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Bible Commentaries
Acts 1

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Acts 21:1-9 Christ, after his resurrection, having given instructions to his apostles, and commanded them to wait in Jerusalem the coming of the Holy Ghost, ascendeth into heaven in their sight.

Acts 21:10,Acts 21:11 Two angels warn them to depart, and to look for his second coming.

Acts 21:12-14 They return, and give themselves unto prayer.

Acts 21:15-26 Peter exhorting to fill up the place of the traitor Judas, Matthias is chosen by lot to be an apostle.

Verse 1

The former treatise have I made; this refers unto the Gospel wrote by this evangelist, St. Luke, who was undoubtedly the penman of this book, which bears testimony unto and confirms (if need were) that other.

Theophilus; esteemed the same name with Jedidiah, signifying beloved of God, or one that loved God. Who he was is not certain; some have taken the name appellatively. It is evident by the epithet given unto him, Luke 1:3, that he was one of great authority, having the same title which Tertullus gives unto Festus, Acts 24:3, and the chief captain unto Felix, Acts 23:26. Although not many noble are called, 1 Corinthians 1:26, yet God extends his grace unto some of all conditions.

Of all that Jesus began both to do and teach; this is the sum of the Gospel, viz. a history of the life, doctrine, and death of our blessed Saviour; although every particular word or deed of our Saviour's could not be expressed, John 21:25, yet the evangelist was faithful in withholding nothing which was necessary for the church to know, and leaving no room for unwritten traditions.

Verse 2

The day in which he was taken up; that is, the day of his ascension. This is a translation from the former book (his Gospel) unto this, showing how far he had proceeded in setting down the doctrine of our salvation.

After that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen; which words may be referred, either to the commandments he gave, or the choice he made of the apostles; both being by the Holy Ghost. The apostles had their doctrine from God, and were appointed to publish it by God; especially to publish the gospel to the whole world, Matthew 28:19; and to continue at Jerusalem till the coming of the Holy Ghost, Luke 24:49.

Verse 3

To whom, i.e. the apostles, he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs; eating, drinking, speaking, walking with them; nay, showing them his very wounds, and permitting them to be touched; God suffering Thomas’s infidelity to contribute to the strengthening of our faith.

Being seen of them forty days; not continually, but upon occasion as he pleased; it was so long from his resurrection to his ascension; and the same space in which God showed himself unto Moses in Mount Sinai. So long also he was pleased to stay with them, that he might more abundantly testify the truth of his humanity, and of his resurrection.

And speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God; either his kingdom in heaven, the church triumphant or his kingdom on earth, the church militant; what future bliss and happiness he was going to prepare, and what means they ought to use towards the obtaining of it.

Verse 4

And being assembled together with them; by his order, or conversing frequently with them, as those that table together.

Commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem: otherwise the apostles would have abhorred Jerusalem, as reeking afresh in the blood of our Lord. And there Christ chose to pour out his Spirit, that he might show forth his glory in the same place where he suffered ignominy: there Christ would have his apostles to abide, that they might be closer to Mount Olivet, from whence he was to ascend; as also that both his ascension, and the coming of the Holy Ghost, might more publicly be manifest; and that that prophecy, Isaiah 2:3, might be fulfilled.

The promise of the Father; of my Father, Luke 24:49; that is, the Holy Spirit, promised by our Saviour in his Father’s name, John 14:26; and may well be called the promise, without which all other promises would be of no value unto us.

Verse 5

For John truly baptized with water, Matthew 3:11; water being of a purifying nature, plentiful, and easy to come by.

But ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost; his gifts and graces, which were (as water on baptized persons) largely bestowed upon them on the day of Pentecost:

1. That the apostles and all others might be assured of the doctrine of the Gospel.

2. That they might be enabled to fulfil their ministry, and obey our Saviour’s commands left with them. Not many days hence; it was but ten days after his ascension; but our Saviour would not prefix a certain day, that they might watch every day.

Verse 6

When they therefore were come together; either the one hundred and twenty, mentioned Acts 1:15, or the five hundred, mentioned 1 Corinthians 15:6.

