Acts was written by Luke...friend and traveling companion of Paul. Though not specifically named as the author, the book contains numerous suggestions that lead us to that conclusion. For instance, we know that the author had to be a companion of Paul because of its many uses of the terms “we” and “us” (16:10-17; 20:5-21:8; 27:1-28:16). Also, by its frequent use of medical terminology (1:3; 3:7ff; 9:18,33; 13:11; 28:1-10), we surmise that Luke was its author since he was a doctor. In Acts, Luke continues the story from the time where his Gospel ended. Acts covers the time period from the day of Pentecost until the arrival of Paul in Rome...30 years later. The first 12 chapters center around the ministries of Peter, Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, and James. The second half of the book centers around the ministry of Paul.
Acts 1:1-5-In his introductory statement, Luke refers to the Gospel he had written as "The first account..." (:1). He tells us that it deals with the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. Verse 3 is the only reference in the New Testament that speaks of the length of the time period during which Jesus appeared after His resurrection (40 days). Jesus gave them an order for what they were to do after He left. He commanded them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1:6-8-They are gathered with Jesus at Mt. Olivet (:12). A distance of about “a Sabbath days journey”…approximately 2,000 cubits, a little more than one-half mile. This was the distance that the rabbis had determined could be traveled on a Sabbath without it constituting work (apparently based on Exodus 16:29 being interpreted by Numbers 35:5).
For information on Mt. Olivet see:
Now that Jesus has been resurrected, the disciples have begun to wonder if He might soon restore the kingdom of Israel on earth to its former glory and prominence. Jesus tells them that it isn't important for them to worry about matters such as those. God is sovereign and He has determined when those things will happen…that is His business. The important thing for them to know is that the Holy Spirit is coming in power. And as a result, they are to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the remotest part of the earth…that is their business…these were their orders.
Acts 1:9-11-After this, He disappeared into the clouds. As this happened, two men (angels) told them that in the same way that Jesus had visibly left, He would visibly return. Evidently, the disciples were just standing there...as if they were anticipating that Jesus was going to return, at any moment. The angels were telling them to stop standing around and to go to work in the ministry that Jesus had just instructed them to do. They had their orders.
Acts 1:12-14-The disciples return to Jerusalem from Mt. Olivet. The 11 disciples went to the "upper room where they were staying" (:13) and began to pray. While waiting on the Holy Spirit they were not doing nothing…they were preparing their hearts. Notice how they were praying:
- “these all…along with the women”…they were gathering together for prayer
- “with one mind”…they all shared the same purpose.
A unique Greek word, used 10 of its 12 New Testament occurrences in the Book of Acts, helps us understand the uniqueness of the Christian community. Homothumadon is a compound of two words meaning to "rush along" and "in unison". The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ's church.
lit., "to be strong towards" (pros, "towards," used intensively, and kartereo, "to be strong"), "to endure in, or persevere in, to be continually steadfast with a person or thing," is used of "continuing" in prayer with others, Act 1:14; Rom 12:12; Col 4:2; in the Apostles' teaching, Act 2:42; in the Temple, Act 2:46 ("continuing steadfastly," RV), the adverb representing the intensive preposition; in prayer and the ministry, Act 6:4 (RV, "will continue steadfastly"); of Simon Magus with Philip, Act 8:13. In Mar 3:9; Act 10:7, it signifies "to wait on;" in Rom 13:6, to attend "continually" upon.
- The KJV says, “prayer and supplication”. Both of these words are included in the Greek version (Textus Receptus) of the New Testament from which the KJV is translated.
(a) "prayer" (to God), the most frequent term, e.g., Mat 21:22; Luk 6:12, where the phrase is not to be taken literally as if it meant, "the prayer of God" (subjective genitive), but objectively, "prayer of God." In Jam 5:17, "He prayed fervently," RV, is lit., "he prayed with prayer" (a Hebraistic form); in the following the word is used with No. 3: Eph 6:18; Phl 4:6; 1Ti 2:1; 5:5;
(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4335&t=KJV)
primarily "a wanting, a need" (akin to A, No. 4), then, "an asking, entreaty, supplication," in the NT is always addressed to God and always rendered "supplication" or "supplications" in the RV; in the AV "prayer," or "prayers," in Luk 1:13; 2:37; 5:33; Rom 10:1; 2Cr 1:11; 9:14; Phl 1:4 (in the 2nd part, "request"); 1:19; 2Ti 1:3; Hbr 5:7; Jam 5:16; 1Pe 3:12.
(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1162&t=KJV)
1:12-14 God can find hiding-places for his people. They made supplication. All God's people are praying people. It was now a time of trouble and danger with the disciples of Christ; but if any is afflicted, let him pray; that will silence cares and fears. They had now a great work to do, and before they entered upon it, they were earnest in prayer to God for his presence. They were waiting for the descent of the Spirit, and abounded in prayer. Those are in the best frame to receive spiritual blessings, who are in a praying frame. Christ had promised shortly to send the Holy Ghost; that promise was not to do away prayer, but to quicken and encourage it. A little company united in love, exemplary in their conduct, fervent in prayer, and wisely zealous to promote the cause of Christ, are likely to increase rapidly.
(Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, http://biblehub.com/acts/1-14.htm)
Acts 1:15-17-Soon, others join them in times of prayer until there were about 120 people gathered together (:15). Peter spoke to them about replacing Judas. He says that in his betrayal of Jesus, Judas fulfilled Psalm 41:9.
Acts 1:18-19-Luke here interjects an explanation about the death of Judas, telling us that “falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out” (:17). Matthew 27:5 says that Judas died because he hung himself. Which is correct? Both. Judas probably tried to hang himself from a tree limb that extended over the valley. But due to his own incompetency, the rope broke, or the knot came loose, and he fell to the ground far below, where the rocks gashed open his abdomen.
How did Judas die?
There is no contradiction here at all because both are true. A contradiction occurs when one statement excludes the possibility of another. The Second Law of Logic, the Law of Non Contradition, (LNC) says that something cannot be both true and false at the same time and in the same sense. It is not a contradiction to describe something differently: Judas was hung, and Judas fell down. Both are possible since neither negates the possibility of the other. A contradiction occurs when one statement makes another statement impossible, but both are said to be true. So, what happened here is that Judas went and hung himself, and then his body later fell down and split open. In other words, the rope or branch of the tree probably broke due to the weight; and his body fell down and his bowels spilled out.
Also, notice that Matt. 27:3-8 tells us specifically how Judas died by hanging. Acts 1:16-19 merely tells us that he fell headlong, and his bowels gushed out. Acts does not tell us that this is the means of his death where Matthew does.
Who bought the field where Judas died…Judas, or the Priests?
Acts 1:20-26-Luke now continues with Peter’s explanation for the need to replace Judas with another disciple. The prerequisite for this disciple is that he must have been with them from the time when Jesus was baptized by John until His resurrection. Two men were identified as meeting this qualification…Joseph called Barsabbas, and Matthias. They prayed, drew lots, and Matthias was chosen.
What was the practice of casting lots?
(Ryrie Study Bible) 1:26 drew lots. Two names were written own stones and placed in an urn. The one that fell out first was taken to be towards choice (cf. Prov. 16:33; Jon. 1:7). The occasion was unique, for the Lord was not there in person to appoint in the Spirit had not been given in the special way of Pentecost.
Prayer: Lord, help me to continue in the ministry that You have given me. Don't let me just stand around looking for Your return...but to be actively serving You until either You return to me, or I go to You.