Acts 1:4, 5
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem…
It was a characteristic feature of our Lord's teaching, and more especially of the closing portions of it, that he sought to set his Father, not himself, prominently before the minds of his disciples: e.g. "The Father that is in me, he doeth the works;" "I do the will of him who sent me," etc. So, when speaking of the gift of the Spirit to the Church, our Lord impresses on the disciples that they must think of that Spirit as his Father's gift, made to them for his sake. We are to regard the bestowment of the Spirit in different ways.
1. He is the very Spirit given as Divine endowment for the fulfilling of the old prophets' missions; given as Divine endowment for the mission of the apostles and of the Church.
2. He is the fulfillment of the assurance that Christ would "come again," to abide ever with his Church.
3. He is sent by the Son.
4. He is the gift of the Father.
5. He is sent by the Father and the Son. Allusion may be made to the disputes and separation of the Eastern and Western Churches on the subject of the "procession of the Holy Ghost;" and the importance of accepting the "many-sidedness" of Divine revelation should be urged, even if intellectually we find ourselves unable to fit the varied aspects into a satisfactory harmony. Our Lord would glorify the Father to our thought, by assuring us that the unspeakably precious gift of the Holy Ghost is his gift to us, the abiding sign and pledge of his "so great love," and the fulfillment of his own "promise" to us. This point we take for enlargement and enforcement.
I. BY WHOM WAS THE PROMISE MADE?
1. By God, but by God conceived as the "Father;" so we may find in it signs of the fatherly wisdom, tender consideration, and gracious adaptation to our need. Impress how the preciousness of the Spirit to us is enhanced by this assurance - he is our Father's gift. His "Great-heart guide" for his pilgrim sons.
2. By God, but through Christ, who conveys to us our Father's promise. See the special occasions (John 14:16, 17, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7-15, etc.). Show how the messenger, through whom the Father's promise is made, enhances the value of the promise. An element of tender feeling and sympathy is added to it.
II. WHAT DOES THE PROMISE CONCERN? Set out its first form, the coming of the Holy Ghost, under sensible figures, as a Divine ordination and endowment of the apostles and early Church for their mission. This ordination may be compared with that of Christ after his baptism, and the figures under which the Spirit came in the two cases should be compared. For Christ, a symbolic dove; for apostles, symbolic wind and fire. Set out its permanent form - the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the believer, as his seal, earnest, and assurance of the culture of the spiritual life; and the abiding of the Holy Ghost in the Church, as its inspiration to the fulfillment of its mission.
III. WHY WAS SUCH A PROMISE MADE?
1. Because of the dependency of the disciples on Divine aid. Then and now disciples are not "sufficient of themselves;" "without Christ we can do nothing."
2. Because in carrying out the Divine purpose of redemption the bodily presence of Christ had to be removed, and so a sense of loneliness and helplessness would oppress the disciples.
3. Because God is ever wanting to help us on from carnal and bodily to spiritual conceptions of himself and his work, both in us and by us. Conclude by showing how the promise gains character by being called the Father's. It is evidently a promise made to sons. Then practically and forcibly impress that our Father will only keep his promise if we keep the spirit and temper, the openness and obedience, of loving and trusting sonship. - R.T.
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.