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Acts 1 is the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book containing this chapter is anonymous but early Christian tradition affirmed that Luke composed this book as well as the Gospel of Luke.[1] This chapter functions as a transition from the "former account" (that is, Gospel of Luke) with a narrative prelude (verses 1–5), repeated record of the ascension of Jesus Christ with more detail (verses 6–11) and the meeting of Jesus' followers (verses 12-26),[2] until before Pentecost.

Acts 1
← John 21
Codex Laudianus (Acts 1,1-5) Tischendorf.jpg
Tischendorf's facsimile from 1870 of Acts 1:1-5 in Latin (left column) and Greek (right column) in Codex Laudianus, written about AD 550.
BookActs of the Apostles
CategoryChurch history
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part5


The beginning of the Acts of the Apostles in folio 11 recto of Minuscule 223 (Gregory-Aland) from the 14th century.

The original text was written in Koine Greek and is divided into 26 verses.

Textual witnessesEdit

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:

Old Testament referencesEdit

New Testament referencesEdit


Places mentioned in this chapter

This chapter mentions the following places:

Introduction (1:1–5)Edit

The beginning of the book follows a conventional opening statement containing the name of the addressee, Theophilus, and a brief reminder of the content of the "former account" (Gospel of Luke) by the same author.[2]

Verses 1–3Edit

1The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.[4]
  • "Former account" (from Greek: πρῶτον λόγον, próton logon, lit. "first book"[5]): refers to Gospel of Luke.
  • "Theophilus" (written in Greek in vocative word form): the intended reader of this book, as well as the previous one (Luke 1:3), might be a "patron" who is already informed about "things which have been fulfilled among us", but still needs "assurance" to "know the certainty of those things" (Luke 1:1-4).[5]

Ascension of Jesus (1:6–12)Edit

This section records that forty days after the resurrection, Jesus commands the disciples during a meal to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, then a cloud takes him upward from sight, and two men in white appear to tell them (the disciples) that he will return "in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."[6]

Verse 8Edit

[Jesus says:] "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."[7]

Before Jesus left, he charged the disciples with the task of acting as 'witnesses' to him, in the locations that can be read as a 'geographical program' for the whole book of Acts:

  • The first 7 chapters set in Jerusalem
  • Chapter 8—11 record the spread of the gospel to the surrounding areas within Syria-Palestine ('Judea and Samaria')
  • Chapter 13 onwards following Paul's mission ever farther places.[8]

Luke chapter 24[a] tells how Jesus leads the eleven disciples "as far as" Bethany, a village on the Mount of Olives, where he instructs them to remain in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit: "And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" (Luke 24:51-52).[10]

The Gospel of John has three references to ascension in Jesus' own words: "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the son of man" (John 3:13); "What if you (the disciples) were to see the son of man ascending where he was before?" (John 6:62); and to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection, "Do not hold me, for I not yet ascended to my father..." (John 20:17).[10] Various epistles (Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:19-20, Colossians 3:1, Philippians 2:9-11, 1 Timothy 3:16, and 1 Peter 3:21-22) also refer to an ascension in relation to the post-resurrection "exaltation" of Jesus to the right hand of God.[11] Gospel of Mark (Mark 16:19) contains the brief ascension account, but it is considered by a broad consensus among scholars to be a later addition to the original version of that gospel.[12]

Verse 12Edit

Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.[13]
  • "The hill called the Mount of Olives" (ESV: "the mount called Olivet"): This geographical site is mentioned by Luke alone in the narrative of Jesus' last entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:29) and as a place to rest during Jesus' final ministry of teaching (Luke 21:37).[14] Luke 24:50 names Bethany as the site of ascension, which is identified in Luke 19:29 as a location at the Mount of Olives.[14]
  • "A Sabbath day's walk" (Greek: Σαββάτου ὁδὸν): 2000 cubits (= 5 furlongs),[15] about 5/8 mile or about 1 kilometer,[16] showing a proximity to Jerusalem (fulfilling Jesus' command in Luke 24:49), as well as portraying the disciples as faithful Jews (cf. Luke 23:54-56).[14] The distance seems differ significantly with the Bethany in John 11:18,[14] but the ascension site, according to Lightfoot,[17] "was from the place where that tract of the Mount of Olives ceased to be called Bethphage and began to be called Bethany", not inside the village (15 furlongs far in Gospel of John).[18]

