When asked if he was about to restore the Kingdom to Israel, Jesus reminds his disciples that “it is not for them to know” when the kingdom will be restored. Rather than knowing the “times and dates” God has planned, the disciples are to be witnesses to the good news of Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all the earth. To some extent, the kingdom is about to begin in the Temple in a manner which is not unlike what many expected. The Holy Spirit will fall upon people and they will speak the Word of God in power in the Temple itself.
These men are to be witnesses, a very important word in Luke-Acts and this command is in many ways programmatic for the chapters which follow. In the chapters which follow, the 12 disciples are called witnesses 8 times, and the Holy Spirit bears witness on their behalf (Acts 5:32). Both Paul (22:15, and 26:16) and Stephen (22:20) are called witnesses in Acts.
The disciples are to give testimony of who Jesus was (the messiah) and what Jesus did (died for the forgiveness of sins) and what he intends to do (return to establish his kingdom). They are all eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus, his death and resurrection, and they will be witnesses to the coming of the Holy Spirit (in Acts 2). They are Jesus’ own personal representatives sent to report to others what Jesus said and did.
As in the modern use of the word, a ‘witness” often functioned in a legal context, giving testimony in a court case. As the disciples give their testimony in various speeches, sermons or other teaching opportunities, they are offering evidence concerning who Jesus is. This evidence can be corroborated other eye-witnesses. In Luke 1:2, the author claims to have done this already, confirming the events of his Gospel by eyewitnesses. That Luke himself is a part of the story after Acts 16 indicates that he is an eyewitness himself and can confirm the truth of his document.
This is an important historical point, since what accounts for evidence for a first century historian differs from that of a modern writer. As Keener points out, to call upon witnesses is common in other Greco-Roman histories. An eyewitness was the most important evidence a writer could give. Polybius, for example claimed that “sight is, according to Heracleitus, by far the truer; for eyes are surer witnesses than ears” (Hist. 12.27). As I suggested in a previous post, Luke can be both historical and theological, since the two are virtually the same in the literary world of the first century.
This commission to be the witnesses of the Messiah in Jerusalem is based on the activity of the Holy Spirit. They are verbally commissioned, but it will be the reception of the Holy Spirit which empowers them to preach and confirms the words of their preaching (through signs and miracles).
How does this theme of “witness” work out in the Book of Acts? How are the disciples witnesses for the Messiah? To what extent is “eye-witness” important in modern evangelism? (Or, is it?)
40 thoughts on “Acts 1:8 – “You Will Be My Witnesses””
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
Apostle Peter, “the senior most among all apostles on many occasions” himself recognizes the authenticity of Pauline epistles. (2 Pet.3:15,16) I think that portion is enough to reject your accusations against the authenticity of Paul’s claims. Neither the early church (except some immoral Corinthians) and apostles, nor the church leaders come later rejected the authenticity of Paul’s writings.
Thanks for the comment Jeby. I will assume you are responding to Matt Perri and not the original post (since I do not reject Peter or Paul). Perri is a semi-famous internet troll who hates Paul, it is best to ignore him since he cannot have a civil conversation.
To play Devil’s Advocate, there is a growing majority in scholarship who would considered 2 Peter to be written by someone other than Peter in the second century, so the force of the evidence is less. I do think you are correct that virtually the entire Church accepted Paul as an authority very early on, and even the immoral Corinthians (as you called them!) considered Paul to be “their apostle.”
In biblical times eye witnesses were critically important (Long). Many of the rulings in court were dictated by the people who directly witnessed the events. Though the situation was different, Jesus’ disciples carried an equally important role. Their job was to be witnesses of what Jesus had done. “The missionary role of the disciples consists primarily in their proclamation of how God’s power and authority has been enacted” (Jipp 38). They were to go to the world and share what they had witnessed Jesus do. After the Pentecost in Acts 2, their role was extended. Since they were indwelled with the Holy Spirit, they were able to perform many signs and miracles. The disciples, then, further witnessed the work of God, because it is happening directly through them. By the works the Holy Spirit empowered them to do, the disciples could broaden their display of God’s power. Jesus’ command in verse 8 is very important, and the disciples lived out the calling well. However, I believe it is crucial to examine verse 7 as well, because it offers a reason for their work. Jesus states that, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority, but…” (Acts 1:7 emphasis added). The but is important in this section of scripture. Despite them not knowing, or rather because they do not know when Jesus will return, it is crucial that they witness of what He has done. Since they did not know the time when Jesus would come back to earth, they most likely had a drive to share His story with as many people as possible before His return. This gave them urgency in their mission. The same should be true for God’s followers today. Believers still do not know when Jesus will return, so their desire to share the wonders of God should be just as strong.
