Volume 48 - Issue 3

Pentecost: Not Really Our Story Afterall? A Reply to Ekaputra Tupamahu

By Robert P. Menzies


Menzies responds to Tupamahu’s post-colonial critique of the Pentecostal reading of Acts and the missionary enterprise. According to Tupamahu, the disciples are marginalized Galileans who move from the periphery to the center of the Roman world. Thus, white American Pentecostals need to rethink their vision of the expansionist mission. Menzies argues Tupamahu’s racially colored, post-colonial reading of Acts distorts Luke’s intended meaning, reflects a diminished view of the gospel, and betrays the legacy of Pentecostal leaders like William Seymour. In Acts the disciples are commissioned by Jesus (Luke 24:46–49; Acts 1:4–8). Their mission centers on the Spirit-inspired proclamation of the gospel. Luke emphasizes that their mission is our mission (Luke 10:1–16; Acts 2:17–18). Thus, to reject our mission is to repudiate the significance of our message and to resist the leading of the Spirit.

I have always emphasized that the Pentecostal gift of the Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:4) is an empowering for ministry potentially available to every follower of Jesus (Acts 2:17–18; cf. Luke 10:1–16).1 This message inspired the title of one of my books, Pentecost: This Story Is Our Story.2 In this book I argue that Luke’s record of a second, larger sending of disciples (Luke 10:1–16) that follows on the heels of Jesus’s sending of the Twelve (Luke 9:1–6) should be read against the backdrop of Numbers 11:24–30, and in particular, Moses’s wish, “that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (Num 11:29). This wish begins to find fulfillment on the Day of Pentecost as Jesus pours out the Spirit of prophecy on his disciples (Acts 2:17–21; Joel 2:28–32). The movement in Luke-Acts is from the One (Jesus, Luke 3–4) to the Twelve (Luke 9), then to the Seventy (Luke 10), and ultimately to all of God’s people (Acts 2). Thus, “the church in ‘these last days,’ Luke declares, is to be a community of prophets—prophets who are called to bring the message of ‘salvation to the ends of the earth’ (Isa 49:6; Acts 1:8).”3

1. Introduction: Another Language?

In view of this understanding of the Pentecostal gift as potentially available to every follower of Christ, you can imagine my surprise when, in a plenary session at the 2023 annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS),4 I heard Ekaptura Tupamahu describe me as the chief representative of “white Pentecostalism’s” colonial theology. (Yes, I was present for Tupamahu’s presentation!) Others such as Craig Keener, James Shelton, and John Penney were named as co-conspirators as well, but I was the main target of Tupamahu’s critique, “Can Pentecostals Decouple Tongues from the Expansionist Mission?” While the scholars listed above are all white, I am the lone missionary in the group. Perhaps this explains, in part, why the cross-hairs were trained on me.

Although Tupamahu’s paper took me by surprise, it shouldn’t have. Tupamahu’s post-colonial reading of the book of Acts and the modern Pentecostal movement is not without precedent, even among Pentecostal scholars. Note, for example, Allan Anderson’s widely-influential book, An Introduction to Pentecostalism.5 Anderson cites missionary letters and writings, which often reflect a deep sense of urgency for their evangelistic efforts due to widespread spiritual “darkness” and the fact that so many they encounter are “lost.” Anderson presents these statements as evidence of “religious intolerance” and “bigoted ignorance.”6 One wonders how Anderson would assess the Apostle Paul? To the Ephesians Paul declares, “you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (Eph 5:8).7 We might also ask Anderson what he would make of the words of Jesus: “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10)?8

A more recent example of a “Pentecostal” appropriation of the post-colonial hermeneutic can be found in Amos Yong’s Mission After Pentecost.9 Yong also adopts a post-colonial hermeneutic and all of the negative assumptions about the past 200 years of missionary endeavor that come with it. According to Yong, the modern missions movement is dead. We now live in a post-colonial, post-modern, and post-Christian era. There is no looking back and thus we should probably even abandon the term “Christian missions” altogether. Additionally, from Yong’s perspective, we need not wait for the door to slam shut before we exit the failed project that has been called “Christian missions.” It was tainted by all the negative aspects of colonialism and modernity, including arrogance, self-serving motives, and racist attitudes. So, we live in a post-Christian world and we had better get used to it.10

Taking his cues from contemporary American culture, Yong’s diatribe against the missionary enterprise is infused with charges of racism. He speaks negatively about “whiteness” (p. 3), reading the Bible from a perspective of “white dominance” (p. 184), and “white normativity” (p. 226).11 Yong contrasts his own vision of the church’s mission with the former, flawed approach of the modern missions movement by declaring, “Gone are the pretensions of a modernized version of a ‘white’ gospel” (p. 283). It all adds up to a stinging indictment of the modern missions movement—an indictment that features contemporary leftist tropes articulated with a distinctively post-colonial accent.

