What Does Acts 1:22 Mean?

From the baptism of John at the outset until the day when He was taken up from among us -- "one of these men must join with us and become a witness to testify to His resurrection.

Acts 1:22(AMP)
Picture courtesy of Sweet Publishing

Verse of the Day

In his Gospel, Luke wrote down all that Jesus began to do and teach during his earthly ministry, describing His birth, life, death, burial, and rising from the dead. He also described post-Resurrection appearances, when the Lord Jesus presented Himself alive to His followers by many convincing proofs for 40 days, during which time He taught about the kingdom of God and presented Himself as Israel's promised Messiah. The good doctor continued his treatise in the book of Acts and in chapter 1, we find Christ's disciples waiting in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit, as Jesus had instructed them.

As His disciples watched the Lord Jesus ascend into heaven, He reminded them that soon they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit. They only had to wait 10 more days for the amazing Day of Pentecost to arrive, when the Church was born and those present were baptised into the Body of Christ, permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit, were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and were given the gift of languages.

As they waited in Jerusalem for the promise of the Spirit, the 11 apostles were continually united in prayer along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Christ's brothers. During this waiting period, Peter assumed a leadership role and reminded his fellow apostles that only 11 of Christ's original 12 chosen men remained (for Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord Jesus, was already dead). Peter evidently considered it very important to appoint a twelfth apostle, who would fill the apostolic position that had been held by Judas.

As a result, Peter stood up among the brethren, who numbered about 120, and set out his reasoning to those that were present: "Brothers," he said, "Scripture has to be fulfilled, (which was spoken by the Holy Spirit long ago, through the mouth of David) concerning Judas who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus." After Peter detailed Judas' nefarious acts, he made reference to two Psalms to support the need to appoint a 12th apostle: "Let his dwelling place be desolate and no one live in it," AND "Let another take his office."

No doubt Peter also remembered how Jesus had assured his 12 apostles that they would sit on 12 thrones in Christ's coming Messianic Kingdom: "Judging the 12 tribes of Israel," as recorded in Luke 22, where we read: "You will eat and drink at My table in My kingdom - and you will sit on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel." 

Peter clearly realised that if there were only 11 apostles, Christ's prophetic words could not be fulfilled and from his account in Acts 1, it appears that he and the other apostles expected the Lord Jesus to return very, very soon, to set up His Messianic Kingdom, for as Jesus was ready to ascend into heaven, Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, is this the time when You will restore the kingdom to Israel?" 

The Bible lays out some very clear guidelines for this important and unique apostolic role. Like all of Christ's other 11 apostles, the new apostle, must have accompanied Jesus throughout His earthly life, and also been an eyewitness of Christ's death and His Resurrection. This passage in Acts, clearly tells us that Christ's earthly ministry began when John the Baptist commenced his prophetic witness, with the warning: "Repent, for the Kingdon of Heaven is near." Jesus came to earth at God's appointed time to save His people, Israel, from their sins and set up God's kingdom on earth - but Israel rejected their Messiah, and the kingdom He came to set up had to be postponed until the nation of Israel repents of the communal sin of rejecting their Messiah.

For most of Christ's earthly ministry, He and His disciples taught the gospel of the kingdom, but because Israel rejected God's anointed King, Christ returned to heaven for a season, while God continued His plan of redemption through the Church. It was after Christ's Ascension but before the Day of Pentecost, that Peter realised the importance of appointing an apostle to replace Judas. He recognised that the new apostle needed to be a man who had not only been with them all from the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry, until the day when Jesus was taken up into heaven, but was also a man who would become the 12th witness, to testify to Christ's Resurrection: "Therefore," Luke explains in this passage, "he must be chosen from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John (from the start of John the Baptist's ministry) until the day Jesus was taken up from us." Peter identified one further essential qualification for an apostle, by saying, "It is necessary that he is a witness, with the rest of us, of Christ's Resurrection."

The important position of apostle needs to be recognised and celebrated, for Scripture tells us that the Church was to be built "on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Cornerstone." Peter and other apostles, who walked with Jesus from the beginning of John's baptism, were the men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to pen much of the New Testament, which would become the bedrock upon which our faith is founded, with Christ as the Cornerstone.

With the exception of Paul, who was later commissioned as an apostle by the risen, ascended, glorified Lord Jesus Christ, only someone who meets these clearly defined Scriptural criteria, has the authority to be addressed as 'apostle'. There are those that argue that it was presumptuous of Peter to have taken this action to replace Judas, suggesting that the apostle Paul should have been named as Christ's 12th apostle. But as we search the Scriptures for the whole council of God, it becomes increasingly clear that those ministering in Christ's PRE-Cross ministry will govern over the 12 tribes of Israel in Christ's Millennial Kingdom, while Paul was clearly appointed as the apostle to the Gentiles.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the truth that it contains. Thank You for the lessons I can learn from its pages and Your amazing plan of salvation. Thank You for sending Jesus to earth to become the sacrifice for my sin and the sin of the whole world, and I praise and glorify Your name that whosoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life. And thank You for Paul and the other 12 apostles who, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, laid the foundation of our Christian faith through their inspired writings. Help me to study the Scriptures to show myself approved unto God, and may I build my life on this sure foundation. Let the love and goodness of Jesus be seen in me. This I ask in His name, AMEN.

Picture courtesy of Sweet Publishing

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