Today we started reading the book of Acts. So many things in it are relevant to our efforts to serve Christ today, but it is important that we read it carefully; regrettably some read God’s word mainly to find evidence for what they want to believe – and are therefore liable to misunderstand it. Luke compiled the book of Acts as you will see when you compare the start of the book – with that of his gospel. It begins with a summary of the final days of Jesus before he ascended up to heaven “after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the Apostles whom he had chosen” ; it was a period of 40 days. (v.3)
We notice how “he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the father … you will be baptised by the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” [v.5] To whom was he making this promise? These 12 Apostles were now only 11 because of the tragedy of Judas Iscariot, so Peter says (v.21-23) that they must find a replacement “to take the place of this ministry and apostleship” [v.26]. To do this they end up casting lots – and the last verse reads “and the lot fell to Matthias and he was numbered with the eleven Apostles.”
It is clear that only the 12 received the promised Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. When the day came it was just the 12 who were standing up before the people (2 v.14) which some sceptics were accusing of being drunk (v.15) because of their speaking in other languages (v.11). Recall last week’s reading in John’s Gospel where Jesus was promising them the “spirit of truth”, a “helper” that would be “sent to you from the father” [Ch.15 v26; 16 v.13].
This Spirit, says Jesus, “will guide you into all the Truth.” It “will declare to you things to come” and will “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” [14 v.26]. It is obvious that this Divine source of help is specially for the twelve, they are to be “baptised” into it by having this divine power come upon them. As we read on in Acts 2 we will learn that a “gift” was promised to the converts, but required the presence of one or more of the disciples for it to be given (Acts 8 v.14-17).
Finally, and most importantly, in today’s chapter we see that the disciples were hoping the kingdom would be established right then (v.6); but no, they were to be witnesses, beginning “in Jerusalem … to the end of the earth.” [v.8] Only now has this commission been completed, altho’ we cannot say this is absolutely the case even yet.