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1. Ascension of Jesus

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2Until 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: 3To whom also he shewed 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: 4And, 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. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7And 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. 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 Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11Which 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. 12Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. 13And 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 Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

15And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 16Men 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. 17For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18Now 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. 19And 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. 20For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. 21Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22Beginning 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. 23And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

14. With their wives Some translate it women; and they think that he speaketh of those which accompanied Christ. As I will not contend with any man concerning this matter, so have I not doubted to prefer that which I thought was more probable. I grant that the word which Luke useth may be interpreted both ways. But this is my reason, why I do think that he speaketh rather of wives, because, seeing that they used afterward to carry their wives about with them, as Paul doth testify, (1 Corinthians 9:5,) it is not likely that they were then asunder. For they might more easily rest together in one place, than by wandering to and fro oftentimes to change their abiding; and, secondly, seeing that they did look for the coming of the Holy Ghost, which was even then at hand, what reason was there why they should deprive their wives of so great goodness? Peter’s wife was about to be a helper unto him shortly after, which we must also think of the rest of the wives. These women had need of heroical fortitude and constancy, lest they should faint. Who would, therefore, think that they were excluded from their husbands whilst they look for the coming of the Spirit? But if they will stick to the general word, it standeth with reason that there were married women in the company. Howsoever it be, it is Luke’s mind to tell us by the way how greatly they had changed their minds. 5151     “In melius,” for the better. For whereas before the men, being afraid, had fled away, the women are gathered together with them now, neither do they fear any danger. He doth reckon up the mother of Jesus with the other women, whom, notwithstanding, John is said to have kept at his own house. But, as I have said before, they met altogether now only for a short season; for it is not to be doubted but that they departed one from another afterwards. It is well known that amongst the Hebrews all kinsfolk are comprehended under this word brethren.

All these did continue. Here he showeth that they did diligently look for the coming of the Holy Spirit.; For this was the cause of their prayer, that Christ would send his Spirit, as he had promised. Whereupon we may gather that this is the true faith which stirreth us up to call upon God. For the security of faith doth much differ from sluggishness. Neither doth God, therefore, assure us of this grace, that our minds may straightway become careless, but that he may rather sharpen our desire to pray. Neither is prayer any sign of doubting, but rather a testimony of our (sure hope and) confidence, because we ask those things at the Lord’s hands which we know he hath promised. So it becometh us also (after their example) to be instant in prayer, 5252     “Ut precibus nostris concedat,” that he would grant our prayers. and to beg at God’s hands that he will increase in us his Holy Spirit: 5353     “Ut quotidiana Spiritus augmenta impetremus,” that we may obtain daily increase of the Spirit. increase, (I say,) because before we can conceive any prayer we must needs have the first-fruits of the Spirit. For as much as he is the only Master which teacheth us to pray aright, who doth not only give us utterance, (Romans 2:25,) but also governs our inward affections.

Furthermore, Luke doth express two things which are proper to true prayer, namely, that they did persist, and that they were all of one mind. This was art exercise of their patience, in that Christ did make them stay a while, 5454     “Suspensos tenuit,” kept them in suspense. when as he could straightway have sent the Holy Spirit; so God doth oftentimes drive off, 5555     “Differt,” defer or delay. and, as it were, suffer us to languish, that he may accustom us to persevere. The hastiness of our petitions is a corrupt, yea a hurtful plague; wherefore it is no marvel if God do sometimes correct the same. In the mean season (as I have said) he doth exercise us to be constant in prayer. Therefore, if we will not pray in vain, let us not be wearied with the delay of time. As touching the unity of their minds, it is set against that scattering abroad, which fear had caused before. Yet, notwithstanding, we may easily gather, even by this, how needful a thing it is to pray generally, in that Christ commandeth every one to pray for the whole body, and generally for all men, as it were, in the person of all men: Our Father, Give us this day, etc., (Matthew 6:9.) Whence cometh this unity of their tongues but from one Spirit? Wherefore, when Paul would prescribe unto the Jews and Gentiles a right form of prayer, he removeth far away all division and dissension. That we may, (saith he,) being all of one mind, with one mouth glorify God, (Romans 15:6.) And truly it is needful that we be brethren, and agree together like brethren, that we rightly call God Father.


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