Haley, I really liked how you compared the work of the disciples to the followers of Jesus today. The idea that the disciples walked with Jesus and did life with him gave them this drive to spread the gospel is something that I think readers today miss out on. They witnessed the miracles that Jesus performed and were eager to share it with the rest of their community. Jesus actually commands them to “be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The job or role of the disciples was to”witness and provide testimony to God’s powerful activity in raising Messiah Jesus from the dead and God’s out pouring of the Spirit” (Jipp 38). Like you mentioned, they did not know when Jesus would return and Christians today do not know that either. That means that this sense of urgency to spread the gospel should also be in the believers in today’s world. Often times, I think that believers have a hard time with the urgency aspect because they forget that Jesus could come at any point. Jesus commanded his disciples to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. Believers today also have that same command, so I agree that their desire should be strong to spread the wonders of God.
According to Jipp, Acts 1:1-8 is connecting the plot with God’s promise to fulfill his promises to Israel (Jipp, 34). So, how does the them of witness apply to this? Having witnesses is crucial in Jesus’ story. Along with the Gospels; Acts is a huge part of Jesus story. So, the theme witness applies directly in the Book of Acts. I look at Acts 1:6 and this shows how the disciples were witnesses for Jesus. Acts 1:6 is about the ascension. This verse states, “So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, at this time will you restore the kingdom of Israel?” This is something that needs an eyewitness. One reason is because, Jesus was speaking directly to people in this encounter (Jipp. 36). Having an eyewitness for an encounter with Jesus is extremely important in Scripture. This is one of the things that was spoken of earlier. I go back to Luke in this scenario. Luke wrote things down, but not everything. He also used eyewitnesses in his writings, because he did not record everything. Next, I do believe that I witnesses are extremely important in order to understand Scripture and God’s story. A lot of Scripture is eyewitnesses, so it is a history.
So, as Juipp mentioned Acts is about connecting with God and the people. He illustrates the importance of eyewitnesses and how they are extremely influential in Scripture. I agree 100 percent with Jipp and I believe that they are a part of what makes Scripture so unique.
It is interesting to compare the accounts of Luke/Acts as eyewitnesses to the practices of the Pharisees oral tradition. Before Jesus came to earth and people were able to experience his ministry firsthand, the sagas of the Old Testament were heard and not seen. This means that the Jews had to believe what was being told to them by their religious leaders. As modern Bible students, we know that the Pharisees were often proclaiming ideas that were not completely accurate. We see this with respect to the Laws when they would put up theological fences or other small laws to protect them from breaking the major original law. This would mean that oral tradition might not have been the most accurate, which leads to the authenticity of eye witness accounts. Jipp references how Acts is the product of what Luke thought actually happened, not just a historical account ( Jipp 8). This backs up the claim that the disciples were eyewitnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus. Luke 1:3-4 plainly states that Luke had been following the scene and intended to document his experiences so that Theophilus would be assured and confident in what he was taught. So although the eye witnesses were retelling the miracles and life of Christ ( Luke to Theophilus), their primary role was testify about God’s role in the resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit ( Jipp 38).
To have witness of something is to have a personal observation or experience (Websters dictionary). To speak about a relationship with Jesus means that we have had an experience of that type of relationship. To speak about the Bible means we have witnessed the ways in which it relates to our lives now, we have observed these ways. In today’s world it is hard to just have witness, there has to be a proof or action behind what we are witnessing, otherwise the words we say as witness fall short, are not listened to. Many people in today’s world have a hard time with belief because their is no eye witness to Jesus, we are left to believe the eye witness written in the Bible. We have blind faith. A good example of this type of blind faith comes from the Old testament. Job was a man who endured many trials, he had never seen God but he trusted God’s promises and lived according to God’s leading.
I really enjoyed reading your post and how proof is still a big part of Jesus’ story in the modern world. Witnesses were a big part of Jesus’ story because there wasn’t any other way for proof. Word of mouth was how the people would hear about things that’s why witnesses helped are so important to Jesus’ story. The book of Acts has many proofs that show the witnesses that Jesus is the Son of God. In the modern world there is a lot of debate about the existence of God and if he was real than where is your proof. In the modern world people will only believe it if they see it. This makes the Bible irrelevant to many because they can not see the proof but, the Bible is the proof that they need. John 3:16 is an important verse in the Bible that helps guide those who are new to Christianity because it assures them that “He gave his one and only son to die for our sins.” Teaching others that you must believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior even without the physical proof of Jesus because the physical proof is the Bible. I really enjoyed that you explain the different experiences between Jesus and reading the Bible. Jipp explains that the book of Acts connects the people with God and the importance of eyewitnesses that gave people the belief they needed to know that Jesus was the “Son of God.”
It is important to recognize the use of the word “witness” today. This word refers to someone fully witnessing an event before their eyes. Someone cannot stand before a jury in a court case and tell them details of a crime when they were not indeed at the scene of the crime. As believers with a personal relationship with Jesus, we are bound to witness Jesus working in our world throughout our lifetime. In Acts 2, Peter heals a lame man so that he can walk. People pass by and recognize him as a lame beggar, seeking alms from them. Those at the scene witnessed this man being healed or at least saw that once he could not walk and now he can. This is a perfect example of being an eyewitness to the workings of the Holy Spirit. This is something so powerful because by being a witness, your faith may strengthen and you can testify to those around you of Jesus’s works. Although we can witness the workings of Christ in our world today, it is impossible for us to have witnessed Jesus’s death and resurrection. Acts 1:22 says that the Apostles are to be “a witness to his resurrection.” It was so important that the Apostles be direct eye-witnesses to the events of Jesus so that they could confidently and accurately evangelize the gospel. This gives us confidence in Christ today, knowing that these people physically saw and witnessed Jesus Christ and all that He went through.
