Acts 1             



1 “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus

began both to do and teach,” I made for have I made, Authorized Version;

concerning for of, Authorized Version; to teach for teach, Authorized Version.

The former treatise; literally, the first history, narrative, or discourse. The form

of the Greek, τὸν μὲν τρῶτον ton men trotonthe indeed first, shows that the

writer had in his mind at the time to contrast the second history, which he was

just beginning, and that naturally τὸν δὲ δεύτερον – ton de deuteron or τοῦτον

δὲ τὸν λόγον touton de ton logon - ought both grammatically and logically,

to have followed. But the mention of “the apostles whom He had chosen”

drew him, as it were, into the stem of his history before he was able to

describe it. O Theophilus. The omission of the title “most excellent,”

given to Theophilus in the Gospel (Luke 1:3), is one among other indications

that the publication of the Acts followed very closely upon that of the Gospel.

Began both to do and to teach.  Some take the phrase as equivalent to did and

taught; others supply the sense and continued until the day, etc.; or, which is

the same thing, supply the terminus a quo, making the whole sense equivalent

to “all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day,” etc.; others

gather Luke’s meaning to be that in the Acts he is about to narrate the continuance

by our Lord in heaven of the work which He only began on earth. But the words

“began” and “until the day” certainly suggest the beginning and the ending of

our Lord’s ministry, or rather the whole ministry from its beginning to its end,

so that the meaning would be “of all that Jesus did and taught from first to last.”

To do and to teach. So the disciples on the way to Emmaus speak of Jesus as

“a Prophet mighty in deed and word” (Luke 24:19). Compare the stress laid upon

the works of Christ in ch.10:38-39.



Alpha and Omega (v. 1)


“Concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.” This opening

sentence of the Acts, full of significance, as pointing at once to the past

years of Christ’s earthly ministry and to the future work of His people, in

His Name and by His power, and connecting them together. He Himself is

the Alpha of the kingdom, and He is the Omega. His doing and His teaching

really one; in matter and in manner, Divine; the standard for apostles and

all others; the Acts of the Apostles a continuation of the acts of their

Master. He only began to do and to teach in His ministry; He went on to

manifest Himself by the Spirit, according to His promise, “He [the Father]

shall give you another Comforter [Helper], that He may be with you for

ever” (John 14:16). Consider, then:                 


  • THE PRE-EMINENCE OF JESUS. A spiritual pre-eminence. The

short period of His life and ministry; yet containing deeds and words which

have created the world afresh. Not the bare history of miracles, or record

of religious discourses, but the manifestation to the world of the Divine

Spirit through a human history, character, and speech.



when He was received be the consummation of the gospel story; the “doing

and up teaching” were not only before men, but before God, on behalf of men.

Hence the distinction between Christ’s ministry and that of all merely human

doers and teachers.   God accepts His pre-eminence, is well-pleased in His

testimony — a testimony which was wrought out both in active efforts and

patient suffering. His pre-eminence is prophetic, priestly, kingly. The

necessity, especially in our times, of following Christ is thought to the right

hand of God. He is not merely the highest of the philanthropists and the

wisest of the sages. He is the HEIR OF ALL THINGS,, “received up” to

heaven, pre-eminence that “in all things He might have the pre-eminence.”

          (Colossians 1:18_



is followed by the ministry of His apostles. The Acts only the first volume

of an endless record of gracious ministration, of which Jesus is the Source

and His people the instruments. Hence the value of the Acts. It helps us to

see what a Christ-like ministry is; how it overcomes the world, how it

reveals the Spirit. Yet compare the Acts and the Gospels, and we are

taught how much the servants fall below their Lord. Instances of infirmity

and sin in apostles. Encouragement in the great lesson, our life linked on to

Christ’s. “Acts” a continuation. Keep close to the doing and teaching of

Jesus, in its essential features and ruling spirit.


2 “Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the

Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He

had chosen:”  Received for taken, Authorized Version; commandment for

commandments, Authorized Version; after that He had given commandment

through the Holy Ghost for after that He through the Holy Ghost had given

commandments, Authorized Version.  The commandment or directions given

by our Lord to the apostles between the Resurrection and the Ascension are

recorded partly in Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:44-49; John 21.;

and yet more fully in vs. 3-8 of this chapter. Through the Holy Ghost. The sense

is certain.  Jesus gave His charge to His apostles through the Holy Ghost. It was

by the Holy Ghost abiding in Him that He spake to the apostles. This is the

repeated declaration of Holy Scripture. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon

me” (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; ch.10:38. See also Matthew 12:28; Luke 4:1;

Hebrews 9:14;  and for the construction, ch.11:28; 21:4). Received up

(ἀνελήφθη anelaephthaeHe was taken up); the same word as is used in the

Septuagint of Elijah (II Kings 2:10-11). In Luke 24:51 it is carried up. (ἀνεφέρετο

anepheretoHe was carried up)


3 “To whom also He shewed 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:”  Proofs for infallible proofs,

 Authorized Version; appearing unto them for seen of, Authorized Version;

concerning for pertaining to, Authorized Version. The addition of the words by

many proofs makes it necessary to understand the words allowed Himself

(παρέστησεν ἑαυτόνparestaesen heautonHe presents Himself ) in the sense

which it bears both in classic and Scriptural Greek, of proved or demonstrated:

“To whom He gave distinct proofs of His being alive after His passion;” the proofs

follow — being “seen of them” for forty days at intervals, talking with them, and

(v. 9) “being taken up while they were looking.” Doubtless, too, he had in his

mind those other proofs which he records in ch.10:41, and those referred to by Paul

(I Corinthians 15:5-8). For this sense of παρίστημιparistaemiprove; to present

evidence, see ch. 24:13, “to prove:” and Lysias’s ‘Oration against

Eratosthenes’ (p. 125), where the almost identical phrase occurs which we

have here, Ἀμφότερα ταῦτα πολλοῖς τεκμηρίοις παραστήσωAmphotera tauta

pollois tekmaeriois parastaeso - , I will prove both these things by many certain proofs.

The Authorized Version rendering, infallible proofs,” was quite justified. and the

technical meaning of τεκμήριονtekmaeriontoken; fact; infallible truth - in

Aristotle is a “demonstrative proof,” as opposed to a σημεῖονsign; miracle,

which leaves room for doubt; and in medical writers, which is important as

regards Luke, the τεκμήριον is the “infallible symptom.” Luke, by the use of the

word here, undoubtedly meant to express the certainty of the conclusion based

on those proofs. Appearing unto them. The Greek ὀπτανόμενοςoptanomenos

being seen; being visualized, corresponding to the φανερωθεὶς phanerotheis

manifestation - of the Epistle of Barnabas, ch.15., only occurs in the New

Testament in this place. In the Septuagint of I Kings 8:8 it is used of

the staves of the ark within the veil, which “were not seen without.” The

idea intended to be conveyed, both by the use of this verb and by the use of

διὰ - dia (by the space of), is that our Lord was not with the apostles always, as

He was before the Resurrection, but that He came and again disappeared. They

were fleeting appearances spread over forty days. The nearly related substantive,

ὀπτασία optasia, means “a vision,” and is frequently used by Luke, ch. 26:19;

Luke 1:22; 24:23. It is also found in II Corinthians 12:l. Concerning the kingdom

of God; a subject which had deeply engaged their thoughts (Luke 19:11), and on

which it was most needful that they should now be fully instructed, that they

might teach others (ch. 20:25).



The Risen Jesus (v. 3)


“To whom He also showed Himself alive after His passion by many proofs,

appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things

concerning the kingdom of God




Ø      Prepared and trained for the work. Not shown to all, but to those who

could look at the miracle in its spiritual aspect, who could see the

fulfillment of God’s Word.


Ø      The certain knowledge of Christ’s resurrection a solemn responsibility

which all were not able to bear. “Nothing secret but that it may come

abroad. Not to the wise of this world, who know not how to use Divine

secrets, but to the babes in disposition, simple, humble, self-forgetful,

waiting on God.


Ø      The main work of Christ’s servants is witnessing, not theorizing; not

building up ecclesiastical structures; not seeking dominion over the

faith of others; but “showing forth” the great facts. Our, preaching

should be of the nature of witnessing. “Add to our seal that God is true.

Although apostles had distinct duties as leaders and founders of the

visible Church, they share with all the Lord’s people the office of

witnesses. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.” See to it that we

speak as those who “know the certainty of the things.”


  • THE PROOFS. The Resurrection must be proved infallibly (τεκμηρίοις

      see v. 3); that is, beyond all reasonable doubt. We must build on a

foundation of fact and testimony. Our first teachers must be those who

could say that they had tasted, handled, felt of the Word of Life (I John

1:1-4). Now the proofs were:


Ø      Appearances of the risen Jesus, thirteen in number, in various

circumstances, to different kinds of witnesses, and with amply

sufficient tests of reality.


Ø      Coincidence of the facts with-the words of our Lord Himself and

      the promises of the Old Testament.


Ø      Distinction of the signs and proofs of the Resurrection from any other

facts; from the possible misapprehensions or illusions of disciples. It

was unexpected; proved against unbelief; with growing assurance;

and with concurrence of many sincere and faithful men who knew

their responsibility as witnesses.


Ø      Jesus showed Himself alive after His resurrection. The fact to which

apostles testified was not the mystery of the Resurrection itself, but the

simple fact that Jesus was alive. No one saw Him rise, but they saw

Him after He was risen. They might mistake what occurred at the

sepulcher; they could make no mistake in talking with a living man,

handling Him, eating with Him, and that for forty days and on many

occasions, in one another’s presence. Necessity that we should set the

proof of the Resurrection and risen life of Jesus first and foremost in

our defense of Christianity. It is the key-stone of the arch.



forty days and their influence on the first disciples, and through them on all

future ages.


Ø      The personal presence of Jesus lifted up into a more glorious fact. The

      infirmities gone. The fact of his victory shining in his face. The

      influence of His condescension; the risen Jesus still the Friend and

      Companion of His people. The expectation of His return to heaven:

      “I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God” 

      (John 20:17). The effect on Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” The

      necessity that disciples should cease to “know Christ after the flesh.”

      Henceforth they felt His presence spiritually.


Ø      Forty days of special instruction “concerning the kingdom of God.”

      The history which follows corrects the view sometimes put forward

      that the risen Savior imparted to His apostles any body of ecclesiastical

      laws. Had they received them they would certainly have referred to

      them. He spoke of the kingdom itself, which is not meat and drink,

      not external ordinances and regulations, not creeds and shibboleths;

      but “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” He called

      to remembrance what he had preached. He opened their understandings

      to the meaning of the Old Testament. He corrected their worldly views.

      He showed them the relation of the gospel facts to the kingdom; that is,

      that He could reign by the power of these facts. “The Messiah ought to

      suffer, and to enter into His glory.” He led them back to Calvary with

      new faith before he took them to Olivet. Jesus was a Teacher to the last.

      He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. (John 14:6)            


The World’s Supreme Question to the Front (v. 3)


“Speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” We hold in our

hands, in these words, the key, not of a brief section of this chapter and this

book alone, but rather of a very long stretch of time, and an immensely

important and absorbingly interesting stretch of the world’s history.

Matters of the deepest and most touching individual interest, like all the

charming incident of the four Gospels, must yield, we are here tacitly

reminded — yield both in time and in high equity also — to those of

collective, of national, of universal interest. All the capacity of Old

Testament history, abounding in monographs of thrilling human import,

long led the way onward to this development. And now it might be said the

crisis had arrived. All that even Jesus Himself had done and taught before

“His passion” is to be called only a beginning. He had done, indeed,

unnumbered benefits to unnumbered persons. He had taught unnumbered

lessons of wisdom and goodness to unnumbered persons. And He had been

a light, a wonder, a glory, to a nation. But now, after hHis passion and

resurrection, on to His ascension, His work shows as though cast in larger

mold. Its character speaks comprehension beyond what it formerly did.

And this is its simple, grand, motto — “the things pertaining to the

kingdom of God.” We have here —




question that shall be to the front for the whole world is “the kingdom of

God.” The kingdom of God and the Church of Christ are not, indeed,

identities. But they stand in most real correlation. The just analogy of the

relation that holds between them is that of the perfect type, the original

model to the faithful copy — a copy ever realizing greater faithfulness of

resemblance. For this supreme installation, now come with so little of

ceremony, at so unexpected a time, in so unexpected and modest a way,

the world had waited thousands of years, while “kings and prophets” had

been on the watch-tower. These had died with “hope deferred,” but in

many cases with faith never stronger than in that dying hour. But further,

during the last thirty-three years, since in strangest consent a heavenly band

of angels, and certain shepherds, and certain “wise men of the East,” and a

certain very unwise king, Herod, struck to the heart cowardly, had seemed

to set them going, wave after wave of excited expectation and of suspense

had swayed to and fro the hearts of multitudes. The expectation and the

suspense were just now put to rest, and it should be a satisfied rest, for

“this time,” to be soon superseded by an untold period of hard work and

severe conflict. During the past thirty-three years, this kingdom had been

foreshadowed among a thousand things “done” and “taught” that seemed

of nearer import, by:


Ø      The distinct preaching of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1) and of

Jesus Christ Himself (ibid. 4:17).


Ø      The introduction of it into the model prayer taught by Jesus to His

disciples, “Thy kingdom come Thine is the kingdom.”


Ø      The many parables of Jesus, of which “the kingdom of Godor “the

kingdom of heaven” was the subject.


Ø      The missionary tours of the twelve disciples (Matthew 10:7-8) and

of the seventy, (Luke 10:9).


Ø      The detached observations made by Jesus, having the kingdom as their

subject (Luke 17:20; John 18:33-37). But now, during so special a

period as the forty days, this subject — “the things pertaining to the

kingdom of God — is spoken of as the characteristic and

discriminating theme of Christ’s discourse and instruction to the

apostles. The inference is plain.





AGENTS. And two things are specially to be noted at this amazing



Ø      The carrying on of the work of Christ on earth, in the establishing and

propagating of the kingdom of God, is given into the hands of men. We

know nothing like all which Jesus said to His apostles during these “forty

days.” Probably we do not know even all the occasions on which He

appeared to them and instructed them. But there can be no doubt that there

was one reason, and only one chief reason, why the theme of Christ’s

conversation or discourse was what we are here told it was. The reason

this, that the apostles should now be prepared, both in heart and hand, to

undertake the lead of the great work, as they had never before been

prepared, probably not even to the conceiving of such a thing.


Ø      The carrying on of that work, now devolved or about immediately to be

devolved on the servants by the Master, is — for so we are irresistibly led

to conclude — not prescribed too closely, is not provided for in anything

approaching literal detail. Christ spoke of the things pertaining to the

kingdom of God. One inevitably imagines that under this description

principles were imparted — possibly enough information savoring of the

character of revelation. These would be lighted up and warmed by the

presence of gracious promise and stirring glimpses of the above and of the

future. Yet, all as inevitably, one is impressed with the conviction that

even that poor earthly judgment of those poor earthly men, who had so

often slipped and failed even under the eye of the Master, was not

fettered, hampered, overpowered by the severity of binding detail.

We seem to see Jesus doing at that germinal time what the history

of the Church clearly enough shows He ever has done since, throwing

Himself and His own expensive work and grand sacrifice alike on the

love and the judgment of His servants! It is a marvelous thought of

work and honor devolved on men! Nor could it be easy to find either

a more stirring or inspiring stimulus both of love and of wisdom’s best

efforts. The conjunction of the trust Christ offers to repose practically,

not on our hearts’ love alone, but even on our fallible discretion,

illustrates the height of His surpassing grace to us, in the very

gracefulness of the grace.




REQUIRED. He who spake to loving disciples, friends, servants, and

who instructed them now, would by the very act, often repeated before

His passion,” but now (it is impossible to refrain from the word) with

increased sanctity after His resurrection, ensure their memory, and their

grateful memory, of Himself. These He would make His own — more surely

than the child hallows more and more the memory of the father; more

surely than the pupil never conquers, nor wishes nor tries to conquer, the

reverence he used to feel to a teacher, whom he once pictured as possessed

of all knowledge. To Him who gives the grace of conversion, we look

instinctively for that of sanctification; as to those who give us life, we

instinctively, unconsciously look for the support and rearing of that life.

“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” were words,

we may rest assured, not heard exactly for the first time in the rapt

moments of the literal Ascension! We are also immediately informed that

Christ emphatically directed His disciples, now hanging on His lips, to look

for and wait for the Holy Spirit, one of whose main offices was and ever is

to bring to remembrance the things already spoken by Christ. Until, then,

“God is all in all,” and the mediatorial reign of Christ is resigned, He is our

one Hope and Trust. He is the Giver of light, knowledge, love. He is the

one only Head of his Church. He the Savior and the King of men, who now

so condescendingly “showed Himself alive” to the apostles, “after His

passion, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things

pertaining to the kingdom of God.


4 “And, 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.”  He charged them not to

depart for commanded them that they should not depart, Authorized Version;

to wait for wait, Authorized Version; said He for saith He, Authorized Version;

from me for of me, Authorized Version.  Being assembled, etc. (Received Text.

on, its μετ'αὐτῶνmet’autonwith them); more exactly, as He was assembling

with them. Not to depart from Jerusalem. (See Luke 24:49.) It was necessary,

according to the prophecy, Micah 4:2; Isaiah 2:3, that the gospel should go forth

from Jerusalem. Wait for the promise.  (See Luke 24:49.) The promise of the

Father formed the subject of our Lord’s discourse to the apostles on the last night

of His earthly life, as recorded in John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-14. He doubtless

here refers to that conversation, though not, of course, to the record of it in the

Gospel of John.



The Supreme Promise to the Church (v. 4)


“Commanded them that they should… wait for the promise of the Father.”

The exact designation here employed to describe the gift, and the special

gift, of the Holy Ghost — namely, “the promise of the Father” — is

confined to the writing of  Luke; as it were, the outcome of his

assiduous memory. In the Gospel (Luke 24:49) he remembers it to

quote it, in its completest precision: “Behold, I send the promise of my

Father upon you.” These are the two occasions of the occurrence of this

expression in Scripture. Other portions of Scripture, however, concerned

with the same grand subject, are quite in harmony with these two picked

expressions. They may possibly all date in the first instance from the words

of the Prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29). But we most thankfully accept the

reminding words of Jesus, as here distinctly quoted, “which ye have heard

of me,” as good for asserting the independent choice of the designation by

an original authority. When thus viewed, it will exceed in value the words

of the prophet, though treasured long, if not in grateful, yet in hopeful

memory. We have here:






Ø      This title maintains consistently the strict fidelity of revelation. The

uniform representation of Scripture sets forth everything good as

originating with the Father. He is the Source. He is the Beginning.

