Summary of passage: The Eleven disciples returned to Jerusalem from Mount Olives after witnessing Jesus ascend to heaven. Along with women, Mary mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers, they prayed constantly. While waiting for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them, Peter leads the believers (120 in number at this time) in choosing one to replace Judas Iscariot as the Scriptures dictate (Psalm 109:8). So they choose one who has been with them from the beginning by praying and casting lots. Matthias is chosen and becomes the new twelfth disciple.
12a) The disciples (the Eleven): Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matther, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas son of James and women, Mary (mother of Jesus), and Jesus’ brothers. I’m inclined to think the women were the ones who reported Jesus has arisen from the grave like Mary Magdelene).
b) I think they prayed for clarity of what they just witnessed and for its significance; guidance as they go forward; wisdom in decisions and teachings. Maybe they prayed for the Holy Spirit to come soon. They prayed for guidance in replacing Judas Iscariot.
I also see this as a sort of grief counseling session: everyone comforting each other (especially Mary and the brothers) in their lose of Jesus, praying for one another to have comfort and peace in knowing Jesus is with His father. Praying for the strength to carry out their mission in the terrible dangers that would lay ahead in challenging the Roman religion and other religions.
13a) Yes and no. Yes: in prayer. The apostles prayed first to know God’s will in this decision. No: in casting lots. Casting lots is an Old Testament method to discern God’s will. This is the Bible’s last mention of this taking place. After Pentecost, the disciples relied directly on the Holy Spirit for guidance.
My assumption here is since we are now able to speak with God directly we don’t need an outside mechanism (lots or sticks) to tell us. God tells us now directly.
b) Great question! In Acts, we see how Jesus won’t let the disciples leave Jerusalem to begin their work of spreading the Good News until they have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. So, in this instance, the answer is clearly No. But should an exception be made to this example because in my mind the disciples were special people. I would have wanted to be a disciple in another life.
The disciples were Jesus’ chosen representatives and pupils on earth and they were commissioned to begin telling his story. So I do believe it was necessary for them to have the Holy Spirit since they were the ones first converting people. People need to see the Holy Spirit inside of the disciples in order to believe them in the beginning. They had a very special job.
Does this apply in modern society? The question says “try” to work for God. I think try is the key here. My answer is Yes. I think all people should try to work for God even if they are unbelievers. We are all called to do God’s work (even those unbelievers. They just don’t know it). We have Free Will to either do it or not for which we will be judged later.
Ultimately though if you don’t have the Holy Spirit within you will fail in working for God. Your work will be meaningless to you and maybe others if God is not the one behind it.
Another point: in trying to work for God, that person hopefully will accept the Holy Spirit within their lives and thus be a believer and be saved. So in the effort will come the reward. You can begin the journey of trying to work for God, accept Him as you realize all God is, and then your work will have meaning.
It could be God’s plan to have a person try so you will see Him and accept Him into your life.
Conclusions: Awesome lesson. Great points I had never thought of. And I learned something new.
I’m the first to admit I had no idea what Pentecost was. I couldn’t have told you before today. Pentecost is not something I had ever celebrated in my Christian walk.
Pentecost is a day to celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples after Jesus’ ascent into Heaven, traditionally held on the seventh Sunday after Easter. Pentecost comes from the Greek word for “fifty” and also is celebrated 50 days after Easter. This event marks the birth of the Christian Church as now the disciples were ready to go forth and spread the Good News.
Pentecost is also known in some places as Whitsunday (like in England). This is short for White Sunday. Traditionally, baptisms would take place on Pentecost and the newly baptized would wear white robes during this day.
This was my favorite site for explaining Pentecost: http://www.stpaulskingsville.org/pentecost.htm
So who are the Pentecostals then? They are a diverse sect of believers within Christianity who emphasize personal spiritual experiences just like the disciples had with the Holy Spirit. They believe in sanctification and speaking in tongues. This is the best site I found (here) but I believe there is much more here than meets the eye. If you are a pentecostal, I’d love to hear more so feel free to post.