Lesson I.A.1: The Reaffirmation of the Promise Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
after that, he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments
When you consider how short a history we have between Christ's resurrection and ascension, it is no wonder, that this is the only place which speaks of his acting by the Spirit after he arose from the dead. We are told by the Apostle John that he breathed on his disciples and said to them, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit (see John 20:22).” Every word of Christ which is received in the heart by faith comes accompanied by this Divine breath; and, without this, there is neither light nor life. Just as God breathed the quickening spirit into Adam, so is every human soul till it receives this inspiration. Nothing of God is seen, known, discerned, or felt, except through this. It is mandatory for every private Christian to have received the Holy Spirit; and no man has ever preached the Gospel of Christ, so that sinners are convinced of the truth of the Gospel and are converted, without it.
In the third verse, Luke expresses, in general terms, what Christ said to his apostles during the forty days he spent with them upon earth. But in this verse, the 4th, and following verses, he states what Christ said on the day of his ascension. He had brought his former account (The Gospel According to Luke) down to that day, and the Acts of the Apostles began on that day.
The commands or directions given by our Lord to the apostles between the Resurrection and the Ascension are recorded partially in Luke 24:44-49; Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15-18; John 21:1-25.
“Jesus, through the Holy Ghost, had given commandments to His disciples” means that the Holy Spirit abided in him and He acted by the influence and assistance of the Holy Spirit, with which he was anointed; "the fulness of the Godhead was dwelling in Him bodily." It was by the Holy Ghost abiding in him that he spake to the apostles. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me" is the recurring declaration of Holy Scripture (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; Luke 4:1; Matthew 12:28; Hebrews 9:14; Acts 11:28; Acts 21:4). Luke showed in these words, that Christ did not immediately leave the world and that he still cared for us; He cared enough for our souls to provide for our salvation; and He even promised that he will be present with his own until the end (see Matthew 28:20).
John 20:22 (KJV) “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” He made them new men, in order for them to be properly qualified for the work to which he had called them. This breathing is similar to the first creation of man when God breathed into him the breath of life, and he became a living soul.
Matt 28:20 (KJV) “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Literally, Behold, I am with you every day. It may be considered a gracious promise to aid, strengthen, guide, and defend all his disciples, to the end of time.
unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
A little before his ascension to heaven, 0ur Lord chose twelve men to be his apostles, but one of them betrayed Him to His enemies and then committed suicide. The eleven had not been chosen because they were better than other men, but rather their choice was an act of grace and divine wisdom and with the influence of the Holy Ghost. He gave them explicit commands and orders where they should go—into the entire world, to all nations. And He said they should preach the whole Gospel; salvation by faith in him, and particularly repentance and remission of sins. He also instructed them concerning ordinances they should require believers to focus on; and how they should conduct themselves when doing their work. These commands which Christ gave to his apostles, were not merely his orders, as a man, but were what the Holy Ghost within Him was equally concerned with, and were from Him as God, and for that reason divine authority went along with them; and at the same time that he gave them their “marching orders,” he breathed into them the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost gave them a clearer understanding of His doctrines and ordinances and qualified them to be His representatives on earth. And besides, He had intimated that they might expect still greater gifts from the Holy Ghost in the future.
3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs,
The Apostle added this because it is essential to the Christian faith that the resurrection is known and believed because without it Christ is dead, the whole gospel falls to the ground, and our faith does not have an object. But our Lord took it upon himself to see that this did not happen by showing His apostles many infallible proofs that He was alive, after His resurrection. If he had appeared to them one time there might have been room for doubt, but by showing himself to them so often He dissolved all doubts which might arise in their minds. In 1 Corinthians 15:6, Paul describes one of these “many infallible proofs:” “He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present.” There were more than five hundred people at one time who had seen the resurrected Jesus, and most of them were alive some twenty-five years later during the days of Paul!
By “infallible proofs” he means actual demonstrations which proved without the least doubt that He was alive. These consisted of actions by Christ which were indisputable; such as speaking, walking, eating, and drinking; and it should be observed that the disciples had the same infallible proofs of Christ's being alive after his passion, as they had of his being alive before it. They saw Him; saw the distinct signs of pain and suffering inflicted during His trial and crucifixion. They were able to identify where the thorns pierced his brow, the nail holes in His hands and feet, and where His side was pierced by a Roman spear. They saw him eat what they gave him; a piece of broiled fish and a honeycomb. They heard him speak, and were commanded by him to handle him, and see that he had flesh and bones, which no doubt they obeyed by feeling his hands and feet and sticking their hands in His side. And finally, He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:9) while they were watching. These were certainly infallible proofs: but what increases their faith, is, that they were frequently repeated; not for one or two days, but for the space of forty days. Paul may also have had in his mind those other proofs which he records in Acts 10:41 (see below); 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 (see below).
Christ appeared often to his apostles, but He appeared to Mary Magdalene first. He showed himself to the two disciples going to Emmaus; then to ten of them, Thomas being absent; after that to them all, Thomas being present, when he convinced him of the truth of his resurrection; after that he appeared to seven of the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and then to all the apostles; and to five hundred brethren at once on a mountain in Galilee; and once to James alone, and to them all again when he was parted from them and went up to heaven; and so they must be appropriate and satisfactory witnesses of his resurrection.
Acts 1:9 (KJV) “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”
Acts 10:41 (KJV) “Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.”
1 Cor 15:5-8 (KJV) “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”
being seen of them forty days,
Here is a fact: that the space from the resurrection to the ascension was forty days.