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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Acts 1:8-11 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 0 mins 12 secs

The Spirit and the Kingdom. Acts 1:8-11

 

The theme of the paragraph beginning with verse four and extending down to verse 8 has to do with the coming of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which marks the distinction between the age of Israel and the age of the church. This is not a replacement of Israel but Israel due to the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah is temporarily set aside until the end of the church age. That which distinguishes God's work among people today is the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. In Acts we see the beginning of the church age and there is the hint in various passages of Scripture that we will see these kinds of trends and cycles throughout the church age of apostasy, recovery, apostasy and recovery, so it should not surprise us when this happens.      

As we look at Acts 1:4 we see Jesus continuing to instruct the disciples about the kingdom. This has been His major theme during the intervening period between His resurrection and His ascension. The focus isn't on the kingdom and what is going to happen when the kingdom arrives but on the reality of the postponement of the kingdom because the King has been rejected and what the major elements of the intervening age will be. That especially relates to the coming of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the promise of God specifically related to the Holy Spirit. Jesus adds something at the end of Acts 1:5 and says it will be "not many days from now." 

1 Corinthians 12:13 relates baptism to indwelling. NASB "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." This connects to various passages in the Old Testament. This isn't saying that the indwelling or baptism of the Spirit are the fulfilment of these Old Testament prophecies but there is a similarity. The reason they are different is because the kingdom did not come in in Acts chapter two. Jesus did not establish the messianic kingdom in that chapter, what happens there as we will see when we get to Peter's sermon when he quotes Joel. Nothing that Joel predicted happened on the day of Pentecost. What did happen on the day of Pentecost, which was speaking in tongues, was not mentioned by Joel in 2:38, 39. All Peter is doing is saying is the kind of thing that is happening today, that the people had witnessed, is similar to that which was prophesied by Joel. So rather than seeing the kingdom come in on the day of Pentecost another dispensation came in that had not been predicted in the Old Testament but it has characteristics that are similar to characteristics that will be seen under the new covenant in the Millennial kingdom. But they are not the same.

Quoting these passages is to show the Old Testament expectation of the coming of the Spirit because that is the framework of the disciples when Jesus says, "You will be baptized by the Holy Spirit not many days from now." And their response is: Does that mean the kingdom is coming in now? So passages such as Isaiah 32:15 NASB "Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field, And the fertile field is considered as a forest" Are Old Testament prophecies looking forward to the time when the Spirit would come and the messianic kingdom would appear. This idea of pouring out the Spirit is seen in proverbs 1:23 where wisdom is personified NASB "Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you." This is the personification of wisdom which is really just the mental attitude or thinking of God. Then there is the Joel 2:28 passage NASB "It will come about after this [After the Tribulation, Daniel's seventieth week] That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions." That is the passage Peter quotes in Acts chapter two and it says nothing about speaking in tongues.

Jesus predicted something similar to this in John 7:38, 39 NASB "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet {given,} because Jesus was not yet glorified." He is talking about these Old Testament predictions of the role of the Holy Spirit in the Millennial kingdom. This is, again, an indication that the Holy Spirit is not given or poured out prior to the day of Pentecost. There was no indwelling of the Holy Spirit, no baptism of the Holy Spirit, no filling of the Holy Spirit until Jesus is glorified. He has to be ascended to heaven and glorified at the right hand of the Father before the Holy Spirit would descend. This is applied to believers that there is going to be this ministry of the Holy Spirit that is similar to but not identical to that which had been prophesied in the Old Testament.

Acts 1:6 NASB "So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, 'Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?'" It is important to note that Jesus doesn't correct them; He doesn't correct their understanding of the kingdom. What He does correct is their understanding of the timing of the kingdom, and they understand even at this point during the time between the resurrection and the ascension that there is no kingdom, that it needs to be restored completely and there is no kingdom at all yet. They have an understanding of the kingdom, that it is an Israel kingdom, a kingdom that is the fulfilment of the promises that God made to David, to put a descendant of David upon the throne of David to rule in the literal, earthly Jerusalem; and it would be a geographical, political, economic kingdom on the earth and all nations (Isaiah 2) would then come to Israel and the temple in Jerusalem to worship God.

Acts 1:7 NASB "He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.'" The word "times" is chronos [xronoj], and this emphasizes times from the perspective of events in succession, reaching a certain conclusion, as seen in its use in Galatians 4:4 NASB "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son…" This word is often used to refer to events in fulfilment of prophetic predictions when things come one after the other to reach a conclusion, a fulfilment. The second word that is used is "seasons" or "epochs" (depending on the translation) and it looks at time from the perspective of broad expanses of time, or what we might refer to as "ages." There is a clear distinction here between times and ages. So God has clearly divided human history into distinct periods of time, and those distinct periods of time lead to an ultimate conclusion, so that history is directional. History has a focus, a purpose, and God is moving history to this ultimate and final conclusion. It is only in Biblical, Judeo-Christian thinking that history is viewed as something that is linear and directional. What about Marxism? That is why Marxism is called a Judeo-Christian heresy, because their heretical views come in and they borrow directionality and a linear view of history from Christianity and pervert it. So there are a number of post-Christian philosophies that have developed over the past 2000 years that borrow this idea of directionality, and pagan views do not produce a directional view of history. That is why only within a Judeo-Christian heritage that history is important. History is not important if it always repeats itself and it is not going anywhere. So we learn that history is going somewhere and that history as God has designed it has different periods of time assigned to it.