That they might more readily obtain an answer, they join in the question,

Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? Which was taken away by the Romans, and by Herod, and they expected should be restored to them by the Messiah; understanding the prophecy, Daniel 7:27, to this purpose.

Verse 7

Our Saviour blames their curiosity about such things as are not necessary to be known; and yet though our Saviour does not in his answer tell them what they desired to know, he tells them what is more expedient for them to know. The petition of wicked men, nay, of devils, (as when they crave to go into the swine), is sometimes granted according to their will. But the prayer of the disciples of Christ is answered to their best advantage, though it does not seem to agree to the matter of their desire.

It is not for you to know the times or the seasons; how long any mercy shall be deferred; when it shall be given.

The Father; who is fons et origo Deitatis; to whom Christ, especially as Mediator, and in our stead, refers all things.

Verse 8

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; not till then, not of their own strength, but of God’s grace, as appeared by Peter’s denying and the others leaving of our Saviour.

And ye shall be witnesses unto me, that I am indeed the promised Messiah; and of my doctrine, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, which ye shall testify to all the world by your preaching and holy living, working miracles.

Both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria; places where your testimony shall be most opposed. These words are both a command, to tell the apostles what they ought to do, and a prediction of what they should be enabled to do.

Verse 9

Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51. As he did not actually give up his life till all was fulfilled, so he did not leave the world till all was revealed by him that was necessary for us.

While they beheld; that they might be eye witnesses, and most unexceptionable.

He was taken up; not by an external help of angels, but by his own power, and the agility of his now glorious body.

And a cloud received him out of their sight: this, though a true cloud, yet was a more than ordinarily glorious one, suitable to the majesty of him that used it.

Verse 10

Christ’s ascent was the more leisurely, that he might delight their eyes and mind; but especially confirm their faith the more.

Behold, two men stood by them, angels in the shape of men, in white apparel; which angels ordinarily appeared in, to show they retained their native purity, as also to represent the joyfulness of the errand they were usually sent upon.

Verse 11

Which also said; the two angels (in the form of men) before mentioned.

Ye men of Galilee; that is, the apostles, who were of that country.

Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? They are roused out of the ecstasy they were in at that glorious sight, to learn what was so much to their and our advantage. Shall so come:

1. Visibly.

2. In a cloud.

3. By his own power.

4. With the like majesty.

5. With the same soul and body.

Verse 12

From the mount called Olivet, which Bethany was a part of, as situate towards the bottom of it, remoter from Jerusalem. Hence Luke 24:50, differs not from this place. From hence the rather our Lord ascended, that he might receive his glory nigh the place where he began his suffering, (in the garden where he endured his agony, and was betrayed), and in the view of Jerusalem, where he had been condemned and scorned.

A sabbath day’s journey; about a mile or two, or such a space as, by God’s appointment, was between the ark and the people, Joshua 3:4.

Verse 13

And when they were come in, to the city, and to the house,

they went up into an upper room; the same probably where they had kept the passover, and partook of the Lord’s supper; howsoever, for its largeness capable to receive so many.

Peter, as elder, and first called to the apostleship, is generally first named; and here especially his name is put first, and their names are repeated, to show, that though they fell in forsaking of Christ, they did rise again in professing of him; and that, notwithstanding their apostasy, they were continued after their recovery in their former office and dignity.

Verse 14

These all continued with one accord, with great resolution, notwithstanding all opposition and contradiction they met with,

in prayer and supplication, for mercies they wanted, or preventing of the evils they feared.

The women; their wives, or such women especially as we read of Matthew 27:55,Matthew 27:56.

His brethren; that is, his relations and kinsmen, which frequently in Scripture are called brethren.

Verse 15

In those days, between our Saviour’s ascension and Pentecost.

Peter, as generally, spake for and amongst the apostles; but now especially, to express his zeal and faithfulness to our Saviour, whom he had so lately denied, he being also designed the minister of the circumcision, which place he began now to execute.

