Online Bible Commentary
The Power of the Holy Spirit
Acts 1:1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. 4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (NKJV)
The Book of Acts tells the history of the beginning of the church age. It covers a period of about thirty three years from the ascension of Christ about 29-30 A.D. to the house arrest of Paul in 62-63 A.D. It is believed to have been written about 63 A.D.
The book was written by Luke, the medical doctor who also wrote the gospel that carries his name. The first twelve chapters primarily cover the apostle Peter as he takes the gospel to the Jews. The last sixteen chapters primarily cover the apostle Paul as he takes the gospel to the Gentiles. Luke was a travelling companion of Paul’s.
In this passage, Luke makes it known that he is writing to Theophilus (v. 1), just as he did when writing his gospel (Lk. 1:3). Not much is known for certain about Theophilus. We believe that he was a fellow Christian. It is possible that he was Luke’s benefactor, supporting the cost of writing and distributing Luke’s works.
Luke begins this book by making reference to “all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up”, his ascension back to Heaven (vv. 1a-2b). During Jesus’ time on earth “He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen” (v. 2b).
Jesus presented “many infallible proofs” of His resurrected body and spoke “of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” for a forty day period from His resurrection until His ascension (v. 3). Prior to His ascension, Jesus commanded His disciples “not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father” (v. 4).
This “promise” was the baptism of the Holy Spirit (v. 5a). The baptism of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples happened on the Day of Pentecost, ten days after the ascension (v. 5b), and fifty days after the resurrection. The fifty days represents the forty days from resurrection Sunday to the ascension plus the ten days from the ascension to the Day of Pentecost, also on a Sunday.
The apostles had been thinking all along that Jesus would establish His kingdom upon His first coming, not His second. They asked Him about this (v. 6), but He deflected the question (v. 7).
Instead, Jesus spoke of “the power” that would “come upon” the disciples, referring to the “Holy Spirit” (v. 8a). This indwelling of the Holy Spirit would empower the disciples to be “witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (v. 8b).
Thus, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost began the church age. To this day we are still living in the church age, and we will be until the second coming of Christ when he sets up His kingdom.
Just as the Holy Spirit empowered the first disciples, He empowers all Christians today. It is His power that enables us to live the Christian life. It is only through our dependence on the Holy Spirit, who indwells every Christian, that we can resist sin and obey God. The power to do so is not from us, but from God. It is our duty to yield to that power.