If you’ve been following the New Testament in a Year Reading Plan, you will have got to Acts 1 today, which marks Jesus ascending and waiting for the Holy Spirit to descend!
After Jesus was crucified and rose again, he appeared to his followers for 40 days (Acts 1:3) before ascending (Acts 1:9) to the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33). 50 days after the resurrection when Jews would have been celebrating their harvest festival “Pentecost”, the Spirit fell upon the early church – but that’s jumping ahead to tomorrow’s reading.
The key points of verses 1-11
1) Promise of Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Luke records one of the key last things Jesus said to the 11 disciples. Wait for the gift of the Spirit – in a few days you will be baptised in the Spirit. The word baptise is a transliteration – that means there is no English word that translates directly to the Greek word baptizo, so rather than translating, it was anglicised to baptise. If one were to look at the uses of the Greek word in ancient literature and even recipes, it becomes clear that to “baptise in” something means drenching, dipping, immersing so that it begins to change. So dyeing a cloth involves baptising it in dye. Pickling and onion involves baptising it vinegar.
Baptism in Holy Spirit means getting drenched with the power of the Holy Spirit for transformation – we get the power to be holy. Power for sanctification – living out the good of being justified. Becoming a Christian means we are justified – declared not guilty and righteous. The baptism in the Holy Spirit make power to live that out and be holy available to us.
2) Promise of power to be a witness
The second key benefit of the baptism in Holy Spirit is power to be a witness. Luke gives four zones we need that power.
Jerusalem – where they currently where (note they originally came from the countryside Galilee)
Judea – their nation
Samaria – the areas where they were not liked
Ends of the Earth – the gospel is going out to the whole earth
3) How Jesus ascended and how He will come back
Jeus ascended up into the clouds and then to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. The angel said He was going to come back in the same way – visibly in the clouds. Not twice, firstly in a secret way to rescue lazy-boy Christians in a rapture. But decisively and visibly. Which 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 affirms.
Have you been baptised in the Spirit? Acts 19:2 shows us that’s not automatic when we become a Christian.
Are you walking in the power of the Spirit to be a witness?