“We can see now even more clearly why it is necessary to have twelve apostolic witnesses as the symbolic representation of the leaders of the restored Israel” (Jipp 41).
“But they also must have knowledge of Jesus’s comings and goings starting with John’s baptism and extending until the resurrection, and so we will not be surprised to see the apostles narrating Jesus’s earthly ministry in their role as the Messiah’s witnesses” (Jipp 40).
The disciples are witnesses for the Messiah because they walked alongside him and learned from him up to the time of his death. After the Pentecost, they are able to do miraculous things through the Holy Spirit so that people saw the acts and then it gave the disciples a platform to talk about the gospel and what they learned following Jesus around. “The missionary role of the disciples consists primarily in their proclamation of how God’s power and authority has been enacted” (Jipp 38). They are no longer just following Jesus around and watching him. Now they are responsible for going out into the world and telling the world all about the Messiah and what he accomplished and is still accomplishing through them.
I think a great point is that an eye witness is the most important evidence that can be given. Chris, I would also agree with you to that point, as well as the point that God is fulfilling his promise to Israel. They are told to wait for the promise (Jipp 35). Acts 1:8 mentions that the disciples will indeed be witnesses, but I think the important part of that lies in the beginning of the verse where Jesus that before they carry this out, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”. So, I believe that they them spreading the gospel and being witnesses might have looked different if they would have attempted to do so without the Holy Spirit. I think that this relates well to another point that you made that, which is that they were able to do what they did because of what was happening directly through them. Being indwelled with the Holy Spirit, as a witness giving an account on the works seen through the disciples is important. It is first hand that they are witness the power of God. I think that we can also witness to others about what God has done in our lives. We may not be doing miracles in the same manner that the disciples were, but we still have something to offer as believers. I think that our lives are reflections of God’s power. People will question your theology, but no one can question your life experiences and what you have been through. Our testimonies are us acknowledging and witnessing the goodness of God.
The witnesses in the book of Acts serve as examples of Jesus’ work on earth. The witnesses display in themselves the change that Jesus has brought to the earth. This change for the disciples came as a result of seeing and hearing Jesus in person. They were not only witnesses of the change that the Holy Spirit brings but also that of the very ministry of Jesus. This is why the disciples are the original witnesses. They witnessed first-hand the work of Christ and the dramatic change He brought to the world. However, not all apostles were disciples. Paul for example never closely followed Christ and His ministry. Rather, he witnessed Christ’s power in a much different way from the rest of the apostles (Acts 9). In the same way, we are all “witnesses” of Christ in our own lives; though having witnessed Christ’s work through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, because we are also witnesses of Christ’s work, we are also under the direction of the great commission. While we were not there to see Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension as eye-witnesses, we are still required to view the mission Jesus gave the disciples as our own mission. Furthermore, the importance of being an eye-witness diminishes, since all who are in Christ have the Holy Spirit. Just as the disciples, we are required to be Christ’s witnesses; giving testimony to Jesus’ work on earth and the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.
Why did Jesus have to prove anything? We read throughout the gospels all he incredible miracles that he performed, but yet he needed to prove that he was able to be raised from the dead? Did everyone already forget about him per-defeating death when he raised Lazarus from the dead. The proof of power Christ had over death was used when Lazarus was confirmed dead. ” Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.'” (John 11:14-15). Jesus rising from the dead was is something that needed no proof because of the witnessing that had taken place, but yet he still gave it. I feel that at time we have a stronger faith at times then most did back then when they were seeing things with their very own eyes. We live in a time that having faith is believing and that we need no visual proof of Christ doing what we already know he did for us. Peter shares that even though Jesus shared all his miracles and words of wisdom from God he was still killed. This was all God’s plan all along and it set him up for the ultimate comeback story. We live in a world that has the word of God and it is by our obedience of that word that we see that God has given us all the proof we need in our everyday walk with him.
It is really fascinating how back then eye witnesses were crucial to a court case. They are still important today but the human brain has been studied how our eyes sometimes see the things we want them too or how we can miss things. Also there are multiple times in the Bible when people are falsely accused and all they have against them is an eye witness that the high priest planned against them, an example of these is the trial of Stephen. But when it comes to the multiple books of the Bible even though many people today would discredit the eye witnesses I would say they are correct in what they said happened. Many of the claim the same stories just from different perspectives which would make sense being different people. Also it speaks in the Bible about hundreds of witnesses to the miracles of Jesus, it is easier for one person to lie then it is for 500 people to lie.
