THE REAFFIRMATION OF THE PROMISE - Page 2 of 3
by John Lowe
“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.
“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.
(verse 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. They 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, and much more. 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. Believe me; we could cite many other “Infallible proofs.”
(verse 4) And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
“And, being assembled together with them,”
Following Christ’s crucifixion, His apostles dispersed and hid from the Roman soldiers, because they thought they might be crucified also. Here Paul refers to that last meeting just prior to His ascension to the Father, where He had assembled His apostles on His authority, and told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. At that time, He ate with them, which was a final proof that it was Him and not His spirit. After that, He took them to the Mount of Olives where they watched as He left them.
“commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem,”
The occasion the apostle refers to is probably when Jesus met them in Galilee while they were fishing. There He commanded them to meet him in Jerusalem, or perhaps He accompanied them on the way there, and He spent his last days on earth there as man. Our Lord has nothing else for the disciples to do other than to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. He knows that they really can do nothing effective for the Kingdom of God until the Spirit comes: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; NKJV). The power which would be given them by the descent of the Holy Ghost was the power of speaking with tongues, of working miracles, and of preaching the gospel with the blessing and aid of the Holy Ghost. This was accomplished in the gift of the Holy on the day of Pentecost (See Acts 2:1-4).
“but wait for the promise of the Father,”
Here Jesus tells of the “Promise of the Father,” which is the coming of the Holy Spirit. He told them, on the night of His betrayal, to wait for Him (the Spirit) in Jerusalem; and, now He informs them that the promise will be fulfilled when the Spirit is poured out upon them. The prophet Joel had predicted it long before it actually happened: “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2.28; NKJV). John 14:16, 17, tells us that “He dwells with you and will be in you.” The Holy Spirit will be a Helper of the same quality and character as Christ. The Comforter, as He is also called, is God. He will stay “forever”—Christ would go away (14:2), but the Helper would remain forever. This Spirit would have a twofold ministry. He would dwell with them (be in their midst), and He would be in them (dwell within).Finally,He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”
“which, saith he, ye have heard of me.”
Jesus had spoken to them about the Holy Spirit on several occasions, some of which are mentioned above. If you have not already done so, I recommend you read John 14:16, 17; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7-14; and also read the associated notes.