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 in Jerusalem, in their prayerful obedience, set a pattern for Spirit-empowered ministry.


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: A church devoted to Prayer:

The apostles return to Jerusalem, v12;

An upper room gathering, 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 maintain a vigil of prayer in a rented apartment in Jerusalem (possibly "the upper room") as they wait, under Jesus' instructions, for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus was found in prayer before he received the Spirit, so Luke has the apostles doing the same thing. For Luke, the central business of prayer is the gifting of the Holy Spirit. He describes this core group of Galilean men and women as devoted ("constantly in prayer") and united (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.

Dunn notes that Luke uses the narrative of 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."


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.


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" - then [they returned into jerusalem]. Temporal adverb; the next event in a sequence.

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

tou kaloumenou (kalew) pres. pas. part. "[the hill] called" - [the mountain, high hill] being called. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "mountain"; "a hill which is called = has a name. 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 is adjectival, best classified as epexegetic, limiting the participle "being called = having a name", by specifying the name; "the hill named Olivet." It could also be classified as a predicate genitive where "the olive grove" stands in apposition to the participle "being called", asserting a fact about the participle, here what the "mountain" is called, cf., Wallace 102. Another possibility is a double case subject complement classification, so Culy. The hill lies opposite Jerusalem, separated by the Kidron valley. The hill has significance in prophecy, cf., Zech.14:4.

econ (ecw) pres. part. "-" - [which is near jerusalem] having. The idiomatic participial phrase specifies / explains the sense of egguV, "near" (In what sense is Olivet near Jerusalem? It is a Sabbath day's journey), as such, the participle is best classified as adjectival, epexegetic, specifying "near"; "which is near Jerusalem, 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 day's [walk from]" - [a way = journey] of a sabbath. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, 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 only 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.

oJte "when [they arrived]" - [and] when [they entered into]. Temporal conjunction serves to introduce a temporal clause, as NIV.

to uJperw/on (on) "[to] room" - the upstairs room. An upper room is a room above the ground flood. In the US, it would be called the second floor, but in most English speaking countries, it is the first floor. this room is traditionally a small room constructed on a flat roof. It is often roughly built and impermanent. "They went to the room upstairs where they were staying", Cassirer.

h\san katamenonteV (katamenw) pres. part. "[where] they were staying" - they were living, staying. The imperfect of the verb to-be with the present participle forms a periphrastic imperfect construction, possibly emphasising 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 [peter] and [john] and [james] and [andrew, philip] and [thomas, bartholomew] and [matthew, james of alphaeus] and. The conjunction te with kai serves to set up a correlative construction, here a list.

Iakwbou (oV) "[Judas] son of James" - [judas] of james. As for "of Alphaeus", the genitive is adjectival, relational. The construction 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 disciples from Galilee to Jerusalem. Mary the mother of Jesus is mentioned, as are Jesus' younger brothers. Although Jesus' brothers initially rejected him, they became believers following his resurrection. The most prominent brother is James. We are told that Jesus appeared to James 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. Nominative subject of the periphrastic construction "were persevering in."

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

oJmoqumadon adv. "constantly" - of one accord, with one mind / purpose. This adverb of manner expresses unity of purpose; "with one heart all these joined together", NJB.

th/ proseuch/ (h) dat. "in prayer" - in/with/to the prayer. 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 [the women and mary, the mother of jesus]. Expressing association, accompaniment.

toiV adelfoiV (oV) dat. "[his] brothers" - [and] the brothers [of him]. It seems likely that these are Mary and Joseph's other children, younger brothers of Jesus - James, Joses (Joseph), Judas (Jude), and Simon. Although initially sceptical of Jesus' messianic credentials, James and the other brothers came to believe in Jesus, becoming full members of the Jerusalem church, with James taking a leadership role. The inclusion of Jesus' brothers in the assembly of the Way serves as another example of God's saving grace touching other members of a family. Those who hold to the perpetual virginity of Mary argue that the word here means half-brother's of Jesus, or even first cousins.


Acts Introduction


Exegetical Commentaries


[Pumpkin Cottage]