I have elsewhere critiqued Yong’s approach, which largely rejects a traditional reading of the Bible that centers on historical meaning.12 Yong’s post-colonial hermeneutic is the fundamental flaw, the original sin that mars his work. Unfortunately, Tupamahu follows Yong (and Anderson) and adopts this Marxist-inspired hermeneutical stance.13 While, as we shall see, Tupamahu gives lip-service to a historical, grammatical reading of the biblical text, his approach is not really rooted in the historical meaning of the text. Tupamahu would undoubtedly reject the notion of historical meaning (i.e., authorial intent) as a product of the modernist and colonial mind. So, Tupamahu intentionally reads Acts in light of the narrative, ubiquitous in our age, of “oppressor versus oppressed.” Nevertheless, Tupamahu charges me and other Pentecostal scholars with the crime that he himself commits: uncritically reading our context and biases into the text. Tupamahu asserts, “American Pentecostals … project themselves into the text of Acts 2 and see the phenomenon of tongues as empowerment (i.e., permission) for them to go to every corner of the earth, speak different languages, and evangelize others.” He charges Pentecostal missionaries with establishing “white American churches” in other parts of the world. Thus, Pentecostals today must “decouple tongues from this American expansionist paradigm.” This task, Tupamahu admonishes, may be accomplished by adopting a different reading of Acts. We must see that, “the disciples are people on the periphery of Roman imperial power.” Unlike the white American missionaries “who go from the center of global power to the periphery,” Acts describes the movement of migrants who flee political violence and social instability and move from “their land to Rome.”14

Although I fear we are speaking different languages, in the pages that follow I will evaluate Tupamahu’s thesis in light of the book of Acts, Luke’s understanding of the gospel, and the nature and history of the modern Pentecostal movement.

2. Not Luke’s Story, Another Story

There is no church without the mission. There is no mission without obedience.

Tupamahu presents the disciples in Acts as poor, marginalized Galileans who move from the periphery of the Roman world to its center, Rome itself. This movement is, of course, analogous to the migrants of our world seeking to move to the centers of western power in America and Europe. In essence, Tupamahu attempts to replace the white missionary that he says I read into Acts with himself or other non-whites much like him.15 This creative, racially colored, post-colonial reading of Acts gives lip-service to Luke’s intended meaning with its description of the disciples as poor, marginalized Galileans moving from the periphery of the Roman world to Rome. Yet, Tupamahu’s reading misses four crucial points.

First, the disciples are commissioned and sent out on their mission by Jesus (Luke 24:46–49; Acts 1:4–8). The second volume of Luke’s two-volume work begins with an important, programmatic introduction. This introduction serves to connect the Acts of the Apostles, perhaps more accurately titled by Chrysostom, “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit,”16 to Luke’s Gospel of Jesus.17 However, it also highlights crucial themes that will dominate the rest of Luke’s narrative: the promise and necessity of the disciples’ baptism in the Holy Spirit; and their commission to carry on, in the power of the Spirit, the mission that Jesus began and which now centers on the proclamation of his gospel.18 Luke beautifully summarizes the content of this “good news” at the end of his Gospel: as a result of Jesus’s death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins is now available “in his name” through repentance, which involves a reorienting of one’s life in order to follow him (Luke 24:46–47).19 The Twelve, as witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection (1:3), and the future church they represent are commissioned to proclaim this gospel in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (1:8; cf. Luke 24:47). This mission, which commences in earnest with the Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit after Jesus’s ascension, extends until his return (1:11).20 The introduction concludes, as does Luke’s gospel, with the disciples waiting expectantly and praying together for the gift of the Spirit of prophecy (Luke 24:52–53; Acts 1:12–14; cf. 2:17–21). The introduction of Acts, then, describes Jesus’s call to his disciples to take up their prophetic vocation to be “a light to the nations” (Acts 1:8; Isa 49:6) and his promise to provide all they will need to fulfil this call.21

Second, this mission is not only commissioned by Jesus, it is led and inspired by the Holy Spirit.22 The disciples are scattered beyond Jerusalem due to the persecution resulting from their Spirit-inspired, bold witness for Jesus (Acts 8:1). Note how the persecution builds with Peter and John warned (4:18–21), the apostles beaten (5:40–41), and finally Stephen martyred (7:59–60). The disciples are not simply forced from their home areas due to political unrest and social instability; they are sent out by the Spirit to proclaim the gospel (1:8; 4:31). As a result, they are persecuted and ultimately scattered. The point cannot be missed: the movement of the disciples from Jerusalem, the Jewish center, to the ends of the earth is ordained by God and the result of their obedience (5:29, 32).

