“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Commentary: The apostles gathered to prepare for Jesus’ Ascension. They felt driven as if it were a divine appointment, and so it was! They have never and will never again experience such a thing, and the apostles were the only ones to ever see and experience such an event. An awesome and joyous occasion is nigh!
The apostles were concerned of the well being of the Jews, for they had heard destruction was coming, and that the Jews were going to experience great tribulation (See Luke 21:5-36). The apostles wondered if the kingdom, the physical one, would be restored to Israel, even after the impending destruction the Jews brought onto themselves.
Jesus has instructed the apostles that it is unnecessary for them to worry about apocalyptic things or the next advent (coming) of the Kingdom of Israel, for Jesus said that to remind them what He had said at an earlier time, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Additionally, only the Father God knows when such eschatological events would occur, not up to the apostles or disciples to decide (Matthew 24:36). Some disciples still struggled with this (and even still do today) upon understanding this; therefore, even Paul had to tell people what Jesus said twice now (‘only the Father knowest’ – see 1 Thessalonians 5:1).
Even as Jesus negates the worry on Kingdom restoration, He ensures that they know they will have a special power (spiritual power – the only type of power man shall crave with humility). Jesus has promised the receiving of power after sending the Holy Ghost as He promised He would (John 14:16) – He plans to send the Holy Ghost to live inside His believers as the Comforter.
There were key areas the Jews were living, in which the apostles were told to first minister upon (Luke 24:45-49): they are to go, preach, and teach into these areas primarily and first. Not only was the ministry to the Jews initially very important, but also the ministry to the Gentiles was going to become very important. He wanted the Jews to come to Salvation in Him, but also wanted the Gentiles to have a chance at hearing the Gospel and come to Salvation. There were other parts of the earth where Jews and Gentiles lived (far fewer for Jews to be spread out so far), and therefore, this includes the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Upon saying the “uttermost parts,” the word “and” is important per His emphasis to ensure they know not to stop – a minister must keep moving. This is especially important, because in their context of time and place, persecution of Christians and some Jews was very widespread, and Jesus wanted to ensure they were safe. His apostles and disciples have been instructed well to move about many places and aid in the Salvation of such wonderful souls.
Soon, Jesus literally was taken up into a cloud that removed Him from the earth and He ascended into Heaven right before the apostles’ and disciples’ very eyes. Two angels appeared before them that were clothed in white, and were staring at them while they stared up at Heaven – probably in shock and awe of what they had just seen.
The angels spoke to the apostles and asked them why they were gazing up into Heaven. The angels told them that the same Jesus, the one who had just ascended into Heaven, was going to come again the same way they saw Him go. This was a slight of a reprimand unto them, because they were assigned to go to Jerusalem and begin ministry immediately. Instead of staring up at the sky (into the Heavens), they should be diligent and obedient to go about their duties. The expectation of them going about their duties would be the eventual receiving of the Holy Ghost as promised. The apostles may have thought the Holy Ghost would come immediately upon them as soon as Christ ascended, but the angel may have given them guidance to keep them from pointlessly awaiting the coming down of Jesus or the Holy Ghost just yet.
Nonetheless, the apostles also learned here that the Lord Jesus will eventually come again in resurrection-body form, and will descend the same way He ascended. This will be the experience they should not wait for (as Jesus stated in verse 6), but will come when the Father God decides it as so.
Prophecy Notes: Verse 1:8 is a prophecy that is fulfilled in the next chapter of Acts (2:1, 4, 32) and in future chapters as well (3:15; 8:5, 14; 9:32; 13:31).
Archaeological Notes: From 6th century BC and onward, Romans and Greeks measured geographic space, but the only sources are text-based and are slightly difficult to decipher. Christians and scholars can find Medieval and Renaissance copies, such as the Geographia by Ptolemy (AD 2nd century). Ptolemy’s clues lent the Roman Empire stretched over to the Atlantic Ocean, to reach east toward China, East Indies, north into Arctic, and deep south into Africa. Many of the road networks and paths were changed often and were not reliable, except for the times when a person would have to cross a river to get to the other side, or go around the river (such as Jesus having to go through Samaria to get around the Jordan River – as we see in John 4:4).
Other notes: In antiquity (ancient times), God’s People desired for the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel – as we see in Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 1:26; 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Ezekiel 37:24-27; Daniel 7:27; Hosea 3:4; Joel 3:16-21; Amos 9:11; Obadiah 1:17-21; Micah 5:2; Zephaniah 3:15-17; Zechariah 9:9.