Boldness was the key to the success of the first generation of witnesses
Luke used the words boldness and boldly ten times in documenting the story of how the first Christians spread the message of the risen Christ fruitfully among all nations in one generation (Acts 4:13, 29, 31; 9:27-28; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 28:31). In those days Paul, fired up with desire to continue this mission, concluded his letter to the church in Ephesus with a brief pep talk (6:18b-20, in which he uses the word boldly twice), meaning: ‘If you’ll stay alert in praying for me, I’ll boldly tell the world about him.’
Luke emphasised the boldness shown at the start of each fresh territorial advance:
(a) Acts 4:13, 29, 31 when Peter spoke boldly in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital (see Acts 3:11–4:22) – even when the temple authorities tried to silence him, especially the Sadducees whose denial of resurrection was challenged by his message of the risen Jesus.
(b) Acts 9:27-28 when Paul, newly converted to Christ, also spoke of him boldly in Jerusalem, and the churches grew throughout the whole nation (see Acts 9:26-31).
(c) Acts 13:46; 14:3 when Paul on an overseas mission to Gentiles with Barnabas preached the gospel boldly in many nations (see chapters Acts 13:0; 14:0).
(d) Acts 18:26; 19:8 when Paul based his team in Ephesus following the bold teaching of Apollos, boldly evangelised a whole region of Western Turkey and Greece.
(e) Acts 28:31 when Paul was under house arrest for a couple of years in Rome, the capital city of the world empire, he continued to proclaim the kingdom of God boldly.
- It was not just those two apostles who witnessed boldly see (Acts 4:23-31; 4:13) the church prayed for boldness to speak out, and after God shook the house they went on to do just that effectively (verse Acts 4:31).
 Boldness is still the key for the latter day witnesses
If we latter day followers of Jesus are to accomplish the same results in one generation in readiness for our Lord’s return, we too must speak out our message boldly, that is:
- Freely – with confidence in its content
Peter affirmed concerning ‘this Jesus’ that ‘there is salvation in no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:11-12).
- Forthrightly – with plainness in presentation
The Greek word boldly is translated twice in John’s Gospel as ‘plainly’ (John 10:24; 16:25), both texts cautioning against the overuse of colourful metaphor that could fudge the historic reality of the gospel in ambiguity. Boldly does not imply bullying the hearers with emotional oratory (see 2 Corinthians 2:4). That is enemy tactics (see Galatians 4:7-8). God prefers such attitudes as ‘patience’ and ‘a soft tongue’ as the means of persuasion (see Proverbs 25:15; 2 Timothy 4:2); also ‘the [reverential] fear of the Lord’ (see 2 Corinthians 5:11) and ‘reasoning’ as when Paul ‘spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God’ in Ephesus (Acts 19:8).
- Fearlessly – with bravery when there is backlash
‘[W]e had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict’ (1 Thessalonians 2:2 English Standard Version) is rendered as ‘we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition’ in the New International Version.
- Let’s pray for God to fire us all up ‘to boldly go’ and boldly speak.