Acts 1:1-3 – Jesus Gave Many Convincing Proofs

After the resurrection, Jesus gives many “convincing proofs” of the resurrection (1:3). The word Luke selects for “proof” (τεκμήριον) in this opening paragraph is word associated with other historical texts in the ancient world. The word is different than witness (a key word in Luke’s introduction to Acts) since “proof” refers to “evidential proof credible on its own merits” (EDNT, 340). Keener says the phrase “many proofs” appears in Hellenistic  historiography (1:666). The Greek historian Thucydides, for example, makes a statement the offers proof for the assertion using this word (2.39), and he used the verb in his introduction of his history with the sense of “prove positively” (1.3). I am not sure Luke would have intended this word to be understood in the same sense as Aristotle, who used the word in contrast to fallible signs (σημεῖον). For Aristotle, the word refers to “demonstrative proof” (LSJ).

Another way of understanding of the word is as a “confirming sign.” When Josephus created a speech for Joshua just before the Israelites enter the Promised Land, he described the miracles Israel experienced in the wilderness as “many signs” (Ant. 5.39 διὰ πολλῶν τεκμηρίων). This is intriguing; perhaps Luke refers to Jesus doing things to prove he was actually alive (eating with the disciples, Luke 24:41-43) or miracles (John 21:4-8). The “signs” were proof Jesus was indeed alive.

Road to Emmaus Robert_Zund_ZUR010Most likely the “evidence” Jesus gave was scriptural proof drawn from the Hebrew Bible. Jesus explained to the disciples the key texts about the messiah and demonstrated to them Scripture anticipated a suffering messiah who would die and rise again. Certainly the disciples needed to be convinced Jesus had really died and was not alive (John 20, Thomas), the bulk of the proof took the form of opening the disciples minds to the idea that messiah came to suffer and die before judging and ruling the nations. This is exactly how Luke ended his gospel, the disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus: “and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

Why would Jesus need to provide “convincing proofs”? In Second Temple Period Judaism, no one expected the messiah would die, let alone rise from the dead. A possible exception is 4 Ezra, but even in this book the messiah establishes a kingdom and dies after a very long reign. There was no Jewish expectation the suffering servant of Isaiah 40-55 would die, and no one read that text as messianic quite the way Christians do.

Jesus gives these proofs or signs to draw his disciples to the conclusion the messiah had to die and be raised from the dead. This claim demands a decision from disciples but also the reader of Acts. If Jesus was who he claimed, then what is going to happen at Pentecost?

When we read Peter’s sermons in Acts 2-3, there are several passages from the Hebrew Bible which could qualify as “convincing proofs.” What does Peter claim about Jesus in these sermons?

13 thoughts on “Acts 1:1-3 – Jesus Gave Many Convincing Proofs

  1. You know, I’ve studied Acts a whole lot, as well as the Gospels and Paul and related non-biblical material. Still, I’m not sure quite what “Luke’s” purpose was in the “convincing proofs” statement, or just how he meant it.

    But in general it seems to be connected and similar to accounts of resurrection appearances in Matt., Luke, and John (Mark being a remarkably different account in its apparently original ending). In turn, they seem pretty clearly to be embellished stories of what probably WERE actual “appearances” of Jesus to a number of people in some (likely visionary) manner. Being neither a biblical literalist nor a purely rationalist “liberal”, I don’t have any trouble interpreting the biblical passages and the indirect evidences as an indication of such appearances, interpreted by the disciples as a “resurrection”. However, I don’t see any historically verifiable indications of a “bodily” resurrection which included a miraculous emptying of Jesus’ tomb. (Other “emptyings” are feasible, as James Tabor has developed at length).

    Such communication from a departed loved one would not then have been thought unusual (as it is not really now, either… just minimized or doubted by “science” and pure rationalists). However, what WOULD need verification by “convincing proofs” would be the physical kinds of presence and interaction claimed by Luke in his Gospel and by Matt, John. But apparently Luke felt just “recalling” them with this remark and adding that it was over 40 days, etc., was sufficient (as it would be for those already believers).

