Skip to content

Skip to table of contents

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Select language English
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Acts of Apostles 1:1-26

1  The first account, O The·ophʹi·lus, I composed about all the things Jesus started to do and to teach+  until the day that he was taken up,+ after he had given instructions through holy spirit to the apostles he had chosen.+  After he had suffered, he showed himself alive to them by many convincing proofs.+ He was seen by them throughout 40 days, and he was speaking about the Kingdom of God.+  While he was meeting with them, he ordered them: “Do not leave Jerusalem,+ but keep waiting for what the Father has promised,+ about which you heard from me;  for John, indeed, baptized with water, but you will be baptized with holy spirit+ not many days after this.”  So when they had assembled, they asked him: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”+  He said to them: “It does not belong to you to know the times or seasons that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.+  But you will receive power when the holy spirit comes upon you,+ and you will be witnesses+ of me in Jerusalem,+ in all Ju·deʹa and Sa·marʹi·a,+ and to the most distant part of the earth.”+  After he had said these things, while they were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud caught him up from their sight.+ 10  And as they were gazing into the sky while he was on his way, suddenly two men in white* garments+ stood beside them 11  and said: “Men of Galʹi·lee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was taken up from you into the sky will come in the same manner as you have seen him going into the sky.” 12  Then they returned to Jerusalem+ from a mountain called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem, only a sabbath day’s journey away. 13  When they arrived, they went up into the upper room where they were staying. There were Peter as well as John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bar·tholʹo·mew and Matthew, James the son of Al·phaeʹus, and Simon the zealous one, and Judas the son of James.+ 14  With one purpose all of these were persisting in prayer, together with some women+ and Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers.+ 15  During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (the number of people was altogether about 120) and said: 16  “Men, brothers, it was necessary for the scripture to be fulfilled that the holy spirit spoke prophetically through David about Judas,+ who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.+ 17  For he had been numbered among us+ and he obtained a share in this ministry. 18  (This very man, therefore, purchased a field with the wages for unrighteousness,+ and falling headfirst,* his body burst open* and all his insides spilled out.+ 19  This became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language A·kelʹda·ma, that is, “Field of Blood.”) 20  For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his dwelling become desolate, and let there be no inhabitant in it’+ and, ‘His office of oversight let someone else take.’+ 21  It is therefore necessary that of the men who accompanied us during all the time in which the Lord Jesus carried on his activities among us, 22  starting with his baptism by John+ until the day he was taken up from us,+ one of these men should become a witness with us of his resurrection.”+ 23  So they proposed two, Joseph called Barʹsab·bas, who was also called Justus, and Mat·thiʹas. 24  Then they prayed and said: “You, O Jehovah, who know the hearts of all,+ designate which one of these two men you have chosen 25  to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas deviated to go to his own place.”+ 26  So they cast lots over them,+ and the lot fell to Mat·thiʹas, and he was counted along with the 11 apostles.

Footnotes

Or “bright.”
Or possibly, “swelling up.”
Or “he burst open in the middle.”

Study Notes

The first account: Luke here refers to his Gospel account of Jesus’ life. In his Gospel account, Luke focused on “all the things Jesus started to do and to teach.” In the book of Acts, Luke picks up where he left off and records what Jesus’ followers said and did. The accounts are similar in style and wording, and both are addressed to Theophilus. Whether Theophilus was a disciple of Christ is not stated explicitly. (See study note on Lu 1:3.) Luke begins the book of Acts by summarizing many of the events recorded at the end of his Gospel, clearly indicating that this second account is a continuation of the first. In this summary, however, Luke uses somewhat different wording and provides extra details.—Compare Lu 24:49 with Ac 1:1-12.

keys of the Kingdom of the heavens: In the Bible, those who were given certain keys, whether literal or figurative, were entrusted with a degree of authority. (1Ch 9:26, 27; Isa 22:20-22) So the term “key” came to symbolize authority and responsibility. Peter used these “keys” entrusted to him to open up for Jews (Ac 2:22-41), Samaritans (Ac 8:14-17), and Gentiles (Ac 10:34-38) the opportunity to receive God’s spirit with a view to their entering the heavenly Kingdom.

