1:8 Luke’s purpose in Acts was showcasing the empowerment by the Spirit that allowed believers to be Christ’s witnesses in Jerusalem first before expanding their reach “to the end of the earth”—the furthest extensions of the Roman Empire of the time (Rm 15:19; Col 1:6, 23).
1:8 The major focus of the book of Acts is stated in this verse. Jesus said believers would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, empowering them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem first and then spreading to the end of the earth. Note three things about how this unfolds. First, the empowering presence is to be the Holy Spirit, not Jesus himself. Jesus prepared his disciples for the transition when the Holy Spirit would come to be a constant presence in his bodily absence (see Jn 14:16–17). Second, the growth of the church would come about through the witness of the disciples. From the beginning, the church is depicted as a community that actively witnesses to their faith in Jesus Christ. Third, the result of this witness will be measurable, geographical growth. This growth will begin in Jerusalem and then spread through ever-widening concentric circles to other Jewish areas (e.g., Judea), to areas on the edges of Judaism (e.g., Samaria), and eventually to “the end of the earth,” which may refer to the known world of that time, likely coextensive with the reach of the Roman Empire. As new lands and peoples were discovered in coming centuries, the church understood that it must keep expanding its witness to reach the newfound “end of the earth.”
1:8 This is the key verse of the book, serving as an inspired outline of its contents. This passage sets forth briefly and carefully the agenda for Christians of all times. It is what all believers are commissioned to do until Jesus comes again. During the dawning of the Christian era, God poured out the Holy Spirit upon the church collectively, thereby giving formal confirmation that the church was the entity chosen by the Lord to spread the Good News through all the world. This gave formal recognition that the Holy Spirit was the Guide and Teacher who would help the church to implement the Great Commission (v. 8). This outpouring of the Spirit occurred for each of the three segments of the Great Commission: (1) The phrase “in Jerusalem” indicates where the Holy Spirit fell upon the church collectively on the Day of Pentecost, thereby establishing quite early the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the church. This phenomenon inaugurated the global mission of the church. (2) For the second segment of the Great Commission, “in all Judea and Samaria,” there were two outpourings of the Spirit upon these new believers collectively: (a) One occurred after the successful evangelism of Philip in Samaria. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had received the Word of God, apparently without the outpouring of the Spirit upon the believers collectively, Peter and John went down, “laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (8:17). (b) The other occurred in the house of Cornelius, where the Holy Spirit fell upon all gathered there as Peter spoke (10:44). (3) The outpouring connected with the third segment of the Great Commission took place in Ephesus during the second missionary journey of Paul, thereby placing divine approval upon this third segment of the missionary enterprise to the far corners of the earth. To implement the commission of Christ in Matt. 28:19 and accomplish this prediction of world evangelization here in 1:8 requires: (1) the authority of Christ, (2) the presence of Christ, (3) the power of the Spirit, and (4) obedient and available saints. It is not a command; it is a prediction. When believers are Spirit-filled, they are witnesses with power from on high. The record of their worldwide witnessing comprises the contents of the Book of Acts. Luke showed that disciples filled with the Spirit reached the “end” of the then-civilized world in one generation, or approximately 35 years. Nevertheless, in terms of the gospel reaching all peoples of the earth, the commission remains a very present mandate for every generation until the Lord returns.
1:8 Holy Spirit has come upon you. Jesus means that the Holy Spirit will show His control of their lives with visible manifestations: the blowing of a violent wind, the appearance of tongues of fire, and speaking in foreign languages (ch. 2).
my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. The Book of Acts follows this strategy. The Jerusalem witness (ch. 2) gives in miniature form God’s worldwide ministry: the “Jews … from every nation” (2:5) who heard and believed carried the message far and wide. In the rest of Acts the gospel spreads to Jerusalem (3:1–8:1), to Judea and Samaria, up to Antioch of Syria (8:1–12:25), and to the ends of the earth (13:1–28:31).
