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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

The Preparation for the Christian Mission ( 1, 1–2, 13 )

Waiting in Jerusalem ( 1, 1–14 )

Acts continues the story that Luke's Gospel had ended with Easter (Lk 24, 50–53 ). The New Testament refers to a number of different appearances by the Risen Lord (see 1 Cor 15, 3–7 ).

Jesus did not continue to appear to his disciples indefinitely. Nor did he remain with them continuously as he had during his lifetime (see Jn 20, 19–29 ). Luke has used the biblical number of forty to set a time frame for the appearance of the Lord (see note to Acts 1, 3 ). He insists that the risen Jesus is identical with the person who had died on the cross (v. 3a). Jesus' teaching during this interim period repeats the Kingdom theme of the Gospel. The disciples must wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes on them as it had come on Jesus at the beginning of his mission (see Lk 3, 22 ). This event will mark the transition to a new phase of the salvation story—the age of the church. The Ascension (vv. 6–12) also marks a change in the idea of how God will bring salvation. Jesus has not gone to heaven so that he can return with divine power and set up God's kingdom in Jerusalem as some people thought ( 1, 6–7 ). After receiving the Holy Spirit, Jesus' disciples will become witnesses to Jesus throughout the world.

The apostles and other followers of Jesus, including his mother, Mary, and some other women, form the first community. Luke emphasizes the importance of prayer in the life of the church. Gathering for prayer and celebration of the meal together is one pillar of the church. We will see that the other is charity toward the poor.

Replacing Judas ( 1, 15–26 )

The number of apostles has to be restored to Twelve. The Twelve represented the twelve tribes of Israel (see Lk 22, 30 ). This group, however, did not become a permanent office or council in the early church. The church was to become the new Israel (see note to 1, 26 ). By using lots to determine which of two candidates would take Judas's place, the early Christians are permitting God to have the final say in this decision. The qualifications for the candidates—that they followed Jesus from the beginning to the end of his ministry—reflect Luke's understanding of the apostles as the “witnesses” who guarantee the validity of the gospel that is being preached in the churches (see Lk 24, 48; Acts 1, 8 ). Luke also takes this occasion to repeat a legend about the death of Judas (vv. 17–20). Peter uses Scripture to show that Judas's betrayal did not destroy God's plan. Judas's death reflects divine punishment for a person who has committed a blasphemous act against God. (A different legend about Judas's death appears in Mt 27, 3–10 .)

Pentecost, the Coming of the Spirit ( 2, 1–13 )

Fire and strong winds are typical elements in appearances of God (see notes to 2, 2f ). The Greek translation of Isaiah 66, 15.18 says of God's coming: “For behold the Lord will come as a fire, with a flame of fire … I am coming to gather all the nations and tongues.” The new turn in salvation history, represented by Acts, shows us that God is gathering the “nations and tongues” into one church through the Christian mission. Luke makes Pentecost a double miracle. Not only does the Spirit inspire the disciples' speech, but persons from different nations are able to understand their message. Pentecost anticipates the goal of the missionary effort which the Spirit will inspire in the Church.

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