Supplement to Manual One
“Rightly Dividing Gods Word of Truth”
2 Timothy 2:15
While working on Manual Two, “Israel in Prophecy and the times of Restoration” which concerns Israel’s history and her Prophetic future, I met a sister on line who holds to the Acts 28:25-28 teaching for when the Body of Christ began. Our discussion prompted me to research this subject and I learned some new points and have enjoyed it so much that I decided to do this article presenting the four main teachings for When Did The Body of Christ Begin. (2007-2008)
The four basic views for, When the Church which is the Body of Christ began are; the traditional view which is based on Acts 2 at Pentecost. While amongst the dispensational teachers there are three different views.
The first of these three is based on Acts 9 with the calling of Saul by Christ on the road to Damascus, the next view is at Acts 13 when Saul is severed by the Holy Spirit and sent to the nations, following the severing is when we for the first time read of him as Paul and as the Apostle Paul. The third viewpoint is Acts 28 which records Paul’s last attempt to persuade the Jewish leaders in Rome that Jesus was their messiah, and the Son of God. His appeal was rejected by most of the religious leaders in attendance and Paul quotes Isaiah 6:9,10 and also tells them, that those of the nations will hear his evangel.
The book of Acts then closes with Luke the writer in the role of historian, telling us that Paul was in Rome for two years under house arrest. Acts 28:30,31 “Now he remains two whole years in his own hired house, and he welcomed all those going in to him, heralding the kingdom of God, and teaching that which concerns the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, unforbidden.”
During those two years he writes the prison epistles, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and maybe Philemon. These letters contain very specific information about and for the Body of Christ, the new administration of which he was called to be the Apostle for and in those letters he fully reveals what was given to him by means of the revelations he received from Christ of which he says was not only his specific evangel…as my evangel. Romans 2:16, but that he was given secrets to reveal his disciples.
In those revelations Paul was given information, never before known concerning a new administration, said to be a joint body made up of Jews and Gentiles. This joint body is also, called, only by Paul, the Body of Christ of which only Paul again is the one who tells us this was to be a new administration which would replace the old, that of Israel and the Mosaic Law. Paul taught early on this joint body would be made up of Jew and Gentile, replacing Israel, temporarily…..and that it had been a secret hidden in God for the ages. Ephesians 3:3,9
The view which prompted this study was the Acts 28:28 viewpoint and so lets first read the prophecy its followers base their view on, which was quoted by Paul in Acts 28:25-28 but was given by Isaiah hundreds of years earlier. This will help us to familiarize ourselves with the key passage used by those with the Acts 28 viewpoints. Isaiah 6:9,10 “Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive; For the heart of this people is waxed gross and their ears are dull of hearing and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and should be converted (repent) and I should heal them.”
This is applied by the Acts 28 followers to prove that this was then the time when Israel was cast away or divorced again by Jehovah which would allow Paul to reveal the secret of which he only had been entrusted with for the Body of Christ. But we are going to learn that prophecy in Isaiah was quoted first by Jesus long before Paul comes on the scene and is recorded in each gospel account before Paul uses it.
Let’s first go back in time to Isaiah’s day for a little background information of when this prophecy was given. Isaiah 1:1 tells us, he gave this prophecy in “the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah” The Prophet Isaiah also foretold the coming of the Babylonian servitude as recorded in 2 Kings 20:16-18 and Isaiah 39:1-8.
The Babylonian servitude came after the death of King Hezekiah and followed the first siege on Jerusalem by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. For comparison as to the time frame of Isaiah’s life and his ministry, we find that King Uzziah died in 649 B.C. and it is supposed that from then until the death of Isaiah it was about 65 years. It is thought that Isaiah was in his 80’s when he died. Bullinger’s notes state that Isaiah was a contemporary of Hosea, Micah and Nahum. This time frame shows us that Isaiah gave that prophecy which foretold Israel’s blindness long before she was divorced, which made her lo ammi by Jehovah….if we use the sign of Jerusalem’s destruction by Babylon as its evidence.
So we see, Isaiah died before Babylon conquered Jerusalem with that city being besieged three times before it was utterly destroyed. The first siege on Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar was in 497 B.C. which would be in the time frame of about 200 years after Isaiah gave his prophecies. This first siege was when Daniel as a young boy was taken to Babylon along with about 10,000 others, who are said to have been the cream of the crop of Israel. Taking young healthy and intelligent men for a special purpose which was, to educate them in the Babylonian culture and laws and then place them in positions of authority throughout Israel and Assyria….ruling over the Jews in distant lands but who were then subjects under the Babylonian Empire.
That first siege, and the taking of these young men to Babylon for education began the 70 years of servitude which was followed a short time later, by a second siege as the vassal king, which Nebuchadnezzar allowed to stay in Jerusalem rebelled and so Nebuchadnezzar returned and ended his reign by taking him and others captives to Babylon.
This began the 70 years of captivity. This was followed by another rebellion which caused Nebuchadnezzar to return again and that was the third siege in which King Nebuchadnezzar then destroyed the city and temple taking more Jews back to Babylon. This then officially began the 70 years of desolation for the land of Israel which was about 20 years after the first siege. It is important to understand that there were three sieges which cause the 70 years to overlap each other as those who work at fixing dates have sometimes missed this and thus the discrepancy of dating the following events is a result.
With the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and the land desolated happening with the third siege and is when the 70 years of desolation began for the land, returning it Sabbaths long neglected by Israel. So with the final destruction of the city and temple, the nation of Israel was for sure lo ammi if not before, but this certainly would have been the evidence of the official divorce for Israel and thus the words given in Isaiah 6:9,10 describing her blindness were certainly also in affect for her as a nation!
But, Jehovah always has a remnant of faithful believers and even though He had divorced the nation of Israel, He continued to work with and through individuals in Israel who were faithful to Him. Why were some faithful? Perhaps it was because He directly communicated with them, His Spirit giving them the faith to believe, and the strength to remain faithful. His Spirit is what is needed for any of us in order to be able to believe and trust in Him. The book of Daniel gives us insight into this.
Before Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonian Empire, about 134 years earlier, the nation of Israel had a civil war between the sons of Solomon and over idolatry and so the nation was divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. The 10 tribe kingdom, was called Israel, they left Jerusalem and Jehovah, having fallen into idolatry, they moved to Assyrian territory and there they were first conquered by Assyria; the then world power.
Assyria was later conquered by Babylon, thus the 10 tribe kingdom fell under the Babylonian empire first. This is why I say, the lo ammi status may have begun earlier? Although Jehovah continued to protect Jerusalem until Judah, while they remained faithful to Him, but the two tribe kingdom also fell into Idolatry and Jehovah allowed Babylon to conquer them, .demonstrating they were no longer, ammi which means, His People.
Hosea was another prophet living at that time and with the 10 tribe kingdom and he wrote Hosea 1:9 foretelling the divorce, as the name was given of lo ammi, which in the Hebrew, means Not My People. This name signifies Israel in the condition of divorce. Hosea also warned Judah they too would be divorced, but they remained faithful for about 134 years before they fell into utter idolatry. So we see the 10 tribe kingdom was conquered by Assyria and then Babylon conquered Assyria and thus the 10 tribe kingdom was under the Babylonian Empire. There is something about the fact that the 10 tribes goes into idolatry first and it would seem they were in the lo ammi status first.
As said, later the two tribe kingdom of Judah also turned to idolatry, unfaithful to Jehovah and so His protection was withdrawn and King Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon conquered Jerusalem with three sieges, over a 20 year period of time in the 3rd siege Jerusalem and the temple were burnt to the ground and the land was laid desolate. In this lo ammi condition, the nation as a whole was without His protection as their husbandly owner and also without His Spirit which is needed for any kind of spiritual understanding and they also lost the right to rule themselves, The Nation or Kingdom of Israel lost their sovereignty as they were no longer under His protection as their husbandly owner. Thus their enemies were able to conquer them.
There is another interesting account given by Ezekiel which shows Jehovah leaving the city of Jerusalem, spoken of His glory leaving which is also interpreted of the Shekinah glory leaving Israel and her temple at Ezekiel 11:22. If we read the 11th and 12th chapters we see the prophet is devastated by what he is told and shown. He is shown Jehovah leaving His People and the coming captivity but Jehovah reassures him that He will watch over His People even while scattered in the world and one day they will be brought back to Israel and reunited. Ezekiel is also later shown the return of Jehovah’s glory at Ezekiel 43:1-7. It seems Ezekiel was one of the captives that were taken to Babylon by what is said in Ezekiel 1:1-3. Bullinger’s notes state that he was a priest and taken into captivity with Jehoiachin’s captivity, so this would be in the second siege and 11 years before the third siege when the temple is destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. So this would also make Ezekiel a contemporary of Daniel.
This conquering of Jerusalem and its destruction with the desolation of the land was also the meaning of the term of the times of the Gentiles, which means Israel would be dominated by their enemies and so this is when we could say those times of domination began for the nation of Israel. The entire 12 tribes were absorbed into the Babylonian World Empire, and scattered amongst the surrounding nations. I believe those times of Gentile domination continued, even after Babylon was conquered by the Medo Persian Empire which allowed Jew to return to Jerusalem and rebuild but under their authority and what I find significant is that only 5% of those take from Jerusalem returned to rebuild, how could this be considered the restoration of Israel as described in many prophecies to include all 12 tribes returning, but more on this further on.
Jerusalem and the other nations were living under the Persian empires control and Persia later was conquered by the Grecian Empire so under those of Israel under that Gentile powers control and following the death of Alexander the Great, his empire split into four kingdoms and two later evolved into the Roman Empire. So this is showing us that Israel was continually dominated by Gentile world powers from the time of the Babylonian domination and right on down to the days of Jesus and in Paul’s days, so how could they not still be lo ammi? The Roman empire finally destroys the temple Herod built and the city of Jerusalem at A.D. 70 sending the rest of the Jews into other countries.
So my point being after their Babylonian captivity the Nation of Israel was never fully restored in the way prophecy describes her restoration, the key, is that all the prophecies concerning those times must be fulfilled and they are said to be the times of restoration and are what Peter spoke of in Acts 3:20,21. The 12 tribes, the house of Judah and the house of Israel are to be reunited, that has never happened.
In Acts 3….The King James uses the word; wrongly of restitution in this passage, while it is correctly translated as restoration in the CLV, and Bullinger’s notes correct this also, but for a complete discussion on this word versus the correct word of restoration please refer to Manual two or do an in depth study into this on your own..
The prophecies for Israel also include that when she is restored it will be a returning to the covenant relationship with Jehovah, which was lost when she was divorced, 400 hundred or so years before Jesus was born. Manual Two goes into these many prophecies which are given for her restoration, and which is yet in the future.
The Acts 28 viewpoint for when the Body of Christ began is based in the teaching that Israel was restored, taken back by Jehovah when the 70 years of captivity to Babylon were over and when the Persian King released them to go home and rebuild which was delayed until the 70 years of desolation were up. So the Acts 28 teachers believing that Israel had been restored made ammi, as His People again and so they then believe that she would then need to be cast away or divorced again! Why?
Because, if Israel become ammi, this name meaning, My People again, He would be back in the covenant relationship with Israel. How could God begin a new administration, which is a joint body of people called from all the nations of the world, not just from Israel also said to be My People by Paul at Romans 9:25,26? It is important to understand the covenant was likened to a marriage contract, so to say it simply in human terms, Jehovah as husband and Israel the wife…Jehovah could not take another wife while still married to Israel.
Before God could turn to the nations and create a new administration to replace Israel, as His People, He would have to end the relationship with Israel, again. In others words He would end Israel’s administration before beginning a new one especially since Israel’s covenant is based on Law keeping…and the new administration under the apostle Paul is based in Grace which is given freely. But I feel they were never restored and so did not need to be divorced again…thus God was free to begin a new administration whenever He pleased! But that also relates to Christ’s death which opens the door for God to be conciliated with world…in other words all nations. 2 Corinthians 5:19
The reasoning behind the Acts 28 viewpoint is that before Paul would be allowed to reveal the secret or mystery about a new administration, Israel had to first be divorced, again. So, it is said, by them, that Paul did not reveal the secret hidden in God for the ages which is the Body of Christ, until after Acts closes and while in prison Paul writes the letter to the Ephesians and first reveals the new administration, the secret hidden in God for the ages. The Acts 28 teachers state that it is in those letters that we will find for the first time Paul speaking of the secret which is the Body of Christ and that the Body did not begin until then.
Is this true? I don’t think so, as I feel the scriptural evidence will show us otherwise. But we are going to thoroughly check this viewpoint out along side the other ones. In this article we will go through the book of Acts as well as through the four letters Paul wrote before Acts closes looking for clues or hints as to what Paul was teaching before he was imprisoned at Rome. Was he during Acts teaching about the Body of Christ and were those whom he discipled the first members of it? So when did the Body of Christ begin?
After we give an introduction to each of the four viewpoints on When the Body of Christ began we will then discuss the many reasons why I have believed for some time now, that Israel was not taken back when her 70 years of captivity, servitude and desolation ended but that she remained lo ammi right on down to Paul’s day and of course, she is still lo ammi today.
The Traditional viewpoint is that the Body of Christ began at Pentecost….Acts 2
We are not going to do an in depth discussion on the traditional, evangelical view for the church which is the Body of Christ beginning at Pentecost as we are convinced that view is not correct because it does not follow Paul’s counsel to “rightly divide or correctly cut God’s Word” at 2 Timothy 2:15. Briefly, our reasons are that at Pentecost, it was the Church which Jesus began in His ministry which was added to by the Lord. Acts 2:41, 47
That Church was made up of Jews and Proselytes to Judaism. Jesus told us that He went only to the “lost sheep of the House of Israel” in His ministry, and He told His disciples to also only go to those of Israel. Matthew 10:6. He designated that His church was to have 12 Apostles. Judas failed and was replaced later by Matthias at Acts 1:23-26. Saul of Tarsus was not in attendance.
The gathering in Jerusalem at Pentecost was an annual holy day for Jews, with some Jews coming from far distant countries and these would be some of the Jews in dispersion with some probably being of the 10 tribes which had left Jerusalem centuries earlier and who had scattered to other lands through persecution from their enemies. The name Jew comes from the name Judah and thus is called the religion of Judaism. The 12 tribes of Israel would more accurately be said to be Israelites or Hebrews and sons of Israel.
Jesus, during His earthly ministry, said that He was building His church and he commissioned Peter to be the head of it after His death, Matthew 16:18. The apostles of Jesus were also told to only go to those in the land of Judea, Samaria and the entire land of Israel. These saints are not in the Body of Christ, they were forming the bride of the lambkin….and the kingdom they are to inherit will be here on this earth.
Those added to the church, begun by Jesus that day at Pentecost were men of Israel; this was not a calling to Gentiles. We also dismiss the evangelical view that the Body of Christ began at Pentecost because the Apostle Paul was not present. Before he becomes the Apostle Paul, we read of him as Saul of Tarsus persecuting the believers in Jesus Christ, and he was not called by Christ until seven years after Pentecost, Acts 9. ….and he does not begin his apostleship and use of his name Paul for about another 14 years, we read of him as the apostle Paul only after his severance from Israel at Acts 13 and 14.
The Apostle Paul then began his missionary journeys amongst the nations and this is when he also begins to use his Roman name of Paul. Since he was not in attendance at Pentecost the secret which was given to him only to reveal and which is said to be “the secret hidden in God” and the secret is of the Body of Christ and so this shows us that secret was still hidden at Pentecost. Peter knew nothing of it.
The apostle Peter knew nothing about the Body of Christ at Pentecost; it was to be revealed later through Paul. Paul also writes of it in Colossians 1:25-27 and this secret was given only to him to dispense, it remained hidden for many years after Pentecost. Christendom does not recognize this or that there were two distinct groups of saints following the death of Jesus. The Body of Christ did not begin at Pentecost as they teach. So when did it begin? The purpose of this article is to see if we can find the answer to that question.
It is very important to understand the differences with the two churches, the bride church begun by Jesus; had as its members, Jews called out of the House of Israel, the only Gentiles in it would have been proselytes to Judaism. The twelve apostles and their faithful disciples are destined to be the “bride of the Lambkin” in the Messianic Kingdom on earth. Peter was made the head of that group of saints by Jesus.
Paul is called later and at his severing from Israel was commissioned as the Apostle for the nations, out of which God calls the Body of Christ. Paul tells us this very plainly, Christ is our “Head, as the Head of the church of which we are His Body….” at Ephesians 1:22,23. It is this information which was given only to Paul to reveal and the information which “completed the Word of God.”
The reason why he said this is that only Paul was given the revelations concerning the secret, the new administration destined to replace Israel as His People and so it is publicly revealed through his letters. His information had been kept a secret by God. It had not been talked about by the prophets so it was said to be a mystery or secret and untraceable since it can not be found in the Old Testament…. That secret is about a new administration. Ephesians 3:8
The 12 Apostles for the Jewish remnant church knew nothing of this secret and this is why he tells us “he learned it not from men” but by means of direct revelations from Christ at Galatians 1:10-13. Also part of that secret is that this new administration is called to heaven and will not be part of Israel’s kingdom on this earth. There are other secrets Paul refers to in his letters or perhaps they add more details to this one? I have made a list of the different secrets he refers to in his letters and we will look at them at the end of this supplement and see if we can determine if they are separate secrets or are they all part of one large secret.
So, then, we are back to our original question….if the Body of Christ did not begin at Pentecost,
when did it begin? I belie it has been easily shown that Paul was not at Pentecost and since he is the Apostle for the Body of Christ and given the secret concerning it to reveal and so logically, the Body of Christ did not begin at Acts 2.
We know that the Church which is the Body of Christ began sometime during Paul’s ministry.
So we now turn to the three other places in Acts which are pointed towards for when the Body of Christ began. The first is at Acts 9 with Saul’s calling by Christ, the second view is it at Acts 13 with Saul’s severing which is where it always seemed logical to me as this is the first chapter that we see him using his name of Paul and this is after his severing. The third place is Acts 28:28 followed by writing the prison epistles.
The Arguments for the Body of Christ beginning at Acts 9
Saul of Tarsus was a Jewish Pharisee a religious leader in Israel and zealously opposed the followers of Jesus, persecuting them, standing by and watching Stephen stoned to death for professing Jesus as the messiah of Israel. After this event Saul meets Christ on the road as he is traveling to Damascus as recorded in Acts 9. As we know he is our Apostle for the Body of Christ but that commission does not begin until after Acts 13. We also know that he was later given revelations from Christ teaching the secret of a new administration most likely in Acts 14 and so that would again be after his severing in Acts 13 and not at his meeting with Christ, said to be his conversion or his calling in Acts 9.
So it is because of what he was called for and to do in the future that some feel the Body of Christ began at Acts 9 with Saul’s calling in grace by the Glorified Christ. Like a president, who is elected but not put into office until later. But actually he is not the President until a certain date and when inaugurated.
I personally think Saul would have had to mature before receiving the revelations which contained such stupendous information. I have said before, those 3 years he spent in Arabia, I feel he was studying the scriptures especially that which proved Jesus had been the messiah and most likely comparing them with the gospel accounts which recorded his life and ministry and fulfilled Old Testament Prophecy.
Time was needed for his maturing and for preparing himself for his commission as an apostle to the nations as well as for the Jewish church and community to find him credible and be able to accept him. It seems to me there would also be needed time for a progression of knowledge or events, such as Peters experience in Acts which would led the Jewish Church centered in Jerusalem with its 12 Apostles towards accepting and understanding that Gentiles were no longer considered unclean by Jehovah and that Christ’s death also opened the door to faith for them and the sons of Israel which were in dispersion in other lands.
Also, a new convert is not made an apostle immediately. Jesus chose and trained the twelve during His earthly Ministry. Yes it is Christ which appointed apostles, but even from the human standpoint, Saul needed to get his doctrine straight and prove himself so to speak in order to be accepted by the others.
There were only twelve Apostles chosen for Israel, Saul was not one of the twelve and he was not an apostle for the Jewish or bride church begun by Jesus in His earthly ministry. Would not the severing, at Acts 13:2 along with the commission announced by Holy Spirit that Barnabas and Saul were to go to the nations…mark a change more so that at Acts 9? It seems so to me, which this is also very evident in the chapters following the severing….as we do not ever read of the apostle Saul between Acts 9 and Acts 13. nor is his name of Paul used until after he is severed, Acts 13:9,13,16, 46 and not said to be an apostle until Acts 14:14.
Returning to the subject of Saul and his Damascus road experience, we see that Saul did not first repent or ask for forgiveness…Christ in all His glory came to Saul, revealing Himself by appearing to him, while Saul was still in his sin, the unforgivable sin, he had denied Jesus was the messiah, ignored the work of the Holy Spirit with the apostles of Jesus and yet Christ lavished a complete and irrevocable grace upon him. As he is our Apostle, for the Body of Christ, his experience of being called in grace is our pattern.