Third, the inception (i.e., commissioning and empowerment for) and beginning stages of the church’s mission all take place in Jerusalem and the temple courts, the very center of the Jewish faith.23 The movement is not from the margins of Rome to the center; rather, it is from the center of Judaism to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is Luke’s perspective, if not Tupamahu’s.

Peter’s first sermon after Pentecost (Acts 3:11–26) highlights this point. The restoration Peter describes (3:21) is not a restoration of the nation, or even the people of Israel, it is a “restoration of all things.” This eschatological restoration is anticipated and made possible by the arrival of the Prophet like Moses and the establishment of his community of prophets. Repentance and faith are the means by which one may be included in this restoration (Acts 2:38, 40; 3:19, 23; 4:12). Through Jesus, the servant whom God has “raised up,” God is fulfilling his promises, proclaimed by the prophets, that Abraham’s descendants (Israel) would bless the nations. Jesus is now calling and enabling Israel, the heirs of the prophets, to take up their prophetic vocation.

Peter’s sermon thus explains why restoring the kingdom to Israel is “too small a thing” (Isa 49:6; cf. Acts 1:6–8). God’s plan is much larger than this. It all begins in the temple in Jerusalem with a group of Jews who proclaim the arrival, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, the Author of Life. But it quickly moves beyond Israel as a faithful remnant fulfill their calling to be a light to the nations. This is the story that Luke tells. This gospel message, at the end of Acts, goes to both Jews (28:24) and Gentiles (28:28). The phrase, “they will listen,” in Acts 28:28 is important, for it parallels the words of Acts 3:22–23. Those among the Jews and the Gentiles who listen to the Prophet like Moses (Deut 18:15) and his servant-prophets will participate in God’s restoration of all things. This is what it means for God’s kingdom to come and this is how his people will be restored (Luke 11:3; Acts 1:6–8). While the book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome, it is intentionally open-ended.

Finally, although the beginning of the outward movement of the Christian witnesses (from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth) is the result of a scattering generated by persecution, the early church is quickly directed by the Holy Spirit to send out missionaries more formally. So, the church at Antioch commissions and sends out Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1–3).

Tupamahu makes much of my use of the term, “missionary,” in Empowered for Witness, which he states never appears in the biblical text. This is misleading because the term “apostle” and its verb form, ἀποστέλλω (“to send”), along with terms like “witness” appear frequently in Acts.24 The word, “missionary,” comes from the Latin, missi sunt (“they were sent”) and missio (“mission”). The terms ἀποστέλλω (“to send”) and ἀπόστολος (“apostle”) are the Greek equivalents that speak of “the sending out” of a person on a mission and “the one who is sent” (i.e., a missionary; Latin, missionarius). However, I do not often describe the disciples sent out in mission as “apostles” because this term is used with reference to “the Twelve” as well as others who are “sent out” (Paul and Barnabas, Acts 14:14). So, the use of this term can be confusing (which kind of apostle are we talking about?). I do use the term “witness” and “prophet” often, actually more frequently than “missionary” and “missionaries,” as a search of my PhD thesis reveals.25 Additionally, I generally use the term “missionary” in a broad sense to refer to those called and empowered to proclaim the gospel, which, as I have noted, is true potentially of every Christian (Luke 10:1–16; Acts 1–2), not simply those (like myself) engaged in cross-cultural mission, although it certainly includes this group as well.