We see the theme of witness and how it worked out right in the first couple chapters in Acts. For example, in Acts 2, right after the events taking place in the upper room with the Holy Spirit, Peter preached his famous sermon. In his sermon he talked as an eye witness that Jesus was the Messiah, Peter claimed that “God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death..” (Acts 2:24). Due to this sermon, Luke tells us “about three thousand were added to their numbers that day” (Acts 2:41). This is one example of how the theme of “witness” worked out. As you have already mentioned, the disciples are witnesses for the Messiah in the giving of their “testimony of who Jesus was…what Jesus did…and what he intends to do” ( P. Long). Being eyewitness even strengthens your claims. Eyewitness testimonies were treated as truth in the Greco-Roman world at the time, “the most important evidence a writer could give” (P. Long). The reason for this, is because there are first hand eyes of whatever is happening. In this case, the claim that Jesus is the Messiah and what he has done in his time on Earth. I think eye-witness accounts are still important today in a different way than they were described two thousand years ago. The Disciples had the chance to walk, talk, and watch Jesus in human form act out miracles. In today’s sense, miracles still happen, but the viewing of Jesus doing them in flesh and blood is absent. We see God work miracles through other people or events, rather than Jesus in the flesh and blood. I have heard members from my Church speak about seeing miracles and seeing others or even themselves give their life to Christ because of it. This is why I still believe eye-witness accounts are still valid and important today in modern evangelism.
I want to focus on the last question found in the blog, “To what extent is “eye-witness” important in modern evangelism? (Or, is it?).” I think this is quite an interesting fact in the context that we still witness miracles today even if they were minor differences 2000 plus years ago to the modern age. A major difference to look at is back then they could physically see Jesus. Today, we do not see him physically, but we can physically see him working through miracles. A comparison between 2000 years ago and now would be the story of Jesus healing the blind man. John 9:11, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” In this case, his disciples clearly saw eye witness accounts which we see earlier on in the chapter. An example today would be a story of a lady who was blind, and she had no hope left to see, but then a doctor heard of her condition and said to try surgery. She did it because she had nothing to lose and believe it or not she had 20/20 vision right after the surgery. God used a doctor as a vessel to heal the women. It wasn’t the man who did it, it was God. Even though God was not visible, and that is what I mean by God using the doctor as a vessel. Even though the stories are different in the aspect of Jesus not being visible; the meaning remains the same of God doing the miracles.
Certainly God does miracles, I am not going to question that. But there are many examples of people spreading stories of God healing someone or even raising the dead that when investigated, they are false. There was a famous “resurrection” in a big African church last year that was exposed as false. In those second- and third-hand cases, giving testimony is not particularly helpful for evangelism since when the lie is discovered, it drives people away from the Gospel.
When reading the blog and understanding the word “witness,” there are different ways to interpret and view this wording. In Acts 1:8 Jesus refers to the disciples as being His witnesses, but not in the way that they are those who have witnessed or physically seen all of Jesus’ life of ministry. Jesus alludes to the disciples being witnesses in the same way modern day Christians can be viewed as being witnesses when they share about who Jesus was and is and the role He can play in an individual’s life. Christians are called to be witnesses of Jesus because we know his story is a deep and emotional way as to believe we were physically there with Jesus Himself. Also, when believers accept Jesus into their hearts the work of the Holy Spirit within them aids them in becoming more like Jesus in their daily lives. In this way Christians are showing who Christ was and is and therefore witness or display the lifestyle of Christ. In the same was the disciples were witnesses of Christ in more than one way, they knew better than anyone who Jesus lived his life and treated others on a daily basis and therefore could display and witness the lifestyle of Christ through a better understanding. It can go without saying that being as “eye-witness” and being a “witness” or two different aspects of life but are both influential in the perspective of life an individual lives. If Christians are not sharing about Jesus or living how He showed believers who to live, are they truly being a witness of Christ?
Alongside its detriments, modern technology has provided the ability to capture and transmit information to all corners of the globe. Disagreements between individuals on opposite ends of the earth can both receive photo and video evidence, along with eyewitness testimony instantaneously. Despite the occasional problem of well-done photo and video editing and the spreading of misinformation via internet anonymity, this technology has still decreased the importance of eyewitness testimony. In the first century, individuals who had directly seen an event were trusted and respected more than those who had not directly witnessed the event because there were so few eyewitnesses. Sure, they could still be liars, but their testimony was the best (and only) information to go off of. Today, eyewitnesses are plentiful thanks to the speediness of the internet’s data-sharing abilities. Because there is no longer a shortage of eyewitnesses, there is no longer the same trust and respect given to those who see an event with their own eyes, be it in person or through a screen. Because the disciples were eyewitnesses to all the events in Jesus’ ministry, and because none of their stories conflicted or were found to be false by other witnesses, they were the most trusted and respected sources in the entirety of the known world. In a sense, they HAD to become witnesses for Christ as there was almost no one but them who had witnessed all the events of Jesus’ ministry, and therefore there was almost no one else on earth who could teach the full message and story of the Messiah. It was not only an honor but an obligation (with great eyewitness account, comes great responsibility…). This reason, then, is also why Matthias and Joseph/Barsabbas/Justus were required to have been a witness of the events of Jesus’ ministry from the time of His baptism by John the Baptist up to His Ascension (Acts 1:21-23).