Acts of Apostles: The Greek title Praʹxeis A·po·stoʹlon is found in some manuscripts going back to the second century C.E., though there is no evidence that this book originally had a title. The book is a continuation of the Gospel written by Luke. (See study note on Ac 1:1.) It covers primarily the activities of Peter and Paul, not those of all the apostles. The book provides a reliable and comprehensive history of the spectacular beginning and rapid development of the Christian congregation, first among the Jews, next among the Samaritans, and then among the Gentiles. (See study note on Mt 16:19.) The book also provides a historical background for the inspired letters of the Christian Greek Scriptures.

most excellent: The Greek word for “most excellent” (kraʹti·stos) is used in an official sense when addressing high officials. (Ac 23:26; 24:3; 26:25) Therefore, some scholars feel that this term may indicate that Theophilus held a high position before becoming a Christian. Others understand the Greek term to be simply a friendly or polite form of address or an expression of high esteem. Theophilus was evidently a Christian, for he had already been “taught orally” about Jesus Christ and his ministry. (Lu 1:4) Luke’s written statement would have served to assure him of the certainty of what he had previously learned by word of mouth. However, there are other views on this matter. Some feel that Theophilus was at first an interested person who later converted, whereas others feel that the name, meaning “Loved by God; Friend of God,” was used as a pseudonym for Christians in general. When addressing Theophilus at the beginning of Acts of Apostles, Luke does not use the expression “most excellent.”—Ac 1:1.

most excellent: The Greek word for “most excellent” (kraʹti·stos) is used in an official sense when addressing high officials. (Ac 23:26; 24:3; 26:25) Therefore, some scholars feel that this term may indicate that Theophilus held a high position before becoming a Christian. Others understand the Greek term to be simply a friendly or polite form of address or an expression of high esteem. Theophilus was evidently a Christian, for he had already been “taught orally” about Jesus Christ and his ministry. (Lu 1:4) Luke’s written statement would have served to assure him of the certainty of what he had previously learned by word of mouth. However, there are other views on this matter. Some feel that Theophilus was at first an interested person who later converted, whereas others feel that the name, meaning “Loved by God; Friend of God,” was used as a pseudonym for Christians in general. When addressing Theophilus at the beginning of Acts of Apostles, Luke does not use the expression “most excellent.”—Ac 1:1.

The first account: Luke here refers to his Gospel account of Jesus’ life. In his Gospel account, Luke focused on “all the things Jesus started to do and to teach.” In the book of Acts, Luke picks up where he left off and records what Jesus’ followers said and did. The accounts are similar in style and wording, and both are addressed to Theophilus. Whether Theophilus was a disciple of Christ is not stated explicitly. (See study note on Lu 1:3.) Luke begins the book of Acts by summarizing many of the events recorded at the end of his Gospel, clearly indicating that this second account is a continuation of the first. In this summary, however, Luke uses somewhat different wording and provides extra details.—Compare Lu 24:49 with Ac 1:1-12.

Theophilus: Both Luke’s Gospel and Acts of Apostles are addressed to this man. At Lu 1:3, his name is preceded by the title “most excellent.”—For more information on the use of this expression and the background of Theophilus, see study note on Lu 1:3.

the Kingdom of God: The overriding theme of the entire Bible, Jehovah’s Kingdom, dominates the book of Acts. (Ac 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:31) The book emphasizes that the apostles bore “thorough witness” concerning that Kingdom and fully accomplished their ministry.—Ac 2:40; 5:42; 8:25; 10:42; 20:21, 24; 23:11; 26:22; 28:23.

