Study Guide

Acts of the Apostles Upper Room

Upper Room

Upstairs or downstairs? Where would you rather live? If you're part of a British melodrama on Masterpiece Theater, upstairs is the way to go. Of course, if there's a tornado, you're gonna want to run for the lower levels. When the apostles are faced with tragedy, they choose upstairs. Lord Grantham would be proud.

Up Is Good

The "room upstairs" or "upper room" appears a couple times in Acts of the Apostles:

  • The disciples hang out there after Jesus ascends into Heaven. (1:13)
  • They elect Matthias to be the twelfth apostle there. (1:26)
  • The tongues of fire visit during Pentecost while everyone is in the upper room. (2:1)
  • Tabitha is brought back from the dead in her upper room. (9:39)

Do the followers of Jesus have something against ground level? Are they just really into stairs? What's going on?

Moving On Up

The disciples are hiding out in the days following Jesus's death and resurrection. After all, the folks in Jerusalem aren't too thrilled with them and they like to express their disapproval in crucifixion form. A room in the upper level of a house would be a good place to hide. You can survey the scene out the window to see who's coming, which gives you a heads-up when unexpected visitors arrive. Basically, you're taking the high ground.

Upstairs is also just a little bit symbolically closer to the man upstairs. It's no accident that all kinds of miraculous things happen when the disciples are elevated both spiritually and physically. It also means Jesus doesn't have as far to go when he gets lifted up into Heaven. Hey, ascending is tiring.

Of course, the upper room isn't all fun and games. One night, while Paul is preaching, a young man drifts off to sleep and falls out the window of the upstairs room (20:9). Hey, Paul—that sermon might need a bit more work. Naturally, Paul rushes downstairs and discovers the kid's not dead yet. The magic of the upper room in action.

In Popular Culture

  • There's a real site in present-day Jerusalem called the Cenacle that's thought to be the actual upper room the disciples used.
  • Lots of Christian ministries are named after the upper room. Including this one.
  • At the end of Ghostbusters, the guys have to climb all the way to the top of an apartment building to defeat the bad guy.