The book of Acts

These are my personal notes on the New Testament book of Acts.  I have a hard time just reading books. I am by nature a writer in the most simplest way in that I have a very basic need to write things in order to understand them.  It is how I learn.  So any time I read the Bible or any other book that is a teaching book I have to write about it to really get it.  I usually do this in an actual journal, but the Lord has led me to share it, so here it is.  I hope that it helps you!

Penned by Like to his friend Theophilus, Acts is a continuation of the book of Luke which tells the story of Jesus and his followers.

"Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures" Luke 24:45 

Jesus, please open my mind to understand your word and to truly see your personality, your essence, your glory through your words.

Luke was a witness to everything Jesus did and he wrote about it to share it with other people he knew. It wasn't his intention to write a Bible, it was simply to share and spread the good news of Jesus to everyone he knew.  He ended his first book with Jesus ascending into heaven, giving them an order before he left, a promise of a gift if they just go wait for it. So Acts picks up at this point mentioning the ascension and the promise Jesus left with them. Verse 2 says that Jesus used the help of the Holy Spirit to tell them what they should do. That is significant to me because even Jesus needed the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It emphasizes the separate entity of the Holy Spirit. They are both God but each have their own abilities, their own purpose and existence.

After his death, he proved he was alive and for forty days,  and he spoke to his followers about the kingdom of God. I have nothing important to add except that I wish I could have been there! To learn about the kingdom of God from the risen Son of God would be so amazing!

Jesus tells his disciples to wait for a promise from God! The promise is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The apostles ask Jesus if He is going to give the promised land back to Israel. Time and time again in the Old Testament God would send a leader who would get the land back for Israel when they would sin and lose it to other kings. They thought Jesus was going to do that for them.

 Jesus wasn't worried about land but the will of His Father. Jesus makes it clear that his job is not to get their land back for them. In Verse 8 He tells them that they will receive power from the Holy Spirit to spread the word about Jesus all over the world. (It seems to me that Jesus made a transition here from natural to supernatural. God promised a special place, a promised land to his people, but it no longer belonged to them because they allowed sin into God's land. Jesus wasn't worried about land, but something better: hearts. He wanted to bring the kingdom to the hearts of His people. God's promised land is in our hearts.)

Jesus was lifted up into the sky and two men whom I believe are angels appear to tell the disciples that one day Jesus will return the same way He left. In  Verses 12-14 all of the remaining disciples along with Mary and Jesus brothers went to the upper room to pray. There were also some other women there praying. I heard Kris Vallotton say once that the Bible usually mentions when there were women there because it was so rare that women were included, it was the custom for only men to do everything. 

*They walked from the Mount of Olives where Jesus had apparently just ascended into heaven. I felt I needed to dig deeper into the Mt of Olives*

The time of David and Solomon 1000B.C.
The Mount of Olives is actually a range of hills. This range served as a border for Jerusalem and a natural barrier from enemies approaching from the east. David prayed here when escaping from Absalom. (2 Sam 15:30-32); Solomon built places for idol worship for his wives on these hills and King Josiah later removed them. (2 Kings 23:13)

First Temple Period 930B.C.

One of King Solomon's wives were buried and Shebna (worked for King Hezekiah) were buried here. God's Glory leaves Jerusalem and rests on the mountain. (Eze 11:23). The Jewish Midrash describes the "Diving Spirit" waiting 3 years for Israel to repent of its sin, but eventually returns to heaven when this doesn't happen. Zechariah prophesies about a battle where he will stand on the Mt and fight nations attacking Jerusalem resulting in the Mt being split in half and Jesus begins his reign on the earth. (Zec. 14:3-5)

Second Temple Period 538 B.C.

-The Mount becomes integral to Jewish worship. Priests would sacrifice, there were shops for Jewish pilgrims, women would sacrifice a dove after giving birth.

-There was a chain of bonfires lit to signal the new month as decided by the Sanhedrin, who ruled from the Mt. It served as a link to all Israel outside Jerusalem, also to the exiles in Babylon over the Jordan river.

-As in the First Temple Period, it was used a a burial site.

-Roman Army camped on the Mt and cut down olive trees for fortification.


-Acts 1 Continued-

Peter used the wisdom of the Psalms to guide his decision about replacing Judas. Peter says in Verse 16-17 that the Holy Spirit spoke through David. They were already familiar with the Holy Spirit. Even the Jewish Midrash talks about the "Diving Spirit" resting on the Mt of Olives, so the gift Jesus promised wasn't merely knowledge of the Holy Spirit because they already knew about Him and probably studied Him their entire lives.