    Perhaps the reason he relates this supposedly 40-day period was to do at least a couple things: 1) solidify his appearance geography of Jerusalem-area-only (in Luke as well as here, over against Mark’s implication of appearing in Galilee and John’s specifics re. one at the Sea of Galilee), and 2) provide a segue to his theme of the coming of the Kingdom of God and have Jesus himself speak of the upcoming “baptism of the H.S.” It also, via guidance of the H.S., is vital to the story-line of Luke as he interprets the early history of the Jesus Movement.

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  2. The truth and the reality that Peter’s teaching to all the ones who would listen were not his words or his truth but rather God’s that he simply was preaching on. There are many questions that arise in the Old Testament about what is wrong and right, and what is clean and unclean. However Peter would address truth and address people to walk outside of the darkness that may be consuming them. Peter contained love and compassion for the people to know the truth and love of God. God is a God who simply does not judge by solely the outward appearance but what is inside the person. Peter would encourage individuals to walk towards the light and be a light of Christ to others who may be lost in the darkness. “Specifically, their role is to witness and provide testimony to God’s powerful activity in raising Messiah Jesus from the dead and God’s outpouring of the Spirit” (Jipp 38).

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  3. In Acts 2 Peter uses the proofs from David to confirm that Jesus resurrected. The first proof Peter quoted from Psalm 16 gives reason for Jesus death and resurrection. He is saying that God promised to “not abandon my soul to Hades.” Jesus actions of death and resurrection confirm this saving. The next confirmation of the Lords work came through the Holy Spirit which Peter also talks about in Acts 2. In Acts 3 Peter speaks about the prophets foretelling Jesus suffering and the beginning of the new age. Peter is now explaining that the new age includes the Holy Spirit and salvation, not Jesus restoring everything else the prophets talked about, at least not yet. (v. 21)

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    • Heather, good job on your discussion post this week. I, too, gave the example of how Peter used a prophetic word from David as convincing proof that the messiah needed to die and be raised from the dead in order for one to be saved (Acts 2:25-28). Besides eyewitnesses of Jesus performing miracles and of His death and resurrection, I believe prophecies from the Old Testament are one of most convincing proofs one can look at to see and then believe that Jesus truly was the son of God. This is because how would someone from years ago be able to predict this? Take today’s weatherman, for example, he can not even predict tomorrow’s weather; yet, David knew a messiah would die and be resurrected in years to come. There was no way for King David to know this information unless it was God sent. Also, by the way Peter explains the prophecy in his sermon it is clear to see that David was not referring to himself when speaking the prophecy (like some believed) but that he was speaking of a future prophet (Acts 2:30-33) (Jipp, 2018). On that note, why do you think Jesus needed His disciples to continue giving convincing proofs? Why wasn’t Jesus’ actions and life enough to convince people? The individuals Peter preached to already knew of Jesus yet still did not believe He was the messiah (Acts 2:23). I believe this is because as humans we are stubborn and only believe what we think is possible. In the minds of many it was not possible to raise from the dead, so individuals needed more than just seeing Jesus. They needed to hear it multiple times before the realization took over. The sad truth of this is no matter how many times some individuals hear about Jesus or see miraculous signs they will never believe.

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  4. Acts 1:3 says that Jesus gave His disciples many “convincing proofs.” He did this to fully establish to His closest followers that He was the Son God. He gave them many signs throughout His whole ministry. The proofs He gave were intended to give His displaces a glimpse of God’s kingdom, which He was only able to give because He was the Son of God, despite His human form. Throughout His time with His disciples, Jesus also used Hebrew scripture to show further evidence that He was who He claimed to be (Long). Why is it important that Jesus was in fact the Son of God? Because it gave Him the right to say, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4). If Jesus had not established Himself as God’s son, then His father sending the disciples something would not be a special or critically important moment. Acts 1:5 and 8 go into further detail to show more explicitly what the followers of Christ would be receiving. “What Jesus sends and what the Father has promised is explicitly spoken of in 1:5b and 1:8a, namely, the Holy Spirit who will empower the witnesses for mission” (Jipp 35). The disciples, and the readers of Acts, need to be confident in that fact that Jesus is who He says He is in order for these verses to have the meaning and power they were intended to have. Since Jesus had offered them many “convincing proofs” throughout His ministry, the disciples could more easily believe that God the Father, would in fact be sending them the Holy Spirit. With this in mind it is easy for the readers of Acts to guess what comes next in the story. At Pentecost God does send the Holy Spirit and He indwells disciples. The Holy Spirit comes into the lives of the believers as a replacement for Jesus. They then had God with them, and in them, forever. That is the gift that Jesus so strongly urges His disciples to wait for, and that is why it is important for them to believe that He truly is the Son of God.

