The book of Acts or the Acts of the Apostolic Church begins with a statement about Luke’s former book, the gospel of Luke. This is important to understand the promise of the Father in Acts is connected to Luke 24:49-53!
The thing that he seems to be driving home is the reality that Jesus did then taught in the gospel. This is why he opens Acts with the statement to make people understand how God thinks.
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach.Luke 1:1
We are not sure who Theophilus (“Friend of God”) but we do know he was someone important in Luke’s life and that he was given a personal account of the Lord’s work and the Holy Spirit through the faithful in the Apostolic age.
One of the things that is important here is that Luke was clearly stating the church did NOT start in Acts 2:1-4 as many believe. He is saying Jesus was doing things among the saints for many weeks before the fire came at Pentecost.
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 1because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.Hebrews 9:15-17
It is clear that the changing of the covenant was made at death of Christ or the ripping of the veil from top to bottom; not Pentecost and especially not at the fall of Rome (Some actually believe this!)
As the Lord appears to many after He was raised to the dead, it is clear that he preparing them for revival. He never calls them to salvation. His message is central around the promise of the Father, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is because they were part of the church already.
It was NOT just the “Apostles”
We have NO reason to believe that only the core group of 11 was present during the ascension. In fact, the word for apostle really just means “sent one.” At the very least, this could have been the 72 sent out or hundreds that were appeared to between the resurrection and this date. Under no conditions, was it just the core group.
What is important here is that saying that there was no special anointing for just Peter, John, James and the others. The same Holy Spirit that was about to be poured out on the Apostle Peter is the same Holy Spirit that baptizes believers today. There was no “special revelations.”
This is vital because in just a 100 years, there would be a whole movement claiming they had the “divine spark” and they had a special relationship with the Holy Spirit that no one could have. Gnostics and Mormons are among the list of people making this claim.
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.Acts 1:4
Over and over, he told the people to go to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father which is the Holy Spirit. It seemed this was his core message to all believers during the times between his resurrection and the ascension.
One thing that is interested is that over 500 people saw Jesus in the flesh before he departed for Heaven but there is only 120 of them in the Upper Room. No everyone that encountered the risen Savior was convicted enough to lay down everything for the promise of the Holy Spirit.
There was calling all the believers to gather in “one accord” and contend in a wilderness experience just like He did in Luke 4. He did not die to save from the wilderness but He lived to model how to overcome the wilderness!
It is this promise of the Father that ties together the Old Testament and the New Testament. As early as Genesis 12, we sees types and shadows of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 32:15 is very clear, not to mention Joel 2 among others.
The truth is some of the people had been waiting for at least three years to hear about the coming of the promise of the Father. Luke 3:16 tells that John the Baptist was telling the masses about Jesus would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Restoration of the Kingdom of God?
The book of Acts is really quiet about the Kingdom. It is only mentioned six times.
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
This was probably Peter asking the Lord about the restoration of the Kingdom of God. Despite having been with the Lord through everything, they still could only see Jesus comes to destroy the Roman Empire because of the abuses. They were still thinking about this even after seeing the risen Christ.
They wanted a physical Kingdom of God (that we will see after the Second Coming!) They were not happy with having a spiritual kingdom within them as Luke 17:21 promises.
The Kingdom of God was not central in the Book of Acts because they have righteousness, peace and joy that were the hallmarks of the Kingdom according to Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Jesus simply tells them not to worry about when the Kingdom will come and it is set by the Father’s authority and no one else. The Lord understand the task at hand was not the Kingdom of God established in the millennial reign. The task at hand was the Spirit Baptized Church in the apostolic age!
The mission is declared
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8
The actual focus of Christ was the great commission and the promise of the Father was about power to do the works of Jesus. This was the restoration that Jesus had in mind for us.
The promise of the Father is power. This is dunamis or power beyond man. It is also always translated the power of God or miracles. God was clearly telling them that they would see miracles. They would see the lame walk, the blind see, the dead raised and the deaf hear. All 120+ people were given this oath from God!
The promise was the person of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is not just what He does but who He is. The third part of the trinity was about to come on the people of God like never before. They were have the same experiences that Jesus had Himself.
The promise of the Father was that they were be witnesses. The greek word for being one is more like a martyr. Jesus was telling them they would be so committed to the cause of Christ than they would willingly lay down their lives for Christ.
The promise was that they would see growth unless they could even understand in the coming years. They would see miracle based evangelism all the way to the ends of the earth. They were going to blamed for “flipping the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6)
Note from Peter:
It is my custom to read the Book of Acts regularly. I read a chapter a day every day. However, God has challenged me to study the book from original languages and ask one question : How did the early church in the apostolic age live?