The Introduction  |  The Next Chapter  |  NCB Acts Menu

Acts Chapter 1
An Understandable Version of ACTS
Translation by William E. Paul
by Charles Dailey

(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
1) [Dear] Theophilus, in my former letter [i.e., the Gospel of Luke] I wrote to you concerning what all Jesus did and taught since the beginning [of His ministry], Acts was written by the physician Luke (Col. 4:14) after he discovered the Great Physician.
– Doctor Luke had first researched and written the Gospel of Luke to Theophilus, a Greek public official and friend. This Book of Acts is the sequel.
2) up until the day He returned to heaven. [Just before that time] He had given [certain] instructions to His [specially] selected apostles through [the direction of] the Holy Spirit. – Jesus used his time on earth completely. He taught every day.
– Jesus’ instructions included taking the Gospel to the whole world. Luke 24:47. This is the theme of Acts.
– He had personally chosen the 12 apostles. Luke 6:13-16; John 15:16. His direction was from the Spirit.
3) Now, following His death on the cross [and resurrection], Jesus appeared alive [to His apostles] for forty days, and demonstrated by many convincing proofs [that He had been raised bodily from the dead]. [During that time] He also spoke to them about the [coming] kingdom of God. – For more witnesses to the resurrection, see the full table.
– The apostles’ exposure to the proofs of the resurrection was spread over more than a month. The resurrection would become the center of every sermon they preached that is recorded in Acts.
– The focus of conversation was the kingdom of God.
4) [One day, as He was] gathered with these apostles, He urged them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there until they received what the Father had promised them. (Jesus had previously discussed this with them). [See Luke 24:49]. – The kingdom had been promised during the apostles' lifetime in Mark 9:1. It was to come with power.
– Luke had previously recorded this request for the apostles to stay in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49) until they “were clothed with power from on high.” The promise was specifically to them. Without Jesus’ urging, they would have returned home to Galilee.
5) [Then Jesus said], “For John immersed you [men] in water but [this time] you will be immersed in the Holy Spirit, and [it will happen] in just a few more days.” [See Matt. 3:11]. – This promise provides the focus for the broad promise of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11.
– The immersion in the Holy Spirit is now only days away.
- - - There is a break in events here - - -
6) When the apostles had come together, they asked [Jesus], “Lord, are you ready to restore the kingdom [of God] to [the nation of] Israel [at this time]?” They came together on the Mt. of Olives. Vs. 9, 12.
– This was Jesus’ final day with them.
Restore the kingdom may be a reference to Luke 22: 28-30 where Jesus was not speaking of physical Israel.
– Their view of the kingdom was earthly and political, but it cleared up with the coming of the Spirit.
7) Jesus replied, “You are not permitted to know the [specific] time or date [when this will happen]. For the Father has appointed it [to happen] when He determines [the right time]. – God would not reveal when. Actually, it was about 10 days later.
– This promise is specific to the apostles.
8) But, you apostles will receive power when the Holy Spirit descends on you and [then] you will become My witnesses [i.e., to tell what you know] in Jerusalem, in [the countries of] Judea and Samaria, and [even] to the distant regions of the earth.” – Power had been promised in Mark 9:1.
– The promise was for the Spirit to descend. Luke reserves this language for the miracle-working power.
– See witness discussion below.
– The geographical outline of Acts:
      Jerusalem — 2:1 - 8:4;
      Judea and Samaria — 8:5 - 12:25;
      and the distant regions — 13:1 to end.
Jesus had promised the 12 would be witnesses in John 15:27; 21:24 and Luke 24:48. They used the word in Acts 1:22; 2:32; 3:15; 4:33; 5:32; 10:39-42. It also described Paul’s work in Acts 13:31 and 22:15. They had seen the resurrected Jesus and now they would be active eyewitnesses of this earthshaking truth.
9) And when Jesus had said these things, just as the apostles were watching [Him], He was taken up by a cloud [and disappeared] out of their sight. – Their special discipleship ended abruptly.
– They were eyewitnesses of the ascension, too. This was an added evidence of the resurrection.
– Note the earlier account of this in Luke 24:50-52.
10) And while they gazed up into the sky as He ascended, suddenly two men wearing white clothing appeared beside them – Jesus did not have an earthly kingdom in mind because he left earth. His kingdom has a heavenly headquarters.
– Luke also reported two men at the tomb, Luke 24:4, while John reports two angels at the tomb. John 20:12.
11) and said, “You men from Galilee, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus who was received up from your presence into the sky will return in the same way you saw Him go there.” – The remaining 11 apostles were from Galilee. Only Judas was from Judea, but he was no longer alive.
– Even without this report, we would know the ascension took place sometime because Jesus was resurrected and is not on earth now.
– Paul develops the return of Christ theme in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
12) Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the place called “Mount of Olives,” which was about three-fourths of a mile from Jerusalem. The Old Testament had predicted the word of the Lord would “go forth” from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:3. See the note about Jerusalem below. The 11 were joyful. Luke 24:52.
– The Mt. of Olives is directly east of Jerusalem.
13) Upon arriving at the house where they were staying, they went upstairs. [Those present were]: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, the son of Alpheus, Simon the Zealous [one] and Judas, the son of James. [Note: Judas Iscariot, the twelfth apostle, had already committed suicide]. – This may have been John Mark’s mother’s house because the church assembled there later. Acts 12:12.
– Luke names the apostles so imposters could not claim years later to have been in that select band. They are always listed as three groups of four each. The groups, with their leaders, are shown the chart.
14) These men continued in united prayer [for the kingdom to come? See 1:6; Matt. 6:10] along with [certain] women, Mary the mother of Jesus and His [half-] brothers. – They were also at the temple praising God. Luke 24:53.
– These were probably the women who had financed the last part of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 8:1 - 3). They were also at the cross (Luke 23:59), and the empty tomb, (Luke 24:1, 2).
– The four (Mark 6:3) unbelieving (John 7:5) half-brothers have been convinced of the resurrection of Jesus by his appearance to James (1 Cor. 15:7). Their presence is a powerful proof of the resurrection!
Note: Luke, though a Gentile, was fascinated with Jerusalem. His story opens in Jerusalem. Luke 1:9. He said that Anna was looking for its redemption. 2:38. He tells of Jesus going there when he was 12 in 2:41. Part of Jesus’ temptation happened there. 4:9. Jesus told of his ultimate departure from there in 9:41.