From my readings, it seems that the disciples are witnesses to the Messiah (and particularly to his resurrection) in two main ways. The first way is though preaching. Peter’s sermons are recorded throughout the book (i.e., 2:14, 3:11,10:34). The second half of the book follows Paul’s journeys and sermons. Stephen testifies before the counsel (7:2); Phillip teaches an Ethiopian eunuch (8:40). I could go on but I think the point has been made – there is a lot of teaching and preaching in Acts. Many times the word “witness” itself is used in these sermons.
Secondly, the disciples are witness to the Messiah through their experiences and actions. They performed signs (2:43, 5:12, etc), physically healed in the name of Jesus (3:6, 9:34), and raised a dead woman back to life (9:40).
One of the most interesting characteristics of these “witnesses” is what they are witnesses of. They are witnesses of the death and resurrection of Jesus (3:15). Those who wanted to condemn them, “recognized they had been with Jesus (4:13)”. I find this verse particularly interesting because by this point in time Jesus had already been physically away from them for a bit now. (Also, what was it that linked them to Jesus? Their mannerisms? Their words? Though it seems it was different from others who were simply talking about him.) Whether they were witnessing through preaching or actions, they were witnesses for someone they knew. They were witnesses of someone who they had spent time with, ate with, listened to, and someone who had flipped their entire world upside down. They were also witness of the taste of the kingdom of heaven they experienced.
Is “eye-witness” necessary for modern evangelism? To an extent, yes. One cannot truly be a witness to someone or something they haven’t actually seen or experienced. It is easy for me to think of modern evangelism in terms of street preaching.
It’s also easy for me to read Acts separately from the Gospels. But there is a deep connection here – Acts is the continuing of the story. You cannot have Acts without the Gospels. Perhaps true evangelism cannot happen without truly being an eyewitness.
The theme of witness works out in the book of Acts as a continued pattern. In Acts 1:21 the disciples have to pick the next disciple to take Judas’s place and one of the qualifications of this person was that he had to have accompanied (witnessed) them from the baptism of John until the day he was taken. As the Apostles were brought before the Sadducees, they gave an account of Christ and said they were witnesses to all he did (Acts 5:42). Each city Paul visited, he was a witness too. Whether Phillipi and the jailer who was converted, Thessalonica and the few who were persuaded in the the synagogue, or even in Athens as he preached about the idols there and the few who wanted to hear again, in each instance Paul and his companions were witnesses to Christ and what he had done in their lives.
In modern evangelism, none of us are direct “eye-witnesses” of Christ. However, when we are changed by the Holy Spirit, we become children of God and are brought into his family. The importance of an “eye-witness” in modern day evangelism is acknowledging that we know what Christ has done. He has changed us and we become witnesses to what the salvation of Christ does. Therefore, we are the product of a changed heart through grace and witnesses to the early church. This is why Testimonials are so powerful. They are a story, a witness, of the power of Christ. As P. Long points out above, it is the power of the Holy Spirit that empowers them to preach and confirms the words of their preaching. Although we have not directly seen Christ, we have the Holy Spirit in us as Christians and thus we are able to preach and witness to all those around us. The same power that rose Jesus from the grave lives in us!!
Very good, it is important to “tell the story,” and include your part in that story.
“Witness” is a major theme for the book of acts for good reason. Without witnesses all that Jesus did while he walked the earth would have been forgotten and not documented. And even if people were to hear stories about things that happened it wouldn’t have the same authority as someone who witnessed something with their own eyes. So when the disciples tell stories of what they “witnessed” Jesus do people tend to have an easier time believing it. The same goes for believers in todays world. We are all witness to the work of the Holy Spirit in all of our lives. And its our job to tell others about it.
You ask the question on if eye witnesses are needed in today’s society. I have worked with youth and have been trying to learn what people want, especially the youth. The thing that they crave the most is authenticity. Which makes sense because they live in a world where they hop onto the internet and get all the fake stuff that they want. They have fake friends, fake lives, and fake people on the internet. What they lake and what the world is lacking is authenticity. Eye witnesses that go out into society and preach to these people. This world needs witnesses that are real with these people. The rapper NF has been on the rise and it is because of his realism that this world can relate to. He is not afraid to tell people who he is and his faults. People need that. People need witnesses that are real with them and show them that this life is real. In today society I feel like these people need those real people.
