The Power of the Spirit in Acts of the Apostles

Perhaps my favorite passage from Acts is when Luke, who wrote Acts,  tells us that the Apostles were gathered in the Temple and performed mighty deeds among the people.  Yes, blame my “works-based” bias, but there is something exciting about the fact that, after the Ascension of Jesus, the Apostles were capable of bearing witness to the Good News – the “eu-aggelion” in Greek – by keeping alive the signs and wonders that Jesus performed during his pre-Easter ministry.

Acts 5:12-16

Many signs and wonders were done among the people
at the hands of the apostles.
They were all together in Solomon’s portico.
None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them.
Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord,
great numbers of men and women, were added to them.
Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets
and laid them on cots and mats
so that when Peter came by,
at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them.
A large number of people from the towns
in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered,
bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits,
and they were all cured.

This passage is not just about Peter.  The passage tells us that through faith, we can expect God to perform mighty deeds in our presence.  Acts 19:11 tells us point-blank that Paul, too, “performed mighty works.”  The NIV and most bibles translate the term as “miracles,” but the Greek isΔυνάμεις τε οὐ τὰς τυχούσας.  “Dunameis” is Greek for “works,” as in, “dynamo.” In I Corinthians 12, Paul calls the power to effect “mighty deeds” a gift of God. In Greek, he writes ἀλλῷ δὲ ἐνεργήματα δυνάμεων.  Translated literally, “…to others, the power to effect works…”

The Book of Acts tells us that Jesus, after the Resurrection, asked his followers to remain in Jerusalem for forty days, after which time they would receive power through a baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Here is Acts 1: 1-8:

In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.  He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days 2 and speaking about the kingdom of God.  While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father 3 about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.”  When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going 4 to restore the kingdom to Israel?”   He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.   But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

You have to appreciate Luke’s theological continuity with the Gospel of Matthew. Consider Matthew 28:18-20 on ministry:

Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

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