â€śGood Shepherdâ€ť from the Catacomb of Priscilla, 250-300
Monday, 27 September 2021
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until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, Acts 1:2
The Greek of these words allows for various translations. Note the connection to the Holy Spirit in these–
until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandmentsto the apostles whom He had chosen (NKJV)
Until the day in which he was taken up, after he had commanded the Apostles whom he had chosen by The Spirit of Holiness, Aramaic Bible (also CEV)
Another option is that he was “taken up” through (or by) the Holy Spirit.
The most natural and obvious translation is connecting the Holy Spirit to the giving of the commandments by Jesus. Also, the word translated as “He was taken up” is actually at the end of the verse. A literal reading would be, “until the day, having given orders to the apostles by Spirit Holy, whom He had chosen, He was taken up.”
With these things stated, the words can be more thoroughly evaluated. The previous verse noted that Jesus both began to do and to teach “until the day in which He was taken up.” The words anticipate what is coming in verse 1:8. In other words, there is a period between His resurrection and ascension that formed the basis of the words of verse 1. This period will be seen in the next verse to be forty days. For now, the words next state, “after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments.”
The word “after” is inferred by the translators and is tied to the words “had given commandments.” That can be seen in the literal translation (above). The single word translated as “having given orders” is an aorist participle. The giving of the commandment through the Holy Spirit occurred and then He was taken up.
The purpose of what is being said is that everything about Christ’s ministry was directed by the spirit of God. He was filled with the Spirit (see Luke 4:1). The Spirit was involved in raising Christ (Romans 8:11), and after His being raised, then He gave commandments through the Holy Spirit. Thus, everything about the process is at the sanction of God. Of the work of the Holy Spirit, Albert Barnes more fully states the situation –
“It was to be his office to carry forward the work of redemption in applying it to the hearts of people. Whatever was done, therefore, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, was to be regarded as under the unique influence and direction of the Holy Spirit. Even the instructions of Jesus and his commission to the apostles, were to be regarded as coming within the department of the sacred Spirit, or within the province of his unique work. The instructions were given by divine authority, by infallible guidance, and as a part of the work which the Holy Spirit was sent down to accomplish. Under the direction and guidance of that Spirit the apostles were to go forth; by his aid they were to preach the gospel, to organize the church, to establish its order and its doctrines; and hence, the entire work was declared to be by his direction.”
With this understood, the verse finishes the thought of Christ giving the commandments (through the Holy Spirit) “to the apostles whom He had chosen.” The process of establishing the church and its guidelines for functioning was to be initiated by these men who were to receive the Promise of the Father (Luke 24:48), meaning the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them.
This immediately sets the stage for understanding everything that will occur from this point on. It is the Holy Spirit that will be the One who directs the process. He is also the One who inspired Luke to record these things (see 2 Timothy 3:16 & 2 Peter 1:21). As such, this should clue the reader into several key doctrines that will be expanded upon later in Acts.
1) There is one church that goes through a developmental and transitional process that is guided by the Holy Spirit. 2) There is one gospel that will be conveyed to this church body as conveyed by these apostles. There is a united purpose in the apostles, even if their audience is specifically designated (meaning to the Jew and to the Gentile – see Galatians 2:8). 3) The New Covenant forms the basis of everything that occurs from this point on.
a) There is one, and only one, New Covenant in Christ’s blood that is applied to both Jew and Gentile (see Luke 22:20 as conveyed to these same apostles by Jesus, and 1 Corinthians 11:25 as conveyed by Paul to the Gentile church in Corinth). b) This New Covenant is specifically given to “the house of Israel” and “the house of Judah” (see Jeremiah 31:31). Clearly demonstrating that the church has not replaced Israel. c) The church is a single, unified body of Jew and Gentile with the exact same gospel to both. Gentiles are simply grafted into this body (see Romans 11:16-25), sharing in the one commonwealth of Israel (see Ephesians 2:11-13).
Understanding these points, we can be aware – in advance – of several insidious teachings within the church. This includes false teachings such as Hebrew Roots, Hyperdispensationalism, and so forth. They are heretical and must be vehemently argued against.
There is one, and only one gospel that is given to one, and only one, body. The question of national Israel, their eventual restoration, and the rule of Christ during the millennial reign, along with all of the associated promises made to them, is not unrelated, but it is separate and distinct from what is occurring in the church at this time.
Life application: Understanding the intent and purpose of the book of Acts, in relation to everything else that is going on in redemptive history, is necessary to form a full picture of what God is doing in the world.
To separate the church into two separate entities, as hyperdispensationalism does; to reinsert the law (in part or in whole) into the New Covenant, as the Hebrew Roots movement does; or to say that the church has replaced Israel as replacement theology claims, blemishes the intent of what God is doing in the world.
Depending on the teaching, it can doctrinally destroy the effective working of Jesus Christ on behalf of all people. It can incorrectly apply other covenant promises made by God to the people of Israel. It attempts to diminish the efficacy of the shed blood of Christ, marring or destroying the marvel of what God has done through His perfect life, sacrificial death in fulfillment of the law, and His resurrection.
Let us carefully pay attention to what Acts reveals. In doing so, we will avoid these false teachings, and we will be able to hold fast to the wonder of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your wonderful and precious word that leads us to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. May we carefully and faithfully present the gospel of Christ to those who so desperately need to hear it. And may we conduct our lives in holiness all of our days. To Your glory, O God! Amen.