Welcome to “The Acts of the Apostles”! This book is a continuation of Luke, written by a non-Jewish doctor named Luke, who knew the apostles (called a companion of Paul) and interviewed eye-witnesses for an account of what had gone down in Jerusalem with Jesus.
There arose a need to record all that had happened, and to to explain Christ as a fulfillment of Jewish prophecy. Rome had strict rules about peace. Pax Romana (literally “Roman Peace” named for a time of relative peace between 27-180AD) was in full effect, which was partially attributed to a law against starting new religions, or religious uprisings. Rome tolerated the Jews for the most part and needed to know this wasn’t some new, anti-Jewish movement, but the fulfillment of all Jewish hope.
The church also needed a history, something to point to, about the coming of the Holy Spirit, the inclusion of Gentiles and the powerful ways the gospel had spread, starting in Jerusalem.
Here it is.
I want to let you all in on an exciting theme in the Bible, culminating in Acts 2, I learned about last year:
Throughout the Old Testsment, God manifests His presence in two ways: fire & smoke. This won’t be an exhausted list, but I’ll give you some for examples.
- The covenant with Abraham. Genesis 15:17 – a smoking pot and torch pass through the animal pieces, representing God committing to this promise
- The burning bush. Exodus 3:2 – God calls Moses to deliver His people by speaking out of a bush, burning but not consumed.
- The Exodus. Exodus 13:21 – God goes before Israel as a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night
- The tabernacle. Exodus 40:34 – God’s glory inhabits the tent in the form of a cloud, ascending and descending when it’s time to move camp
- The ark in the temple. 1 Kings 8:10-12 – Gods glory inhabits the temple and the cloud inhibits the work of the priest
- God’s glory leaves the temple. Ezekiel 10:4,18:11:23 – Israel’s rebellion reaches a tipping point in the exile. These chapters are very important because they look forward to a day ahead when, “I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit in them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people and I shall be their God.” 11:19-29
So…that was the last time we saw any manifestation of God’s presence with His people. He had to leave, because their sin was too great, but He would make it right.
Acts 1:8, Jesus tells them to stay in Jerusalem until they receive power, then commissions them to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth.” He has to leave, because He’s finished defeating sin and the era of making it right has arrived.
Acts 2:2-3 WHAT SHOWS UP?
The Holy Spirit! In the form of a rushing wind that filled the house and tongues of fire that rested… Where? Above the temple? NOPE! Above each believer! The manifestation of God’s presence! He has made us His holy habitation!!
There’s too much in these chapters to cover here. Give me your observations! Another favorite of mine is that people from everywhere were in town and they were hearing the gospel in their own language! The gospel is for every nation!
God is incredible! He has done it! Believe today He has made you His dwelling place if you’ve put your faith in Him. How does that change the way you live? See yourself? See Him?