By Royce Frederick

The Bible tells us about the faith and failings of the apostles when Jesus told them to “Go.” This can help us see our own sins and overcome them (Jas. 1:23-25; Rom. 15:4).


Before His death, Jesus warned His apostles, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee” (Matt. 26:31-32).

Peter sometimes thought he knew more than the Lord and argued with Him (Matt. 16:21-23). This time Peter said, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble” (Matt. 26:33). In response, Jesus foretold that Peter would even deny Jesus three times. Peter argued again, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matt. 26:35). But he did (Matt. 26:69-75). Instead of arguing, he should have listened to the Lord's assurance and instructions: Jesus would not remain dead, they would not remain scattered, and they would see Him in Galilee.

Early on the day Jesus arose, an angel at His tomb told a group of women “...‘go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him...’ And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’...‘Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me’” (Matt. 28:7, 9-10). They did not speak to anyone else, but delivered the message to the apostles (Mk. 16:8-11; Lk. 24:9-11).

Most of that glorious resurrection day passed without the apostles seeing the risen Lord. He finally appeared to them that evening (Jn. 20:19; see 1 Cor. 15:5), but their reunion was not completely joyous. “Afterward He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (Mk. 16:14). He had power to know hearts (Matt. 19:4). But their unbelief was clearly visible: they were still sitting at the table! They had not gone to Galilee.


Later, the apostles did go to Galilee (Matt. 28:16). There He commanded, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you...” (Matt. 28:19-20).

This time, the command to “go”  was much greater. It required them to travel great distances and overcome great prejudices in their hearts. It involved taking the gospel to all people in all nations — to Jews, proselytes, Samaritans, and Gentiles. “Jews” were of Jewish ancestry and Jewish religion; they lived in Israel and other nations (Acts 2:5). “Proselytes” (Acts 2:10; 8:27) were Jewish by religion, but not from Jewish ancestors. “Samaritans” were a mixture of Jewish and non-Jewish ancestry; they did not worship according to the Jewish religion. There was often hatred between Jews and Samaritans (Jn. 4:9; 8:48; Lk. 9:51-56). “Gentiles” includes all who were not Jewish by ancestry nor by religion. Sometimes they are called “nations,” “Greeks,” or “Hellenists.” Jews and Gentiles often showed great prejudice and hatred toward each other.

To accomplish His plan for all people, God first made a covenant with the Jews (Israel) only. In the last days of the Old Covenant, Jesus preached to Jews, but also had compassion on Samaritans and Gentiles (Gal. 4:4; Matt. 8:5-13; 15:21-28; Lk. 9:51-56; 17:11-19; Jn. 4:1-42). He foretold that Gentiles would enter His kingdom (Matt. 8:11; 21:43; see Gen. 12:3; Jn. 1:29). When the time was right, God removed His Old Covenant and gave His New Covenant through Jesus for all people (Col. 2:14; Heb. 8-9; Rom. 1:16).

Before returning to heaven, Jesus reminded His apostles, “...you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). Would they “go” this time?

JERUSALEM — The apostles courageously preached in Jerusalem to the people who had killed Jesus (Acts 2). That first day, three thousand obeyed the gospel! Soon, enemies arrested Peter and John and threatened them, but they boldly continued preaching (4:5-33). Later, all the apostles were put in prison. But an angel released them and said, Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (5:20). They did (5:21). Again the enemies arrested them and charged, “...you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine...,” but they replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (5:28-29). They beat the apostles and released them. And the apostles departed “...rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (5:41-42). We need to likewise preach the gospel with courage and love (see Eph. 4:15).

JUDEA and SAMARIA — Who first preached in Judea and Samaria? A “...great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles...Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:1, 4).

Philip (not the apostle, Acts 6:5) was first to preach in the city of Samaria. And “...when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12). When “...the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them” (8:14). These apostles gave the disciples some miraculous powers, then preached in Samaria and in many villages of the Samaritans (8:25).

GENTILES in ISRAEL — After Acts 2, about ten years passed before the apostles preached to Gentiles (Acts 10). In a vision, an angel told the Gentile Cornelius, “...send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter...He will tell you what you must do” (10: 5-6). He immediately sent two servants and a soldier to Joppa (10:7-8).

