Our hope is that as you read and study this enlightening book, you will understand how God used the disciples in the days after Jesus’ ascension to impact the world with the power of the Gospel message.
Luke, who wrote the gospel by his own name, continues the story in his second book, the Acts of the Apostles, or Acts for short. We will even see Luke’s own involvement as he includes himself in the action (look for the “we” and “us”).
The book starts off with Jesus’ final words to the disciples, calling them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). Afterwards, Jesus ascends to heaven, leaving his disciples to carry out the mission he gives them. As their role changes from following Jesus to going out into the world as his witnesses, their titles change too. These disciples are now called “apostles,” which means “sent ones.”
We will see how the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles and other believers to witness the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through the Spirit, the apostles spoke in languages they had never known in order to communicate the gospel. The apostles healed the sick through the Spirit and even raised the dead. Through the Spirit, communities of previous strangers with differing racial, social, and economic backgrounds came together in love to encourage and support each other as they worshiped God.
Bearing resemblance to Jesus’ ministry, we see the people of God delivering God's message through God's power.
As the Holy Spirit worked through the apostles, many people believed. In other words, the apostles begin to accomplish the mission given to them by Jesus.
As more and more people came to faith, the early church formed in many different cities across a variety of regions in the Roman Empire. These early believers were met with opposition from both Jews and pagan believers who failed to understand the power of the resurrected Savior. Rather than diminishing the spread of the gospel, persecution allowed believers to proclaim the gospel in the most powerful way possible through a willingness to give up their own lives.
As we read, we will see that the book of Acts holds relevance in our day as we continue what the disciples started 2,000 years ago. Just as they went out into the world as witnesses to Jesus Christ, we also go into our varied cultural contexts proclaiming this same Gospel in the power of the same Spirit.
We hope that you understand that you also are empowered by the Spirit to go out into the world to witness the eternal life found in Jesus Christ.
Luke wrote his gospel book to Theophilus, a new believer who is a high-ranking Roman official. Now, Luke is writing the second volume describing the acts of the apostles following the ascension of Jesus into heaven. He begins by recapping Jesus’s exhortation to His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit will give them the power to proclaim the gospel from Jerusalem to Samaria and, ultimately, the entire world. These disciples were to witness Jesus’ resurrection and the salvation he found through faith in him. The rest of the book of Acts flows out of this one verse as it details how the disciples went out into the world as witnesses and impacted the known world through the power of the Spirit.
When the disciples returned to Jerusalem, they and several other followers of Jesus were united in mind and prayed together fervently, preparing themselves for the coming Holy Spirit.
Because Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples, had betrayed Jesus to the Jewish religious leaders. Judas’s betrayal was ultimately a part of God’s plan of saving His people from sin, as had been prophesied by King David in Psalms 65:25. Now, the rest of the 11 disciples needed a replacement for Judas, someone who had followed them since the beginning of Jesus’s ministry on earth. The disciples picked out two faithful men, Mathias and Justus, among the 120 believers who were present at the time. They prayerfully cast lots, asking the Lord to reveal who was to replace Judas Iscariot. These lots landed on Mathias, who was counted as one of the twelve.
What do we learn?
The followers of Christ had faith in His promise of the Holy Spirit as they waited together in avid prayer, with prepared hearts and unified minds. They obediently trusted in God’s leading, even as they waited.
What should we do?
Commit to setting aside some time every day this week in prayer, asking God to help direct you in the decisions you are making right now and in every aspect of your life!