The Trinity in Scripture: Acts 1

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Acts 1:1-5

In the preface to Acts, there are two complete references to the Trinity the first in verses 1-3 and the second in verses 4-5. In both references Jesus is seen as a teacher, a communicator of God’s truth. In verse two we are told that Jesus gave commands “through the Holy Spirit.” So while Jesus was the teacher, he was doing so in the power of the Holy Spirit– that is how I understand the “through.” While the subject matter Jesus was the “kingdom of God.” I have a slight quibble with Calvin who asserts quite strongly (as is his wont) that whenever God is used without qualification Scripture is referring to the Trinity. I tend to believe that in the New Testament “God” usually refers to the Father and “Lord” to the Son. So the Son, relying on the ability the Holy Spirit provided, spent the forty days between his resurrection and ascension teaching on the kingdom of the Father– the kingdom he himself was anointed ruler of.

In verses 4-5 Jesus is again presented as something of a teacher– though more of an instructor than informer. Jesus ordered the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. The promise of the Father was the Holy Spirit. So as the Son returned to the Father, he ordered his follower to wait for one who would come from the Father: the Holy Spirit.

In these two cases, the Holy Spirit is seen as the one who empowered the ministry of Jesus and the one who replaces Jesus as the manifest presence of God on earth. The Father is seen as the one to whom and from whom things belong. The kingdom is God’s. The promise is the Father’s. Jesus is the communicator– the Word to borrow from John. The Son teaches. The Son commands.

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:6-8

Luke wastes little time in offering another reference to the Trinity. The disciples, as was their habit, seemed to miss the point of Jesus teaching on the kingdom of God, and inquired about the kingdom to Israel. Once again, the Father is portrayed as the one with authority. It is the Father who has fixed the times and seasons– they are progressing toward his appointed purpose. Once again the Holy Spirit is the one who provides power, or ability, to accomplish God’s purpose. Though here, the Holy Spirit is the source of power for the disciples instead of Jesus. So there is a transition in the role of the Son. No longer is he the teacher; instead he is now the one witnessed to. It is the Father’s will that the message concerning the Son be carried throughout the world. This task is accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit.

These three references to the Trinity in Acts 1 offer strong consolation to the believer. God’s kingdom will come. The prayer that Jesus taught his disciples will be answered. We are assured of this because it is the Father who has all authority over times and seasons. He will accomplish his purpose. Our charge is to preach Jesus to the end of the earth. He have no confidence in ourselves to accomplish such a task but our hope is in the promised gift of the Father to empower us for this great task. The same Holy Spirit who strengthened and led Jesus has been poured out upon Christ’s followers. We draw strength and confidence from the work of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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