Saul’s grace was not only a pardon; because it could not be revoked just as he teaches that neither can ours in the Body of Christ be revoked. Those of Israel were told to “repent and receive a pardon of sins” Acts 2:38. Yet, it is said that they too experienced a measure of grace because they were chosen by the Father and called out of the blind nation of Israel and shown that Jesus was their messiah and that He had risen from the dead.
That would mean they were shown mercy and given a pardon of sin, which Saul received also but after his severing he speaks of Justification in Christ and that is what is given the Body of Christ? Those in the remnant church have a mercy and pardon of which are conditional as a pardon is dependant upon their faithfulness.
A pardon does not remove the sin it only covers sin from God’s sight. A return to that sin cancels the pardon. Thus we can apply all the warnings of loss given by Jesus and the twelve Apostles passed on to the remnant church, called to be the bride of the lambkin, warning them, if they wavered in their faith….they would lose out on the millennial Kingdom blessings.
They would either miss it by not being raised with the just class but wait to be resurrected in the unjust class or the unfaithful. Or for those who live through and see Christ arrive if unfaithful will be on the outside of Jerusalem during Christ’s reign, looking in and suffering humiliation at missing the blessings promised for the faithful of Israel and that is where the words Jesus spoke fit in “the weeping and gnashing of the teeth.” and “being in darkness.” Matthew 8:12; and 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30 and Luke 13:28.
Lets define the difference between a pardon of sin and justification….as said a pardon covers the sin and can be revoked while justification is an acquittal of all guilt.
Saul’s experience, meeting Christ that day entailed his being given grace, a grace like no other given before. Paul had many times over committed “the unforgivable sin,” which was a sin those of Israel were liable for, it was their denying the work of the Holy Spirit, whose work were the signs and miracles which were given to prove the one heralding Jesus as Messiah was of God, signs were given to inspire faith. Jesus said in his ministry to those of Israel, if they were found guilty of committing that sin, they would not be forgiven in this eon or the next! Matthew 12:31 Which meant those of Israel guilty of this sin would not be in the millennial kingdom ruling and reigning with Christ. Saul was guilty and yet he was forgiven in this eon!
When Jesus gave the warning concerning the unforgivable sin, and said they would not be forgiven in “This eon or the next.” It might be helpful to understand that we are living in “this eon” which is the same eon or age in which He walked this earth. The Concordant view is that “the next eon” is when Christ arrives and sets up His Millennial kingdom. This seems to be correct as that time will be the eon or age of the Messianic kingdom.
We discussed some new thoughts in Manual One and Chapter five which were presented by Commander Steedman years ago. These articles can be found on Rick Farwell’s website, in them he wondered if actually a new age or eon begins when the Body of Christ is removed from this world? The reasons being, the dispensation of grace ends with our removal as Old Testament Prophecy shows us that Israel will then be restored as a nation or kingdom and they will be again under the Law Covenant and thus the world also will be judged in relation to the law practiced in the nation of Israel. But it may just be a change of dispensations once again.
So concerning the ages, or eons this needs more research for sure, as I have wondered if there were perhaps 7 eons or ages rather than the 5 eons which A.E. Knoch and others have put forth but I will confess I have not really tried to figure it out. I will say though that most do not understand that the restoration of Israel means that she will be returned to favor with Jehovah again and becomes a kingdom again under the Old Mosaic Law covenant and that this will happen before Christ can or will return, Acts 3:17-21 and so if they had understood this, they may have adjusted their thoughts on how many ages or eons there are to be.
But, whether our snatching away is followed by a new age or eon or not, there will definitely be a different dispensation in effect with Grace removed as we are its ambassadors and when we are withdrawn from this world’s midst, as the detainer or restrainer against lawlessness, the grace dispensation will end. Jehovah will return to the unfinished business with Israel and so the dispensations will change with our removal and then Israel returns to favor. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12
Grace detains the judgment of lawlessness by Law. Our studies indicate the yet unfulfilled prophecy for Israel’s times of restoration cannot begin until after the Body of Christ is withdrawn from this world. Because this present dispensation of Grace which we represent as ambassadors of conciliation will end with our removal as we read at 2 Corinthians 5: 18-20 and is commonly called the rapture of the church, scripturally is said to be the snatching away, as told to us by our Apostle Paul at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
When Jehovah picks up where He left off with Israel there will then be a return to the Old Law Covenant. Law and Grace, like oil and water, do not mix. Also, active participation with His People through signs will return and intervention by Jehovah in the world especially in relation to the enemies of Israel, when they try again to eliminate Israel, Jehovah will be fight for them…the nations will see Jehovah’s power and love for His People Israel.
Continuing with the Acts 9 viewpoint, Thus far we have seen that the arguments for the church of the one body beginning here are only because of Saul’s being called to Christ. We also read in Acts 9:15 that Saul was to have a dual commission…to the nations and kings and to the sons of Israel. Romans 1:16; 2:9,10 and in other places we will read many times that the evangel was heralded “to the Jew first” and so the first part of that commission Saul began right away heralding Jesus as not only Israel’s messiah but also as the Son of God to his own Jewish brethren in Damascus. Acts 9:19,20
We are told after Saul’s sight was restored by Ananias that he was baptized. Acts 9:17,18 We are not told if he was given John’s baptism or if he was baptized in the name of Jesus. I am assuming it was John’s since it was not said to be in the name of Jesus and Johns was required for those of Israel. John’s baptism was given for the pardon of sin so I am not really sure if we should say that Saul at this time was graced and given justification or maybe we might ask did he understand that at that time.
He followed the pattern for those of Israel as we might ask why was he baptized….it was because he was a Jew and as part of the guilty nation of Israel, who I believe was still lo ammi, that was the process for them, showing fellow believers one had repented and had come to recognize Jesus as Messiah. Yes Paul repented…..after He was called, after He met Christ, he then recognized his sin.
I think this is important to understand John’s baptism was for Israel only, because years later he tell us, we who are called into the Body of Christ, water baptism is not for us and certainly not John’s baptism, it was for those of Israel. Jesus gave instructions for a different baptism for Gentiles at Matthew 28:16-20 which is to be carried out later in His Messianic Kingdom. We discussed this subject in Manual One, how the twelve Apostles never did follow that instruction given by Jesus, to baptize “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
The reason why was because they knew that particular baptism was for the future, when they would evangelize the Gentile nations in the Messianic Kingdom. They also understood He would not return unless all Israel repented and their kingdom was restored to them. And so they continued to follow the instructions from Jesus given earlier which were that they were to go only to those in the land of Israel, Judea and Samaria and why they continued to only use John’s baptism or they baptized in the name of Jesus.
We are only told of a few times specifically of this Acts 2:38; 10:48. Two places it is said to be baptized in the Lord Jesus, Acts 8:16 and 19:5. If we read from 19:3 we see that these 12 men state they had received John’s baptism but knew nothing of the Holy Spirit, which must indicate they had accepted John’s baptism before Jesus died and then so Paul has them baptized again in the name of the Lord Jesus and they then receive the Holy Spirit upon them, speaking in languages and prophesying. Also these men had to have been of Israelite heritage…because they had received John’s baptism…as Paul said to them John’s baptism is the baptism of repentance, telling people to believe in the One coming…Jesus.
So getting back to the argument against Acts 9 as being the time for the beginning of the Body of Christ is that Saul was given John’s baptism for repentance of sin and this was part of Israel’s, Kingdom evangel and so this is not something we in the Body of Christ as Gentiles are to follow, as we are told to follow Paul, not Saul and as Paul will later instruct us, our baptism is spiritual. Can the clue be, that as Saul…he worked within the Jewish realm, but when he is severed at Acts 13, he is severed from that which is Jewish and thus becomes the Apostle Paul for the nations and things begin to change in his ministry and in his teaching?
But even after his severing, he still subjected himself to the elders in Jerusalem in that he carried the decree from James, as head elder to the nations and he collected monetary gifts from his disciples for the poor saints in Jerusalem. We will be discussing these things further along in this article but keep in mind this was while the dispensation of Holy Spirit continued with the rule to the Jew first being honored.
It is after his severing that he explains that he was justified. Which means declared righteous, not guilty, acquit and vindicate. It was not merely forgiveness or a pardon. But we don’t read of Paul speaking of being justified in Christ until Acts 13:39 and he also writes of it in the Romans and Galatians letters written after Acts 13 and before Acts 28. In fact this teaching is one of the reasons why even some of the Jewish believers hated him. Those zealous for the Law could not comprehend grace and justification.
The reason for Paul’s’ justification was because God chose him and placed him in Christ and not because Saul repented or came to Jesus Christ on his own. And that is also how all members of this new administration are chosen and where we are placed, in Christ. We are placed within His righteousness and our sin is not merely covered, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us and we are acquitted of all sin.
Paul is the only writer to explain how we are justified in Christ and given His righteousness just as we are also given His faith. God does the complete work in making the Body of Christ fully acceptable to Him and His righteous standards apart from our works, good or bad or tainted by any of our failures. Paul told us that “We are Gods achievement” and we are not saved or chosen by any of our own works. Ephesians 2:10.
Paul later writes of the spiritual baptism for the Body of Christ, after the Acts period and while he is in prison at Rome for the first time. He writes of it in Ephesians 4:1-6. The imprisonment of Paul is symbolic of the spiritual nature his ministry then became with his ministry continuing to the ecclesias amongst the nations by means of his letters. These are the ecclesias he began or taught in his missionary journeys throughout the Acts era. These ecclesias are obviously the Body of Christ as after Acts he is then writing to them of the deep things they need to know to bring them to a spiritual maturity.
We will come to see that these ecclesias are mostly made up of the sons of Israel discipled by Paul from amongst the nations and thus were having to learn a new religion so to speak. Leaving the physical, the earthly or the soulish behind and growing into a spiritual understanding of their new calling as a spiritual entity with no ties to this earth. As discussed earlier, John’s baptism was for Israel’s repentance before Jesus was rejected and they were still using it afterwards.
Their rejection of Jesus was just more of the same…rejecting Jehovah. If Israel was ammi, and had been taken back in marriage, they would have already repented as that was the requirement given by Jehovah, many times in the Old Testament prophecy, repent, return to Me and I will return to You. We will see in going through Acts, Gentiles were not given John’s baptism under Paul’s ministry only those of Israelite heritage. This also showing it was not a baptism for the repentance of personal sins…such as Christendom has taught us.
We will see that all during the Acts period…John’s baptism was used for those of Israelite heritage and not for gentiles called into the Body of Christ. Bullinger in his book, How to Enjoy the Bible, on Page 135, points out that water baptism is mentioned by Paul only a few times, while in his prison epistles it is the spirit baptism, but he is not referring to the laying on of hands and receiving the power of the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 1:14,16,17 Paul is chastising them as they are bragging on who baptized them and Paul states that he is glad he baptized very few…not because he did not agree with those of Israel receiving water baptism but because he did not want them bragging about the man who baptized them or that it as Paul who had baptized them as being something special above other. This letter was written during the Acts period in the time frame of 57, 58 A.D.
The Acts period ends around 60 A.D. Bullinger has a chart on that same page showing there was “one baptism for Israel beginning with John the Baptist….and then after the death of Jesus and then with the ministry of the 12…there were two baptisms, John’s and the holy spirit baptism.” The Holy Spirit baptism consisted of the Holy Spirit falling upon them imparting the gifts, which were visible signs given to prove God was with the apostles, signs were required by Jews!
I also think this was confirmation from God to other believers that the person had truly repented as only God can read the heart. The rejection by those in Israel of these signs from the Holy Spirit is what constituted the unforgivable sin. Bullinger also wrote, “It is not until the formation of the Body of Christ…that we are told of one baptism again and this is not water baptism….but is a spiritual sealing with the indwelling of Christ.” Perhaps we should review the different baptisms spoken of to clarify them in our minds.
We have briefly touched on the different baptisms earlier, there was John’s baptism and then a few times we read that they were baptized in the name of Jesus…At Pentecost, Peter said those there were baptized in the name of Jesus at Acts 2:38 and when he met with Cornelius it is said that he and his household were baptized in the name of Jesus Acts 10:48
Also those 12 men at Ephesus were said to of had John’s baptism and Paul has them baptized in the name of Jesus. Also there is the baptism Jesus told His eleven disciples at Matthew 28:19 to use, when they go into all the nations and be baptizing in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Also then Paul says, we are baptized into Christ Galatians 3:27 and that for us there is one baptism…at Ephesians 4:5. So maybe we should do a list of each of them.
John’s baptism…was for those of Israel and was for the repentance of sins….John was preparing the way for Jesus and His ministry in Israel also in his role of the friend of the bridegroom. The friend of the bride groom would look for a bride. I feel John was raised up as a Prophet. As Israel had not had a prophet since Malachi four hundred years previously, and Johns baptism had to do with Israel being lo ammi and needing to repent of their national sin.
Baptism in the name of Jesus….again this was for those of Israel as Jesus was their messiah. Their baptism in the name of Jesus signified their acceptance of Him in belief that he was their messiah and the Son of God and seems to have been used with the laying of on hands for the receiving of Holy Spirit which gave the spiritual endowments…or the gifts of healing, languages and etc.
Baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…There is no record of the Jewish church under Peter and the eleven or of Paul ever using this formula? This is why it is said that is the baptism they will use in the millennial kingdom, thus it was prophetic.
I also like what Bullinger said about it, even though he leaned towards the Trinity Doctrine….that this baptism will be the baptism into God. As God is the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. The differences with the Trinity and how I view this is that the Trinity has three persons and I view the One God as One Person, Who reveals Himself through many different modes….or offices and titles. Hebrews 1:1
In the Millennial Kingdom, Israel will be evangelizing the world of mankind, those of the gentile nations…will be baptized in the name of the Father, the son and the Holy God, in other words …God. Different from in the past in Israel, it was Israelites being baptized in the name of Jesus…because He was Israel’s messiah.
Baptism into Christ…one baptism …baptized into the one body, This baptism is for those placed within Paul’s new administration, all that which was physical faded away and what remains is that which is spiritual, we must remember that we are given every spiritual blessing in the celestials and our baptism into Christ is a spiritual one. 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For in one spirit also we all are baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and all are made to imbibe one spirit”
Galatians 3:27 “For whoever are baptized into Christ, put on Christ, in Whom there is no Jew nor yet Greek, there is no slave nor yet free, there is no male and female for you all are one in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 6:3-7 “Or are you ignorant that whoever are baptized into Christ Jesus, are baptized into His death? We, then, were entombed together with Him through baptism into death, that, even as Christ was roused from among the dead through the glory of the Father, thus we also should be walking in newness of life. For if we have become planted together in the likeness of His death, nevertheless we shall be of the resurrection also, knowing this, that our old humanity was crucified together with Him, that body of Sin may be nullified, for us by no means to be still slaving for Sin, for one who dies has been justified from Sin.”
Getting back to Acts 9, after Saul was called, he goes into the city and waits for Ananias who is sent to him by the Lord to heal his blindness and Saul is baptized, we are told of this when Paul relates that time in Acts 22:16. Then we read in Acts 9 that he goes into Damascus and begins to share the experience of his meeting with Christ and he heralds Jesus as the Son of God.
This is because he of course saw the risen Lord in all His glory. His testimony causes quite a commotion in the city as Acts 9:20-22 tells us, “Now he came to be with the disciples in Damascus some days. And immediately, in the synagogues he heralded Jesus, that He is the Son of God. Now amazed are all who are hearing and they said, Is he not the one who, in Jerusalem ravages those who are invoking this Name? And for this had he come here, that he may be leading them bound to the chief priests. Yet Saul was the more invigorated, and threw the Jews dwelling in Damascus into confusion, deducing that this One is the Christ.”
Side note on the word, “deducing” borrowed from the study Bob Evely did on Acts. “Deducing is “sumbibazo” in the Greek, the same word translated “unite” when speaking of the physical realm. To deuce is to unite the various facts into a single conclusion. Paul was presenting to the Jews the various evidences in support of the conclusion that Jesus is the Christ…This is a glimpse into a method used by Saul/Paul as he evangelizes.”
Saul then leaves Damascus and goes into Arabia and it is 3 years after his meeting with Christ the account then tells us he returns to Damascus on his way to Jerusalem, for that first meeting with Peter. Let’s now take a look at the account of this and what followed. In order to get all the details and to understand the sequence of events we must read the two accounts which are given in Acts and Galatians. In Acts we need to draw a line in our Bibles after Acts 9:22 as Verse 23 jumps forward in time to after the three years he spent in Arabia, which is the time Paul is speaking of also at Galatians 1:15-17. This is where Paul relates his story up to Acts 9:22.
We have to go back and forth in these books to get the details for the whole story and the time frame. So, now a closer look at Acts 9:23 which says, “And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:” Bullinger’s notes on this verse say…with the words “after that = when…and the many days = the three years of Galatians 1:18.” So the many days are the three years he spent in Arabia. Now on his way to Jerusalem he first goes into Damascus again, and they seek to kill him.
The Concordant Version reads this way at Verse 23 “Now as a considerable number of days were fulfilled, the Jews consult to assassinate him.” A.E. Knoch’s notes in his commentary on this verse agrees with Bullinger’s, he says “At this point occurs one of those striking omissions in the narrative which assure us that it is concerned only with the kingdom and that Paul’s epistles differ from it in purpose and scope. Paul passed a large part of three years in Arabia. This journey is included in “the considerable number of days.” Where in Arabia he went is not revealed, in fact the term itself is vague. He may have gone far south into the desert between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf which is properly called Arabia. He may have gone only a few miles from Damascus and yet be in Arabia in the popular sense of the term.”
Galatians 1:17 tells us that after going into Arabia (for the three years) he returns again to Damascus. So this is on his way to Jerusalem of Verse 18. When we next read Acts 9:24, 25 this is his experience of when he returns to Damascus after those three years and is sharing his testimony and preaching Jesus as the Christ again provokes the Judaisers in Damascus into trying to have him killed. Saul knows of the plot and that they are waiting at the gates of the city to apprehend him and so his disciples led him by night and let him down over the wall of the city (Damascus) in a basket.
This is the escape Paul gives the account of in 2 Corinthians 11:32,33 “In Damascus the *ethnarch of Aretas, the king, garrisoned the city of the damascenes, wanting to arrest me, and I am lowered in a wicker basket through a window through the wall and escaped his hands.” He then goes to Jerusalem to find the disciples and we can read of this at Acts 9:26,27 “Saul comes to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples there but the disciples were afraid of him not believing he was a true disciple, but Barnabas brought him to the apostles and declared to them Saul’s experience with the Lord and of his bold preaching in Damascus in the name of Jesus.”
Knoch’s notes tell us that Acts 9:26-28 is the account of Galatians 1:17, 18. By reading Galatians 1:1-20 and piecing in bits from the Acts account we can read the details of Paul’s testimony from his Damascus road experience through to his first trip to Jerusalem. So briefly, this is what we have. He writes that after 3 years in Arabia he returns to Damasus, escapes from the city and goes to Jerusalem to find the disciples, who fear him and hide from him, Barnabus finds him and takes him to the apostles verifying his testimony and he then stayed with Peter for 15 days sharing his story and became acquainted with no one different than the apostles, except the brother of the Lord, James.” From there he goes to Caesarea and then on to Tarsus. Acts 9:27-30 tells us he was later sent to Tarsus to escape another murder plot.
Paul’s statement in Galatians 1:15-18 was given as proof of his Apostleship to the Galatians, stressing that he did not receive his revelation of Jesus Christ from men but his was a personal experience directly from the Lord Himself. He began this passage with these words “Now when it delights God, Who severs me from my mothers womb and calls me through His grace, to unveil His Son in me that I may be evangelizing Him among the nations I did not immediately submit it to flesh and blood, neither came I up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me……”.
Keeping in mind Galatians was written during Acts and after his severing in Acts 13. Paul is stressing that he did not learn from the twelve nor did he need the permission of the twelve to herald to the nations. His commission came directly from the risen and Glorified Christ and this is why Acts 13 tells us the Holy Spirit severed Barnabus and Saul to go to the nations. It was then time for his commission to the nations to begin.
It always bothered me why Barnabas is mentioned first and cant remember if I have addressed this or not, but Barnabas was an established credible follower of Jesus while Saul had been their enemy…Barnabus took Saul with him from early on and defended Saul’s conversions….he added credibility to Saul.
Paul’s account in Galatians 2:1,2 then jumps forward in time as we are told that after 14 years he again goes to Jerusalem and submitted to them, (which would be the elders) the evangel he was heralding to the nations because of a revelation he had been given not because they had summoned him. Bullinger’s notes state that the “after” in his account, means after his conversion so this would then be 14 years from the Damascus road experience and about 21 years after the death of Jesus. (In Manual One, I added the 3 years and the 14 years together; please correct this in your manuals this is found at Page 76.)
