Summary: The correct 1) Message (Acts 1:1-2), 2) Manifestation (Acts 1:3), 3) Might (Acts 1:4-5, 8a), 4) Mystery (Acts 1:6-7), 5) Mission (Acts 1:8b), and 6) Motive (Acts 1:9-11).
As school ends, and summer begins, it means that kids have a change of pace. Instead of day to day studies and supervision, there tends to be more unscheduled time in new locations. If those new locations include a summer camp, it gives a testing opportunity to see if those lessons made a difference. Have the kids learned anything about respect, teamwork and conflict resolution? With that testing, comes the realization that although the lessons are finished, the work of training young adults still goes on.
The work of Jesus Christ is both finished and unfinished. His great work of providing redemption is finished, and nothing may be added to it (cf. John 17:4). His work of ministry and proclamation, however, is not finished. That work He only started. Along with the other gospels, the first book/account composed by Luke for Theophilus (The gospel of Luke), records all that Jesus began to do and teach during His life on earth. The rest of the New Testament describes the continuation of His work by the early church. We are still finishing it until He comes. Acts chronicles the initial stages and features of that unfinished work, and sets the path the church is to follow until the end.
As the book of Acts begins, an important transition takes place. During His ministry on earth, the work of preaching and teaching was done primarily by our Lord Himself as He trained His disciples. Now it is time to pass that responsibility on to the apostles, before He ascends to the Father. The burden of proclaiming repentance and the good news of forgiveness to a lost world will rest squarely on their shoulders. The apostles will also be responsible for teaching the truths of the faith to the church.
From a purely human standpoint the apostles were in no way ready for such a task. There were things they still did not understand. Their faith was weak, as evidenced by our Lord’s frequent reprimands of them (cf. Matt. 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Luke 12:28). Nor had they acquitted themselves well during the traumatic events surrounding Christ’s arrest and crucifixion. They had not only failed in public witness but also in private loyalty and in personal faith. Peter, their acknowledged leader, had vehemently and profanely denied even knowing Jesus. His faith and spiritual character were not strong enough to withstand the challenge of a lowly servant girl (Matt. 26:69–70). With the exception of John, all the disciples had fled in fear of their own lives and were nowhere to be found at the crucifixion site. Although Jesus had explicitly predicted His resurrection, the disciples scoffed at the initial reports that His tomb was empty (Luke 24:11). When Jesus appeared to them, He found them cowering behind locked doors for fear of the Jewish authorities (John 20:19). Thomas, not present at that first appearance, refused to believe even the testimony of the other ten apostles (John 20:24–28). Only a second appearance, and the Lord’s invitation to touch His crucifixion wounds, cured Thomas of his skepticism.
Although you may have heard the truths of scripture many times, it is an entirely different phenomena when you are tested. Perhaps it is a co-worker who has challenged you about a factor of Christianity. Maybe, your spouse relied on you to do something, and purse distraction caused you to botch the job. Or what about when your kids push your buttons, and you responded in a harsh way. When you’ve really blown it, how do you pick up the pieces and move on?
The apostles failed when first tested, they lacked the understanding, and spiritual power to complete Jesus’ unfinished ministry of evangelism and edification. However, in these His last words to them before His ascension, the Lord Jesus Christ reiterates (cf. John 20:22) the promise of the Spirit. He will empower the apostles, and all subsequent believers with those resources necessary to finish the Savior’s unfinished work. To do this we receive the correct 1) Message (Acts 1:1-2), 2) Manifestation (Acts 1:3), 3) Might (Acts 1:4-5, 8a), 4) Mystery (Acts 1:6-7), 5) Mission (Acts 1:8b), and 6) Motive (Acts 1:9-11).
1) The Message (Acts 1:1-2)
Acts 1:1-2 [1:1]In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. (ESV)
Ancient books were generally written on papyrus scrolls. It was practical to have a scroll about thirty-five feet in length. When it got any longer it got too bulky to carry around. This physical limitation has determined the length of many books of the Bible (Boice, J. M. (1997). Acts : An expositional commentary (12–13). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.).