Another word that is used in this is the word aionos [a)iwnoj] which also refers to an age. When we look at what we call dispensations we first of all break things down into larger blocks of time. These are ages. The word "dispensation" comes from the Greek word oikonomos [o)ikonomoj] from which we get our word "economy." An oikonomos is a house law—oikos = house; nomos = law. So the word came to refer to an administration, e.g. how parents administer a household when there are infants in the household is one way, but when there are adolescents in the household the house will be managed or administered in a different way. There are similarities that run through those different periods of time, they all reflect the character and the values of the parents, but because the inhabitants are at different stages of maturity there are modifications to the rules as they move through the process and progress of time.

A dispensation occurs when there is new revelation given from God. An age acts with a change is revelation but it is different from that of a dispensation. There are different changes within the administration of a dispensation. For example, when God created Adam and Eve there was only one race and there in the garden was an age of absolute perfection, perfect environment, and an age of innocence. That term should be understood in the same way that justification and confession and baptism of the Holy Spirit are understood, not as a term indicating some sort of naivety but a judicial term; they were judicially innocent. There is a difference between being judicially innocent and not guilty. It was an age of judicial innocence because they had not sinned. When they did sin God showed up in the garden of Eden and said, Okay, this is how things are going to change. He addresses the serpent, the woman and the man and things changed; there was a new administration now as a result of sin. But there were still only Gentiles. Then there is another shift that tales place after the flood, another modification of the covenant, the Noahic covenant, but there was still only one race. So there are three dispensations, each one characterized by a change in revelation and administration but it is the age of the Gentiles. After the failure at the tower of Babel God says He is going to call out one person—Abraham—and instead of working with the whole human race He is just going to work through Abraham and his descendants, and the whole of the human race will be blessed through Abraham. That began the age of Israel. This is all a larger period of time and can be subdivided into different dispensations because of modifications in the administration. There was the dispensation of the patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Joseph up to the time of Mount Sinai—new revelation was given at Mount Sinai, the Mosaic Law. The administration changed and there was now a theocracy. Following 1 Samuel chapter eight is the authorization for a literal human king—Saul, David and Solomon. Then the division of the kingdom. After the Babylonian captivity there is a restoration of some of those who were expelled from the land in 586 BC. They returned in 538. Then there is an administrative kingdom under the hegemony of various empires in the ancient world until we come to the first century AD. With the rejection of the Messiah there is another judgment upon Israel in AD 70 and this is the beginning of the church age, which is a long age period which is not subdivided. The church age ends with the Rapture of the church, and is followed by the seven years of the Tribulation; then we have the Messianic kingdom or Millennial age.

Jesus just tells the disciples they have their timing off: "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons." Is that an absolute statement? No, it is not. Jesus tells them prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, "It is not for you to know these things right now." Remember, this is in 33 AD. Some twenty years later in the early fifties when Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica and they have various question related to the coming of Christ he says in 1 Thessalonians 5:1 NASB "Now as to the times [chronos], and the epochs [kairos] brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you." Why? Because they have already been instructed by Paul regarding these prophetic things pertaining to the times and the seasons. He uses the same words that Jesus used in Acts 1:6, 7. So twenty years after Pentecost that revelation will have come, and will be given to the apostle Paul regarding the various dispensation truths and mystery doctrines that are revealed within the Pauline epistles.      

But what Jesus does say is, Acts 1:8 NASB "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…" Notice the contrast here. It is not for you to know times and seasons, get your minds off the kingdom coming right now and everything changing. Instead, there is going to be this intervening age, "… and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." The remotest part of the earth includes at least the Roman empire at that time, if not beyond. Often the phrase "ends of the earth" was just an idiom at that time for the extent of the Roman empire, the extent of the known world.

Observations: The "you" in this passage is a second person plural. He is specifically talking about the eleven. This is one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of interpretation of some of the statements that Jesus makes to the disciples: when is He saying this is only for you eleven, or it is for you eleven as representatives of the rest of the church and it is going to be true of them as well?

Jesus here is just addressing the eleven and that is clear because He is giving them the marching order to go from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost part of the earth, and "You guys wait here until the Holy Spirit comes." He was not talking to all Christians. He was specifically teaching the eleven. The result of the Holy Spirit is, "and you shall be My witnesses," etc.   

Acts 1:9 NASB "And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." This is the Mount of Olives where this takes place. "Lifted up" is a passive verb, He receives the action that takes place here as God basically receives Him into heaven. Clouds are often used in association with the presence of God. Just as a cloud received Him and He disappeared from sight, so He will return at the Rapture in the clouds.   

Acts 1:10 NASB "And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. [11] They also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.'" So just as He ascended so He will return, and this is a reference to the second coming. Just as He ascended literally and bodily so He will return physically and bodily to the earth.

Other passages to remind us of the ascension and how this is viewed spatially by the writers of Scripture: Hebrews 4:14 connects the ascension to His present priesthood. He has to be glorified at the right hand of the Father before His priestly ministry on our behalf begins. NASB "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through [dierchomai/ dierxomai] the heavens [second heaven]...." So there is a spatial movement that takes place as Jesus goes through the universe to something beyond which is the throne of God. This then becomes the basis for our great promise: "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as {we are, yet} without sin." We have a human being now sitting at the right hand of the Father waiting for the kingdom to be given to Him.

Ephesians 1:20-22 also relates to the ascension. NASB "which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly {places,} far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church." The ascension is vital because in the ascension He is glorified and it is at that time that He is recognized again as the eternal Son of God, and He is given the authority, the headship, over this new thing that will come about called the church.