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Bible Commentaries
Acts 1

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

Acts 1:1

Book Comments

Walking Thru The Bible



AUTHOR: Acts is indeed a continuation of Luke’s Gospel. We could well refer to the Gospel as Volume One and Acts as Volume Two. In Acts 1:1 "the former treatise" addressed to Theophilus (Luke 1:3) is a reference back to Luke’s Gospel.

Internal evidence, particularly the "we" passages of Acts (Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:5-21; Acts 20:18; Acts 27:1-28:16) confirm Luke as the author. Luke by profession was a physician. He is the only Gentile author in the New Testament. He was an eyewitness to many of the events in the book and was Paul’s co-worker.

BACKGROUND: The book of Acts begins where the gospel left off at the resurrection and ascension of Jesus into heaven. It takes up the story there and shows the establishment of the Kingdom (the church) and its growth. It is often called "the book of conversions" because it shows how people in the first century became Christians.

Various titles given the book include:

"The Acts of the Apostles"

"The Acts of the Holy Spirit"

"The Ecclesia Established, Evangelizes and Expands"

"The Message and Method of New Testament Evangelism"

"The Great Commission In Action"

"The Book of Evangelism"

"How To Get Into Christ"

Luke’s Gospel = Christ

Luke’s Acts = How to get into Christ

The Epistles = How to stay in Christ

"A Book of Beginnings"

"Book of Conversions"

"Acts of Apostles" (Some Acts of Some of the Apostles)

CHARACTER: The book is historical and written in narrative form. The history of the Bible is HIS STORY and the pivot point of the Bible around which all things revolve is the Cross.

[For the charts accompanying this "Walk" lesson see the "Walk" series online at:


The Old Testament says "Someone is coming."

The Gospels say "Someone has come."

The Epistles say "Someone is coming again."

The Book of Acts is a very important book in the New Testament. From the book we glean much background material for the epistles. We see the important theme of early preaching (the resurrection), fulfillment of prophecy and a number of miracles.

DESIGN: The book shows the progress of Christianity from Jerusalem to all Judea, and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The commission of the risen Lord had already been reported by Luke (Luke 24:46-49) and here is the description or how it was accomplished.

The key verse of the book is Acts 1:8. This verse is actually like Luke’s Table of Contents, or outline for the book.

The book was probably composed in about AD 61/62. It begins with the history of AD 29/30, the year of our Lord’s death, and ends following two years of Paul’s imprisonment at Rome about AD 62.


I. Spread of the Gospel in Palestine with Peter as leader. Ch. 1-12

II. Spread of the Gospel Outside Palestine with Paul as leader. Ch. 13-28


(You may need to see this FULL PAGE for the chart to line up correctly.)


35 Years of Church History

Key Verse: Acts 1:8 Author: Luke

Key Word: “Witness” Date written: A.D. 62


29 Jerusalem Birth of the 1 Jesus taken back up into heaven church

2 Pentecost - Holy Spirit

Growth 3 Gate Beautiful - lame man healed

thru 4 Peter & John arrested

Testing 5 The lie told

6 Widows neglected

7 Stephen

33 Judea Great 8 Philip’s preaching

and Persecution 9 Saul’s conversion

Samaria Gospel to 10 Cornelius’ conversion

the Gentiles 11 Peter reports

12 Herod

45 1st Paul & Barnabas 13 Cyprus & Antioch

Journey 14 Lystra & Derbe

Jerusalem 15 Jerusalem council

2nd Paul & Silas 16 Philippi

Journey 17 Athens

18 Corinth

3rd Paul & Silas 19 Ephesus

Journey 20 A farewell address

Jerusalem 21 Paul arrested in Jerusalem

22 Stairway sermon

23 Plot on Paul’s life

Caesarea 24 Felix

25 Festus

26 King Agrippa

62 On way to Rome 27 Shipwreck

ROME 28 Rome

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Verse Comments

Acts 1:1

Luke = 14.45 % of the NT

Acts = 12.66 % of the NT

TOTAL = 27.11% of the NT was written by the Gentile Luke a Total of 2155 verses

Paul = 25.22 % or 2032 verses

John = 17.80 % of the NT (Gospel, epistles, Revelation)