Whatsoever comes even nearest of all to Him, is still but “in the

beginning with Him.” He is the “Giver of every good and perfect gift”

(James 1:17) of the glorious array of gift that ranks the brightest among

its treasures, beyond comparison the brightest, Jesus Christ, “the Son

of the Father” and the Savior of the world, and the Holy Spirit,

“the promise of the Father,” and the Regenerator and Sanctifier

of human hearts. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift”

(II Corinthians 9:15), the fit refrain of ten thousand songs — songs of

life, of light, of warmth, of love, of reason, of memory, of imagination,

of hope, of beauty, of joy — is nevertheless heard, first of all, in its

fullest tones, in its richest strains, as the refrain of those songs, that

celebrate the gift of Jesus to a once prostrate world, and the “promise

of the Father” to that same world just begun to lift its head, and gasp

for pure air, and to beg for a little light, and a little love and hope.

To that doubting prayer of a world crushed under sin and darkness so

long, and wrung from it by the bitterness of its effectual woe, how

large the answer that came down wrapped in the “promise of the Father”

and within the narrower limits of Christ’s own testimony respecting

the Holy Spirit, this title preserves the harmony of Scripture.


o       “The Father… shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:16);

o       “The Father will send… the Comforter, the Holy Ghost”

      (John 14:26);

o       “The Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father”

      (John 15:26).


                        We may notice these testimonies of Christ the more observantly,

because they grow up lovingly tangled among allusions to His own

relations to the Spirit, and to the “sending” of Him. Of which more

follows immediately.


Ø      The title is one that specially honors the Father. Taking into account the

exact juncture, it may perhaps be viewed as intentionally an almost final

act for the days of Christ’s tarrying on earth, of honor, of obedience, of

the reverent love of a true, sublime Sonship on the part of Christ toward

God the Father. Only the day before His crucifixion had Christ spoken

with some fullness and in some detail of His own relation to the Spirit.

That relation must be a very close one, to answer correctly to the

things which Jesus then said and implied as well. For instance:


o       I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another

      Comforter”  (John 14:16);

o       “The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my Name

      (John 15:26);

o       The Comforter… whom I will send unto you from the Father”

      (John 15:26);

o       “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you. But

      if I depart, I will send Him unto you” (John 16:7);

o       “The Spirit of truth… shall glorify me; for He shall receive

      of mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 16:13-14).


                        Not in the whole body of these sayings of Christ is there, indeed,

                        anything that trenches upon the rights of the Father; yet now

the great original Promiser is justly brought, and is as it were finally

left by Christ in the place of first majesty and prominence.


Ø      The title offers, for all devout and reverent thought, to link together that

present, which ever seems so prosaic, so unmemorable with hallowed

antiquity, with the sacredness of the past, with the legitimate

enchantment of distance. The promise reminds (and in this case most

plainly) of the Promiser. And this Promiser of ages past, long waited

for, not seldom distrusted, sometimes despaired of, is now in a moment

or two going to be manifested — the faithful Promiser. He is none other

than the Father everlasting! Promise adds preciousness to bestowment

in several ways — in the very tension of the moral nature which it

challenges, in the mutual keeping hold of hands (all the while that

the promise subsists), of promiser and promisee, in the educatory

processes of varied sort that are sure to be transpiring during all the

same interval, and, in a word, in the preparation of the receiver for the

thing prepared for him, as well as in his final supreme gratification

on receiving it. But come this time, the “forecasting of the years” past,

“the reaching of the hand through time to catch the far-off interest of

tears” over, and the blank days that have been yield to the dawn of

radiance itself. So sang Moses, when now at last he saw the land,

“the promise of the Father “


“My Father’s hope! my childhood’s dream!

The promise from on high!

Long waited for! its glories beam

Now when my death is nigh.

“My death is come, but not decay;

Nor eye nor mind is dim;

The keenness of youth’s vigorous day

Thrills in each nerve and limb.

“Blest scene! thrice welcome after toil —

If no deceit I view;

Oh, might my lips but press the soil,

And prove the vision true!”

(J. H. Newman.)


And so, in higher strain, chants the apostle: “Faithful is He who hath

promised, who also will do it


Ø      The title offers in a fresh form, to the sensitive, impressible disposition

of true discipleship, a pathetic suggestion of the nearness and the

continuing purpose and the watching grace of the Father. ‘Tis all

covered by the word promise. For a promise must be of something

welcome and wished for. A promise has no part nor lot with a threat.

The only question that lies at the door of promise is the anxious one,

as to faithfulness; that assured, the prospect must be a grateful one.

So one chosen word, an opportune name, a kindly expression,

becomes a suggestion, fruitful and full of fruitfulness. “The promise

of the Father” must ever be the “Comforter” of the Church.





necessary to linger over the fact that Jerusalem was to be the scene of the

“baptism with the Holy Ghost,” and the geographical point of departure for

the new heralds of “the kingdom of God.” It was the metropolis of the

land; it was the shrine in a shrine. It had been the ecclesiastical gathering

place of the elect people for centuries upon centuries, and divinely

appointed such. But now, if ever work was to date from place, the work of

Christ might well begin from the place where He suffered, and the glory of

the dispensation of His Spirit be manifested where had been first the

manifestation of His soul’s sore “trouble,” and His humiliation unto death!

This, the first crown after the cross! But other suggestions, of more

intrinsic importance, arise out of this command.


Ø      The command, by preventing the separation and dispersion of the

apostles, prepared the way for a manifestation which, if viewed merely

as a phenomenon, must have been unsurpassed in the experience of the

people, whether those who saw it or those who felt it as well. No amount

of depth of conviction, no amount of consequent real stir, could be

wondered at after such a scene, or the credible report of it only. The

impression and the effect must have been justly tremendous then and

there. Could we give ourselves leave to imagine for one moment a

reproduction of that scene in the modern world’s metropolis, we know

that, taking into consideration the scale of modern thought, the character

and variety and tenacity of modem skepticism, and the wonderfully

advanced means of modern communication, nothing short of the genuine

turning upside down of “the world” might be expected to be the result.

The atheist, the rationalist, the materialist, the mere scientist, would

have a hard task before them, and would have hard work to escape the

administration prompt of lynch law, as it were! There were, of course,

the greatest ends to be secured by that extraordinary demonstration

proportionate to the time of day, and guarded from effects that would

be absolutely appalling through their forcibleness.


o       That demonstration of the Spirit would be forever memorable in

      the thought and religious life of each individual who experienced



o       Also its value would be greatly enhanced in the mutual witness,

      which was so striking a feature of it. No hour, no moment, was

      wasted (as after the Resurrection) by any attempt called for on

      the part of one disciple to persuade or to inform another. All:


§         saw,

§         felt,

§         believed, and

§         were divinely elated.


o       It irresistibly secured a wide, varied, distant circulation, at a time

      when this was a thing difficult to attain.


Ø      The command prevented apostles and disciples separating and dispersing

to attempt in an individual, fitful manner their great Master’s work. They

are to await one united baptism — to have one distinct, impartial

impression made upon them and commission entrusted to them. From the

first a very needed idea was offered to them, that they were not to air

their individualities, but to lose self in one glorious congregation.


Ø      The command scoured, on the very merits of the case, the proper

preparation of the apostles for their work. Not only will they now not

go forth in their own individual strength and pride, but not in human

strength and pride at all. They are all to be baptized, and with such a

force as the Holy Spirit! His life, His light, His love, His tongue, are

to be theirs. As with Jesus’ spoken charge to “the twelve,” and again

to “the seventy,” under each permanent or temporary item of direction

lay this one principle, that they were to go forth in the strength of a

Stronger than man, so in this acted charge, this marvel of a demonstration

of the Spirit, the same root-principle is conveyed, be it said, with a

thousand-fold impressiveness. Not one atom of Christ’s work must

they touch in their own strength, nor begin it presumptuously before

they are sufficiently equipped panoplied by the Word and the Spirit.

That lesson has gone, is going, must go down through all time, and all

succeeding generations and portions of the Church. Nor is it the least

of important lessons being at this very time taught us, by methods often

most painful, most humiliating but most healthful, that the work of

Christ  prospers with the man, with the Church, with the age, which

is most  thoroughly characterized by a profound trust, and effectual,

fervent invocation of the Holy Spirit.


5 “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with

the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”  Indeed for truly, Authorized Version.

Ye shall be baptized, etc. (Compare Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 1:33.)

Peter refers to this saying of the Lord’s in his address to the Church of Jerusalem

(ch. 11:16), and the record of it here may be an indication that Luke derived

his information of these early events from Peter. A curious question arises

as to the baptism of the apostles themselves. When were they baptized, and

by whom? Chrysostom says, “They were baptized by John.” But it is

evident, from John 3:22; 4:1-2, that converts were baptized with

Christian, as distinct from John’s, baptism in our Lord’s lifetime, and hence

it may seem probable, especially considering that Paul was baptized,

that the apostles may have been baptized by Christ (Bishop Wordsworth

on John 4:2). If so, the baptism with the Holy Ghost at Pentecost was

the complement of that baptism, not the substitute for it. “In our case,”

says Chrysostom, “both (the baptism of water and of the Spirit) take place

under one act, but then they were divided.”



The Dawn of the Gospel Day (vs. 1-5)


These verses form an introduction to the whole book. The risen Christ is

the chief Object in view. The light which has been a lowly light upon the

earth, is now about to ascend and take its place as the Sun of Righteousness

in the heavens. From thence He will shine upon the earth —

first upon that part of the earth immediately below the point of His ascent;

and from that, as a starting-place, from country to country, till the whole

earth is enlightened. The Acts begins its narrative at Jerusalem, the

metropolis of Palestine, and ends it at Rome, the metropolis of the world.

Again, we recognize the divinely chosen method, the appointment of

apostolic witnesses and representatives, who heard the things which Jesus

spake concerning the kingdom of God,” and received from Him “the

commandment,” or commission, to preach and labor for the spread of the

glad tidings of the kingdom. And then, further, in these verses, the vital

distinction is set prominently forth between the kingdom of Christ and the

kingdom of this world — the indwelling presence and operation of the

Holy Ghost, which is represented as first in Jesus Himself, speaking in Him,

working in Him, promised by Him, and then as bestowed upon the

messengers of the kingdom according to the promise of the Father,

repeated by the Son. Thus the great fundamental lines of the Book of the

Acts are laid down; the kingdom of the risen and glorified Christ

proclaimed and spread through the world; chosen and consecrated men the

representatives and ministers of the kingdom; baptism of the Holy Ghost

the prerequisite for Christian work and achievement, without which it must

not be attempted and cannot be accomplished.



The Forty Days after the Passion  (vs. 1-5)


·         JESUS PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE. In the work of God all

is continuous. As in nature there is no pause, but in autumn we find the

new petiole or leaf-stalk already formed when the old leaf is detached, so

in the kingdom of God. There were ages of preparation for Christ’s

coming; and when He came, His life-work was a making ready to go. Full of

blessing was the ministry of His visible presence; fuller still was to be that of

the invisible Spirit. He must go that the Spirit may come (John 16:7).

The progress is ever from the visible and finite form TO THE ETERNAL



Ø      Preparation by special instruction. (John 14:15; 15:12-17.) These

parting commands were charged with the holiest unction; were breathed

forth in spiritual power, with the deep earnestness and tenderness of a

Divine farewell. All His commands are summed up in the great word

“love.” They were issued to a select band, and ever remain in the select

keeping of the true Church. Obedience to Christ is, in one word, the

unfolding of love in all life-relations. Christian duties and graces are

but the various forms which Divine love would stamp on conduct.


Ø      By manifestations era risen life. His appearances were firmly accredited

as real, says Luke, using, a word not elsewhere found in the New

Testament denoting valid proof (compare Luke 24:31, 39, 43). This firm

persuasion of the reality of the Lord’s risen life is the inspiration of the

early Church; it cannot be explained away without raising more difficult

problems. The appearances were accompanied by appropriate activity. He

discoursed on these occasions, and on the supreme theme, on religion, on

the kingdom of God. Christianity is not sensation — wonder for wonder’s

sake; its principle is intelligence; its method is teaching. “Go and teach

is the great word of the risen One.


Ø      By a particular direction. The apostles were to remain in Jerusalem

(Luke 24:49). Here were all the conditions of unity provided for: place

and time and a common attitude of soul. Spiritual force must be collected

in centers, that it may be diffused through the body of the world.




Ø      It was for something definitethe fulfillment of a Divine promise.

Promise attends all obedience; and perhaps the highest blessings belong

to the patient attitude of the soul, the unhaste of perfect confidence in

God. It was the promise of a blessing foreshadowed in past experiences.

A baptism, therefore a revival and refreshing from above like John

Baptist’s ministry; yet unlike that in that it was to be more excellent.


Ø      There was something indefinite, therefore, in the promise. A good not

yet tasted, and so not yet conceivable. So is it with all coming good. We

know something of that to be expected from past experiences of Divine

grace; but the “half has not been told us.” The future is ideal, and

never exactly imitates the past; while it rests upon the past and elicits

its meaning.  Obey, trust, wait this is a grand lesson of the Christian

life which comes back to us from this page.


6 “When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying,

Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”

They therefore, when for when they therefore, Authorized Version; Him for of

Him, Authorized Version; dost thou for wilt thou, Authorized Version.; restore

for restore again, Authorized Version.  Dost thou at this time, etc.? It appears

from Luke 19:11 and 24:21, as well as from other passages, that the apostles

expected the kingdom of Christ to come immediately. It was most natural,

therefore, that, after the temporary extinction of this hope by the Crucifixion,

it should revive with new force when they saw the Lord alive after His passion.

They had doubtless too been thinking over the promise of the baptism of the

Holy Spirit “not many days hence.” Restore. (Compare restitution - ch. 3:21;

and see Matthew 17:11.)


7 “And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the

seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.”

Times or seasons for the times or the seasons, Authorized Version; set within

His own authority for put in His own power, Authorized Version. It is not for

you to know, etc. The time of the end is always spoken of as hidden (so

Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32; I Thessalonians 5:1-2; II Peter 3:10, etc.).

Times or seasons. Times with reference to duration, seasons with reference

to fitness or opportunity. Which the Father. The distinctive use of the word

“Father” here agrees with our Lord’s saying in Mark 13:32, “Neither the Son,

 but the Father.” Hath set within His own authority (ἐξουσίᾳ - exousiapower;

jurisdiction; authority). Hath reserved under His own authority. Has established

by means of His own plenitude of power; “Hath put or kept in His own power

(Authorized Version)   This last seems the best.


8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon

you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all

Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

When for after that, Authorized Version; my witnesses for witnesses unto me,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; Samaria for in Samaria, Authorized

Version. Ye shall receive power (δύναμιν dunaminpower; ability); a word

specially used of the power of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 6:8).


  • “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14; 24:49);
  • God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power”

(ch. 10:38);

  • “Through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13);
  • “The demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Corinthians 2:4);
  • Strengthened with might (δυνάμει dunameipower; ability) by His Spirit”

(Ephesians 3:16);

  • “The powers of the world to come” (Hebrews 6:5).


My witnesses. This function of the apostles, to be witnesses of Christ, is one

much insisted upon in Scripture. So we read in v. 22, “Of these must one become

[‘be ordained,’ Authorized Version] a witness with us of his resurrection.”

So again in ch.10:40-42, “God… showed Him openly; not to all the people, but

unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us.... And He commanded us to testify,”

etc. (see also vs. 39 and 42 of the same chapter; ch.13:31; Luke 24:48; ch. 4:33;

22:15,18,20; 26:16; I Peter 5:1; I John 1:1-3).



Christ’s Mission and Ours (vs. 1-8)


The introduction to this narrative of “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God

suggests to us truths concerning the mission of our Divine Lord and also concerning

our own.


Ø      THE MISSION OF CHRIST. We gather front the opening words of

            Luke that this was fourfold, and may be included under these heads:


Ø      Miraculous works. He began to do (v. 1). The “mighty works” of

Jesus were far from being mere “wonders:” they were


o       deeds of pure beneficence,

o       acts called for by the circumstances of the hour, malting an

      irresistible appeal to the heart of love and the hand of power,

o       illustrations of the Divine principles which He came to establish,

      as well as

o       incidental proofs of heavenly origin and almighty power.


Ø      Teaching. He began both to do and teach (v. 1). The teaching of

Christ covered all the ground on which we most urgently need

enlightenment. He taught us all that we want to know concerning:


o       the nature and disposition of God, including His attitude

      toward guilty souls;

o       the real nature of man, his true heritage and the way by

      which he could return to God;           

o       what constitutes moral excellency in God’s sight:

      how man can do and be that which is due to himself and

      to all by whom he is surrounded;

o       the truth respecting the future world.


Ø      Endurance. The story of “His passion” (ver. 3) is the story of His life.

      In the case of all other of the children of men, the narrative of the last

      hours is felt to be but the necessary closing of the chapter. In His case

      alone the relation of the Passion is felt by us all to be the supreme and

      culminating point the one indispensable feature of His whole career;

      that to which everything led up, for which everything prepared,

      compared with which everything else was unimportant. Never, at any

      period of His ministry, did the Son of God so truly and so largely

      fulfill the mission on which He came, as when He was “putting away

      sin by the sacrifice of himself,” (Hebrews 9:26) as when He

was betrayed and smitten and reviled, as when Hhe was “lifted up”

on the cross and “poured out his soul unto death.” (Isaiah 53:12)


Ø      Life.  He came to be the holy, loving, patient, truthful, reverent One He

was. The historian does not speak here of this, His exemplary life before

His Passion, but we may have it in our mind as a complementary thought;

Luke does, however, refer to His life after the Passion (v. 3). This is

divisible into two parts.


o       The forty days on earth. Then He bore witness to the reality of

      His work and the genuineness of His mission: He “showed

      himself alive… by many infallible proofs.”


o       Everlasting life in heaven. He is now doing the work of

      administration. “Jesus began both to do and to teach”

      when He was below; He continues now the great work He

      then began. As He arrested Paul on his way to Damascus

      and charged him to enter His service, as He inspired and

      directed His servants so that the “acts of the apostles”

      are His acts through them; so now He is administering

      the affairs of His blessed kingdom by enlightening,

inspiring, governing His Church by His Spirit (see v. 2).


  • OUR MISSION. We have here indications of the kind and method of

service which it belongs to us to render. We are:


Ø      To look expectantly. We too are to “wait for the promise of the Father”

(v. 4); often in our Christian life, from its very beginning to its very end,

asking and waiting. We are to ask, to seek, to knock — if need be, again

and again; not impatient to receive, but remembering that God knows

when as well as how to bestow.


Ø      To receive gratefully. We too “shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost”

(v. 5, and see v. 8). God will come to us in rich effusion if only we ask

earnestly and wait patiently; then we shall receive joyfully, and our

hearts will fill with sacred and happy gratitude.


