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To Theophilus,[a] the lover of God.

I write to you again, my dear friend, to give you further details[b] about the life of our Lord Jesus and all the things that he did and taught.[c]

Just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus left instructions[d] through the Holy Spirit for the apostles he had chosen. After the sufferings of his cross, Jesus appeared alive many times[e] to these same apostles over a forty-day period,[f] proving to them with many convincing signs that he had been resurrected.[g] During these encounters, he taught them the truths of God’s kingdom.[h]

Jesus instructed them, “Don’t leave Jerusalem, but wait here until you receive the gift I told you about, the gift the Father has promised. For John baptized you in water, but in a few days from now you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit!”[i]

Every time they were gathered together, they asked Jesus, “Lord, is it now the time for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He answered, “The Father is the one who sets the fixed dates and the times of their fulfillment. You are not permitted to know the timing of all that he has prepared by his own authority. But I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you will be seized with power.[j] You will be my messengers[k] to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces[l]—even to the remotest places on earth!”[m]

Right after Jesus spoke those words, the disciples saw him being lifted into the sky, and disappearing into a cloud![n] 10 As they stared into the sky, watching Jesus ascend, two men in white robes suddenly appeared beside them. 11 They told the startled disciples, “Galileans, why are you staring up into the sky? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but he will come back in the same way that you saw him ascend.”

A New Apostle Is Chosen

12 The disciples left the Mount of Olives and returned to Jerusalem, which was less than a mile away.[o] 13–14 Arriving there, they went into a large second-floor room to pray.[p] Those present were Peter, John, Jacob, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, Jacob (the son of Alpheus), Simon (the zealot), Judas (the son of Jacob), and a number of women, including Mary, Jesus’ mother. His brothers[q] were there as well. All of them were united in prayer, gripped with one passion,[r] interceding night and day.

15 During this time Peter stood up among the 120 believers who were gathered and said, 16 “Fellow believers,[s] the Scripture David prophesied by the Holy Spirit concerning Judas had to be fulfilled.[t] Judas betrayed our Lord Jesus and led the mob to the garden to arrest him. 17 He was one of us, and he was chosen to be an apostle just as we were.[u] 18 He earned the wages of his sin,[v] for he fell headfirst, and his belly split open, spilling his intestines on the ground. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem knows what happened to him. That’s why the field where he died is called in Aramaic[w] ‘Haqel Dama,’ that is, ‘The Bloody Field.’ 20 For it is written in the Psalms:

‘Let his house be deserted and become a wasteland.
    No one will live there.’[x]

And also:

‘Let another take his ministry.’[y]

21 “So then, we must choose his replacement from among those who have been with us from the very beginning,[z] 22 from John’s baptism until Jesus’ ascension. And, like us, he must be a witness of his resurrection.”

23 They proposed two candidates: Joseph, who is also called Barsabbas the Just, and Matthias.[aa] 24 They all prayed, “Lord Yahweh,[ab] you know the heart of every man.[ac] Please give us clear revelation to know which of these two men you have chosen 25 to be an apostle and take Judas’ place because he renounced his apostleship to go where he belonged.”[ad] 26 They cast lots[ae] and determined that Matthias was the Lord’s choice, so he was added to the eleven apostles.


