Bruce, F.F. The Book of Acts Revised. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988. Kindle Electronic Edition. “Acts 1 I. The Birth of the Church (1:1-5:42)” “A. The Forty Days and After (1:1-26)” pp. 28-48.
Bruce considers Acts chapter 1 as being divided into two parts. First, Jesus discusses his ascension with his disciples. Second, the disciples select Matthias to replace Judas (Bruce 1988, 28). As he considers the first two verses, Bruce concludes that both Luke and Acts are addressed to an individual, probably truly named Theophilus. The dedication is simple and straightforward (Bruce 1988, 29). Acts tells what Jesus continued to do after his ascension (Bruce 1988, 30). Luke gives little detail of the content of Jesus’ instruction after the resurrection. The teaching of Jesus is the same as it has always been (Bruce 1988, 31). Jesus is always concerned with the coming of God’s kingdom. Bruce gives illustrations of the consistency of this teaching from various New Testament locations.
In verses 4-8 Jesus tells the apostles of their future. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they are to be Jesus’ messengers (Bruce 1988, 33). Bruce observes that all this had been promised before, but that Jesus acts here to reinforce the idea (Bruce 1988, 34). When asked of the timing of the end, in verse 7, Jesus redirects the apostles’ concern to the tasks immediately before them (Bruce 1988, 35). Their work is to be witnesses of Jesus (Bruce 1988, 36).
Acts 1:9-11 describes the ascension itself (Bruce 1988, 37). Bruce does note that in the 40 days between resurrection and ascension Jesus had certainly not been bound by physical limitations common to humans. However, at the ascension Jesus brought his bodily post-resurrection appearances to an end.
Acts 1:12-14 changes the scene to an upper room in Jerusalem, where the apostles and others gathered for prayer. bruce briefly entertains both the idea that this room is the place of the Passover and that it belonged to Mary, John Mark’s mother. Both of these ideas, though attractive, are pure speculation (Bruce 1988, 39). Bruce also notes the eleven apostles are joined by others, notably Mary, Jesus’ mother, as well as by Jesus’ brothers. Bruce takes this as a literal statement about Jesus’ brothers, children of Mary and Joseph (Bruce 1988, 42).
Verses 15-26 give details about the apostolic move to replace the missing apostle. Bruce observes that Jesus was seen resurrected several times, even by large crowds. it would not be surprising to find more than 120 joining in the prayers (Bruce 1988, 43). Peter’s desire to keep the number of apostles at 12 makes sense. It was a significant number used in the Old Testament. Bruce sees much evidence that there were well accepted collections of messianic prophecies. The replacement of a fallen apostle may have been expected based on these collections (Bruce 1988, 44). The qualifications of an apostle also seemed agreed upon easily (Bruce 1988, 46). Selection of one of the two by lot was also an accepted practice in the Old Testament, so would show no novelty (Bruce 1988, 47).