Ø      To submit cheerfully. Our Lord ofttimes says to us, “It is not for you to

know” (v. 7). We long to know many things not revealed, and this is His

reply to our vain curiosity. Or we long to effect impossible things, and

then He says to us, “It is not for you to do.” He imposes limits to our

action as well as to our knowledge, and within these bounds we must

be content to move, rejoicing that we are permitted to know anything

of Him and do anything for Him; rejoicing, also, to believe that soon

the circle of understanding and accomplishment will be immeasurably



Ø      To testify faithfully. “Ye shall be witnesses unto me” (v. 8). It was a

far higher function for the apostles to bear witness to Christ — to the

greatness of His person, the beauty and tenderness of His spirit, the

fullness and joy of His salvation — than to be the depositaries of

heavenly secrets as to dates and places. There is nothing we should

so earnestly aspire and so strenuously strive to become, as faithful

witnesses of Jesus Christ. We cannot conceive of a nobler work than

to be, by life and lip, bearing testimony to Him, constraining our

fellow men to realize:


o       His readiness to receive,

o       His willingness to  forgive, and

o       His power to bless and to ennoble them.



Last Words (vs. 6-8)


  • WISTFULNESS ABOUT THE FUTURE. A curiosity mingled of fear

and hope stirs in the disciples minds. The present oppresses; we seek

escape into dreams of a happy past or future. There is an clement of truth

and of illusion in these cravings.


  • ILLUSORY THOUGHTS OF THE FUTURE. The cherished dream of

Israel for five centuries had been the restoration of the temporal power of

David’s throne. It was a fixed idea, and here reappears. So have we all our

fixed ideas, and cannot conceive a happy future out of their sphere. But

God’s unfolding realities prove better than our sensuous dreams.





Ø      No fixed knowledge of the future, its changes, and those epochs, can be

ours. With all our science we cannot touch the beginnings, therefore not

the issues, of things. History is a Divine poem, and God does not permit

us to guess at the climax or catastrophe of events. The unexpected

happens, and Providence is full of surprises. Enough for us to read the

unrolling page from day to day, and subdue our wishes to the actual,

rather than measure the actual by our wishes.


Ø      Strength for the future is enough, and this may be ours. Power, inner

power, spiritual power, in other words, a full and vigorous life-

consciousness, is what we need. This is promised. But not if we are

seeking sensual and selfish ends. Power is imparted for God’s ends.

Only on condition that we are given up to God’s will can we work for

God’s ends, or enjoy the power thereto. The laws of the kingdom are

as strict as any we learn from nature. The narrowing of Divine thoughts

to our own petty notions of advantage means desertion and weakness;

the inclusion of our purposes within the infinite purpose means strength.

All true life-acting may be regarded as witness. Each man stands for

some principle, expresses some leading thought in his action. What

do we represent? What tale does our life tell from day to day? What

negative or what positive is it that our individual life makes clear in

the scheme of things? (Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against

me! – Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23)  The pessimism of unbelief

or the optimism of profound faith in the laws of God’s world? To

witness for the eternal Truth and Love gives joy and zest to existence;

to have no report or message to bring to others of aught felt or tasted

of the good of life is vacancy and sadness. The Christian witness is

above all of the life of which mere words are a poor transcript. If in

some way or other our life clearly affirms the goodness of God by

reflecting Him, this is witness for Him. And the ways of witness are

manifold as the glory of the stars, the colors and forms of the flowers.

There are special testimonies to special facts or truths which have

their place and season and no other; but in all places and times the

whole life-witness silently tells. The “living epistle” is intelligible

in every tongue and to all orders of minds.  (II Corinthians 3:2)



Craving for Forbidden Knowledge —

Its Alterative, Enlarged, Practical Trust (vs. 6-8)


“They asked of Him saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time… the earth?” The

question of the apostles of which Luke here tells us we do not find

either in his Gospel or in that of any of the other evangelists, one among

many indications of the probability that during “the forty days” much may

have transpired between Christ and His apostles not left on record. It may

nevertheless be noted, in passing, that the incident happens to be in

interesting analogy with such another as that of which we read in John

21:20-23. And except for the fact that it is not put down to the account of

Peter, we might probably be pardoned for surmising that it was he again

who was the prime mover in it. We have here:





Ø      Whoever may have promoted the question, “Lord, wilt thou at this time

restore the kingdom to Israel?” most eagerly, we can feel no difficulty in

admitting its very natural character. Nor is it at all necessary to affix too

mean a construction to the motive of the apostles. Let it be granted only

that their mind was not thoroughly delivered from the idea of a “kingdom

of Israelon earth, and we need not straightway therefore conclude that

their chief thought or wish was to a kingdom of Israel of earth, rather

than “of heaven” or “of God.”


Ø      And as the question was not an unnatural one in itself, so also it was one

that bears the traces of that deeper impression which had been most

legitimately made on the apostles by the marvels of the death and

resurrection of Jesus. Whatever might be in store or might not be in store

for them in this matter of the long-cherished hope of a kingdom, their

conviction was stronger and stronger grown that Jesus was One who

could do this thing, who could be the Founder of such a kingdom, and

establish it on no doubtful, hazardous, merely adventurous sort of footing,

but worthily, strongly, and for ever. If other miracles were for a sign of

His authority, and for a grand moral witness of Him, this yet more than

all else whatsoever: His own death issuing in resurrection! The space

of one moment may have awakened again and ripened the impulse to

dwell with a fascinated interest on this subject — the moment that in

which “these sayings sank down into their ears,” namely, that “they

should not depart from Jerusalem,” that they “should wait for

the promise of the Father,” and that they should “be baptized with

the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”


o       Nevertheless the issue, if nothing else, convicts the question of

      being the wrong one. How often the things that are abundantly

      natural, and to which the warmest impulses seem made to lead

      us on, are for all that the forbidden — forbidden, perhaps, by

      Divine word of mouth even, otherwise by deeper sense in our

      own self and life! Christ apprizes His interrogators that on the

      merits of the case, not on any mere ceremony, the subject was

one too high for them — “they cannot attain to it.” It is for us

to remember at the present time that nothing that we know is

plainer than the some things we do not know, in matters of

religious thought and speculation, that these “some” things

which we do not know are often of the most intense

speculative interest, are at the same time things not in the

position of the not clearly “revealed,” but of the clearly not

“revealed,” and that the more than likely reason for this is,

that they are too high for human reason at present, and are

kept for “yet the little while” of earth, in the Father’s

power. Let it, however, be granted that there may be other

things left unrevealed, which rightly and designedly keep awake

the intense speculative thought of the whole Church. They

challenge not the presumptuousness, but the reverent diligence,

of the Church’s intellectual life.


o       At a moment of confessed intense practical significance, the

      question of the disciples was the suggestion of a departure to an

      inopportune subject. In instances of far inferior magnitude how

      certain it is that we should remark upon the untimeliness of the

      interruption that broke in upon some supreme crisis of one kind

      with matter possibly quite foreign to it!


o       Any way, the question looked too much in the direction of the

      old oft-reproved thing — of hankering for the form, the show,

      the handling of dignity and superiority and authority, not of the

      intrinsic but of the unreal kind.


o       The condescending familiarity of the Savior should not have

      hidden for so much as a moment from the apostles reverence,

      or from their quickened apprehensions as to the nature of their

      Master, the interval that was between Him and themselves.

      There can be no doubt that they had learned this, that the seed

      of conviction and godly impression had not fallen on trodden,

      impracticable soil, and that their opportunity of intelligent

appreciation of Christ had been increased a thousand-fold.

Therefore the time — all the time — was what courted the

attitude of adoring waiting and most heedful listening, rather

than of suggesting the course in which such a Master’s

instructions, such a Lord’s vouchsafings, should go. The

language of a prophet better suited it: “The Lord is in His

holy temple: let all… keep silence before him!” (Habakkuk




KNOWLEDGE CRAVED, Christ at once replies in language that we in

modern times, at all events, would feel to be very emphatic: “It is not for

you to know times and seasons, which the Father hath placed in his own

power.” Notice:


Ø      The freedom of this direct denial from asperity. If positive, it is not

arbitrary; if severe in its strictness, it is not harsh; if decisive, it is not

uncourteous or ungracious.


Ø      The loftiness, on the contrary, of the reason implicitly contained in the

denial. The knowledge begged is not withheld as so much punishment or

rebuke. It is withheld in this light, that it is not a thing of man, but of the

Father — possibly Christ might still mean of the Father alone (Mark

13:32). But we cannot affirm this with any strong conviction, as He now

speaks subsequently to His resurrection. Now, not the most sensitive

disciple-temperament could have need to feel wounded at not sharing

knowledge affirmed to belong either exclusively or all but exclusively

to the supreme Father.



is the method of Divine wisdom and kindness! How often the analogy of

providence illustrates it, in the individual life. So rooted is it in the spirit of

Christ’s encouraging and bracing doctrine, “Ask, and ye shall have,” that

even when we ask amiss we very often do have something, and have

something that we might have missed of had we not asked at all. So much

does heavenly care appraise a hungering nature, an open mind, a craving

heart, if it be anything at all within the compass of a right outlook that our

desires go forth. And while the new gift is not what we asked, how sure it

is to prove itself very superior in kind, and in its being the correctly

adapted gift!


Ø      The substitute now proffered to the anticipation of the interrogators

consists in an early and immense accession of power.


o       It is real power.

o       It is power guaranteeing at one and the same time holiness to

      self and usefulness to others.


Ø      The substitute both illustrated and was the outcome of very noteworthy



o       The principle of diverting mere speculative thought, or

      sentimental thought, or brooding, disheartened thought, by the

      bracing activity of work — work arduous and beneficent.

      Wonderful is the effectiveness of this corrective. It is an

      alterative safe, healthful, sure of compassing the desired end.

      Nor a whit less so in the light of one of the axioms of Jesus,

      “He that doeth,… shall know.


o       The principle that the servants of Christ are witnesses, not

      prophets. They are “hereunto called,” to witness to the world’s

      ends, and world without end. They are to be quite absolved, if,

      being faithful witnesses, they refrain from trying the wings of

      prophecy. In all directions, those of philosophy and of science,

      as well as of Christianity, human duty, human strength, human

      advance, lie rather in meditating and digesting the material

of memory than in attempting the horoscope; in interpreting

the past for the edification and helpful guidance of the present,

than in forecasting and hazarding prediction. These last

tendencies nourish dogmatism, for they bring forth what may

not be able to be disproved, though it cannot be proved. And

they nourish “lofty imaginations,” and “high thoughts,” and

luxurious idleness, that consume the very time, when every

heart should be humility and every hand should be industry.

Thanks to Jesus, still Master, Teacher, Friend — fresh thanks

to Him from His modern disciples, who, when earth and air

vibrate again with the shock and the clash of discordant

theological polemics, still keeps His own band faithful to

the memory of His own commission, that they should be

“witnesses unto” Him throughout all the world!


9 “And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was

taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” — Said for spoken,

Authorized Version; as they were looking for while they beheld, Authorized

Version They were to be αὐτόπταιautoptai -  eye-witnesses (Luke 1:2), of

the Lord’s ascension, and so it is particularly noted that He was taken as they

were looking. He did not disappear from their sight till He reached the cloud

which enveloped Him.


10 “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up,

behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;” Were looking for looked,

Authorized Version; into for toward,; went for went up, Authorized Version.

Two men. Luke describes them according to their appearance. They were really

angels. In like manner, in Joshua 5:13 we read, “There stood a man over against him;”

and in Genesis 18:2, 16; 19:10, 12, 16, we read of “the men;” and in Judges 13:6,8,

10-11, of “the man of God;” the persons spoken of in all these cases being angels

(compare Daniel 3:25; 8:15-16; 9:21, etc.; Zechariah 1:8, 10; Mark. 16:5;

Luke 24:4). Gabriel, too, means “man of God.” In white apparel, typical of

perfect holiness, and of the glory which belongs to the inhabitants of heaven

(compare Daniel 10:5-6; Matthew 17:2; 28:3; Mark 9:3; 16:5; Luke 24:4;

Revelation 7:9, 13; 3:5, 18; 4:4; 6:11; 19:8, etc.).


11 “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into

heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven,

shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”

Looking for gazing up, Authorized Version; this for this same, Authorized Version;

was received for is taken, Authorized Version; beheld Him going for have seen

Him go, Authorized Version.  In like manner; i.e. in a cloud. The description of

our Lord’s second advent constantly makes mention of clouds.


  • “Behold, He  cometh with clouds” (Revelation 1:7).
  • “One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven”

      (Daniel 7:13; and Matthew 26:64; Luke 21:27, etc.).


We are reminded of the grand imagery of Psalm 104:3, “Who maketh the clouds

His chariot, who walketh upon the wings of the wind.” It may be remarked that

the above is by far the fullest account we have of the ascension of our Lord.

Luke appears to have learned some further particulars concerning it in the

interval between writing his Gospel (Luke 24:50-52) and writing the Acts.

But allusions to the Ascension are frequent (Mark. 16:19; John 6:62; 20:17;

Romans 8:34; Ephesians 4:8-9; Philippians 2:9; Colossians 3:1; I Timothy

3:16; 1 Peter 3:22, etc.). With reference to Zeller’s assertion, that in St.

Luke’s Gospel the Ascension is represented as taking place on the day of

the Resurrection, it may freely be admitted that the narrative in the Gospel

does not mark distinctly the interval of time between the different

appearances and discourses of our Lord from the day of the Resurrection

to that of the Ascension. It seems to group them according to their logical

connection rather than according to their chronological sequence, and to be

a general account of what Jesus said between the Resurrection and the

Ascension. But there is nothing whatever in the text of Luke to indicate

that what is related in the section 24:44-49 took place at the same time as

the things related in the preceding verses. And when we compare with that

section what is contained, here in vs. 4-5, it becomes clear that it did not.

Because the words “assembling together with them,” in v. 4, clearly

indicate a different occasion from the apparitions on the day of the

Resurrection; and as the words in Luke 24:44-49 correspond with

those in vs. 4-5, it must have been also on a different occasion that

they were spoken. Again, the narrative of John, both in the twentieth

and the twenty-first chapters, as well as that of Matthew 28:10, 16;

Mark 16:7, precludes the possibility of the Ascension having taken

place, or having been thought to have taken place, on the day of the

Resurrection, or for many days after, so that to force a meaning upon the

last chapter of Luke’s Gospel which it does not necessarily bear, and

which places it at variance with Luke’s own account in the v.3; ch. 13:31,

and with the Church traditions as preserved by Matthew, Mark and John,

is a violent and willful transaction.



The Uplifting of Jesus (vs. 9-11)


The evangelist employs two different words, both meaning “he was taken

or lifted up” (vs. 2, 9).


·         THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE UPLIFTING. The human is raised into

the Divine. The body of humiliation is translated into a form of glory.

Exaltation crowns self-abasement. The self-emptied One for love’s sake

becomes the depository for all time of DIVINE FULNESS. For our sake the

descent from heaven, and the return thither still for our sake. Heaven woos

earth in the Incarnation, and in the Ascension earth is wedded to heaven

forever. It is the pledge of permanent intercourse and special occasional

visitations from God to man. The Ascension is the pole-star of our night!


·         THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CLOUD. It was ever a symbol of

God. It veils, yet reveals; hides, yet manifests Him. The definite ever passes

into the indefinite; the visible form into the fainter symbol. Men may ask,

“Where is he who came and loved our clay?” The answer is in the cloud-

symbol.  As in its beauty we see it float between heaven and earth, half-dense

and half-transparent with the solar glory, we have the image of the

vanished Jesus in the world of pious thought. He is the indefinable link

between the world of sense and the super sensual. We cannot analyze the

truth. We see it, we feel it, by the spiritual aesthesis; and this is better than

all definition.



the mysterious Divine beyond of our life. Our limited horizon melts into the

Infinite. What was more knowable than the living and loving Jesus of

Nazareth? Here at last the spell of Divine silence seemed to have been

broken, and the unutterable One had uttered Himself in an articulate voice,

and the indefinable and inimitable in form had clothed Himself in a form

recognizable by all. Yet now this form melts again into the indefinable; this

voice ceases in a hush of mystery restored. Well may we stand gazing into

the ether. Was the whole an illusion? Not so; but what God has once

revealed remains a spiritual possession for all time. And more; it is the

pledge that God will repeat the revelation. CHRIST WILL COME

AGAIN! The cloud will reappear; out of the mystery voices will again be

heard, the express Image will again stand clear for recognition. Here is a

Divine process; out of the indefinable into the definable, back to the

indefinable again. Christ appears to disappear, again to reappear; and so


“That one Face, far from vanish, rather grows;

Becomes our universe that feels and knows!”


Let us think that “every cloud that veileth love itself is love.” In those

alternate revealings and hidings of God from us lies the trial of faith,

more precious than gold.



Heavenward Gazing Recalled to Earthward Watching (vs. 9-11)


“While they beheld, He was taken up… as ye have seen Him go into

heaven.” The exact aspect of the glories of the Ascension depicted here is

not found in any of the accounts of the evangelists. Happy for us that

second thoughts were brought to Luke, and that we were not left

without the beautiful and valuable suggestions that arise from these verses!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ stamped the stamp of undeniable royalty

upon His brow; round His brow the Ascension flung royalty’s own golden

crown — a crown of unsurpassed worth and luster that is unfading. Well

may we pause and ponder the brief recital of that marvel of glorification.

Let us notice:


  • THE ASCENSION ITSELF — what is recorded of it. Nothing

whatever is said of it in the Gospel by John. In that by Matthew the

matter leads up to it, and abruptly stops, omitting all description of the

great event itself. The language of Mark is, “So then after the Lord had

spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right

hand of God.” The invisible world was for one moment opened to the

inspired vision of Mark, it would seem, as afterwards to that of

Stephen. And the account of Luke in his “former treatise” is, “And he

led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up His hands, and blessed

them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from

them, and carried up into heaven.”  (Luke 24:50-51)  There are a detail and

an added touch, however, in the passage before us very grateful to read:

“When He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up;

and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And… they looked steadfastly

toward heaven as He went up.” In the event itself, its unadorned majesty is

the characteristic. In the description, the own dignity of brevity is

pronounced. There is reason, as well as sublimity of effect, in both the one and

the other of these things. Simplicity and brevity obviate distraction, and

attention is fixed on the essentials. So we see again the scene with no bodily

eye, it is true; men to the end of time shall see again and again the scene, it is

true, with no bodily eye, but with a spiritual distinctness and a vividness that

may leave nothing more to be asked for that could, in the nature of things,

be given. Jesus does not die away on mortal view, but he soars away from

mortal view, while the accents of His voice are still in the ear, “speaking of

the things pertaining to the kingdom of God,” and repeating the “promise

of the Father” in the gift of the Holy Ghost. And for what is seen it is this:

He is borne in an unusual direction — upward, clear in the eye of sense, till

a cloud received Him;” and beyond that cloud, only clear where the eye of

faith pierces, He is seen received up into heaven, and… on the right hand

of God.” In this ascension, therefore, notice:


Ø      The visibleness of it, as compared, for instance, with the departures,

whatever they were, of Enoch and of Moses.


Ø      The deliberateness of it, as compared, for instance, with the departure in

blaze and speed of Elijah. So much to the contrary the manner of ascent

of Jesus, that in the all-brief description before us there are nevertheless

contained as many as four verbal indications of the distinctness of the

amazing phenomenon; e.g.


o       “while they beheld

o       out of their sight

o       while they looked steadfastly as He went up

o       in like manner as ye have seen Him go.


