SESSION 3 — “Being the Church,” a Bible study of the Book of Acts

I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video. The Session 3 video will be available on 5/24/17.

Session 3 — Acts 1:9-26

We now look at a more detailed description of Jesus’ ascension (see Luke 24:50-51 for Luke’s first account).

Verse 9 — Jesus was lifted up while the Apostles looked on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

I need to talk with you about the cloud! It was not a fluffy white cumulus cloud, like we see on a sunny day! No, no! It was a glory cloud, a cloud that was luminous, the same kind of cloud that enveloped Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. This is referred to by theologians and Jews as the Shekinah cloud (though the word does not appear in the Bible), the same cloud that hovered above the tabernacle in the wilderness as a visible sign of the glory of God that dwelled within the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34).

Verses 10-11 — As they were gazing intently into the glory cloud, two “men” — in white clothing — angels — stood by them. They asked why they were gazing upward. They told the Apostles that Jesus was now received into heaven. And they said He will come in exactly the same way they have watched Him go (see His return described in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Verse 12-13 — They returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, to wait, as Jesus had commanded. The Eleven Apostles went back to the upper room where they had been staying. But they weren’t by themselves. Many more waited with them!

Verse 14 — Those in the room were all with one mind — all were focused completely on waiting, as they had been ordered to do, and continually prayed!

The women who had traveled with them and supported their ministry were there, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Women! See Joel 2:28, for that was fulfilled in Acts 2! Jesus’ half-brothers had come to faith, though they had not believed him at first (see John 7:5). Now they had seen Him! About 120 were there, including Peter.

Verse 14b-15 — Peter stood up and obeyed an instruction given to him by Jesus when He taught them and opened their minds to the scriptures (Luke 24:45). Jesus had to do that with me, too. Let me explain.

When I was sick with MS, my pastor prescribed scriptures for me to study. Though I was not filled with the Holy Spirit, He opened my mind to the ones that would show me that Jesus was my Healer, and all the rest that I needed to believe and know in order to be healed of the incurable disease called MS.

So, Jesus had instructed them for 40 days, and opened their minds so they could understand what they needed to understand, prior to being filled with the Spirit at Pentecost.

Verse 16 — There needed to be 12 eyewitnesses who had been with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry. Judas had betrayed Jesus and led his accusers to Him, just as was written prophetically by David in Psalm 41:9 —

Psalms 41:9  Even my close friend in whom I trusted,

Who ate my bread,

Has lifted up his heel against me.

David’s prophecy, which the Holy Spirit foretold by David’s mouth,  had been fulfilled when Judas betrayed Jesus.

What? David was a prophet? See Matthew 22:42-45, Mark 12:35. When David was “in the Spirit” meant He was receiving a vision/prophecy. Also look at David’s Psalm 22, a particularly powerful vision of Christ on the cross!

Verse 17 — Judas had stolen from the moneybag (see John 12:6), so indeed, he had taken his share!

So Peter was able to speak these things because Jesus had instructed Him before He ascended into heaven. His mind had been opened to understand scriptures that prophesied the Christ.

Verses 18-19 — Judas’ end is described, and the detail is in Matthew 27:3-10. Ultimately, after he hung himself, and his body had been on the tree for a while, it fell to the ground and split open. The place where he hung himself became the Potter’s Field, bought with the thirty pieces of silver Judas threw back at the priests. It was “the price of blood.” And so it was called the Field of Blood — Hakeldama being the Aramaic word.

Verse 20 — Now Peter speaks two more scriptures that Jesus taught him —

Psalms 69:25  May their camp be desolate;

May none dwell in their tents.

Psalms 109:8  Let his days be few;

Let another take his office.

Verse 21-22 — Therefore, because these things were prophesied, Judas betrayed Jesus, and died. Now Peter and the rest must appoint someone who had gone in and out with them and Jesus, continuously, even from the moment John the Baptist baptized Jesus to the moment they saw Him resurrected.ß An eyewitness must be chosen.

Verse 23 — Two were put forward — Barsabbas (also called Justus), and Matthias. But which one should they choose?

Verse 24-25 — They needed the Lord’s guidance, so they prayed. Lord, you know the hearts of all men. Show us which one we should choose, to be placed in this ministry and apostleship that Judas turned from, to go to his own place?

Even Jesus said there was a “son of perdition” in John 17:12. Judas had a choice — he had free will. But God the Father already knew Judas would betray His Son, and so did Jesus Himself.

Verse 26 — So, as others had done in the Old Testament, they drew lots. This was not to gamble, but they prayed that the Lord would show them who they should select. It is rather like taking different lengths of sticks, holding them in your fist so the lengths can’t be determined, and asking both men to draw, the longer stick being God’s choice.

From this verse onward, a lot was never cast to determine God’s will. As of the Day of Pentecost, when each one had a personal baptism/infilling with the Holy Spirit, they had the Father and the Son in them (see John 14:23), and were partakers of the divine nature (2Peter 1:4), they had the mind of Christ (1Corinthians 2:16), and were seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6)! Hallelujah! Stay tuned! we’re about to witness Pentecost!