In 9:51 he pictures Jesus as beginning his long approach to Jerusalem. See also 9:53. In 13:22, the fateful journey continues. In 13:33, 34 Jesus’ comments about Jerusalem are included. The journey continues in 17:11, 18:31 and 19:11. He is nearly there in 19:28 and 37. Jesus saw the city in 19:41 and entered it.

All of chapter 21 is about Jerusalem, as are chapters 22, 23, and 24. Note especially the Jerusalem references from 24:33 - 53. Luke mentions the city name five times in Acts chapter 1. The reader is now prepared for the grand opening of the Kingdom in Acts, chapter 2.

15) And during this time Peter stood up to speak to a gathering of about one hundred twenty persons. Peter was first among equals; a leader, but not a final authority.
– There were many believers besides these as shown in 1 Corinthians 15:6. Only 120 were present here.
16) [He said], “Brothers, it was necessary that the Scriptures be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke through King David about Judas, who guided the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus. – Jesus had opened the mind of Peter and the other apostles to understand the Scripture in Luke 24:45.
– The Psalms (about to be quoted) are Scripture.
– The Psalms were spoken by the Holy Spirit.
– The Holy Spirit spoke through David’s writings.
17) For he was one of our number and shared with us [in the responsibility of] this ministry.” Being an apostle was a ministry.
18) (Now this man [Judas] paid for [in a sense] a [burial] field with the reward money he had received for his sinful act [of betraying Jesus, See Matt. 27:3-10]. [Then, some time after Judas hanged himself, See Matt. 27:5] he fell down headlong, [his swollen body] bursting so that his intestines gushed out. Luke’s own comments begin here.
– The field was purchased through the priests. They were anxious to keep their law on this point. Matt. 27:6 - 8.
– Judas was remorseful, but unrepentant. Matt. 27:3. Peter, by contrast, repented of denying Jesus. Luke 22:62. Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of conduct. Judas failed to change his conduct.
– No one would touch the body during Passover Week.
19) This incident became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem so that the [burial] field purchased with the reward money became known as “Akeldama” [an Aramaic word] which means “Field of Blood.”) – The story of Judas (and Jesus) was well known in town. This was a rational, not thinking-impaired, suicide.
– Suicide was uncommon among the Jews.
– A “potter’s field” where the top soil had been removed to make pottery. Matt. 27:7. This fulfilled Zech. 11:13.
Aramaic was normally spoken in Jerusalem. Dr. Luke is writing to the Greek Theophilus in the Greek language.
20) “For it was written [about Judas] in the book of Psalms [69:25]:
Let the place where he lives become deserted, with no one living there"
[Psalm. 109:8]
‘Let someone else fill his ministry.'
Peter’s presentation is now continued.
– Many other verses in Psalm 69 are applied by inspired writers to Jesus Christ. 69:4, 9, 21, 22 and 23.
– Certainly no one lives in a burial field!
– Judas is to be replaced because the 12 will have a special role. They will receive the Holy Spirit’s power right away.
– The Psalm fits the case even if it is not a prophecy.
21) The person [to replace Judas] would have to be one of those who accompanied us [disciples] during the time the Lord traveled around with us, – It was also necessary to have twelve apostles to complete the words of Jesus in Luke 22:30. However, when the apostle James was put to death later in Acts 12:2, he was not replaced because the preliminary work of the 12 was finished.
– It was necessary to have been with Jesus in His ministry. Jesus had stated this requirement in John 15:27.
22) from His immersion by John [the Immerser] until He was received up from us [in a cloud]. Of these people [we must choose] someone to become a witness with us [i.e., to tell people] of Jesus’ resurrection [from the dead].” – Jesus’ immersion is recorded in Matthew 3:13ff.
– The ascension is recorded in verse 9 above.
– Evidently the apostles were in executive session with the 100 + looking on. “We must choose. . . . with us.”
– The one selected would join the other apostles as an active witness. Compare verse 8 above.
23) And so they presented two men [for consideration]: Joseph, called Barsabbas (and also called Justus) and Matthias. They chose two men from the 100 + as candidates for the smaller group of 12. The larger group included the women, but none were presented for the choice.
24) Then they prayed, “Lord, you know the inner thoughts of all men, so show us which one of these two men should be selected The Lord Jesus knew, but they must learn His choice to replace Judas. He had previously chosen the other apostles. See vs. 2.
25) to replace Judas in this ministry and this group of apostles, from which he fell away to go to where he belonged” [i.e., to the place of punishment for unrepentant sinners]. A replacement for Judas was necessary because the 12 were about to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. If the entire 120 were slated to receive the power, no replacement for Judas would have been needed.
– There was immediate punishment for Judas — no waiting in the grave for the end of time.
26) So, they drew lots [i.e., devices used for making random choices] and the lot [i.e., the choice] favored Matthias, so he was added to the other eleven apostles. See Proverbs 16:33.
– This church-related decision was swift!
– Now there are 12 apostles again. Acts 6:2.
– Inspired Luke says Matthias was an apostle.

The table of the Appearances of Jesus following his resurrection.

The table showing the four lists of Apostles.

The Next Chapter