Ø      The number of witnesses present to see whatever was to be seen.


Ø      Not a figment of an earthly trace of Jesus after ascension alleged by foe,

not a fancy of it alleged by friend, as compared, for instance, with such

things as we read in I Kings 18:12; Luke 4:1, and as might have

been conceivable.



thing betrays it and describes it — their rapt upward gaze. Beneath this one

thing what wealth of suggestion may lie! It is probable that the apostles

were forewarned of the coming ascension of their Master; of His departure,

certainly. At all events prophecy (Psalm 24:7-10; 68:18; Ephesians 4:8),

with which it is likely that they were on their own account acquainted,

likelier that Jesus had made them acquainted, had advised them

that the departure would be of the nature of an ascension. Yet, judging

from the analogy of other forewarnings, mercifully vouchsafed but little

improved (Luke 24:25-27, 44-46; John 21:4-6), it is conceivable

that the moment found them now off their guard, and little prepared for the

consummate event. Again, of the exact methods of Christ’s departure from

His apostles and the women, and others to whom He graciously revealed His

presence during the forty days, we are not distinctly informed in each

several case. But in some we are told simply that He “vanished” out of their

sight. (And someday will reappear just as suddenly – CY – 2016)  Let it be

supposed that this was the method of His going in each case, and we may

guide ourselves to the conclusion that at most the apostles imagined that

some one of the occasions of their being blessed with the sight and the

voice of Him would inevitably prove the last. But what a vision this

prepared for them! What a transcendent “gift” even of itself! His “speaking”

suddenly but quietly ends. And while all eyes are calmly, attentively, lovingly

turned upon the grace of His countenance, “He was taken up.” And so their

eyes also are lifted up, and thoughts and affections. “A cloud” which receives

Him “out of their sight” arrests their vision, but not their thoughts and

affections. They still look “steadfastly toward heaven,” and seem lost in

wonder and in meditation. What is it they are seeing, or, so far as they

retain the power to think, what is it they think they see? What is it they

are experiencing while they gaze?


Ø      This upward gaze was their last earthly beholding of Jesus. One

      wonders not it was prolonged as much as possible. That last long look,

      judging from analogies of inferior matter, how was it wreathed all the

      way up with richest remembrances most vividly revived! Well indeed

      might it be so now, at all events. How fragrant crowd the flowers of

      memory, that nevertheless some while seem to mock our grief! They

      accord so ill, yet are so spontaneous; again seem to feed it, but fail not

      at length to help sanctify it, when our last earthly look has been taken

      of the companion we have so well loved and long time so cherished.

      But now, men’s eyes were being robbed of the welcomed beholding

      of a Friend of matchless power, and matchless wisdom, and matchless

      loving-kindness! That riveted gaze — who could have wondered had it

      drunk out forever the light of earthly eyes?


Ø      This upward gaze was one that found elements of most impressive

      contrast with much of the apostles’ former knowledge of Christ. There

      is a great difference between the most thorough persuasion as to the

      intrinsic quality of some one whom we trust and love, who nevertheless

      is left lifelong in the cold shade of obscurity, and the cheerful light and

      satisfaction that make us proud sharers of the public success and the

      popularity and the manifestation of our idol. This latter portion Jesus

      had never sought. That He had never done so, nor shown the slightest

      disposition to do so, had been occasionally subject of remark and of

      petulance to some of even His faithful adherents. The Disciples of

      Christ had, as the overwhelming rule, seen His humiliation; and what

      of His intrinsic, most real glory they had been privileged to see, was

      nevertheless veiled with the garments of humiliation. They had seen

      His modest subjection, His calm, obedient observance of what was due

      to custom and religious rite, as in His baptism. They had seen His great

      works, His wise words, His holy life, His undeniable innocence, all

      flouted times without number, and yet no remedy, no fire from heaven,

      no thunderbolt, no conspicuous avenger, came to view. Then they had

      seen the garden struggle, the trial, the Crucifixion. And though they

      had seen the Transfiguration and the Resurrection, yet up to this present

      time what became even of these? He seems to take no visible, practical

      benefit from them. But what their eyes now see opens indeed their eyes!

      One could imagine that volumes of mist, dark masses of cloud, roll away;

      the obscurities and conflicting perplexities of some years “vanish,” and

      count themselves all for nothing. The steps of Jesus are no longer on

      the level, no longer down to submission more submitting; depression

      is no longer the rule. He rises! Upward is the word! Glory and the

      realms of air and light are His, and His mode of entrance upon these,

      in its very uniqueness, awakens fresh impulses of unfeigned adoration.

      It is an illustration of how those who wait — wait even unto the end —

      shall be satisfied.


Ø      This upward gaze was a silent giving of themselves away at last. It made

a willing weaning for them. Now have they done with “the things that are

seen,” and with self; and they have done with doubt and uncertainty; and

they have done with the shadows that are felt, in favor of the momentous

realities of which faith is henceforth the trusted and sufficient custodian.

So it was no unfruitful gaze. It was not a flash, to leave no permanent

effect. It left much more behind it than a mere “glory on the soul.” It

was convincing evidence, irremovable conviction; it was the kindling

of genuine adoration, and a perennial spring of devotion.





“WHO APPEARED IN WHITE APPAREL.” The “two men in white

apparel” were neither phantoms, creatures of the brain, nor specters,

creatures of the air and heavens. The expression, no doubt, designates

angels; it is likely enough such as had once been “men,” such as Moses

and Elijah, or two “of the prophets.” Their interruption, one must imagine,

must have been at first unwelcome to the apostles. It seems so at first to

ourselves. We would have liked to know what close the apostles would

have themselves put to their rapt gazing heavenward, Nor is the necessity

or the expediency of the interruption visible upon the surface. Yet we may

remark that:


Ø      We are, as it happens, in ignorance of what might have been the effect

upon the spectators of the glorious scene of the Ascension, but for this

interruption — the strickenness of a trance, for instance.


Ø      Intently excited states of mind often answer to the corrective of the

      mere sound of the human voice, calmly addressed to them. Marvelous

      instances of this fact are furnished in the history of mental disease.


Ø      Genuinely exalted feeling may “exalt above measure” (II Corinthians

12:7), and may need a prompt simple treatment, to obviate the necessity

of future much more painful treatment. The simple treatment now was

interruption, but with the comforting assurance that the separation was

not absolute and forever, but distinctly the contrary.


Ø      Very vivid experiences of joy, of grief, or of an intricately mingled

character, while on the one hand very prone to absorb undue attention for

the present, are at the same time the very soil that abundantly rewards the

introduction of the seeds of great aspects of the future. Nor could there

easily be found a more certain example of this than in what is now before

us. It was of first-rate importance that in the heart and mind of the first

teachers and preachers of Christianity the second coming of Christ

should be closely linked with his ascension. The Christian individual

and the Christian Church may never linger too long in the past. It is a

silent, wonderful testimony to the vitality of Christ’s truth, and its spirit

of progress, wide as the world and lasting as the world, that a

tremendous future career and consummation are ever marked for

prominence. Side by side with the Ascension must the second descent

of Christ be kept. Therefore side by side were these great facts (so to say)

sown, in the apostolic heart. Further, that the descending Christ would be

the same i.e, one of glorified human body, as the cloud bore him a

minute or two ago out of human sight — was a fact to be deeply

impressed upon the Church of all time. And therefore, ab initio (from

the beginning), it is so  impressed on the apostolic heart, while nothing

has yet occurred to efface from them theconviction of the real body of

Jesus. The words of the “two men in white apparel” are the words of

studied precision and emphasis. This same Jesus, which is taken up

from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen

Him go into heaven.” We can be left in no doubt that the interruption

was neither reckless nor heartless. It was not to spoil the infinite

serenity, infinite solemnity, infinite charm of moments, that with

the eye raised heart and soul to heaven. Momentous doctrinal truth

was to be safely sealed and impressed upon the Church’s mind. And

the choicest of Heaven’s seasons must be ungrudgingly given and

unchurlishly accepted — a tribute to the importance of that truth;

a token, also, of another noteworthy thing, that the Church was

infinitely dear to the heart of her Lord at all time; nor that even the

purest joy of a few first apostles shall be permitted to stand in the

light of the whole Church. In this case there is not the atom of a

reason to think those apostles would have asked it. They

breathe no murmur that their delicious reverie was disturbed.


Ø      Last of all, under any circumstances, heavenward gaze, contemplation,

seraphic vision, must be exchanged a while for earth’s duty. That word

is sacred, that call is sovereign. We must come down from the mount,

whether it be the Mount of Beatitudes, or of Transfiguration, or of Olivet.

Prayer, praise, and those acts of meditation and devotion that may be of

sublimest significance, are the nourishment of Christian life. It is in “the

strength of such meat” (I Kings 19:8) that we must live the present life,

and do the work of the present days, and teach the “truth as it is in

Jesus,”  by living, humble example as well as by word. And we must

ourselves “wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ,” “comforting

and edifying one another (I Thessalonians 5:11) with the words of the

“two men in white apparel.”


12 “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet,

which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.” Nigh unto for from,

Authorized Version; journey off for journey, Authorized Version.  Olivet,

from the Vulgate Olivetum. The particular Greek form Ἐλαιῶν,

Elaeon, occurs in the New Testament only here. In Luke 19:29; 21:37,

according to the  Textus Receptus, and that followed in the Revised Version,

it is Ἐλαιῶνος ElaionosOlivet, of Olives. But as Luke usually has

τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν  - to oros ton Elainon - when he speaks of it as

“the Mount of Olives (Luke 19:37; 22:39), and as here he calls

it Elaeon, which is its name in Josephus (‘Jud. Ant.,’ 7:9, 2; see too 20:8,

6), it seems probable that in Luke 19:29; 21:37, we ought to read Ἐλαιῶν

Elaion -  Olivet. In the Old Testament, in II Samuel 15:30, it is “the

ascent of the Olives” (Authorized Version, “the ascent of Mount Olivet”); in

Zechariah 14:4, “the Mount of Olives.” A sabbath day’s journey off;

i.e. six, or according to Schleusner, seven and a half, furlongs (or two

thousand cubits). Josephus (‘Jud. Ant.,’ 20:8, 6) calls it “five furlongs,” but

he only measured to the foot of the hill, whereas Luke gives the

distance from the spot whence Christ ascended. Bethany itself, according

to John 11:18, was fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem.



The Interval between the Ascension and Pentecost   (vs. 12)


·         THE SCENE IN THE UPPER ROOM. Obedient to the Lord’s

command, the disciples return to Jerusalem. A certain upper chamber,

probably in a private dwelling, became the first Christian Church.

Epiphanius says that when Hadrian came to Jerusalem, he found the temple

desolate and but few houses standing. This “little church of God,”

however, remained; and Nicephorus says that the Empress Helena enclosed

it in her larger church. It was probably the room in which the Supper had

been celebrated, and was to be associated with the power of the risen, as it

had been with the suffering of the humiliated, Christ.


Ø      The assembly. It represented all varieties of character, gifts, and graces.

Peter the eager, John the mystic, James the practical, Thomas the

skeptical, and others. The feminine element, destined to play so

large a part in the life of the Church, was also represented.


Ø      Its employment. It was engaged in the highest exercise of the spirit.

Prayer is action; as action may be itself a prayer. And there are times

of waiting for all, when prayer is the only possible action. The

transactions between the spirit and God are the most real of all, and

are ever followed by significant results. It was social prayer. True

prayer requires both solitude at times and at times society. We need

the help of one another in the pursuit of truth. Plato spoke of the

“joint striving of souls” in philosophy.   Common prayer is the

joint striving of souls to lay hold upon the strength of God.

“I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” It was

persevering, continuous prayer, as all exertion of the spirit must

be to attain worthy ends. Thus was the mind of the Church calmed,

and its intelligence cleared for insight into the business of the kingdom.




Ø      It rests on the past. He begins by pointing to a fulfillment of Scripture.

The present event is thus constantly identified in apostolic thought with

some word from the past. Nothing befalls except by Divine law. And in

the words of poets and prophets of the past, whatever their original

meaning, hints of other meanings are to be found. All language is

indeed fossil poetry; and as in the earth’s strata plants are found to

which living organisms correspond, so in the realm of moral law past

and present are in inner and profound connection. To the traitor

sketched in Psalm 69, (also 109. and 55.) the features of the unhappy

Judas closely corresponded.  False and wicked relations of conduct

repeat themselves in history, and incur the like doom foreshadowed

by the prophetic consciousness.


Ø      It finds hints for present duty in the past. The fragment of a verse from

      a psalmist ran, “His office let another take.” Conduct must run on the

      line of precedents. Often an old proverb or example may give us our

      clue. A memory for the old sayings of Scripture and other ancient lore

      may guide the judgment, or serve as a finger-post to the will. This might

      run into superstition; as when men in the Middle Ages turned over

      Virgil’s pages for a clue to decision in cases of perplexity. But in the

      case of the apostles there is no reason to believe (but the contrary) that

      their habit, in common with all the devout, of falling back on old

      sayings checked the full and free exercise of their independent judgment.




Ø      “Witnesses for Christ” is perhaps the largest designation of the “office”

to be filled. An “apostle” is one sent — a man with a mission; and the

mission is to witness. Of what? Above all of the Resurrection; for it is

this which made the gospel a power in the world. “Assurance is given

to all men” that Jesus was the Son of God with power, and possesses

all the functions of majesty, by the resurrection from the dead. We

can hardly conceive how the gospel should have spread without this

testimony. Hence the importance of the present business.


Ø      The mode of selection. It blends human intelligence with the recognition

of Divine determination. The call to any function proceeds from God,

and is contained in the gift or capacity. Yet God requires us to cooperate

with Him through all the sphere of freedom. The use of means towards a

decision does not exclude the Divine wisdom, but reposes upon it. The

junction of the Divine and the human will in such solemn acts is real,

though impossible to explain. First, then, there is an exercise of human

judgment, and two distinguished brethren are selected. Here the human

choice already recognizes the Divine indication in the existence of

observed gifts and graces. Next there is prayer, sacramentally sealing

the union of Divine with human thought, and seeking a fruitful result.

Lastly, there is the casting of lots, in which the human intelligence

confesses its inability for the last decision, and surrenders itself

utterly to the guidance of God. The lot falls on Matthias; and he

is “voted into” the company of the eleven. Two extremes are to be

avoided in the crises of affairs. One, to passively “leave everything

to God,” which really means to excuse one’s self from the trouble or

thought. The other, to take the whole burden of responsibility on

ourselves, which means to move from our point of support. Thus we

topple over into weakness and deeper uncertainty. Let faith be at the

root of all our thinking; the scales of judgment stand firmly on the

Wisdom of God that works through and in the activity of finite minds.


13 “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room,

where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip,

and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of

Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.”

The upper chamber for an upper room, Authorized Version; where they were

abiding for where abode, Authorized Version; son of James for brother of James,

Authorized Version.  The upper chamber; perhaps the same room where they

had eaten the Passover with Christ (Luke 22:12); but this is very uncertain,

though affirmed by Epiphanius, and by Nicephorus, who further relates that

the very house in which the upper chamber was built into the back part of the

temple which the Empress Helena erected on Mount Sion. The word here

is ὑπερῷον huperoonupper chamber; over apartment, there it is ἀνώγεον

anogeonupper room. The ὑπερῷον (Hebrew עֲליּהָ, II Kings 4:10-11) was

the room immediately under the roof; the ἀνώγεον was synonymous. Where

they were abiding. A slight change in the order of the words, as adopted in

the text of the Revised Version, makes Peter and the other apostles the

nominative case to the verb “went up,” instead of, as in the

Authorized Version, to “abode.” In regard to the list of the apostles which

follows, it may be noticed first, that it is identical with that of Luke 6:14-16,

except in the omission of Judas Iscariot and the order in which the apostles are

named. The order in Luke seems to have followed that of natural birth and

association. The brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John, are classed

together; Philip and Bartholomew, or Nathanael, go together, and so on.

But in this list John follows Peter, his close companion in missionary work

(here ch. 3:1, etc.; 4:13; 8:14); James follows instead of preceding John;

and others are classed somewhat differently, for reasons probably

analogous, but which we know not. Of the other lists that in Mark 3:16-19

agrees most nearly with that before us. In all, Simon Peter stands

first. The Jude of Luke 6:16 (compare Jude 1:1) and here, is called

Thaddaeus in Matthew 10:3 (“ Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddaeus,”

 Authorized Version) and in Mark 3:18; but no doubt the persons are the

same. In all the lists Philip stands fifth. In three Bartholomew is sixth, while

in the list in Acts his being named after Thomas makes him seventh. In all

the lists James the son of Alphaeus is ninth, and Judas Iscariot the last,

except in the Acts, where he is not named, being already dead. The

underwritten columns give the four lists in one view:


Matthew 10:2-5                                 Mark 3:16-19

1. Simon Peter                                     1. Simon Peter

2. James                                               2. Andrew

3. John                                                 3. James

4. Andrew                                           4. John

5. Philip                                               5. Phillip

6. Bartholomew                                  6. Bartholomew

7. Matthew                                          7. Thomas

8. Thomas                                            8. Matthew

9. James son of Alphaeus                    9. James son of Alphaeus

10. Thaddaeus                                     10. Thaddaeus

11. Simon the Cananaean                   11. Simon the Cananaean

12. Judas Iscariot                                12. Judas Iscariot



Luke 6:14-16                                      Acts 1:13

1. Simon Peter                                     1. Simon Peter

2. Andrew                                           2. John

3. James                                               3. James

4. John                                                 4. Andrew

5. Philip                                               5. Philip

6. Bartholomew                                  6. Thomas

7. Matthew                                          7. Bartholomew

8. Thomas                                            8. Matthew

9. James son of Alphaeus                    9. James son of Alphaeus

10. Simon the Zealot                           10. Simon the Zealot

11. Judas, son or brother, of James     11. Jude, the son, or brother, of James

12. Judas Iscariot


14 “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication,

with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.”

With one accord continued steadfastly for continued with one accord,

Authorized Version,; prayer for prayer and supplication, Authorized Version,

and Textus Receptus.  The women. Luke, in his Gospel, makes frequent mention

of the women who followed our Lord, and generally of things that happened to

women (see Luke 23:27,49,55; 24:10,22, etc. See also Luke 7:37, etc.; 8:2-3;

10:38; etc.). We notice the same tendency in the Acts, here, and in

ch. 2:17-18; 5:14; 9:36; 12:13; 16:14,16; 17:4,34; 18:26; 21:9; 24:24;

25:23; etc. Mary the mother of Jesus appears here not as an object of worship,

but as humbly joining in the prayers of the Church. And with His brethren.