|1:8 The locations mentioned in this verse represent a geographical broadening in scope of the apostles’ mission, from Israel’s capital, to the land of Israel, and to the entire world. This also reflects the structure of the book of Acts: The Church spreads in Jerusalem (chs. 1–7), in Judaea and Samaria (ch. 8), and to the surrounding nations (chs. 9–28). Compare Isa 49:6.
power The Greek word used here, dynamis, can refer to power displayed in miracles (e.g., Acts 2:22; 4:7; 19:11), or (more generally) the ability of God or people to carry out their purposes (e.g., 3:12; 4:33). God will enable the apostles to accomplish His work, wherever and whatever it is.
my witnesses The apostles are called to testify about Christ—to proclaim the reality of His death and resurrection as well as His kingdom and lordship (compare v. 3 and note).
1:8 Jesus corrected the disciples’ questions (v. 6) with a commission: “this time” (v. 6) would be for them a time of witnessing for the gospel, and the scope of their witness was not to be just Israel but the world. Verse 8 is the thematic statement for all of Acts. It begins with the Spirit’s power that stands behind and drives the witness to Jesus. Then it provides a rough outline of the book: Jerusalem (chs. 1–7), Judea and Samaria (chs. 8–12), and the end of the earth (chs. 13–28). you will receive power. Interpreters differ over whether the Holy Spirit was at work in the lives of ordinary believers prior to Pentecost in a lesser way or not at all, except for empowering for special tasks. On either view, something new that needed to be waited for was here. This powerful new work of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost brought several beneficial results: more effectiveness in witness and ministry (1:8), effective proclamation of the gospel (cf. Matt. 28:19), power for victory over sin (Acts 2:42–46; Rom. 6:11–14; 8:13–14; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:10), power for victory over Satan and demonic forces (Acts 2:42–46; 16:16–18; 2 Cor. 10:3–4; Eph. 6:10–18; 1 John 4:4), and a wide distribution of gifts for ministry (Acts 2:16–18; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11; 1 Pet. 4:10; cf. Num. 11:17, 24–29). The disciples likely understood “power” in this context to include both the power to preach the gospel effectively and also the power (through the Holy Spirit) to work miracles confirming the message. The same word (Gk. dynamis) is used at least seven other times in Acts to refer to power to work miracles in connection with gospel proclamation (see Acts 2:22; 3:12; 4:7; 6:8; 8:10; 10:38; 19:11).
|Narrative of Ministry There
|Acts 1:8: you will be my witnesses
|in all Judea and Samaria
|to the end of the earth
1:8 The apostles’ mission of spreading the gospel was the major reason the Holy Spirit empowered them. This event dramatically altered world history, and the gospel message eventually reached all parts of the earth (Mt 28:19, 20). receive power. The apostles had already experienced the Holy Spirit’s saving, guiding, teaching, and miracle-working power. Soon they would receive His indwelling presence and a new dimension of power for witness (see notes on 2:4; 1Co 6:19, 20; Eph 3:16, 20). witnesses. People who tell the truth about Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 14:26; 1Pe 3:15). The Gr. word means “one who dies for his faith” because that was commonly the price of witnessing. Judea. The region in which Jerusalem was located. Samaria. The region immediately to the N of Judea (see note on 8:5).
1:8 — “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
God calls us to be His ambassadors in this world, introducing people who don’t yet know Jesus to the love and grace of God available to them in Christ. We become effective witnesses only through the power of the Spirit.
1:8 Instead of being concerned about the date of Christ’s return, the disciples’ job was to carry His message throughout the world. you shall receive power: This does not refer to personal power for godly living, as demonstrated in the lives of OT saints (see Abraham in Gen. 22; Joseph in Gen. 39; Moses in Ex. 14; Daniel in Dan. 6). This was power for a new task—namely, to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Be witnesses is Christ’s command to His disciples to tell others about Him regardless of the consequences. Church tradition tells us that all but one of the eleven apostles who heard this promise became martyrs (John died in exile). God empowered His disciples to be faithful witnesses even when they faced the most vehement opposition. That same power for witnessing is available to us today. Our task is not to convince people, but to testify of the truth of the gospel.