We need to ask, what evangel did he submit to them and why would he need to submit what he was talking about if he was only preaching the same message or evangel as they were…what would be the sense of these words? We must assume Paul was teaching or adding some things that were different, known only to him, but what? This meeting he speaks of in Galatians 2 with the elders is recorded at Acts 15:1-12. So this meeting was after his severance in Acts 13 and has no bearing on what he preached or did before his severing. We learned early on in Acts 9:20 that Saul preached that Jesus was the Son of God and that He was the Christ, Verse 22.
That is all we are told and then he went into Arabia. After three years we again are not told the specifics of what Saul preached, but I am sure he preached the same message as the 12 as that is the basis for both churches is Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection and proving the he was Israel’s messiah. Also Saul was not an apostle yet, he had not been given the authority to begin his evangel. That happens at his severance.
Until Saul is severed and officially an apostle we are not told if he was speaking about the new information given to him for the new administration. But he must have shared it with Peter? Going back to the Acts 9 arguments, we see the gifts were active and those gifts of the Holy Spirit are a part of the Kingdom evangel and are not a part of our evangel for the Body of Christ today. So this can be confusing. We read in Acts that the gifts are in operation during the time of Saul’s calling in Acts 9 and right on through to Acts 13 with his severing and even on to the last chapter of the book of Acts.
So how do we reconcile that he still had the gifts of the Holy Spirit when he takes on his name of Paul and his commission to go to the nations and yet he was the apostle for the Body of Christ? This, I believe is confusing only because we have first been told Paul’s commission was to the Gentiles, by the King James translation. His commission was to the nations, which yes were gentile, but Paul followed the rule to the Jew first and his commission from Christ was to the sons of Israel and the nations even kings. It is plainly simple….the Body of Christ began in the dispensation of Holy Spirit!
I think we are going to see more and more how this was so and that we should not be bothered by it. It is perfectly logical that the Body of Christ began with those who were Jewish or Israelite in nature and began during the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. The Jew required signs and thus Paul displayed the gifts of the Holy Spirit just as the other 12 Apostles in the remnant or bride church, such as healing, raising the dead and striking others blind. This was necessary to establish Paul as an authentic Apostle chosen by Christ. The last recorded healing by Paul is in Acts 28:8,9. So this is felt by most to be a sign that the Body of Christ was not yet begun or revealed until those gifts have ceased. But is that true, I think we find not so?
Paul was made the apostle to the nations in Acts 13 and he had the gifts and during that time he receives revelations from Christ for the Body of Christ. So even though it seems that he first followed the kingdom evangel with John’s baptism we have to ask, would there not be others called out of Israel through the kingdom evangel and who were placed into the Body…? Paul himself had been called while yet a Jewish Pharisee and thus was part of Israel’s kingdom evangel and yet he was moved by God into the Body of Christ, so can we say others were not also moved? It is not cut and dried….Jews versus Gentiles..?
We also have to ask were the gifts operative at the same time the Body of Christ was being formed. It seems so to me, Paul discipled, Jews and many more were the sons of Israel along with some gentiles during his missionary journeys. We read of the gifts in his first letter to Corinthians, those who Paul says are the body of Christ and they had the physical spiritual endowments called the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So we cannot let this confuse us…just because it was different then from today….we must harmonize those days and not make ….divisions which do not exist.
So what I am saying is…I believe the Body of Christ began during the dispensation of Holy Spirit and as such were liable to the rules of that dispensation until it ended. The members were taught by Paul, precept upon precept of who they were in Christ and what their destiny was to be…the heavenly kingdom while Israel the nations whose calling and hope was for the earthly kingdom remained that. But God was beginning a new administration through Paul which would be His People while Israel remained lo ammi, Not My People.
The gifts could only be given by the Holy Spirit or transferred through an Apostle. Paul was not easily accepted by many as an Apostle and the gifts were proof of his authority as one. Remember, to the Jew first! We read many times of Paul defending his calling as an Apostle because he was challenged by the Judaisers. God validated Paul’s calling and testimony and to his severing to go to the nations with what the Jews needed to see, signs, visible proof.
Paul was not easily understood or accepted and God prepared the leaders of the remnant church for when Paul would begin to reveal, the evangel for the Body of Christ separate from Israel’s evangel. I am sure during his 15 day stay with Peter, as Saul, he shared what the Lord had called him for….to go to the nations. Also remember Peter was shown by God, that Gentiles were no longer unclean in Acts 10:15,28.
Paul also prepares the believers discipled by him for the time when the gifts would cease in the first letter he writes during the Acts period. He explains that the gifts were given for minors and will not be needed by the mature in his letter to those at Corinth at 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. We are also told later by Paul when the gifts had ceased and he gives a revised list of what is in the new administration, love and grace…pastors and teachers. At Ephesians 4:7-11 we are told, no more apostles or prophets, no more healing, the speaking in other languages or prophecy.
The gifts were present in the early church…under Paul, which was and is the Body of Christ….in its infancy…but Paul begins to educate them that those gifts or signs will no longer be needed when the new administration reaches maturity because it had Paul’s evangel which then, completes the Word of God. His letters which reveal the revelations and secrets given only to Paul for a new administration which replaces Israel’s old administration, but only temporarily, during the times of the Gentiles.
Paul’s evangel explained in his letters completes God’s Word concerning salvation for the believers first but Paul reveals that salivation will extend to all humanity as well as the reconciliation of Gods entire Universe. God’s Word helps us to learn about God’s Righteousness through His dealings with Israel and the Law covenant He enacted with them, and then through the evangel given to Paul. In the old we learn of Gods Righteousness displayed through Law and in the new we learn of His righteousness displayed by means of Grace. Paul and John both give prophecy for the coming eons which display law and grace also.
In speaking of the gifts, we have the account where Paul requested help, perhaps a healing for some sort of infirmity, three times he asks…and was told “Sufficient for you is My Grace, for My power in infirmity is being perfected.” We can read this at 2 Corinthians 12:9. This book again was written late in Acts, Acts 19, and maybe this was also preparing Paul and the believers for the cessation of the gifts. As they are not given to the Body of Christ today, and yet, as we have seen, members of the Body of Christ did have these gifts but Paul told them they would cease, because those gifts were for minors as signs for Israel. Again because the first members of the Body of Christ came out of the nation of Israel it was not strange for these gifts to be used with them. We will come to see both churches begin during the dispensation of Holy Spirit.
And we do see later, that the gifts did cease, as with Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 5:23 which is perhaps 10 years after Corinthians was written. Paul tells Timothy to take some wine for a stomach problem instead of healing him as he would have done years earlier. We have a record that Paul had previously been able to heal long distance, by sending a bit of cloth as shown in Acts 19:11,12.
But he did not do that for Timothy as no longer did he have the gift of healing. When he wrote to Timothy we also might make note that he did not tell him to go to any of the other brethren to be healed. This would seem to indicate that the gifts had ceased for all when he wrote to Timothy and Titus which are the last letters he wrote while in prison at Rome the second time and it is estimated that was in 67, 68 A. D. and was then followed by his death.
These are some of the reasons why some speak of the Acts era as being a time of transition…from the old to the new or from that which was for the nation of Israel and the remnant church called out of that nation to the new administration made up of saints, Jew and Gentile called out of all the nations and given the evangel of grace. At any rate, Paul’s evangel as explained in his letters were written to take the saints from being minors to maturity, leaving the physical behind and needing to come to an understanding of the spiritual nature of their calling and destiny in the new administration of which Paul was the called apostle for.
Remember we in the Body of Christ are given our faith…the ability to believe without visible signs. I wrote an article recently explaining…how and why we are given…Jesus Christ’s faith and will add it to the supplemental article section following this study on When Did the Body of Christ Begin? But for Israel, those signs were required and proved God was with them, it was the common and accepted thing for them. All of Paul’s letters are needed to explain the changes which took take place in the Body of Christ from it beginning as a minor to its maturing.
For us today, visible manifestation would scare our socks off and rightly so! Today these are imitation gifts and would be from the adversary seeking to deceive the saint because Satan is a copy cat. The prison epistles are what bring the believers to maturity! Paul explains that the spiritual blessing given to the Body of Christ replaced and super exceed the physical gifts which were given only during the dispensation of the Holy Spirit and for signs to those of Israelite heritage!
Paul also speaks of his first visit to Jerusalem recorded in Galatians 1:18 during another visit he made to Jerusalem at Acts 22:17-30 this is said to be his 5th visit. Trouble again arises when it is known to the Jews he is town and they see to it that he is arrested again. But because he is a Roman Citizen he is allowed to address the crowd, so he witnesses to them of his belief in Jesus Christ and gave them his testimony, starting with his Damascus road meeting with Christ and his first visit to Jerusalem where he tells of another experience with the Lord, he says in Verses 17-19 “Now it occurred at my returning to Jerusalem, and while I am praying in the sanctuary, I came to be in ecstasy and to perceive Him (the Lord) saying to me, Hurry and come quickly out of Jerusalem, because they will not be assenting to your testimony concerning Me.” Verse 21“And He said to me, Go for I shall be delegating you afar to the nations.”
But the Jews listening were outraged at his claims of having received revelations from the Son of God and wanted him dead, the civil authorities protected him as he is a Roman citizen. And so he is first sent to Caesura and then on to Rome which is a very long journey and the story of that journey takes us to the end of the book of Acts. When in Rome he calls for the Jewish leaders to come to him and he gives his testimony again to the Jewish leaders on two visits, but we will discuss this in the next sections when we go through Acts 13 and Acts 28.
We might point out that at least twice in the time frame of Acts 9 through to Acts 13 that Saul was told that he was to be sent to the nations for Christ. Two or three witnesses….a Jewish rule of credibility. Matthew 18:16 and 2 Corinthians 13:1.
Now, I have always found myself thinking of Gentiles when I read it said, Paul was evangelizing among the nations or being sent to the nations…because the King James does say Gentiles, but I find it is important to remember and to understand that Paul’s ministry went first to the Jews, and then the sons of Israel living in dispersion amongst the surrounding nations and for that reason it could be spoken of as their nationality since it was the country in which they lived. Keep that in mind, Israelites living amongst the nations in dispersion and in the lo ammi status would be considered Gentiles by God and those practicing Judaism, but the sons of Israel were of Israelite heritage, the 10 tribes of Israel which left Judaism some 500 years earlier.
Judaism was the religion of the Jew and centered in Jerusalem and so this must be included in understanding this term, going to the nations, to the sons of Israel living in those gentile nations. Make note that in Acts, wherever he travels it says, “he first enters the synagogues as was his custom” Acts 17:2. There were Jewish synagogues in many Gentile cities and so he would go there first and probably mainly to give the Jewish leaders the first witness and then he would go outside into the squares of the city and wherever he found a listening ear, Gentiles and some if not most of these would be those of Israelite heritage, those in dispersion from the 10 tribes still living in idolatry and not practicing Judaism.
What we are going to try and differentiate here is nations meaning those in dispersion who were living amongst all the nations versus only the true Gentiles of the nations of which he also evangelized….but Paul followed the rule, to the Jew first, which I think means the Jewish leaders in each city …were given the honor of hearing the evangel first…after they reject it the lay persons are then given the opportunity to hear it.
But we want to understand as we just read in the above paragraph; Saul and Barnabas had the custom to go first to the synagogues of the Jews. Here is a list of where this is said all through Acts. Acts 9: 20; Acts 13:5, 14; Acts 14:1; Acts 17:10; Acts 18:4,8, 19; Acts 19:8; Acts 22:19 and 26:11.
As said and discussed, the apostles or elders of the Jerusalem church were not going out of their own land of Israel to evangelize nor were they evangelizing Gentiles. Although it was made clear to them, in Acts 10 with Peters experience with Cornelius that Gentiles were no longer unclean to God and that they could come to Jesus Christ without circumcision and this was in relation to them becoming proselytes to Judaism. And so in reading Acts 10 we see the account as given by Luke in which he has returned to Peter’s ministry and the meeting of Peter and Cornelius which was forced upon him by God through visions and speaking to him directly telling him to go to the home of Cornelius and that things which had been unclean were now clean.
Notice what Peter said at Acts 10:34-37, “Now Peter, opening his mouth, said, Of a truth I am grasping that God is not partial, but in every nation he who is fearing him and acting righteously is acceptable to Him. Of the word He dispatches to the sons of Israel, bringing the evangel of peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all), you are aware, the declaration coming to be down the whole of Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John heralds:”
This is interesting, as the account makes no mention that Peter heralded the kingdom evangel to Cornelius but he does speak instead of the evangel of peace. Peace between nations…between Jews and Gentiles and laying the groundwork for Paul’s coming ministry. (Another correction for Manual One Page 78 and fourth paragraph.)
This would show us God was conciliated to all nations, but now was making the Jewish saints aware of this, a process of educating them. Paul will later explain how God was in Christ conciliating the world unto Himself at 2 Corinthians 5:18,19…but in Acts 10 we see God laying the groundwork through Peter and Cornelius or we might say opening the door for the Jewish saints to understand….those of the nations were acceptable to God.
Also, again this shows us, that neither Peter nor the other members of the Jerusalem church were going to the Gentiles with the kingdom evangel or to the sons of Israel living amongst the nations. They were not following the commission given by Jesus at Matthew 28:16-20, no matter how much Christendom would like to insist that is our commission. It is not, it is for the 12 apostles to carry out in the Messianic Kingdom.
This event with Cornelius was a demonstration for the Jewish believers that further changes were being made in Gods program. God sent Peter to the home of the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, which he and his household were given John’s baptism and became part of the Jewish remnant church that day. This event needs to be remembered as it is preparing Peter for understanding the commission God gives to Saul. For a Jew to enter the home of a Gentile was not the accepted custom for those in the church begun by Jesus, it is evident that they were still holding to the Jewish tradition of keeping separate from the Gentiles which would include, any Israelite living as a Gentile.
This incident Peter had with Cornelius is talked about in Acts 11:1-3 “And the apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.” This is where Peter is called on the carpet for going into a uncircumcised mans home and he explains that this was God’s doing, he was merely obeying and thus Verse 18 says “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God saying, then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”
Yet as we read through this chapter, we are told Stephen was traveling and preaching to Jews only and then in Verse 22,23 it tells us “Barnabas was sent to Antioch and when he had seen the grace of God” in this matter with Peter and Cornelius and then at Verse 25,26 we are told “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus for to see Saul And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch And it came to pass that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
Knoch makes an interesting observation in his commentary on this verse. “Barnabas knew that Saul’s commission was to the nations, hence he discerned that Antioch was the very field suited to his call.” Remember Ananias had been told by the Lord, that Saul was to go to the nations in Acts 9:15.
It is said this name “Christian” was given by Gentiles in mockery…as Christos was a sacred word to the Jews and they would not have used it in that way. While Bullinger’s notes, say “the usage of the word by the Holy Spirit indicates that its real origin was Divine, Acts 26:28.” It was King Agrippa who used it and obviously said in jest….so I am not sure if I agree with Bullinger.
We will not find anywhere that Paul ever called the believers Christians. It is used at 1 Peter 4:16. Which sounds like part of their persecution or a derogatory thing for them to be labeled this? Knoch’s explains in his commentary. “Paradoxical as it may seem, only Jews are Christians in the Scriptures. The term is never applied to the nations, but only to Jews or proselytes. Paul never uses the name in his epistles. It occurs only in Acts which is concerned with the past rejection of the kingdom and in Peter which looked forward to it future realizations.”
I would also point out that the saints of the Jewish church, believers in Jesus were careful to not upset the Jews who did not accept that Jesus was their messiah and so again the Jewish saints would not have used that term, Christ or Christos of themselves as it would indeed upset the unbelieving Jews. Even Paul went out of his way when in Jerusalem to let them know he was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin and that he was not breaking the law, even though he knew he was not bound by it.
One other thing of interest concerning Paul going to the Jew first is that he also preached to the Hellenized Jews who had separate synagogues from the traditional Jews. Sometimes these are who are being referred to when the name, Greek or Greeks is used. The traditional Jew considered them to be Greeks as the Hellenized Jew had incorporated the Greek culture and customs into their religion and lives and were hated by the traditional Jews for doing so. So this can be tricky for us, and each event and its context needs to be examined to see if when it speaks of the nations and Greeks if that person was Jew, or a Hellenized Jew or a Gentile or the sons of Israel, not practicing Judaism.
Paul evangelized all of these people, but we can also become confused as we are also told he was commissioned to the uncircumcised while Peter to the circumcised? So this could cause us to jump to the conclusion that he was only evangelizing uncircumcised gentiles. I think perhaps how we should understand this is that Paul would evangelize Gentiles, the uncircumcised while Peter and the remnant would not.
But we need to understand that the sons of Israel, living in dispersion were of the nations in which they lived and they would not be practicing circumcision as they were in idolatry, Circumcision was a mark for the Jew. They also spoke the languages of the country they lived in and Greek was the common language in a large area of that country and most knew or used that language. Many of the Jews also spoke Hebrew and Aramaic. There was a large Jewish population in Antioch and that is where Saul goes again after his severing.
Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem, (perhaps not into the city but into the area of Jerusalem). Some point to what is said at Acts 11:27-30 and 12:25 as being his second visit but this does not seem to agree with his own words that it was 14 years before he returned to Jerusalem and (14 years from his conversion) this would be when he met with the Elders in Jerusalem at Galatians 2:1 which corresponds with Acts 15.
In Acts 11:27-30 we read that Agabus by means of the Holy Spirit foretells a famine to come on the land and history shows this did occur under the reign of Claudius. The disciples, who thrived or in other words had plenty materially, did send to the brethren in Judea, for dispensing, to those who were in need.
Notice how the account speaks of the great famine about to be on the whole inhabited earth, obviously this was not truly referring to the whole earth as there was no way they could have known if it did involve the whole earth as they had no idea of the whole earth but instead this was an expression used for their own known world and it seems the famine affected the land of Judea as the brethren in other areas had plenty to share with them.
Barnabas and Saul were responsible for collecting these contributions, sometimes said to be a love offering, or ministry or dispensation. As we read at Acts 12:25 “Now Barnabas and Saul return out of Jerusalem completing the dispensing, ….” This is the dispensing referred to in Acts 11.
But in reference to how many visits Saul made to Jerusalem, this account does not say that Saul entered the city until he said he did so in Galatians 2:1. Being in the area of Jerusalem is what is possible. But Bullinger’s notes refer to Acts 11 and 12 as his second visit while Knoch says it was probably not, just that he was in the area of Jerusalem because 14 years had not yet passed and what Paul refers to is when he goes into the city of Jerusalem and attends the meeting with the elders at Acts 15:2 this would be the 14 years Paul speaks of in Galatians.
In Acts 12:1,2 we find the account again returns to Peter’s ministry…and we also read the Apostle James who was also, the brother of John is assassinated by Herod and Peter is thrown into jail awaiting execution. God miraculously had him released with a messenger of the Lord opening several gates for his escape and when Herod discovers this he makes the jailer pays with his life. Peter finds the other brethren and then he flees Jerusalem.
Knoch points out in his commentary…after the assassination of James the elders make no attempt to replace him with another apostle… In thinking about this, it seems to me this is a clue…first of all how could they choose another Apostle…that then would make 13 in the kingdom and or if they replaced each as they were killed far more than 12 thrones would be needed in the Kingdom.
The point being Jesus said that 12 Apostles would sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel in His kingdom. I think the clue for us to make note of here, is the decline of the Jewish remnant church and loss of power once the circle of the twelve was broken by the death of the Apostle James. It is following the death of James that we read of Saul being severed for a work amongst the nations in Acts 13:1-3 which we know has to do with the Body of Christ and Saul then becomes the Apostle Paul.
The death of James breaks the circle of the twelve Apostles. There is an interesting article with that title, written on the power of the twelve by John Essex and can be read on the www.concordant.org website. Briefly he felt the 12 were a unit and when that circle was broken their power was also, I recommend reading the article for his examples and reasons. After the death of James….another James, the brother of Jesus we read is said to be in control of the elders at Jerusalem and we find no record that he was challenged by Peter for doing so. Remember, it was Peter that Jesus made head of His church? Was this a weakness on Peter’s part or could it have been because the circle of the twelve had been broken with the death of James?
I am not sure how much time is covered in the 12th chapter of Acts, but quite a lot of things happened during it, Herod had the Apostle James killed and also had Peter thrown into prison with the full intent of killing him but Peter was miraculously set free and we read later Herod dies and the persecution seems to cool off. At Verse 25 the account turns again to Saul and Barnabas. “Now Barnabas and Saul return out of Jerusalem, completing the dispensing, taking along with them John, who is surnamed Mark.” This dispensing was the love offering which Saul had been collecting for the poor in Jerusalem…Acts 11:29,30.
