The Acts of the Apostles by Paul Cresswell - sample of the content

The following is an extract from the book The Acts of the Apostles a commentary by bro. Paul Cresswell. This will give you an idea of the style of the book.

"ACTS 1:1-26 - Preparation for preaching

 

Acts 1:1-3 - Introduction

 

“The former treatise” evidently refers to Luke’s gospel (Luke 1:3-4). There is then little point in considering alternative authors for Acts, as Luke is the most obvious and appropriate author of these two longest books in the New Testament. He was an eyewitness of most of the events recorded in Acts, and an immediate friend and confidant of those involved in the events that he did not witness.

 

Luke wrote to Theophilus about AD 60-62, just before Paul’s release from prison in Rome (Acts 28:30-31).

 

Who was Theophilus? His name means “lover of God.” Being referred to as “most excellent” in Luke’s gospel, tells us that he was probably an important official, a convert well known to Luke. Though little more is known about him, how thankful we can be for his spirit of enquiry that led to Luke writing such a valuable and exciting “treatise”(logos) for us. A treatise “of all that Jesus began to do and teach.” We are reminded of Ezra who also “had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10).

 

In Acts 1:2 Luke confirms that the Lord’s commands to the apostles were given through the holy spirit. A point accepted now, but necessary to confirm in those early days of preaching to unbelievers. These commandments to preach are given in Matthew 28:19 and John 20:21: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit.” Though spoken to the disciples, the command was obviously intended to be a command to all who believed their teaching, so that the work would continue “to the uttermost parts of the earth.” It would have been impossible for the apostles to do this unaided.

 

The apostles, of course, were “chosen” and in appointing a replacement for Judas, this choosing by the Lord was not overlooked, even though the selection was by lot (1:24).

The word “passion” in verse 3 means “suffering.” Despite this suffering, the Lord’s resurrection cannot be gainsaid for it could be infallibly proved by apostolic witness. “He shewed (Greek, to be present, or, “stood with me,” 2 Timothy 4:17) himself alive…being seen of them fourty days.” This period of time definitely excludes any mistaken identity  on the part of the disciples, just as his extreme suffering definitely excludes the idea that the Lord only swooned and revived in the cool of the tomb. 

 

During this time the apostles were able to feel his wounds and observe him eat, which resulted in their absolute conviction that “God had raised him up, having loosed the pains of death” (Luke 24:39-43; John 20:27; Acts 2:24).

 

Why were these proofs only made to his disciples? Would not his revelation to independent witnesses be more effective? No! Because “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31). To these faithful witnesses he had spoken about “the Kingdom of God”, but not “the name of Jesus Christ,” (Acts 8:12), partly because that was a living experience to these chosen men and partly because, until he had risen, salvation in the Name had not been confirmed.

 

Acts 1:4-8 - The promise of the holy spirit

 

The Lord asked his apostles to not return to Galilee but remain in Jerusalem until “the promise of the Father” was received. This promise had been made earlier:

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that it may abide with you for ever; Even the spirit of truth; which the world cannot receive, because it seeth it not, neither knoweth it: but ye know it; for it dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).

 

And again:

 “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send it unto you. And when it is come, it will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:7-11).

 

This spirit came upon them as described in Acts 2:4. Peter, when explaining his action in baptizing Cornelius, his relations and friends, referred to this promise of the Lord again in  chapter 11:16.

 

The disciple’s minds, however, were filled with another promise, that of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel and “the times or the seasons” that would precede it. With us, they were well aware “that he changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth and setteth up kings” (Daniel 2:21). Before the time came to set up his King, however, there must be a long time of preaching to prepare a people for the coming again of their Lord. And for that preaching to be successful a special gift of God’s power would be necessary in the early days “to confirm the word with signs following.” And so they were to “tarry in the city of Jerusalem till ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). This command of the Lord, even then foreshadowed the eventual scattering of the ecclesia to preach the gospel."

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