1:8. Jesus promised that their power would come from “the Holy Spirit”—the third Person in the holy Trinity. He would enable them to serve as witnesses. Narratively “the end of the earth” is considered as Rome in the literary plan of the book. From Rome one could reach all the known nations of the time. Most importantly, the presence of the Holy Spirit would henceforth inform the life and decisions of both the Church and the witnesses.
1:8 Having suppressed their curiosity as to the future date of this kingdom, the Lord Jesus directed their attention to what was more immediate—the nature and sphere of their mission. As to its nature, they were to be witnesses; as to its sphere, they were to witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
But first they must receive power—the power of the Holy Spirit. This power is the grand indispensable of Christian witness. A man may be highly talented, intensively trained, and widely experienced, but without spiritual power he is ineffective. On the other hand, a man may be uneducated, unattractive, and unrefined, yet let him be endued with the power of the Holy Spirit and the world will turn out to see him burn for God. The fearful disciples needed power for witnessing, holy boldness for preaching the gospel. They would receive this power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Their witness was to begin in Jerusalem, a meaningful prearrangement of the grace of God. The very city where our Lord was crucified was first to receive the call to repentance and faith in Him.
Then Judea, the southern section of Palestine with its strong Jewish population, and with Jerusalem as its chief city.
Then Samaria, the region in the center of Palestine, with its hated, half-breed population with whom the Jews had no dealings.
Then the end of the then-known world—the Gentile countries which had hitherto been outside the pale as far as religious privilege was concerned. In this ever widening circle of witness, we have a general outline of the flow of history in Acts.
- The witness in Jerusalem (Chaps. 1–7)
- The witness in Judea and Samaria (8:1–9:31)
- The witness to the end of the earth (9:32–28:31)
1:8. This verse contrasts (alla, but) with verse 7. Instead of knowing the times or dates, the apostles were to be Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth. This they were to do after they had been supernaturally empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The meaning of the clause you will be My witnesses is subject to question. Is this a command, or is it a simple statement of fact? Grammatically the words may be taken either way, but because of 10:42 (cf. 4:20) it is clearly an imperative in the future tense.
Probably “the ends (sing., ‘end’ in the Gr. text) of the earth” looks to Rome, the proud center of world civilization in the Apostolic Age, a significant distance from Jerusalem (more than 1,400 miles, as the crow flies).
1:8. Some have suggested that this key verse of our book may contain a three fold table of contents: Jerusalem, Acts 2:42–8:3; Judea and Samaria, Acts 8:4–12:24; ends of the earth, Acts 12:25–28:31. We cannot know if Luke had that kind of division in mind, but the book unfolds in a fascinating manner somewhat along that pattern.
Notice that the call to witness is not limited to any select group of people since it spreads from the apostles to the 120 believers and on throughout the pages of Acts. Nor can we restrict it only to service in our own churches or to some kind of “professional ministry.” Every believer should be a “world Christian,” able to function for the Savior from the other side of the street to the other side of the world.
1:8 “but you will receive power” Notice that the coming of the Holy Spirit is linked to power and witness. Acts is about “witness” (i.e. martus). This theme dominates the book (cf. 1:8, 22; 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39, 41; 13:31; 22:15, 20; 26:16). The church has been given her assignment—witness to the gospel of Christ! The Apostles were witnesses of Jesus’ life and teaching, now they were witnesses about His life and teaching. Effective witness only occurs by means of the Spirit’s power.
“Jerusalem … Judea … Samaria … the remotest part of the earth” This is a geographical outline of Acts: Jerusalem, chapters 1–7; Judea and Samaria, chapters 8–12; ends of the earth (i.e. Rome), chapters 13–28. This outline may denote the author’s literary structure and purpose. Christianity is not a sect of Judaism, but a worldwide movement of the one true God fulfilling His OT promises to restore rebellious mankind to fellowship with Himself (cf. Gen. 12:3; Exod. 19:5; Isa. 2:2–4; 56:7; Luke 19:46).