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    • Yes Haley,
      The 12 true Apostles were person witnesses of the entire earthly ministry of Jesus- the 11 plus Matthias. They knew Jesus best. Only 3 of them wrote Scripture in our Bibles, Matthew John and Peter.

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  5. Acts 1:3 states, “He presented himself alive for them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” As I mentioned in another post, Acts 1:1-8 connects the plot with God’s promise to fulfill His promises to Israel (Jipp, 34). God offers himself as a proof many times in Scripture and this is evident in Acts. In Acts 1:3, Luke is connecting Jesus’ proclamation of God’s Kingdom to his command to stay in Jerusalem and “wait for the promise of the Father which you have heard from me (Jipp, 35).” I think that this perfectly shows that Jesus offers himself as a proof. Acts given multiple instances of when Jesus presented Himself as a proof. Although, I only used Acts 1:3 as an example, there are plenty more in the Book of Acts.
    Overall, I believe that the Book of Acts does a great job of showing that Jesus does offer Himself as a proof. Acts shows interactions of where Jesus directly interacts with people. This shows that he presented himself by many proofs. Jipp also did a great job of highlighting what parts of Acts are shown in this aspect. Jipp clearly stated that Jesus interacted with people and it shows the love that Jesus gives. Jipp does a great job of illustrating that Jesus is here for us and not for Himself. He uses Scripture to back this up which is extremely important in cases like this. Especially in books where there are some areas that are only witnesses and there is no recording.

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  6. In Acts, Jesus does many signs and miracles to help his close followers know that he is the Son of God. The One that was prophesied in the Old Testament. Even the coming of the Holy Spirit was prophesied in Isaiah 32:15, “until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest” (ESV). Jesus did many proofs that He is the Messiah and Acts shows it through Luke’s language and writing. “Luke connects Jesus’s proclamation of God’s kingdom to his command to stay in Jerusalem and to “wait for the promise of the Father which you heard from me”” (Jipp, 35). In one section of Peters sermon, he states “Let all the house of srael therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).

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  7. During Second Temple Period Judaism it was known that a messiah would come to save His people; however, it was not known that He would have to die and raise from the dead in order to do so. Therefore, it was made clear that while Jesus was still alive He left convincing proofs to His twelve disciplines and others to make sure they knew He was the true messiah and that he was required to die and be raised from the dead for one to be saved. Jesus did this by showing powerful signs, miracles, and wonders (John 9, Luke 17:11-17, and Mark 5:21-43), through foreshadowing (Luke 18:31-34), and by teaching (John 5:16-30). Even though Jesus did so much He was only one man which is why He raised up His disciplines to know the truth allowing them to tell others about it once He was gone.

    In Acts 2-3, Peter preaches sermons to many whom then hear about the convincing proofs. In both of these chapters Peter claims that Jesus is the messiah who died for the sins of the world and then was raised up by God so that everyone who calls on His name would be saved (Acts 2:32-36, Acts 3:13-15). However, there are different convincing proofs found in both chapters that help explain the truth about Jesus.

    In Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 one can see that he uses Joel to show that those were the last days and one can now be saved when they call on the name of the Lord due to a savior dying and be raised from the dead (Acts 2:17-21). After this the first point he mentions about Jesus is how everyone already knows the wonders, signs, and miracles Jesus had done (Acts 2:22); meaning, he did not need to explain to the crowd who Jesus was because the crowd already knew Him because of His many signs and sentencing Him to death (Acts 2:23). However, using a passage King David wrote he went on to explain how David prophesied that a messiah would have to die and be raised from the dead (Acts 2:27) (Jipp, 2018). His next step in the sermon was to then connect all the points he first made (Acts 2:36). The man that the people knew for miracles, signs, and wonders that they had killed was the messiah who Joel and King David were prophesying about. This opened the eyes of many individuals and around 3,000 individuals became saved due to the convincing proofs Luke preached about that day (Acts 2:41).