So before moving on to our next section, let’s review the Acts 9 section. In Chapter 9 we were told about the meeting of Saul of Tarsus with Christ, the Lord on the road to Damascus. He had just left a city where he had been violently persecuting the believers in Jesus and was on his way to continue this persecution. He was guilty of the unpardonable sin and yet instead of being struck dead on that road….he was given grace….he was not just pardoned as he had not even asked to be forgiven so how could he have been? He was ignorant of his sin until Christ revealed it to him.
What happened then, in an instant, was that he was justified in Christ and so he was the first to be given total, complete unmerited grace but we do not read of him talking about justification until after Acts 13. What then are the Arguments for the Body of Christ beginning at Acts 9? Simply that Saul was called and graced.
Arguments against Acts 9 being the beginning of the Body of Christ…he does not seem to know of the secret hidden in God of which he will later be given the revelations of. He is baptized through the kingdom evangel for Israel as a Jew with John’s baptism for repentance. We see he preaches Jesus as Messiah and that Jesus was the Son of God. He must flee for his life and goes into seclusion for three years. Nothing is said of his having received the gifts of the Holy Spirit at this time, the physical signs given for Israel. Three years later he meets with Peter, the apostles and James the brother of the Lord. We are not told what he was doing during those three years, except that he was in Arabia, he then returns to Damascus and Antioch.
He says in Galatians 1:15 “I was called through His grace to unveil His Son in me that I may be evangelizing Him among the nations,” he says nothing in his recounting of that time of a new, different or secret evangel. And then after that meeting with Peter it is said that he goes to the regions of Syria and Cilicai and we are not told much of his work in those places until Paul jumps ahead in the account he is giving to his next visit to Jerusalem which is said to be after the lapse of 14 years. (From his conversion and so was 11 years after the first meeting with Peter and the apostles) Did Saul write any letters during the period of time revealed in Acts 9 to Acts 13? No. Is there any allusion to the secret evangel? No. Is he ever called an apostle in that time period…No.
If we were to point to Acts 9 as the official beginning of the church with the calling of Saul, it seems to me that it would have to be true only in the absolute sense and perhaps in the divine viewpoint as Saul was foreordained to become the Apostle for the Body of Christ. Galatians 1:15 Ephesians 1:1-3
But in the relative sense and the human viewpoint at that meeting with Christ we are pretty sure Saul was not yet told of the secret or of the Body of Christ. Did he completely understand justification at that time? I wonder if he was not in shock at his sin of denying the Holy Spirit and yet not being held accountable for it. The Jesus he had previously denied and was violently persecuting His followers, reveals Himself to him in with His glory as deity and Saul comes to the realization that the followers of Jesus were not the false prophets he had believed them to be.
Saul needed to go back to school and be re-educated under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. So maybe we can look at Acts 9 as the beginning of a process, with Saul’s calling in grace followed by much needed personal study and at some point in time, he would have been given revelations from Christ, educating him, but he was not actually put into the work of an Apostle at Acts 9. Nowhere do we read of the Apostle Saul.
So with Saul being graced as he was and not held accountable for the unforgivable sin, can we say the dispensation of grace began at Chapter 9? It would seem so, but I cannot see the Body of Christ beginning here in the full sense. Yes, Saul was in the Body of Christ but how much did he know of it at that time is not clear, but he certainly was not teaching the secret. Also we read of judgment from God during that time and so how can we say the dispensation of Grace truly began at Acts 9?
Saul was called 7 years after the death of Jesus, by the glorified Christ and this calling was in grace and is the demonstration of his being justified outside the law, forgiven the unforgivable sin but do we read of him teaching justification outside the Law of Moses in this section?
No, I cannot find it until after he is severed at Acts 13:1-3 and it is then at Acts 13:39 he explains justification for those in Christ and we must add in here also, that Saul does not write letters until after Acts 13 when he is severed and begins using his Roman name of Paul and is for the first time referred to as an apostle, he then goes into more details on justification and other new things not part of Israel’s evangel. It also seems to me that he writes letters after he begins discipling….nurturing his children in the faith?
What things are we looking for which would indicate he knew and or taught about the Body of Christ from Acts 9 to Acts 13? We would look for the term, The Body of Christ during this section which is not there or anything said about a secret or mystery or about being called to the heavenly kingdom which are not there. We do not find any clues concerning that information until later. What we see is that he seemed to be part of the Kingdom church or Israel’s evangel with John’s baptism, the gifts and its ordinances and rituals. And yet, he always returns to gentile territory, he does stay in the land of Judea. But we are not told of what he teaches or preaches that is different from the 12 in those lands until after Acts 13.
He will later teach that the Body of Christ is a spiritual entity, something very new and separate from Israel and operating in the spiritual realm, not needing water baptism, as its members have a spiritual baptism and that rituals and ordinances are not required and were a sign of immaturity. In his letters, later, we will see that Repentance and pardon are replaced by justification and reconciliation and Grace replaces mercy. Justification and Conciliation are not spoken of by Saul before Acts 13. He did share Gods Grace demonstrated by his calling but as we read he was baptized with John’s baptism for the repentance of sin.
What evangel or evangels have we seen were being heralded from Acts 9 to Acts 13? The Kingdom evangel with repentance and baptism and the pardon of sin. Peter stated that Christ was waiting in heaven until the nation repents and the times of restoration could come. Acts 3:20,21 Jesus is the Son of God, Paul proclaims this at Acts 9:20-22.
Boldly and in the name of Jesus, Acts 9:27. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are present. The evangel of peace in Acts 10 by Peter. No mention of the evangel of the secret or mystery hidden in God, neither was a new administration, nor, the Body of Christ spoken of from Acts 9 to Acts 13. No letters written by Saul to any disciples….I suspect Saul was at this time was a disciple himself.
With that said lets go into the next section which begins with Acts 13 and read through to Acts 28 and see what changes may occur and if we find any hints or clues as to what Paul was teaching in this next section or in the letters he wrote during this time period of which this section covers. We are looking for new information which differs from what the twelve had been teaching the bride church and we are looking for any references to the Body of Christ in this section and or in the letters he writes during this time period.
This will be the longest section for sure as a lot happens with Saul after his severing at Acts 13:1-3 and I will also go into some of the things he says in the letters he writes as the apostle Paul which are 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians and Romans. Let’s now go into our next section, Acts 13 to Acts 28.
The Arguments For the Body of Christ beginning at Acts 13
It is not recorded in Acts the exact details of the new evangel which was given to Paul or all the details of what he shared of it with those to whom he discipled. We are told he spoke of the evangel of Christ and the evangel of Grace or the evangel of God, we are given the details of the evangel of Christ which was the heralding of Jesus as the messiah of Israel and Who was also the Son of God and that He would return when Israel repented.
Paul says at 2 Corinthians 12:4…it was not lawful or allowed for him to speak of the things he had seen in that vision. That incident occurred at Acts 14:19 when he was stoned and left for dead. But again we are not given the exact time of when it became allowable for him to speak of it that time. It seems that from Acts 14 it was 14 years to when he wrote 2 Corinthians 12 according to Verse 2? Certainly it was then lawful as he was discipling and writing his letters and he refers to that event.
Paul also shared his testimony of the Grace he received as the account in Acts and Galatians tells us that following his conversion Ananias was sent to heal his blindness and he was baptized and he goes into the city of Damascus and begins declaring Jesus as the Son of God, and was run out of town. Acts 9:20-25. Also, we want to remember that it was Saul who was the first to see the Glorified Christ and perhaps the only one until John receives his revelations years later. Stephen at his death sees the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God and I suspect this is not what Paul saw as he was blinded by the glory of Christ. Paul would later share that information as proof of his apostleship which is recorded after he is severed.
It seems to me that the first members called into the Body of Christ…were Jews just as Paul was and those Jews or the sons of Israel who are said to be in dispersion. I say this, because I believe that all those who Paul, discipled would be placed in the Body of Christ with him! But when did he truly begin to disciple to the new administration and when did those disciples realize their calling was separate to Israel’s? Did Saul make disciples for the kingdom evangel? We are not told these things in the book of Acts. Logic tells us, that those called into the new administration would need to be taught of this new calling step by step and in person by Paul, the one to whom it was given by Christ? Let’s move on with the account of Saul’s severing.
Acts 13:1-3 “Now there were in Antioch to accord with the ecclesia which is there, prophets and teachers, both Barnabus and Simeon, called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenian besides Manaen, the tetrarch, Herod’s foster brother, and Saul. Now, at their ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Sever by all means, to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, fasting and praying and placing their hands on them, they dismiss them.”
Acts 13:1 shows us that Saul was with a group of Jewish believers in Antioch. “Knoch points out the twelve did not leave Jerusalem or Judea to reach all in dispersion, it was a different group of apostles led by Paul who took this job on.” But we notice it merely says those gathered there were prophets and teachers…no one is said to be an apostle yet.
In Acts 13:2,3 we are told that Barnabas and Saul are severed by the Holy Spirit. This is our first clue in this section of a change. It always bothered me as to why Barnabas was mentioned first? In reviewing the Acts account we see that Barnabas was in Christ before Saul and that he had been sent to Antioch to the brethren there and when he heard that Saul had been converted and that his commission was to the nations with also learning of Peters experience with Cornelius and his explaining it to the elders in Jerusalem he goes a gets Saul.
In Acts 11, was when we are told, “Barnabas goes to Tarsus and finds Saul taking him to Antioch” to minister to the Jews living amongst the nations which would include any proselytes also but we are not told of any Gentiles until in Acts 13. Barnabas and Saul were in Antioch for a year and we are told they associated with the church there. This would be the Jewish church governed by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.
I was curious to find out more about Barnabas, we are told he was Joseph, a Levite of Cyprus at Acts 4:36,37 and that he sells a field that he owned and gives the money to the apostles. In Bullinger’s notes he states this is probably the same Joseph, who was surnamed or given the name of Barnabas by the Apostles…and also the same Joseph of Acts 1:23-26 whose name was Barsabas, one of the two put forth to replace Judas. Matthias was selected by lot…which was the Holy Spirit’s choice.
The name “Barnabas in the Hebrew means, Prophest (prophet) and in the Aramaic means son” The King James reads, “And Joses, (Joseph) who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is being interpreted, the son of consolation) a Levite and of the country of Cyprus.” His notes say “the texts read Joseph same as in Acts 1:23 and that he was reserved by the Holy Spirit for a better lot.”
I have always wondered was Barnabas in the Body of Christ or was his purpose in being sent with Paul to verify that the elders and apostles at Jerusalem confirmed his testimony and his commission to the nations. How many Jews in the dispersion would have listened to Paul if there had been no backing by the elders in Jerusalem or Peter? Again, Paul’s words, to the Jew first…come to my mind. Romans 1:16 But, we also read Barnabas was said to be an apostle, and since the kingdom church was given only 12 apostles, Barnabas must have been in the Body of Christ.
In Acts we can see that even though Saul is severed and he and his associates continue to herald Jesus to the Jewish brethren in dispersion. It was his practice or custom to go into the synagogues first in each city that they entered and after heralding Jesus to the Jews in those synagogues, he then would go house to house and into the streets and market places to whoever would listen. Acts 13:14, 14:1 17:1-3, 17
At Acts 13:9 he is referred to as Saul and also Paul and then from Verse 13 forward he is only referred to by his Roman name of Paul. Saul was his Jewish name, Paul a Gentile name. Another clue, another change, as he begins to use his Gentile name in his work amongst the nations. In this chapter there are several other interesting clues which help us to understand what Paul did and said after his severance by the Holy Spirit. Saul was severed for a work among the nations, it may be true this would also include being severed from Israel or Judaism and shown by the use of his Gentile name of Paul, it is also significant that all of this happens in Gentile territory, Antioch…or in other words, he was heralding Jesus amongst the nations.
After his severing in Acts 13 he begins to travel to the nations spreading out from Antioch and we will see that he continued to go to the Jews first. That is why many times in his letters, especially in his early ones, but even in all of them we will find that he is talking to Jews or those of Israelite heritage! But I believe these to whom he writes his letters whether Jew, or those of Israelite heritage or gentiles were called into the Body of Christ, but how much they understood of it, I am not sure, so keeping this in mind as we are looking to see if there is an official beginning or starting point for the Body of Christ. Is the severing the official starting point?
We have dismissed the conversion or calling of Saul in Acts 9 as the official beginning even though we know he is in the Body of Christ and will become the Apostle, Prophet and Priest for the new administration and will be given the secret for the Body of Christ later, but I am fairly certain at his meeting Christ on the Damascus road he knew nothing of the secret or the Body of Christ. In Acts 9, it was still the Pentecostal era, or we can also refer to that time as the dispensation of the Holy Spirit in Israel.
Two points, Antioch is in Gentile territory and the majority of the sons of Israel were in dispersion, living in other countries outside of the land of Israel. This dispersion dates back over 500 years to the time of their civil war with the 10 tribes called Israel and who moved to and lived in Assyrian territory. Later, with Babylon’s taking the 2 tribe kingdom of Judah, in Jerusalem into captivity for the 70 years. Afterwards as said earlier, history shows that at least 95% of the dispersed Jews stayed in Assyria, Egypt and Babylon or moved even farther away into other Gentiles countries with only about 5% returning to Jerusalem to rebuild.
We are also told in Romans 1:1 “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called apostle, severed for the evangel of God.” So he was made an Apostle at his severing, Acts 13:2. I said this earlier; that there were 12 apostles for the remnant church…foretold by Jesus to sit on twelve thrones in His kingdom and it does not seem appropriate that Israel would have other Apostles. James was not replaced after his death; as they knew there were to be only 12 for Israel. So Saul could not have been one until he is severed from Judaism or Israel and made an Apostle to the nations. Also the first place he is called an Apostle, is at Acts 14:14 “the apostles Barnabas and Paul….. ”
Again reminding ourselves, they preached first to the Jews and the sons of Israel living in those nations and if Israel was still lo ammi as I suspect that she was their status with God would be as people of the nations….as Gentiles. But I do think we should now be seeing a difference with the use of the terms, the sons of Israel with those of the nations being those said to be in dispersion and these were the first to be discipled by Paul. Read again Acts 9:15.
We read that Paul was severed for the evangel of God, what is the evangel of God? Paul tells us what it is in Romans 1:1-7 this evangel of God was “promised through His prophets concerning His Son…Who comes of the seed of David according to the flesh, Who is designated Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom we obtained grace and apostleship for faith obedience among all the nations, for His name sake, among whom are you also, the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are in Rome, beloved by God , called saints:”
Every time I see that word also…it alerts me, those being talked to are being compared to others. He is telling those at Rome that they …also are saints called by Jesus Christ. If they were called into the remnant church what need of that encouragement? But that reassurance seems to me was given because they were not in the remnant church but in the Body of Christ, and this was new and different and they needed to understand who they were in Christ and so then the education would need to begin. Remember the book of Romans was written after Acts 13 and before Acts 28 when the account is closed.
We cannot point to these words in Romans 1 as referencing the evangel of God to be the secret in hidden in God which was unsearchable or untraceable which means that secret cannot be found in the writings before Paul writes of it. That secret was not known by the Prophets thus written as part of the promises which Paul is referring to in the above passage. I do believe we are part of the evangel of God, as Paul completes the word of God once he writes his letters explaining the new administration and all related to it as well as revealing the secret hidden in God for the Body of Christ and so Paul’s revelations add to God’s evangel.
With Paul’s epistles, the Word of God is completed, with the whole or complete evangel of God being made up of the promises to the fathers for Israel and the new evangel, with a new administration and the secret hidden in God through the ages and it had been hidden from the prophets as it was given solely to Paul to teach. This is how he completed the Word of God. So the promises known by Israel along with Paul’s revelations revealing the secret administration is God’s plan of the ages through both churches….completes His revelation and thus is laid out in Gods word for believers to see.
So we see from the time of Saul’s severance at Acts 13 is when we then begin to read of him as an apostle. Paul told us this at Romans 1:1, that he was severed as an Apostle “to the nations.” It is wrong for us to assume this means that he was to only go to the Gentiles as we just read…Paul’s first priority in the Acts era was still to go to the Jew first. We have learned the sons of Israel were Israelites in dispersion and who were living amongst the nations or Gentiles. These were primarily those of the 10 tribes which had gone into Idolatry and left Judaism 500 hundred previously. To the Jew, practicing Judaism, those who deflected, left them and were also considered to be of the nations or as we use the name, gentiles.
But, we also need to remember, if Israel was lo ammi, as I feel that she was, then she too would be considered by God as just one of the nations. Paul’s commission to go to the nations was that he was to go to the sons of Israel in dispersion and as we read, to the Jew first.
When we carefully read through the book of Acts we continue to see this is born out, it is said that it was Paul’s custom to go first to the synagogues which would include the proselytes to Judaism and then he would go out into the streets, squares, house to house and market places, to herald Jesus Christ to those of the nations…..yes and to also Gentiles in the true sense, he preached to all three groups in his travels, Jews, Proselytes and Gentiles which included the sons of Israel…those of Israelite heritage but living as gentiles. Acts 20:20, 21
But what evangel did he teach them? We were told the Evangel of God which would mean what was written in the scriptures for Israel but it could also mean that Paul could add what he had been told by Christ and shown through revelations as that was also the word of God given to Paul and had been a secret hidden in God until revealed to Paul.
Thus Paul could have in person added that Word of God and thus expanding the then known evangel of God. But we are not told in Acts very many of the details he gave out in his preaching. Any teaching program has first a foundation on which to build and so it is logical his first priority in the synagogues of the Jews would be to prove through the prophets that Jesus was indeed Israel’s messiah and the Son of God, and Who died to save all. That was the basis for faith needed by all saints called by God and for both churches and thus the foundation which would be laid first and then built upon.
Continuing with Acts 13:4, 5 we are told Barnabas and Saul go to Seleucia and then sail to Cyprus from there to Salamis and on that journey they are announcing the word of God and we read of them in the city of Salamis and they go to the synagogue of the Jews where the Apostle John was a deputy.
Acts 13:6,7 Gives us some interesting information which needs to be understood. “Now, passing through the whole island up to Paphos, they found a certain man, a magician, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-Jesus who was with the proconsul Serguis Paul, an intelligent man. He calling to Barnabas and Saul seeks to hear the word of God.” Knoch’s comments on this are “Sergius Paul was the first individual among the nations (a Gentile) who heard the evangel, without first becoming a proselyte of Judaism. Hence his case is typical.”
Acts 13:8-12 gives us the rest of the story, “Now Elymas, the Magician withstood them, seeking to pervert the proconsul from the faith. Now Saul, who is also Paul, being filled with Holy Spirit, looking intently at him said ‘O, full of all guile and all knavery, son of the Adversary, enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, lo! The hand of the Lord in on you, and you shall be blind, not observing the sun until the appointed time.’ Now instantly there falls on him a fog and darkness and going about, he sought someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul, perceiving what has occurred believes, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”
Knoch’s comments are “Bar-Jesus stands for the Jewish dispersion, who resisted every attempt to proclaim the evangel to the nations. Seldom, indeed do we find Paul performing any judgment miracles, but here he blinds the sorcerer for a season. This is judgment which has befallen Israel during the present administration of God’s grace. Israel, in part, has become calloused until the full complement of the nations may be entering, Romans 11:25. Through out Paul’s missionary journeys, when he turned from the unbelieving Jews to the nations, the Jews became jealous and sought to turn the gentiles against him. They became blind spiritually, as Bar-Jesus became blind physically.”
My comment is that they were already blind, spiritually and their hearts were stubborn and so the hearing of the evangel of God, which was that Jesus was their messiah, irritated them which in turn caused those stubborn hearts to become even more calloused and this is what Paul explains in Romans 11:25 which was to be a further hardening of their hearts, the callousing.
I have added A.E. Knoch’s comments as he has put in bits of information having to do with the secular history and culture of that time which I find interesting and for that reason I recommend reading his comments on the entire book of Acts straight through even though it appears we differ on Israel’s lo ammi status. He may be right and I may be wrong and so we have to keep digging.
Acts 13:13b,14a tells us that John leaves and returns to Jerusalem….remember he was one of the eleven, for Israel. The Apostle James was killed in Acts 12. We wonder, did John understand what was happening with Paul’s ministry…?
Knoch felt John’s leaving was a weakness of the flesh but then Israel was and is in that mode, of the flesh; even the believers in Israel, in Jesus as their messiah, did not seem to understand the spiritual aspect of their new calling and definitely did not understand all that Paul was called to do.
But I wonder if it had to do with….that this miracle of Paul’s, calling blindness onto Bar-Jesus is further proof of his Apostleship and that he was commissioned by God. Perhaps that established Paul as a apostle and John was free to leave, no longer needed? That event with Paul’s discipling a gentile also give us a clue of changes happening and for me would seem to be far more indicative of Israel’s on going failure and a change taking place in Gods dealing with them than what happens years later in Acts 28:28?