The appointed time has been fulfilled: In this context “the appointed time” (Greek, kai·rosʹ) refers to the time, as foretold in the Scriptures, for Jesus’ earthly ministry to begin, giving people the opportunity to have faith in the good news. The same Greek word is used of the “time” of inspection that Jesus’ ministry brought (Lu 12:56; 19:44) and the “appointed time” of his death.​—Mt 26:18.

appointed times of the nations: Or “times of the Gentiles.” The Greek word kai·rosʹ (here the plural form is rendered “appointed times”) may refer to a point of time or a fixed or definite period of time or a “season” marked by certain features. (Mt 13:30; 21:34; Mr 11:13) It is used of “the appointed time” for Jesus’ ministry to begin (Mr 1:15) and the “appointed time” of his death (Mt 26:18). The term kai·rosʹ is also used with reference to future times or seasons within God’s arrangement or timetable, particularly in relation to Christ’s presence and his Kingdom. (Ac 1:7; 3:19; 1Th 5:1) In view of how the word kai·rosʹ is used in the Bible text, the expression “appointed times of the nations” evidently refers, not to a vague or indefinite time, but to a fixed period of time, one having a beginning and an end. The term “nations” or “Gentiles” translates the plural form of the Greek word eʹthnos, which was often used by the Bible writers to refer specifically to the non-Jewish nations.

times or seasons: Two aspects of time are mentioned here. The plural form of the Greek word khroʹnos, rendered times, may refer to an unspecified period of time, long or short. The Greek word kai·rosʹ (sometimes rendered “appointed time[s]”; the plural form is here rendered seasons) is often used with reference to future time periods within God’s arrangement or timetable, particularly in relation to Christ’s presence and his Kingdom.—Ac 3:19; 1Th 5:1; see study notes on Mr 1:15; Lu 21:24.

in his own jurisdiction: Or “under his own authority.” This expression indicates that Jehovah has reserved for himself the right to set “the times or seasons” for the fulfillment of his purposes. He is the Great Timekeeper. Before Jesus died, Jesus said that even the Son did not then know the “day and hour” when the end would come but “only the Father” knew.—Mt 24:36; Mr 13:32.

the spirit impelled him to go: Or “the active force moved him to go.” The Greek word pneuʹma here refers to God’s spirit, which can act as a driving force, moving and impelling a person to do things in accord with God’s will.​—Lu 4:1; see Glossary, “Spirit.”

as a witness: Or “for a witness.” The Greek noun for “witness” (mar·ty·riʹa) appears more than twice as often in John’s Gospel as in the other three Gospels combined. The related verb, rendered to bear witness (mar·ty·reʹo), appears 39 times in John’s Gospel—compared to 2 times in the other Gospel accounts. (Mt 23:31; Lu 4:22) This Greek verb is used so often in connection with John the Baptist that some have suggested that he be called “John the Witness.” (Joh 1:8, 15, 32, 34; 3:26; 5:33; see study note on Joh 1:19.) In John’s Gospel, this verb is also frequently used in connection with Jesus’ ministry. Jesus is often said to “bear witness.” (Joh 8:14, 17, 18) Particularly noteworthy are Jesus’ words to Pontius Pilate: “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (Joh 18:37) In the Revelation given to John, Jesus is referred to as “the Faithful Witness” and “the faithful and true witness.”—Re 1:5; 3:14.

bear witness to: As used in the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek words rendered “to bear witness” (mar·ty·reʹo) and “witness” (mar·ty·riʹa; marʹtys) are broad in meaning. Both terms are used in the basic sense of testifying to facts from firsthand or personal knowledge, but they may also include the idea of “declaring; confirming; speaking well of.” Not only did Jesus testify to and proclaim truths of which he was convinced but he also lived in such a way that he upheld the truth of his Father’s prophetic word and promises. (2Co 1:​20) God’s purpose in connection with the Kingdom and its Messianic Ruler had been foretold in detail. Jesus’ entire earthly life course, culminating in his sacrificial death, fulfilled all prophecies about him, including the shadows, or patterns, contained in the Law covenant. (Col 2:16, 17; Heb 10:1) So by word and deed, it may be said that Jesus ‘bore witness to the truth.’

works greater than these: Jesus is not saying that the miraculous works his disciples would perform would be greater than his own miraculous works. Rather, he humbly acknowledges that the extent of their preaching and teaching work would be greater than his. His followers would cover more territory, reach more people, and preach for a longer period of time than he would. Jesus’ words clearly show that he expected his followers to continue his work.

