The book of Acts opens with Luke relating to us how Jesus appeared repeatedly to His disciples over the 40-day period between His resurrection and His ascension (1:3). Luke then provides a key account of one of His appearances to them (1:4-11).
At that time, Jesus commanded His apostles to “wait for the promise of the Father” (1:4). The record of the subsequent conversation between Him and His disciples (1:6-8) concludes with His declaring, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (1:8).
What did Jesus mean when He instructed them that they would be witnesses unto Him everywhere in the world? To answer this question properly, we should allow the book to interpret itself by following the flow of thought in the book concerning the witness of the apostles.
The next occurrence of the word witness is at the conclusion of Luke’s record of Peter’s authoritative direction concerning the replacement for Judas (1:15-22): “Beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection” (1:22). Here Peter, who was present when Jesus declared the statement that Luke recorded earlier concerning the apostles being witnesses unto Him (1:8), reveals to us what was central in their being such witnesses—they were to be witnesses of His resurrection!
The first account of apostolic evangelistic testimony to Jesus (2:1-40) confirms this interpretation. In his message on Pentecost, Peter powerfully testified to the resurrection of Christ (2:24-32).
Every subsequent lengthy record of apostolic evangelism also highlights apostolic proclamation of His resurrection (3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30-37; 17:31). These accounts show that testimony to the Resurrection was part of the essential content of all the major evangelistic messages of both the Christ-appointed leaders of the Church, Peter (Acts 2, 3, 4, 5, 10) and Paul (Acts 13, 17).
Based on this data, as well as much other Scripture (e.g., Luke 24:46-48; 1 Cor. 15:1-15) we can be certain that Christ would also have us to be witnesses of His Resurrection!
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