Keep in mind also as Saul and later after he was severed and begins to use his name of Paul, he did not ask the other Apostles for guidance or permission to fulfill his commission as his authority came directly from Christ. It is also important to understand that many of the believing Jews hated Paul and opposed his evangel of grace even though his use of the gifts and his knowledge of their scriptures proved beyond a doubt that he was a chosen Apostle.
Again, even the believing Jews were living in the flesh and this is evident in that they did not want to let go of the Mosaic Law and its rituals which had set them apart from the Gentiles thus they did not mature….because they did not understand the work of the cross was enough.
Knoch says something interesting concerning circumcision in His Commentary…circumcision was given by God as a spiritual sign of the impotence of the flesh …..But the Jews turned it into a badge of honor because they did not comprehend the spiritual only the fleshly.
Acts 13:13 Saul is now using his Gentile name, Paul. He is traveling in Gentile territory. Luke the author of the book of Acts will join him later in his journey, and he states Paul is proclaiming the word of God. This would mean he is presenting from the scriptures…the recorded word of God but he could also be speaking the Word of God given to him….if Paul only preached from the recorded scriptures that could have easily been said…as it is many times said, it is written and then old testament scripture is quoted.
Paul would first of course need to prove and establish that Jesus was indeed the Messiah of Israel. But we also cannot forget, one of the gifts at that time was prophecy and knowledge and those who spoke by means of the Holy Spirit could be said to be proclaiming the Word of God.
(A side point to remind us, that there is no record of Paul telling them that the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 was fulfilled in any way shape or form which is strange if it indeed is referring to Jesus Christ as the anointed one being cut off and since it is a huge, key prophecy concerning the restoration of their kingdom which will be the times of restoration. Nor in the first half of Acts is it recorded that Peter ever spoke of it or any other New Testament writers.)
As for the other things Paul taught in Antioch we can read at Acts 13:38,39 Justification without the law which was new or different from the pardon of sins and from all which could not be given justification in the law of Moses. Paul wrote of this also in Galatians which was after his severing. But the letter to the Galatians shows the believing Jewish saints did not truly understand that the Law with circumcision was set aside by Christ’s death. Paul spent much time trying to teach this to those he had discipled and was opposed and hated for it, even by believers in Jesus Christ. At Verses 42-45 we read that Paul was invited back on the next Sabbath to speak to them some more, but he when he did so, he was opposed by the Jews.
Acts 13:32, 33, 38,39 clearly shows us which evangel Paul had been teaching. “And we are bringing to you the evangel which comes to be a promise to the fathers, that God has fully fulfilled this for our children in raising Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm also, My Son art Thou; I today have begotten Thee. Now seeing that He raises Him from among the dead, by no means longer about to return to decay……………Let it then be know to you, men, brethren, that through this One is being announced to you the pardon of sins, and from all from which you could not be justified in the law of Moses, in this One everyone who is believing is being justified.”
He was speaking of the promise to the fathers, which are the fathers of Israel…our evangel is the secret, which was not a promise to the fathers as it is not found in the Old Testament nor had it been written down by Paul at this point in Acts. He was declaring Israel’s evangel to his Jewish brethren concerning Jesus being their messiah, who was killed and raised from the dead but as we have seen he taught that Jesus was the Son of God and he spoke of the grace he had received and also that those called out of Israel could attain justification in Christ outside of law keeping. The foundation of both evangels is Jesus and the cross.
Acts 13:40-43 In these verses Paul speaks very forcefully to his Jewish brethren warning them and then He quotes Habakkuk 1:5 to them, found in Verse 41 “Behold ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe though a man declare it unto you.” Paul was not well received by most of the Jews but some Jews and proselytes requested he speak to them again the next Sabbath. We can read what occurred that next Sabbath in Verses 44-47 which says “almost the entire city was gathered to hear the word of the Lord.”
But the Jews were filled “with jealousy and contradicted the things said by Paul, blaspheming.” The account tells us that Paul and Barnabas spoke these words, Verse 46 “To you first was it necessary that the word of God be spoken. Yet, since, in fact, you are thrusting it away, and are judging yourselves not worthy of eonian life, lo! We are turning to the Gentiles.” KJ. The Concordant Version says, we are turning to the nations.
Bullinger’s notes state that Paul’s words are quoted from Isaiah 49:6 “And He said, “It is a light thing that Thou shouldest be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be My Salvation unto the end of the earth.” In the Hebrew, the word…is Goyim for nations…which are the Gentile nations.
This seems pretty clear to me but lets read it from the King James again, which is used by most Acts 28 teachers. “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles, (nations)” A plain statement in either translation, a strong argument that the Jews were given the honor of being first in hearing the evangel of their messiah and kingdom but after their rejection of the evangel, they were told that the apostles were turning to the Gentiles, (nations) the door of faith is definitely opened to all of the nations.
Now as I read these accounts what comes to my mind was when he went into the synagogues, first in each city as was his custom, it seems to me that the Jewish leaders were privileged to hear the evangel first and they were probably the most resistant to his teaching of Christ, it seems his words are pointed towards them more than the common lay person so to speak? Remember Jesus also in His ministry spoke very strongly to the Jewish leaders and it was the Jewish leaders who had conspired to have Jesus killed. Likewise it is the Jewish leaders who become outraged, and who stir up the people and the civil authorities against Paul.
I wonder again, with the above words, To you first (the Jewish leaders) was it necessary to herald this evangel……..and we are now turning to the nations, does it mean that Paul and the apostles under him once the leaders reject their message, turn from them and speak to those of the nations, meaning to Gentiles. This has been the common thought, but as we are learning, the nations were made up of gentiles in the true sense and the sons of Israel, considered to be of the nations or gentiles also. Let’s think about this as we go through Paul’s journeys in Acts. Also keeping in mind if Israel is still lo ammi as I suspect she was then in Gods eyes she is also just one of the nations and especially the 10 tribes scattered in all the nations.
Acts 13:47, 48 Finishing this chapter we see Paul quoted Isaiah 49:6 “I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” The nation of Israel was to fulfill this for Jehovah and in the future they will, but at that time in their blind state they had failed. But, let’s not forget that Paul was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin and the first members of the Body of Christ seem to be primarily Jews and the sons of Israel, those of Israelite heritage and so in the spiritual realm, those of Israel called into the Body of Christ did become the light to the nations opening the door to faith for those of the nations, termed Gentiles to approach God directly and not having to approach God through Judaism.
Lets read Verse 48 “And when the Gentiles/Nations heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal (eonian) life believed.” I used the King James here as I liked the way it reads…leaving no doubt…God does the choosing and I loved the order…ordained and then they believed.
Acts 13:49-52 “And the word of the Lord was published or carried throughout the entire region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them out of their coast. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them and came unto Iconium, and the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.” Now we were told in this chapter that the Jewish leaders rejected the message Paul gives them from the Word of God and they also do not want him to herald his message to the nations, translated as gentiles in the King James.
Acts 14 gives the details of his travels to many cities outside the land of Israel and in gentile territory, which is classed as going to the nations, establishing ecclesias. They set sail for Antioch again and it is said they “abode a long time there.” (2 1/2 years) Acts 14:26-28. From Antioch another trip was made to Jerusalem, again a dispute was taking place over circumcision and law keeping needing further discussion. This is recorded at Acts 15:1-12 and is estimated to be about 50 or 51 A.D. Paul does not go because he was summoned but goes because of a revelation given to him by the Holy Spirit to do so. Galatians 2:2. But let’s back up and complete Chapter 14 before going on to Chapter 15.
It is in Acts 14 that Paul was stoned and left for dead, it seems that this is the time in which he was given a revelation and this is probably what he shared with the elders at Jerusalem in Acts 15. As certainly they would need to understand what things Paul was teaching and what things he had received from Christ in his revelations and thus would be teaching those of the nations at some point, and so we ask, was he sharing the new things given to him for the Body of Christ in his journeys amongst the nations before this meeting? We have read of some new things, but to what extent was he revealing them, we will need to keep looking.
Let’s look again at Acts 14:19 which is where Paul is stoned and left for dead this was in the area of Antioch and Iconium. This is the only time Paul speaks of being stoned and we are told by him, that he had been stoned once at 2 Corinthians 11:25 and so it is thought this has to be the experience he relates in this same letter. He speaks of when he was stoned and left for dead, and while he lay as dead, he received the vision of the third heaven and the paradise earth, but it was not yet lawful to speak of. I feel his not being allowed to speak of it, applies to Acts 14 when it happened, not necessarily later when he writes of it in Corinthians…which would be about Acts 19 or 20. Perhaps again he shared first with the elders in Acts 15?
He speaks about this event and revelation in the very next chapter of 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 in which he also says his stoning was 14 years earlier from the writing of this letter to those in Corinth and so was around or at 57 A.D. Again, the 4 letters he wrote in this time period were written after Acts 13 but before Acts 28.
I wonder, would he refer to something in the Corinthians letter which he said after it happened he was not allowed to talk about, but if it was still not allowed or not the time to talk about it, why would he write about something he could not talk about? I would think he would keep quiet about it altogether, by implying that he had received a vision or revelation with a secret but could not relate it to them is teasing and so why even refer to it at all? But Knoch said, his use of the third person…I knew of a man….shows he had not yet explained, that man was himself. Perhaps if this is true, the hint at that vision would whet the appetites of the believers, but as for me I don’t like hints, just give me the facts or I would ask questions?
So we are seeing up to this point that the record shows after Paul’s severing he was proclaiming Christ to his Jewish brethren in the synagogues the cities of other lands, among the gentile nations as well as in the many sects of Judaism and to whom would listen, and we have the incident of a Gentile coming to the Lord though Paul’s discipleship.
The opposing Jew was struck blind and it seems highly probable that this may be the sign that Israel’s blindness begins, continues or increases? Well, it does not seem that it would have just begun as Jesus at least 20 years or so earlier had used Isaiah 6:9,10 to show the disciples Israel did not understand his teaching, because they were blind, this is found in Matthew 13. But at any rate…it does indicate…Israel’s blindness was in effect already and that it was going to continue for a season.
Since Paul’s evangel had differences in it from Israel’s Kingdom evangel, such as grace, justification and conciliation….I feel that those of Israelite heritage as well as gentiles were the believers of the nations which he was sent to and he were being called into the Body of Christ…but…the question is, did they understand this and or how much were they perhaps told in person by Paul? We know they were told they were justified outside the Law of Moses and this upset the Judaisers in Jerusalem. I also find it hard to comprehend his never speaking of their calling into the Body of Christ with its entirely new destiny of going to heaven as that was not something the Jews had ever heard of or contemplated before.
Also as we will see when we review Galatians he reminds them of the evangel they were saved through…which was his evangel…and different from what the Judaiser were seeking to teach them. So would Paul, have for the very first time write or speak of the secret, administration, and their calling to the celestials in a letter and that letter is said to be Ephesians? Wouldn’t that be dropping it on them like a bombshell? But let’s keep looking for more clues or hints on what was taught before Acts 28, and that means in the four letters he wrote before Acts closes and he writes his prison epistles.
From his severing in Acts 13 until the end of Chapter 14 it appears to be about 5 or 6 years after which he returns to Antioch and shares with the ecclesia about his journeys. Acts 14:28 “Now coming along and gathering the ecclesia, they informed them of whatever God does with them, and that He opens to the nations a door of faith.” This door of faith began with the Gentile pro counsel Sergius Paul who was discipled by the Apostle Paul right after his severing and the incident with Bar-Jesus the Jew being struck blind for interfering. Remember there is no record of him being baptized and it seems Gentiles were not given Johns baptism, it was only for Israel. This was not the same as when Peter was sent to Cornelius he and his household was baptized, at Acts 10 he was already a proselyte at the gate and coming into the Kingdom Church.
The elders at Jerusalem say this same thing about the door of faith being opened to the nations in Acts 11. But, I think it would be safe to say, it is a different situation with the Gentile believers Paul disciples, they were being added to the Body of Christ. I cannot say what or how much they were being told by Paul as it is not recorded in Acts. But remember the first two visits to Jerusalem made by Paul are referred to in the letter he wrote to the Galatians which was written in the Acts 19 or 20 time frame.
In Galatians Chapter One, he speaks of the grace of God, the evangel of Christ….and he calls down curses on anyone subverting the true evangel….pretty tough warning. But entirely in line with being the dispensation of Holy Spirit, remember the unforgivable sin for a Jew…was to deny the work of the Holy Spirit. In Chapter two, Paul state that he has been entrusted with the evangel of the uncircumcision to the nations and Peter has the evangel to the circumcision. Uncircumcision pretty much identifies Gentiles? I also feel though that some of the dispersed Israelites living amongst the nations and were not practicing the Jewish customs and so many were not being circumcised and so fit in this category?
What we want to keep watching for though is….does Paul disciple Gentiles? So the next question would be for those who do not feel the Body of Christ begin until after Acts 28…were these of the nations if not placed into the Body of Christ were they then in the kingdom church of Israel? That seems to be what some believe but for me that thought is even more confusing. That would mean that at the same time that Paul was discipling some to the earthly kingdom and some called to the heavenly kingdom or then at some point, some were changed from the earthly to the heavenly….? Nope, this does not make sense at all for me, way too confusing? But let’s continue with our journey through Acts and see if things will clear up for us.
The account of this meeting in Jerusalem is given at Acts 15 and also referred to by Paul in his letter which he wrote to the ecclesia in Galatia, It was decided at Acts 15 and Paul quotes it here, Galatians 2:7,8 “Paul is to go to the uncircumcised and Peter to the circumcision for He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles or the nations” This seems to be the first place where these two separate commissions are stated this way….Peter to the circumcision, Jews and Paul to the nations CLV or (Gentiles, KJA .)
I am wondering if there is a fine line here…since Jew is the name derived from Judah and was the name used by the two tribe kingdom which had remained in Jerusalem during their civil war. (Judah and Benjamin) After the Babylonian captivity it was some of these Jews, from the two tribe kingdom of Judah which returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt. Jew is the religion of Judah as the two tribe kingdom and the land of Judea comes from this name also. The 10 tribes named Israel were still scattered outside the land of Judea and had not been reunited with the two tribe kingdom or for the most part never returned to Jerusalem. I think this is important to add to the equation as those are who Paul discipled with his evangel.
So we need to understand what was in the minds of the Jews, they knew they were split and not one kingdom as Jehovah had originally created them. Would that not be on their minds that the 10 tribes needed to be brought home? They also had the prophecies which promised that they will one day be one nation and kingdom again. Yet, Jesus did not tell the 12 to go outside the land of Judea and find those lost Israelites?
From the calling of Saul, it was known by them that he was going to be used to go to the sons of Israel and to the nations. That is what Christ told Ananias before he was sent to find Saul and heal his blindness in Acts 9. Thus to remind ourselves….we continually read that Paul travels into Gentile territory, going to the nations, but that he always goes to the Jews first, in their synagogues, these would be the Jewish leaders which had migrated from Jerusalem establishing the religion of Judaism for the Jews living in those cities outside of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.
And in those nations were the sons of Israel living amongst those nations and so could be considered gentiles? We also learn, in Paul’s travels that he preaches to the Hellenized Jews who also had synagogues separate from the traditional Jewish synagogues. The traditional Jew again, hated the Hellenized Jews and considered them gentiles also.
Can we see the multi-faceted ministry Paul was given? He went to the traditional Jews, their proselytes, the sons of Israel, living as gentiles and the Hellenized Jews and also to Gentiles in the true sense, which when is say that I mean those without any Israelite heritage. In the nations, in these groups, sects and the false religions were endless. All of these peoples fit within…his commission of being sent “to the nations.”
The Galatians letter also shows us that Paul find it necessary to correct Peter for his hypocrisy which was for not wanting to be seen by the Jews as associating with Gentiles which he did when not observed by the Judaisers. And this time of correction by Paul was years after Peters experience with Cornelius at Acts 10. In Acts 11 Peter himself understood God no longer considered those of the nations as unclean and had explained that experience to the elders at Jerusalem and that the vision given him by God showed that no longer did God consider those of the nations as unclean.
In relation to this, with Paul’s reprimand to Peter, he says something interesting to him at Galatians 2:14b “If you, being inherently a Jew, are living as the nations, and not as the Jews, how are you compelling the nations to be judaizing?” The thought being, Peter was a Jew but since no longer being under the Law Covenant or in the religion of Judaism, was free to live as one of the nations and so why did he want Gentiles or those of the nations to accept Judaism or live as a Jew?
Also nothing is said here, if the Jews were Gods People of being ammi again, the references speak of them as in the religion of Judaism, well just a side point to think on that. Also, it seems that Barnabas was led away with that hypocrisy. Galatians 2:14a
Acts 15:2 is Paul’s third visit to Jerusalem (into the city and this is estimated to be 5 or 6 years from the 14 years given in Galatians and counted from his conversion on the Damascus road) so the time frame would be at or around 19 years after Saul’s Damascus road experience and 26 years after the death of Jesus.
In Galatians 2:16 Paul teaches them, that a man is not justified by the works of law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ…Verse 20 “I live by the faith of the Son of God” Paul teaching we are given Christ’s faith. This is a big thing…the Israelis were condemned for not having enough faith…we are given Christ’s faith thus we are not condemned for a lack thereof! So this is also a new teaching. His very words at Romans 8:1 “There is no condemnation for those in Christ.” showing freedom from the law.
The Law condemns by pointing to their failures and sins. Christ fulfilled the Law and set them free from the bondage of trying to live up to it or the condemnation by it, when they failed. Why would they want to hold on to the Mosaic Law? Are we starting to see the…Jewish basis for so much of what Paul wrote? As Gentiles we were never in a covenant relationship with Jehovah, never married to Him and never under the bondage of the Law so never condemned by it. This message was so important for the Jews to understand, that when they are in Christ…the Law was no longer able to condemn them!
In Galatians 3 Paul continues to give instructions for understanding the curse of the Law, with redemption by believing in Christ and also that those in Christ have the Sonship. In Chapter 4 Paul explains the law was a tutor a governor that they, the Jews had been in bondage to, but God sent His Son to redeem them from the law and that they receive the adoption of sons. Can we see how he is talking to Jews and those of Israelite heritage and who were coming into the Body of Christ? They are free from Judaism and the condemnation of the flesh!
In Chapter 5 He continues to stress to them that Christ has set them free, so he says stand in it…circumcision is nothing. Paul is taking them from the flesh towards understanding the spirit led life which is far superior but difficult for them to grasp. And then he gives counsel on their conduct to put away the works of the flesh and to walk in the spirit. We need to keep in mind that this letter was written between Acts 13 and Acts 28. Can we see why this is said to be a prepatory epistle and or a time of transition? And can we see how it is focused on those of Israel called to Christ?
Next we have the book of Romans also written after Acts 13 and before the end of Acts. It is estimated that Paul’s letter to the Romans was written in the spring of 58 A.D. from Corinth. In it we find our first hint of the secret evangel although not referred to directly, but by the use of the term, the complement of the nations…it is alluded to in another secret that Paul was referring to, which was, the secret of the callousness in part coming on Israel in Romans 11:25.
By the time he writes this epistle, all understood God was turning to the nations, and that God had opened the door of faith to Gentiles. It must have been evident to them that the Kingdom was not coming as soon as was first expected. Obviously Israel did not accept the evangel and did not repent and with Paul’s commission and revelations the understanding was dawning on them, that Israel would not be restored or that their Kingdom would not arrive until the work God was doing amongst the nations and the Gentiles was completed.
As far as the extent of what all God was doing with the nations, Jew and Gentile I don’t think they understood and yet, the tenor of this chapter seems to be reassuring those Jewish believers that Israel had not been cast away by God permanently. So even though the statement Paul made of the complement of the nations it did not reveal the secret evangel directly at least in writing.
But wouldn’t those Jews he is talking to and reassuring have some idea of Paul’s work amongst the nations was for the purpose of creating a new administration which was replacing the earlier call to Israel? This would worry them about Israel and thus is why Paul explains the secret of the callousness of Israel, and answering the questions, they must have asked, how long before God would return to His People, this is what Jewish saints would naturally want to know?
Even Paul, with his understanding of the glorious calling to the heavens, grieved over his Jewish brethren, and his nation with their rejection of their messiah. The restoration of Israel was on their hearts something you and I cannot even begin to understand. Now, this should to be clarified as Israel was already blind and had been in my opinion for centuries but now she was being hardened further and this is what is meant by the use of the word…calloused and what it is describing, so lets take time now to explore the use of that word.
The word Callous is defined as “a cover, or to cover with a thick insensitive skin.” Blind is defined as “lacking the sense of sight” figurative definition; “lacking spiritual perception.” We might think about how a callous forms on the human skin, it develops over time through repeated irritation. The skin hardens itself for protection, not allowing the irritant to pierce and break through to the skin. Now let’s think about this in relation to Israel and Paul’s words…callousness has come on them. They were already blind, and deaf, unable to understand and that term shows us this is spiritual and not physical ailments. Isaiah 6.
