Book of Acts, Chapter 1, Verses 12-14 - People in the Upper Room

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Book of Acts, Chapter 1, Verses 12-14 (continued)

Verse 12. “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, (Olive Orchard) which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.”

Verse 13. “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. (Verse 14) These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”

Verse 14. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”

People in the Upper Room

The eleven had received direct instruction. They were to “wait and then go.” In obedience they came to this place to “wait.” Their waiting was not sitting quietly and folding their hands. Instead they took spiritual action. They prayed.

One of the eleven needs special note; the last name, Judas the brother of James. There had been another Judas among them. As Theophilus read the name Judas, did he think of Judas Iscariot. Jesus had chosen twelve. Now there are only eleven. The name Judas would seem to be a reminder that there was a gap in the company. 

Judas Iscariot’s failure moves into the spotlight later in this chapter, but Theophilus did not need a spotlight to remember Judas, the traitor. Could it be that “Judas the brother of James” was put last on this list, not because he was the least important but to remind us that there had been another Judas; a Judas who remained faithful.

Three other groups of people were also present:

Jesus’ brethren

Mark 6:3 identifies the brothers as James, Judas, Joseph, and Simon. Some who imagine Mary to have remained a virgin after the birth of Christ, would have these men be Joseph’s sons from a former wife. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate the permanent virginity of Mary, nor does anything in scripture declare the brothers to be anything other than sons of Mary and Joseph.

Jesus “brethren” had not believed in Him during His ministry (John 7:5). Apparently, they became convinced their half-brother was the Messiah.  Formerly they challenged Him to prove who He was. The brothers are spoken of separate from the apostles.  None of Jesus’ brothers became an apostle. There was no nepotism in this earliest group.

The women

Some of the apostles were married and their wives followed them.    Christianity did more to bring female inclusion than any preceding movement. The cause of women is advanced through their inclusion in these events. There were likely other women such as Mary and Martha of Bethany. Jesus’ mother is included in the list. Notice that no veneration was given Mary the mother of Jesus. Nowhere in the Bible is Mary spoken of as the “mother of God.” In this paragraph, we see Mary for the last time. She is simply listed as a disciple.

Numerous other unnamed disciples

The Inclusiveness of the spirit; Acts 1:14 gives a list of individuals and then groups. Each person needed the Holy Ghost. Each received the Holy Ghost in the upper room. Included in this list are Mary, the mother of Jesus and his brothers. Jesus’ mother needed to receive the Holy Ghost as well as those who had followed him closely for over three years. Those who conspired in the murder of Christ needed the Holy Ghost too; so do you and I.

Returned and continued leap off the page. The apostles returned from the Mount of Olives. This fulfilled Jesus first instruction. The word translated “returned” means to do an about-face. The group had been residing in Jerusalem. Jesus led them outside Jerusalem for His final instruction and ascension. After the brief message from the angel, the eleven did an about-face and headed to Jerusalem.

They returned to continue. The next requirement was to “tarry.” Don’t scatter. Instead continue tarrying.

It is doing a bit of violence to using the scripture within context, but those two words are important in Christian living. To be right with the Lord Jesus, we must return (repent) and then continue. Many people are preaching that salvation is a “one and done” experience. This is not the case. Followers of Christ continue with Christ.  True followers are not as those who departed just before Jesus asked the twelve, “Will you also go away?”  (John 6:67)

The idea of “return” and “continue” can be talked about at length in considering commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Continue through persecution, through adversity, through disappointment, through grief, through pain, through discouragement, through the failure of others. To do an about-face is often easier than “continuing.”

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