Bible study: Jesus commissions His disciples

Acts 1:4–11, 23–26


The resurrection of Jesus implies that our Savior had completed His earthly personal ministry.

The ascended Jesus, however, continued His earthly ministry through the proclamation and ministry of His followers. The resurrected Jesus not only commissioned His followers to continue His ministry, but He also gave marching orders.

Stay focused (4–8)

Jesus issued two commands to His disciples. First, stay in Jerusalem! Second, wait for the Father’s promise of receiving a baptism of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were from Galilee.

With the recent events that happened in Jerusalem, the disciples may have wanted to escape the wrath of the Jewish leaders because of their relationship to Jesus and also return to Galilee where the Jewish Jerusalem leaders did not have as much influence.

Rather than being attuned to Jesus’ missions focus, the disciples expected Jesus to restore the kingdom to Israel. They possibly wanted the resurrected Jesus to lead a revolt against their Roman overlords. Jesus admonished the disciples to stay focused on the task of missions.

Jesus promised the disciples that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit to witness in Jerusalem (the location of the Jewish temple and the death of Jesus), in Judea, in Samaria (an area Jews avoided because of the nature of the population) and to the ends of the earth.

Many 21st-century churches have lost the focus of the mission of Jesus. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Curtis Vaughan highlighted three truths about Jesus’ mission statement in Acts 1:8. First, the Spirit comes for the purpose of granting power. Second, the purpose of having power is for witnessing. Third, the power is promised unconditionally to all believers. Have you or your church lost the focus of the mission of Jesus and the Church?

With urgency (9–11)

After issuing His command to stay focused on the mission, Jesus ascended back to heaven while the disciples watched.

The ascension of Jesus may be one of the most neglected teachings in the Bible. According to Verse 9, the ascension is connected to the return of Christ. Perhaps Jesus rebuked the disciples for focusing on heaven when they had received a mission to share the good news of the recent events in Jerusalem. Modern disciples are to follow the same pattern. We are to witness in our Jerusalem, our Judea and to the ends of the earth. How does the promised return of Jesus add to the urgency we should feel in sharing with others?

Through prayer (23–26)

Israel was composed of 12 tribes. Jesus called 12 disciples to follow Him and to continue His ministry. The death of Judas created a need to seek God’s will for a replacement.  The Old Testament foretold that one of the apostles would be a traitor (Ps. 41:9). The early Church discerned God’s will through prayer and Scripture.


This lesson was written by Mark Rathel, professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Fla., and originally published by The Baptist Paper. This study is based on the Explore the Bible curriculum from Lifeway Christian Resources.