The itinerary Jesus gave for spreading the Gospel - Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the ends
of the earth - is the outline that Luke uses for the book of Acts: the Jerusalem Church,
evangelism of Judea, outreach into Samaria and then Paul takes the Gospel to the Gentile lands.
Jesus refers to a verse in Isaiah that speaks of the Servant/Messiah being a light for the
Gentiles that would bring salvation "to the ends of the earth":
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” - Isaiah 49:6:
So, reaching to the ends of the earth with the Gospel is exactly what Jesus, who is the Servant/Messiah, directs his church to do.
To begin this conversation the disciples had asked Jesus:
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” – Acts 1:6
The way Jesus did not answer this question is as important as how he did answer it. When the disciples asked him “are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”, they were
reflecting the popular opinion held among the Jews at that time concerning the ministry of the Messiah. Jesus does not say, “No, I am not going to restore Israel.” Nor, does Jesus say,
“Israel is finished, I am replacing Israel with the church.” Instead, he leaves the door wide open and insinuates that Israel will be restored, but for now there are two things that concern the disciples:
- It is not for them to know when Israel will be restored. (Acts 1:7)
- Until Israel is restored the disciples/church have a mission to reach the world with the
Gospel. (Acts 1:8)
In John 16:12-13 Jesus had told his disciples that he had much more to say to them that they would not be able to understand until the Holy Spirit came to them (See Reps & Sets October 7 – Evening). But, here Jesus says there is information that is only for the Father’s authority. Jesus tells the disciples that times and dates are “not for you to know.”
“Times” is the Greek word “chronous” which refers to the duration of the ages and the interval of
time before the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
“Dates” is the Greek word “kairous” refers to the critical events and the characteristics of the age
that lead to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Indeed, as the New Testament revelation was revealed to the apostles, the Spirit of God led the apostles to record some of the details of the coming “chronous” and “kairous,” but even with these details recorded in Scripture today the answer to the disciples questions in Acts 1:6 remain in the realm of mystery and continued anticipation.
With this verse it appears that the disciples anticipation of a restored Israel and the hope that
Jesus would establish an earthly kingdom at that time are set aside and, instead, their focus is correctly set on the ministry of the church.