These four points establish that in Luke’s view the disciples are not simply poor migrants fleeing political and economic instability without any clear motive other than fleeing oppression. They are sent out by Jesus, directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and, like Jesus (Luke 4:16–21; 9:51–19:27), they have a clear mission (i.e., to proclaim the gospel; Luke 24:46–49; Acts 1:8). It is also important to note that Luke does not describe this mission as the movement of those on the political margins to the center of political power, Rome. Although the disciples are generally not rich and certainly powerless in political terms, this is not Luke’s focus. Luke emphasizes that the movement is from the center of Judaism, Jerusalem and the temple, to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The story may end in Rome, but it ends intentionally unfinished. With Paul’s words ringing in our ears, “God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles and they will listen!” (Acts 28:28), Luke’s second volume ends with the declaration that Paul continued to teach “with all boldness and without hindrance” (28:31). The point should not be missed: we are called to carry out this unfinished mission.

3. Not the Gospel, Another Gospel

There is no unity without Christ. There is no Christ without the gospel.

There is an even more serious weakness to Tupamahu’s reading of Acts. His reading is not simply a repudiation of the missionary enterprise, it actually reveals a diminished view of the gospel. Once again Tupamahu appears to follow in the footsteps of Amos Yong, who consistently downplays the New Testament’s emphasis on the content of the gospel and verbal witness.26 Tupamahu’s diminished view of the gospel is reflected in his inability to define its content. The closest he gets to offering a definition is not reassuring: “The phenomenon of tongues,” we are told, is not about empowerment for mission, not about proclaiming a message; rather, it is about “the opening of social space for difference.”

Luke’s emphasis is decidedly different. In Acts 2:4 we read that those present were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to “speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” This phenomenon creates confusion among the Jews of the crowd who, we are told, represent “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). The crowd gathered in astonishment because “each one heard them speaking in his own language” (Acts 2:6). These details are repeated as Luke narrates the response of the astonished group: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language” (Acts 2:7–8)? After the crowd lists in amazement the various nations represented by those present, they exclaim, “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues” (Acts 2:11)! The disciples are enabled by the Spirit to declare “the wonders of God” in human languages they had not previously learned.

This language miracle at Pentecost is not a reversal of Babel. The disciples of Jesus who were “filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues” (Acts 2:4) did not speak a single tongue that all understood. Rather, they spoke in the multiple mother-tongues of each individual present. The cultural distinctives were not obliterated. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit enabled his disciples to embrace them and to minister through them. There were many languages, but only one message: Jesus is the resurrected and exalted Lord (Acts 2:33–36).

The rest of the narrative of Acts is filled with the disciples’ bold, Spirit-inspired witness for Jesus. A particularly powerful example is found in Acts 4:10–12. Peter, addressing “the rulers and elders of the people,” declares that it is by “the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” that this crippled man, who now “stands before you whole,” was healed (4:10). Peter’s declaration is directed to the Jewish leaders (literally, “to you all”) and to “all the people of Israel.” Jesus is once again described as the one “whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead” (4:10; cf. 3:13–16). This pattern of Spirit-inspired witness that proclaims Jesus’s death, resurrection/exaltation, and forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith in Jesus’s name was anticipated in Luke 24:46–49/Acts 1:3–8, initiated in Acts 2:32–39 (cf. 2:4), and now continues with Peter and John’s bold witness (3:13–21; 4:8–12).

When Peter and John are later confronted with the command “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (4:18), their response is noteworthy. They declare, “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (4:20). This is the response of a Spirit-inspired witness, one who has been called and empowered to proclaim a message. It reminds me of the words I heard proclaimed in a recent church service: “Missionaries are not heroes, they are simply obedient.” The mission is rooted in a call, but it centers on the proclamation of the message. To reject our mission is to repudiate or, at the very least, to diminish the significance of, our message. This is no small thing, for this message, the gospel, connects us to Christ, the source of our fellowship with God (Acts 3:19–21; Rom 1:16–17; 8:15–17) and our life together (Acts 2:42–47; Eph 2:14–22).

4. Not a Pentecostal Voice, Another Voice

There is no life without the Spirit. There is no gift of the Spirit without Christ.

The theme for the 2023 annual meeting of the SPS was, “‘In Our Own Tongues’: Amplifying Pentecostalism’s Minoritized Voices.” However, neither of the two plenary sessions offered “Pentecostal” voices.27 Tupamahu has roots in the Pentecostal movement, but he appears to have jettisoned his earlier held Pentecostal beliefs. Perhaps this lack of contemporary connection with the Pentecostal movement might help explain two other difficulties with his thesis, both historical in nature.