all the inhabited earth . . . all the nations: Both expressions emphasize the scope of the preaching work. In a broad sense, the Greek word for “inhabited earth” (oi·kou·meʹne) refers to the earth as the dwelling place of mankind. (Lu 4:5; Ac 17:31; Ro 10:18; Re 12:9; 16:14) In the first century, this term was also used in reference to the vast Roman Empire where the Jews had been dispersed. (Lu 2:1; Ac 24:5) In its general sense, the Greek word for “nation” (eʹthnos) refers to a group of people who are more or less related to one another by blood and who have a common language. Such a national or ethnic group often occupies a defined geographic territory.

is preached in all the world: Similar to his prophecy at Mt 24:14, Jesus here foretells that the good news would be proclaimed in all the world and would include this woman’s act of devotion. God inspired three Gospel writers to mention what she did.​—Mr 14:8, 9; Joh 12:7; see study note on Mt 24:14.

people of all the nations: A literal translation reads “all nations,” but the context indicates that this term refers to individuals out of all nations, since the Greek pronoun “them” in the expression baptizing them is in the masculine gender and refers to people, not to “nations,” which is neuter in Greek. This command to reach “people of all the nations” was new. Prior to Jesus’ ministry, the Scriptures indicate that Gentiles were welcomed to Israel if they came to serve Jehovah. (1Ki 8:41-43) With this command, however, Jesus commissions his disciples to extend the preaching work to people other than natural Jews, emphasizing the worldwide scope of the Christian disciple-making work.​—Mt 10:1, 5-7; Re 7:9; see study note on Mt 24:14.

the holy spirit: Or “the holy active force.” In the book of Acts, the expression “holy spirit” occurs 41 times, and there are at least 15 other occurrences of the term “spirit” (Greek, pneuʹma) that refer to God’s holy spirit. (For examples, see Ac 2:4, 17, 18; 5:9; 11:28; 21:4; see also Glossary, “Spirit.”) Thus, this Bible book makes it clear again and again that the international preaching and teaching work to be performed by Jesus’ followers could be accomplished only with the aid of God’s active force.—Compare study note on Mr 1:12.

witnesses of me: As faithful Jews, Jesus’ early disciples were already witnesses of Jehovah, and they testified that Jehovah is the only true God. (Isa 43:10-12; 44:8) Now, though, the disciples were to be witnesses of both Jehovah and Jesus. They were to make known Jesus’ vital role in sanctifying Jehovah’s name by means of His Messianic Kingdom, a new feature of Jehovah’s purpose. With the exception of John’s Gospel, Acts uses the Greek terms for “witness” (marʹtys), “to bear witness” (mar·ty·reʹo), “to bear thorough witness” (di·a·mar·tyʹro·mai), and related words more times than any other Bible book. (See study note on Joh 1:7.) The idea of being a witness and bearing thorough witness about God’s purposes—including his Kingdom and Jesus’ vital role—is a theme that runs through the book of Acts. (Ac 2:32, 40; 3:15; 4:33; 5:32; 8:25; 10:39; 13:31; 18:5; 20:21, 24; 22:20; 23:11; 26:16; 28:23) Some first-century Christians bore witness to, or confirmed, historical facts about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection from their firsthand knowledge. (Ac 1:21, 22; 10:40, 41) Those who later put faith in Jesus bore witness by proclaiming the significance of his life, death, and resurrection.—Ac 22:15; see study note on Joh 18:37.

to the most distant part of the earth: Or “to the ends (extremity) of the earth.” The same Greek expression is used at Ac 13:47 in a prophecy quoted from Isa 49:6, where the Greek Septuagint also uses the term. Jesus’ statement at Ac 1:8 may echo that prophecy, which foretold that Jehovah’s servant would be “a light of nations” so that salvation would reach “the ends of the earth.” This harmonizes with Jesus’ previous statement that his followers would perform “works greater” than his. (See study note on Joh 14:12.) The statement is also in line with Jesus’ description of the worldwide scope of the Christian preaching work.—See study notes on Mt 24:14; 26:13; 28:19.

