Matthew 28:16-20 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Everytime I hear preaching on this verse it is always pointed out about God's might. Creation, miracles, healing, etc.
Whenever I hear preaching and Acts 1:8 is given I hear about how it is our command to be witnesses. I do not deny that God is mighty. I do not deny that we are to be witnesses. However, according to context and a good understanding of what the words actually mean, I began to do word studies to strengthen the impact of the commands.
First, I began to look at the events surrounding the discourse. I already knew it was Christ. I already knew he was talking to the Disciples/Apostles. So, who, what and where were already understood. But the when was fascinating. The Roman government was in full swing. They were under the AUTHORITY of Rome. Remember when Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees? They wanted to know by whose AUTHORITY he had done miracles and preached? It was all about authority. The Romans had given The Pharisees AUTHORITY in their political matters. They gave the Sanhedrin AUTHORITY over civil matters. The Priests were given AUTHORITY over the religious matters. Then came John shaking things up. Jesus echoed what John said. Even before Pilate Christ was asked by what AUTHORITY. Jesus told him that Pilate couldn't even do what he did except he was given POWER to do so. Pilate understood.
Now, we see Jesus giving POWER to his disciples. Not to heal the sick, lame, lepers or to raise the dead but to GO and TEACH and BAPTIZE and TEACH not just in Jerusalem. But into the uttermost parts of the Earth.
Did Jesus give them MIGHT or AUTHORITY? When you stop and realize the AUTHORITY that Jesus was given and the commands given to the Apostles (and so given to us), there is nothing in this world that can tell us otherwise.
Acts 1 records the words "and ye shall be witnesses UNTO ME...." I found this also fascinating. According to proper word study we find the word WITNESSES not to mean one ready to give an affidavit of an account which we saw and heard but to go beyond that and actually be MARTYRS. So, while we go out and obey they commission Christ gave we are doing so fully knowing the cost. We are to BE a witness even to the point of martyrdom. Our conduct shouldn't be the cause for martyrdom. The Christ of our message is the cause of our martyrdom. His power (authority) is the cause for our martyrdom. How encouraging it is to know that as we go out and obey Christ that we are doing so under his authority and even if it costs us our life, we are in the right?