First, it is an established fact that the early Pentecostals who fanned out from Azusa Street to impact the world were not the wealthy, the famous, or the powerful. The world ignored the small band of Pentecostals that gathered together in Chicago’s Stone Church over 100 years ago. The occasion was the 2nd General Council of the newly formed Assemblies of God (November 1914). I am sure that at least some outside observers must have laughed when they heard the group’s bold declaration. This small band of “ordinary” people committed themselves to a remarkable goal: “the greatest evangelism the world has ever seen.”28 I find it ironic that Tupamahu lumps this group together with the powerful colonialists.29

For criticism of this inaccurate “coupling” of the missionaries with the colonial economic lords and political elite, see Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s essay, “The Missionary Enterprise and Theories of Imperialism,”30 and Paul A. Varg’s refutation of the imperialist charge. Varg concludes that “there is no evidence to support any general thesis that the missionary enterprise was merely a tool of the middle class to prepare the way for the exploitation of China.”31 It appears that it is Tupamahu’s linkage of Pentecostal missionaries with colonial power that needs to be decoupled!

Secondly, it should be noted that, even if we understand the term “missionary” in the narrow sense of cross-cultural evangelists, today the vast majority of missionaries, like those first missionaries Luke describes, are not “white” nor do they come from North America or Europe (not that I have ever implied this). Rather, most Christian missionaries today come from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. I suspect that the single largest missionary-sending country in the world is now South Korea. What is absolutely clear is that the vast majority of missionaries today come from the Majority world. Does Tupamahu maintain that these churches should cease the Spirit-inspired practice, rooted in Acts 1:8, of sending out missionaries to “the ends of the earth”? Or is it just the “white missionaries” that need to stay home?

There is a very un-Christlike racism implicit in Tupamahu’s paper. The road from William Seymour to Frantz Fanon, a source of inspiration for Tupamahu, is long and treacherous. Seymour described the inter-racial Azusa Street revival as “a melting time. The people are all melted together…. The sweetest thing is the loving harmony.”32 Fanon maintained, “For the colonized, life can only materialize from the rotting cadaver of the colonist.”33 Tupamahu, following Fanon, presents a view of the world that Pentecost seeks to obliterate (Acts 2:1–12) and from which Christ, through the Holy Spirit, offers redemption (Eph 2:14–22). Christ has torn down the “the dividing wall of hostility” and enables us together to “become a dwelling [a holy temple] in which God lives by his Spirit” (Eph 2:14, 22). Let us not follow in the ways of the world and try to rebuild that wall.

5. Conclusion: Another Place?

In addition to Tupamahu’s paper, the other plenary session, presented by Grace Ji-Sun Kim and entitled, “Reimagining Spirit,” was sub-Christian in that she refused to distinguish between the Spirit as a life-principle (Gen 2:7) and the Spirit as the source of spiritual life (regeneration) given by Christ (John 3:5).34 She also followed Yong’s faulty reading of Acts 2:17–21 by suggesting that this text teaches the Spirit is given to all people regardless of religious belief or commitment to Christ.35

It is popular these days, even in some (academic) Pentecostal circles, for people to speak of the Holy Spirit’s salvific work in and through other religions. Peter’s quotation of Joel is often cited in support of this view. This text, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17, quoting Joel 2:28), is said to refer to the work of the Spirit among people who are not followers of Jesus. In fact, the point Peter makes here is quite the opposite: faith in the message of Jesus enables people from every nation to enter the kingdom of God and to experience the Spirit’s power, which marks them as members of Joel’s end-time band of prophets.

In Acts 2 tongues speech serves as a sign that both validates the disciples’ claim that Jesus is Lord and confirms their status as members of Joel’s end-time prophetic band. So, when Peter, quoting Joel, speaks of the Spirit being poured out “on all people” (Acts 2:17), this phrase does not refer to the work of the Spirit beyond the boundaries of a specific and particular group of people, the people of God. Rather, with this passage, Luke (following Peter and Jesus) redefines the concept, “the people of God.” This group, the people of God, is no longer limited to Israel, but now includes those of every nation who believe in Jesus and receive “forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43; Acts 10 makes explicit what Acts 2 anticipates).

In fact, throughout the New Testament the salvific work of the Spirit is associated with a special gift of the Spirit (as opposed to the general operation of the Spirit in creation that gives physical life) and is always related to the proclamation, imitation, or worship of Christ. The key point to note is that the measuring stick for determining whether an experience, action, or event is inspired by the Spirit is its relationship to Christ. This is true for Luke (Acts 1:8; 2:33), for Paul (1 Cor 12:3), and for John (John 3:5–8; 20:22). The New Testament presents a uniform witness: we know that something is of the Spirit if it exalts Christ. Apart from this Christological test, we have no way of knowing whether what is being evaluated is a work of the Spirit or not. To speak, then, of the work of the Spirit in salvific ways in other religions is, at best, pure speculation.