Election of Matthias (1:13–26)Edit

As the disciples waited obediently in the upper room[b] in Jerusalem for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit, they devoted themselves "with one accord" in prayer (verse 14), underlying the unity of the group which surprisingly now includes Jesus' mother, brothers, and some women.[8] Mary, the mother of Jesus, was mentioned by name for the first time in Luke-Acts since the infancy narrative in Luke 2.[19]

Verse 13 lists the names of the apostles with some differences compared to the apostolic list in Luke 6:14-16 (cf. Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19):[19]

  • Andrew was moved down from the second place to the fourth place after John
  • Thomas was moved up from the eighth place to the sixth place following Philip
  • Judas Iscariot is no longer listed.

The omission of Judas Iscariot motivates the narrative of his final fate and Peter's call to find his replacement.[8] The process begins by Peter's appeal to the Scripture (verse 20),[8] and the requirements for the candidate (verses 21–22).[20] With this, Peter reinforces the identity of the group and exerts his de facto authority in the group.[8]

Verses 21–22Edit

[Peter says:] "21Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning ('arxamenos') from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness ('martyra') with us of His resurrection."[21]
[Peter preaches to Cornelius and his household:] "36The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— 37that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began ('arxamenos') from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39And we are witnesses ('martyres') of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. 40Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."[23]

The apostles proceeds by asking God as the only resource to 'indicate' his choice through the casting of lots (verse 26), which is a familiar mean to ascertain divine purpose in both the Graeco-Roman world and the Bible,[8] to get Matthias "numbered with the eleven apostles" (verse 26).

Verse 26Edit

And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Scholars treated Luke-Acts as a single work from the same anonymous author, which provides the only narrative account of the ascension event[9][10]
  2. ^ The word ὑπερῷον, hyperōon, for "upper room" used here is different from ἀνάγαιον, anagaion, for the "upper room" where the Last Supper was held in Luke 22:12, but could be the same room.[19]


  1. ^ Alexander 2007, p. 1028.
  2. ^ a b Alexander 2007, p. 1030.
  3. ^ Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1901). The Book of Psalms: with Introduction and Notes. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Book IV and V: Psalms XC-CL. Cambridge: At the University Press. p. 839. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  4. ^ Acts 1:1-3 NKJV
  5. ^ a b Johnson 1992, p. 24.
  6. ^ Müller 2016, p. 113-114.
  7. ^ Acts 1:8 NKJV
  8. ^ a b c d e f Alexander 2007, p. 1031.
  9. ^ Thompson 2010, p. 319.
  10. ^ a b c Holwerda 1979, p. 310.
  11. ^ McDonald 2004, p. 21.
  12. ^ Cresswell 2013, unpaginated.
  13. ^ Acts 1:12 NKJV
  14. ^ a b c d Johnson 1992, p. 33.
  15. ^ Bengel, Johann. Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. Acts 1. Accessed 22 April 2019.
  16. ^ Note [c] on Acts 1:12 in NKJV
  17. ^ Lightfoot, John, Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae, on the Gospel of Luke.
  18. ^ Expositor's Greek Testament. Acts 1. Accessed 22 April 2019.
  19. ^ a b c Johnson 1992, p. 34.
  20. ^ a b c Bauckham 2017, p. 114.
  21. ^ Acts 1:21-22 NKJV
  22. ^ Bauckham 2017, p. 115.
  23. ^ Acts 10:36-42 NKJV
  24. ^ Acts 2:26 NKJV


External linksEdit