  1. 1:1 Some scholars believe that Theophilus could be a symbolic name and not necessarily one individual. This is most likely not written to one individual. When the meaning of his name is translated, the sentence reads, “I wrote to you before, O lover of God.” Both Luke and Acts were written to every lover of God.
  2. 1:1 This account was written by Luke, the human author of the Gospel of Luke. The title Lord Jesus is found only in the Aramaic. The Greek is simply “Jesus.”
  3. 1:1 Although Jesus’ work of redemption has been completed for us, there is still the unfinished work of preparing and beautifying his eternal partner, the bride of Christ. With gifts of power Jesus’ church is continuing what he began to do and teach through evangelism and discipleship. See Matt. 28:19–20; John 21:25; Eph. 4:11–13.
  4. 1:2 Or “commands.”
  5. 1:3 Jesus appeared to his followers at least eleven times and taught them the mysteries of God’s kingdom realm. See also Matt. 13:11.
  6. 1:3 The number forty is significant, for it speaks of transformation and completeness through testing. Jesus was tempted for forty days, the deluge during Noah’s day lasted forty days and nights, Moses met with God for forty days on Sinai, Israel wandered for forty years, and Elijah fasted for forty days. Jesus spent forty days appearing to his disciples to teach them that a day of completeness and transformation had arrived. It took them forty days to comprehend that Christ’s kingdom was spiritual, not political.
  7. 1:3 The world is still waiting to see “many convincing signs” from our lives signifying that we too have been raised from the dead. Spiritual fruit and spiritual power provide these signs.
  8. 1:3 The Aramaic adds, “and shared meals with them.”
  9. 1:5 The Aramaic implies that they would be the ones who would do the baptizing: “John baptized you in water, but you will baptize [others] in the Holy Spirit.”
  10. 1:8 Or “You will seize power.”
  11. 1:8 Or “witnesses.” The Greek word can also be translated “martyrs.”
  12. 1:8 Or “Samaria,” a term used for a distant province populated by another people group.
  13. 1:8 See Matt. 24:14.
  14. 1:9 Or “A cloud came under him and took him up from their sight.” The Aramaic is “A cloud accepted him and covered him from their eyes.” He did not start from a cloud and ascend to outer space. He started from their visible presence, and disappeared from view in a cloud, ascending by that means into heaven. And when he returns, it will be in reverse order. We will see him appearing from out of a cloud, then descending back into our visible presence where we can see him and be forever with him.
  15. 1:12 The Aramaic is “seven stadia” (furlongs). A furlong is about one-eighth of a mile. The Greek uses a phrase not found in the Septuagint or elsewhere in the Greek New Testament or in any Greek literature: “of a Sabbath having away.” It is rendered in most modern translations “a Sabbath’s journey.”
  16. 1:13–14 The Greek uses the definite article “the upstairs room.” This was where they had met before to have the Last Supper with Jesus. In Mark’s Gospel, after the disciples returned from witnessing the ascension, they preached, for Mark is the Gospel of ministry. In Luke, after Jesus’ ascension, they praised, and here in Acts they prayed.
  17. 1:13–14 Or “siblings.” Jesus’ four brothers are named in Matt. 13:55 and Mark 6:3 as Jacob, Joses (or Joseph), Simon, and Judah. Even though John 7:5 records that early in Jesus’ ministry his own brothers did not believe in him, they obviously later repented and received the revelation of the resurrected Christ, their own brother, and believed in him.
  18. 1:13–14 The Aramaic is “They prayed with one soul.”
  19. 1:16 Or “brothers.”
  20. 1:16 That is, replacing Judas with another to complete the Twelve. See v. 20.
  21. 1:17 As translated from the Aramaic.
  22. 1:18 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “He acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness.” Judas would have had no time between his betrayal and his suicide to purchase land. This plot of land was likely purchased by the Jewish authorities. They could not use the returned blood money for temple purposes, so instead they purchased a small burial plot for Judas.
  23. 1:19 Or “in the language of the region.” The Greek text is clear that the Jews of Jesus’ day spoke Aramaic, the language that Jesus and his apostles taught in. The Greek text transliterates the name of the field into a Greek equivalent for a Greek audience.
  24. 1:20 See Ps. 69:25.
  25. 1:20 See Ps. 109:8.
  26. 1:21 Or “that our Lord Jesus went in and out among us.”
  27. 1:23 Barsabbas means “son of promise.” Matthias means “gift of YHWH.”
  28. 1:24 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is simply “Lord.”
  29. 1:24 The Greek is “Lord, you are the heart knower of all.”
  30. 1:25 The Aramaic is “go to his place.” The Greek is “departed from this life,” a euphemism for death.
  31. 1:26 This was similar to rolling dice. Casting lots is not mentioned again in the New Testament after the Holy Spirit was poured out. The Aramaic reads “They raised up a shaking-free and elevated Matthias,” which indicates they shook free from Judas’ claim to apostleship and appointed Matthias.

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