The Secret of the Embryonic Church: Unity and Prayer (Acts 1v12-26) (Acts 1); Patrice Berger
title : Acts #2: The Secret of the Embryonic Church: Unity and Prayer (Acts 1 v12-26) (Acts 1); Patrice Berger
The Acts of the Apostles
The Book of Acts begins with
- Christ’s ascent into glory
- The expectation of the Holy Spirit who will equip every believer
- to testify
- and propagate
the good news of Christ’s victory over sin and death.
If there is a verse that needs to be memorized, it is Acts 1:8 :
You will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses
- in Jerusalem,
- throughout Judea,
- in Samaria,
- and to the ends of the earth
In the Mediterranean Basin
The roadmap is clear: this message must be transmitted
- from Jerusalem
- to the end of the earth.
It is the roadmap for our testimony for both:
– and for that of the assembly.
It’s also the road map for our prayer.
In Acts 1 , we find ourselves in that intermediate period when the Holy Spirit has not yet been given to the disciples. Thus, the disciples left the place where Christ ascended to the Father to wait in Jerusalem.
Discovering the best team
Today the text that we are going to discover will give us the secrets of the best team:
- to Zidane,
- Or Jose Mourinho?
Or rather what the Bible shows us, particularly the book of Acts that we will follow in our preaching.
Acts chapter 1
And he says:
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem, from the hill called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem, about a mile away.
13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they usually sat;
They were Pierre, Jean, Jacques, André, Philippe, Thomas, Barthélémy, Matthieu, Jacques, son of Alpheus, Simon the zealot, and Jude, son of Jacques.
14 All persevered with one accord in prayer with the women, with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with the brothers of Jesus.
15 At that time Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples;
The number of people assembled was about 120.
16 “My brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit had announced beforehand through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who had become the guide of those who arrested Jesus.
17 He was one of us and he had a part in the same ministry.
18 This man bought a field with the wages of the crime; he fell forward, disembowelled himself and all his entrails came out.
19 All the inhabitants of Jerusalem heard about it,
This is why this field was called in their language ‘Hakeldama’, that is to say ‘the field of blood.’
20 Now it is written in the book of Psalms:
May his house become deserted and no one inhabits it! and: Let another take charge!
21 We must therefore choose a man from among those who accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus lived with us,
22 from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from among us.
He will be associated with us as a witness of his resurrection.”
23 They presented two:
Joseph called Barsabbas, surnamed Justus,
24 Then they made this prayer:
“Lord, you who know the hearts of all, designate which of these two men you have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and this office of the apostle which Judas left to go to the place which is his own.”
26 They cast lots, and the lot fell on Matthias, who was associated with the eleven apostles.
The above text shows us that it’s not the strong individuals that make the best team, but those who are attached to Christ and who are:
- and truly connected to God.
The Best of Teams
This team is the best; they have ensured that even today, after 2000 years,
The essential message of our lives has reached us.
They were strong individuals!!
The disciples were chosen by Jesus.
Presentation of the disciples:
- Simon Peter: fisherman by profession, stuntman or vigilante, first in class, and prone to making blunders. Most Active!
- John is like a 1€ coin:
- on the one hand excessive, radical, a true “son of thunder”,
- but on the other hand, he shows a great capacity for love.
- character: very strong personality, zeal, ambition
- Desired power: to bring down fire from the sky on his opponents
- Weak points: intolerance, lack of love.
- Andrew: He connects. If the disciples had formed a football team, André would have been a midfielder, he would have been known for his ball recovery and his decisive passes. Certainly, it is not he who would score the goals!
- Philip: an organizer, to the point that nothing could be framed, and finds it difficult to trust people.
- Thomas: rather a cartesian, we do not make him swallow snakes. He believes in what is true so as not to be disappointed.
- Bartholomew: He has the profile of the model student; he is a rigorous researcher but a bit chauvinistic for his city.
- Matthew: “Ah! The scum, the trafficker, the collaborator”, tax collector.
- James, son of Alpheus, we know nothing precise about his character traits but Jesus chose him as much as what monopolized all the space.
- Simon the Zealot, zealous or resistant?
- Jude, son of James, logic at the rendezvous: if 1 + 1 = 2, ok, otherwise it goes beyond him. That’s good with Jesus, he came out of this reductive logic.
- Thaddaeus is not quoted here.
Serious customers: worse than nitroglycerin, just as unstable!
How is it that their work still continues?
Moreover, they were not the only ones:
109 other disciples were with them.
