Devoting Themselves to Prayer
(Verses 12-14) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Jesus had just ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives, which was about a Sabbath day’s Journey, which is roughly about two thirds of a mile. This distance was what one was allowed to travel on the Sabbath day in accordance to Levitical Law. It is very apparent that God’s hand was upon the disciples to keep them together, history bears out that most times when a leader of a group is taken, lost, or has been killed, they lose followers and or there is a power struggle to see who will be in charge, and in that era movements even died out. However, this was not the case with the disciples, they obeyed the Lord’s directive given by the messengers God sent and returned to Jerusalem and the upper room.
The upper room itself was not a small space in this particular case; apparently it was a large area that could hold at least 120 people, so maybe it would be safe to say it was about the size our current sanctuary roughly four to five thousand square feet. This room was used on a number of occasions especially the night before Jesus’ betrayal and then by His followers after His ascension. Here in Acts it is of course following the later mentioned where our story picks up as the devote followers of Christ are gathering in obedience to Him as they await the promise of the Holy Spirit.
There is a word that I wanted to pull out and draw our attention to in verse 14, that is; accord. They were all with one accord!
Here is the Strong’s definition of “one accord”.
Phonetic Spelling: (hom-oth-oo-mad-on')
Short Definition: with one mind, unanimously
Definition: with one mind, unanimously, with one accord, at the same time.
3661 /homothymadón ("of the same passion") describes people who share "like precious faith," creating a God-produced unity between them (cf. 2 Pet 1:1,2). Here they "have the same mind" (the Lord's thoughts) because each receives the same revelation of His Word. See this powerful application of 3661 (homothymadón) in Ac 1:14, 2:1,46, 4:24, 5:12, 8:6.
[There is also the evil manifestation of people having "one passion" – see Ac 7:57, 18:12, 19:29.
3661 (homothymadón) is also used in Homer, "Wolves and lambs do not have hearts to agree with each other" (Il. 22.263, ala Abbott-Smith).]
Being in “one accord” is a theme that is started here in the first chapter of Acts and is found 10 times and then moves into Romans. Acts 2:46; 4:24; 5:12; 7:57: 8:6; 12:20; 15:25 18:12: 19:29, and in Romans 15:6.
To be in “one accord”, which really is unity, is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember when Jesus prayed for His disciples back in John 17:6-19?
6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
I believe it was because of this prayer that the disciples were not only held together as a group after the ascension, but that they were also in “one accord” with each other. They all had the same mind as they gathered and prayed together.
In order to be in “one accord” there is something that we must do as a people who follow God, we must gather together; that is to meet, to fellowship with each other. As we gather together we should unite in prayer, notice that this was not just the disciples but a number of other followers as well. This “one accord” does not just fall on the shoulders of the leaders of the church, but all of those who are called to the body of Christ.
The disciples and other followers had all gone back and gathered together in the upper room as commanded, to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit. In the mean time while they were waiting Peter points out that the 12 have become 11, and that another should be chosen to full the void left from Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus and hung himself. As Peter brings this up, he also references Old Testament writings to support what he is suggesting that they must do. As he proposes this, the disciples choose two men who have followed since the baptism of John and witnessed the resurrection of Jesus.
(Acts 1:21-26) “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Mattias. And they prayed and said, “You O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Now I must confess that in the past I sort of struggled with this issue of casting lots, simply because I thought it was a lucky roll of the dice. Though it was not dice that they used, dice games did derive from something like casting lots. After a somewhat comprehensive study on casting lots I found that it was mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament to reveal God’s will for instance the choosing of King Saul as seen in 1 Samuel 10:20-24, and also in the priests choosing the order in which they served in the temple, 1 Chronicles 24:5-19. Yes, casting lots can be used sinfully, just like anything else that we have in this world. So, with all that being said, we see the disciples casting lots to see who would fill the position that was left empty to fulfill the prophecy of the Lord, and after praying about it they did cast the lots knowing and trusting that the Lord Himself would ordain the outcome of the lots to fall on the man that He wanted.
There were two man reasons for the casting of lots.
Encourage humility: as it causes contentions to cease and keeps the mighty apart. Proverbs 18:18
Revealing God’s will to prophet or priest: but this ended along with the Levitical priesthood Hebrews 7:12
So basically the casting of lots came to an end in the New Testament after the power of the Holy Spirit was given to the church. Instead of trusting in the casting of lots believers trusted in the guidance of the Spirit as they joined in unified prayer.
It is of the utmost importance that we as a people of God be united in “prayer and fellowship” we cannot have that if we are not in “one accord” and it is very difficult if not impossible to do this if we choose not to gather together, as commanded in Hebrews 10:25. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some; but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
So let us live in “one accord” walking in the power of the Holy Spirit as a unified body of Christ!