#01 (Acts 1:1-5) The Promise of the Father


The Acts 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 of studies.

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 activities.

  • 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 study.)

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 now."

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 around them.

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 Coming

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.

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