These two chapters are packed with action and revelations. I can break it up into a few components:
- The Holy Spirit
- Jesus’ Ascension
- Judas’ Replacement
The Holy Spirit figures prominently and sets the stage as a baptizing and communication force to be dealt with.
He (Jesus) had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen (Acts 1:2)
Right before Jesus departs, he says:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (Acts 1:8)
With Judas’ death, the Apostles then cast lots to replace him with Matthias. The prelude to this decision:
Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. (Acts 1:16)
Peter’s sermon focuses on the attestation and crucifixion of Christ. In evoking Joel, he references the “last days” as a new covenant (versus truly final days from an Old Testament perspective.)
He doesn’t hold back from referencing man’s role in the killing of Jesus while calling it part of God’s plan:
This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (Acts 2:23)
With this context, he preaches:
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”....so those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:38, 41)
This is the fulcrum of change that we should focus on, because right after this verse, the author of Acts describes how the early church of believers is to behave.
This new behavior of the early church appears to enable its growth:
And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46)
What then leads to this dramatic change in so many people’s lives based on just these two chapters?
Why ask this question about change?
Acts is, in many ways, the beginning of a new chapter in the life of God’s people.
If we broke up the Bible to this point as:
- Old Testament
- Jesus (the Gospels)
- Acts: life after Jesus and the birth of the Church
Acts is the shift: the church and the Gospel is to grow without Jesus physically on earth.
As Lord who does have a sovereign plan, Jesus is still the make and perfecter of people’s faith.
However, it’s a shift where change in people’s hearts are to be the result of those who are already following.
It is for this reason that the Holy Spirit, that “power” granted to believers, has a prominent place in this passage. In Jesus’ departure (Ascension), the Holy Spirit fills a vital role.
However, what creates this change?
I believe Peter’s sermon reveals a structure and a truth that is often overlooked, but is the tip of the spear.
Peter’s sermon points out the audience’s complicity in Jesus’ killing and then asks the to repent.
Future growth comes through the daily prayer and sharing of meals — fellowship.
To lean into one approach at the expense of the other will not yield fruit.
If we study these first two chapters under the lens of “what happens to create change (new life)” I believe the three things that come out are:
- Holy Spirit as the “power” (which we still need to drill into further)
- Call to repentance after declaration of truth (killing of Jesus)
- Fellowship of believers daily
In fact, I would argue that the “power” are the Five Fold spiritual gifts, which are being put on display in these first two chapters, with a focus on Prophet (Peter’s call for repentance), and Teacher/Shepherd in the description of Fellowship.
This is the blueprint for growth (to hit all five), but a central axis is the Prophet/Pastor axis.