δύναμις (dunamis)


Acts 1:1-11
1In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,
2until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
3He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
4And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;
 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
 6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
9And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
10And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,
11and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Our study of the Book of Acts begins where the Book of Matthew ended, with the Ascension of Jesus into heaven after His work of securing or salvation was completed. Acts is actually an immediate follow-up to the book of Luke, as they were written by the same man. But since it is all the same story, we take up Acts to see if the Disciples were able to carry out the commission given them as Jesus bodily form leaves this earth.

Luke writes the book to Theophilus which means “lover of God”. An apt inscription as it is written for those of us who love God even today. Theophilus may have also been an actual person to whom he was writing as it was a common name during those times. Luke describes the scene in short terms, filling in some of the details from the Ascension story we just read in Matthew. Jesus and the eleven disciples are gathered on a hilltop outside of Jerusalem. Jesus gives them their final instructions and then rises into the clouds. For Peter, James, and John, there must have been a memory of the Transfiguration they had experienced with Jesus only about 7 weeks earlier as the glorified Christ is taken up into the clouds. There appears also two angels who urge the disciples to quit hanging out on the hilltop and go back into Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit, as they had been instructed. The angels also promise that Jesus will return on the clouds just as they had seen Him go.

The pivotal verse in this passage is what becomes the theme verse for the entire book of Acts.
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In these few words the disciples are given their marching orders. After receiving the Holy Spirit they were to go out into the world and spread the story of Jesus; first to the Jews (Jerusalem and Judea), then to Samaria (distant relatives of the Jews), and then to all the world (the Gentiles). The Gospel is for everyone.

For me, the most interesting part of this passage is “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come”. That word power is born from the Greek word “δύναμις” (dunamis) from whence we get the English word for dynamite. When the Holy Spirit comes into a situation everything changes. If I were to drop a stick of dynamite into your living room, everything about it would be changed – forever. That is the power we are talking about when it comes to the Holy Spirit. When He comes into a life it is forever altered. Jesus has promised the disciples this power and that is exactly what happens. They have to wait 10 days from the Ascension to see it’s fulfillment, but you have to admit, in terms of waiting on God, 10 days doesn’t seem like much.

Throughout the book of Acts we see just exactly what the Holy Spirit can and will do. It’s a great read and a real faith builder! Should be an interesting study.

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