Sunday, April 27, 2014

Notes on Acts: Introduction and Chapters 1-2


A. Author: Luke
     1. Sometimes a companion of Paul
          a) Colossians 4:14; II Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24
          b) Probably present with Paul during the “we” passages in Acts
     2. Physician (Colossians 4:14)
B. Audience: Theophilus
     1. Same addressee as Gospel of Luke
     2. An individual or group?
          a) “Theophilus” means “lover of God”
          b) Standard dedication for individuals used
          c) Maybe sent to an individual but meant to be used more widely as
C. Purpose and Core Theme
     1. This is the second volume of Luke’s two-volume project, begun in the
         Gospel of Luke
     2. Purpose: To offer an “orderly account” of “the things that have been
         fulfilled among us”, “so that you may know for certain the things you
         were taught” (Luke 1:1-4)
          a) Luke wants his readers to know for sure how the stories of Jesus
              and the early church fit into Scripture and the story of Israel
          b) Concerned to place Jesus and the church as both the fulfillment of
              the Old Testament promises and the continuation of (and new
              chapters in) the Old Testament story
     3. Concerned throughout with the “kingdom of God”
          a) Reign or rule of God
          b) Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of God (for example,
              Luke 4:43; 8:1; 16:16)
          c) The gospel the church preaches is also characterized as the gospel
              “of the kingdom” (Acts 8:12; cf. Luke 9:2, 60; 10:9; Acts 19:8;
               20:25; 28:23, 31)
          d) Brief Old Testament background
               i. Humanity sinful
               ii. Israel called in order to bless humanity (Genesis 12:1-3)
               iii. Israel given the Law but Israel is unfaithful to God
               iv. Israel is cursed and exiled
               v. Prophets proclaim a return from exile, restoration of Israel, and
                   the fulfillment of Israel’s calling (Isaiah 40:1-5; Jeremiah
               vi. A physical return happens, but Israel is still sinful and not
               vii. Even those in Jerusalem still see themselves as in some sense
                     “in exile” (Ezra 9:6-9; see also Daniel 9:1-24)
               viii. Restoration and fulfillment are still to come
               ix. “Return from exile” used to describe Israel’s restoration (e.g.,
                    Isaiah 60:1-5)
          e) Two ages:

The Present Age                          The Age to Come/Kingdom of God
Kingdoms of the world/Satan   Kingdom of God/Messiah/Israel
Israel under curse/exile              Israel restored/returned/forgiven
Israel under foreign rule             Rule of Messiah
Israel divided                                 Israel reunited
Enemies of God triumphant      Enemies defeated
Spirit empowers select                Spirit empowers all people of God
Separation from God                  God’s presence
Sin, Israel rebellious                   Faith(fulness), Israel repentant
Death, sickness                            Eternal life, health, resurrection
Israel God’s chosen nation        All nations into God’s family

          f) John the Baptist prepared for the coming kingdom in Christ (e.g.,
              Luke 1:16-17; Luke 3:3-6)
          g) Jesus announced and brought in the kingdom of God in his own
              person, taking on Israel’s calling (Luke 1:25-32; 1:67-79; 2:38;
              7:18-23; 11:20; Acts 15:13-18; see Isaiah 49:3-7; 61:1-6; Amos
              9:11-15), and then throughout the world through his Spirit-
              empowered church (Acts 1:8; see Isaiah 11:10-13; 44:3)
          h) The ages for now overlap: the old age isn’t fully gone or the new
              one fully come (e.g., Luke 17:21)
          i) The finalization or consummation of the defeat of the old age and
              triumph of the kingdom of God awaits Jesus’ return
          j) In the meantime, the church carries on Jesus’ mission (Luke
             24:45-49; Acts 1:6-8; 2:38-39)