The number of the names, or persons, together were about an hundred and twenty; probably Christ had converted many men, but these might be either men of name or quality, or meant of such as, Acts 1:21, had accompanied with Christ and his apostles, and were designed for the ministry.

Verse 16

Men and brethren, an ordinary compellation; speaker and auditors were Hebrews of the Hebrews.

This Scripture, viz. Psalms 41:9, must need, have been fulfilled; yet God’s foreknowledge and prediction excused not Judas’s sin.

Which was guide to them that took Jesus; not only leading them in the way when they took our Saviour, but being director of their counsels against him. This the apostle premises to abate the offence that the horrible fall of Judas might have occasioned.

Verse 17

Numbered with us; being one of the twelve apostles.

Had obtained, elace; not as if Judas was made an apostle by lot, as Matthias afterwards; but by the providence of God, by which every lot and casual matter is governed: and to show that the dignity did not befall him, or any of the other apostles, because of their descent, (from Aaron), or from nature, or from any desert whatsoever, but merely from God’s good will and pleasure.

Part of this ministry; then the apostles office is ministerial, and they were not lords over God’s heritage.

Verse 18

Purchased a field; which Judas might have agreed for at that price, and yet the chief priests bought, (as Matthew 27:7) by a strange providence, leading of them to that purchase; howsoever, eventually he bought it, as throwing back to them their money which paid for it, Matthew 27:5.

Falling headlong, he burst asunder; it is said he hanged himself, which implying only his death by suffocation, whether he died out of horror of his fact, or laying violent hands on himself in such circumstances as may agree with this relation, it is not material to determine.

Verse 19

Their proper tongue; the Syriac language then in use after the Babylonish captivity.

The field of blood; as bought with the price of Christ’s blood, and sprinkled with his own blood.

Verse 20

For it is written in the book of Psalms; viz. Psalms 69:25. What there is in general spoken by David concerning his enemies, is here applied particularly to Judas, who betrayed our Saviour; whose type David was, as Doeg was of Judas.

His bishopric; his charge or office, or prefecture, as of a shepherd over his flock.

Verse 21

There were to be twelve apostles in the Christian church, to answer unto the twelve patriarchs and twelve tribes in the Jewish church.

Companied with us, in ordinary conversation,

Went in and out among us; in discharge of his ministry, and gathering of disciples among us.

Verse 22

Beginning from the baptism of John; when Christ was baptized by him, and by that consecration began the ministry, and publishing of the gospel (which the history of his immaculate conception did preface to).

A witness with us of his resurrection; all other things being consummated in that, it being the most difficult to be believed; and therefore God was pleased to attest it by so many eye witnesses.

Verse 23

Joseph, or Joses, the same name called

Barsabas in their common tongue, and

Justus (probably for his integrity) amongst the Romans, who then ruled over them.

Matthias; some think the same with Nathanael.

Verse 24

The other apostles being chosen by God immediately, it was necessary that he who was to act in the same office, should be chosen after the same manner.

Knowest the heart, which is God’s prerogative only; all others may be, and often are, mistaken by outward appearances.

Verse 25

Ministry and apostleship, klhron, or every one’s station in the world, is ordered by the providence of God, and their part or portion is assigned to them; and so the apostleship was unto the apostles.

His own place; hell, or destruction, not intended by Judas, but righteously by God appointed for him: whilst he was in the world (especially after his betraying of our Saviour) he was a usurper in it; and as bad as the world was, it was too good for him. That these words should be understood of Matthias’s succeeding to the apostleship of Judas as into his own place, is the less probable, because as yet he was not chosen into it.

Verse 26

They gave forth their lots; the manner is not so certain, nor necessary to be known; but the whole disposing of the lot being from the Lord, as Proverbs 16:33, they were thus as it were immediately chosen by God, and were consecrated by Christ himself; no apostle ordaining another, but all of them being called and ordained by Christ.

He was numbered with the eleven apostles; the rest of the apostles, and the whole church, agreeing with that Divine choice which was made.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Acts 1". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/acts-1.html. 1685.
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