The Lord’s brethren are spoken of by name in Matthew 13:55 as “James, and Joses

[‘Joseph,’ Revised Version], and Simon, and Judas.” So also Mark 6:3 (see too

ch. 4:31-35). “James the Lord’s brother” is mentioned by Paul (Galatians 1:19);

“the brethren of the Lord” are mentioned I Corinthians 9:5; and again in

John 7:3,5,10, “the brethren of Jesus” are spoken of. This is not the

place to enter upon the difficult question of their parentage. But it may

suffice to say that if James and Judas are the two apostles of that name

(which Alford, however, thinks they certainly were not, referring- to

John 7:5, compared with 6:67), then the brethren here spoken of as

distinct from the apostles would be Joses and Simon.



The Grain of Mustard Seed.  (vs. 12-14)


Let us contrast for a moment the account here given with the present

condition of Christianity in the world. Christianity has taken possession of

the whole civilized world. The thrones, the laws, the institutions of those

nations which hold sway in the earth are all based upon the gospel. The

arts, the sciences, the literature of civilized men are more or less

impregnated with the doctrine of the New Testament. Take the cathedrals

of Europe; what an expenditure of thought and skill and wealth they

represent! They are among the most imposing monuments of human

thought and human labor. Look at the mass of Christian literature — in

poetry, in philosophy, in science, in theology, in sacred oratory, in general

literature. What countless Christian writers have elevated the human

intellect, enlarged the borders of knowledge, added dignity to man, and

happiness to mankind! What vast influences, of all sorts, permeating the

civilized world, we can now trace up to the gospel! What multitudes of

individual men and women in all ages since Christ, and all over the world,

have learned what the true view of human life is, and have found their whole

end of living, and their chief enjoyment of life, and their only consolation

and support, in the truths which the gospel teaches! How has the world

been filled with fruits of righteousness, altering the whole aspect or human

society, of which the gospel alone was the first seed! Now turn to the

beginnings of the gospel as here exhibited. One upper chamber at

Jerusalem, a city in the last days of its troubled existence, contained the

whole number of those who acknowledged Christ as their Master.

Measured by any worldly standard, anything feebler or more absolutely

insignificant than that company cannot be imagined. But the grain of

mustard seed was to become a tree in which the birds of the air should

make their nests; the little leaven was to leaven the whole lump; the stone

was to become a great mountain which should fill the whole earth. And so

it has come to pass that the upper chamber at Jerusalem has grown into the

Church Catholic, the mother of all the saints that are, or have been, or are

to be hereafter. What an infinite encouragement to our faith is this! What a

ground for adoration of Him whose grace and power and faithfulness work

such marvelous effects! What a ground of sure and certain hope that He

who has carried His work thus far will finish it, to His own glory, and the

exceeding joy of the Church which He has redeemed with His precious blood!



The Rewards of Iniquity (vs. 12-14)


The physical laws by which the material world is governed are not more

fixed and certain than the moral laws which secure to iniquity its just

reward. Nor has the patient and honest inquirer more difficulty in

ascertaining those laws than the physicist has in ascertaining the laws of

nature by observation and experiment. Neither is it peculiar to Holy

Scripture to set forth the sequences of cause and effect which occur under

those moral laws; the history of the world and our own daily experience do

so likewise. Holy Scripture does but record and exhibit typical and striking

instances by which our own observation and experience are confirmed.

Now, there is one feature common to a great many, perhaps more or less

to all, acts of iniquity, viz. that they have, so to speak, a double reward.


  • There is the reward which the worker contemplated as the fruit of his

            misdoing; and

  • there is the reward which he lost sight of, but which followed by an

      inevitable necessity of the moral Law of God.


Both are clearly exhibited in the awful case of Judas. The reward which he

looked for, and for the sake of which he betrayed the innocent blood, was the

possession of thirty pieces of silver. We know the poverty of the Son of

man, and that He had no silver or gold, no houses or lands, with which to

reward His followers. We know how days of toil succeeded one the other

during which the gains were indeed immense, souls nourished, enlightened,

instructed in the Word of God, prepared for the kingdom of heaven,

weaned from sin, won to righteousness — but not such gains as would

please the worldly mind. And we know the mind of Judas, that it was very

covetous and greedy of lucre. We know with what eyes he looked upon

Mary’s costly offering of love, and how he was wont to rob the bag which

contained the alms for the poor. We can well believe, therefore, that to a

mind so constituted and so depraved the possession of thirty pieces of

silver appeared no mean reward. It would be some consolation for the loss

of the portion of the three hundred pence which he might have abstracted

from the bag had the ointment been sold and the price given to the poor.

Perhaps he had set his heart upon that very field which was bought with the

price of blood, and which was to become the strangers’ burial-ground.

Anyhow, he got his reward. He did the deed and he got the money, “the

reward of iniquity” — the reward which he looked for as the fruit of his

sin. And sinners very often do get their expected reward.


  • Adam and Eve became “as gods, knowing good and evil;” (Genesis 3:5)
  • Gehazi obtained his two talents of silver and his two changes

      of garments; (II Kings 5:22)

  • Ahab got possession of the coveted vineyard of Naboth; (I Kings 21:15)
  • Zimri gained a throne by the slaughter of the house of Baasha; (ibid. ch.16:12)
  • the men of Gibeah slaked their lust on the Levite’s concubine; (Judges 20)


hatred, revenge, ambition, continually by iniquity obtain their reward, and

the pages of Scripture and of profane history, as well as our own

experience, teem with examples of the reward of successful wickedness.

But now let us look at the other reward of iniquity; that which comes in

due season as the inevitable fruit of the just judgment of God; that of which

Horace, heathen as he was, spoke, when he hid —


Raro antecedentem scelestum

Deseruit pede poena claudo.”


Judas has got his money. Perhaps he has concluded his bargain for the

field. He is no longer a poor man like his Master. The former gains of

robbery have been swelled by the price of treachery. But he had forgotten

his manhood. He had forgotten that man has a conscience, and that a guilty

conscience is like the raging sea, which cannot be stilled. He had shut his

eyes to everything but the reward he coveted. But now the storm is rising.

Remorse begins her terrible work. Vain regret, agonizing fear, terrible self-

reproach, unbearable shame, — all rush upon his soul, and distract and tear

it. The remembrance, perhaps, of the Lord’s goodness; some distinct

impressions of His wonderful love; the recollections, maybe, of some true

happiness in His service before the curse of covetousness lit upon him;

flashes of the hope once entertained of the kingdom of heaven, but now

turned into despair; — these move his heart only to make it capable of

feeling more bitterly what he now was, and what he must be for ever. His

whole existence a curse by his own exceeding wickedness! “Good were it

for me if I had not been born! I have no place to hide in from the terrors of

God — the terrors of God’s goodness! I am, and must be forever. And

God is, and must be forever! But I cannot abide God’s presence! I cannot

abide my own consciousness!” Such were the maddening thoughts of the

son of perdition-of him whose iniquity had gained its reward. He tries to

rush from consciousness, to escape from himself and from God. He flings

from him the accursed silver; but he cannot fling away the guilt of blood.

And so he takes a halter and hangs himself, and goes to his own place. But

let us reckon up his gains and losses. He had gained thirty pieces of silver

— the reward of his iniquity. But he had lost his apostleship, the highest

office on earth; his throne, the highest place of man in heaven, under Jesus

Christ; his peace of mind, his serf-respect, his power of enjoying life, the

esteem of all good men; any place among men save that of shame, and

ignominy, and disgrace, and abhorrence, he had lost his own soulhis

life; all the pleasures of time, all the joys of eternity. This was “the reward

of iniquity,” which came upon him by the inevitable justice of God. And

this is written for our learning, that we may ponder it and be wise. And we

are led to the same conclusion by following up in any other case, and

comparing, the twofold rewards of iniquity. The conclusion to which we

are inevitably led is —


  • That the three things which are necessary to a man’s happiness are:


Ø      The approval of his own conscience.

Ø      The sense of being approved by God.

Ø      The esteem of his fellow men, and of all God’s rational creatures.


·         That by iniquity all these three are forfeited, and that the gains or

reward of iniquity are as inadequate a compensation for such loss as Esau’s

mess of pottage was for the loss of his birthright. The gains, the pleasures,

the temporal rewards of iniquity, come and go like a dream, like a tale, like

a flash of lightning. The eternal reward of iniquity abides; terrible in its

undiscovered vastness, awful in its unknown horrors, and in its fixity of

tenure; fixity written in the phrase which tells us of Judas that he went

“to his own place.”


Ø      We learn that every man has the place in eternity which he made his

            own IN TIME!  A man’s own place in the eternal world is that which

            falls to him by the unchanging laws of God, according to his choice

            of good or evil in this world. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ has,

            indeed, opened a way of righteousness to those who had seemed to have

            lost it for ever; but to those who obstinately love darkness rather than

            light, and cling to iniquity in the very FACE OF MERCY, there

            remains in the nature of things no other end than that, like Judas,

            they go each one “to his own place.”



A Second Interval of Thrilling Expectation Hushing Itself in Prayer

(vs. 12-14)


“Then returned they unto Jerusalem… the mother of Jesus, and with His

brethren.” We have here:



WITH THRILLING EXPECTATION. It may be held that a period of just

six weeks had elapsed since the very same persons as are here spoken of

had passed through a much briefer interval than the ten days they are now

passing through, marked, however, very largely by the same characteristic

of thrilling expectation. Perhaps we may say, in the light of such language

as that of our Lord Himself (Luke 24:25-26), that it was entirely to be

set down to the fault of these disciples and women that on that occasion

their experience was not altogether one of expectation, instead of being so

dreadfully dashed by gloom, by fear, sometimes by a very near approach to

despair. That interval of a very short three days may probably have

dragged its hours along with fearful slowness. It was, however, the time, if

faith had apprehended it, which should have been brilliant with the light

and hope of a rising, and therefore finally vindicated and manifestly

triumphant, Master — of One who had long time patiently stooped to

suffering, humiliation, insult, it is true, and who had at last bowed His head

to death, but whose task and subjection were now done, and come the time

of “rest from His labors,” and of glory in His victory. But we know credibly

that the interval was not thus brightened. Memory was faint, and faith

faint-hearted. And the impressions of sense that came of Gethsemane, and

of the brutal scenes of the judgment hall, and of the fierce sufferings of the

cross, and the darkness of death, overmastered the pleading suggestions of

faith, and overruled the whispering memories of the vanished Friend’s own

words. It was natural, indeed, because to be wrong is, alas! the very thing

that is so natural with us all; but we may say that never were three days so

wrested of their rights. For confident, joyful, ardent expectation were

substituted fear, gloom, and only the timidest of hopes. And yet there can

be no doubt that the beating pulse of expectation, though the low-beating,

would be our most correct diagnosis of that period. And it was now a pulse of

expectation, too, but a healthier one by far. Faith had had a little rest, a

little occasional change to sight these forty days past, and was the better,

stronger, more willing for it. What an inversion had mercifully occurred to

them of their ignorance, doubt, fear, in certain cardinal directions — of

their estimates of impossibility, or at least incredibility! So, after a few

enchanting visions and audiences of their great Lord, they find themselves

“left” again! But they are not left “comfortless.” They do remember now

His words. They return to Jerusalem; they wait. They learn a fresh lesson in

waiting. Their waiting rests on memories that now glow with glory, on a

few words of direct command, on other few words of express promise, and

on one incomparable fact — the Ascension. Things noteworthy in the

nature of this period of expectation are as follows:


Ø      It was waiting for their life work, which they are implicitly forbidden

      to anticipate. Yet who could call it wasted waiting? The hasty, the

      uncertain, and those who may have other motive inferior to the most

      real motive, sometimes decry a delay, in which they ought to recognize

      a great meaning and a positive use.


Ø      It was waiting for even liberty to leave a certain place or separate from a

certain circle of companions or associates. The final reason of this became

apparent. The startling developments of Pentecost would have been shorn

of half their intended value, apart from the solidarity of the apostles and

disciples. The conditions of our earthly life, and our sphere of Christian

ministry and service, often seem both tieing and trying. Yet there must

be valuable consideration for these, and sometimes time does at last

surprisingly justify them.


Ø      It was waiting for a promised marvelous endowment, not of anything so

      vulgar as outward wealth, not of anything so enviable but dangerous as

      mere intellectual superhuman illumination, but of the undefined, the

      mysterious, the awful power of the Holy Ghost. With what anxious

      outlook we do sometimes wait! With what mistaken, ill-judged longings!

      Nay, but sometimes past these, with what pardonably trembling,

      shrinking, fainting, hovering fancy we wait! But oh, if these disciples and

      women could have gauged beforehand something of that awful gift of the

      Holy Ghost, what of character, quality, color, would it not have given to

      their expectation! So men have now and again trembled before the

      mystery of their own conversion — before some deep change in their

      spiritual self, and before that supreme exchange of grace and trial here

      for glory and perpetual security above. And so also, for infinite reason, 

      God veils just a while light, beauty, the blaze of knowledge, even the

      finish of holiness, from His own.



UNDEFINED AS TO ITS DURATION. The tension of the disciples on

the occasion of the Crucifixion and entombment was relieved, and might

have been much more relieved for them. They had been not only expressly

forewarned of what was to be, but of the time also. And Old Testament

type and temple parable had offered to deepen the impression on the minds

of the disciples, of the women, and of the mother herself. Jonah’s “three

days and three nights,” and the “three days” rebuilding of the demolished

temple, spoke the duration of the trial, darkness, sorrow. But now all that

is known, all that has been said, is, “not many days hence.” And to this, no

doubt, the quickened intelligence of the apostles and their associates would

have most naturally argued that the delay could not be really long. Christ

would never, in the nature of things, keep His disciples long in an inactivity

that might degenerate, if prolonged, into indifference or idleness. This

exact crisis abounds in aspects and questions of interest. That the apostles

should at all be relegated to a period of this kind at such a moment

inspiring above all others; that the interval should need to be one of some

ten days; that this length of time was not specified to them; and what the

ascended Lord’s transactions were in that interval above, — are

suggestions of questions to which none but conjectural and alternative

response can be offered. But these things may be said about them:


Ø      They bring events and experiences of our own individual life, of our

combined religious work, of our own entrance and of the Church’s

entrance upon the fruition of the immortal hope, into close and

grateful analogy with things that passed and that were ordained

directly under the eye of our Founder and Lord Himself.


Ø      They are in manifest consonance with the objects and moral advantages

of very much of our appointed waiting. Once ascertain and announce

time, and it is manifest that a whole range of moral advantage in our

education would be swept away, and a vast range of disaster would

tyrannously usurp its sacred place.


Ø      They help comfort every reverent mind, every humble heart, that instead

of its first impression being true, that arbitrariness is the hard bondage

under which we live, this is the very last thing that can be true. And they

help to convince of the greatness of Him who, with all the deep counsel

of His own purposes, neither forgets nor is baffled in securing the

advantage of His own children.




Ø      It is spent “in prayer.” Not in an ill-concealed, graceless return to

ordinary work, and which might at any other time have possibly been

sacred duty, but which was not so now. Times, the honest work of which

is prayer, may well belong to every good life. That of Jesus owned to

them. And this was just such a time.


Ø      It is spent in united prayer. “With one accord.” Persons, voices, hearts,

hopes, — all were accordant. What an augury, what an example, what a



Ø      It is spent in persevering, united prayer. They “continued.” No sense of

weariness crept over them; no dullness, no monotony, struck them in

this their worship and liturgy.


Ø      To the company and unanimity of the apostles were added “the women,

and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brethren.”


o       There is no priesthood here, nor any proxy of Divine worship and

service. Round the apostles are gathered various others, whose

worship, prayer, and thoughts are all the same.


o       There is here no exaltation of man and depreciation of woman.

      Twas a happy augury, this little early incident before Christianity

      was fully planted, of the place that it would give woman; and a

      happy earnest of the fact that nowhere does woman rank so high

      as where Christ and His pure truth have the fairer sway at all

      events, if not yet the perfect sway.


o       Mary, the genuine mother of Jesus, acknowledges His Deity.

      She joins “in prayer;” and “his brethren” do the same.

      What quiet telling witness to Jesus, and to our “faith and hope

      toward” Him, this may justly be felt!


o       As Jesus began His earthly career from the stable, so the

      compacted body of His Church begin theirs from the upper room.

      It is not the temple, it is not even the tabernacle, it is not a

      consecrated place heretofore. The company, the prayer, the

      o’er hovering Spirit, “waiting” to alight, — these consecrate.

      The grandness and sacredness of temple and of church all had

and have their meaning and their use. But there is truth of so

much greater and deeper force in Christ and His people, that

wherever they are, that is “the house of God and the gate of

heaven,” that is the really grand temple, that the sacred Church.

Happy, threefold happy, this early picture of Christ’s “little flock.”

“Who shall harm them? What shall move?” And though but some

six weeks had passed since they were seen plunged in the

faithless gloom of the three days, this has traveled far into the

past. It is no wonder. A little time suffices for dawn to drive

away the darkness. How differently this present interval of

ten days is passing! So when darkness, storm, and fear are

vanishing, all is hushed in peaceful prayer, and the

Church “waits” with a just and blissful expectancy!



Wisdom in Bereavement (vs. 9-14)


We learn from these verses:



DEPTH OF PRIVATION TO ANOTHER. For the joy that was set before

Him Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2).

Into that joy He now entered. As the “cloud received him out of their sight”

(v. 9), and He returned unto the Father, He took possession of the

glorious inheritance for which He had paid so costly a price. But the time of

His exaltation was the hour of His disciples sorrow. By His departure they

lost sight of their dearest Friend, their wise Counselor, their great Teacher,

their honored Lord. So must it be with us. The upright Christian statesman

passes to a still larger sphere of usefulness and honor, and the nation

mourns; the gifted and devoted pastor is called to a celestial ministry, and

the Church is bereaved; the Beloved parent is translated to the skies, and

the family hearth is desolate.



WHICH WE MUST SOON BE AROUSED. (vs. 10-11.) It was natural

and right enough that, when the Savior was taken up and disappeared from

sight, the disciples should continue to “look steadfastly toward heaven”;

their eyes may well have been riveted to the spot in inexpressible awe and

wonder. Doubtless all thought was swallowed up in simple surprise and

consternation; they stood in helpless, bewildering astonishment. This might

last for some minutes, but it could not continue longer. The angels broke in

upon it, not with the language of reproach, but with the voice of arousing.

A kindly voice is this. When disposed to give way to helpless awe, or

fruitless grief, or inanimate prostration of soul, we may thank the minister

of God, in whatever form he may come, who says to us, “Why stand ye

gazing’? Amuse ye! All is not lost. The past is past, but the future is in

front of you.”



