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1-3 My Dear Theophilus, In my first book I gave you some account of all that Jesus began to do and teach until the time of his ascension. Before he ascended he gave his instructions, through the Holy Spirit, to the special messengers of his choice. For after his suffering he showed himself alive to them in many convincing ways, and appeared to them repeatedly over a period of forty days talking with them about the affairs of the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ parting words before his ascension

On one occasion, while he was eating a meal with them, he emphasised that they were not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise.

“You have already heard me speak about this,” he said, “for John used to baptise with water, but before many days are passed you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.”

This naturally brought them all together, and they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you are going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7-8 To this he replied, “You cannot know times and dates which have been fixed by the Father’s sole authority. But you are to be given power when the Holy Spirit has come to you. You will be witnesses to me, not only in Jerusalem, not only throughout Judea, not only in Samaria, but to the very ends of the earth!”

9-11 When he had said these words he was lifted up before their eyes till a cloud hid him from their sight. While they were still gazing up into the sky as he went, suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them and said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking up into the sky? This very Jesus who has been taken up from you into Heaven will come back in just the same way as you have seen him go.”

12-14 At this they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives which is near the city, only a sabbath day’s journey away. On entering Jerusalem they went straight to the upstairs room where they had been staying. There were Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Patriot, and Judas the son of James. By common consent all these men together with the women who had followed Jesus, Mary his mother as well as his brothers devoted themselves to prayer.

Judas’ place is filled

15-17 It was during this period that Peter stood among the brothers—there were about a hundred and twenty present at the time—and said, “My brothers, the prophecy of scripture given through the Holy Spirit by the lips of David concerning Judas was bound to come true. He was the man who acted as guide to those who arrested Jesus, though he was one of our number and he had a share in this ministry of ours.”

18-19 (This man had bought a piece of land with the proceeds of his infamy, but his body swelled up and his intestines burst. This fact became well known to all the residents of Jerusalem so that the piece of land came to be called in their Aramaic language Akeldama, which means “the field of blood”.)

20 “Now it is written in the book of psalms of such a man: ‘Let his habitation be desolate, and let no one live in it’, and ‘Let another take his office’.

21-22 “It becomes necessary then that whoever joins us must be someone who has been in our company during the whole time the Lord Jesus lived his life with us, from the beginning when John baptised him until the day when he was taken up from us. This man must be an eye-witness with us to the resurrection of Jesus.”

23-26 Two men were put forward, Joseph called Barsabbas who was also called Justus and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two you have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” Then they drew lots for these men, and the lot fell to Matthias, and thereafter he was considered equally an apostle with the eleven.