Study | Church Beginnings

Acts 1

Human leadership is important to grow the Kingdom of God

Luke wrote the book of Acts to directly follow the events contained in his gospel account. Keep in mind that Luke is not a disciple – he did some serious research and interviews in order to present his two books to us.

In Acts chapter 1, we pick up where we left off. Jesus is resurrected, and he’s making sure it’s known! He spends 40 days publicly presenting himself as alive, and speaking to crowds about the Kingdom of God. Beyond that, Jesus spends intimate time with the eleven (the original disciples sans Judas Iscariot). He tells them to stay in Jerusalem until the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes upon them. More on the Holy Spirit and Pentecost next week!

Jesus spends time with his followers focusing on bringing all nations into the Kingdom of God through the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom is not exclusive except that he, Jesus Christ, is the only way into right relationship with God. Membership in the Kingdom is not limited to Israel, but is for all tribes and tongues and nations! And this is all possible through the Spirit, who dwells inside each believer, uniting the community into one Kingdom.

At the end of the 40 days, Jesus ascends into the clouds. What a marvelous sight! An angel visits the disciples to reassure them that Jesus will return the same way he ascended, referencing the events to come when Heaven finally meets Earth for good.

From there, the disciples take action. The eleven along with women including Mary the mother of Jesus gather together and pray. Peter says that Judas Iscariot’s place must be filled. While Judas ultimately made terrible decisions, the Scriptures still speak about him and he did share in Jesus’ ministry.

Peter references Davidic Psalms 69 and 109 (which foretell the emergence of and victory over the enemy) in making his case for Judas’ replacement. This new leader must have spent time with Jesus and witnessed the resurrected Christ to strengthen his belief and testimony to others as the church is formed. This reminds me of 1 Timothy 3, where Paul makes a strong argument that leaders in the church should not be new believers but should be seasoned to help others in their walk with Christ.

At the end of this chapter, two nominees arise: Joseph (known as Barsabbas or Justus) and Matthias. After prayer and the casting of lots (as this is how people sought God’s will before Acts 2/the Pentecost when the Spirit began living inside believers as The Helper), Matthias is chosen.

Questions for discussion:

  1. Who is the Holy Spirit and why does Jesus emphasize his importance?
  2. What type of person did Peter and the apostles want to replace Judas?
  3. Why does Peter emphasize human leadership?
  4. How are you a leader in your home, workplace, and community?
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