1:1-11 Introduction and recap: The coming kingdom/restoration
A. Part two of Luke’s story (1-2)
     1. In the Gospel, Luke discussed “all that Jesus began to do and teach”
     2. The Gospel of Luke ends with the Ascension (2)
     3. Acts will now detail further what Jesus continues to do and teach
         through his Spirit-empowered people
B. Jesus teaches about the kingdom (3-8)
     1. “What my Father promised” - Holy Spirit promised in the Old
         Testament (4) and by John the Baptist (Luke 3:16)
     2. “Restoring the kingdom to Israel” (6)
          a) The disciples are wondering if the kingdom of God will now come
              in full and Israel will be restored
          b) Luke uses redemption words always of Israel or Jerusalem - Jesus
              brings the promised restoration/return (Luke 1:68; 2:38; 24:21; cf.
              Acts 3:19-21)
     3. Jesus’ answer (7-8)
          a) The apostles won’t know the time of Jesus’ return and the
              kingdom’s consummation (7; cf. Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:31)
          b) But they will experience the coming of the kingdom - the
              restoration of Israel - soon enough (8)
               i. Jesus is not changing the subject, but still answering their
               ii. Jesus speaks here of their entrance into the life of the kingdom -
                   their restoration as Israel - through the promised Holy Spirit,
               iii. Of the spread of the gospel that the kingdom has come,
               iv. And the reunification of Israel, as foretold - “Judea and
               v. “To the farthest ends of the earth” - a phrase from Isaiah 49:6,
                   predicting inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s people
C. Jesus ascends to the Father (9-11)
     1. Jesus reigns in heaven as Lord and Messiah (see 2:33, 36)
     2. He will send the Holy Spirit from heaven to continue his work on
          a) As Jesus took on Israel’s mission and calling, so now he continues
              it through his disciples
          b) His power and authority are passed on through the same Spirit
              that empowered Jesus (like Elijah to Elisha following Elijah’s

1:12-26 Preparing for the Spirit
The proper number of apostles to experience the coming of the Spirit = 12. The Twelve represent the redeemed twelve tribes of Israel - the restored people of God. Hence, Judas needed to be replaced so that all Israel might be represented.
Drawing lots (26) - an Old Testament mode of seeking divine guidance in the absence of a Spirit-inspired person. Emphasizes that the time of the kingdom is drawing near and the old time without the Spirit is drawing to a close.

2:1-41 Israel restored/returned
A. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit (see 33) and God’s people enter into the kingdom of God (1-4)
B. Jews “from every nation under heaven” present in Jerusalem for Pentecost (5-13)
     1. Peter associates them with “the whole house of Israel” (14, 22, 36)
     2. Echoes of Ezekiel 37:14-25, a prophecy of the restoration of Israel
     3. Will scattered Israel be gathered again into a restored relationship
         with God?
C. Peter proclaims Jesus as Lord and Messiah (14-36)
     1. Quotes (17-21) from a prophecy of the restoration of Israel (Joel
          a) Prophecy, visions, dreams - examples of activities of the
              empowering Spirit
          b) Moses’ wish for God’s people (Numbers 11:29) is fulfilled
     2. The crucifixion was not an accident or a defeat but planned by God
     3. “You executed” (23) - Luke clearly portrays the city of Jerusalem,
         including the pilgrims there for the festivals, to have rejected Jesus
         (see, for example, Luke 23:13-25)
     4. God’s Messiah was the first to experience the resurrection and Israel’s
         restoration (24-32)
     5. Jesus has been enthroned in heaven and reigns as Lord and Messiah
D. The scattered exiles are indeed gathered again and restored (37-41)
     1. Repentance and forgiveness of sins (38)
          a) In the Old Testament, Israel is restored in the form of a repentant,
              faithful remnant (see especially Isaiah)
          b) “Forgiveness of sins” - Israel’s restoration from the curse/exile is
          c) Those who repent and join the remnant represented by the
              disciples will experience the gift of the kingdom - the Holy Spirit
     2. “All who are far off” (39)
          a) In Peter’s mouth in this context, would likely refer to scattered
          b) In Luke’s writing in the larger context, Luke would likely also want
              us to think of the Gentiles, who live “to the ends of the earth” (see

2:42-47 New lives in the kingdom as the restored Israel
A. Restored Israel devotes itself to the apostles’ teachings just as it once
    did to Moses’
     1. The apostolic teaching is thus put on par with the Old Testament
     2. This authority ultimately results in our New Testament
B. God’s people are transformed by the Holy Spirit (44-47)

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