Others who followed Jesus:
- The women: Certainly, those who had followed Jesus and those who had been witnesses to the empty tomb: Mary of Magdalene, Joanna whose husband had been Herod’s steward, Susanna, and Mary the mother of James,
- Mary, the mother of Jesus, of whom this is the last mention in the scriptures, which shows us that she was among the disciples. Her place here echoes her need for the “Savior” expressed before the birth of Jesus and shows us that she has found her Savior in Jesus Christ.
- The brothers of Jesus: James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude (6 months before the crucifixion, they did not believe in Jesus). Obviously, between the resurrection and the ascension, Jesus spent a privileged time with James (responsible for the church in Jerusalem and the epistle of James, Jude also)
- the others who completed the 120 disciples.
The one who did not choose to follow Jesus: Judas
Against his team
He knew everything, like the 11 other disciples, during the three years spent with Jesus.
And then, it is the disciple who scores against his side,
he sells Jesus!
We do not know the real motivation of Judas:
In any case, a horizon that does not go beyond basic temporal needs.
As we offer in all our ads.
He got his money’s worth
“He got his money’s worth”
- He got what he wanted; he got those ill-gotten 30 cents.
- and knew the purpose of a gaze that only stops at the present.
In navel-gazing remorse
and not in repentance which finds an outlet in the Grace of God.
Just because God calls does not automatically reflect that call.
THE ONE WHO REPLACES HIM
The one who replaces Judas
Peter, in support of several Old Testament texts, leads the replacement of Judas.
Judgment of the 12 tribes?
Obviously, it must be related to the words of Jesus who, at the end of his ministry on earth, indicates
- to the 12 disciples
- that they will judge the 12 tribes of Israel at the renewal of all things.
Matthew 29: 28-30
- Criteria of an apostle in the sense of the early church:
“21 Therefore, among those who accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus lived with us,
22 from the baptism of John until the day he was caught up from among us, there may be one associated with us as a witness of his resurrection.”
These details are remarkable.
And the occasion of the choice enlightens us on something capital.
All that has been told to us from the apostles,
in the Bible, the Epistles
is based on lived reality,
- who attended
- from the beginning,
- until the victory of Christ,
to God’s reconciling mission through Christ.
- They pray
- and practice what was done in the Old Testament so that the choice is truly God’s.
That doesn’t mean it’s the biblical way.
There is no text to this effect in the epistles.
But seeking God’s help first is always preferable to asking Him to “bless” the choices you’ve made without Him.
1 The plans of the heart come from man, But the answer of the mouth comes from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his eyes, But he who weighs spirits is the Eternal.
3 Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.
- Matthias is no longer mentioned by name in the rest of the book of Acts, like almost the majority of the other apostles.
A tenacious tradition tends to suggest that if we no longer hear of Matthias,
is that the designation by lot was a bad idea.
1) No. As mentioned, we no longer hear of the apostles.
Because the biographical common thread of Luke, the writer of Acts is:
- to follow Peter for the inauguration of the arrival of the gospel in the different spheres of Acts 1: 8
- and also, to follow Paul for the expansion of the churches throughout the Mediterranean basin.
When it comes to the apostles, Matthias is there
We will see, however, that Matthias, like all the other disciples, was very present at the key events in the birth of the Church.
God is sovereign
2) God remains sovereign
Whether it is a designation by
- the draw
- or by vote
- or others.
Voting is not compulsory
In our western indoctrination, when we see that the church has to appoint (e.g. elders, deacons), we immediately think… to vote.
Obviously, this was not necessarily the custom.
Adapted to culture
There isn’t a technique, but a “divine” way of doing things.
It is certainly necessary that the uses are adequate with the place where the disciples are.
Advantage of the draw
The draw had the merit of not frustrating people who would have given their vote to Justus instead
It cuts short all ideas,
- electoral reflexes,
- see clans.
Are there still apostles?
I just opened a parenthesis on the word “Apostles”.
Some still use it now but it cannot have the same meaning as for those twelve!
It is rather in the sense of those who are
- the witnesses and guarantors of the beginning and the expansion of the gospel
- and God’s tools to set up the framework of the Church.
This is why, in Ephesians 2:20
You were built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ himself is the cornerstone.
21 It is in him that the whole building, well-coordinated, rises to be a holy temple in the Lord.
22 In him you also are built up with them to form a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
No additional revelations
This is also why
There is no further revelation.
There is no missing part of the Bible.
Illuminating the Rest with the Epistles and Jesus
This is also why
we always look in the light of the epistles and the words of Jesus
understanding the rest of the Bible.
FINALLY, WHAT A FUNNY TEAM
Different and Effective
As disparate as they were,
With the same explosive potential.
