Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

Acts Ch.1 / 28 Ch.s


** This book unites the Gospels to the Epistles. It contains
many particulars concerning the apostles Peter and Paul, and of
the Christian church from the ascension of our Saviour to the
arrival of St. Paul at Rome, a space of about thirty years. St.
Luke was the writer of this book; he was present at many of the
events he relates, and attended Paul to Rome. But the narrative
does not afford a complete history of the church during the time
to which it refers, nor even of St. Paul's life. The object of
the book has been considered to be, 1. To relate in what manner
the gifts of the Holy Spirit were communicated on the day of
Pentecost, and the miracles performed by the apostles, to
confirm the truth of Christianity, as showing that Christ's
declarations were really fulfilled. 2. To prove the claim of the
Gentiles to be admitted into the church of Christ. This is shown
by much of the contents of the book. A large portion of the Acts
is occupied by the discourses or sermons of various persons, the
language and manner of which differ, and all of which will be
found according to the persons by whom they were delivered, and
the occasions on which they were spoken. It seems that most of
these discourses are only the substance of what was actually
delivered. They relate nevertheless fully to Jesus as the
Christ, the anointed Messiah.

* Proofs of Christ's resurrection. (1-5) Christ's ascension.
(6-11) The apostles unite in prayer. (12-14) Matthias chosen in
the place of Judas. (15-26)

#1-5 Our Lord told the disciples the work they were to do. The
apostles met together at Jerusalem; Christ having ordered them
not to depart thence, but to wait for the pouring out of the
Holy Spirit. This would be a baptism by the Holy Ghost, giving
them power to work miracles, and enlightening and sanctifying
their souls. This confirms the Divine promise, and encourages us
to depend upon it, that we have heard it from Christ; for in Him
all the promises of God are yea and amen.

#6-11 They were earnest in asking about that which their Master
never had directed or encouraged them to seek. Our Lord knew
that his ascension and the teaching of the Holy Spirit would
soon end these expectations, and therefore only gave them a
rebuke; but it is a caution to his church in all ages, to take
heed of a desire of forbidden knowledge. He had given his
disciples instructions for the discharge of their duty, both
before his death and since his resurrection, and this knowledge
is enough for a Christian. It is enough that He has engaged to
give believers strength equal to their trials and services; that
under the influence of the Holy Spirit they may, in one way or
other, be witnesses for Christ on earth, while in heaven he
manages their concerns with perfect wisdom, truth, and love.
When we stand gazing and trifling, the thoughts of our Master's
second coming should quicken and awaken us: when we stand gazing
and trembling, they should comfort and encourage us. May our
expectation of it be stedfast and joyful, giving diligence to be
found of him blameless.

#12-14 God can find hiding-places for his people. They made
supplication. All God's people are praying people. It was now a
time of trouble and danger with the disciples of Christ; but if
any is afflicted, let him pray; that will silence cares and
fears. They had now a great work to do, and before they entered
upon it, they were earnest in prayer to God for his presence.
They were waiting for the descent of the Spirit, and abounded in
prayer. Those are in the best frame to receive spiritual
blessings, who are in a praying frame. Christ had promised
shortly to send the Holy Ghost; that promise was not to do away
prayer, but to quicken and encourage it. A little company united
in love, exemplary in their conduct, fervent in prayer, and
wisely zealous to promote the cause of Christ, are likely to
increase rapidly.

#15-26 The great thing the apostles were to attest to the world,
was, Christ's resurrection; for that was the great proof of his
being the Messiah, and the foundation of our hope in him. The
apostles were ordained, not to wordly dignity and dominion, but
to preach Christ, and the power of his resurrection. An appeal
was made to God; "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all
men," which we do not; and better than they know their own. It
is fit that God should choose his own servants; and so far as
he, by the disposals of his providence, or the gifts of his
Spirit, shows whom he was chosen, or what he has chosen for us,
we ought to fall in with his will. Let us own his hand in the
determining everything which befalls us, especially in those by
which any trust may be committed to us.