The first Jewish leaders, knowing the Septuagint and the many prophetic promises of YHWH restoring Jerusalem, raising Jerusalem, bringing the world to Jerusalem, expected these to be literally fulfilled. They stayed in Jerusalem (cf. 8:1). But the gospel revolutionized and extended the OT concepts. The world-wide mandate (cf. Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 1:8) told believers to go into all the world, not wait for the world to come to them. Jerusalem of the NT is a metaphor for heaven (cf. Rev. 21:2), not a city in Palestine.
8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
In this text, Luke presents the theme for the entire book. This text contains the promise of Pentecost and the mandate to witness for Jesus in the following geographical areas: Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the world.
- Promise. We see a distinct parallel between Jesus and his disciples when they are about to begin their respective ministries. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and strengthened him to oppose the power of Satan (see Matt. 3:16). Before the apostles are able to assume the tremendous responsibility of building the church of Jesus Christ and to conquer the strongholds of Satan, they receive the power of the Holy Spirit. In the upper room on Easter Sunday, Jesus breathed on the apostles and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). But immediately before this he told them, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (v. 21).
The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. For instance, Jesus informs the disciples in his farewell discourse, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me” (John 15:26, NIV). The Holy Spirit, therefore, is not an inanimate power but the third person of the Trinity. And the promise of the Spirit originates with the Father: “I will bestow on you the promise of my Father” (Luke 24:49a).
- Mandate. Only through the indwelling person and power of the Holy Spirit are the disciples able to witness for Jesus Christ. Not only the disciples receive the gift of the Spirit, but, as Luke shows in Acts, numerous persons are filled with the Holy Spirit and become Christ’s witnesses. “Effective witness can only be borne where the Spirit is, and where the Spirit is, effective witness will always follow.” Jesus’ word, “You will receive power,” applies first to the twelve apostles and then to all believers who witness effectively for Jesus Christ.
“You will be my witnesses.” In Acts, the term witness has a twofold meaning. First, it relates to the person who has observed an act or event. Next, it refers to the person who presents a testimony by which he defends and promotes a cause. Accordingly, the apostles choose Matthias to succeed Judas Iscariot because as an eyewitness he has followed Jesus from the time of John’s baptism to the moment of Jesus’ ascension. Further, Jesus commands Matthias to proclaim the message of his resurrection (1:21–22).
In the strict sense of the word, the expression witness does not apply to Paul and Barnabas, who during their first missionary journey proclaimed the message of Jesus’ resurrection to the people in Pisidian Antioch (13:31). Paul and Barnabas state that they are not witnesses; they tell the Good News. Jesus sends forth the twelve apostles on the day of Pentecost as true witnesses of all that he said and did.
These twelve have seen and heard Jesus and now tell others about him (compare 1 John 1:1). Filled with the Holy Spirit, they begin to proclaim the Good News in Jerusalem (see Luke 24:47). Then they preach the gospel in the Judean and Samarian countryside, and eventually they take it to Rome. Rome was the imperial capital from which all roads extended, like spokes in a wheel, to the ends of the then-known world (cf. Isa. 5:26, “the ends of the earth”). In the third Gospel, Luke directs attention to Jerusalem, where Jesus suffers, dies, rises from the dead, and ascends. In Acts, he focuses on Rome as the destination of Christ’s gospel. From Rome the Good News reaches the entire world.
