Acts 1


Reading Luke and Acts in 2020

Week 25  |  Acts 1

Acts 1 Reflections and Questions

By Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson

I hope you enjoyed studying and praying through the gospel of Luke with us. Now for the exciting sequel—the book of Acts! The star of the book of Acts is not Peter, or even Paul, it’s the Holy Spirit! Some scholars have said that this book should be named The Acts of the Holy Spirit instead of The Acts of the Apostles.
Commentator Luke T. Johnson points out that, in chapter 1, Luke uses the Ascension of Jesus as the bridge between the two books. We shift from the ministry of Jesus to the ministry of his followers. Before Jesus ascends into heaven, he tells the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He tells them they will be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”v. 8
This pronouncement gives us the road map to the Book of Acts. The gospel spreads outward from Jerusalem to the hated Samaritans, outward  to the Romans in the capital of the Empire, and then outward to the ends of the known world. The apostles overcome fear and persecution, even facing martyrdom, to bear witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a constant presence that leads them, empowers them, and teaches and comforts them along the way.
Some thoughts as you read Acts:
  1. Note how the apostles are focused on one thing throughout: radically following the Holy Spirit. They go where it tells them to go; they don’t go where it tells them not to go. Prayer is a constant. How well do we individually, and corporately as churches, attend to seasons of prayer and discernment of where the Holy Spirit is leading?
  2. The disciples are concerned that Jesus has not restored the nation of Israel. He tells them that, instead, they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon them. It appears that God is seeking control over human hearts more than territory. Dallas Willard describes the power of the Holy Spirit in The Divine Conspiracy. He remembers that, during his childhood, his neighborhood and the homes in it were wired for electricity. Many refused to plug in because they were accustomed to their ways and they feared the power. Willard notes that many of us, like his neighbors, choose to go powerless even though God has wired the Holy Spirit through all of our lives. We just have to plug in! Are you fully plugged in?
  3. I have always loved biblical symbolism and imagery. Clearly the twelve disciples were to be to the New Covenant what the twelve tribes of Israel were to the Old Covenant. It is therefore important to replace Judas so there are twelve again. Selecting leadership by lot was common in Judaism, but hasn’t maintained its popularity. Can you imagine choosing church councils and bishops by lot?
  4. Are you asking the Holy Spirit to help you bear witness to Jesus Christ and the mighty acts of God? Are you asking the Holy Spirit to guide your conversations and direct you to those who might be receptive? If not, why not? I was leading a Bible study on the Book of Acts and mistakenly put Chapter 29 on our schedule. We all laughed because Acts has only 28 chapters. But one of our group said, aren’t we Acts Chapter 29? Isn’t the next chapter ours to write? Aren’t we to make sure that the gospel story continues to the next generations? We claimed the name Acts 29 from there on out, and focused on how we were connecting others to Christ. What Chapter 29 are you writing?