth" (the tenth through twenty-eighth
9-11. while they beheld, he was taken
up—See on Lu 24:50-53. Lest it should
be thought He had disappeared when they were looking in some other
direction, and so was only concluded to have gone up to heaven,
it is here expressly said that "while they were looking He was
taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." So
Elijah, "If thou see me when I am taken from thee" (2Ki 2:10); "And Elisha saw it" (Ac 1:12). (See on Lu
10. while they looked steadfastly toward
heaven—following Him with their eager eyes, in rapt
amazement. Not, however, as a mere fact is this recorded, but as a part
of that resistless evidence of their senses on which their whole
subsequent testimony was to be borne.
two men in white apparel—angels in
human form, as in Lu 24:4.
11. Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into
heaven, &c.—"as if your now glorified Head were gone from
you never to return: He is coming again; not another, but 'this same
Jesus'; and 'as ye have seen Him go, in the like manner shall He
come'—as personally, as visibly, as
gloriously; and let the joyful expectation of this coming
swallow up the sorrow of that departure."
Ac 1:12-26. Return of the
Eleven to Jerusalem—Proceedings in
the Upper Room till Pentecost.
12-14. a sabbath day's journey—about two
13. went up into an upper room—perhaps
the same "large upper room" where with their Lord they had celebrated
the last Passover and the first Supper (Lu 22:12).
where abode—not lodged, but had for
their place of rendezvous.
Peter, &c.—(See on Mt 10:2-4).
14. continued with one accord—knit by a
bond stronger than death.
in prayer and supplication—for the
promised baptism, the need of which in their orphan state would be
and Mary the mother of
Jesus—distinguished from the other "women," but "so as to
exclude the idea of her having any pre-eminence over the disciples. We
find her with the rest in prayer to her glorified Son" [Webster and Wilkinson]. This is the last mention of her in
the New Testament. The fable of the Assumption of the Virgin
has no foundation even in tradition [Alford].
with his brethren—(See on Joh 7:3).
15-26. in those days—of expectant
prayer, and probably towards the close of them, when the nature of
their future work began more clearly to dawn upon them, and the Holy
Ghost, already "breathed" on the Eleven (Joh 20:22), was stirring in Peter, who was to be
the leading spirit of the infant community (Mt 16:19).
the number … about an hundred and
twenty—Many, therefore, of the "five hundred brethren" who
saw their risen Lord "at once" (1Co 15:6), must have remained in Galilee.
18. falling headlong, &c.—This
information supplements, but by no means contradicts, what is said in
20. his bishopric—or "charge." The words
are a combination of Ps 69:25 and Ps 109:8; in which the apostle discerns a greater
than David, and a worse than Ahithophel and his fellow conspirators
21. all the time the Lord Jesus went in and out
among us—in the close intimacies of a three years' public
22. Beginning from the baptism of
John—by whom our Lord was not only Himself baptized, but
first officially announced and introduced to his own disciples.
unto that same day when he was taken up from us,
must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his
resurrection—How clearly is the primary office of the
apostles here expressed: (1) to testify, from personal observation, to
the one great fact of "the resurrection of the Lord Jesus"; (2) to show
how this glorified His whole previous life, of which they were constant
observers, and established His divine claims.
23. they appointed—"put up" in
nomination; meaning not the Eleven but the whole company, of whom Peter
was the spokesman.
two—The choice would lie between a
24. prayed and said, Thou, Lord,
&c.—"The word 'Lord,' placed absolutely, denotes in the New
Testament almost universally THE SON; and the words, 'Show whom Thou
hast chosen,' are decisive. The apostles are just Christ's messengers:
It is He that sends them, and of Him they bear witness. Here,
therefore, we have the first example of a prayer offered to the exalted
Redeemer; furnishing indirectly the strongest proof of His divinity"
which knowest the hearts of all
men—See Joh 2:24, 25; 21:15-17; Re
25. that he might go to his own place—A
euphemistic or softened expression of the awful future of the traitor,
implying not only destined habitation but congenial element.
26. was numbered—"voted in" by general
with the eleven apostles—completing
the broken Twelve.