And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem…
I. WHAT THE DISCIPLES WERE COMMANDED TO WAIT FOR — "the promise of the Father," i.e., the fulfilment of the promise.
1. Not that the Spirit of God had been absent at any time from the Church. There could be no Church without Him. We find David praying, "Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me," etc. Now that Christ had finished the work of redemption, the Holy Ghost was to be given on a scale so new that we are told "the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified."
2. "Which ye have heard of Me" sends us back to the promises in John 14.-16.
3. But why did Christ call this emphatically, "the promise," as if there had never been another? Because —
(1) Of the large place which the promise occupied in the Old Testament, the Father's word (Proverbs 1:23; Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 36:27; Ezekiel 37:9; Joel 2:28; Zechariah 12:10).
(2) Of the all-comprehensive character, of the promise — as inclusive in fact, of all the Father's promises. "If ye then, being evil... how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit" — comprehensive of all good gifts together — all that the Church needs for the work of the ministry, ordinary and extraordinary, all that the individual soul requires — life from the dead. Union to Christ by faith, justification, holiness, prayer, grace, glory.
(3) Of the Father's peculiar delight in this promise, that it is a promise specially dear to the Father's heart, so lending a new emphasis of encouragement to the words of Jesus, "If ye, being evil," etc.
II. THE IMPORT OF THE WAITING FOR THE PROMISE.
1. Looking for it under a profound conviction of its absolute necessity, and its full sufficiency. Once and again Christ had taught this when, after they had toiled all night and taken nothing, immediately on the putting forth of His power, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes; and when He said to them, "Greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto My Father," "He will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." They were to wait at Jerusalem somewhat in the Spirit of God's prophet, when the Lord set him down in the midst of the valley of dry bones.
2. Pleading for it with the Lord in prayer. The best comment on this is the actual waiting (vers. 12-14). And in the same attitude we find them, at the opening of the second chapter. It evidently never entered their minds that, having the promise, they might abide its fulfilment in listless indolence. They had drunk into the spirit of those words, "I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." None of those disciples said, "Oh, it's only a prayer-meeting!" Assuredly, if there were addresses at these meetings, yet the business was prayer. I doubt not that the drift of any exhortations would simply be, to call up examples of "the promise of the Father," and to impress the more deeply on every heart its glorious certainty — its urgent necessity — its all-comprehensive preciousness and sufficiency. The scope of them all would be, "Ye that are the Lord's remembrancers, keep not silence, and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." What definiteness of aim would characterise these prayers! How would they exemplify the words of Jesus, "If two of you shall agree on earth," etc.
3. Intense longing desire and patient believing expectation. The term "wait" signifies to wait round about a thing, as in anxious expectation. "They continued" — "stedfastly persisted with one accord in prayer and supplication." Agreed together as touching that which they should ask, how would they "fill their mouths with arguments," drawn from their own utter insufficiency, from the world's ungodliness and misery, from Jehovah's power, and grace, and faithfulness to His own pre-eminent promise in Christ! "Oh that Thou wouldst rend the heavens," would be their spirit, if not their language, "that Thou wouldst come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence!" They had only the naked promise; but it was enough. If, in respect of longing desire, they were as when Elijah said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea" — in respect of patient believing expectation, they were as when the servant went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing," and Elijah said, "Go again seven times."
III. THE COMMANDMENT TO WAIT. This was quite as express as the promise — the means no less necessary than the end. To whom was it given? It is very clear that the apostles did not regard it as belonging exclusively to them. We find associated with them the private members of the Church. Did it then belong exclusively to the disciples of that age? This question turns on a very simple issue. If the transactions of the Pentecostal period exhausted the riches of "the promise of the Father"; or if the Church and the World now no longer stand in need of them, then, doubtless, the commandment must have ceased. But if only the first-fruits of the promise were reaped in the apostolic age, if darkness yet to a mournful extent covers the earth, if the dispensation of the covenant of grace under which we live is termed expressly "the ministration of the Spirit," if that word abides the inheritance of the Church, "I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh," with numberless words like these, "The earth shall be full of the knowledge and glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" — then it can admit of no doubt that the commandment belongs to us at this hour. Then we, no less than the apostles, are not warranted only, but commanded "to wait for the promise of the Father." Then it is ours to meditate on all that that expression implies; to plead for it with longing desire and patient believing expectation in secret, in the family, in the social meeting, in the public assembly.
(C. J. Brown, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.