What is a Church? Part 1

As I read chapter 1 from Acts, more questions are raised than answers given. This is natural considering that I do not want to read my preconceived ideas into the scripture. I will go through these questions in this post. I will do this based on how I read, which is paragraph by paragraph.

Acts 1: 1-5

This is Luke’s introduction to his historical work. And a short piece on Jesus telling the apostles to stay in Jerusalem.

My question is why were they in Jerusalem? They came from Galilee. And after the resurrection, they were back there (John 21). My assumption is that they returned to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. It was a custom for Jews to go back there for the celebrations.

Another interesting thing is Jesus made it clear they had to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. My conclusion is: if you want a book of Acts church, you need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. What that entails I am leaving open for now. I will gather more information as I read.

Acts 1: 6-11

The Ascension. What we see here is that “It is not for you (us) to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority”. This is an answer to the question on when the kingdom would be restored. I cannot help but wonder if all the theorizing Christians do when it comes to God’s end times planning is not required of us and if our analysing of conspiracy theories are more of a distraction and hindering the spread of the gospel. Perhaps we should have our focus on something else, being a witness to the nations. For this we need the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:12-14

All I see here to add to my thoughts is that they were in prayer, together. At this point they were 11 apostles, a few women, and Jesus’ family.

Acts 1:15-26

This is where a lot of questions come up. But first, we need to summarize what is happening.

Peter stands up and addresses 120 believers gathered there. He informs them that they should find a replacement for Judas. He uses 2 texts from the Psalms for this. The group establish criteria for the replacement, which leads to 2 choices. Lots are used to choose the person.

The criteria for an apostle is the following: “So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection”.

The questions that the passage raises are the following:

Why did Peter address the group? Why did they gather? Did they do this often? Where did they gather? Why was Psalms quoted? Did they really need to replace Judas?

What we can gleam from here is that they did gather together, 120 in total. From the previous paragraph we know they prayed together. I assume they studied the scripture. Perhaps they were studying Psalms. Perhaps through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit they were led to look for a replacement. I am not sure what brought them to this, because the 2 texts Peter quotes are not close together, Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109: 8 are 40 Psalms separated. Perhaps this was inspired after many days of study. While some consider Peter the leader, history shows James (Jesus’ brother) was the head of Jerusalem. Also, from the gospels we know Peter had a big mouth. He often answered questions, and often said things causing Jesus to reprimand him. Perhaps that is why he spoke. On the replacement, we know Jesus would send them out in twos. Perhaps they figured 11 being odd was not right. If this is the leading of the Holy Spirit, it means the Holy Spirit can guide believers without them being baptised in the Spirit. What is interesting is that the apostles did have an ‘office’ or position (ἐπισκοπὴν – episkopēn) according to this text. What that entails I will work out later. The Greek is used 4 times in total, 2 as a visitation (judgement) (Luke 1944 and 1 Peter 2:12) and twice as a position of overseer (Acts 1:20, 1 Timothy 3:1).

A lot of this is speculation, but I hope to get a clearer picture as I go further.


Believers gathering to pray and possibly studying the scriptures.

With apostles as a special position with the criteria that they were with Jesus from His baptism till His resurrection. Based on historical context, this position is no longer applicable for today, as no one alive can meet this criterion.

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