    In Acts 3 Peter used different convincing proofs to claim that Jesus truly was the messiah who died and then raised from the dead for everyone’s sins. He did this by preaching to those in the temple after they could not believe the crippled beggar found outside the Beautiful Gate was healed (Acts 3:1-9). He explained that the only way he was able to heal this man was through the name of Jesus (Jipp, 2018). “Peter’s speech explains that it is the resurrection power of ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob- the God of our ancestors,’ which has exalted Jesus and thereby enabled Peter to heal the lame man (Acts 3:13) (Jipp, 2018).” Next, Peter used another past prophet as proof that Jesus was the messiah (Acts 3:22). Peter explained that Moses foretold that a prophet would come and that anyone that did not listen to Him would be cut off from God (Acts 3:23). Peter then concludes the message the same as he did in Acts 2 by telling everyone to repent and turn back to God through Jesus Christ (Acts 3:24-26).

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  8. Acts 1:3 “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs…” Jesus uses this proof to help prove them that he is the true “Son of God” Using these proofs He was able to prove through his ministry that he was sent by God to preach to the people. These proofs helped show others that he was the son of God. In Acts 2, Peter uses a prophetic word from David in Psalms 16 as a convincing proof that the Messiah would be resurrected. “I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore, my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence (Acts 2:26-28.)” God is telling Peter that He is promising him that he will not leave us, and we will be saved. Jesus’ crucifixion is proof that God wasn’t going to leave us here for corruption, “let your Holy One see corruption,” (2:27.) Acts 3, Peter talks about the new age which is the Holy Spirit and the salvation that God has given us after life.

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  9. “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs..” (Acts 1:3). Jesus worked to give proof to the disciples that He is the one and only Son of God. There are many different examples within Acts of the proofs that Jesus used. One example would be how Peter used a quote from Psalm 16 to explain why Jesus needed to die and be resurrected so that we can be saved. Many examples of proof that Jesus was alive and the Son of God can be found in the eye witnesses of the miracles that Jesus did. However, some other prime examples of proofs are the prophecies of the Old Testament. These prophecies allow us to compare them with the life that Jesus lived and see that Jesus is the Son of God. Some may wonder why Jesus needed His disciples to continue giving convincing proofs. I believe that it is because as humans, we are stubborn and require proof for why we should believe something. We do not tend to blindly follow something just because we are told it. We require some evidence for why we should believe in something. The people that Peter was talking with were probably people that did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, even though that they had heard it before. They required more proof and evidence to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

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  10. Peter uses David’s words in the Old Testament to make claims about who Jesus is. The people that he was speaking to would have heard and studied these words before so they would have been familiar with them. The idea of Peter using them to show the people who Jesus was is a huge thing. He would have been able to relate with the people and to show them things about Jesus. Luke writes in Acts chapter 2:31 “seeing what was to come, he [David] spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah.” Peter would have known that the people knew the scriptures that David wrote and so he would have been able to connect with them on that level. Peter also talked about the idea that David had wrote about the Messiah being at the right hand of the Lord (Acts 2:25,34). Jipp points out that “David cannot be speaking about himself since he has died and the place of his tomb is common knowledge to everyone in Jerusalem” (Jipp 46). This concludes that David was then speaking as a prophet who anticipated God to do a work through his descendants (Jipp 46). As readers of the scriptures in today’s society, we have to remember what it would have been like to be the people that Peter was talking to. The fact that he is repeating the words that David had written to these people and saying that they have been fulfilled would have been strange during that time, but they also would have had a better understanding about who Jesus was and why he did what he did.

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  11. Acts 1:3 talks about how Jesus gave the disciples many proofs. The reason that Jesus did this is because he knew that he was going to suffer and die, and he needed to show his followers who he was so that they may believe and be able to go out and expand the church. In Acts 2, Peter quotes David talking about how Jesus rose from the dead. Then in Acts 3, Peter talks about how many prophets have said that Jesus will suffer. Peter is drawing upon what the prophets have said in the past concerning Jesus and then using examples of things that Jesus did when he was alive so that he can create more disciples and expand the telling of the gospel. Without these convincing proofs, Peter would not be able to do any of that.

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