Acts 1:8

Sunday, 3 October 2021

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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.” Acts 1:8

Jesus just told the disciples that it was not their business to know “times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” He now explains what immediately matters, and it isn’t speculating on the day of the rapture (a doctrine not yet revealed to the church as is indicated in 1 Corinthians 15:51) or the time when the kingdom promised in the prophets would come about.

Rather, these disciples had a job to perform. In this task, they would be both directed and assisted, as Jesus notes saying, “But you shall receive power.” The Greek word is dunamis. It carries various meanings including might, ability, efficacy, deeds of power, and so on.

In this case, it is a received power granting the disciples the ability to perform what is necessary to accomplish the task set before them. It is the basis of our modern word dynamite, though the meaning is obviously different in that case. Jesus next notes this power will be received “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

This is the same Spirit that rested upon the Lord in His ministry –

“Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. 15 And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” Luke 4:14, 15

It is the same power referred to as being available to the saints in Rome –

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

This power of the Holy Spirit is referred to again and again throughout the New Testament. It is what ultimately directs those who are working in accord with the will of the Spirit to meet the charge of Jesus that He has given to His church, which is stated with the words, “and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

As noted in the introduction to Acts, this is a purpose of the book of Acts. It is to detail the fulfillment of this command of the Lord as set forth in these words. Hence, it also forms one of the main structures of the book. The disciples are, in fact, recorded as following this pattern exactingly.

First is the recorded witness in Jerusalem –

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.’” Acts 2:14

Next, the word went out into Judea –

“At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. … Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8:1 and Acts 8:4

This is immediately followed up in Acts 8:5 –

“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.”

And then, the beginning of the final portion of the fulfillment of Christ’s words is recorded in Acts 13 –

“Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us:
“I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Acts 13:46-47

The words of Acts 1:8 are quite similar in content to those spoken by Christ just after the resurrection, even if the structure varies –

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.” Acts 1:8

“Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.’” Luke 24:46-49

The consistency of Luke’s recording of Jesus’ words demonstrates careful attention to the detail He spoke forth. Christ spoke of what His resurrection meant to the world, and then He reminded those who heard Him again before He departed. In essence, “You have been told the significance of what I have done. Now, you are to take that knowledge and share it with the world.”

Life application: The words of Jesus in this verse, accompanied by their fulfillment as noted above in the book of Acts (to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the world), once again reveal the false nature of the doctrine of hyperdispensationalism. The same unified message, being empowered by the Holy Spirit, is carried out by the Lord’s command in the manner He set forth.

However, that one message was set forth by both Peter and Paul. They are not speaking a different gospel, nor is one speaking of an earthly kingdom while the other is referring to a heavenly one. Instead, it is one message being proclaimed by two people – one better qualified to speak to his own countrymen while the other is better qualified to speak to the Gentiles.

In dividing up the gospel of Jesus Christ, a heretical view of what is commanded by Jesus, and a heretical doctrine pitting Jews against Gentiles arises. Be careful when listening to teachers to determine if they are doing this. If they are, it is best to find someone else to listen to. Otherwise, you are bound to quickly lose proper footing in your understanding of what God is doing in redemptive history.

Glorious God Almighty! You have set forth Your plan of redemption, You have outlined how it will come about, and You are – even to this day – leading people by the power of Your Holy Spirit to bring it to completion. Lord God, if You can use me, failing as I am, be pleased to do so. You are greater than all of my faults. So, use me Lord, according to Your wisdom. Amen.