8. You shall receive power. Our Saviour Christ doth here call them back as well unto the promise of God as also unto his commandment, which was the readiest way to bridle their curiosity. Curiosity doth rise almost always either of idleness or else of distrust; distrust is cured by meditating upon the promises of God. And his commandments do tell us how we ought to occupy ourselves and employ our studies. Therefore, he commandeth his disciples to wait for the promise of God, and to be diligent in executing their office whereunto God had called them. And in the mean season he noteth their great hastiness, in that they did preposterously catch at those gifts which were proper unto the Holy Spirit, when as they were not as yet endued with the same. Neither did they take the right way herein, in that being called to go on warfare, they desire (omitting their labour) to take their ease in their inn.3 Therefore, when he saith, you shall receive power, he admonisheth them of their imbecility, lest they follow before the time those things whereunto they cannot attain. It may be read very well either way, You shall receive the power of the Spirit; or, The Spirit coming upon you; yet the latter way seemeth to be the better, because it doth more fully declare their defect and want, until such time as the Spirit should come upon them.
You shall be my witnesses. He correcteth two errors of theirs in this one sentence. For, first, he showeth that they must fight before they can triumph; and, secondly, that the nature of Christ’s kingdom was of another sort than they judged it to have been. Therefore, saith he, You shall be my witnesses; that is, the husbandman must first work before he can reap his fruits. Hence may we learn that we must first study how we may come unto the kingdom of God, before we begin to dispute about the state of the life to come. Many there be which do curiously inquire what manner [of] blessedness that shall be which they shall enjoy after they shall be received into the everlasting kingdom of heaven, not having any care how they may come to enjoy the same.2 They reason concerning the quality of the life to come, which they shall have with Christ; but they never think that they must be partakers of his death, that they may live together with him, (2 Tim. 2:11.) Let every man, therefore, apply himself in his work which he hath in hand; let us fight stoutly under Christ’s banner; let us go forward manfully and courageously in our vocation, and God will give fruit in due time (and tide.) There followeth another correction, when he saith, that they must be his witnesses. For hereby he meant to drive out of his disciples’ minds that fond and false imagination which they had conceived of the terrestrial kingdom, because he showeth unto them briefly, that his kingdom consisteth in the preaching of the gospel. There was no cause, therefore, why they should dream of riches, of external principality, or any other earthly thing, whilst they heard that Christ did then reign when as he subdueth unto himself (all the whole) world by the preaching of the gospel. Whereupon it followeth that he doth reign spiritually, and not after any worldly manner. And that which the apostles had conceived of the carnal kingdom proceeded from the common error of their nation; neither was it marvel if they were deceived herein.5 For when we measure the same with our understanding, what else can we conceive but that which is gross and terrestrial? Hereupon it cometh, that, like brute beasts, we only desire that which is commodious for our flesh, and therefore we rather catch that which is present. Wherefore, we see that those which held opinion, that Christ should reign as a king in this world a thousand years fell into the like folly. Hereupon, also, they applied all such prophecies as did describe the kingdom of Christ figuratively by the similitude of earthly kingdoms unto the commodity of their flesh; whereas, notwithstanding, it was God’s purpose to lift up their minds higher. As for us, let us learn to apply our minds to hear the gospel preached, lest we be entangled in like errors, which prepareth a place in our hearts for the kingdom of Christ.2
In all Judea. Here he showeth, first, that they must not work for the space of one day only, while that he assigneth the whole world unto them, in which they must publish the doctrine of the gospel. Furthermore, he refuteth the opinion which they had conceived of Israel. They supposed those to be Israelites only which were of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh. Christ testifieth that they must gather thereunto all Samaria; which, although they were nigh in situation, yet were they far distant in mind and heart. He showeth that all other regions far distant, and also profane, must be united unto the holy people, that they may be all partakers of one and the same grace. It is evident (John 4:9) how greatly the Jews did detest the Samaritans. Christ commanded that (the wall of separation being broken down) they be both made one body, (Eph. 2:14,) that his kingdom may be erected everywhere. By naming Judea and Jerusalem, which the apostles had tried to be full of most deadly enemies, he foretelleth them of the great business and trouble which was prepared for them, that he may cause them to cease to think upon this triumph which they hoped to have been so nigh at hand.5 Neither could they be a little afraid to come before so cruel enemies, more to inflame their rage and fury. And here we see how he giveth the former place unto the Jews, because they are, as it were, the first-begotten, (Exod. 4:22.) Notwithstanding, he calleth those Gentiles one with another, which were before strangers from the hope of salvation, (Eph. 2:11.) Hereby we learn, that the gospel was preached everywhere by the manifest commandment of Christ, that it might also come unto us.