Best Commentary, Gareth Reese’s Commentary on Acts

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Theophilus -- "Lover of God" Since he is called "most excellent" in Luke 1:3 he may have been a government official for whom Luke is providing a legal brief. This has caused some to speculate that Luke wrote both volumes as a legal brief for Theophilus Acts 1:1; Luke 1:3 who was either Paul’s lawyer or the official who heard his case for Nero’s court. One can note the number of times Paul comes in contact with government officials and no Roman ever found Paul guilty; Felix, Festus, Gallio, Sergius Paulus, and one could add the time at Philippi, the city officials at Ephesus, Roman soldiers at Jerusalem and aboard Paul’s ship to Rome, as well as King Agrippa, etc.

Some think it is an anonymous name and Luke’s writing was intended for every "Lover of God."

Both to do and teach -- Jesus practiced and then taught. He did not do as the Pharisees Matthew 23:3.

Verse 3

Acts 1:3

Infallible proofs -- Irrefutable and convincing evidence, His miracles and teachings.

forty days ... cf. Luke 24:50 when Jesus led them out toward Bethany, to the Mount of Olives Acts 1:12

Kingdom of God -- Jesus’ subject and concern.

Verse 4

Acts 1:4

Promise -- Regarding the coming of the kingdom of God, v. 3 Acts 1:3. The promise regarding the King’s coming in the power of Holy Spirit, Luke 24:49; Mark 9:1; Matthew 3:2; cf. John 14:26;

Verse 5

Acts 1:5

Baptism -- of the Holy Spirit. This has to do with the method of the HS reception, and the measure of power or supernatural endowment.

1. Jesus was given the Holy Spirit "without measure" John 3:34. NIV "without limit".

2. The apostles were given the Holy Spirit to be guided by it, John 14:26, John 16:13-14; and to impart it’s miraculous nature to others on whom they laid their hands, Acts 8:14-15; Acts 8:18; 2 Timothy 1:6; Romans 1:11; etc. Such miracles, signs and wonders confirmed their preaching Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4; Romans 15:19; etc.

3 Some Christians were given supernatural spiritual gifts 1 Corinthians 12:1 ff; 1 Corinthians 14:1 ff Romans 1:11; etc. by the laying on of the apostles’ hands Acts 8:14-15; Acts 8:18; 2 Timothy 1:6; Romans 1:11;

4. The Holy Spirit leads still leads us today through the inspired writings given to us by the apostles and prophets of the New Testament. God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are all said to "dwell" in us as we follow their teaching and live the holy and godly lives that imitate them. cf. Ephesians 3:17

Verse 6

Acts 1:6

Kingdom -- cf. John 18:36 The apostles probably still had a worldly conception of Jesus’ kingdom just as the Jewish population who looked for an earthly restoration of David’s kingdom and the throwing off of the yoke of foreign domination.


"At hand"- Matthew 3:2,

To come in first century with "Power"- Mark 9:1,

But "Power" to come with Holy Ghost- Acts 1:8,

This happened on the day of Pentecost- Acts 2:1-4.

The Kingdom was in existence in Paul’s day- Colossians 1:13.

It is the Church- Matthew 16:18-19.

Verse 7

Acts 1:7

Power -- authority, Mark 9:1

Verse 8

Acts 1:8

Witnesses -- martures The world also means martyrs.

Vs 8 Here we have Luke’s broad outline for his writing of Acts.

The preaching done in:

1. Jerusalem - ch. 1-7

2. Judaea and Samaria - ch. 8-12

3. Uttermost part of the earth - ch. 13-28

Verse 9

Acts 1:9

Jesus’s ascension seems to have spoken of in Psalms 24:7; Daniel 7:13. The actions taking place in heaven upon his arrival there is told us in Revelation 12:7 (see v. 11 for the victory came by Jesus’ victory on the cross and over death. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 )

Vs. 9 From Heaven’s side, this is Jesus returning home, Daniel 7:13.