COMPENSATIONS. (v. 11, latter part.) Though the Master was taken,

He would come again; and when He returned, it would, indeed, be “in like

manner”, etc., but in more glorious form and with more splendid

surroundings (I Thessalonians 4:16; II Thessalonians 1:7; Jude 1:14;

Revelation 1:7). Moreover, He would come again in unlike

manner, but in a way as gracious and, perhaps, even more needful, viz. in

the enlightening influences of the Holy Spirit (v. 5). Heaven was taking

away their Strength and their Joy; but let them wait in holy trustfulness,

and Heaven would soon give them ample and blessed compensation. God

takes from us - from the community and from the individual heart — those

that are very dear, things that are very precious to us; then we faint and are

grievously distressed; we may be almost paralyzed with our sense of loss

and desolation. But there is blessing on its wayDivine comfort, solace,

strength. The hand that takes our treasures has large compensations in





(vs. 12-14.) The apostles, roused by the angels’ speech, returned unto

Jerusalem and went into the upper room, where they would meet their best

friends — those who had the deepest sympathy with them — that they

might commune with them and that they might “continue in prayer and

supplication.” In the time of bereavement and woe we may be tempted to

shut ourselves in to our own chamber and nurse our grief. Nothing can be

more unwise. Let sorrow, indeed, have its own chosen loneliness in its first

dark hours; leave it alone with God, with the pitiful, patient Savior. Then

let it come forth; let it go into the “upper room,” where it can hold

fellowship with human friends; let it go into the sanctuary, where, with the

people of God, it can pour out its heart in prayer and supplication: it will

not be long before it finds itself joining with them in the accents of praise.


15 “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and

said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)”

These for those, Authorized Version; brethren for disciples, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus; and there was a multitude of persons gathered together

for the number of names together were, Authorized Version; a for an, Authorized

Version. Peter justifies his primacy by taking the lead in the first onward

movement of the Church. Names is a common Hebraism for “persons”

(see Revelation 3:4; Numbers 1:2). Gathered together; i.e. to one place and

at one time (see the same phrase, ch. 2:1, 44 - ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ - epi to auto –

on the same place, indicative of Church unity occurs).


16 “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which

the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas,

which was guide to them that took Jesus.”  Brethren, it was needful that the

Scripture should be fulfilled for men and brethren, this Scripture must needs

have been fulfilled, Authorized Version.; spake before by the mouth of David

for by the mouth of David spake before, Authorized Version It was needful, etc.

So our Lord declared, “The Scriptures cannot be broken” (John 10:35); and

“All things must be fulfilled which were written” etc. (Luke 24:25-27, 44-46).

It is most important to our Christian integrity that we should view the Scriptures

in the same light as our Lord and His apostles did, as containing real prophecies,

spoken by the Holy Ghost. (Compare the manner in which Psalm 95 is here

quoted with that of Hebrews 3:7.) So the Creed, “I believe in the Holy

Ghost .... who spake by the prophets” (compare ch.4:25; 28:25). Who

was guide, etc. If Peter had only been addressing his brother apostles,

who were well acquainted with the treachery of Judas, it would scarcely

have been natural to introduce these words; they would have seemed rather

to be explanatory words added by the historian. But the circumstances

might be very imperfectly known to many of the hundred and twenty

brethren assembled on this occasion; and if so, the reference to Judas’s

treachery would not be out of place in Peter’s mouth.


17 “For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.”

Among for with, Authorized Version; received his portion in for had obtained

part of, Authorized Version For he was numbered, etc. This is said in order to

show that the passage in the Psalms applied strictly to Judas, seeing he had

held his portion in the ministry and office of an apostle (see John 6:71).

His portion; literally, his lot; i.e. the portion which fell to him by lot. The

language is taken from the Old Testament (see e.g. Joshua 18:10-11;

19:1, 10, etc.). Those who received such a portion (κλῆρονklaeron

lot; allotment) were clergy.


18 “Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling

headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”

Obtained for purchased, Authorized Version an unnecessary change; his

iniquity for iniquity, Authorized Version It is obvious that this verse and v. 19,

which are placed in a parenthesis in the Revised Version, are not part of Peter’s

discourse, but are explanatory words inserted by Luke for the instruction of

Theophilus and his other readers. Falling headlong; i.e. from the tree or

gallows on which he hung himself (see Matthew 27:3-8). The only

apparent discrepancies in the accounts of Matthew and Luke in

regard to the purchase of the field, and the name given to it, are that,

according to Matthew’s more detailed account, it was the chief priests

who actually purchased the field with Judas’s money, whereas Luke

says, less accurately, that Judas purchased it. Again, Matthew explains

the name Akel-dama as being given to the field because it was the price of

the “innocent blood” of Jesus betrayed by Judas, whereas  Luke’s

account rather suggests that it was Judas’s own blood shed in his fall which

gave the name. But both accounts of the name might be true, some

understanding the name in one sense and some in the other. (Compare the

different accounts of the name of Beer-sheba in Genesis 21:31 and

26:32-33; of the origin of the proverb, “Is Saul among the prophets?”

I Samuel 10:11-12 and 20:24; and other similar cases.) Though,

however, there is no serious discrepancy between Luke and Matthew,

it is probable, from the variations above named, that Luke had not seen

Matthew’s account.


19 “And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as

that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say,

The field of blood.”  Became known for was know, Authorized Version; that

in their language that field was called Akeldama for as that field is called in

their proper tongue, Aceldama, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.


20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate,

and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.”

Made desolate for desolate,; office (as in margin) for bishopric, Authorized

Version. The book of Psalms, one of the recognized divisions of the

canonical Scriptures, as we find Luke 24:44, “The law of Moses, and

the prophets, and the psalms,” the last standing for the Hagiographa, of

which it was the first and principal book. Here, however, as in Luke

20:42, it may rather mean the Book of Psalms proper. (For similar

quotations from the Psalms, see ch.13:33-35; Hebrews chapters 1., 2., 3., 4.,

5., 10., etc.) His office let another take. Bishop being the English

transliteration of ἐπίσκοποςepiskoposoverseer - bishopric is, of course,

the literal rendering of ἐπισκοπή - episkopaeoffice; supervision; if taken in

its wider and more general sense, as in the well known work of Archdeacon Evans?

“the bishopric  of souls.” This same office is called a διακονίας diakonias

dispensation; ministry (a deaconship), and ἀποστολὴ - apostolae -  (an

apostleship) in vs. 17 and 25. So Paul cells himself διάκονος diakonos -  (a

minister) in Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:23, 25, etc. So the presbyters of the

Church are called bishops (ch. 20:17, 28; I Timothy 1:1-2. etc.). The

ecclesiastical names for the different offices in the Church only acquired their

distinctive use later, and by the gradual growth of custom. In the Septuagint,

 ἐπισκοπή answers to the Hebrew פְקֻדָּה, Authorized Version, “oversight”

(Numbers, 3:32; 4:16, etc.).


21 “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time

that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,”  Of the men therefore for

wherefore of these men, Authorized Version; event out for out, Authorized Version.


22 “Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that He was taken

up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.”

The day for that same day, Authorized Version; received for taken, Authorized

Version; of these must one become for must one be ordained to be, Authorized

Version. Beginning belongs to the Lord Jesus. He began to go in and out among

His apostles from the time that John baptized, and continued to do so till His

ascension, the day that He was received up (“taken up” Authorized Version),

as in v. 11. This definition of the time of our Lord’s public ministry exactly

agrees with Matthew 4:12-25; Mark 1.; Luke 3., 4.; John 1:29-51. Must one

become a witness, etc. The resurrection of Christ from the dead thus

appears to be a cardinal doctrine of the gospel. The whole truth of Christ’s

mission, the acceptance of His sacrifice, the consequent forgiveness of sins,

and all man’s hopes of eternal life, TURN UPON IT!  All the sermons of the

apostles recorded in the Acts and the Epistles also agree with this (see chapters

2., 3., 4.; 5:31-32; 7:56, 59; 10:39-41; 13:30, etc.; Romans 1:4; I Corinthians 15:4;

II Corinthians 1:9, etc.; I Peter 1:3; 3:21-22; Revelation 1:5,etc.). The great care

taken to secure competent witnesses is very remarkable. A disciple who had

recently joined the company might be mistaken; one who had been the daily

companion of Jesus Christ for three years and a half, and knew every gesture and

every feature of the Master with perfect certainty, could not be mistaken.


23 “And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus,

and Matthias.” Put forward for appointed, Authorized Version; Barsabbas for

Barsabas, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. Joseph called Barsabbas

(or Barsabas). Nothing more is really known of him. His work for Christ has no

earthly record, except that Papias (Euseb., ‘H.E.,’ 3:39) says that, having drunk

some deadly poison, by the grace of God he sustained no harm. Eusebius

elsewhere says that he and Matthias were reported to be of the seventy, which

is not improbable. The derivation of the name Barsabas, or Barsabbas, is

unknown; it seems to be a patronymic (son of Sabas, or Sabbas), like Bar-

Tholomew, Bar-Jonas, Bar-Jesus, etc. But it might also be descriptive of

his qualities, like Barnabas, Son of Consolation (ch. 4:36), in which

case one would expect it to mean the same as Justus, as in the case of

“Thomas called Didymus” (John 20:24; where Thomas and Di-dymus

both mean “a twin”); but no Aramean word of this signification is

forthcoming. The surname Justus, with its derivatives Justinus and

Justinianus, was not an uncommon Roman name. It was also borne by a

Jewish historian contemporary with Josephus, Justus of Tiberias, the son of

Pistus (see ‘Life of Josephus,’§§ 35, 65) and was the surname of James the

Less. Matthias not otherwise known, but said by Nicephorus to have

preached and suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia. Eusebius (‘H. E.,’3:24)

mentions spurious Gospels “of Peter, Thomas, Matthias, and others,” as

quoted by heretics. A work called ‘The Traditions of Matthias’is referred

to by Clemens Alexandrinus (‘Strom.,’ 2:163).


24 “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts

of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,”  Of these two the

one whom for whether of these two, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.


25  “That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which

Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.”

To take the place in this for that he matt take part of this, Authorized Version

and Textus Receptus; fell away for by transgression fell, Authorized Version.

(παρέβη parebae - transgressed ). The use of παραβαίνω parabaino - in

an intransitive sense for “to transgress, fall away from, turn

aside from”; and the like, is frequent in the Septuagint. (Exodus 32:8;

Deuteronomy 17:20, etc.). To his own place. An awful phrase, showing that

every man has the place in ETERNITY which he has made for

himself in time. If the reading place, in the beginning of the verse, is

adopted instead of the part (κλῆρον - klaeronlot; allotment) of the

Authorized Version, then there is a contrast between the blessed place of

apostleship, which Judas forfeited, and that of traitorship, which he acquired.



Judas, His Opportunity and His Treatment of It (vs. 16-20, 25)


“Concerning Judas, which was guide… might go to his own place.” The

treason of Judas is related by every one of the evangelists; but his

subsequent history no one of them as such even alludes to, except Matthew.

The Evangelist Luke, however, here gives it, in his capacity

of historian of the” Acts of the Apostles.” What he reports Peter as

saying is not in verbal harmony with what Matthew says. But there is

not the slightest difficulty in seeing the way to a real and perfect harmony.

The only difficulty is in declaring absolutely that one way and not another

is the authoritative harmony. That Judas fell headlong and burst asunder”

is a very easy sequel to his hanging himself.” And that the chief priests

took counsel, and determined to buy with the abandoned thirty pieces of

silver the potter’s field, and to devote it to the burial of strangers, is also a

very conceivable sequel. It may be it was but the carrying into effect of a

bargain which the covetousness of Judas had contemplated and had

arranged for — all but the transfer of the money and the thereby

“completion of purchase.” The chief priests hear of this, and in their

perplexity and desire to get rid of the accursed thirty pieces of silver, they

close at once with the proposing vendor, whoever he was; but while they

devote their purchase to an object the same, the purpose was very different

from that which Judas had grown in a covetous mind. We may be tolerably

sure he sought for some sort of further gain. They adapt (adsit omen) to a

burial-ground. Once, such an end to such a career, of a professed disciple

of the Lord, was unique, and then, for that reason, it would fascinate study.

It not long remained so, alas! and for that reason, that practical, alarming

reason, it has been suggesting for centuries, and still to this day it suggests

— ay, it demands — solemn, heart-searching study. Let us get beneath our eye:





Ø      He was called in the same way as, at all events, a majority of the whole

                        number of the twelve disciples were called. So far as we know, there was

                        nothing special or emphatic in the circumstances that accompanied his

                        call (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16). John says nothing

                        whatever of the call of Judas; but that he knew something about it

                        is evident from his allusion to Christ’s foreknowledge (John 6:64,70-71,

                        Why Christ, with His admitted perfect foreknowledge, did call Judas to

                        be an immediate attendant upon Him, is a question that cannot be

                        answered, perhaps. But three things may be remarked upon it:


o       That Christ certainly did not do Judas harm, but gave him the

      grandest possible opportunity of help towards subduing

      whatever may have been his master-sin, by permitting his

      special and constant association with Him and His other



o       That at all events Christ did not, in calling Judas to the circle of

      His disciples, call one who would betray another, and have

      favorable opportunity of betraying another thereby, but only

      himself. Jesus bore all the pain and suffered all the loss of

      what He did Himself; He did not scatter harm in the path

      of others.


o       That after all, in deep principle, Jesus did nothing different from

      what has ever since been transpiring under his Name, wherever

      His Name is known. His Church now — and His Church is His

      representative — admits within its most really hallowed

      enclosure many a traitor. It is true, not with oreknowledge; it is

      true, pleading ever, as its apology when discovered, its own

      confessed fallibility; and, let it be true also, that it is this which

      strikes us as constituting the difference. But is it to be so

      regarded? Without leaving out of sight for one moment

      Christ’s foreknowledge and infallibility of foreknowledge,

      we must bring into sight the fact that this is traversed by

                                    another most evident principle and practice on the part of

                                    Jesus, which reveal Him ever beforehand sharing the lot

                                    of His Church, and intending to share it in disappointment,

                                    in deception on the part of others, in woe as in weal. On

                                    much the same principle that Jesus did not take advantage

                                    of His ability to command stones into bread, so He does not

                                    take certain kinds of advantage from His foreknowledge.

                                    And what we have under consideration is exactly one of

                                    these kind. There are ample and significant indications

                                    that the one expression, Jesus called unto Him whom He

                                    would” (Mark 3:13), and our own willing estimate of His

                                    superlative knowledge, are to be balanced with other

                                    considerations, both such as arise from disciples’ choice

                                    and disciples’ volunteering (John 1:37-42), and from the

                                    essential facts of human nature. At all events, we do not

                                    know that Judas was not a volunteer. He may have been

                                    an ardent, enthusiastic volunteer; he may have been a

                                    financial expert of his rank and day, who seems to

                                    sacrifice bright business prospects in following Jesus,

                                    who takes credit, too, for it, and who by general consent

                                    becomes designated treasurer so soon as a treasurer was

                                    wanted (Luke 8:3, and elsewhere). Do we not know something

                                    today of the busy and clever and ready-tongued volunteer,

                                    and of his entrance within the pale of the Church visible?

                                    It may, in passing, just be noted that in the three parallel

                                    Gospels the name of Judas always stands last, and is

                                    attended by the evangelistic remark, merely posthumous,

                                    that he was the traitor of his Master.


Ø      From the announcement of the call of the twelve disciples up to now, the

                        closing days of Christ’s life, not a syllable is to be read of Judas, except

                        the damnatory remark of John 6:71. The question of Jesus preceding that

                        running comment belonged, of course, strictly to the occasion, but the

                        running comment itself is merely historic. But the closing days are now

                        come. And they bring this man to the fore.


o       He finds fault (or otherwise leads the fault-finding of himself

      and some others) with the loving devotion of a woman who,

      for priceless mercy received, brings the only present she knows

      to bring — a present, no doubt, of what was costliest in her

      treasures, and admitted by all to be both precious and costly —

      ointment with which to anoint the head and feet of Jesus. And

      Judas says, “It’s waste.” And Judas asks, “Why was it not sold,

                                    and the hard cash put into the Master’s bag for the poor,

                                    which I carry?”  Yes, and the Evangelist John adds, probably

                                    in the light of after developments, from which he carried too,

                                    i.e. from which he stole. (modern embezzlement – CY – 2016)

                                    And Judas incurred the silencing and reproof of the Master, and

                                    he does not forget that reproof. This was late as the fourth day

                                    of the fatal week.


o       At the end, or immediately after the end of the very next day

                                    (equivalent to the evening which led in the sixth day), Judas

                                    also asks, “Is it I?” when the question was — Who among

                                    those twelve there was the traitor? and he is pronounced, by

                                    the lip and the hand of Jesus, the traitor; and he withdraws

                                    from the solemn, sacred, pathetic Supper scene! And

                                    again he goes with a word of the Master in his hearing,

                                    nor forgets it either.


o       Now but a few hours of night-time pass, when Judas reappears.

      It is into the Garden of Gethsemane — a place he knew, because

      he had been there often with a Master who loved to go there

      often — that he enters, no longer, for ever and ever no longer,

      the disciple of Jesus, but now the leader of a band, who lighted

      a way, that surely much needed light, “with lanterns and

      torches,” and who bore “swords and staves” (Matthew

                                    26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12). With

                                    a word and a kiss Judas betrays his recent Master, who asks

                                    him one gentle question, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?”

                                    And like a shadow Judas vanishes again from our sight.


o       Once more, and once more only, does Judas come himself

      before us. He comes to show a certain violent repenting,

      an attempt at some sort of restitution and unreserved

      confession of his own individual sin; and for these the

      treatment that he gets from “the chief priests and elders”

      seems to ripen remorse and madden despair, and, witness

      against himself, and jury, and judge, he becomes his own

      swift executioner also, all four in one terrible demonstration!

      It stands a witness to the end of time (and there cannot in this

      instance be a doubt that eternity looks on) of the avenging

                                    force that couches in ambush, in the being in whom God has

                                    implanted a moral constitution, when that constitution is

                                    keenly affronted, wounded to the quick repeatedly, and in

                                    aggravated form sinned against! WOE IS THAT BEING!

                                    it had been better for him that he had never been born!

                                    And now we have exhausted all the actual information

                                    recorded for us respecting the career of Judas. Let us ask:




MATERIALS. It has Been often thought that the key to the opening of his

character is held out to us in the one word covetousness, This impression

must be supposed to have been derived from the two facts — that he

filched from “the bag,” and that he asked money for the iniquitous

volunteered enterprise of being “guide to them that took Jesus.” The

foundation is perhaps something slender for what is built upon it. Likely

enough his tendencies may have looked this way. He may have known a

shade too well the use and “the love of money;” but evidence there is none

that he loved money as a miser loves it. Nor did it seem to stick to his

fingers as it does to those of an essentially covetous man — not, for

instance, when he threw it down on the temple floor at the priests’ feet.