men in white garments: This is a reference to angels. (Compare Lu 24:4, 23.) In the book of Acts, the term “angel” (Greek, agʹge·los) is found 21 times, the first occurrence at Ac 5:19.

with striking observableness: The Greek expression used here occurs only once in the Christian Greek Scriptures and is derived from a verb meaning “to watch closely; to observe.” According to some scholars, medical writers used this expression when they described watching the symptoms of disease. The way the word is used here seems to convey the idea that the Kingdom of God is not coming in a way that is obvious to all.

the sky: The Greek word ou·ra·nosʹ that occurs three times in this verse can refer to the physical heavens, that is, the sky, or to the spiritual heavens.

will come in the same manner: The Greek word for “come” (erʹkho·mai) is used frequently in the Scriptures in a variety of ways. In some contexts, it refers to Jesus’ coming as Judge to pronounce and execute judgment during the great tribulation. (Mt 24:30; Mr 13:26; Lu 21:27) However, this Greek word is used regarding Jesus on other occasions. (Mt 16:28; 17:​1, 2; Mt 21:5, 9; 23:39; Lu 19:38) Therefore, the context determines in what sense the term “come” is used here. The angels said that Jesus would “come,” or return, in the same “manner” (Greek, troʹpos) as he departed. The term troʹpos does not refer to the same form, shape, or body but to the same way. As the context shows, Jesus’ manner of departure was not observed by the world in general. Only the apostles were aware that Jesus left the vicinity of the earth to return to his Father in heaven. Jesus had indicated that his return as King of “the Kingdom of God” would not be in a way that was obvious to all​—only his disciples would know it had taken place. (Lu 17:20; see study note.) The “coming” mentioned at Re 1:7 is different. On that occasion, “every eye will see him.” (Re 1:7) So in the context of Ac 1:​11, the term “come” apparently refers to Jesus’ invisible coming in Kingdom power at the beginning of his presence.​—Mt 24:3.

a sabbath day’s journey: That is, the distance an Israelite was allowed to travel on the Sabbath. The term is here connected with the distance between the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem. The Law restricted travel on the Sabbath but did not specify the distance that could be covered. (Ex 16:29) Over time, rabbinic sources defined the distance a Jew could travel on that day as being about 2,000 cubits (890 m; 2,920 ft). That interpretation was based on Nu 35:5: “You should measure outside the city 2,000 cubits” and on the statement found at Jos 3:3, 4 that instructed the Israelites to keep a distance of about 2,000 cubits from “the ark of the covenant.” Rabbis reasoned that an Israelite was permitted to travel at least that far on the Sabbath to worship at the tabernacle. (Nu 28:9, 10) Possibly because of reckoning from two different starting points, Josephus gives the distance between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives one time as five furlongs (925 m; 3,034 ft) and another time as six furlongs (1,110 m; 3,640 ft). Either way, the distance is approximately the same as the distance that the rabbis had defined as a sabbath day’s journey, and it harmonizes with Luke’s comment in this verse.

the zealous one: A designation distinguishing the apostle Simon from the apostle Simon Peter. (Lu 6:14, 15) The Greek word used here and at Lu 6:15, ze·lo·tesʹ, means “zealot; enthusiast.” The accounts at Mt 10:4 and Mr 3:18 use the designation “the Cananaean,” a term thought to be of Hebrew or Aramaic origin that likewise means “Zealot; Enthusiast.” While it is possible that Simon once belonged to the Zealots, a Jewish party opposed to the Romans, he may have been given this designation because of his zeal and enthusiasm.

brothers: The Greek word a·del·phosʹ can refer to a spiritual relationship in the Bible, but here it is used of Jesus’ half brothers, the younger sons of Joseph and Mary. Some who believe that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus claim that here a·del·phosʹ refers to cousins. However, the Christian Greek Scriptures use a distinct term for “cousin” (Greek, a·ne·psi·osʹ at Col 4:10) and a different term for “the son of Paul’s sister” (Ac 23:16). Also, Lu 21:16 uses the plural forms of the Greek words a·del·phosʹ and syg·ge·nesʹ (rendered “brothers and relatives”). These examples show that the terms denoting familial relationships are not used loosely or indiscriminately in the Christian Greek Scriptures.