That prophecy at Isaiah 6 was first quoted by Jesus in Matthew 13 and is in each gospel account after that and then by Paul, first in Romans 11 and finally at Acts 28:28. For me this seems to indicate the ongoing condition of the nation of Israel as being blind as in being spiritually insensitive which explains why they did not respond to the Kingdom evangel. Instead of it being a pronouncement of their blindness beginning. It began in Isaiah’s day and with Hosea’s pronouncement of their becoming lo ammi, the nation was blind, without spiritual guidance, God opened the eyes of a remnant from Israel for the church Jesus began and also in Paul’s ministry. To the Jew first were the evangels taken. We must remember both are founded in Jesus Christ and the cross.
If we are correct that Israel, the nation was lo ammi this whole time and never having been taken back as is commonly taught, this would mean that they were already in their blind condition when Jesus came and later when Paul refers to Isaiah 6 in Romans 11:8. In this chapter Paul has answered the questions the Jewish saints must have been concerned with, which was, what was Jehovah going to do with Israel since she would not repent and was rejecting their messiah and the evangels given of Him?
The prophecy in Isaiah explained their blindness and so they wanted to know, how long was Israel’s blindness going to last and Paul’s answer was given, explaining to them that Israel’s being calloused which was a further hardening of their hearts, keeping them blind would last until the complement of the eras was completed, but then Paul assures them, one day, Israel will be saved.
In Romans 9 Paul had quoted Hosea 2:2,3 and told them, “He calls also, not only out of the Jews, but out of the nations also.” Paul explaining, God’s turning to the nations calling out a people who were not His People to be His People. But he did not want them to fear that Israel would never be restored, cast away permanently as Paul said in Romans 11:1 “Does not God thrust away His people? May it not be coming to that! For I also am an Israelite, out of Abraham’s seed, Benjamin’s tribe. God does not thrust away His people whom He foreknew.”
Obviously Israel had been cast away, as she had been divorced long before this, what Paul has to be saying is that this is not a permanent condition with God. The key word is Paul saying, callousness has come in part on Israel, note the term, in part. God always has a remnant of believers… He called a remnant of Jews called out of Israel to Jesus and a remnant is later also called out of Israel into the Body of Christ.
It seems to me there was a remnant of Jews which make up the church which Jesus began and were added to at Pentecost under the 12 apostles in Jerusalem and a remnant of Jews which were being placed through Paul’s ministry into the Body of Christ? Romans 11:3-5
With this new or deeper understanding of the meaning for the terms, going, turning or being sent to the nations” coupled with Paul’s words to the Jew first we are seeing they were the first to be heralded the evangels, both Israel’s and Paul’s. I think we need to re read Romans 9 and take the time to look up the Old Testament passages that Paul quotes throughout that chapter because we must remember our evangel for the Body of Christ is not in the Old Testament.
So why is Paul quoting from it in Romans 9? It is because he is talking to Jews or the sons of Israel, those living amongst the nations to which he was commissioned. And those which he had discipled I am coming to see…a remnant of Jews were chosen and placed in the Body of Christ and it is logical some from each of the 12 tribes. In this way, the Jew is first! Paul said at Romans 9:25, “not only out of the Jews, but out of the nations also…as He is saying in Hosea also: God shall be calling those who are not My People to be My People”
How could we apply this only to Gentiles! When Israel is lo ammi, she is said to be Not My People and Israel as His People is usually capitalized in the Old Testament. If Israel was still lo ammi, then she fits, the term, Not My People. But in Grace a remnant are called out of Israel and form the beginnings of the Body of Christ and thus they are His People! Romans 11:5. Just as a remnant of Jews was chosen in the ministry of Jesus for the church He began and will be the bride in the kingdom. Can we now understand how the words, to the Jew first, fits both evangels and how the term, the sons of Israel also needs to be understood?
If the nation of Israel remained lo ammi, then when Paul heralded the Word of God to the Jewish leaders in the cities he traveled to amongst the nations, they were already in that blind condition foretold by Isaiah 6. And so, it seems to me, Paul’s use of the word callous….implies a further hardening of the blind condition they were already in! Instead of responding to the evangel, and the signs given by the Holy Spirit proving the evangel they were hearing, the Jewish leaders hearing Jesus proclaimed, were irritated by it, like rubbing salt in a wound was their rejection of Him and thus they hardened themselves even more until the callous becomes so thick, so hard, no words no signs could pierce it.
So I ask, were they then cast away when Jesus first spoke those words or when Paul first spoke those words or later when he states that prophecy again at Acts 28:28 when he again quotes Isaiah 6:9,10?
The Acts 28 viewpoints seems to ignore all other times that Isaiah is quoted and point only to the last time Paul uses it as being monumental? It does seem so to me, Paul gives the figure of callousness to show a further hardening of their hearts and was being added to the blindness they were already in and had been since their divorcement. This is what lo ammi had brought to them as a nation, no spiritual health. We must always remember that individuals in that divorced nation were still used by Jehovah as He was no longer the nations Husband but he was still their God! And so we must next ask the question was Israel cast away with the close of the book of Acts or instead did something else come to an end, and if so what was it?
Since I believe Israel was still in the status of being cast away, lo ammi, divorced from Jehovah, perhaps we could say instead of the casting away of Israel at the close of Acts, we should say, that what ceased at the close of the book of Acts was the dispensation of Holy Spirit and the heralding of Israel’s Kingdom evangel as well as Paul following the rule, to the Jew first.
Paul said they were becoming calloused and so they were incapable of responding. The foundation of both groups of saints, the Israel bride church destined for the kingdom on this earth and the new administration, the Body of Christ destined for heaven was begun with Jews and or those of Israelite heritage.
The Kingdom church with its evangel of the return of Jesus and their kingdom was fading away as its apostle’s die off and the Body of Christ with its new set of apostles under Paul was growing. The body of Christ began in the dispensation of Holy Spirit which began with the Pentecostal era and the spiritual endowments were given as signs for the Jew.
Paul will write in his first letter to the saints in Corinth that those spiritual endowments would cease. And it seems that they did fade away with the Acts account closing and while under house arrest Paul writes the prison epistles taking his disciples into a deeper spiritual understanding of the spiritual realm those called into the Body of Christ occupy and thus Paul’s evangel completes Gods word.
By the end of Acts, the circle or unity of the 12 apostles had been broken, in fact broken as far back as Acts 12 with the death of the Apostle James. I think this was the beginning of the decline of the Jewish church begun by Jesus and by the end of Acts at least four other apostles were killed and so the unity definitely broken and the power was gone. We do not read of Peter taking a stand of any kind of authority after he takes the lead at Pentecost and maybe this is why?
Paul was placed under house arrest, Acts 28:30 and thus no longer able to travel to the nations so he was forced to writes letters to the ecclesias which had sprung up under his Apostleship. As a father to these babes in Christ, he continued to teach them through his letters. The apostles and disciples who had traveled with him, I am sure had been instructed by Paul taking them into the deeper things of the new administration they were a part of so that they could minister also to the saints. While in prison those apostles under him traveling to those cities with his letters and ministering to the saints in those ecclesias.
As a side note…I thought it would be interesting to learn about the death of the 12 Apostles…The only one recorded in scripture is James the son of Zebedee at Acts 12. This would be 44 A.D. about 11 years after the death of Jesus. It is said they all were martyred but the Apostle John and history says he died of old age, banished to the isle of Patmos by Roman Emperor Domitian. The dates given for his time there range from 89 to 120 A.D.
We also have to go to secular history to get any ideas of the death of the others. History has it that Thomas was killed by being run through with a lance in 52 A.D. Phillip crucified about 54 A.D. Matthew slain by the sword in 60 A.D. James, son of Alphaeus thrown from a pinnacle and then beaten to death also at 60 A.D. Thaddeus was shot by arrows in 72 A.D. Jude crucified in 72 A.D. and Simon crucified in 74 A.D. Andrew and Bartholomew no dates are given. It is said Paul and Peter were killed about the same time, 69 A. D. It looks like 5 of the 12 were dead by the time Paul is in his first imprisonment, the house arrest at Rome after the Acts account ends which those two years are dated at 61-63 A.D.
Okay, let’s continue with our look at Romans written before Acts closes. Acts 28:31
We were in the letter to the Romans and so lets discuss Romans 16:25 where we read “Now to Him Who is able to establish you in accord with my evangel, and the heralding of Christ Jesus in accord with the revelation of a secret hushed in times eonian, yet manifest now and through prophetic scriptures according to the injunction of the eonian God being made known to all nations for faith obedience to the only and wise God, through Christ Jesus, be glory for the eons of the eons. Amen!”
Before we jump to the conclusion that Paul is referring to the secret hidden in God for the ages and thus must have talked about it earlier, although I believe this is true I will present Bullinger’s thoughts from his note in the Companion Bible on why he said we could not. “It is said that this epistle ends at Verse 20.” Note the ending salutation. “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” The next verses add the name of the scribe who wrote for him Tertius and then there is another closing with Paul’s salutation at Verse 25-27 “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
It is said the Verses of Romans 16:25-27 were added later by Paul while in prison at Rome and after he had written the letter to the Ephesians explaining fully the secret of his evangel because when Romans was first written it was not yet lawful to write of it. The prophetic writings he refers to would then be his own, the prison epistles which revealed the secret hidden in God for the ages or generations as it is not found in any other prophetic writings! Remember Paul is not only our Apostle but our Prophet. A Prophet received visions and revelations also prophecies for the future…Paul did all these things.
Now Knoch did not agree with Bullinger on this later addition but we will visit this subject again towards the end of this study and take another look at both sides of the argument on whether this was a postscript after Ephesians or not.
Let’s now go back in time as we return to Acts 16 where we left off, before our side trip into Romans.
In Acts 16 Paul arrives at Derbe and Lystra…and the disciple Timothy was there, who has a Jewish mother but a Greek father. Paul has him circumcised as he wants him to travel with him and this would make him acceptable to the Jews. Why? An uncircumcised man was not allowed to enter their synagogues, in order to herald Jesus Christ to them they needed to remove all that stumbled others and thus to live within their culture so to speak. Many have trouble with this account but I think it should be coming clearer why Paul did this as obviously Paul was still following the admonition, to the Jews first.
At Romans 16:21 Paul refers to Timothy and Bullinger’s notes on this verse are interesting and state, “From this time Timothy was closely associated with Paul in the ministry. He was probably one of his converts at his previous visit. Acts 14:7; 1 Timothy 1:2,18 “my own son in the faith and 2 Timothy 1:2. In six of Paul’s epistles, Timothy is joined with him in the opening salutations. His name, means honour of God or valued by God and suggests the important part he was to take in the revelation of God’s eternal purpose.”
Acts 16:4,5 Something else interesting said here, if we remember in Acts 15:19,20 was when the elders at Jerusalem, headed by James and who gave an edict or decree and it seems wrote an epistle with that decree for Gentiles coming into the faith which was, “to abstain from ceremonial pollution with idols and prostitution and what is strangled and blood.”
Well here in Chapter 16 it shows Paul complying with the authority of the elders at Jerusalem by taking this epistle along to the churches. “Now, as they went through the cities, they give over to them the decrees to maintain, which have been decided upon by the apostles and elders who are in Jerusalem. The ecclesias, indeed, then, were stable in the faith and super abounded in number day by day.”
This was not a bad thing, many of the Gentile believers were idolaters, and temple prostitution was acceptable in their old religions as was the eating of blood as a ritual. This was not something believers in Jesus Christ should continue with just as Jewish saints also needed to learn to let go of the traditional rituals of the Mosaic Law which they were being taught led to their…earning righteousness.
Next in this account we see that Paul and his companions go into Phrygia and the Galatian province, being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in the province of Asia. Also they were not allowed by the Holy Spirit to go into Mysia and Bithynia. We are not told why, but most likely as a protection from something? Can we even understand the relationship these with Paul had with the Holy Spirit in this way?
This was I believe still the dispensation of Holy Spirit as they were guided with visible visits or signs, dreams and visions which are no longer in the Body of Christ today. We are going to see that much ended with the close of Acts. The Word of God was completed by Paul for the Body of Christ and thus both evangels were revealed. John also received visions and revelation of the last days for Israel and writes the book of the Unveiling, or called Revelation.
From Troas they headed to Macedonia because of a vision in the night…..and traveled to Philippi and are in that city some days. On the Sabbath they encounter a woman by the river, Lydia…whose heart the Lord opens and she and her household are baptized. Verses 13-15. This would indicate she was Jewish or a proselyte to Judaism. Notice again how we are told, it is the Lord, Who opens the heart to receive.
Acts 16:16-40 next takes us to another event in Paul’s travels, a maid having a python spirit follows him about and even though announcing a truth about Paul….he becomes tired of it and casts the spirit out of her. Her masters were not happy as they made money from her and so they took Paul and Silas into the magistrate and they were placed in jail for the night. Again make note how common place it was for individuals to be possessed of demonic spirits. This woman’s owners knew she was and profited from the knowledge those spirits gave her. Strange, maybe, do we not have spirit mediums amongst us today and who make a living because of their help?
Paul and Silas are miraculously set free by God and the jailer is in awe when he sees this and Paul taking every opportunity to share the evangel of Christ, witnessed to him and he asks what must I do to be saved. He is told, “to believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved you and your household and he and his household are baptized.” These two stories show us water baptism is still going on and thus these must have been Jews or proselytes. After being released from prison they go to Lydia’s house to show her they were now free, bringing comfort to them and they then depart the city.
Acts 17:1-4 Shows they next go to “Thessalonica…and to a synagogue of the Jews as was Paul’s manner and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures. Some Jews believed and some devout Greeks.” These devout or worshipping Greeks, could have been the Hellenized Jews as we remember they were called Greeks by the Jews and also because most Greeks were idolaters and it would seem that would have been mentioned if these were Gentile idolaters?
In the following verses we see trouble arises again as everywhere they went, the zealous Jews for the law sought to prevent Paul and his companions from speaking to the people. As usual they appeal to the civil authorities to stop Paul. Verse 10 tells us “the brethren sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea…and immediately they find the synagogue of the Jews in that city.” Verses 11-14 tell us they were well received by these Berean Jews who sought the scriptures daily to see if what Paul told them was true.
But once again when the Thessalonian Jewish leaders heard Paul was in Berea they came to that city and began to cause trouble for him again. So the brethren sent Paul away but Silas and Timothy remained. Paul was taken to Athens and from there he sends for Silas and Timothy.
Verses 15-21 While he waits for the Silas and Timothy to arrive, he finds the synagogues and preaches to them and he also goes into the market place and he sees how steeped this city is in Idolatry. He also encountered the philosophers of that city, the Epicureans and the Stoicks and preached Jesus and the resurrection to them.
They took him to the Areopagus wanting him to explain this new doctrine to them. These philosophers just loved to talk and be talked to as they were lovers of information. This is the chapter which gives the well known account of Paul, explaining to them about Who, the unknown or unknowable God was, of which they had a statue dedicated to because of their superstitious fear of neglecting a god. These philosophers also did not believe in a resurrection of the dead.
Paul understood their philosophy and so addressed them on common ground but taking what they believed about the unknown or unknowable god into the scriptures…he explains, that He knows this God, Who is the Creator of them all and also expounds about Jesus, being raised from the dead and what that means for humanity and of the resurrection for the dead. Verses 32,33 “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked and others said, ‘We will hear thee again of this matter.’ So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him and believed; among them was Dionysius the *Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.” *an Areopagite was a member of the Athenian assembly.
We have to conclude that these ones in the city of Athens and who are named and having believed Paul were Gentiles as nothing is said about them being baptized. Yet those who were Jews and their proselytes and those of Israelite heritage were baptized and so it would seem that John’s baptism was only for those of the Israelite nation and its proselytes which is logical as Johns baptism was a call to those of Israel to repent. And as I said earlier that call to repent was given long before they rejected and killed Jesus. John the Baptist was heralding repentance o a nation still in lo ammi the condition of being divorced from Jehovah and the requirement for their restoration was that….the nation must repent……and thus individual Jews were required to repent and be baptized for the national or corporate sin.
Remembering the Exodus, the Israelites were called out of Egypt walking through the Red Sea on dry land and coming through those waters was likened to childbirth; they were being born as a nation. Also baptism in water can be a sign for cleansing or a change. Jesus was baptized and He was without sin and even John the baptizer did not understand why, as he knew He was without sin. Some say it was a symbol of His dedication to Jehovah as it was the beginning of His ministry. Perhaps so and perhaps it may have been, since He was born into the nation of Israel, He was then a part of that nations corporate sin.
John was the Prophet raised up by Jehovah, announcing their need for repentance and his baptism was for the cleansing of that nations sin of rejecting Jehovah and breaking their covenant. So the individual Jew who responded to John’s evangel of repentance was acknowledging that nations need for repentance in order to be restored to favor with Jehovah. The Jews knew that was what was necessary in order for their kingdom to be restored to them. Their apostate religious leaders focused on their works and conduct….telling the people if they would only be good enough…Jehovah would return. When in fact, those religious leaders were, blind guides and hypocrites and actually kept them in disfavor.
Acts 18:1 “Paul departs Athens and went to Corinth.” This is where he meets Priscilla and Aquila, Jews from Rome, who had been evicted by Claudius when he had commanded all Jews to leave Rome. They were tentmakers as was Paul and so they worked together. Verse 4 “he reasoned in the synagogues every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”
Again it would seem that these Greeks could be the Hellenized Jews, as the average Greek, who was not a proselyte, would not be in a synagogue. Bullinger’s notes on this verse have, “Hellen and see 14:1” which says these Greeks were Gentiles which is confusing, but of course a Greek would be a gentile and even if they were a Hellenized Jew they would be considered a Gentile by those of Judaism.
Acts 18:5,6 Silas and Timothy join him in Corinth and Paul begins to preach Jesus is the Christ and the Jews oppose and blaspheme…leading Paul to shake off his garment and say to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the nations.” The King James says, go unto the Gentiles. But the Greek word, ethnos is in this passage as in many others using Gentiles in the K. J. and means nations of people. Those Jews in the synagogues again most likely were the Jewish leaders who Paul would go to first and they would be those who were zealous for the law. Going to the nations would be going to all those not in Judaism, and thus would be the sons of Israel as well as true gentiles.
Because the sons of Israel were scattered in all the nations, was this Paul’s way of saying, to those Jewish leaders in the synagogues that he visits first, that he was going to next turn to the common people, the dispersed Israelites who lived in all the nations, but because of how the King James translate ethnos as Gentiles we have just always assumed he meant only going to the gentiles? The Jewish leaders in the synagogues in those cities were tied to the religion of Judah out of Jerusalem or can we just say that his words meant, he was going to any and all peoples in the nations….Jews, those of Israel and Gentiles?
I ask this because he says several times after the Jewish leaders reject him, that he is going to the nations and yet as we continue to read in the following chapters, in each city he visits, he continues to go first to the synagogues of the Jews, so he would go to the Jewish leaders in each city and after they were given the first chance and following their usual rejection, he would not let that stop him from sharing with any Jew or son of Israel or any true Gentile he meets. Acts 18:8-11 we read, that “He went into the home of Justus and Crispus, a chief ruler of the synagogue who believed on the Lord and all of his house…and many Corinthians also believed and were baptized.
These were of Israelite heritage since we read of them receiving John’s baptism. Holy Spirit tells Paul in the night to stay in this city…and so Paul remains in Corinth for a year and a half. Obviously this is the time he built the Corinthian ecclesia which he later will write them two letters after he leaves and travels on, and hearing that they need his counsel.
Acts 18:12-17 Gives another account of Paul being assaulted and taken to the dais to be judged but Gallio refuses to judge him and sends them all away. Yet they beat instead the chief of the synagogue Sosthenes who was one of Paul’s associates, so this seems to be the rare Jewish leader who did not reject Paul’s teaching and was discipled by him. 1 Corinthians 1:1.
Acts 18:19-23 Paul leaves Corinth and sails with Priscilla and Aquila to Syria and after shaving his head and taking a vow he leaves them there and goes to Ephesus entering the synagogue and reasoning with the Jews. He then leaves as he wants to get to Jerusalem for the feast day…of Passover and so he sails from Ephesus. He lands at Caesarea and going up and greeting the church he then heads for Antioch. The phrase going up and greeting the church is meaning going up to Jerusalem for the Passover and afterwards saying good bye (saluting) to the church there as the Passover was a week long feast and it was over…he then heads to Antioch, Galatia and Phrygia…visiting the disciples. The vow he took with the shaving of his head was a Jewish ritual and was a sign for others to see that the person had taken a vow….Bullinger’s notes said it needed to be completed in Jerusalem by entering the temple and being purified.