May not other causes, that moved in deeper groove, and mined their

unsuspected approaches in darker and more tortuous channel, have

determined this monstrous deformity of growth? We believe that we have

before us, in the unenviable, unwelcome riddle of this character:


Ø      A man to whom ambition (very probably native to him) was the

misguiding, the fatuous, the disastrous light. This covetousness was

in him; it had been looking out for its own good; it had comparatively

long time looked in vain. But now, in what the history of two thousand

years, perhaps rather of four thousand years, has shown to be the most

dangerous direction of all, the opportunity seemed to open itself within

the ecclesiastical sphere. He sees and snatches at the opportunity. Here

is a manifest novelty — Jesus! His pretensions are great, and are far

from lacking probability, The mighty works He does are supported by

significant indications, though not so popular, by mighty words, and

deeper still by the framework of cherished prophecies not unknown to

Judas, and with which just now the very air, natural, political, religious,

is rife. The thought enters his mind to become a disciple — it is not

altogether business, for his heart owns to a gentle upheaval of

enthusiasm towards Jesus. He essays to become a disciple, puts

himself in the way, keeps near and in the right company, and finds

himself “called” in the sacred circle. Adventure, religiosity, and

a practical good chance seemed all combined.


Ø      A man with an immense power of self-deception. No form of deception

is more aggravated in its character and in its effects than self-deception.

The victimizer is the same with the victim. The deadliest harm suffered

from another may have, even in the supreme moment, some possible

compensation for the sufferer, in high moral feeling, in the exercise of

high moral grace, such as forgiveness, or patience under unmerited,

uncaused suffering, nay, in the bare thought that one is suffering through

another. For now, at all events, the vicariousness of suffering, in a wide

range of degree, has a charm of real glory. But to have the very faculty

of self-deception is to have one of the worst of enemies while character

grows, one of the most vengeful of enemies when the day of settlement

comes. And Judas, whether in aiming to become a disciple or in only

consenting to it, had little idea of the amount of his unfittedness for it.

And so the months that flew on increased the unfittedness and the

ignorance by equal strides.


Ø      A man of amazing power of veiling his real self behind an impassive

exterior, when he gradually came to know that real self, and of keeping

his own secret.


o       Was it not getting time for conscience to show itself in the cheek

      for Judas, when Jesus said, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and

      one of you is a devil?”


o       Was ever more perilous stuff pent up in the breast, and yet not

      a sign of it on the countenance, nor even in a faltering tone of

      voice, when, that Last Supper evening, Judas found himself

      compelled to join the inquirers, and brought his lips also to say,

      “Lord, is it I?”


o       Was it not the very incarnation of the own devil’s deliberateness

      and of matchless coolness when Judas not only headed the cowed

      procession, armed with swords and staves, and lighted with

      lanterns and torches, into the garden, but that, when he “fell to

      the ground,” he had nerve enough so soon to find his feet, and

      to go on with his work as though he had not fallen, and surpassed

      himself in then stepping forth to the very van of the troop, who

      had hitherto covered him in part — to say “Hail!” to the Master,

      no longer his, and to “kiss” Him? The very highest moral efforts

have been sometimes accomplished just so much the more

effectively because they have been accompanied by a certain

force of moral nervous exertion. On this occasion the very

highest immoral effort bore witness to a destitution of nervous

sensibility hitherto incredible. Surely to the end of the world

Judas will hold all his own the first place for secretiveness and

deliberateness and untroubled, both in darkest design and in

execution of it. His calm, balanced, impassive bearing serves

him with every one, except with Him “who knows the hearts

of all men.”


o       A man who, finding that he is playing a losing game, or thinking

      so, dares to attempt to retrieve what he counts his error, by

      heading a dark and desperate scheme, and by providing himself

      (for this was the probable reason of his occasional “thefts,” and

      of his asking payment for the betrayal) with something in

      compensation of the “all he had left,” together with the other

      disciples, when he first “followed” Jesus. However, now he

stakes “all” on one cast — the event too clearly demonstrates it.

He shows himself not the man to bear disappointment and loss,

especially when riled, as he probably now felt, by a conviction

of having suffered under some delusion. He is not of the temper

to brook a practical affront, let it have come whence or how it

may! He refuses to remain partners with inward discontent one

unnecessary, one avoidable hour! And not the first man of

the kind, though the undoubted first of the solemn pitch of

ENORMITY, he miscalculates — awfully miscalculates —

the hour, and in another hour is falling into the lowest Tophet,

under the name of “the son of perdition”! So fell THE



o       A man — emphatically not “stricken, smitten of God, and

      afflicted, but — whose branded heart and seared conscience

      were stricken of God, being restored for one moment to their

      maximum vitality, that moment their very last! It is impossible

      to account for the previous phenomena of the history of Judas

      as recorded, and for this fierce end of his career, without

      believing that he had long been hardening — heart and

      conscience grievously and dreadfully injured. Nemo fit

      repente turpissimus (no man ever become wicked all at

      once). And Peter, the thrice-denier, stands close by Judas,

      the betrayer, to point with Heaven’s own method of distinctness

      the difference. The death-struggle not unfrequently has witnessed

      to the measure of life that body and mind together can claim.

And supineness (laying on the back) has suddenly snatched and

for a moment wielded the weapons of preternatural, if not

supernatural, force. And it must be that this was the philosophy

of Judas doing these three things at once:


§         “repenting himself,”

§         “confessing his sin,” and

§         hanging himself.”


                                  The third of this series interprets for us the former two. The man

                                  who breaks thus, breaks because he is intrinsically weak. The

                                  keenest potency of feeling, the fullest, simplest confession of sin,

                                  the unequivocal renunciation of his unholy gain, and this all in

                                  the right arena, in face of the priests and on the temple floor

                                  and yet these not followed by mercy and forgiveness, but

blackened to sight by a self-inflicted dog’s death — must

proclaim a man:


§         strengthless,

§         hopeless,

§         for ever the disinherited son of perdition.”


                                  Let us ask:





EARTHLY CAREER. Peter says that Judas “fell by transgression”

from his apostleship, “that he might go to his own place.” It can scarcely

be that Peter, who rose to speak thus in the midst of his “brethren,” should

entirely forget how near he himself bad been to falling from his apostleship;

and yet there are essential considerations so differencing the two cases that

we could imagine it possible that, in real fact, he never connected them for

so much as a moment in his own mind. This the difference — not that,

having strayed, Peter so soon and with so genuine a penitence came back,

and not that he had been perfectly sincere and was so sound at heart still,

but — that, though he undoubtedly fell suddenly by transgression (as Judas

fell suddenly), he did not fall “that he might go to his own place.” He fell

that he might get more estranged from “his own place,” and, regaining his

footing, might find himself nearer “placed” to his Master, and safer far than

before. It is very noticeable that Peter does not say that Judas went “to

his own place” because he “fell by transgression,” but that his fall, come at

by distinct and flagrant transgression such as admitted neither defense nor

palliation, made his own way to his own place. Some make a bridge of

escape, and some cut off from their enemies or for higher reasons from

themselves a bridge of escape, but Judas, “by transgression,” actually

bridges a way of destruction for himself; yes, “by transgression” so

pronounced, so aggravated, so enormous, but which drew its greatest, its

most distinctive peculiarities from what was antecedent to it. Its long roots

lay in a long past. From these it was nourished till it became monstrous.

Harder than it is to “pluck a rooted sorrow from the memory” did Judas

find it, arrived at a certain point, to pluck himself from “his own”

destruction. The disease will now have its course. The road leads to a

visible precipice, but Judas cannot stop his driving. The stream bears

irresistibly to the gulf. To what do these things point? What were the

antecedent peculiarities?


Ø      Very strong individuality of character ungoverned. Such may make

      very fine character. But it needs very skilful management, very strict

observation; a very firm hand must be kept upon it. Let it be ever

remembered that it is not likely to be and is not on side issues that the

battle of character, of life, of destiny, is fought. And it is not on side

issues that any man’s “own place” is determined. And this is the

reason why human judgments of self or of others are so often wrong,

because they are so prone to be arrested by the glitter or else the

glare of what may be a most minor point, a mere detail, a really

side issue, instead of being of the very web and woof. A man’s

“own place” is neither determined nor ascertained by the side issues,

which are so often all that lie visible.  (Like heredity and environoment

CY – 2016)   But there are some potencies of  character that do, or

otherwise undo, the work. A certain strong persistence of some force:


o       a thought,

o       a taste,

o        a wish,

o       a passion.


                        And when a man has a character of this sort, his best friend has one

                        gospel to preach to him — this, that his work lies clear as noonday

before him; he has an option of trembling significance before him;

he is set:


o       to master or

o       to be mastered,

o       to guide and rule and rise high as the angels, or

o       to be lured, drawn, dragged, driven, all the appalling

     way down to “HIS OWN PLACE”!


Ø      Splendid opportunities grossly neglected. The same phenomena and

facts of character and of growth to the very end, may and naturally must

be true anywhere, any time. But as the “own place” of Judas was different

from what could be the “own place” of vast numbers to whom for instance

the very name of Christ is unknown, so it is fair to take into account the

fact that his opportunities were, for his time of day and for every time of

day to which they could apply, literally splendid. The principle will be

very rarely unobservable, that in proportion as opportunity was good,

gross neglect of it made the surest ILL END YET SURER!  And make

whatever deductions possible, the opportunities of any one of the twelve

disciples were splendid — then certainly none more splendid than they.

To see, to hear, to watch such excellence, the excellence:


o       of naturalness,

o       of simplicity,

o       of perfect truth,

o       of tenderest human kindness,

o       of superhuman holiness,


was it not splendid opportunity? To have the:


o       personal inspection,

o       occasional correction,

o       deep-sighted suggestions, and

o       high warnings,


   not unmingled with gracious encouragement that never bore a tint

   of flattery, — was it not a splendid time of opportunity? To root

   confidence in such a Worker, not of gaping wonders but of majestic

   beneficence, — was it not splendid opportunity? In brief:


o       to witness that activity,

o       to hear that teaching,

o       to study that Model,


                 was a mass of opportunity that all the world beside could not give,

                 and that all the world beside ought not to have been able to take away.

                 But Judas let the world, or a small portion of the world, take it away

                 — nay, HE THREW IT AWAY HIMSELF!  And he did this to get

                 on to “his own place.”


Ø      The fearful irritation (working sometimes underneath even the calmest

exterior) of an unreal religious profession. The horrors of a false position

must be counted to be in good truth multiplied infinitely when the false

position lies within the domain of religion, and when it consists in the

unreality of the person, rather than in merely a temporary unsuitableness

to him of the place or the niche in which he has got fixed. In the recesses

of a lowly spirit, in the calm retreat and silent shade of religious

meditation, in the all-sacred shrine of deepest self-surrender and



o       what music of angels,

o       what whisperings of the Spirit,

o       what tones of Jesus Himself, are heard, and

o       what peace that passeth understanding


                        steals blissfully in! But of the vacant hollows of religious



o       mocking echoes are the tenants habitual, and

o       winds of the most  dismal wail wander endless in them!


                   The heart of Judas was not in his work these three years. His concealed

                   irritation must often have been severe. His thoughts were neither where

                   his hands or lips were, and chagrin was often his meat day and night

                   together. His life was joyless; and as the sun ripens all good fruits

and many a bad fruit too, so as surely, though strangely, does the

sunlessness of joylessness ripen with fearful rapidity and affect the

ill fruits of the hypocrite and of religious unreality. And, beyond

any doubt, it had been so now with Judas. Irritation, inside and unseen,

brings, in bodily disease, many an unhealthy humor to the surface,

and out of these forms the loathsome tumor, not infrequently fatal.

It is so with the burnouts and the turnouts of a religious profession,

career, and office, destitute of reality. In no other directions do

disease and inward injury rankle to so deadly effect. Judas is a

great Scripture typical WARNING against:


o       the profession,

o       the work,

o       the ministry, and

o       the dignity of religion


               assumed for whatsoever reason, and by whomsoever, WITHOUT

               REALITY!  This is par excellence the usurpation that finds

               “its own fall,  while the usurper falls by some “transgression,”

               little matter what, to find “his own place.”


Ø      The suffering to drift along a huge moral wrong in character and life.

Judas was guilty, certainly, of such moral wrong. He was guilty of it in

three directions as it affected:


o       his professed Master,

o       his so- called fellow-disciples, and of necessity most of all,

o       HIS OWN SOUL!


                      If a man lets any serious wrong in his earthly affairs drift, it is not

long before he finds it out, for it finds him out. Business rarely

indeed drifts right of itself. But wrong never drifts right. (I once

saw on a church marquee in Elizabethtown, KY  “There is no right

way to do the wrong thing!”  - CY – 2016)  Least of all does that

highest fashion of moral wrong ever drift right, when the question

lies in the domain that brings into contact that which is or ought

to be highest in ourselves with that which is indisputably highest

out of ourselves. (In our church once upon a time, Bro. Bob got

up and talked about dress in the churchas far as I know, by

the mores of the day, it did no good and that was probably over

ten years ago? – CY – 2016)  All here is matter of consciousness,

of real life, of spirit. It is past us altogether to say, what we almost

irresistibly imagine, that Judas was often on the point of making a

clean breast of it; but it is not past us to say that during those

three years conscience must have often urged him to:


o       confess his mistake,

o       resign the livery he wore,

o       quit the Master’s shamed  service, and

o       quit the disciples’ shamed society.


               In that event there would have been “room for repentance;” there

               would have been room for help; there would have been room to

               remonstrate, to rebuke, to revive some spark of grace, to recover

yet a soul alive. From some loving brother he might have heard

anticipated the words, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so

 great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3) and again, “It is impossible

for those who were once enlightened… if they shall fall away,

to renew them again unto repentance.”  (ibid. ch. 4:4-6)  And the

falling away might have been at the last averted. But no! Judas has

no mercy on his own soul, because he will not be faithful even to it.

The betrayer of his Master is the man to be the betrayer of himself.

At every turn the career of Judas is fraught with solemn lessons for

every one to whom the grace of discipleship to the Lord Jesus is

offered. The character of the test ordained for him is scarcely less

plainly or less concisely written than that ordained for our first

parents. Yet, nevertheless, thousands of years have not passed

away morally in vain in the world’s history. And in place of the

test of an humble, practical obedience to one individual and

merely physical command, the probation for Judas, and for

every one of ourselves, is self-consecration to JESUS, MASTER

and SAVIOUR, without one reservation, and personal holiness

 the sequel.


26 “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and

he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” They gave lots for them for they

gave forth their lots, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus (αὐτοῖς autois

for αὐτῶν auton - their); but the Textus Receptus gives the easiest sense. The

exact mode of taking the lot does not appear. Some think the name of each

candidate was written on a tablet, and that the first name which fell out of

the urn after it had been shaken was the one chosen. Some think the lot

was taken by dice. But however the taking of the lot was managed, the

effect was to leave the choice to God in answer to prayer.



The Path of Sin and the Way of the Righteous. (vs. 15-26)


The passage treats of the miserable end of the traitor apostle and of the

elevation of Matthias to the office from which “Judas by transgression

fell.” We are reminded of —


·         THE PATH OF SIN. (vs. 16-20.) This is a gradual descent. “No one

ever became most vile all at once,” wrote the Roman; and he was right.

Some men descend much more rapidly than others the path of folly and of

sin, but no one leaps at once from the summit to the foot. We do not

suppose that one day Judas was devoted to Christ and the next day began

to think how he should betray him. Probably his evil course was this: first,

surprise at the Lord’s slower and more quiet method of ministering; then

impatience and even positive dissatisfaction with him; then growing doubt

of His claims; then cupidity; then treachery; then remorseful despair; then

suicide, and the going to his own place (v. 25). Those who from being

virtuous become vicious men, fall in the same way, i.e. by degrees; more or

less slowly: first, the harboring of one evil thought and another; then laxity

in word; then carelessness and looseness of action; then occasional

transgression; then habitual vice; and then the miserable end. Similarly the

passage from godliness to absorbing worldliness is through weakening of a

sense of obligation:


o       decline of sacred joy;

o       relaxation of holy habits;

o       growing abandonment of devotional exercises;

o       losing the soul in temporal anxieties and passing pleasures. I


            In all such oases as that of Judas there is:


Ø      A gradual withdrawal of the soul from sympathy and fellowship with

its Lord.

Ø      Acts which pain and injure him.

Ø      A disastrous end — death; the reprobation of the good and true, the

retribution of the righteous Judge.


·         THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS. (vs. 21-26.) In the course of

Peter, Matthias, and the other ten apostles, there were three things

exceptional and peculiar to their position.


Ø      Bodily attendance on the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 21).

Ø      Consequent witness-bearing to the facts of His life and His resurrection

(v. 22).

Ø      Appointment by direct Divine selection: in the case of the eleven by the

Lord Himself at the commencement of His work, and in the case of

Matthias by appeal to supernatural guidance (vs. 23-26). But though

these features were not meant to be perpetual, there are those of which

they are suggestive which ought to characterize all true and earnest

followers of Christ.


o       Intimate association with Him; the intimacy which is not

      “after the flesh” (see John 20:17), but that which is “after

      a spiritual and heavenly


o       Bearing witness to Christ; not only to the facts of His life and

      of His victory over death, but to the graciousness of His

      character, the tenderness of His spirit, the excellency of His

      service, the joy of His friendship.

o       Continual resort to the throne of grace for Divine guidance.

      We do not now use “the lot,” but none the less do we seek,

      and gain by patient, trustful inquiry, the guidance of our

      God and Savior as we walk the path of life and as we

      labor in the field of holy usefulness.




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The Earnest of Zeal and Fidelity Exhibited by the Church Expectant

(v. 26)


“And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was

numbered with the eleven apostles.” The events with which the passage has

to do belong to that brief but remarkable interval of some eight to ten days

dining which the eleven apostles were bidden to remain in Jerusalem, and

were, in a sense, left alone, their Master and Savior having ascended, and

the Spirit, the promised Comforter, not having yet descended. The brief

interval invites not a little conjecture, but so much the more than it

otherwise might have done, because of the silence broken in this very

passage. Had the concord of the eleven, and their united worship and

services of prayer and praise in company with the large circle of the

hundred and twenty brethren (as given vers. 12-14), been our only record

of the period, there would have been less stir of conjecture. But, as it is, we

are led to wonder whether, while Jesus spoke to the eleven apostles of “the

things pertaining to the kingdom of God,” he had possibly warranted them

to add one to their number. We can only doubtfully answer “No.” For

while, on the one hand, it would seem strange, if Christ had done so, that

Peter should not quote the fact to the general assembly, on the other hand

it does seem very strange that Peter should take upon himself to assert the

necessity of such a step at such a time of unsettledness as regards the

constitution of the Church. Again, beyond the fact that the two, Joseph and

Matthias, had been companions of Christ and of the disciples from the time

of the baptism of John (<430126>John 1:26) to the time of the Resurrection, we

know nothing of them. We do not know on what principle the two were

selected first of all from any others who might have answered to the same

qualifications of having “companied with” the disciples; we do not know

how the casting of lots was managed; we do not know whether Matthias

ever really ranked with the apostles to any practical purpose, though he

was ‘voted in;” nor do we know one authentic syllable of his succeeding

work or of his death. To conjecture is as unsatisfying as it is easy. Setting

aside any detail of mere curiosity, we should certainly have liked to know

whether the transaction of this election was authorized; if it were not,

whether nevertheless it was legitimate, or whether it was possibly a fresh

illustration of the ready zeal, without authority, of Peter. It need scarcely

be said, however, that in the absence of any evidence or of any strong

reason to believe the latter, we assume the legitimateness of the whole

proceeding. And on this showing we notice —


  • THE DEVOTED ZEAL OF PETER. He is a born leader. He had often

shown a forward zeal. In the fort of many, many characters lurks also their

weakness. Purified from this, the strength becomes apparent again, and the

advantage becomes real. It is he who now takes the lead, and says, “It

behoovesto fill up the perfect number.