1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Jesus makes two promises: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.” The disciples are not to go off on their own steam, because earlier Jesus had instructed them to wait in Jerusalem “until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The success of their witness will be due not to their own strength but to the power of God, because it is God’s mission, not theirs.
“Witness” is applied almost exclusively to the Twelve. As eyewitnesses who were with Jesus throughout his ministry, they ensure the certainty of the tradition “handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1:2).
The power they will receive from the Holy Spirit is not a power that enables them to conquer and dominate others. Jesus commissions them not to build empires but to confront empires with the truth of the gospel that God is king. They will receive power only to spread the gospel throughout the world. This power does not bring a swift victory over the evil kingdoms. Victory will be won through seeming defeat.
|“To the Ends of the Earth”
The phrase “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) does not refer to Rome, where Luke’s account ends. The mission will not end there. Rome, in Luke’s day, is the center of the empire, and all roads lead from it to the ends of the earth. In its westward extent, “the ends of the earth” referred generally to Spain and specifically to the region around Gades, west of Gibraltar.b For Luke, however, it signifies the proclamation of the gospel to all people, wherever they may be.
1:8 / When the Holy Spirit comes on you: Two different renderings of the Greek are possible here. The genitive case of the Holy Spirit could be governed by power, giving the sense “you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit who will come upon you” (cf. Luke 4:14; Rom. 15:13, 19), or it could be a genitive absolute with a temporal sense. The latter, adopted by niv, is to be preferred.
You will be my witnesses: Here the genitive case of the personal pronoun presents us with two possibilities (some texts read the dative case, which gives us similar options). Either it is the objective genitive, expressing the thought that he is the one about whom they would testify, or the possessive genitive, indicating their personal relationship with him—they are his witnesses. Both of course are true, and the ambiguity may be quite intentional.
In Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth: The fact that in the outworking of the history of the church the full import of Jesus’ words was only slowly grasped and even then, for many of his followers, was like grasping a nettle, need not lead us to suppose that he never gave this instruction and that it came from a later hand. The history of Israel, as indeed of the church itself, is full of instances in which people did not attain the best ideals of their leaders.
The form of the saying shows a close acquaintance with the political and social context of that day. For a broader definition of Judea, see disc. on 10:37, but here Judea refers to that part of Palestine inhabited by Jews, apart from Samaria and Galilee (cf. 9:31; 11:29; 15:1; 26:20; 28:21) and sometimes even excluding Caesarea (cf. 12:19; see disc. on 10:1 and 21:10). But politically, under the procurators, this region and Samaria were governed from Caesarea as one province, as Luke’s Greek clearly intimates, whereas Jerusalem was always regarded by the rabbis as separate from the rest of the province, as Luke also intimates, not only here but elsewhere in his writing (cf. 8:1; 10:39; Luke 5:17; 6:17; see notes on 2:9ff.).
The precise phrase, to the ends of the earth occurs in lxx Isa. 8:9; 48:20; 49:6 (cf. Acts 13:47, where Paul refers Isa. 49:6 to Barnabas and himself); 62:11; 1 Macc. 3:9, and if it seems somewhat strained to suggest that Luke saw Paul’s preaching in Rome as its fulfillment, it is noteworthy that in the Psalms of Solomon 8:16; Pompey, a Roman, is said to have come from “the ends of the earth.”