his brothers: That is, Jesus’ half brothers. The four Gospels, Acts of Apostles, and two of Paul’s letters mention “the Lord’s brothers,” “the brother of the Lord,” “his brothers,” and “his sisters,” naming four of the “brothers”—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. (1Co 9:5; Ga 1:19; Mt 12:46; 13:55, 56; Mr 3:31; Lu 8:19; Joh 2:12) These siblings were all born after the miraculous birth of Jesus. Most Bible scholars accept the evidence that Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters and that all were offspring of Joseph and Mary by natural means.—See study note on Mt 13:55.

brothers: The Greek word a·del·phosʹ can refer to a spiritual relationship in the Bible, but here it is used of Jesus’ half brothers, the younger sons of Joseph and Mary. Some who believe that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus claim that here a·del·phosʹ refers to cousins. However, the Christian Greek Scriptures use a distinct term for “cousin” (Greek, a·ne·psi·osʹ at Col 4:10) and a different term for “the son of Paul’s sister” (Ac 23:16). Also, Lu 21:16 uses the plural forms of the Greek words a·del·phosʹ and syg·ge·nesʹ (rendered “brothers and relatives”). These examples show that the terms denoting familial relationships are not used loosely or indiscriminately in the Christian Greek Scriptures.

his brothers: That is, Jesus’ half brothers. The four Gospels, Acts of Apostles, and two of Paul’s letters mention “the Lord’s brothers,” “the brother of the Lord,” “his brothers,” and “his sisters,” naming four of the “brothers”—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. (1Co 9:5; Ga 1:19; Mt 12:46; 13:55, 56; Mr 3:31; Lu 8:19; Joh 2:12) These siblings were all born after the miraculous birth of Jesus. Most Bible scholars accept the evidence that Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters and that all were offspring of Joseph and Mary by natural means.—See study note on Mt 13:55.

the brothers: At times, a male Christian believer is distinguished as “a brother” and a female as “a sister.” (1Co 7:14, 15) At other times, as in this context, the Bible uses the term “brothers” to refer to both males and females. (Ac 1:13, 14) Generally, the term “brothers” was the accepted greeting to mixed groups and was not restricted to males. (Ro 1:13; 1Th 1:4) The term “brothers” is used in this sense in most of the inspired Christian letters. In the preceding verse (Ac 1:14), the plural form of the Greek word a·del·phosʹ is used with regard to Jesus’ half brothers, the younger sons of Joseph and Mary.—See study notes on Mt 13:55; Ac 1:14.

number of people: Lit., “crowd of names.” In this context, the Greek word for “name” (oʹno·ma) refers to a person. It is used in the same way at Re 3:4, ftn.

Men, brothers: Unlike the preceding verse, here the term “brothers” is used together with the Greek word for “men; males” (a·nerʹ). In the context of determining who should replace Judas Iscariot as an apostle, this combination may indicate that only male members of the congregation were being addressed.

falling headfirst, his body burst open: Matthew’s account of Judas’ death says that Judas “hanged himself,” showing how he committed suicide. (Mt 27:5) But here Luke’s account describes the result. A comparison of the two accounts indicates that Judas hanged himself near a cliff. At some point, the rope or the tree limb broke, so that he plunged down and his body burst open on the rocks below. The steep and rocky topography around Jerusalem allows for drawing such a conclusion.

