The Survival Of The Early Church



Read Acts 1:1-26

It has been forty days since the resurrection of Jesus from the sealed and guarded tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. During this period, Jesus had made many visible appearances to his disciples. He had talked and ate with them giving infallible proof that he arose from the grave.

According to McGarvey it is May 18, A.D. 30 that Jesus has his final meeting with the apostles just before his ascension to heaven on the Mount of Olives just outside of Jerusalem. He commands them not to depart from Jerusalem but to “wait for the Promise of the Father” or as Luke records, “till endued with power from on high.”

He further tells them, “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Anticipating something important is going to take place they asked Jesus, “Lord will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

In their minds, they were thinking of an earthly kingdom with Jesus ruling just like in the days of David and Solomon. How wrong they were. Jesus would establish a kingdom but it would be a spiritual kingdom.

Sometimes we wonder how they could have been with him for over three years and not understand the nature of this kingdom. He had often described its nature in His parables, still they misunderstood. He plainly told them, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

The Jews in general had been waiting for a Messiah. From passages like Isaiah 2:2-4 they awaited one who would establish a political kingdom and rescue them from Roman oppression. When Jesus came, they thought he did not have all the qualifications and attributes an earthly king would have thus they rejected him. Because of His miracles and teachings many believed he would rule as a king. This was especially true of his apostles.

About a year before his appearance on the Mount of Olives (summer of A.D. 29) while in the region of Caesarea Philippi Jesus told the apostles he was going to establish his church (Matthew 16:18) and in the next verse (19) he tells Peter he will give to him the keys to His kingdom. One can see from these two verses that the words “church” and “kingdom” are used interchangeably.

It is a simple fact. The church is the kingdom and the kingdom is the church. You cannot separate them. They are one and the same. Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached that the “kingdom of heaven was at hand.”

On one occasion Jesus told his listeners that some would live to see His kingdom come with power (Mark. 9:1). Even today many are still confused about this kingdom. We must be careful that we are not led astray into believing the Lord is yet to come and establish an earthly kingdom.

To say He did not anticipate the rejection of the Jews thus postponed the kingdom and inserted the church to fill the gap until the kingdom could be established is nothing more than blasphemy against an all-knowing and all-powerful God.

Jesus tells the apostles that the date of its coming was in the hands of God but they would receive the Holy Spirit and become witnesses of His resurrection in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and even “to the end of the earth.”

Little did they perceive what all this would involve. Guided by the Holy Spirit God would give these simple uneducated men the task of bringing the church into existence and spreading it into all the world.

Suddenly the Lord begins to ascend upward disappearing in a cloud from their sight. Can you imagine what a stunning sight this must have been? As they see Jesus disappear suddenly “two men stood by them in white apparel”

who obviously were angels. Angels often appeared in such apparel and were always men, never as women. They are told that this is not the last time they will see Jesus but that he will return in the same way he had gone into heaven. Heaven is always represented as up.

Greatly amazed by what they had seen and heard they return to Jerusalem and entered a room where they met with some of the faithful women and the family of Jesus. At one time Jesus’ family did not believe in him but now there is no longer any doubt. With “one accord” this little group of believers give themselves to “prayer and supplication.”

Something great was about to happen. Everything is still a mystery. All they can do is wait and pray. They are now on God’s schedule and not their own.

Some unfinished business still remains to be done. Someone must replace Judas who had hung himself. With a group of about 120 disciples present Peter reminds them of Judas and his fate. The thirty pieces of silver he had been given to betray Jesus had been used to purchase a piece of land where he would be buried. This event would become known to all those living in Jerusalem.

The place would be called the “Field of Blood.”

Why didn’t Judas repent and return to the Lord begging His forgiveness? Was his sin greater than Peter’s denial? How tragic! But God already knew his decision long before Judas existed. Peter now quotes Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 to show Judas fulfilled what the Holy Spirit had foretold through David.

Someone must take his place.

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The Survival Of The Early Church. Acts 1-12  


"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Philippians 4:13