To replace Judas, they chose people who had been there with Jesus the whole time, who had witnessed everything. Jesus had followers that were right there with them the entire time he was ministering. Jesus had set a place aside in his life and ministry for a group of 12 men. It was his support group, his safe place. He modeled community and lived it. He showed us how to achieve a healthy community by carefully choosing who he allowed into his inner circle. Jesus had followers that were right there with them the entire time he was ministering, but it was important to him to have his 12 disciples in his life. It was so important to him that the remaining 11 after Judas' death felt it was completely necessary to replace him. They also felt it was important to have another man along to tell others the things that they witnessed with Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.

They prayed then cast lots to choose Matthias as #12.

-The day of Pentecost-
The day of Pentecost was a traditional Jewish feast to celebrate the harvest.  I think that Jesus waited for this day to send his Holy Spirit so that they would have an audience.

The Holy Spirit makes an entrance! He presents himself in three different ways:
    1.  Sound.  He sounded like a rushing wind from heaven.
    2.  Visual.  He looked like fire that rested on their heads
    3.  Power.  He gave them power which enabled them to speak in languages which they had never                                  learned.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus had told the disciples that they will receive power to reach the world.  Acts 2:9-11 provides a list of places that were reached.  I see 15 different places listed.  I would say that Jesus got a huge jump on reaching the world in that moment!

I grew up thinking that tongues was just a nonsense language.  I went to a spirit filed Baptist Church and we were taught about speaking in tongues.  I received the gift when I was about 6 or 7 or maybe even younger, but I didn't really understand it.  I thought it was just a spiritual thing with no practical use.  But in these verses the tongues it talks about is very practical.  It's more cerebral than spiritual in this instance because they are speaking tongues for a reason.  That reason is to spread the word of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit came to give them power and boldness to share God's good news, not to give them personal power and private gain.  It was to achieve His will, not theirs.  He wanted to show the Jews from all over Judea what he could do and to share with them how much He loved them.

God gives us power and strength to do His will, not for personal gain.  We may have goals in life, but his plan is so much bigger!

All Gideon wanted was to bake a loaf of bread for his family, but God had a bigger plan for him! God used Gideon to lead an army of 300 men to conquer 3 countries all at once.  When we join God's army, things may not be easy.  We are just trying to get by in life like Gideon was, but God has a much larger plan in store.  When you join the armed forces, it's not an easy life.  First is boot camp where you go through intense training, then you go to war and you have to live in sometimes horrible conditions or experience things you may have never dreamed of.  But if you follow the general's plan you will achieve so much more, so much bigger things than if you would have stayed on your couch.  If that is true of a natural army, how much more is this a truth in God's army? Every mission God has for you is so much bigger than you know.  You may think that it's a small thing that you are doing, but in God's world, in heaven, it is huge.

I have been reading the Old Testament with my kids and the New Testament in my own study time and I keep getting struck by the fact that the focus of Israel (God's people) in the O.T. is something  The focus of the N.T is spiritual...saving people.  All of the battles in the O.T. are over land and the challenges in the N.T are over the truth of Jesus.

Peter speaks:
He refutes the accusations that he and his disciples were drunk and begins to use scriptures to confirm that what they are doing is from God.  He quotes the prophet Joel and King David.  Then he goes on to tell the crowd that the very man that they voted to kill 40 day earlier was in fact the very son of God.  But, he ends with a positive note, that God will forgive them if they "change their hearts and lives, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of (their) sins."  Three thousand people believed what Peter said and were baptized.

Verses 17-21 are a quote from the book of Joel. 

"God says: In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people"
  -I believe that this refers to the period of time from Jesus resurrection until the time he comes back.  If you look at the entire history of the world, the earth has been here thousands and thousands of years.  It has been 2,000 years since Jesus walked this earth and with a heavenly perspective, this could be considered "the last days."
  -"all kinds of people" up until Peter got the vision to share Jesus with the Gentiles, God's glory had been reserved for the Jews.  Now God is planning on pouring out his spirit on ALL people, not just Jews.

"At that time I will pour out my Spirit also on my male slaves and female slaves, and they will prophesy."
  -To me, this emphasizes the extent of how much the Lord wants to pour out His Spirit on ALL people, and he even wants to bless those who aren't considered worthy by society.  Slaves, servants, and handmaidens were considered property and not fully human.  But God loves them equally even if other humans don't recognize them as lovable.

Verses 19-21
These verses list signs and wonders then states "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved"  Considering the fact that up until now only Abraham's descendants were allowed access to the Father, this is a huge game changing statement.  Everyone. Not just priests, not just those who have been through the many rituals of the Jewish faith, everyone.  As for the signs and wonders, I really have no clue what its talking about.  I would like to study that though.  In our Dake Reference Bible, it gives reference a verse in Revelations. I feel like if I dig into that right now, it would open up a whole new rabbit hole that would totally distract me from the book of Acts.  This is something I really want to come back to, though.  Also, just reading Acts makes me want to go back and read Luke again.  I guess I never realized that Luke wrote Acts even though it plainly states it at the beginning.  I had it in my mind that it was Peter I think.  I love when I study the word and it just begins to open up for me.

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