Acts 1:1-4

1The 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 Spirit had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen:

3To whom also He showed 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.

former treatise (v.1) = lit. “first treatise” or “the first of two” — Luke. “Treatise” = narrative — historical record

Theophilus (v.1) = a lover of God —  addressed in Luke 1:3 as “most excellent Theophilus” — This title was generally used to address a Roman official, maybe a provincial governor.

From a reliable source dating back to the second century we learn that he [Theophilus] was an influential and wealthy man residing in the city of Antioch. He dedicated his magnificent palace, called a Basilica, to the preaching of the Gospel. Luke came most likely also from Antioch. He may have belonged to the household of Theophilus. It is not unlikely that Luke had received great kindness from Theophilus; some claim that he used to be a slave and became through Theophilus a free man. — Gaebelein, page 14.


Since this name [Theophilus] means “beloved of God” or “the friend of God,” it has been supposed by some to denote an ideal person, or to be a general name applicable to any Christian reader. We may be sure, however, that a real person is addressed, bearing the proper name Theophilus. We know nothing certain of the individual in question, but, since he is styled in Luke’s Gospel “most excellent,” an epithet applied in the Acts to Felix and Festus (23:26; 24:3; 26:25), there is some reason for thinking that he must have been a person of rank, probably a Roman official of some standing.

From the frequent explanations of places and customs which occur in the two narratives addressed to him, it would appear that he was a Gentile convert, residing elsewhere than in Palestine. We may reasonably suppose also that he must have been a man of culture, in view of the fact that Luke wrote, largely for his information, two such books as the Gospel and the Acts. The fact that both treatises were addressed to him is a strong argument for the identity of their authorship. — Walker, page 2.

through the Holy Spirit (v.2) — as was Christ’s entire ministry — His deeds (Matthew 12:28); His words (Luke 4:18); His redemptive work (Hebrews 9:14).

He showed Himself alive (v.3) — presented Himself

after His passion (v.3) = lit. “after He had suffered”

proofs (v.3) = sure signs or tokens — positive proof manifest to the senses. Christ showed the apostles that He was alive bodily by look, tone, gesture, act. They could not doubt it. They saw Him, heard Him, ate with Him, saw His scars.

forty days (v.3) — This is the only place where the duration of Christ’s post-resurrection ministry is given.

It is interesting to notice that, under the Mosaic dispensation, fifty days elapsed between the bringing of the sheaf of the wave offering, of which our Savior’s resurrection was the anti-type, and the Feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-21). If we add to the forty days of our Lord’s post-resurrection life on earth the ten days during which His people waited for the Holy Spirit after His ascension, we arrive exactly at the fifty days which, according to the type, were to elapse between His resurrection and the day of Pentecost. — Walker, page 6.

Pentecost (which means “50”), or the Feast of Weeks, prophesied the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is the first feast where leavened bread was used. Israel was set apart from the other nations and given laws that showed their unique status as God’s people. But they had killed their Messiah and were about to reject the Kingdom and be set aside for a time. The gospel was about to be offered to both Jews and Gentiles, and as a type of this event, the law allowed bread with leaven. On Pentecost, all Jewish men were required to travel to Jerusalem (which explains the crowds in Acts 2). No work was to be done during the feast, and offerings were made, including loaves of leavened bread (the every-day food of the Israelites). The feast marked the end of the wheat harvest and was a feast of thanksgiving to God for His provision (Deuteronomy 16:10-11).

Acts 1:3 and all four gospels give evidence that Christ was still preaching the Kingdom after His resurrection.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover (Mark 16:17-18).

Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:45-47).

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained (John 20:21-23).

assembled together (v.4) = gathered together in a compact company

Our Lord clearly had the prophetic plan in mind here. According to the prophecy Jerusalem was to be the glory of all the earth. It was from Jerusalem that the blessing was to flow to the nations. It was at Jerusalem that He was to reign as the Son of David. Indeed, according to His own promise, the twelve were to reign there with Him, sitting on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28).

Until Jerusalem, the capital of the Hebrew nation, accepted Messiah, world peace and prosperity could never be. Therefore the apostles were instructed to begin their ministry at Jerusalem. — Stam, page 30.

the promise of the Father (v.4) — that the Holy Spirit would come and indwell believers and give them power

Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest (Isaiah 32:15).

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring (Isaiah 44:3).

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call (Joel 2:28-32).

He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified) (John 7:38-39).

And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever (John 14:16).

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me (John 15:26).

The final four words of verse 4, “ye have heard of Me,” were spoken by Christ.

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