The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
I. THE RESURRECTION.
1. The proofs of the fact. They are said to be not only many, but of infallible certainty.
(1) The number of the witnesses was very sufficient (1 Corinthians 15:5, 6).
(2) They had all proper advantages and opportunity of knowing the certainty of the matter.
(3) They were very unwilling to be deceived (Luke 24:11).
(4) They published it as soon as the thing was done.
(5) The effect which their testimony had.
(a) Upon themselves: they gave the best proofs that they firmly believed it; for they preached it at the hazard of their lives, and many sealed their testimony with their blood.
(b) On others. Though these witnesses were but poor illiterate fishermen, and the story which they told ungrateful to the Jews, and contemptible to the Gentiles. Yet their testimony was presently received by many thousands, and nothing could possibly give a check to it.
2. The manner and circumstances of His resurrection.
(1) The time is particularly recorded — the third day; not immediately, lest any should doubt whether He had been quite dead. Therefore, when He had lain in the grave long enough to satisfy everybody that His death was real, He arose (Acts 10:40; Matthew 12:40).
(2) The ministry of angels in the affair (Matthew 28:2).
(3) Christ was accompanied in His resurrection by several of the saints departed (Matthew 27:52, 53).
3. The uses:(1) To establish our faith in Christ's doctrine and religion (Matthew 12:39, 40).
(2) To encourage our trust in Him, and our hope of salvation by Him (1 Peter 1:21; Romans 4:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Corinthians 15:16; 1 Peter 1:3, 4).
II. THE TIME OF CHRIST'S STAY IN THIS WORLD AFTER HIS RESURRECTION, AND OF WHAT HE DID DURING THAT TIME. Our Saviour's ascension was delayed so long:
1. To confirm the truth of His resurrection. When He first appeared to His disciples they were so transported that they hardly believed the thing was real (Luke 24:41), and therefore, if they had not seen Him again and again, very likely it would have passed for a vision only.
2. His love to and care of His disciples detained Him with them.
III. THE ASCENSION.
1. The manner and circumstances.
(1) Where He ascended unto — Heaven (vers. 9, 11; Ephesians 4:10).
(2) From whence He ascended — Olivet (ver. 12).
(3) The manner was very honourable — as a triumphant Conqueror (Psalm 68:17, 18; Ephesians 4:8).
(4) The witnesses who, besides the angels, were His own disciples. There was no need of their seeing Him rise, for it was proof enough of His resurrection, that they saw Him alive; but as they could not see Him in heaven, it was more necessary that they should see Him ascending.
(5) He departed with a blessing (Luke 24:50, 51).
2. The ends and purposes.
(1) That He might receive the due reward of His own past labours and sufferings (Philippians 2:8, 9).
(2) For the encouragement and comfort of His disciples. "Ye cannot follow Me now, but ye shall follow Me afterwards; and where I am, there shall My servant be."(3) As the Forerunner (Hebrews 6:20; John 14:2).
(4) To appear in the presence of God for His people, and to be their Advocate with the Father.
3. Inferences. Since Christ is ascended into heaven —
(1) It is an absurd thing to look for His bodily presence anywhere in this world.
(2) Let us follow our dear Saviour with our frequent thoughts, and with our warmest affections.
Parallel VersesKJV: The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,