Acts 1:4-5

‘On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”’
-Acts 1:4-5, New International Version

Gathered Together

Jesus died, was buried, and was raised to life. Then, over a period of forty days, He appeared among His disciples and talked with them concerning the kingdom of God. We do not have a record of what He said about the kingdom during this time, but we do have a record of His earlier teachings. No doubt He emphasized much of what He had already taught. We will meet the subject again in Acts 16.

In Acts 1:4, the NASB begins with the translation, “Gathering them together.” Actually, Luke uses a Greek present passive participle, “sunalizomenos,” which can be translated “being assembled” or “eating.” If the participle combines “sun” with “halizo,” which is taken from “hales” (crowded), the translation “being assembled” is better. It may be, however, that “sun” is joined with “hals,” which means salt. This would suggest eating together. The NIV follows this line of thought with this translation, “On one occasion, while he was eating with them…” Of course, if the disciples were eating with Jesus, they had to be assembled together.

What the Father Had Promised

Jesus commanded the disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised. We heard similar words from Jesus in Luke 24. Many believe that Luke 24 and Acts 14 are parallel, but Luke 24:44- seems more appropriately to record the closing comments made by Jesus on resurrection Sunday evening. Thus, Acts 14 is a repetition of the command given in Luke 24.

The disciples were to wait for what the Father had promised. The Greek text says, promise of the Father. In Luke 24, the phrase is promise of my Father. The word promise can be used broadly of all the promises of God, but the clear reference here is to the Holy Spirit. The Father had promised the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them. Jesus makes reference to the Father’s promise now.

Previous Teaching

Now, Jesus reminds His disciples that He had spoken to them before about the promise of the Father. They had heard this promise from Him. When did Jesus speak about this promise? What texts should be included?

Many writers refer back to Old Testament prophecies such as Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26-27. However, Luke himself does not point out any Old Testament passage until Acts 2:17 where Peter refers to Joel 2:28-32. These are words of the Father spoken through the prophet Joel.

Other writers stress the teachings of Jesus Himself about the Spirit. Suggested passages include Luke 11:13; 12:12; John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; and 16:7, 13. All of these verses are possible because they are Christ’s own words. Under this view, such teachings are a part of the promise of the Father. The promise of the Father becomes the promise of Jesus as well as the Father.

With regard to Luke 24 and Acts 14-5, my view is that these passages represent two separate moments. If this view is correct, then Jesus in Acts 14-5 could be referring back to His comments in Luke 24. On resurrection Sunday evening, Jesus taught His disciples from the Law and the Prophets and explained the Scriptures to them. It may be that Jesus included several Scriptures about the promise of the Father. Certainly that promise is mentioned in Luke 24.

Baptized in the Holy Spirit

In Acts 15 Jesus highlights the point about the promise of the Father that He wants to make. He recalls the words of John the Baptist at the time of His baptism. John said, “I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire,” (Luke 3:16).

Here, Jesus says, “For John (hoti) baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 1:5). This comment by Jesus begins with the Greek conjunction “hoti.” As Arndt and Gingrich point out (p. 593), “hoti” can have various meanings.

One possibility is that this is a case of hoti recitativum. If so, “hoti” is not to be translated into English, but is to be represented by quotation marks. Jesus could be quoting John the Baptist or His own words. In either case the words of Acts 15 themselves become the promise of the Father. The promise of the Father is that you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. This does not void other prophetic passages concerning the Holy Spirit, but it clearly does highlight the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

In some cases hoti means because. Taken this way, the disciples are to remain in Jerusalem because Jesus will baptize them in the Holy Spirit. A similar possibility is that “hoti” means seeing that. The clause would then read something like this, in view of the fact that Jesus will baptize you in the Holy Spirit, stay in Jerusalem. Neither of these options limits the promise of the Father to the baptism in the Spirit, but being baptized in the Spirit is certainly the aspect of the Father’s promise that Jesus wants to emphasize.


As Jesus met with His disciples, the subject that was on His mind was the kingdom of God. Through His disciples the kingdom would be built. Jesus would baptize them in the Spirit to enable them to do this work. As we will see in Acts 16-8, the baptism in the Holy Spirit will empower them for their task.


Arndt, William F. and Gingrich, F. Wilbur. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Cambridge: The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Arrington, French L. The Acts of the Apostles. Peabody: Hendrikson Publishers, 1988.
Beasley-Murray, G. R. Baptism in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962.
Beasley-Murray, G. R. Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986.
Bruce, F. F. The Book of Acts. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1975.
Bruner, Frederick Dale. A Theology of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1970.
Erdman, Charles R. The Gospel of Luke. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 19.
Haenchen, Ernst. The Acts of the Apostles. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1971.
Horton, Stanley M. The Book of Acts. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1981.
Horton, Stanley M. What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1976.
Lenski, R. C. H. St. Luke’s Gospel. Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1946.
Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vols. 1-6. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1930.
Swete, Henry Barclay. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament. London: Macmillan and Company, 1910.
Torrey, R. A. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1910.

Copyright © 2001 GMF.