Acts 1:1-5:42

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  • Acts 1:1: Theophilus. The name Theophilus (verse 1) means "lover of God." The "former treatise" mentioned in the first verse refers to the book of Luke. Bible scholars almost universally believe that the books of Luke and Acts were written by the same person. Note that both are addressed to Theophilus, and the writing styles of the two books are very similar.
  • Acts 1:3: Passion. The Greek word pascho, translated in verse 3 as "passion," means "suffering" in this context. The Joseph Smith Translation here uses the word "sufferings."
  • Acts 1:11-15. See Luke 6:13 for some discussion of the differences between the several accounts of the apostolate.
  • Acts 1:21-26: Selection of Matthias. Matthias was chosen to take Judas' place as one of the twelve apostles. He was not merely filling a vacancy in the quorum, but actually taking Judas' spot as one of the original twelve. This is why the one chosen had to have been a disciple of Christ since the baptism of John. What does it mean for Matthias to become one of the original twelve? For one thing, it means that when Christ comes in his glory and the twelve Apostles of the Lamb (who are "righteous forever") will stand on the right hand of Christ, each of them crowned with glory, to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, rather than Judas being among them, Matthias will be.
  • Acts 2:38: Gift of the Holy Ghost. This verse marks one of only two places in the entire Bible where the phrase "gift of the Holy Ghost" appears. Significantly, in the other (Acts 10:45), the gift mentioned cannot be the gift given through the ordinance of laying on hands, since the reference there specifically describes a group of Gentiles (those gathered at Cornelius' house) who had not yet been baptized. Perhaps, at least to some degree, that other mention of the "gift of the Holy Ghost" (written into the same book as this one, and by the same author) should be taken as a guide for interpreting what is in question here. If taken this way, the question of the "gift of the Holy Ghost" becomes a rather complex one: what is the role of the ordinance of laying on hands, if one can receive the "gift of the Holy Ghost" without it?
Then again, it is clear that the sequence in this verse is perfectly parallel to, say, the fourth article of faith; and this seems to suggest that the "gift of the Holy Ghost" as mentioned here is to be read as the result of the laying on of hands. But this precisely sets up the problem that must be worked out: that the "gift of the Holy Ghost" is mentioned only twice in the Bible (both in Acts), but in opposing ways (as something tied to the ordinance of the laying on of hands, and then as something not tied to that ordinance), calls for some rethinking of the very meaning of the phrase. What is the "gift of the Holy Ghost," and how should it be understood?
  • Acts 3:22-26: Restitution of all things. On grounds of the BoM parallel starting in v. 22, compare v. 21 ("restitution of all things ... since the world began") to 3 Nephi 20:22, which expounds events of the same time frame in detail. What do we learn by comparing vv. 22-26 with the extremely similar passage in 3 Nephi 20:23-26? See also commentaries on those verses.
  • Acts 5:28. Ananias is forgetting that when Pilate washed his hands of the blood of Christ, "all the people [said] His blood be on us, and on our children." Peter is right, of course, to blame the Jews for the death of Christ. See 2 Ne 10:3
  • Acts 5:30: Hanged on a tree. Peter's and the apostles' use of the phrase hanged on a tree connects the Jesus's crucifixion with the instruction to Israel related to hanging in Deut 21:22-23. See also Gal 3:13. Why does Peter say Christ was "hanged on a tree" rather than something like "nailed to a cross"? Can we read the hanging of Judas into this at all?

Points to ponder[edit]

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  • Acts 1:21-26. If it is true that the Lord did not appoint new apostles following the death of the original apostles, then it would seem that the original twelve (including Matthias and excluding Judas) are somehow essentially different from all other apostles. This includes both primitive apostles such as Paul and Barnabas, as well as modern apostles. How are we to think about this difference?
  • Acts 1:21-26. Does the authority of today's apostles really rest on the assumption that Christ appointed new members to the quorum in the primitive church?
  • Acts 2:3: Cloven tongues. Is there any interpretation as to what constitutes "cloven tongues like as of fire"? Was there a literal manifestation of something that looked like "cloven tongues like as of fire"? If so, was this identical manifestation seen at the Kirtland temple dedication?
  • Acts 2:16-21. Why does Peter mention this prophecy of the last days at this time? What significance might it have to him and his listeners?
  • Acts 2:30. Is this oath recorded in the Old Testament? If so, where?
  • Acts 2:30. Why would God choose to to have Christ come through the line of David and Bathsheba (See also Matt 1:6)?
  • Acts 4:2. Are the Sadducees grieved because Peter and John are preaching about Jesus or about the resurrection?
  • Acts 4:5-6. Why is there a break between verse 5 and 6?
  • Acts 4:7. Why did they ask what name the apostles had been acting in? Why is that important to them?
  • Acts 4:32. How can a thing that one possesses be considered not one's own?


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