Cloud -- Perhaps rightly we think of this as a bright beautifully fluffy cloud. But we ought not to think of this picture when we read about "clouds" elsewhere in the Bible; for generally they are clouds of judgment, and we should probably visualize clouds like those that come with storms or tornadoes; as when God comes riding on a cloud (of judgment) into Egypt Isaiah 19:1, or in Revelation 1:7; See Mark 13:26; Matthew 24:29 Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15.

Verse 10

Acts 1:10

Two men -- angels. Luke 24:4; John 20:12

Verse 11

Acts 1:11

Will come -- Another promise of Jesus’ return. Daniel 7:13-14; John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10;

Verse 12

Acts 1:12

Returned to Jerusalem -- Where they were told to wait until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit. Luke 24:49; Luke 24:52; John 16:7;

Verse 13

Acts 1:13

An upper room -- This was probably the same room where they met for the Lord’s last supper with them. It was probably the house belonging to Mary, the sister of Barnabas and mother of Mark, where they assembled in Acts 12:12; see Colossians 4:10; Acts 12:25. It was a large house and the owner had servants. Such large complexes kept an upper room for guests. Especially in Jerusalem they kept them for visitors who came to the feasts. This household appears to have been disciples.

One clue that makes us think Mary’s house was also the house of the Last Supper, is Mark’s statement in Mark 14:51 where it is believed that Mark is referring to himself. If Mark was the one following Jesus and the apostles to the garden, it would probably have been that he followed them from his home when they left in the night. Probably already in bed he only grabbed a linen cloth (sheet) to wrap around his naked body and followed them.

Most likely it is also the same house where the disciples met (hid) after the Lord’s crucifixion John 20:19; John 20:26;

Verse 14

Acts 1:14

Mary -- his brothers -- The brothers of Jesus became his disicples also after his resurrection.

Verse 15

Acts 1:15

Peter stood up -- Peter becomes one of he leaders and spokesman.

Verse 16

Acts 1:16

David was inspired by the Holy Spirit - Psalms. Psalms 41:9, Psalms 55:12-15;

Verse 17

Acts 1:17

Number among us -- Psalms 41:9, Psalms 55:12-15;

Verse 22

Acts 1:22

Beginning -- A qualification for the "witness" to be selected apostle to fill Judas’ place. None today could meet this requirement to be an "apostle" John 15:27; (Did John baptize the apostles??)

Verse 26

Acts 1:26

apostles ... The word literally means "one sent", but in an official sense, one who is designated to officially represent some authority, such as a king, or a nation. The word is like our "ambassador." Such official representatives are provided documentation or credentials to confirm their official status. The credentials the Lord provided his "apostles" (official representatives) was the ability to work "miracles" as He did, and such miracles were "wonders" (which amazed the people) and "signs" which stood as credential evidence as His representatives. Mark 16:20; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Acts 5:32; Hebrews 2:3-4.

Christ Himself is called the "apostle" of God, or the special representative sent by the Father, Hebrews 3:1; John 3:17; John 3:34

In another sense, Barnabas is also referred to as an "apostles" sence he had been sent by the church, Acts 14:14; Acts 13:1-4; Acts 15:22

Paul was Christ’s apostles to the Gentiles, 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1. Christ appeared to him enabling him to be a witness of the Lord’s resurrection and provided him the credential of an apostles, Acts 22:15; Acts 26:16;

Apostles -- Notice also that this is the last word in chapter 1, and the noun is the antecedent of the "they" in Acts 2:1. It is the apostles who are baptized with the Holy Spirit in chapter 2, ( Acts 2:1 ) and not the 120 disciples mentioned as being in the upper chamber of the house in chapter 1.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Acts 1". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/acts-1.html. 2021.
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