THE BOOK OF ACTS
The Book of Acts is one of the greatest battlegrounds of Scriptural debate. This is due to its transitional nature, a feature that is too often overlooked.
Rather than being (as it has generally been supposed) a pattern for us to follow in this “dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2), the Book of Acts is the record of the fall of
Israel(Rom 11:11-12, 25) and God’s reason for sending salvation to the Gentiles (Act 28:28), apart from the favored nation of . Israel
The Book of Acts provides the explanation as to why the program found in the early chapters has passed away and confirms the declaration of the epistles of Paul that the fulfillment of the prophetic program has, for the present, given way to the unfolding of “the mystery (Greek, musterion, secret)” program of God.
SESSION 9 – Getting Our Bearings
Hebrews 2:3-4 How shall we (Hebrews - Israel) escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be SPOKEN by the Lord (in the Gospels), and was CONFIRMED unto us by them that heard him (the twelve Apostles); 4 GOD ALSO BEARING THEM WITNESS, both with signs and wonders (in early the Acts chapters), and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
So Acts begins in still in “Time Past,” concerning that which was “spoken by all the prophets” and then repeated by John the Baptist, then Jesus of Nazareth, and then “the Twelve” concerning Israel receiving the “kingdom of heaven” that was oft prophesied and promised to come to earth.
A. The Book of Acts is a Continuation from where Luke ends his so-called Gospel
The Book of Acts begins with the continuation of the ministry of Jesus found in Matthew thru John.
- Acts 1 and Luke 24 (below) demonstrate that… Acts continues where Luke left off.
- Early Acts is STILL in “TIME PAST.”
Jesus’ Parable describes God keeping The Door to the Kingdom open to Israel for a Year
Luke 13:6-9 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, THESE THREE YEARS (of Jesus ministry) I (Jesus) COME seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, LET IT ALONE THIS YEAR also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: 9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then AFTER THAT THOU SHALT CUT IT DOWN.
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, FORGIVE THEM; FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO (crucifying Jesus)…
Acts 3:17 And now, brethren, I wot (Gk., eido, know) that THROUGH IGNORANCE YE (
) DID IT (crucified Jesus), as did also your rulers. Israel
’s minds were blinded in unbelief (Jn 12:34-41). This is no excuse but it does make a difference in the penalty. God Himself uses this legal technicality to express His tender mercies to His favored people as He claims for them this renewed opportunity for repentance in the early Acts period, up to the stoning of Stephen. Israel
B. The Book of Acts is a Book of Transition:
> While Acts opens with a renewed opportunity of repentance extended to the nation
Israel… it concludes with salvation sent ““to the Gentiles” apart from and in spite of that once favored nation of . Israel
Compare these - Note Transition from “
” to “the Gentiles.” Israel
Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time RESTORE AGAIN THE KINGDOM TO ISRAEL?
Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should FIRST have been spoken to you (Israel): BUT seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, WE TURN TO THE GENTILES.
Acts 28:28 Be it known therefore unto you (the Jewish Leaders in
), THAT THE SALVATION OF GOD IS SENT UNTO THE GENTILES, and that they will hear it. Rome
Note Transition of God’s focus from Israel to the Gentiles; beginning with Peter’s experience at Cornelius’ house in Acts 10 in preparation for Peter to recognize Paul’s unique call to “the Gentiles.” God prepared Peter for the transition to come via Paul “the apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom 11:13)
Acts 10:44-47 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word (at Cornelius’ house). 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on THE GENTILES also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we (of the little flock)?
Notice that this above violated the original requirement which was to “repent and be baptized” to “receive the Holy Spirit” (Act 2:38) – BUT NOW only believing was necessary.
Paul clearly states the new basis of Salvation since “the Law” is no longer the issue; now the gospel of “salvation by grace through faith alone” has gone to the Gentiles.
Acts 16:31 they (Paul and Barnabas) said (to the Gentile Philippian jailer), BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED, and (this offer is extended to) thy (whole) house.
Notice again the Transition of focus from “
” to “the Gentiles”: Israel
PETER preaches to
Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Acts 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto THE JEWS ONLY.
PAUL Declares the Transition;
Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you (Israel): but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, WE TURN TO THE GENTILES.
Acts 18:6 And when they (the Jews) opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from HENCEFORTH I WILL GO UNTO THE GENTILES.
Acts 28:28 Be it known therefore unto you, that THE SALVATION OF GOD IS SENT UNTO THE GENTILES, AND THAT THEY WILL HEAR IT.
Peter Preached this to
in Early Acts: Israel
Acts 3:19-21 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ (as Messiah), which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things (the Davidic Kingdom), which God hath SPOKEN BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN. (the promised everlasting Kingdom on earth)
Now Paul Preaches “the Gospel of the Grace of God” in Latter Acts;
Acts began with that which was “spoken by all the prophets since the world began” and ends with that which was “kept secret since the world began.” The transition has taken place; from the Prophecy program concerning
’s promised “kingdom of heaven” on earth to… Paul’s “the Mystery” (God’s secret plan) going to the Gentiles (Acts 28:28 above) as the “the church, which is His body (of Christ)” (Eph 1:22b-23a). Israel
Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I (Paul) my life dear unto myself, so that I (Paul) might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I (Paul) have received of the Lord Jesus, to TESTIFY THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD. (NOTE - NOT “the gospel of the kingdom”)
Paul Shares the Mystery Gospel:
Ephesians 3:1-9 For this cause I PAUL, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that BY REVELATION HE (Christ) MADE KNOWN UNTO ME THE MYSTERY; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in THE MYSTERY of Christ) 5 Which in other ages WAS NOT MADE KNOWN unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets (Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy. Etc) by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body (the Body of Christ, Gal 3:28)), and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel (of the grace of God): 7 Whereof I (Paul) was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the GENTILES the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY (that is CHRIST IN YOU), which FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD HATH BEEN HID IN GOD, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
- The Book of Acts naturally divides into two sections to demonstrate that Paul was the perfect replacement for Peter and “the twelve” as the transition from the Peter’s “Kingdom Gospel” to Paul’s “Grace Gospel” occurs.
“Time Past” (Before the Dispensation of Grace)
“But Now” under Pure Grace
After the Dispensation of the Law
: ACTS 1-12 Peter Ministry
< Peter and then Paul’s > Ministry & Acts were…
: ACTS 13-28 Paul Ministry
Act 3:6 a lame man is healed – a sign of the kingdom power and authority is being offered.
First Miracle Dispensational transition is Foreshadowed
Acts 13 – a Jew blinded & the Gentile healed – Dispensational transition is Foreshadowed
Both Condemns sorcerers
Both Raise the dead
Both do special miracles
Both Lay on hands to impart the Holy Spirit
Acts 4 & 12
SESSION 9 to be continued…