Acts 1:13

Friday, 8 October 2021

And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. Acts 1:13

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The words now are dependent on what was said in the previous verse. The apostles returned to Jerusalem. Upon their return, Luke next says, “And when they had entered.” This is referring to Jerusalem the city. It is upon entering it that, “they went up into the upper room.”

The KJV incorrectly states “an upper room.” The use of the article defines this as a room set aside for them that they specifically used in order to meet. The Greek word is huperóon. It signifies the upper part of the house. This word is only found in Acts where it is used four times – Acts 1:13, 9:37, 9:39, 20:8. From the uses, it can be determined that such a room was set aside for gatherings. They may be for meetings, parties, funerals, and so on.

In Luke 24, it says –

“And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 24:52, 53

Because of this, some take this as being an upper room of the temple. It is then assumed that this is where the events of Acts 2:1 take place –

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”

This connection is not necessary. The wording of Luke 24:53 simply means that they went to the temple to worship often, not that they were living there. What occurs in Acts 2 is certainly at the temple though. There is a place where they met as a group, and the temple is where they went to worship. The two are probably distinct thoughts.

It is in this room “where they were staying.” Again, the older KJV incorrectly says “where abode.” Rather, it is a present participle. They were staying there, and they continued to do so now that they had returned.

At the time of Luke, this room would have been known, and anyone who wanted to check his writing for accuracy could easily have followed his narrative to determine if his words were plausible or invented. With this carefully noted by Luke, he next presents the names of those who need to be highlighted. The list is the same as that given in Luke 16:14-16, except the order is changed for a few of the names. Also, Judas Iscariot is obviously not with the apostles in Acts, having come to a gruesome end. His demise was recorded in Matthew 27:5. Luke will give a secondary description of the end of Judas in Acts 1:18.

For now, here are those listed by Luke who gathered in the upper room –

“Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.”

This is how they are listed in Luke and then again in Acts –

Luke 16:14-16 –                                                                     Acts 1:13 –

Simon, whom He also named Peter                                  Peter
Andrew his brother                                                               James
James                                                                                       John
John                                                                                          Andrew
Philip                                                                                        Philip
Bartholomew                                                                          Thomas
Matthew                                                                                  Bartholomew
Thomas                                                                                    Matthew
James the son of Alphaeus                                                  James the son of Alphaeus
Simon called the Zealot                                                        Simon the Zealot
Judas the son of James                                                         Judas the son of James
Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor

Life application: If you are going to take the book of Acts in a prescriptive manner, then churches would be meeting in upper rooms. The words here describe what occurred. They prescribe nothing. Remember this, because when we get to verses that are used by some to set church doctrine from the book of Acts, you must ask, “What is the difference between this verse and the verse about meeting in an upper room?”

Be sure to think such things through and not rush ahead in setting doctrine based merely on what the text is saying. Is it only describing something? Is it prescribing something? Acts is presenting a historical account of what occurred. For the most part, it is not intended to establish church doctrine. Keep reminding yourself of this as you continue.

Lord God Almighty, You have set Your word down as a guide to us. At times, it tells us of future events. At times, it tells us of historical events. And at times, it sets forth doctrine for us to walk in accord with what is set forth. Help us to maintain the proper context so that we rightly divide the words set forth before us. Amen.