We are not told what the vow was all about or why he did it, but it seems like it was done in getting ready for Passover week by devout Jews and so again we see Paul still following some Jewish rituals which does not imply the Body of Christ had not yet begun….but does still show us….the practice of going to the Jew first continues.
Also Paul said “All is allowed me, but not all is expedient. All is allowed me, but I will not be put under its authority by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 and “I became to the Jews as a Jew that I should be gaining those under law (not myself being under law), to those without law as without law not being without God’s law, but legally Christ’s) that I should be gaining those without law. I became as weak to the weak, that I should be gaining the weak. To all have I become all, that I should undoubtedly be saving some.” 1 Corinthians 9:20-23.
Also he could say that he had not sinned against the Jew nor against Caesar.” Acts 25:8,10. Also vow he took and its 7 days of purification in the temple was a time of fasting and he may have done it to prepare himself mentally and physically for the ordeal he knew was ahead for him….after all he had been warned that he would be opposed by the Jews and arrested.
Before moving on I feel compelled to talk about this a bit more, we must not let these things bother us, when we see Jewish things done by Paul who was a Jew with a dual commission. I think that here is where we need to remember his words given at 1 Corinthians 9:20 “For, being free of all, I enslave myself to all, that I should be gaining the more. And I became to the Jews as a Jew, that I should be gaining Jews; to those under law am under law (not being myself under law), that I should be gaining those under law; to those without law as without law (not being without God’s law, but legally Christ’s) that I should be gaining those without law. I became as weak to the weak, that I should be gaining the weak. To all have I become all that I should undoubtedly be saving some? Now all am I doing because of the evangel that I may become a joint participant of it.”
Paul totally understood where his righteousness came from, Christ and not the Law or any rituals, but to show respect for the Jews he wished to herald Christ too, he did what they viewed to be righteous.
If you or I were to go to a foreign country, there would probably be things we would do that would not be our own customs or culture out of respect for the national customs or laws of the country we were visiting. In some countries this also would even be a protection. It would not change who we are in Christ!
Acts 18:24-28 In these next verses we read of Apollos who was a Jew, from Alexandria, and who came to Ephesus, able in the scriptures and a scholarly man. He was instructed in the way of the Lord and fervent in spirit. He spoke and taught accurately what concerns Jesus, being versed only in the baptism of John. Beside, he begins to speak boldly in the synagogue.” So we would have to say, Apollos knew only of the kingdom evangel of Jesus but what happens next is interesting and should cause us to ask a question about what did Priscilla and Aquila tell him.
We remember they had spent a long time with Paul and traveled with him and so, “When Aquila and Priscilla had heard they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more accurately.” Verse 28 tells us, after this instruction, “he was accepted by those who believed through grace and he strenuously and thoroughly confuted the Jews in public exhibiting through the scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.” This is the city of Ephesus an ecclesia begun by Paul and I find the expression interesting….those who believed through grace…is not that how those in the Body of Christ believe…through grace? Called, chosen in grace, thus enabled to believe.
Knoch’s notes on this incident have me confused as he says. “That previously he (Apollos) had only the Hebrew Scriptures and was not acquainted with the ministry of Jesus or the twelve…he was only acquainted with the ministry of John the Baptist.” I don’t understand this as the passage said he was speaking about Jesus and nothing is said of him being baptized like he was a new believer? Perhaps what it meant was he was only familiar with John’s baptism for Jews?
What Aquila and Priscilla most likely share with him, bringing him up to date, at the very least would have been the testimony of Paul’s calling and commission from his Damascus road experience and forward? It would not surprise me if they knew more of the secret and of the new administration, the Body of Christ and shared those things with him also? But nothing is said here of what they told him. But it is noticeable…from his speaking of Jesus to proclaiming Christ….and the statement of those who believed through grace. Let’s keep these thoughts in mind as we continue.
In reading Acts 19 through to Chapter 21:19 we are given the accounts of Paul’s travels as narrated by Luke with the listing of the cities he visits and his experiences in them, it is like an action novel. We read earlier in Acts 9 how that Saul was baptized with John’s baptism…for repentance and pardon of sins…as a Jew, he received or followed the pattern for Israel. We need to remember the nation of Israel was a corporate body of People. In order for the nation to be forgiven and restored it must repent.
If as some say Israel had been reinstated as Jehovah’s wife in covenant relationship then the call to that nation to repent would not have been needed? As we have discussed, the nation being lo ammi and blind, the call and choosing of individuals out of that nation was the work God, first with the church Jesus began and then through Paul for the Body of Christ.
Thus in Acts 19:1-7 we see that water baptism (John’s) for the Jews and the baptism of the Holy Spirit were still in operation and in this chapter Paul was in the city of Ephesus. I hope we are seeing why, water baptism was still being given, these were Israelites and they were being called during the time period given for the dispensation of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 19:8-16 has some interesting information for us to consider. “Now entering the synagogue, he spoke boldly for three months, arguing and persuading as to that which concerns the kingdom of God. Now, As some were hardened and stubborn saying evil things of the way before the multitude, withdrawing from them, he (Paul) severs the disciples, arguing day by day in the school of Tyrannus. Now this occurred for two years, so that all those dwelling in the province of Asia hear the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. Besides, powerful deeds, not the casual kind, God did through the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons from his cuticle are carried away to the infirm also, to clear the diseases from them, Besides, wicked spirits go out. Now some of the wandering Jews also, exorcists, take in hand to name the name of the Lord Jesus over those having wicked spirits saying, I am adjuring you the Jesus Whom Paul is heralding! Now there were some seven sons of Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest, doing this. Yet answering, the wicked spirit said to them, Jesus indeed, I know, and in Paul am I versed, yet who are you? And leaping on them, the man in whom the wicked spirit was, getting the mastery of both, is too strong for them, so that, naked and wounded, they are escaping out of that house.”
The belief in Jesus Christ was spoken of as the way…by Jews and others, as we discussed earlier, the name Christian was first given by a Gentile in a derogatory manner and was not used by Paul in any of his letters. The term, “the disciples were severed…must mean…that Paul had them separate themselves from the unbelieving Jews? This is in the city of Ephesus and he stays there two years. Both, Jews and Greeks are hearing the word of the Lord. It says in this chapter that Paul performed many powerful miracles of healing and the casting out of demons…even a piece of cloth or *his apron could be sent to others and it would heal. Paul’s miracles far out did the works of the 12 and still the Jewish leaders refuse to listen.
The account of the Jew using the name of Jesus and Paul to cast out a demon is very interesting as the evil spirit did not obey because it was being given by a non believer! I have asked this before, is there an invisible mark from the Holy Spirit on those chosen as believers or is the indwelling spirit of Christ visible to the spirit world? I think the incident here seems to indicate so. *The apron (cuticle) worn by Paul as a tent maker.
Acts 19:17-21 “Now this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who are dwelling in Ephesus. And fear falls on them all, and magnified was the name of the Lord Jesus, besides, many who have believed came, confessing and informing them of their practices. Now a considerable number of those practicing the meddling arts, carrying together the scrolls, burned them up in sight of all. And they compute their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. Thus mightily the word of the Lord grows and was strong.” There is something said in the next verse easily missed, I think it needs considering. Verse 22 “Now as these things were fulfilled, Paul pondered in spirit, passing though Macedonia and Achaia to go to Jerusalem, saying that, after my coming to be there I must see Rome also.”
I looked to see what Knoch had to say on this verse and will add his words here. “His previous ministry is declared fulfilled at Acts 19:21” If this ministry of Paul’s going to the Jews first was fulfilled here as Knoch said, I do not see why so much emphasis is put on the importance of his ministry ending and the Jews being cast away at Acts 28:28?
Acts 19:23-40 gives us the account of the silver crafters becoming outraged by the teaching given by Paul and his followers concerning idol worship having no value and was not acceptable for a believer in Jesus Christ. This teaching affected the livelihood of the artisans as they made and sold those idols and as we just read a large number of believers threw away their idols and books. The city of Ephesus revered the goddess Diana. Read Verses 25-28. The disciples feared for Paul and would not let him enter the debate, once it was over “Paul met with the disciples and embraced them and then departed for Macedonia.” Acts 20:1
Acts 20:2-6 tells us he then went into Greece and stayed there for 3 months and when the Jews were after him again, he sailed to Syria and wanted to return through Macedonia. This is said to be going into Asia and he was accompanied by, Sopater of Berea and the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus and Gaius of Derbe and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. They then sailed from Philippi to Troas where they stayed for a week.
Acts 20:7-12 gives us the well known account of Paul preaching to a group of disciples well unto midnight and a young man name Eutychus sitting in an upper window listening, falls asleep and falls out of the window and was said to be dead. Paul embraces him and tells them his life is within him.
Acts 20:13-20 Paul boards a ship and sails to Assos and was met and taken to Mitylene. He sailed from there to Chios and Samos and tarried at Troygllium and then on to Miletus. Verses 16-38 tells us, “Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus as he was hurrying to get to Jerusalem in time for the day of Pentecost. And so from Miletus he sent for the elders of the church at Ephesus and speaks to them of his work in Asia.” At Verses 20,21 he says “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you but have showed you and have taught you publicly and from house to house…testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks…”
I cant help but wonder at these words, “I kept back nothing from you that which was profitable” Would it not have been profitable for a saint called into the Body of Christ to understand the magnificence of that calling? I can’t help but believe that Paul taught them in person the secrets which had been given to him….how could he expect the Jews called into the Body of Christ to give up their heritage and traditions and rituals without giving them something better? How could the idolatrous Gentiles give up their lesser gods without their understanding the calling into the Body of Christ was far superior to anything they already had…..with all the grace and glory that calling gives?
Acts 20:22,23 Paul next tells them, “I go bound in spirit to Jerusalem not knowing the things that shall befall me there. Except that the Holy Ghost witnessed in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.” Verse 25 He tells them “that those he has preached the kingdom of God to shall see his face no more.” And our famous words are at Acts 20:27 again, as Paul tells those religious Jews who reject his message, “I am clear from the blood of all, for under no circumstances do I shrink from informing you of the entire counsel of God.”
Again for many this means he had shared the secret of the Body of Christ with them for without that information how could he speak of the entire counsel of God? Yet others argue….this could mean that he had shared everything which he knew at that time and if he had not been given everything yet….he could not share what he was not given or did not know.
But, I believe Paul knew the secret hidden in God when he said those words and so he would have been lying if he had not shared with them what had happened to him years earlier in the Acts 14 time frame, when Paul was stoned and left for dead and that same event in his life is that which he refers to in 2 Corinthians 12:1-5. He speaks of a man he knew who was given a vision 14 years previously and who saw the third heaven and the paradise earth which was a vision of the future and yet Paul would not state that he was this man.
He says in Verse 5 “he was snatched away into paradise and hears effable declarations which is not allowed a man to speak.” So we learned from this account, that he was given some pretty astounding information in the Acts 14 time period and that it was not permitted for him to speak of it at that time, but when was it permitted, are we ever told, of when it was the time? He wrote the letters to the Corinthians later in the Acts period around Chapters 19 through 20 and then we compare with Acts 20:20,27 where Paul tells his fellow believers from Ephesus that he has held nothing back from them?
To finish off the chapter, read Acts 20:24-38 and see his heartfelt farewell to those brethren before getting on the ship heading towards Jerusalem. He warns the overseers to protect the believers from the wolves sure to enter the church…and he commends them to God and to the word of His grace which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among them which are sanctified.” It seems to me another clue is found in these words concerning what they understood of their calling. He speaks of their inheritance as we know it is a heavenly one.
The Concordant Version in this verse uses the word allotment, we are told we receive an allotment with Christ for which they are sanctified which means to be set apart for that inheritance or allotment. Paul writes more of it in Romans 8:17; and Galatians 3:29 which again were written before Acts closes and later he will write more in Ephesians 1:18 and Colossian 3:24. So this reference to their inheritance or allotment at Acts 20 seems to be indicating that they knew of their heavenly destiny?
And if this is not the case as some will and do say, that they did not know of their heavenly destiny until Ephesians was written, we might logically inquire as to what did they think that inheritance or allotment was to be and also why Paul says nothing of intending to write to them later to teach them new or deeper things or about any secrets he had not yet shared with them? Surely if he knew he would never see them again he would want them to know what the full revelation of their calling was? I also think of where he said, they were in the light and not of the darkness would Paul be keeping them in the dark as to who they were in the new administration its purpose, it glories? 1 Thessalonians 5:4,5
Acts 21:1-3 He sails to Coos and unto Rhodes and from there to Patara. It seems he had to find another ship sailing to Phoenicia and at Cyprus they sailed on to Syria and land at Tyre. While in Tyre they met with the disciples for seven days and Paul was warned by some of the brethren there that he should not go up to Jerusalem. But, Paul continues with his plans and boarded a ship and arrived at Ptolemais and again visited the brethren and stayed with them one day…they departed and arrive in Caesarea and enter the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven.”
Bullinger’s notes say “Caesarea is about 60 miles from Ptolemais by the coast road,” so they must have then walked as nothing is said of boarding another ship. Bullinger’s notes also refer to “Acts 6:5 for the explanation of, one of the seven” Read from Verses 1-5 given there is a list of seven men who were chosen by the elders, and Philip was named among them.
Acts 21:10-12 Paul is warned again by a prophet named Agabus that the Holy Spirit had told him that Paul would be arrested, accused by the Jews and turned over to the nations. Paul tells them he is ready to die for the Lord Jesus and was not persuaded to cancel his trip and so the brethren say, “Let the will of the Lord be done.” Verses 13,14 and so Paul continues on his way to Jerusalem.
This is said to be Paul’s fifth visit to Jerusalem. Acts 21:15-19 gives us the details of this visit with Paul’s meeting with James and the elders and sharing his experiences among the nations with his dispensation.” Now we also need to remind ourselves on this use of the term, the nations of who they were, depending on which translation we are reading, as the King James says Gentiles which as I have already said, can be misleading if we think of it in the usual way, other nations separate from the nation of Israel. Knoch prefers to use nations from the Greek word “ethnos.”
We can next read what the elders in Jerusalem said to Paul at Acts 21:20, 21 “Now those who hear glorified God. Besides, they said to him, You are beholding, brother, how many tens of thousands there are among the Jews who have believed, and all are inherently zealous for the law? Now they were instructed concerning you that you are teaching all the Jews among the nations apostasy from Moses….”
The phrase Inherent for the Law would be Jews in the church for the earthly kingdom and holding also to the Mosaic Law, the statement Jews among the nations shows us indeed who they were concerned with, fellow Jews or those of Israelite heritage and who were being discipled by Paul as he travels throughout those nations. Of course the Jews holding to the Mosaic Law did not understand what Paul was teaching them or certainly they would not understand most things Paul was given to teach the Body of Christ.
We must not get these Jews of the nations mixed up with true Gentiles. The Greek word for Gentile is “Goyim.” Each context needs to be examined when Paul says he is going to the nations, as for if these ones spoken of are Jews of the nations…or Gentiles of the nations. And a good study Bible like the Companion Bible points these things out for us….showing the Greek word used and helping us to see if things are translated correctly.
Getting back to one of our original questions, concerning if Israel was still lo-ammi, or not, thus if she were, they, the nation, and while they are in the divorced status would in God’s viewpoint, be as just one of the nations…because of no longer being in the covenant relationship which made her a Special People as a nation set apart from the other nations by Jehovah..
She was still under Gentile domination. Thus as we have learned…Paul’s being sent to the nations did not mean he was only going to the Gentiles…I know I keep reminding us of this, but I think it is important to remember, the rule Paul followed which was, to the Jew first, Paul was given the commission to go to the Jews living amongst the nations…as well as their proselytes, the sons of Israel, those not practicing Judaism and also the true Gentiles.
And as said earlier, we also need to watch when we read of the Greeks which he spoke to also, as many times that may mean the Hellenized Jews while other times it will be Gentiles who responded to Paul, individuals from all of these groups were being called by God through Paul into the Body of Christ. I would think it safe to say, any who Paul taught would be in the Body of Christ? We might ask next, what evangel or evangels does the Acts account tell us Paul heralded? Before moving on lets look at the words, evangel, dispensation and administration. First the word evangel, translated gospel in the King James.
The word Evangel or Gospel, “eu a n ggel i on” is defined as, “well message.” The word evangel is preferred to gospel which we find used in the King James translation, as we will find the verb evangelize used and is also where we get the noun evangelist and so is the most acceptable usage and obviously gospelize or gospelist does sound strange?
The words translated as administration or dispensation, both come from the Greek word, “oikonomos” and are defined as Home-Law, “an orderly arrangement for the management of affairs” This word has also been translated as economy, fellowship and stewardship. So could we say that a “well message” is what is dispensed in an orderly manner through an administration? Remember the root Home law; would not that mean the house rules for that particular administration and so different administrations, different laws?
Now don’t say, wait, we are not under any Law….is that really true? Granted we are not under the Mosaic Law, nor are we under the law given to the remnant church. But, we are under the Law ordained by God for the Body of Christ of which we have no control over or say in it. We were chosen by Him and placed into this administration which He designed and foreordained before the world was and He makes the rules or laws which govern it. No one can join and no one can leave. The home law for this administration includes the grace given to us, the justification and the faith and expectation which are given us. In our administration it is God in Christ who made the home law and it is He Who fulfills it in us and for us.
When Paul uses the terms, my evangel, or the dispensation I have been entrusted with, he is referring to something which was given to him ….only? 2 Timothy 2:9. If Paul’s evangel had been the same evangel as the Kingdom Apostles and saints were given, why would he say my evangel, and instead wouldn’t he just say our evangel including himself with those who were teaching the same thing. I believe he would have used that as further credentials…having the argument that he was teaching what was being dispensed from the Jerusalem church, its apostles and elders? But instead we find that he many times defends his apostleship and why would he do so unless he was being challenged?
There were many new things he was teaching, especially after Acts 13 which were different from what came out of Jerusalem even though Luke does not tell us in detail all that Paul spoke and taught in the book of Acts! We will read of these new things in the letters he writes during this period of time. And so for me his use of the personal pronouns, my and I denotes a uniqueness of what Paul was teaching as different from that of the 12 apostles and the elders of the Jerusalem church whose calling was for the kingdom on the earth.
We have learned, as Saul, he taught that Jesus was Israel’s messiah and that he was the Son of God, and of the grace he had received from Christ in Acts 9. After his severing in Acts 13:2,3 and in Verse 39 as Paul he teaches justification outside of the Mosaic Law, later in the letters he writes he teaches conciliation for the world and reconciliation for the saints in Christ specifically in the letter 1 Corinthians 5;17, 18 and again this letter written around Acts 19,20
With all that said, we will find several different evangels named throughout Acts as well as in other books. We all should do a personal study and come to understand their differences; Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven in his ministry which is as we have learned is when His kingdom comes to this earth. Matthew 4:23. Paul speaks of the evangel of the grace of God at Acts 20:24 and as we read earlier, Paul was severed for the evangel of God, at Romans 1:1. Then there is the evangel of Gods Son at Romans 1:9. Paul says he has completed the evangel of the Christ at Romans 15:19.
Is this telling us…his work of going to the Jew first was then completed? He continues in that passage to say he is “ambitious to bring the evangel where Christ is not named lest I may be building on another’s foundation…….” So he says here that he is going to continue to herald the evangel of Christ and so what is completed has to be as said, to the Jew first, it indeed sounds like he means now is the time to go solely to those of the nations, or the Gentiles and yet we have seen when we read the book of Acts, this is not the case……those sons of Israel are those of the nations just as gentiles were. Again lo ammi, the sons of Israel in Gods eyes are those of the nations!
There is an evangel for the nation of Israel, repent and be restored…there is an evangel for the remnant Jewish saints called out of that nation, be faithful and rule and reign in the messianic kingdom with Jesus Christ. And then Paul has his evangel, of Grace and conciliation, the well message for those called into the Body of Christ, a joint body made up of Jew and Gentiles, called in grace, justified and given the expectation of ruling in heaven with Christ.
With that said, we again return to the necessity for rightly dividing the evangels or well messages as to which are given to the different administrations to dispense. The evangel of Christ is given to each administration, as salvation is based in Him and His death on the cross and His resurrection and return to heaven and promise to return, first for the Body of Christ and then to Israel to set up His kingdom.
Let’s look at some other verses which use this word, administration or dispensation. Paul entrusted with an administration and the evangel of the grace of God at 1 Corinthians 9:17; “let us as deputies of Christ and administrators of Gods secrets” at 1 Corinthians 4:1,2; “Administration of God” Romans 16:25; “administer of God’s secrets” Colossians 1:25; “the dispensation of the fullness of times” Ephesians 1:10; The “dispensation of grace received from God.” Ephesians 3:1; “an administrator of God” Titus 1:7;
Did we notice the clue in 1 Corinthians 4:1,2? Paul said “us” and “as administrators of Gods secrets” administrators plural? I think this is another clue which shows that Paul shared and taught those apostles and disciples under him the secrets given to him how else could they too be administrators of Gods secrets? Those disciples formed the ecclesias in the many cities Paul visited in his missionary journeys. Remember this letter written around Acts 19 and 20 and before any of the prison epistles.
