The render of the famous Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Today my pastor gave me an interesting idea that, it seems to be more of a command than a promise. What is the original intention of this verse?

2 Answers 2


Grammatically, there are two statements here:

  • "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit come upon you" is a promise
  • "You will be my witnesses..." is a prophecy.

Note the lack of imperative verbs that (grammatically speaking) would be required to create a command as is the case in a passage like Matt 28:19. Thus, the passage simple says the Holy Spirit will impart power (more correctly, ability) and then witnessing will follow.

  • Sorry I have no knowledge of Greek. Is the Greek version also lack imperative verb (or whatever equivalent in Greek)?
    – Luke Vo
    Aug 7, 2018 at 2:59
  • 1
    @DatVM - "you will receive" verb is indicative future middle deponent second person plural. that is, NOT imperative. The other, "you will be" verb is exactly the same part of speech, NOT imperative at all. Hence my comments above.
    – user25930
    Aug 7, 2018 at 5:43

Actually it is not a command. Looking at the Bible context, Acts 1:8, It is written ye SHALL receive power. It is an assurance something that will surely happen. that means, the provision has been made already, waiting for an appointed time to manifest. so it's waiting till the holy gust coms Just like what God said in Acts 2:17. in the last day, that he will pour out his spirit on all people, that your son's and daughters, shall prophecy and the young men shall see visions and the old men, shall dream dream. So the Manifestation of that divine assurance, is waiting till the last days.

  • Peter described that (first century) day of Pentecost as the "last days" (Acts 2:16, 17) and the prophecy of Joel was being fulfilled before their eyes.
    – user25930
    Aug 7, 2018 at 5:49

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