Within the book of Acts, Jerusalem seems to remain as the base of operations for the Twelve Apostles (cf. 8:14, 15:2, 15:4, 16:4). Luke doesn't seem to explicitly criticize the apostles for staying in Jerusalem.
With recent discussions about eschatology and millennialism, it got me thinking. I wonder if the Luke's portrayal of the apostles in Jerusalem is meant to be symbolic of the new Israel with its centre in Jerusalem, reminding us of the OT prophecies about the future glory of Jerusalem/Zion (the twelve apostles seeming to be the equivalent representation of the twelve tribes of Israel).
It is a common theme in the OT Prophets that Jerusalem will be restored as part of the Messianic age, after its destruction in judgement. Jerusalem will be the focal point and centre of the new kingdom to come, reigning over all the earth. Consider some of these as samples:
- "For the LORD will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody... So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; sorrow and sighing shall flee away... Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of His fury; you have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and drained it out... Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean shall no longer come to you. Shake yourself from the dust, arise; sit down, O Jerusalem! Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion!... How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ÂYour God reigns!Â Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; for they shall see eye to eye when the LORD brings back Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." (from Isaiah 51-52, NKJV; note how it leads into the proclamation of the Suffering Servant who will accomplish these things)
- "For ZionÂs sake I will not hold My peace, and for JerusalemÂs sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God." (Isaiah 62:1-3, NKJV)
- "Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORDÂs house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, ÂCome, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.Â For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Micah 3:12-4:2, NKJV)
- "ÂSing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,Â says the LORD. ÂMany nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!Â" (Zechariah 2:10-13, NKJV)
For now, in the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, the long-awaited kingdom of God has come and begun, and something greater than the OT Jews could have visualised has been inaugurated, things the prophets and angels desired to know about (1 Peter 1:10-12). Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and sits at the right hand of the throne of God (Acts 2:30-36; Ephesians 1:19-23; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 3:22), ruling as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14). And the NT emphasis speaks of a new Israel (cf. Hebrews 8:8-13) and a new Jerusalem (cf. Hebrews 12:22-24). So in Revelation we see a new Jerusalem replacing the one that is to be destroyed (Revelation 21-22). Certainly we still await the consummation of the kingdom, but it has nonetheless already begun.
So it seems (at least to me!) quite fitting to have the Apostles symbolically based in the earthly Jerusalem, to show that the OT prophecies are being fulfilled in Christ and the Kingdom he has brought into being, with the Apostles being his representatives of that reality.