POWER to BE a WITNESS to JESUS CHRIST: "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)
Acts 1:8 is the key verse of the book of Acts, serving as an inspired outline of its contents. The disciples of Jesus were now to give their attention to worldwide witness. God’s Spirit would empower them as they executed their purpose. Starting from Jerusalem, the apostles’ witness would radiate farther and farther, as ripples do when a stone lands in a placid pool of water. But first they must receive power—the power of the Holy Spirit, which would be indispensable for Christian witness!
Let us understand God’s strategy of Christian witness:
- The witness was to begin in Jerusalem, a meaningful prearrangement of the grace of God. This was the very city where our Lord Jesus was crucified, and it 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 until now been outside the fold of Christ’s impact.
The Book of Acts follows this strategy. The Jerusalem witness (chapter 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).
The power promised was not force or political authority but meant ability or capacity. The ability had more to do with being than doing. Evangelism is a process, not just an event. It involves a total lifestyle, not just occasional efforts. The power came from without, not from within. The believers were to look for supernatural ability from the Spirit to make them effective in gospel presentation. The believers were to be witnesses to Christ, not to themselves. They were to make disciples not to themselves but to the risen Lord (Matt. 28:18–20).
Let us note that Jesus commanded His disciples to be His witness and 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. Let us be effective witnesses of God driven by the power of the Holy Spirit in our known world today!
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:16-17)