Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Acts Studies|
General Introduction to this form of Bible Study
Before you start reading the Notes, may we recommend the following:
1. You pause and pray and ask for God's help for the Bible to come alive to you.
2. You have your Bible open infront of you and read the passage through completely first.
3. You work your way through the questions looking for answers in your Bible.
4. Then and only then, read through the commentary.
The primary objectives of these studies are a) to get you to read the Bible and b) to take in what you have read. At the end of each page of studies (normally a chapter) there will be a 'Recap' to remind you of what you have read. At the end of every 'set' (see the front Contents page) there will also be a 'Summary' and a 'Conclusions' that cover the pages in that set.
Introduction to Acts 1 - 8
The Place of Acts
The so-called “Acts of the Apostles” is a particularly important book in that it is the continuation of the work of Jesus, but now through many bodies instead of just one body. In the Gospels we see Jesus fulfilling his ministry as he preaches, teaches, heals the sick and raises the dead, through one single human body. In the book of Acts we see Jesus continuing to do that same work through the power and presence of His own Spirit in his growing number of followers.
The Structure of these Studies
This set of Studies will take us to the end of chapter 8, and during the course of our readings we will see:
What to Watch For
As we go through these vitally important studies watch especially for the following things in these early chapters of Acts:
PART 1 : “Get Ready!” : The Church under starter's orders
Years later in his various writings, the apostle Paul was to refer to the Christian life as a race to be run (see 1 Cor 9:24 , Gal 2:2 & 5:7, 2 Tim 4:7). If we use that analogy here, then this first chapter must surely be the getting ready for the race. Watch for them get their orders from Jesus and then wait for “the off”. Here is a period of waiting, a period of uncertainty, a wondering what is coming. They do what they can to get ready (such as sorting out another apostle to replace Judas), and they pray, but beyond that there is a waiting until God shows up to send them on their way with power. Until the Lord turns up and does that, all of our activity is merely that, just activity with little inspiration. Try to catch the sense of this as we read through these first “waiting” Studies.
Chapter: Acts 1
Passage: Acts 1:1-5
A. Find Out:
1. About what had Theophilus previously written? v.1
2. With what had that narrative finished? v.2
3. What had Jesus done after the Cross? v.3a
4. What did Jesus speak about during that time? v.3b
5. For what were they to wait? v.4
6. What would happen to them? v.5
As he writes, Luke has it in mind that he wants to tell us about what happened at Pentecost but before he can do that he has to explain how it fitted in with God's purpose that had been explained by Jesus.
First of all then, Luke reminds us that he had finished his previous narrative by telling of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. This had been the culmination of his recounting the activities and teaching that Jesus had begun to do. It is important to note that word ‘begun' for the book of Acts is an account of what Jesus continued to do but now through his followers.
During his last days in one physical body on the earth, Jesus had spent the time teaching his disciples more about the kingdom of God. Perhaps he explained to them the significance of all that had been happening over the previous three years, we just don't know.
However, the most important thing that Jesus had said during that time was that the disciples were to receive a gift from God the Father, that he had previously told them about, the Holy Spirit. When He came it would be as if they were completely immersed in Him, just like John the Baptist had been immersing people previously in water. Thus Luke sets the scene for what will soon come.
1. Many convincing proofs
2. Continuing the work
A. Find Out:
1. What did the disciples wonder? v.6
2. What did Jesus say they wouldn't know? v.7
3. What did he say would happen to them though? v.8a
4. And what would they become as a result? v.8b
5. What then happened? v.9
6. What did the angels tell them? v.11
Jesus has just promised that God will pour out His Holy Spirit on the disciples in the near future. The disciples, taught by Jesus, perhaps think back to times when the Spirit came on people in power and enabled them to do great things (e.g. Judges 6:34, 11:29 , 14:6, 14:19 ) and assumed that it would be to restore Israel to its former glory.
What they did not realise (and what we so often forget) is that God had the whole world in His mind, not just the one small geographical area in which they lived. What they also didn't realise (and what we also so often forget) was that the power was simply to enable them be like Jesus, and do the same things he did, with the same obedience, humility and servant heartedness, while doing the Father's will.
Note also that Jesus gave them no more details. That will be sufficient to keep them going. God so often just gives us sufficient and no more. The next step is often all we will get, and that is often not very clear, for He wants us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Finally note the means of Jesus' departure and the means he will return: supernaturally and in the public eye. We can't understand how he went up (just by the power of God!) or where he went (into heaven) and when he returns it will be just the same: he will leave every mouth open at the wonder of it.
1. Faith not sight
A. Find Out:
1. Where did the disciples go? v.13
2. Who were there? v.13-15
3. What did they do there? v.14
4. To what did Peter refer? v.16,20
5. What did he conclude and why? v.21,22
6. What 3 stages followed in the “selection process”? v.23-26
Jesus has gone; they are now alone and there must have seemed a tremendous gap in their lives, so they do all they can do: pray! When in doubt, when alone, pray! The Father is there - somehow. He must be!
While they are praying, and presumably reading Scripture, Peter becomes aware of a verse in Psalm 109 that seems to speak to him about Judas. He shares it with the rest and they decide to follow his suggestion and appoint another to replace Judas who is now dead. We see here first of all, a community of God's people reliant on the Lord in prayer and guided by the Scripture, seeking to be obedient to it.
Whether or not their method of selection was right we are not told. Some say that because the chosen man was never heard of again it was not right, and they had wrong ideas about the role of an apostle. However, they are God-centred in their choosing. They use good thinking as to the criteria for choice, in line with Jesus' stated purpose for them (v.22c & v.8b), and then turn to the Lord asking Him to over-rule in the choice. Whether or not this was a correct procedure, their hearts were in the right place!
1. Daily spiritual resources?
2. Waiting for the Lord?
In this first short group of 3 studies we have seen :
Having taught the disciples about the kingdom, over a forty day period, Jesus leaves the disciples and ascends to sit at his Father's right hand. The gap in their lives must have been enormous, and so they do all they can do which is sit, wait and pray. The temptation for us is always to be “doing”, yet the example of the disciples here, is excellent. They rely on the Lord, are obedient and wait for HIM to send them with power.
1. God's Holy Spirit is available to us as we wait on Him
2. We are to walk by faith, not by sight
3. The Lord looks for us to be obedient to what He has said already
4. We are to let Scripture guide us
5. We need to wait on Him in prayer
Confess your reliance on Him today. Acknowledge your need of His Holy Spirit moving in you in greater measure.
PART 2 : "Go!" : The Church bursting into being
In this next Part watch for, and catch the sense of, the tremendous life and power of God which is obviously bursting through these men and women. Watch to see the effect of it on them generally on the day of Pentecost, the impact it had on Peter and what it caused Peter (and John) to do subsequently. Here we'll see men completely open to His leading, fearlessly speaking out. The race is on, they are off with the full thrust of all of the power of the Spirit - and things happen and people are saved and the church immediately expands in a big way! Watch for it.