overseers: The Greek word for overseer, e·piʹsko·pos, is related to the verb e·pi·sko·peʹo, meaning “carefully watch” (Heb 12:15), and to the noun e·pi·sko·peʹ, meaning “inspection” (Lu 19:44, Kingdom Interlinear; 1Pe 2:12), “to be an overseer” (1Ti 3:1), or “office of oversight” (Ac 1:20). Therefore, the overseer was one who visited, inspected, and directed members of the congregation. Protective supervision is a basic idea inherent in the Greek term. Overseers in the Christian congregation have the responsibility to care for spiritual concerns of their fellow believers. Paul here used the term “overseers” when speaking to the “elders” from the congregation in Ephesus. (Ac 20:17) And in his letter to Titus, he uses the term “overseer” when describing the qualifications for “elders” in the Christian congregation. (Tit 1:5, 7) The terms, therefore, refer to the same position, pre·sbyʹte·ros indicating the mature qualities of the one so appointed and e·piʹsko·pos indicating the duties inherent in the appointment. This account about Paul meeting with the elders from Ephesus clearly shows that there were several overseers in that congregation. There was no set number of overseers for any one congregation, but the number serving depended on the number of those qualifying as “elders,” or spiritually mature men, in that congregation. Likewise, in writing to the Philippian Christians, Paul referred to the “overseers” there (Php 1:1), indicating that they served as a body, overseeing the affairs of that congregation.—See study note on Ac 1:20.

His office of oversight: Or “His assignment as an overseer.” The Greek word used here, e·pi·sko·peʹ, is related to the Greek noun for “overseer,” e·piʹsko·pos, and the verb e·pi·sko·peʹo, rendered “carefully watch” at Heb 12:15. Peter quoted Ps 109:8 to support his recommendation that the place left vacant by the unfaithful apostle Judas be filled. In that passage, the Hebrew text uses the word pequd·dahʹ, which can be rendered with such terms as “office of oversight; oversight; overseers.” (Nu 4:16; Isa 60:17) At Ps 109:8 in the Septuagint (108:8, LXX), this Hebrew word is rendered by the same Greek word that Luke used here at Ac 1:20. From this inspired statement by Peter, it is clear that the apostles had an office, or assignment, as overseers. They had been directly appointed by Jesus. (Mr 3:14) So on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., the Christian congregation, which grew from about 120 members to about 3,000 in one day, started out with 12 overseers. (Ac 1:15; 2:41) Thereafter, others were appointed as overseers to help take care of the growing congregation. However, the apostles’ oversight remained special, since Jehovah apparently purposed to have the 12 apostles form the future “12 foundation stones” of New Jerusalem.—Re 21:14; see study note on Ac 20:28.

carried on his activities among us: Lit., “went in and went out among us,” which reflects a Semitic idiom that refers to carrying on activities of life in association with other people. It could also be rendered “lived among us.”—Compare De 28:6, 19; Ps 121:8, ftn.

Matthias: The Greek name Math·thiʹas is probably a shortened form of Mat·ta·thiʹas, derived from the Hebrew name rendered “Mattithiah” (1Ch 15:18), meaning “Gift of Jehovah.” According to Peter’s words (Ac 1:21, 22), Matthias was a follower of Christ throughout Jesus’ three-and-a-half-year ministry. He was closely associated with the apostles and was quite likely one of the 70 disciples whom Jesus sent out to preach. (Lu 10:1) After his selection, Matthias was “counted along with the 11 apostles” (Ac 1:26), and when the book of Acts immediately thereafter speaks of “the apostles” or “the Twelve,” Matthias was included.—Ac 2:37, 43; 4:33, 36; 5:12, 29; 6:2, 6; 8:1, 14.

Jehovah: Available Greek manuscripts use the term “Lord” (Greek, Kyʹri·os) here. However, as explained in App. C, there are good reasons to believe that the divine name was originally used in this verse and later replaced by the title Lord. Therefore, the name Jehovah is used in the main text.

who know the hearts of all: The Hebrew Scriptures frequently identify Jehovah God as the one with the ability to read hearts. (De 8:2; 1Sa 16:7; 1Ki 8:39; 1Ch 28:9; Ps 44:21; Jer 11:20; 17:10) It would have been natural in this context, then, for those Hebrew-speaking Jews to use the divine name when praying to God. The Greek word rendered “who know the hearts,” kar·di·o·gnoʹstes (lit., “knower of hearts”), occurs only here and at Ac 15:8, where it reads, “God, who knows the heart.”

