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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on The Acts of the Apostles

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1.1–14 : Introduction and summary.

The author (hereafter, “Luke”) reprises information from the first book, the Gospel of Luke.

1 :

Theophilus, “dear to God”; perhaps a patron sponsoring publication of the two books (note the respectful address “most excellent” in Lk 1.3 ), or symbolic for any ideal reader. An opening dedication and reference to previous work is a common pattern in ancient literature.

3 :

Examples of the many convincing proofs are given in Lk 24.13–53 . Appearing to them during forty days, note that Lk 24.50–53 seems to place the ascension on Easter; forty, an important symbolic number in biblical texts here signaling sacred time. Kingdom of God stands for the Christian proclamation ( 8.12; 19.8; 20.25 ) and indicates continuity with the teaching of Jesus.

4 :

The Gk word translated staying means “to eat at the same table with” (see note a) and likely refers to Lk 24.30 ,31,35,41–43. Jerusalem, Luke locates all of the significant founding events in this holy city; the other Gospels report resurrection appearances in Galilee.

5 :

John the Baptist, Lk 3.1–20 . The Holy Spirit is one of the major characters of Acts.

6–11 :

The ascension, cf. Lk 24.44–51 .

6 :

The apostles suppose that Jesus intends to restore the kingdom to Israel (Lk 22.28–30 ) and reestablish the dominion once enjoyed by David (Lk 1.32 ).

7 :

The nationalistic tenor of the question is deflected.

8 :

The theme of the apostles as witnesses (Lk 24.48 ) recurs often ( 1.22; 2.32; 3.15; 5.32; 10.39,41; 13.31 ). Jerusalem … Judea … Samaria … the ends of the earth, the plan of the book is given in geographical terms.

9 :

Elsewhere in the New Testament the ascension is found only at Lk 24.51 (cf. Mk 16.19 ).

10 :

Two men in white robes, angels ( 24.4; Jn 20.12 ); in Lk 9.30 the two men are Moses and Elijah. There are other parallels between Luke's Transfiguration account (Lk 9.28–36 ) and the ascension scene.

11 :

Will come in the same way, note the cloud in v. 9; Lk 21.27; cf. Mk 14.62; Dan 7.13 .

12 :

Olivet, the Mount of Olives was just east of Jerusalem. A sabbath day's journey, about 1,000 meters (3,000 feet), the distance it was permissible for an observant Jew to walk on the sabbath (Tr. Eruvin) without breaking the command not to leave one's “place” on the sabbath (Ex 6.29 ).

13 :

The same list as in Lk 6.14–16 , but in a different order (and without Judas Iscariot).

14 :

Jesus’ family is incorporated into the church. Brothers, see Mt 13.55; Mk 6.3 ; James later appears as the leader of the Jerusalem church ( 12.17; 15.13; 21.18 ).

1.15–26 : The restoration of the twelve.

The sacred number, corresponding to the tribes of Israel, is restored.

16 :

Through David, in the Psalms quoted in v. 20 ; King David was traditionally viewed as the author of the Psalms.

17 :

Us, the apostles.

18 :

Compare the gruesome death of Herod Agrippa in 12.23 . According to Mt 27.5 , Judas hanged himself.

19 :

Their language, Aramaic, a dialect related to Hebrew; the information is clearly for Luke's Greek readers, not Peter's Aramaic‐speaking audience.

20 :

Scripture foresaw the situation (Ps 69.25 ) and dictates a course of action (Ps 109.8 ). In Acts citations from the Hebrew Bible are based on the Greek version, the Septuagint.

21 :

The requirements stipulated here explain why Paul does not qualify as an apostle in Acts.

22 :

The baptism of John marks the beginning of Jesus’ ministry ( 10.37 ). To become a witness … to Jesus’ resurrection in Acts means to become one of the twelve apostles, who function in a special sense as witnesses (v. 8; 2.32 ).

23 :

Nothing else is known about Joseph (but see 15.22 ) and Matthias.

26 :

Cast lots, allowing Jesus (the “Lord” of v. 24 ) to choose. Lots were widely used in the ancient world for religious and social decisions and are often mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Lev 16.8; 1 Chr 25.8–9 ).

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