The SPS was established a little over 50 years ago by my father, along with Vinson Synan and Horace Ward.36 It was established in order to bless the Pentecostal movement by providing biblically informed, historically vetted, theological foundations for its message and mission. I cannot help but think that all three of these notable Pentecostal leaders would have been saddened had they attended the plenary sessions on display in the March 16–18, 2023 annual meeting. The voices we heard, and this is now becoming an expected trend, were neither Pentecostal nor Evangelical.37 Some will argue that this is what academic freedom demands. However, I worry that our “hearts have become hardened” and we “have closed [our] eyes.” I fear that unless we change course, the Spirit will depart from our gatherings and go elsewhere where “they will listen!” (Acts 28:27–28).

[1] See especially Robert Menzies, Empowered for Witness: The Spirit in Luke-Acts, JPTSup 6 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), Pentecost: This Story is Our Story (Springfield, MO: GPH, 2013), and “The Spirit in Luke-Acts: Empowering Prophetic Witness,” in The Spirit throughout the Canon: Pentecostal Pneumatology, ed. Craig Keener and L. William Oliverio, Jr., JPTSup 48 (Leiden: Brill, 2022), 75–105.

[2] Menzies, Pentecost: This Story is Our Story.

[3] Robert Menzies, “The Spirit in Luke-Acts: Empowering Prophetic Witness,” Pneuma 43 (2021): 436.

[4] The 2023 annual meeting of the SPS convened from March 16–18 on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK.

[5] Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

[6] Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism, 179. See Joseph L. Castleberry’s fine book review, “History from Below Should be Fair to Missionaries Also,” Pneuma 28 (2006): 271–74.

[7] For “darkness” with reference to judgment: Matt 8:12: 22:13; 25:30; Jude 13. For references to spiritual “darkness”: Matt 6:23; Luke 1:79; 11:34; John 1:5; 3:9; 8:12; 12:35, 46; Acts 26:18; Rom 13:12; 2 Cor 6:14; Eph 5:8, 11; 6:12; Col 1:13; 1 Thess 5:4; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 2:8, 11. All English quotations from the Bible are from the NIV (2011) unless otherwise stated.

[8] Cf. Matt 10:6; 15:24; Luke 15:4, 6, 24, 32; 19:10.

[9] Amos Yong, Mission After Pentecost: The Witness of the Spirit from Genesis to Revelation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019).

[10] See Yong, Mission After Pentecost, 2–22.

[11] Yong asks, “If the postcolonial moment is in quest of the end of whiteness, does that not also mean that a mission paradigm facilitated by whiteness is coming to an end, if not already finished?” (Mission After Pentecost, 3).

[12] Robert Menzies, “A Tale of Two Stories: Amos Yong’s Mission After Pentecost and T’ien Ju-K’ang’s Peaks of Faith,” Themelios 46.2 (2021): 391–401.

[13] On the Marxist origins of intertextuality, the ideological foundation of the post-colonial hermeneutic, see Robby Waddell, The Spirit of the Book of Revelation, JPTSup 30 (Dorset, UK: Deo, 2006).

[14] All quotes are from the lengthy abstract of Tupamahu’s paper in the program of the 2023 SPS annual meeting. A complete written version of Tupamahu’s oral presentation is currently unavailable.

[15] Tupamahu was born and raised in Indonesia.

[16] Hom. 1.5, cited in Craig Keener, Acts, NCBC (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 71. Apart from Peter, the Apostles do not play dominant roles in Acts.

[17] Note how Acts 1:1–14 rehearses material found in Luke 24:36–53. This repetition highlights its importance.

[18] In the Travel Narrative of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 9:51–19:27), Luke “presents Jesus as the prophet like Moses, on a journey to Jerusalem to effect a new Exodus for the people of God” (Greg W. Forbes, The God of Old: the Role of the Lukan Parables in the Purpose of Luke’s Gospel, JSNTSup 198 [Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000], 329). Thus, the mission of Jesus, although in many respects unique, serves as a model for the disciples.

[19] Brian J. Tabb, After Emmaus: How the Church Fulfills the Mission of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021).