The term “witness” is a strong word and brings a sense of assurance. If someone is an eyewitness of something and attests to it, then there is proof of that event happening. In Greco-Roman times the best form of evidence in court was an eyewitness. In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells the disciples that they will receive power when they receive the Holy Spirit and that they will become His witnesses. This verse sets the tone for the book of Acts because the apostles did just that, they witnessed to the ends of the earth. “As the disciples give their testimony in various speeches, sermons or other teaching opportunities, they are offering evidence concerning who Jesus is” (Long). The book of Acts has a distinct pattern which shows that “witness” is a major theme in Acts. The disciples and or other church leaders witness and share the gospel with others who convert and become a part of the church. The Christian leaders are persecuted but God rescues them and protects the church (Crossway, 2077). These leaders were able to witness because they were a part of the 12 disciples and did ministry alongside Jesus and could attest to who He was and or because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and had God working through them. Christians today are also called to witness to others and share the gospel with them. Being a witness is still important today. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit in us and have a personal relationship with God. If we are actively living for God people will notice that we are different, and we can attest to who God is because of our personal relationship with Him. In Acts 1:7 Jesus says, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” We do not know when those around us will die, or when Jesus will come back, it could be tomorrow. We need to go out and share the gospel with others so that they have the opportunity to be saved.
The disciples in the book of acts are “witnesses for the Messiah” for one simple reason. They were with Jesus. As stated above (Hist. 12.27), “sight is, according to Heracleitus, by far the truer…”. Not only do the disciples have the backing to their own arguments of sight, but they interacted, and they were in relationship physically with the Messiah. To have this background, and to have the spirit working in and through them, not only in the book of Acts, but the continued time post-ascension, made for a great skillset when it came to witnessing to the masses. This theme of “witness” works out in the Book of Acts very simply. As Jesus put in in Acts 1:8, they were to go about Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria, and all the ends of the earth and be a witness to what Jesus has done. This actually is a good timeline for the book of Acts as well. “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)” (Polhill, 2081). In Modern evangelism, the extent of our own “eye-witness” is reliant upon what God has done in our lives and through His spirit dwelling in us. When being a “witness” to someone, obviously we have not laid eyes upon the physical being of the Messiah, but God has worked in your life, brought you out of something, to something, and is guiding you throughout something constantly. This is where our testimony has come from. More specifically, the Spirit has a huge role, in allowing us to truly bear witness to the Glory of God. What the Holy Spirit does in us, I would mainly say (to keep it brief) witnessing on our behalf towards others, being our helper, and to guide us (with others as well.) (Romans 8:16, John 14:16, John 16:13).
Witnesses are essential for the gospel. Without the disciples personal eye witness’ their ability to spread the resurrection as effectively could have been tainted. The resurrection was an amazing miraculous event that is impossible for men to accomplish, thus requiring witness of men. The disciples bore witness to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The word witness here can be defined differently but I believe we need to acknowledge that the disciples were constantly in trial for their faith and constant preaching of Jesus. Witness is typically thought as “giving testimony in a court case” (P. Long). When looking at the lives of the disciples from this point out they face a plethora of trials for the Lord. With the witness of the disciples we know that Jesus died and was raised from the dead. We have confidence in this because all the witnesses(disciples) who reported this. In the Bible we see the consistency of witness of the events of Jesus and they line up perfectly with no missing pieces.
In today’s time we do not have any more “eyewitnesses” of Jesus and His resurrection. The lack of present “eyewitness” accounts has not seemed to affect the power of the gospel. I believe that because of the original witnesses we do not need an alive witness for us to believe the life of Jesus. The original witnesses were and are credible leaving no room for us as Chrstians to doubt the gospel. The disciples witness has stood with power and strength over time.
It’s extremely interesting that Jesus reminds his disciples that “it is not for them to know” when the kingdom will be restored, and the significance of the word “witness” is interesting as well. This ambiguity of the timetable reminds me of a similar text found in Matthew 24 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36, ESV). I do not want to try and pigeonhole God’s intent for this reasoning into one singular idea, however, I believe that it may be Jesus simply saying that the “when” does not matter- just live out the “now”- live out the rest of your days, being mission-minded, and be my witnesses! As noted in the blog, I also find the choice of the word witness to be extremely significant. Jesus does not tell them to be spokespersons or messengers, he uses witness- this word is powerful because there are boldness and meaning behind it. While in the traditional sense a witness can be referred to as an “attestation of a fact or event” (Merriam-Webster), but it also is defined as “something serving as evidence or proof” (Merriam-Webster). Not only are the followers of Jesus attesting to the events of Jesus’ life and the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but they are also serving as proof of the gospel. It’s important to remember that during this time, the Bible itself wasn’t readily available to distribute to read to the people- the gospel of Jesus was being spread through word of mouth, through personal testimony- just how someone would testify and be a witness in a court- just like modern day. For me, the great commission Jesus presents in His very last moments on earth remains a great inspiration as we strive to be witnesses in today’s world.
Jesus’ words at the beginning of Acts set up the rest of the book perfectly. I believe it shows how the Spirit was going to work throughout the nations as the disciples followed the Spirit’s guidance. I find it interesting how the disciples bear witness to who Jesus is, but then when they are being questioned by the Sanhedrin, they claim that the Spirit is also a witness, adding to the credibility of what they are teaching (Acts 5:32). Because eye-witness testimony removed doubt, by bringing in another party, they were able to be more convincing.
