Men of Galilee: Acts 1:11-13
“11) They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” 12) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13) When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.” Acts‬ ‭1‬:‭11‬-‭13‬ ‭
The two angels made an interesting observation when they addressed the disciples at the time of the ascension. They called them “Men of Galilee.” This is significant for three reasons.
First, they were outsiders in Jerusalem. They were sojourners. They were common working class folks from around the Sea of Galilee. They were a ragtag group of fishermen, tax collectors and blue color workers. They were looked down on as being uneducated and uncultured men. (See Acts 4:13)
They did not fit the high culture and prestige of the religious leaders in Jerusalem. This created much tension between the ruling class of Judaism and the emerging leadership in the early church.
They fit the description Paul made in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 of the kind of people God often uses. God often calls weak, ordinary, common and foolish people for His great work. In the process, He gets all the glory.
The same is true today. God chooses unlikely people to accomplish His great work. He seems to favor common and ordinary people as His vessels through which He accomplishes extraordinary things.
Second, there was a lot of traveling taking place during these forty days. Immediately after His resurrection, Jesus commanded His disciples to return to Galilee from the Passover in Jerusalem. (Matthew 28:10). It appears that much of His post resurrection ministry happened back in the region of Galilee.
However, they returned to Jerusalem for the ascension. The disciples were mobile and spent much time traveling. The upper room became a multi purpose facility. It was used for lodging, but it also served as their organizational headquarters and their prayer and worship center. It was not fancy, but it was functional. Let me extrapolate for just a moment.
The contrast between the religious institution of Jerusalem occupied by the religious leaders and the upper room used by the disciples is totally comical. The Religious leaders occupied and controlled the temple grounds and all of the religious facilities and institutions of Jerusalem. Judaism had become very institutionalized while the new church was forced to remain very flexible, mobile and practical. The Jewish religious leaders followed centuries of religious tradition, but the disciples were free to follow the Spirit. The Jewish religious leaders focused on buildings, but the disciples focused on the organic body of Christ. The Jewish religious leaders practiced authoritarian leadership, the disciples practiced servanthood leadership.
This contrast goes on and on, but it is important. The more institutionalized a movement becomes the more negative weight it caries. This might be a topic for another discussion, but it is certainly embodied in this text.
Finally, the actual ascension happened from the Mount of Olives. According to Zechariah 14:4, this will be the place of the return of the Messiah. Jesus is going to return to the exact place where He ascended. It is a Sabbath days walk from Jerusalem.
Keep your eyes and ears focused on Israel and the Middle East as the end times approach. This is the geographical backdrop for much of the Bible both historically and prophetically.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global