In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Uttermost Parts of the Earth
In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul examines Jesus’ command of His disciples to be His witnesses throughout the world.
The New Testament book of Acts is usually understood to mean that this book concerns the acts of the apostles. But some scholars have said that it would be better named “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” because the central character who is manifested in this book is the third person of the Trinity, who enables, empowers, and who leads His church into its earliest period of expansion. Now we know that the book of Acts was written by Luke, who also wrote the gospel of Luke; and the book of Acts is more or less the gospel of Luke, chapter—or, volume—two, where Luke carries on the narrative history of the early church, from the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and then tells us how the church grew and moved into its appointed field of labor.
Now it’s important for us, if we’re going to understand the book of Acts, to see something of the outline that the author of the book follows. Now you remember that when Jesus gave His Great Commission to His disciples before He left, He told them that they were to be His witnesses. Where? In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. Now think about it—that it begins in Jerusalem. Now in what part of Palestine do we find Jerusalem? It’s in Judea, in the southern part of the country. And Galilee is in the north. And the northern part of the country is separated, or divided, from the south—which is Judea—by Samaria. And so what Jesus does is command the church to move basically out from the center in concentric circles, so that the ministry of the Christian church, the newborn church, begins in Jerusalem, then moves out to the circle of Judea, and then goes and incorporates Samaria, and from there, to all the world into the uttermost parts of the earth.
And the way the book moves, the book of Acts, is that it begins in Jerusalem and tells us what is happening in the primitive church in Jerusalem, and then we begin to hear of its expansion into Judea, then to Samaria. And the largest section of the book follows after the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul, who then is taking the gospel to the Gentiles—to the uttermost parts of the earth.