1. The early church in Jerusalem, 1:1-5:42

ii] A church devoted to prayer


Following Christ's ascension, the disciples return to Jerusalem and continue steadfastly in prayer.


The community of the Way is obedient to the Lord's command, waiting prayerfully in Jerusalem as instructed.


i] Context: See 1:1-11. Luke uses the movement of the disciples back to Jerusalem to the set the scene for the events of Pentecost.


ii] Structure: This passage, A church devoted to Prayer, presents as follows:

The apostles return to Jerusalem, v12;

They gather in the upper room, v13;

All are constant in prayer, v14.


iii] Interpretation:

Luke tells us that there were some 120 believers at the time of Christ's death, resurrection and ascension. Of this number, a core group maintained a vigil of prayer in a rented apartment in Jerusalem (presumably "the upper room") as they waited, under Jesus' instructions, for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Lampe points out that Jesus was found in prayer before he received the Spirit and here Luke has the apostles doing the same thing. He suggests that for Luke the central business of prayer is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Luke identifies this core group of Galilean men and women, describing their devotion ("constantly in prayer") and unanimity / harmony (oJmoqumadon "joined together" = of one accord). "Though they are bereft of the Jesus that they had known, they find union together and engage in communal prayer to their God", Fitzmyer.


Luke's list of the apostles, v13. The list is identical with his earlier list in Luke 6:14f. Luke's list is similar to the list in Matthew (Matt.10:2f) and Mark (Mk.3:16f). The main difference is that Luke has Judas the son of James, rather than Matthew and Mark's Thaddaeus. Luke also describes Simon as "the Zealot", where Matthew and Mark call him "the Cananaean". In Aramaic "Cananaean" is the same word as "Zealot". Zealots were Jewish nationalists who came to prominence during the first century in Jerusalem and who led the major revolt against Rome in 66AD. "Judas the son of James" is obviously the "Judas not Iscariot" of John 14:22.


As Dunn notes, Luke uses this narrative, describing the disciples waiting in prayer, to separate Christ's ministry from the ministry of the Spirit. This is "an interval between Jesus and the Spirit; empty of either."


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 1:12

A community devoted to prayer, v12-14. i] The apostles return to Jerusalem, v12: The ascension has taken place at the mount of Olives and the disciples now return to Jerusalem to await the coming of the promised heavenly power. Luke tells us that the mount of Olives is a Sabbath day's journey from Jerusalem, cf. Exodus 16:29 and Numbers 35:5.

tote adv. "then" - Temporal adverb; the next event in a sequence.

apo + gen. "from" - Expressing separation; "away from."

tou kaloumenou (kalew) pres. pas. part. "[the hill] called" - [mountain] being called. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "mountain"; "a hill which is called Olivet. The article here is also taken with the noun oroV "mountain / hill", so "the mountain", not "a mountain."

ElaiwroV (wn onoV) gen. "the Mount of Olives" - of olive grove. The genitive may be classified as a predicate genitive where "the olive grove" stands in apposition to the participle "being called" and asserts a fact about the participle, here what the "mountain" is called, cf. Wallace 102. Culy classes it as an object complement, so taking a genitive with its complement "being called." The hill lies opposite Jerusalem, separated by the Kidron valley. The hill has significance in prophecy, cf. Zech.14:4.

o{ pro. "-" - which [is near Jerusalem].

econ (ecw) pres. part. "-" - having. The participle is adjectival, epexegetic, explaining "near [Jerusalem]", its actual distance, "that is, a Sabbath day's walk from the city." To have a Sabbath day on the way is to walk, as required by the law, no more than 2,000 cubits, ie. 2,000 medium size steps, or about one mile.

sabbatou (on) gen. "Sabbath days [walk from]" - [a way] of a Sabbath. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "way", a Sabbath day's way"; "a Sabbath days journey away", ESV.


ii] The apostles, along with "the women" and Jesus' mother and brothers, gather in the upper room for prayer, v12. This may be the room used for the last supper, or the room where Jesus appeared to the disciples. It may even be the room owned by the mother of John Mark, cf. 12:12. All are possibilities. Luke provides us with another list of the apostles, now eleven due to the suicide of Judas, cf. Lk.6:14-16. There are some slight changes between this list and the one in Luke's gospel, but the players are the same. Of these eleven, only Peter, James and John get another mention in Acts, and this because Acts traces the movement of the gospel to the ends of the earth at the hand of Paul the apostle.

oJte "when [they arrived]" - when [they entered]. Temporal conjunction introducing a temporal clause, as NIV.

anebhsan (anabainw) aor. "they went upstairs" - they went up. "They went to the room upstairs where they were staying", Cassirer.

to uJperw/on (on) "[to] room" - [into] the upstairs room. An upper room is a room above the ground flood. In the US, the second floor, but in most English speaking countries, the first floor. this room is traditionally a small room constructed on a flat roof. It is often roughly built and impermanent - just the place for a family bar-b-q.

h\san katamenonteV (katamenw) pres. part. "[where] they were staying" - they were living, staying. The imperfect of the verb to-be and the present participle forms a periphrastic imperfect construction, possibly emphasizing aspect, here the duration of their staying in the upper room. "Which was their headquarters", Barclay.

te .... kai ..... kai ..... "those present were .... and ..... and ..." - both ... and .... and ... The conjunction te serves to set up a list, so the NIV's introduction.

Iakwbou (oV) "[Judas] son of James" - [Judas] of James. This possessive adjectival genitive here doesn't specifically state the family relationship intended, although usually "son of" is meant, BDF #162.4. "Brother of" is possible, cf. Jude 1. This Judas is obviously the "Judas, not Iscariot", of John, and probably the "Thaddeus" mentioned in Matthew and Mark.


iii] Luke tells us that the apostles applied themselves to prayer, v14. In fact, they "joined constantly in prayer", "faithfully observing the appointed seasons of united prayer", Bruce. With the apostles, Luke records the presence of the women, most likely those who had gone up with the disciple from Galilee to Jerusalem. Mary the mother of Jesus is mentioned, as are Jesus' younger brothers. Although Jesus' brothers had initially rejected him, they became believers following his resurrection. The most prominent brother is James. We are told Jesus appeared to him after his resurrection, 1Cor.15:7. James later become a leader in the church, 12:17, 15:13, 21:18... Mark mentions three other brothers: Joses, Judas and Simon.

ou|toi panteV "they all" - all these ones.

oJmoqumadon adv. "joined together" - of one accord, with one mind / purpose. Expressing unity of purpose; "with one heart all these joined together", NJB.

h\san proskarterounteV (proskarterew) pres. part. "constantly" - were persevering in, carrying on. Again the imperfect of the verb to-be with the present participle forms a periphrastic imperfect construction, probably emphasizing aspect, here a constant devotion to prayer. They worked on their prayer life, stuck at it.

th/ proseuch/ (h) dat. "in prayer" - in/with/to the prayer. The dative could be classified as adverbial, modal, expressing manner, or simply a dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to persevere in"; "the fellowship regularly met for prayer." "Constantly at prayer", REB.

sun + dat. "along with" - with. Expressing association, accompaniment.

toiV adelfoiV (oV) "[his] brothers" - It seems likely that these are Mary and Joseph's other children, full brothers of Jesus - James, Joses (Joseph), Judas (Jude), and Simon. Clearly James and the other brothers came to believe in Jesus and became full members of the Jerusalem church, with James taking a leadership role. This view is not held by all, with many believers holding to the perpetual virginity of Mary, the mother of our Lord. Those who hold this position argue that the word here means half brother's of Jesus, or even first cousins.


Acts Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]