I have always found the use of eye-witness testimony in Jewish culture interesting, especially because today it can often be considered inaccurate. Many times, when people today witness something happening, they remember many different, often contradictory, details about the event. But as they share their story, they convince themselves that what they saw was true, even if it wasn’t. More and more studies are being done on this idea, and their findings are that eye-witness testimony is often inaccurate. With this in mind, it makes the heavy reliance of eye-witness testimony in the past something interesting to consider.
Despite what we now know of witnessing events, testimony to the Jews was necessary, partly because they didn’t have access to many other ways to find out the truth. They had to take people more at their word, because that was what was most reliable.
In today’s world of evangelism and back then telling stories about first-hand encounters are ways to get people wondering and interested in hearing more about Jesus. An “eyewitness” is very important in today’s evangelism because it makes the gospel and Jesus come to life for others when the eyewitness tells what they saw, heard, and felt. These changes preaching into more of a conversation so this can really be helpful in a small group when evangelizing. Thinking about the disciples having to explain the sight they saw; I think it would be hard to have people believe me. The stress of testifying and sharing what had happened would be a lot. Although the disciples were probably trying to figure out what had happened and what they just witnessed, this was all in preparation for when the Holy Spirit. The reason this was a preparation is that the disciples are going to be witnesses of the Holy Spirit. When reading about what the word witness meant in our time and what it meant back then, it was interesting. Meaning the most important piece of evidence for people back then was an eye-witness testimony. In today’s world, an eye-witness testimony can help a case, but the judge and others don’t know if they are telling the truth. Changing my perspective on the word “witness” helped me see why Jesus wanted people to witness His decadence.
Being a witness of the Messiah works in a specific way, as it states in the Book of Acts. As they needed to replace Judas with another person, they needed to meet certain requirements. Acts 1:21-22 states, “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with [the disciples] the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among [them], beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” The disciples have been alongside Jesus and can attest to miracles, so they can share the gospel with others and more people will be influenced by the “proof” of their testimony’s. It does not seem like light-work being a witness for Jesus while there was no historical evidence proving the gospel, so thankfully as in Acts 1:8, the witnesses, “received power [and] when [chosen] the Holy Spirit [dwells on them]. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, they were able to be the Messiah’s witness in “Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
In modern evangelism, an eyewitness simply does not have an effect. Because no one is old enough to have lived when Jesus was on earth. However, now we have the Bible which might be close to being even better than seeing Jesus as an eyewitness. This is because sometimes your eyes can deceive you, but with the Bible, we have numerous pieces of evidence that all add up to the same conclusion within thousands of words on paper. If just the Bible isn’t a great enough proof to help evangelize, we also have archaeology and fossils that help to support the Bible with many different answers pointing to the same solution as well. The Bible should be enough to evangelize nowadays without having an actual eyewitness, but it also seems that one’s faith must be even stronger by believing what the Bible states rather than simply seeing Jesus. This is where God is trying to lead His sheep. A place of a deeper faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7, states, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” Sight is not a matter of trust, but rather perception, and everyone’s perceptions are skewed differently from a philosophical point of view. Whereas faith is having absolute trust in someone or something. God’s ways are not by chance, transitioning from eyewitnesses to reading the Bible and having to have full faith fits God’s attribute of being omniscient and shows more of His brilliance.
Sometimes as believers we distance ourselves from those who lived in Bible times. It is easy to read this post and say, “we cannot be eye-witnesses, we have never met Jesus!” However, the Bible is a living document in which the living God created. Though you and I will eventually die, the word of God will endure forever (). The living God authored the Bible for all of creation, not just for the people who followed Jesus (literally). If that were the case, the Old Testament would have no meaning. Romans 15:4 explains the purpose of God’s word like this, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (ESV). The NLT adds, the hope we are likely looking for, are for God’s promises to be fulfilled (NLT). Paul explains clearly in Romans that everything that has been written in the past should be used for our current teaching and learning.
Each believer has a relationship with Jesus that bears fruit (or should). Jesus says in John that we must remain in him or we will be essentially useless (Jn.15:5, ESV). Our individual relationships with Jesus Christ are what will serve as first hand experiences that we can use to witness to those around us. If witnessing is; giving testimony to who Jesus was, what He did, and informing others about his return (Long, 2019), we are more than able to fulfill that mission. As long as we, as believers, are empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8, ESV), we have no need to question our power or ability to witness to others.