  • THE DISCERNING ZEAL OF PETER. He enthrones this great

historic fact of the resurrection of Jesus in its proper seat in the Church for

all time. The “eleven,” to be now strengthened by one more, are to accept

this as their chiefest mission and commission, to be “witnesses of the




that part of the work and of the organizing of the work of Christ is to

devolve upon man, and upon those who were the already “chosen”

apostles, together with the body of his people and disciples. He calls upon

all to join, and arranges for all to join in this proposed election.



wisdom and the choice and the appointment are to rest with him whom we

call the Head of the Church. It may not be certain that, so far as the terms

of Peter’s prayer go, he means it to be addressed exclusively to the risen

Lord, yet even this is most probable; and all the more so from his likely

recalling of the words of Jesus himself (<431516>John 15:16; 6:70; 21:17).




The Apparent Incompleteness of our Lord’s Life (v. 1)


It was but a beginning. The word “began” is as characteristic of St. Luke

as “straightway” is of St. Mark; it occurs thirty-one times in his Gospel.

The idea of Christ’s life on earth as being a “beginning” fits well into the

Pauline theology, which sets in such prominence the present and

continuous working of the risen, glorified, living Savior. To the apostles’

first view our Lord’s earthly life must have seemed a failure; they could not

know how it was to be continued and completed. From our enlarged

knowledge we can apprehend it as being the necessary introduction to his

present and permanent spiritual work. Illustrations of apparent

incompleteness of earthly life may be found in the story of Moses, who did

not cross the Jordan; and David, who did not build the temple. A man’s life

is never incomplete if he does well his appointed piece.



computation it extended only over three years, and many think the time

was even shorter than this. Thirty years were spent in secluded

preparations; and we may well ask — What great work could any man

accomplish in three brief years? And yet some of the most powerful and

permanent influences recorded in human history have come from men

whose lives were short. Illustrations are found in every department of life;

and the common observation has gained expression in the proverb, “Those

whom the gods love die young.” Life may be very short, and yet very full

of power and impulse for good. “He liveth long who liveth well.


  • THE SUDDEN STOPPAGE OF IT. Taken away by a violent death,

our Lord could not make it what men would call “complete,” “rounded

off.” On his last day he had to admit that it must remain, to men’s view,

seemingly imperfect. “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot

bear them now.” So with many human lives, the close comes suddenly, and

we wish we could tarry to get things completed. But we must leave them,

as Christ did; and we may be restfully assured that, if our work has been

good, God will find for it completeness by finding its fitting into his great



  • THE INTRODUCTORY CHARACTER OF IT. It was a “beginning,”

a “preface,” a “threshold,” an “ante-chamber,” an outward earthly show to

help us in realizing a continuous spiritual reality. The remembrance of what

was is to aid us in realizing what/s. And, in a yet fuller sense, that brief

human life was to lay the intellectual, moral, and religious bases on which

the Divine relations with men were from that time to rest. “It behooved

Christ thus to suffer, and to enter into his glory.”


  • THE CONTINUANCE OF IT. Of that “continuance” we have several

distinct forms of Conception; such as:


Ø      The work of the Holy Spirit.

Ø      The actual presence of Christ in His Church.

Ø      The permanent office of Christ as the one human Mediator,

Intercessor, and High Priest.


The relation of the “continuing” work to the “introductory is shown in our

Lord’s statement concerning the Holy Spirit: “He shall take of mine, and

shall show it unto you.” So far as the continuance of Christ’s earthly life

and influence is concerned, we find it in the holy living of his Church, and

the teachings of apostles and ministers. In application, it may be urged that

a work so graciously introduced in our Lord’s life on earth, and so

graciously continued in his present working in his Church, must have its

completion some day. Such completion is reached in the believer’s “full

sanctification;” and, for the Church, in that day when the “kingdoms of this

world shall have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ,” and

the “Church” shall be the redeemed world.




The Threefold Aspect of our Lord’s Human Life (v. 1)


The aspects that need to be so carefully recorded. Two are stated in the

text — to do, and to teach; the third we gather from the Gospel itself — to



  • OUR LORD CAME TO DO. It has been said that “conduct is threefourths

of life;” and upon our Lord’s daily life and doings we, first of all,

reverently fix our gaze.


Ø      He came to live; to express in pure, beautiful character, and in sweet,

self-denying, helpful intercourse with men, the example of the holy life.

Show how this became inspiration for all sincere hearts, and conviction for

all self-servers and time-servers.


Ø      He came to work mighty works. In miracles, of healing and of power,

revealing to men the true God and Father, in whom we “live, and move,

and have our being;” and making trust in the “living God the Savior”

possible for man.


  • OUR LORD CAME TO TEACH. And the teaching was in full

harmony with the life, and unfolded the gracious design and mission of the



Ø      He taught the people. As in the sermon on the mount, by his parables,

and in the temple porch at Jerusalem.


Ø      He taught the disciples. By explanation of parable and miracle, by

private instructions, by trial missions, and in his modes of dealing with



Ø      He taught his enemies. By severe warnings and denunciations, seeking

to arouse the sense of sin, in which alone lies the hope of salvation.


  • OUR LORD CAME TO SUFFER. He could not but suffer

personally, in carrying out such a mission; but he, further, suffered

mediately and vicariously, as “bearing our sins.” For us it “pleased the

Lord to bruise him.” Conclude by working out the harmony of this

threefold aspect, in the light of Christ’s perfect and complete obedience to

his heavenly Father’s will. He did, he taught, he suffered, all that will. And

also in the light of our Redeemer’s minion as the Savior of the world. He is

therein shown to be the perfect Savior.



The Holy Ghost in Christ (v. 2)


The statement in this verse is that our Lord spake, and gave his parting

injunctions to his disciples, as one who was “filled with the Holy Ghost.”

Christ’s Divine nature is set before us in varying forms; and we should take

care lest the demands of Christian doctrine so absorb us as to prevent our

receiving the whole scriptural impression. Especially difficult it is to

connect the divinity of Christ with the revelation of the Divine Spirit, the

Holy Ghost. The difficulty is in part occasioned by our failing to associate

the Spirit, in the apostles and in the older prophets, with the Holy Ghost in

Christ. The differences need to be carefully marked, but the samenesses

also need to be brought to light. We do not fully realize that God can be in

man; but precisely this is brought home to us by the teaching of the Holy

Ghost in Christ, the man; and the representation that his human words and

laws come to us with the perfection and authority stamped by the

indwelling Holy Ghost. Scripture gives us three distinct representations of

the relations of the Holy Spirit to Christ himself, to his miracles, and to his




the scene of his baptism. The symbolic “dove” brooded over him, or settled

on him, and the Spirit of God “came upon him.” This took place at the very

entrance upon his ministry, so that throughout his ministry we are to

conceive of him as specially endowed, as one in whom dwelt the Spirit

“above measure” (see <420401>Luke 4:1; <430334>John 3:34). The sense in which the

Spirit came to Christ needs careful treatment. From his birth the Divine

Spirit was his Spirit; and in this lies the deep mystery of his Godhead. The

Spirit that came to him at his baptism was the specific Divine endowment

for the ministry to which he was called, and so it and the descent of the

Holy Ghost on the disciples at Pentecost help to explain each other; and

they show that the Spirit may still be with us in a twofold sense. As “born

again,” he is our very life; as called to any work, he comes to us as a

specific endowment for that work. It is, therefore, right to realize the

Spirit’s permanent dwelling in the believer, and at the same time right to

pray that he may come to us for special needs.



CHRIST. This was our Lord’s teaching concerning his miracles, and it lies

at the basis of his solemn warning to the blaspheming Pharisees. The “sin

against the Holy Ghost” is shown to be precisely this — declaring the

miracles of Christ, which manifested the presence and power of the Holy

Ghost, to have been wrought by devilish agencies. So vital is it to the

Christian faith and life that we should recognize the Holy Ghost in Christ’s

mighty works, that the sin of the Pharisees is declared to be “beyond

forgiveness.” In measure the same is true of the witness and work of

Christ’s Church now. It is wrought in the power of the Holy Ghost. It is

mighty only as this conviction dwells in the workers, and opens the hearts

of those who receive the witness and are the subjects of the work. The one

thing that Christ’s Church needs is to be lifted up to the solemn and

inspiring conviction — the Holy Ghost is with us.



CHRIST. This is set forth separately because, though, in Christ, miracle

and teaching went together, teaching, speaking, preaching is the one great

agency of his Church, and therefore we do well to see the truth in precise

relation to it. To this point our Lord directed the attention of the disciples

in the “upper chamber.” All he had spoken to them had been “given him to

speak,” and just so they might be assured that the Divine Spirit would give

them right and fitting words. And in our text the last injunctions and

counsels and commands are directly traced to the Holy Ghost. But,

properly regarded, the sphere of the Spirit’s operation is the human will

the real source and spring of all activity, the center of the human vitality,

From the teaching of what the Spirit was, beyond measure, in Christ, we

may learn what the Holy Ghost can be, within measure, in man; what he

may be to apostles and to us. In conclusion, show, practically, that the

necessary condition of the abiding of the Holy Ghost in Christ was his

perfect openness and entire submission to the Spirit’s lead; and that this

Christ-like openness is still the one condition of the Spirit’s abiding and

working in us. Impress the warnings of the apostles against the danger of

resisting, quenching, and grieving the Holy Ghost.


Sensible Proofs of Christ’s Resurrection (v. 3)


The resurrection of our Lord is declared to have been a literal and

historical fact, of which satisfactory proofs could be given — such proofs

as men are accustomed to accept. Here it is stated that our Lord “showed

himself alive;” that he “appeared -unto the disciples” (see Revised

Version), that the proofs he offered of his restored life were “infallible,” as

well as “numerous; i.e. they were not merely “probable,” or

“circumstantial,” they were such as naturally and properly carried

conviction. The disciples were not deluded or deceived; they acted as

reasonable men, and accepted the fact of the Resurrection because

convinced by adequate proofs. But when the historical fact is thus fully

assured, we must be prepared to receive the further fact which our Lord’s

ascension declares, viz. that his resurrection was essentially a spiritual

resurrection. We have in it the assurance that he himself, the spiritual

person, Jesus, lived; we have but the formal part of the truth before us

when we say that his body was restored to life. The bodily manifestations

during the forty days were necessary, in order to give the disciples and us

such proofs as they and we can apprehend, of the real continuance of the

life of Jesus himself; through these sensible proofs our minds grasp the fact

that “he ever liveth.” The “spiritual” cannot be apprehended by us save by

the help of figure, body, and form; and our Lord’s whole life on the earth is

a gracious bringing home to our carnal minds of spiritual truths and

realities by sensible appearances and deeds and words. Luke briefly

declares the sufficiency of the proofs of the Resurrection. Each point may

be illustrated and enforced by the facts detailed in the Gospels, and by the

summary given in 1 Corinthians 15.



was forty days. Any sudden and passing manifestation of Christ might be

explained as a mental delusion or a ghostly vision. The time, in this case,

gave sufficient opportunity for testing the veritableness of Christ’s restored

life. Spirit-manifestations never remain for forty days.



WERE MANY, For them see Paul’s summary (1 Corinthians 15.). Some

were given at Jerusalem; others in Galilee; others, again, at Olivet. Some

on the shore; others on the mountain; others, again, in the house. Some

with the sound of voice which all recognized; others with the showing of

the crucifixion marks; others with the sharing of bodily food; and yet others

with the signs of the old miraculous power. Impress the force that lies in

cumulative evidence.



VARIOUS. Individual men may be selected, such as the skeptical Thomas,

or the questioning Philip, and the value of their testimony may be shown.

But equally important is the witness of Peter’s intensity and John’s insight.

Add the evidence of the women, and that of “five hundred” disciples, to the

majority of whom personal appeal could be made when Paul wrote to the

Corinthians. Show what a stream of witnesses. They “crowd the court.”

Was ever any fact more adequately assured by sober testimony and sensible

proofs, such as ought to carry conviction?



WAS THE SAME. The importance of this continuity needs to be carefully

shown. Jesus resumed his work, carried it on from the point where he left

off, completing his personal instructions to his disciples, with precise

adaptation to his new relations as the risen and ascending Lord, and to

their new duty as the preachers of his gospel to the world. Really in this lies

the best proof of the Resurrection. Impress the security of the foundation

fact on which the gospel rests. Christ “is risen,” and our preaching is “not




The Promise of the Father (vs. 4-5)


It was a characteristic feature of our Lord’s teaching, and more especially

of the closing portions of it, that he sought to set his Father, not himself,

prominently before the minds of his disciples: e.g. “The Father that is in

me, he doeth the works;” “I do the will of him who sent me,” etc. So,

when speaking of the gift of the Spirit to the Church, our Lord impresses

on the disciples that they must think of that Spirit as his Father’s gift, made

to them for his sake. We are to regard the bestowment of the Spirit in

different ways.

1. He is the very Spirit given as Divine endowment for the fulfilling of the

old prophets’ missions; given as Divine endowment for the mission of the

apostles and of the Church.

2. He is the fulfillment of the assurance that Christ would “come again,” to

abide ever with his Church.

3. He is sent by the Son.

4. He is the gift of the Father.

5. He is sent by the Father and the Son. Allusion may be made to the

disputes and separation of the Eastern and Western Churches on the

subject of the “procession of the Holy Ghost;” and the importance of

accepting the “many-sidedness” of Divine revelation should be urged, even

if intellectually we find ourselves unable to fit the varied aspects into a

satisfactory harmony. Our Lord would glorify the Father to our thought,

by assuring us that the unspeakably precious gift of the Holy Ghost is his

gift to us, the abiding sign and pledge of his “so great love,” and the

fulfillment of his own “promise” to us. This point we take for enlargement

and enforcement.




Ø      By God, but by God conceived as the “Father;” so we may find in it

signs of the fatherly wisdom, tender consideration, and gracious adaptation

to our need. Impress how the preciousness of the Spirit to us is enhanced

by this assurance — he is our Father’s gift. His “Great-heart guide” for his

pilgrim sons.


Ø      By God, but through Christ, who conveys to us our Father’s promise.

See the special occasions (<431416>John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15, etc.).

Show how the messenger, through whom the Father’s promise is made,

enhances the value of the promise. An element of tender feeling and

sympathy is added to it.


  • WHAT DOES THE PROMISE CONCERN? Set out its first form, the

coming of the Holy Ghost, under sensible figures, as a Divine ordination

and endowment of the apostles and early Church for their mission. This

ordination may be compared with that of Christ after his baptism, and the

figures under which the Spirit came in the two cases should be compared.

For Christ, a symbolic dove; for apostles, symbolic wind and fire. Set out

its permanent form — the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the believer, as

his seal, earnest, and assurance of the culture of the spiritual life; and the

abiding of the Holy Ghost in the Church, as its inspiration to the fulfillment

of its mission.




Ø      Because of the dependency of the disciples on Divine aid. Then and now

disciples are not “sufficient of themselves;” “without Christ we can do



Ø      Because in carrying out the Divine purpose of redemption the bodily

presence of Christ had to be removed, and so a sense of loneliness and

helplessness would oppress the disciples.


Ø      Because God is ever wanting to help us on from carnal and bodily to

spiritual conceptions of himself and his work, both in us and by us.

Conclude by showing how the promise gains character by being called the

Father’s. It is evidently a promise made to sons. Then practically and

forcibly impress that our Father will only keep his promise if we keep the

spirit and temper, the openness and obedience, of loving and trusting




Carnal Conceptions of Christ’s Kingdom (vs. 6-7)


With these our Lord had to do battle all through his ministry. These so

filled the minds of his disciples that they were unable to receive aright

much of his spiritual teachings. Many of our Lord’s sayings can be

explained as being designed to correct this mistake, remove this prejudice,

and adequately assure his disciples and us of the spiritual nature of the

kingdom he came to set up. Though not in precisely the same way, yet

quite as truly, the visibility and outward circumstance of Christ’s Church

may, in our day, occupy our thought rather than its spiritual character and

work, and therefore our Lord’s cautions to his apostles may be applicable

to us. The dream of an “outward and visible” kingdom has not yet

altogether faded, and given place to the sober reality of the existing

“inward and spiritual” one. Christ is a King, but he is King of truth-seekers;

he is “Lord of lambs the lowly, King of saints the holy.” Show what the

carnal conceptions were that the apostles cherished: the breaking off of the

Roman yoke; the restoration of Israelite independence; the resumption of

the Davidic kingdom under the Messiah. Show —



the tone of prophecy and Messianic allusion before and after the

“Captivity.” Tendency of national circumstances to set prominently the

promise of a Deliverer and King, and to set aside the figure of Messiah as

a crushed Sufferer. Then show the influence exerted by the Messianic

conception of Daniel, and yet that the Jews did not take it in its entirety.

Further point out how the Maccabean princes became Messianic models,

and the idea cherished was that Messiah would prove to be a national Hero

and Savior, accomplishing the work permanently which Judas Maccabeus

had only achieved temporarily. The merely national idea of Messiah cannot

be based on a full treatment of the Messianic representations of Holy




national condition in our Lord’s time. Patriotic feeling was crushed down

by the strong Roman rule; but patriotism, though it may be crushed down,

cannot be crushed out, and indeed only becomes more dangerous to

oppressors by being silenced. Partly by the hopeless condition of religion,

which called for a great reformer; and, in the later monarchy, the reformers

had been kings. Partly by the personal ambitions of the disciples, as

illustrated by the request of the sons of Zebedee for the first places in the

new court. To be faithful to the truth has often required resistance to

surrounding sentiments and circumstances. Such resistance is only made by

high-minded men.





Ø      The general tone of his teaching, as illustrated in the sermon on the



Ø      The prominence in which he set his sufferings, especially after the



Ø      The rebuke of those who would use carnal weapons for his defence, as

to Peter outside the Garden of Gethsemane.


Ø      The distinct explanation of the nature of his kingship, as stated to Pilate.

In spite of all his efforts with his disciples, we find the carnal notions of

Messiah lingering in them (see <421911>Luke 19:11; 24:21); and they seem to

have been revived by that very resurrection which should have finally

removed them. This is indicated in the text. Our Lord’s last effort to

destroy them is full of wisdom and gentleness. He says in effect, “Don’t

think about it; bend your whole mind and heart to two things —


o       your great life-work, and

o       the Divine presence that will be with you for its fulfillment” (v. 8).

The true corrective for intellectual error is still that which our Lord

commands, viz. Christian work.