they distributed his outer garments: The account at Joh 19:23, 24 adds complementary details not mentioned by Matthew, Mark, and Luke: Roman soldiers evidently cast lots over both the outer garment and the inner one; the soldiers divided the outer garments “into four parts, one for each soldier”; they did not want to divide the inner garment, so they cast lots over it; and the casting of lots for the Messiah’s apparel fulfilled Ps 22:18. It was evidently customary for the executioners to keep their victims’ clothes, so criminals were stripped of their clothing and possessions before being executed, making the ordeal all the more humiliating.

cast lots: When making decisions on a variety of issues, God’s servants in pre-Christian times cast lots to determine Jehovah’s will. (Le 16:8; Nu 33:54; 1Ch 25:8; Pr 16:33; 18:18; see Glossary, “Lots.”) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, there is only this one mention of lots being used by Jesus’ followers. Lots were cast to help the disciples decide which one of the two men proposed as candidates should replace Judas Iscariot. The disciples knew that they needed Jehovah’s direction. Each of the 12 apostles had been appointed directly by Jesus only after he spent a whole night in prayer to his Father. (Lu 6:12, 13) It is noteworthy, therefore, that before “the lot fell to Matthias,” the disciples reviewed several Scriptures and prayed specifically for Jehovah to “designate” his choice. (Ac 1:20, 23, 24) After Pentecost 33 C.E., however, there is no record in the Bible that lots were used to select overseers and their assistants or to decide matters of importance. This method was not needed once the holy spirit became active on the Christian congregation. (Ac 6:2-6; 13:2; 20:28; 2Ti 3:16, 17) Men were selected as overseers, not because they had been chosen by the casting of lots, but because they displayed the fruitage of the holy spirit in their lives. (1Ti 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9) Other cultures also used lots. (Es 3:7; Joe 3:3; Ob 11) For example, the Roman soldiers cast lots over Jesus’ garments, as foretold at Ps 22:18. Apparently their motive was, not to fulfill Bible prophecy, but to get some personal gain.—See study notes on Mt 27:35; Joh 19:24.

counted along with: Or “reckoned along with,” that is, viewed the same as the other 11 apostles. So when Pentecost arrived, there were 12 apostles to serve as the foundation of spiritual Israel. Matthias would have been one of “the Twelve” who were present at Jesus’ postresurrection appearances (1Co 15:4-8) and who later helped settle the problem concerning the Greek-speaking disciples (Ac 6:1, 2).

Media

Video Introduction to the Book of Acts
Video Introduction to the Book of Acts
Bethphage, the Mount of Olives, and Jerusalem
Bethphage, the Mount of Olives, and Jerusalem

This short video follows a path approaching Jerusalem from the east, from the village of modern-day et-Tur—thought to correspond to the Biblical Bethphage—to one of the higher points on the Mount of Olives. Bethany lies east of Bethphage on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. When in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples customarily spent the night at Bethany, today marked by the town of el-ʽAzariyeh (El ʽEizariya), an Arabic name meaning “The Place of Lazarus.” Jesus undoubtedly stayed at the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. (Mt 21:17; Mr 11:11; Lu 21:37; Joh 11:1) When traveling from their home to Jerusalem, Jesus may have followed a route similar to the one shown in the video. On Nisan 9, 33 C.E., when Jesus rode the colt of a donkey over the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, he may well have done so from Bethphage, following the road to Jerusalem.

1. Road from Bethany to Bethphage

2. Bethphage

3. Mount of Olives

4. Kidron Valley

5. Temple Mount

Upper Room
Upper Room

Some homes in Israel had an upper story. That room was accessed by means of an inside ladder or wooden staircase or an outside stone staircase or a ladder. In a large upper chamber, possibly similar to the one depicted here, Jesus celebrated the last Passover with his disciples and instituted the commemoration of the Lord’s Evening Meal. (Lu 22:12, 19, 20) On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., about 120 disciples were apparently in an upper chamber of a house in Jerusalem when God’s spirit was poured out on them.​—Ac 1:​15; 2:​1-4.