[20] Key summary statements in Acts chronicle the progress of the mission: Acts 2:47; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24: 16:5; 19:20; 28:30–31.

[21] This “overlap” section (Luke 24:36–53; Acts 1:1–14), then, centers on (1) the content of the gospel; (2) the priority of the mission; and (3) the urgency of the task.

[22] Acts 1:5, 8; 2:4, 17–18, 33, 38; 4:8, 31; 5:32; 6:3, 5, 10; 7:55.

[23] For “Jerusalem,” see Acts 1:4, 8, 12, 19; 2:5, 14; 4:5, 16; 5:16, 28; 6:7; 8:1. For “temple courts,” see Acts 2:46; 3:1–3, 8, 10; 4:1; 5:20–21, 24–25, 42.

[24] The term, ἀπόστολος (“apostle”), occurs 28x in Acts; ἀποστέλλω (“to send”), 24x; μάρτυς (“witness”), 13x; and μαρτυρέω (“to witness”), 11x.

[25] Although I was not able to do a digital search of terms in my Empowered for Witness, this book is based largely on my Aberdeen PhD dissertation, “The Development of Early Christian Pneumatology with Special Reference to Luke-Acts.” A search of this work reveals the following word counts: prophet, 76x; prophets, 58x; witness, 34x; witnesses, 23x; missionary, 44x; missionaries, 2x. In my short chapter, “The Spirit in Luke-Acts: Empowering Prophetic Witness,” the word counts are also telling: “missionary” (6x; plural 0x); “prophet” (7x) and “prophets” (16x); “witness” (4x) and “witnesses” (28x).

[26] See Mission After Pentecost, 178, 217, 225, 257–59, 264, 279 and Menzies, “A Tale of Two Stories,” 394–95.

[27] Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Ekaptura Tupamahu both attend Presbyterian USA churches and teach at Quaker institutions.

[28] Combined Minutes of the General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States, Canada, and Foreign Lands Held at Hot Springs, Ark. April 2–12, 1914 and at the Stone Church, Chicago, Ill. Nov. 15–29, 1914, 12,

[29] In an insightful article, Heather Curtis compares two 1910 missionary conventions: the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland and the much smaller Pentecostal convention that convened at the Stone Church. Curtis contrasts the missions strategy of the mainline churches on display in Edinburgh, which largely equated Christianization with Westernization, with the strategy of the early Pentecostals, which rejected this approach and opted for the radical strategy of highlighting the need for a transformative encounter with God. See Heather D. Curtis, “Pentecostal Missions and the Changing Character of Global Christianity,” AG Heritage (Springfield, MO: Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, 2013), 62–68, 75,

[30] Arthur Schlesinger Jr., “The Missionary Enterprise and Theories of Imperialism,” in The Missionary Enterprise in China and America, ed. John K. Fairbank (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974), 336–73. Schlesinger examines the charge that Protestant missionaries in China were imperialists through three specific lenses (or theories of imperialism): economic; political; and cultural. He concludes that the missionaries were not economic or political imperialists: “…the missionaries themselves remained a force independent of, and often at odds with, both the white trader and even more the white settler” (p. 346). Schlesinger then argues that the missionaries were, however, cultural imperialists, a charge which tells us more about Schlesinger’s theology than it does about the missionaries’ actual practice.

[31] Paul A. Varg, Missionaries, Chinese, and Diplomats (New York: Octagon, 1977), 85.

[32] William Seymour, The Apostolic Faith (Nov/Dec, 1906).

[33] Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, trans. by Richard Philcox (New York: Grave, 1963), 50.

[34] This became evident in the “Question and Answer” period. This universalistic-pantheistic view is also clearly voiced in her article, Grace Si-Jun [sic] Kim, “A Global Understanding of the Spirit,” Dialogue & Alliance 21.2 (2007): 17–31.

[35] Amos Yong, Beyond the Impasse: Toward a Pneumatological Theology of Religions (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 131. See also Yong, The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh: Pentecostalism and the Possibility of Global Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 195–202.

[36] On the history of the SPS see Glen Menzies, “The First Fifty Years of the Society for Pentecostal Studies,” Pneuma 42 (2020): 335–69.

[37] On Pentecostal identity, see my book, Christ-Centered: The Evangelical Nature of Pentecostal Theology (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2020).

Robert P. Menzies

Robert Menzies has lived in East Asia for most of the past three decades and serves as the Director of the Asian Center for Pentecostal Theology.

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