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The end of the earth

Acts 1:8 - 

        {NKJV}- “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."

    It is imperative that when we read the scripture, if we have any twinge of a question or an inquisitive though in our hearts that we investigate immediately. I personally use the online Bible study site called the Blue Letter Bible. With respect to our study verse, I was reading it in the New King James Version and the Lord pointed out that the verse says “to the end {singular} of the earth” as opposed to the “ends” {plural} of the earth. I had always heard that the disciples were sent to the “ends” of the earth, meaning the “four corners of the earth” and reading this I wondered where I had learned that as well as what the truth is. 

    First of all, I had associated it with Matthew 24:14 which states that the gospel of the kingdom would be preached to all nations. We tend to think of “nations” in terms of geographical land structures that are bound by borders. This creates quite a dilemma for the preacher of the gospel because geographical borders and nation names change constantly. For instance, the United States wasn’t a country until slightly over 200 years ago, as well, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia were all founded and designated after the conclusion of WWI. I could go on and on about the dissolved countries and founded countries that have risen and fallen since the time of Jesus’ first manifestation! If I did that we would see that keeping up with every person in every newly formed or recently dissolved country would mean that the end never would come. What if there was a person who lived in Germany at the beginning of WWII and they heard the Gospel and then when Israel became a state in 1948, that person returned there- we would have to follow them and preach the Gospel to them in Israel as well!! Impossible!! Therefore, it is of the uttermost importance that we allow the Bible to define the Bible on this, and everything. 

    To that end, examine for a moment Genesis 25:23. 

    "23 And the LORD said to her: "Two nations [are] in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; [One] people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger."

    Here God is speaking to Rebecca and He says that the twins in her womb are two “nations.”  We would not have said it that way. We would have said they were two babies, but God sees all of their seed ad descendants from before their own birth! 

    Making exception for the definition of a “nation” based on the Word of God then , we learn that “nations” are not geographic locations but people!

Thus, when we read in Matt 24:14 that the gospel must be preached to all nations, we understand two things. One that each people group on the earth will hear the gospel of the Kingdom and two that each person from each “nation” will be given the opportunity to receive the atoning work of Jesus Christ. From this perspective, it stands in perfect reason that God is not slack concerning His promise, as some consider slackness; but He wants everyone to come to repentance and the only way for that to happen is for everyone to have the opportunity to do so! {2 Peter 3:9}

    Therefore, what is the meaning of Acts 1:8. At first glance, it would appear that the Lord was speaking of geographical locations that the disciples would travel unto preaching the gospel. In fact, the translators of the original King James Version believed exactly that and thus translated the end of the verse differently :

       "8 But 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.”

This phrase, “the uttermost part” sounds as though it refers to a geographical, topographical location, however the phrase in the original Greek is actually only one word. That word is the Greek word “eschatos” {It is where we get the word Eschatology- the study of end times from}. And it means “last things”, “end of these days”, “these last days”, “ at the end times.” Hence, the phrase “uttermost part” does not mean the farthest reaches of the globe as such, but it refers to the uttermost time that this earth will still exist- the last days! Now then, the glaring question presents itself- the apostles died so how was this a true statement of Jesus if it means that the disciples would preach until the time of the end? 

 First, just prior to our Lord’s crucifixion, He prayed to His Father, and our Father and said these words:

John 17:20-

"I do not pray for these alone; but also for those who will believe in Me through their word:”

and the Apostle John says:

John 20:30-31-

 “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples; which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in HIs name."

    Taking into consideration these two verses, we understand that even though the disciple’s physical bodies have been consumed by the earth again, their words, their preaching remain speaking to the world through the scriptures!!! It is their words, written for us that caused us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we have received life in His name!!! 

Second, although Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria were {and are} all very real places that the words of the disciples were spoken in, consider that they each also metaphorically represent a “type” of person. A Nation if you will. Moreover, we can relate them this way:

    Jerusalem would, of course be the house of Israel, the religious Jews to whom the gospel must first be offered.

    Judea would represent those on the outside. They are still the house of Israel, but they are not the religious leaders as are those in Jerusalem. They are in effect the laity from whom royal blood is still drawn. 

    Samaria would represent the gentiles. Samaritans were hated by the religious Jews because they were a mixed breed of Gentile and Jew. They represent the masses of humans who appear to be Gentiles but have Jewish blood flowing through their veins that they know nothing of and so they are distanced from the house of Israel. 

If we accept these three representations, we can clearly see that there are only these people groups forever, and they, each of them, must have the choice of accepting or rejecting Jesus no matter where they live or when they live- even to the end of the earth!

In conclusion, it is evident that the gospel of the Kingdom must be revealed to all humans who are able to make a choice to receive Christ or not, and these opportunities will continue until the earth is no more and a new heaven and a new earth are birthed. In the age to come- the millennial reign, we, as tribulation saints will go in and out of the Holy City and preach the gospel of the Kingdom to all human flesh who survive prior to the final judgment of God the Father on the last day. Truly Jesus spoke when He said that the gospel of the Kingdom would be preached in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and to the end of the earth!

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