The meaning of ‘’Witness’’ is the evidence of seeing things happening and proving right. In the time of the early church, eye witness was a common thing. And this is the early way to achieve people’s attention. In the books of ACTS, all apostles are approving they are the witnesses of Christ in various ways. For instance, Philp explained the meaning of the book of Isaiah to the stranger from the land of Ethiopia, and told him that he was meation to Christ and have him baptized. Simon Peter spoke about his witness and three thousands believed in Christ. Paul was witnessed to the gentles. The big sight of the witness of Christ is the receiving of the Holy Spirit. The common consequence is speaking in tongues. When Peter and other Jews the followers saw the family of Cornelius (the gentles) speaking in Tongue, they were amazed, for they thought the gospel is only for Jew people. But they are also the witness for the works of God for gentiles to be saved to other Jew in Jerusalem. Sometimes, explaining the witness can depend on the condition of the place and people and their belief in evangelism. In Jew, Peter told them to repent based on what they had done (killed the messiah), but those messages are not for the gentiles for they have no idea of the messiah. But God chose Paul for the gentles and He succeeded.
I want to focus on the last question when looking at this scripture and the importance of an “eyewitness”. I feel as if today with all the things we see through social media and television having an eyewitness account appears to us to be a bit lackluster. People want to have proof and want things to be studied scientifically and reviewed again and again. Having someone say they witnessed in the time we live can seem too not be sufficient. To the society and the context of Acts 1:8, having a witness was everything. We see this when Jesus after his resurrection had appeared to many “witnesses” (1 Cor. 15:6). The importance of this back then was monumental to having the gospel spread. It was not just some people that said they had seen the risen Jesus but hundreds who could be “witnessed” Jesus. Even with all that we have today the historical accounts, the witness of a risen Jesus cannot be ignored by us who live in the modern world. In a world of science and technology I think that we forget the power of eyewitness testimony. The amount of people claiming to have seen the Lord in no way could have been a lie pulled off so well. I would like to see science explain how these people were willing to die for something if it was not true.
This first chapter of Acts is truly incredible to think about, this is a moment in time when Jesus literally called these disciples to be witnesses to the ends of the earth Acts 8 Esv. One could say throughout the book of Acts that these people were witnesses of Jesus in a few different ways. Firstly, these people had witnessed Jesus literally taken up into heaven, they saw the ascension with their own eyes, and it was their duty to let people know that he was taken up and truly the one true God. These people were also witnesses for Jesus in the sense that Jesus had told them that he was going to return and restore his kingdom in Israel, Acts 11. Jesus had now given them the holy spirit to dwell in them, they no longer needed to offer sacrifices or anything of the sort, Jesus had defeated death and the way to eternal life was now literally just a leap of faith, for people all around the world. Jesus Called these disciples to spread the good news, so that anyone who would believe would also be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven. Throughout the book of Acts, we see that these disciples, Luke, Peter, John, etc. Boldly proclaimed what they had seen and witnessed, and many also believed. Because of the fact that they acted so boldly upon what they saw, it is very evident that their account of what happened is true. In today’s world eyewitness accounts are definitely not taken as seriously as they were in bible times, today people have many more motives to lie, or deceive others with their stories, through social media, or through other forms of technology. Stories can be manipulated much easier. In evangelizing today, I’d say its way more important to build connections with the people around you and share your story, than just to whip out a bible and start quoting scriptures. Obviously, it is the duty of Christians to witness today, but overall, the way evangelism looks is somewhat different than it was in bible times.
As Long stated in his blog, the term “witness” is used in a much different way today than it was thousands of years ago (Long, 2019). A witness seems to be one of the most important things that could help determine whether something happened during this time period. Seeing as the people of this time did not have things such as cameras to confirm an event taking place, a witness would have to be the next best thing. When so many believers witnessed Jesus’ resurrection, it makes it tough not to believe them. While nonbelievers would likely be unconvinced, the disciples that were given the opportunity to witness the Jesus’ resurrection can still evangelize to people who are willing to believe.
Something that took me some time to understand was the Holy Spirit bearing witness on the disciples behalf (Acts 5:32). That was until I came across this verse: “for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say,” (Luke 12:12). This verse basically states that the Holy Spirit helps the disciples come up with what to say during difficult times. This shocked me, as I had not expected that to be the way the Holy Spirit helped the disciples. Reading about this helped me to gain a better understanding of the Holy Spirit, as it helps us by guiding us down the right path.
I really enjoy reading this, and it encourages me a lot. Jesus told his disciples to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all the earth. And as Jesus told them, they waited to get the Holy Spirit from God, and after that, they were all speaking in different languages, but they all understood each other. And they were all witnesses of Jesus to others, and when Peter was preaching, over a thousand people accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. It was very wonderful and amazing. The Holy Spirit was with Peter and the people who believed in Jesus. I also believe that Jesus wants all Christians to be great examples of him. All believers should be living for Jesus, and we should be the light of the world. We should help others learn more about Jesus while also preaching to all nations. In the Bible, we can see that God wants to save every human being, which is why he gave us his only son to save us and to be with him forever. He adored people of all races. It does not matter who we are—rich or poor, different races—and God wants to save the world. The problem is sin, and because of sin, humans cannot be close to God, and people are sinners and will face the judgment. But Jesus died for the world on the cross, and whoever believes in him will go to heaven. That’s why people need to hear the good news of Jesus, and Jesus wants all the Christians to be his witnesses to all the nations. Jesus loves the world and everyone of us.