8 Instead of the political power which had once been the object of their ambitions, a power far greater and nobler would be theirs. When the Holy Spirit came upon them, Jesus assured them, they would be vested with heavenly power—that power by which, in the event, their mighty works were accomplished and their preaching made effective. As Jesus had been anointed at his baptism with the Holy Spirit and power, so his followers were now to be similarly anointed and enabled to carry on his work. This work would be a work of witness-bearing—a theme which is prominent in the apostolic preaching throughout Acts.31 An Old Testament prophet had called the people of Israel to be God’s witnesses in the world (Isa. 43:10; 44:8); the task which Israel had not fulfilled was taken on by Jesus, the perfect Servant of the Lord, and shared by him with his disciples. The close relation between God’s call to Israel, “you are my witnesses,” and the risen Lord’s commission to his apostles, “you will be my witnesses,” can be appreciated the more if we consider the implications of Paul’s quotation of Isa. 49:6 in Acts 13:47. There the heralds of the gospel are spoken of as a light for the Gentiles, bearing God’s salvation “to the end of the earth”; here “the end of the earth” and nothing short of that is to be the limit of the apostolic witness.
In Acts we do not find an apostolic succession in the ecclesiastical sense, nor a succession of orthodox tradition, but “a succession of witness to Christ, an apostolic testimony in Jerusalem to the self-styled leaders of Israel until they finally reject it, and an apostolic testimony from Jerusalem to Rome and the Gentile world of Luke’s own day.”
It has often been pointed out that the geographical terms of verse 8 provide a sort of “Index of Contents” for Acts. “You will be my witnesses” might be regarded as announcing the theme of the book; “in Jerusalem” covers the first seven chapters, “in all Judaea and Samaria” covers 8:1 to 11:18, and the remainder of the book traces the progress of the gospel outside the frontiers of the Holy Land until at last it reaches Rome.
8 The mandate to witness that stands as the theme for the whole of Acts is here explicitly set out. It comes as a direct commission from Jesus himself—in fact, as Jesus’ last word before his ascension and, therefore, as a mandate that is final and conclusive. All that follows in Acts is shown to be the result of Jesus’ own intent and the fulfillment of his express word.
This commission lays an obligation on all Christians and comes as a gift with a promise. It concerns a person, a power, and a program—the person of Jesus, on whose authority the church acts and who is the object of its witness; the power of the Holy Spirit, which is the sine qua non for the mission; and a program that begins at Jerusalem, moves out to “all Judea and Samaria,” and extends “to the ends of the earth.” The Christian church, according to Acts, (1) is a missionary church that responds obediently to Jesus’ commission, (2) acts on Jesus’ behalf in the extension of his ministry, (3) focuses its proclamation of the kingdom of God in its witness to Jesus, (4) is guided and empowered by the very same Spirit that directed and supported Jesus’ ministry, and (5) follows a program whose guidelines for outreach have been set by Jesus himself.
Whereas the geographical movement of Luke’s gospel was from Galilee through Perea to Jerusalem, in Acts the movement is from Jerusalem through “Judea and Samaria” and on to Rome. The joining of Judea and Samaria by one article in the Greek (en pasē tē Ioudaia kai Samareia, “in all Judea and Samaria”) suggests a single geographical area that can be designated by its two ethnological divisions. And the fact that neither Galilee nor Perea is included in 1:8 as a place to be evangelized (even though 9:31 speaks in summary fashion of a growing church in “Judea, Galilee and Samaria”) is probably because Luke has already shown in his gospel how Jesus had earlier evangelized those areas. So here Jesus’ mandate to witness not only gives us the theme of Acts but also a basic table of contents by its threefold reference to “Jerusalem,” “all Judea and Samaria,” and “the ends of the earth.” To be sure, Luke’s development is fuller and subtler than its succinct form here. Nevertheless, in what follows he shows through a series of vignettes how the mission of the church in its witness to Jesus fared at Jerusalem (2:42–8:3), throughout Judea and Samaria (8:4–12:24), and as it progressed until it finally reached the imperial capital city of Rome (12:25–28:31).
 Porter, S. E. (2017). Acts. In T. Cabal (Ed.), CSB Apologetics Study Bible (p. 1346). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Porter, S. E. (2017). Acts. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1716). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Ac 1:8). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1558). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
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