#01 (Acts 1:1-5) The Promise of the Father
studies will be designated as Acts001, Acts 002, and so
on, and will be posted separately from the HF studies on the
Christian Challenge web site. Each study will include the
Scripture portion under review, along with a short title. The
title will express the major theme of the Scriptures being
considered. For example our first study will be Acts001
(1:1-5) The Father's Promise.
To keep these studies from becoming scattered we will
attempt to follow a framework where specific doctrines can be
considered as they develop. Sometimes we may be able to cover
an entire chapter. But more often we will need to break a
chapter into manageable parts. Then there will be times when
we will skim portions of Acts so that as not to be bogged down
with historical detail, or, so as not to get into duplication
Keep in mind that the primary objective of the Acts studies
will be doctrinal, that is, we want to get into what the early
Christians believed and taught. What I would like the
membership to do is try to remain within the area of
discussion. But we also want to leave the door open for a
broader study if it is called for. Please feel free to
contribute the studies and ask questions.
I'll leave each study open until we are ready for the next
Scripture portion. Plus, there will be times when I won't
place the entire Scripture portion in a study, but will simply
draw attention to the area of study. You'll need to read
through the Scripture portion for yourself.
Once again I want to encourage you to become a traveler
with us as we journey through time past. Think about how you
would see things if you were a Jewish person of that time.
Finally --- I will really try not to drag my part out, but
there are things I need to share that I know will help you.
With that in mind, here is our Scripture reading for this
study: (Acts 1:1-5)
"The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that
Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken
up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders
to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also
presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many
convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty
days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of
God. Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave
Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised,
'Which,' He said, 'you heard of from Me; for John baptized
with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit
not many days from now.'"
Friend of God
Vs 1: Theopolis: It seems that Luke is writing the Acts of
the Apostles to someone of major importance. Notice that the
gospel of Luke is written to the same person. Theopolis means
'Friend of God.' No one really knows who Theopolis was.
However, this may also be a code name for true believers.
If you recall, Abraham is the one man in Scripture called
'the friend of God.' (James 2:23) But a similar designation is
given the disciples by Jesus, and by extension, we can take it
to ourselves. Jesus said, "No longer do I call you slaves, for
the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have
called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My
Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)
In any event, our relationship to God under the new
covenant is that of family, of friendship, of grace, and of
unhindered fellowship. We are called to walk in the steps of
our father Abraham.
Vss2,3: Luke gives a summation of Christ's pre-ascension
- He gave orders to the apostles.
- He presented Himself alive by many convincing proofs for
a period of forty days.
- He shared with them things concerning the kingdom of
God. (Keep this in mind. It will be important to our next
The Father's Promise
Vs4: Jesus gathers the apostles together, and then tells
them not to leave Jerusalem until they had received what the
Father promised. He said, "For John baptized with water, but
you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from
This brings us to the major thought in our Scripture
reading. What did Jesus mean by speaking of the baptism of the
Holy Spirit as the Father's promise? When did the Father
promise the Holy Spirit?
These Jewish disciples knew that the promise of the Holy
Spirit was central to the new covenant. They were well
acquainted with the prophetic writings. In addition they had
walked with Messiah for three years, and He had reinforced the
prophetic promise of the Holy Spirit.
At this point we need to jump ahead just a bit. When Peter
began to preach on the day of Pentecost, he called attention
to the Father's promise. Concerning the Holy Spirit, Peter
said, "For the promise is for you and your children and for
all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to
Himself." (Acts 2:39)
The promise of the Holy Spirit had rested in the bosom of
the Jewish peoples. They knew that the Messiah would bring
about the promise. God spoke through the prophet, in saying,
"And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within
them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh
and give them a heart of flesh." (Eze11:19)
Then we have this from Isaiah; "For I will pour out water
on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour
out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your
descendants; and they will spring up among the grass like
poplars by streams of water." (Isa44:3,4)
The prophets painted scenes in the minds of the peoples
that caused a continual longing for Messiah and the new
covenant. The Holy Spirit would not only refresh them, but
they themselves would become like refreshing streams to those
Permit me a personal note: Some years ago I had a dream in
which I was walking across a large field that had nothing for
dry grass on it. When I look backed I saw a group of people
looking down on the ground, and then looking up at me. When I
look at where I had walked, every step had green grass
springing up. The next morning I realized that the Lord wanted
me (all His children) to bring life to wherever we go. We are
to be life givers, but this can only be done with the Spirit
of Messiah is flowing through our lives.
Baptism / Mikvah
Vs5: "You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." This
statement is a cause of concern for many. But it is really
very Jewish. On the temple mount were several mikvahs
(baptism pools) that were used for ceremonial cleansings.
These cleansings had to do with holiness.
An example of this was when a Gentile converted to Judaism,
he had to do three things; offer a sacrifice at the temple, be
circumcised, and then be baptized (mikvahed). It was
then that the convert was considered to be a true Israelite.
But what did Jesus mean by the disciples being baptized in
the Holy Spirit? This meant that in the new covenant,
believers would be mikvahed (immersed) in the Spirit of
Messiah, and thereby, would become a holy people to God.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a term that speaks of the
washing of regeneration. It is in this covenant experience
that a believer receives the life of Messiah. Paul said, "For
by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews
or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to
drink of one Spirit." (1Co12:13) The body we are emerged into
is the body of Messiah, and the Spirit we drink of is the
Spirit of Messiah.
When the Lord compared John's baptism to the baptism of the
Holy Spirit, He is drawing attention both to the Messiah's new
covenant baptism, and also to a baptism of judgment. John
said, "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but
He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit
to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy
Spirit and fire." (Matt3:11)
The baptism of fire is a baptism of judgment. The baptism
of the Holy Spirit is a baptism of life. But I'll leave that
unsaid for now.
Rather than carry this part of our study any further, let's
get some responses from the membership. You may wish to
meditate on the study Scriptures again.
Next: #02 (Acts 1:6-11) Israel, the Holy Spirit, and the Second
This study on
Acts was originally part of a
series on the book of Acts given to members of
Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003.
They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, Founder and Senior Pastor of
Christian Challenge International.