The next day in a vision, Peter saw all kinds of birds and animals being lowered to him from heaven. The Old Covenant had forbidden eating some kinds of meat (Lev. 11), but the New Covenant does not (Mk. 7:19; 1 Tim. 4:1-5). Peter was very hungry(10:10) and a voice told him to eat (10:13). But he argued again (even in a trance!), “Not so, Lord, For I have never eaten anything common or unclean” (10:14). A voice replied, “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (10:15). This occurred three times. Then the Holy Spirit said, ...go down and go with them...” (10:20).

In earlier years, Peter often spoke or acted without carefully thinking (Mk. 9:5-6; Lk. 9:32-33; Matt. 17:24-27). But when he went to these Gentiles, six Jewish Christians went with him and later helped him as witnesses (10:23; 11:12). In the city of Caesarea, Peter told the Gentiles, “...God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (10:28) and, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (10:34-35). Peter then preached about Jesus to these Gentiles.

Peter had taken two steps: going and preaching to the Gentiles. Two more steps remained: baptizing them in water and teaching them to observe all things the Lord had commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). A great miracle removed the last barriers. As Peter was preaching, “...the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed [Jewish Christians] were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues [languages] and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’” (10:44-47). This sign from God silenced all objections from the Jewish Christians. In Acts 2, the speakers were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and the hearers were amazed (2:7). But in Acts 10, the hearers were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and the Jewish Christians were astonished. They could not forbid water. So “...he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days” (10:48).

Like the Jews, the Gentiles were saved by faith when they were baptized in water (see Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:20-21; Eph. 4:5). To be saved from sin, a sinner must believe, repent, confess his faith in Christ, and be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Jn. 3:16; Acts 17:30; 8:36-39; Rom. 10:9-10; 6:3-5,17-18; 22:16; Mk. 16:15-16; Gal. 3:26-27).

The apostles and brethren in Judea “...heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision [Jewish Christians] contended with him (Acts 11:1-2). With the six Jewish Christians present (11:12), Peter told about the visions, the voice of the Spirit, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit (11:4-16). Then he said, “‘...who was I that I could withstand God?’ When they heard these things they became silent, and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life’” (11:17-18). The Jewish Christians in Jerusalem finally realized that they should not prevent Gentiles from obeying the gospel.

GENTILES in OTHER NATIONS — The Gentiles in Acts 10 lived in Israel, not in a foreign nation. “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists [Gentiles], preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:19-21)! Again, brethren in Jerusalem heard about this and sent Barnabas to Antioch (11:22). He “...was glad and encouraged them...And a great many people were added to the Lord” (11:23-24). Finally! The gospel was preached freely to Jews and Gentiles!

Their teachers did not show jealousy, but worked together to save and strengthen souls (11:25-26; 13:1). They even listened to teaching from Saul of Tarsus, who — before obeying the gospel — had killed and persecuted disciples and caused much of the scattering (Acts 8:1; 9:131; 22:4)! They assembled and grew together (11:26). The forgiveness and fellowship at Antioch were marvelous!

Is it any wonder that Antioch was honored in a very special way? “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26; see Isa. 62:2; 1 Peter 4:16)! By loving all people without prejudice, the disciples at Antioch showed us what the name “Christian” really means!

Every person on earth is equally precious to God! In Christ, there are no castes, no upper and lower classes. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). We must love all people of all nations, men and women, rich and poor, without prejudice of any kind (Jas. 2:1-13; 3:17; 1 Tim. 5:21).

When the Lord says, Go,He means, Go. Antioch taught the gospel at home and far away (Acts 13-20). We do not have apostles on earth today. But we do have millions of souls lost in sin, and we have the gospel which is God's power to save them eternally. All Christians must help in saving souls (Jn. 15:1-5; Gal. 5:22-23; Matt. 5:16; Phil. 1:27; Jude 3). By the example of our life and the message of our lips, we must take the gospel to family members, neighbors, and all people. When we teach and encourage everyone alike, many souls will be added to the Lord!