Yet they have allowed the gospel to reach us today.
What was their secret?
It is essential to raise it
For the Lord always expects us to do the same.
To be his witnesses, where we are,
- in the township,
- the Lake Geneva region,
- in Switzerland and
1) All these people were attached to Jesus.
It is a common point, of course. But essential!
What this text shows us is that they had in common
their devotion to Christ.
To the risen Saviour.
- to an organization,
- a trend,
- to an association
- to a religion
- or others.
This is the starting point of this winning team.
But two attitudes of life are underlined
in this key verse:
“14 All with one accord persevered in prayer”
The word translated “one accord” means that they were all in unison,
that they formed a unity, a cohesion.
And despite their different personalities,
- who thinks the others are childish,
- who thinks that he is more educated,
- who believes that what he thinks clears him of his brothers,
- who believes that he is the most knowledgeable, etc.
But see how difficult it is with all our different personalities to be in unison!
- and individualism (pride),
can be catastrophic for those who are at your side!
If a player in the scrum, in rugby, plays it solo, he defeats the whole pack and may even injure them.
Imagine when the Roman soldiers were making the turtle (that formation with the shields that made a perfect shell), and one of the soldiers said:
- it’s too restrictive
- it’s too childish
- it doesn’t enhance my thoughts
- and my abilities,
- The sanction was then immediate, he became vulnerable and endangered all the others.
In the church
Imagine that in the church,
one has the same attitude,
it does not concern me, etc.
He defeats the whole Church.
Because today’s text shows us that the secret of the winning team is to be in unison.
Really different personalities for the benefit of unison.
“14 All with one accord persevered in prayer”
They Had Different Personalities but they prayed.
These strong individuals were united,
and they were also truly connected to God in prayer.
Without prayer, the best teams and the best ideas become exhausted.
God surprises us when we pray to him.
On the other hand, we only taste what we know
when we neglect prayer.
Enemy Reverse Game
I also note that the game of the enemy often presents us with the opposite of the winning solution that we have just seen.
You and Your Personality
He will try to make:
Your personality asserts itself at any cost.
You draw from within you the resources of your ascension, neglecting Christ and your team.
But we know the sterile outcome, even if apparently it seems to smile.
Forewarned but it might happen
Let’s face it, the enemy will not hesitate to shake the assembly
- on our real devotion to Christ,
- on our cohesion,
- on our prayer life.
The resource is in Christ
We know it and that is why we are counting on whoever wins to live the advice that made the identity of these first 120 believers:
- Strong individuals really attached to Christ,
- paying attention to cohesion
- and dependence on God through prayer.
These are the secrets of the best team, an embryo of a Church.
But they lacked a capital part, “The Holy Spirit”.
When will it arrive?
The rest of the Acts tells us!!!
Let’s wait to see his action…
1. The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach,
2. until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
3. To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God:
4. and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, [said he], ye heard from me:
5. For John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence.
6. They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?
7. And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority.
8. But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9. And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10. And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11. who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.
12. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is nigh unto Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey off.
13. And when they were come in, they went up into the upper chamber, where they were abiding; both Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas [the son] of James.
14. These all with one accord continued stedfastly in prayer, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
15. And in these days Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren, and said (and there was a multitude of persons [gathered] together, about a hundred and twenty),
16. Brethren, it was needful that the Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spake before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus.
17. For he was numbered among us, and received his portion in this ministry.
18. (Now this man obtained a field with the reward of his iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19. And it became known to all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch that in their language that field was called Akeldama, that is, The field of blood.)
20. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be made desolate, And let no man dwell therein: and, His office let another take.
21. Of the men therefore that have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us,
22. beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up from us, of these must one become a witness with us of his resurrection.
23. And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show of these two the one whom thou hast chosen,
25. to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place.
26. And they gave lots for them; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Related Links / Notes
Study Notes are translated from the original French version prepared by the pastor Patrice Berger. The orginal French notes are in “note” form, and are not a direct transcription of the video, however they are quite close the original text preached at the church. The notes provided here follow that form, and are detailed enough to help provide a deep understanding of the texts in the book of Acts of the Apostles.
All services as well as some of the bible studies are streamed on the channel YouTube église AB Renens-Lausanne. Also visit the You Tube channel of the Swiss Action Biblique Youth Groups (JAB Suisse Romande)/ Facebook.
Bible verses in the study link to the ASV bible. In addition to the ASV Bible , other versions of the Bible are also available on our website (KJV, Basic English and Darby as well as the Webster version and Young’s Bible on the Action Biblique Suisse website.
The King James Version is available as an audio bible Podcast which can be accessed below.