We also might ask, what was Paul’s dispensation or were there several dispensations? Since we learned dispensation and administration or economy and stewardship come from the same Greek word and that through them the well message or evangels were dispensed…we then can quote Acts 20:24 again, “the dispensation which I got from the Lord Jesus to certify the evangel of the grace of God.” Paul also told us at Acts 20:25 that he was “preaching the kingdom of God” KJAV.
The Concordant Version says “preaching the kingdom” Bullinger’s notes say, of God is not in the text. We know Paul had to have come to understand at some point through the revelations or by the revelation he received from Christ at Acts 14 that the Kingdom of God would include both earth and heaven with Christ as Head over all.
He was the only Apostle to fully understand both callings, the earthly calling for Israel and the celestial calling for the Body of Christ. At this point in his ministry and in his mind I would think that when he uses the term, in Acts 20, the kingdom of God it would have encompassed both realms, as we learned that it was many years earlier at Acts 14 was when he had a vision and saw the third heaven and the paradise earth and was told many others things, and so he must have at least by that time come to understand the calling for the Body of Christ was separate from Israel’s calling to the kingdom on the earth.
Perhaps if we list the things we have seen Paul either spoke of or writes about in this section so far and in the order that we have found them, we might get an overall picture of the progression of what was being taught? Saul proclaims Jesus as the Son of God, in Acts 9. Saul also explained the Grace he received from Christ and thus he verified the teaching of the 12 apostles and disciples of Jesus, that He was indeed the very Christ. It is after Acts 13 and thus after his severing that we read that he adds to his testimony with those who believe in Jesus Christ having justification outside of the Law of Moses at Acts 13:39.
Later in the letters he wrote to the Corinthians, Galatians and the Romans as we have learned were written before Acts 28, he taught more on Justification, and gives counsel to the ecclesia in Corinth and tells them they are the Body of Christ, 1 Corinthians 12:28 “Now you are the body of Christ, and members of a part, whom also God, indeed, placed in the ecclesia, first, apostles……”
In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 he writes about the Conciliation of the world, and Reconciliation of believers. He also explains those in Christ are the New Creation and are ambassadors of conciliation. None of these things are found being taught by the Jewish saints called to the kingdom to come on the earth. In 2 Corinthians 15 he also writes of a secret having to do with the resurrection of those called into the Body of Christ being a celestial glory.
These are just a few of the new things Paul taught before Acts 28 and to me they seem to indicate that the Body of Christ with its many spiritual blessings was being spoken of before the prison epistles were written. There are many more things he writes of in the letters to the Corinthians which are privy to the Body of Christ but I will refer to them later when we do the review of this Section and we are going to go through the four letters he writes before Acts closes. I thought we would look a little deeper into a couple things in the list, to quickly show what I feel was information being given to a group of saints who understood they were in a new administration, the Body of Christ.
I also asked earlier in this study, was the Body of Christ being formed while the gifts of the Holy Spirit were present? I think the answer is yes and so I think it important for us to examine 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 because of the thought that this is merely referring to a group of saints in Corinth and not to the entire Body of Christ. “Now concerning the spiritual endowments, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant. You are aware that when you were of the nations, you were led away to the voiceless idols, as ever your were led. (Some feel this is speaking of Gentile believers as they were idol worshippers, but it would apply to those of Israelite heritage and who were living in those nations in idolatry, which is why the 10 tribe kingdom left the 2 tribe kingdom to worship other gods and thus were divorced)
Paul continues, Wherefore I am making known to you that no one, speaking by God’s spirit is saying, Anathema is Jesus. And no one is able to say “Lord is Jesus” except by Holy Spirit.” (A Jew would be horrified to say Jesus was Lord unless he was called as a saint, given the faith and ability to believe so by the Holy Spirit.)
Verses 4-6 “Now there are apportionments of graces, yet the same Spirit, and there are apportionments of services and the same Lord, and there are apportionments of operations, yet the same God, Who is operating all in all. (I can’t help but see here, the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, amongst all called saints)
Verses 7-11 “Now to each are being given the manifestation of the spirit, with a view to expedience. For to one, indeed through the spirit is being given the word of wisdom, yet to another the word of knowledge, according to the same spirit, yet to another faith, by the same spirit, yet to another the graces of healing, by the one spirit, yet to another operations of powerful deeds, yet to another prophecy, yet to another discrimination of spirits, yet to another species of languages, yet to another translation of languages. Now all these, one and the same spirit is operating, apportions to each his own, according as He is intending.”
Paul is describing the various spiritual endowments, gifts in the King James. Verses 12,13 “For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the one body, being many, are one body, thus also is the Christ. For in one spirit also we all are baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, all are made to imbibe one spirit.” (A.E. Knoch says something interesting in his commentary on this, “The body of Jesus or of the Lord denoted His physical frame. The body of Christ however is quite a distinct thought. Christ, or the Anointed, is a title rather than a name. It suggests an official position. We are not united to Him by physical ties as Israel was, but by a purely spiritual relationship.”
I have felt and have said in the past that I could not see how anyone who believes in Jesus Christ would not be in Christ. And so I felt that the term in Christ did not only apply to those in the Body of Christ. After reviewing the information for this article, I am going to do some more study on this, as those said to be in Christ are also said to be the New Creation and at this point feel that applies only to the Body of Christ as we are declared righteous and justified now.
Those of the church Jesus began must prove faithful and receive justification in His kingdom on earth. But, for now, I think I am seeing what Knoch said, the Jewish church, the bride looks to Jesus, the man, as their messiah, and redeemer while the Body of Christ looks to the glorified Christ as their head. We will do an in depth study of, the term, in Christ when we begin to go through the four letters written by Paul and see if we can understand it.
Remember those Jews, the men of Israel who like Saul were called out of Israel and its Kingdom hope into the Body of Christ, it would be hard for them to understand that they were to consider themselves no longer Jews or of Israel but were in Christ and a new creation. Paul tells them, there is no Jew or Greek, bond or free, male or female in the Body of Christ…all national and class distinctions are given up because in the Body of Christ we are equals. This is also why Paul tells them to…follow me as I follow Christ not Jesus!
I hope we understand the distinction and differences. So in his talking to them about the gifts they had been given and were misusing they needed to understand that just as it is God Who does the choosing of those placed in the Body, it was also His choosing what spiritual gifts each were given. The believer had nothing to say about what they were given and nothing could be said later…when the gifts would be withdrawn. Today we do not have spiritual gifts which are physically manifested and yet God still uses those in the Body how He wishes for the upbuilding of the other members. Paul later tells of the spiritual blessings we are all given. Ephesians 1:1-3
Paul continues with Verses 14-26 “For the body also is not one member, but many. If the foot should be saying, that I am not a hand, I am not of the body, not for this is it not of the body. And if the ear should be saying, that I am not an eye, I am not of the body, nor for this is it not of the body. If the whole body an eye, where was the hearing? If the whole body were hearing where were the sent? Yet now God placed the members, each one of them, in the body according as He wills. Now if it were all one member, where was the body? Yet now there are indeed many members, yet one body. Yet the eye can not say to the hand, I have no need of you, or again, the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay much rather, those members of the body supposed to be inherently weaker are necessary, and which we suppose to be a more dishonored part of the body, these we are investing with more exceeding honor, and our indecent members have more exceeding respectability. Now our respectable members have no need, but God blends the body together, giving to that which is deficient more exceeding honor, that they may be no schism in the body, but the members may be mutually solicitous for one another. And whether one member is suffering, all the members are sympathizing, or one member is being esteemed, all the members are rejoicing with it.” This is Paul’s description of how even as individuals we are equals in Christ.
The Corinthians seemed to have been the most carnal of believers and represent the immature believer or those termed minors and thus needed Paul’s counseling. Remember these letters were also copied and circulated to all the ecclesias to learn from. The Corinthian believers were not working together for each others benefit. Paul’s description of a human body having many members, each have their part in the body and all parts are needed, was given to help them become more loving to each other.
I find the statements of the weaker and the indecent and dishonorable …a clue for us also, we who find it hard to understand those today who profess Christ as Lord and yet reject so much truth. These words of Paul’s should make us pause and contemplate our thoughts and words in regards to them as Paul’s words do seem to be saying, there would be dishonorable members in the Body of Christ but are to be given respect as it is God who chooses us all?
Verses 27-31 “Now you are the body of Christ, and members of a part, whom also God, indeed, placed in the ecclesia, first, apostles, second, prophets, third, teachers, thereupon powers, thereupon graces of healing, supports, pilotage, and species of languages. Not all are apostles. Not all are prophets. Not all are teachers. Not all have powers. Not all have the graces of healing. Not all are speaking languages. Not all are interpreting. Yet be zealous for the greater graces. And still I am showing you a path, suited to transcendence.”
Many object and say this couldn’t be the Body of Christ because these saints had the same gifts given to the Jewish Pentecostal church. Simply remember Saul was Jewish, baptized with John’s baptism and had the gifts as we shall see all through the Acts account and yet is he not our Apostle and Prophet…and of which we no longer have need for those in the church today?
I wanted to go through this chapter because of our earlier question, was the Body of Christ formed with saints who had the spiritual gifts? We asked this question, as we have always seen the gifts as being part of the Kingdom evangel for Israel and because they are not for the Body of Christ today. But I have to again say yes. When Saul first shared his testimony, he ministered within the kingdom evangel and as a Jew he manifested the gifts of the Holy Spirit even after his severing. Yet as we have just read, in 1 Corinthians 12:27 he stated that those to whom he was writing were the Body of Christ…he is the only Apostle to use that term and he writes to them of the gifts or spiritual endowments because some were not using them properly and he also tells them in the next chapter that those gifts would end.
He wanted them to know if their self worth was tied to the gift they had been given what would they do when that gift ceased. They needed to mature and come to understand the gifts represent the fleshly realm and that they were entering into a spiritual realm which was far superior. These new believers needed to be taught slowly and carefully who they were in Christ….just as you and I have also had to learn. We all have had to give up a sect and much error we were taught by them.
The spiritual gifts are not the only things which are no longer in the Body of Christ of today. There are also no more Apostles or Prophets. I think if we understand that until Paul completed the Word of God the Body of Christ’s was a minor needing physical guidance until that which is spiritual was totally revealed and understood. Paul tells them in the next chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 just as we have already discussed that those spiritual gifts would cease and…he tells them what they know now is an installment of the whole.
On the verse, 1 Corinthians 13:12 I noticed that A.E.Knoch states in his commentary, “At this time the present secret administration of Ephesians 3:9 had not been publicly revealed. The destiny of the saints who had received Paul’s evangel was clouded in mystery. Only a little was known. Their celestial allotment was still concealed. Israel’s fate was still in the balance. It was not till their final rejection at the close of the book of Acts, that the secret was revealed that the ecclesia which is His body, to which Paul ministered, was not to have a place on earth subordinate to Israel, but was to be blessed with transcendent spiritual blessings among the celestial.”
Well, I find his comments interesting, but I find it hard to totally agree with them, first he says…that Israel’s fate was still in the balance…? Was not her complete fate foretold in prophecy which did not include her restoration before the Body of Christ? At that time all that was needed were fulfillments of the specific prophecy given for that day and not beyond! Was not God’s plan all along to insert the Body of Christ within Israel’s time frame, in between her past, comes the Body of Christ and when the era of the complement is completed, it is to be removed and then Israel’s future can begin? So, I do not agree that Israel’s fate was still in the balance…Was not it pre ordained and recorded in Old Testament Prophecy? Yes it was.
I would like to add here, that for all of us…no matter where we are at in our studies…when we have a presupposed point of belief, we then consciously and or unconsciously try to make other things fit it. So what I am trying to explain is that, if we are correct in our latest research, which is that Israel has never been taken out of lo ammi we then are seeing things differently from Knoch as he felt they had been ammi during the Acts era and thus were made again lo ammi at the end of Acts. It makes a big difference which way we view Israel’s status, ammi or lo ammi. That becomes the basis of understanding what God was doing.
But even without that basis, I don’t see how or why Knoch would say their fate was in the balance? Except that is based on the wrong premise that Israel had been restored earlier and no longer lo ammi. In order for God to bring in the new administration, the old needed to be out of the picture. There was no possibility of the kingdom being established in their day, there is no prophecy which would even hint at that?
The work being carried on by God in the first century was first, calling a remnant out of Israel to form the nucleus of the bride of the lambkin for the millennial kingdom and also then to reveal the secret Hidden in Him for the ages…which was to call out another remnant from Israel and begin forming the new administration under Paul and which replaces Israel during the times of the Gentiles to display Gods GRACE.
Also another area where we differ with Knoch is on the interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27. He accepted the traditional view that only the last seven years, which are the one seven of Daniels prophecy was left to be fulfilled. Again this belief was a foundation to build on and if the foundation is off kilter, the rest of the building is also. I think Steedman’s articles present a very plausible argument for the whole 70 weeks of Daniels prophecy as still being unfulfilled. So these two points alone will affect how many other points are deduced to unfold and if they are wrong the conclusion also will be wrong. Again the complete story on Daniels prophecy as well as many others can be considered in Manual Two.
Now, lets return to what we were discussing in 1 Corinthians 12,1 3 if we take a quick side trip and turn to the prison epistles written while Paul spends two years under house arrest in Rome we see that in Ephesians 4:11 Paul gives a revised list of the spiritual endowments and it was Christ Who gives to the Body of Christ, apostles, prophet’s, evangelists yet these as pastors and teachers. Paul says nothing of healings, languages and etc because they have ended; Paul is our Prophet because he was given all knowledge for the Body of Christ through direct communication and revelations with Christ and his information is not found in any other Bible books.
Today that list is even shorter, from when Paul spoke those words, he was their Prophet and their Apostle and there were other apostles who had learned under him. Today, we have pastors which are teachers and that is all they should be. We have our Apostle and Prophet’s instructions, counsel and knowledge given to us in Paul’s letters from which we are to learn from and mature, His letters are the revelations from God which completes the Word of God for us.
Paul stated that Apostles are placed first in the ecclesia at 1 Corinthians 12:28. Is this first in authority and or also first in time? I would think both, just as Jesus chose His Apostles from those he discipled and they then learned at His feet before sending them out to proclaim Him as the messiah and to add other disciples to His church. Thus in preparation for the Body of Christ, Saul was chosen early on by Christ and learned from Christ by means of revelations and was guided through the scriptures by the Holy Spirit.
When it was time for him and Barnabas to be severed to go to the nations, Paul must have known what his evangel consisted of, such as the rules or guidelines as well as the calling or destiny of those who were part of the evangel for the Kingdom church did not apply to him any longer or to those whom he discipled? The disciple first needs maturing, experience and knowledge before being put in the office of Apostle to disciple and teach others.
This brings us to also try to understand who these were who are said to be apostles under Paul. First we have to ask how they became apostles. We know the Holy Spirit severed Barnabus and Saul at Acts 13 but we do not read of how the others became apostles. The definition of the word apostle in the Keyword Concordance of the Concordant Bible says its meaning is, commissioner. Jesus commissioned 12 apostles for the church he began and it was the glorified Christ Who, commissioned Paul and so we ask, does Paul then have the authority to choose apostles to work with him? He must have as he introduces some as apostles in his letters to the ecclesias he had started in his travels through out Acts.
We read at Philippians 2:25 “Now I deem it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, yet your apostle and minister for my need……” The King James has messenger in this verse but in Bullinger’s notes he states “messenger = apostle.” We can also read in Romans 16:7 of two more apostles, Andronicus and Junias. Paul lists quite a few believers in this paragraph starting with Verse 5 through Verse 16 but only these two are said to be apostles.
Now he also says, “they were in Christ before me.” These were not of the 12 and so we must assume they were Jews placed in the Body of Christ and like Barnabas must have seen or known Jesus in His earthly ministry or perhaps were among those who saw him after his resurrection and believed. The how or when they are moved from the expectation of Israel and her earthly kingdom to the Body of Christ and the heavenly kingdom is not explained.
I think Paul’s words at 2 Corinthians 5: 6,7 become more clear when we think about those who he said were in Christ before him and yet they are traveling with him and must be in the Body of Christ. Let’s read that passage. “So that we, from now on, are acquainted with no one according to the flesh. Yet even if we have know Christ according to flesh, nevertheless now we know Him so no longer. So that, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the primitive passed by Lo! There has come new!”
Paul traveled and discipled many, starting small ecclesias which would need to be cared for and taught the deeper truths of their own evangel. Paul also spent a lot of time in prison and again he would need to send out apostles he would have taught as they would not have understood Paul’s evangel unless they were in the Body of Christ and indwelt with the spirit of Christ…and so he sends them out to minister for him and this would be how some were chosen to be apostles under him and most likely those who had seen Jesus in the flesh…which is why Paul said to those who knew Jesus in the flesh know Him that way no more. They do not look to the man Jesus to return as their messiah as Israel was, but they look to the risen glorified Christ who will call them to meet Him in the air and be with Him ever more, in heaven.
This is also where he teaches, those in Christ are the New Creation stating the primitive has passed by and now they have the new! 2 Corinthian 5:17 and Galatians 6:15. Wouldn’t we say they are being taught of the Body of Christ, as a new creation and they look to Christ and not to Jesus and they also can not look to their heritage as Jews or of being any part of the fleshly, nation of Israel any longer? Israel was the primitive; the body of Christ is the new creation. So we can add this term, the new creation to our list of things Paul taught which were new and different and not taught by the Jerusalem church.
Again this letter and the letter to the Galatians were written before Acts 28:28. Are not these new teachings providing more clues as to what Paul was teaching after Acts 13 and before Acts 28? He tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:20 we are ambassadors of conciliation. Okay, think on these things we will look at these fours letters in more depth in the review of this section but for now let’s return to our journey through Acts where we left of with Chapter 21 of Acts.
So continuing on, in reading 1 Corinthians through to Chapter 14 we see that Paul was concerned with their immature conduct and gave counsel on the proper conduct they should have with each other in the meeting places and at the Lords table.
In Chapter 15 Paul gives some meat I believe concerning what the death of Jesus accomplished on the cross and in Verse 51 he says, “I tell you a secret” This secret is in relation to the resurrections which he has previously described for them. Now if as Knoch says they did not know about the celestial calling, they must not have gotten much out of what he was saying in this chapter? True, he says nothing of a snatching away in this letter as he does in Thessalonians but he does speak of the order of the resurrections or as he words it, each in his own class, as in Verses 20-24 he speaks of the firstfruit, Christ, those at His presence and those at the consummation.
In Verses 40, 41 Paul speaks of different glories…the terrestrial and the celestial. I feel this is describing the differences with the glory the saints, are to receive, those who will be raised and vivified on this earth will be given a terrestrial glory like what Jesus showed them after His resurrection, a vivified body yet suitable for living on the earth.
The celestial glory is different and will be needed by those saints called to heaven, when raised and vivified and given a spiritual body like Christ has now in heaven, suitable for that realm, since we are to be taken to the celestial realms for our future ministry. How could the Corinthians believers have understood what Paul was writing them about if he had not told them earlier in person of their celestial destiny?
Paul’s, secret was that he was telling them of the celestial resurrection being added to the two earthly ones they already knew of because they are recorded in the Old Testament by Prophets, referred to by Daniel as for the just and the unjust, Daniel 12:1,2 John 5:29 and by Paul at Acts 24:15
Back to 1 Corinthians 15:20-24 I feel, when Paul speaks of the firstfruit that we are included in the firstfruit with Christ, as we are placed in Christ and Paul tells us also in Ephesians 2:6 that we died with Christ, were entombed with Him and were raised with Him and are seated in the heavenlies with Him. And so Christ’s resurrection is our resurrection, we are His body, He is our head, Paul teaches that we complete Him as He completes God. And according to Paul’s evangel for the Body of Christ, it will be the first raised out of death and given their celestial glory.
Those at His presence, will be the faithful of Israel and I believe, all those faithful to Jehovah before Israel was formed. I know it is said by some that includes us….and it may be so. But, the Body of Christ is to be removed from this earth in order for the presence of God to return to Israel and the world. And if we are correct with our thoughts that the entire 490 years of Daniels prophecy will then begin to unfold for Israel…that will then be a long period of time between our departure and Christ’s return to Israel.
At any rate getting back to our subject, the secret revealed in 1 Corinthians 15 which was of another, different resurrection…for the Body of Christ. In Knoch’s commentary he also agrees and says, “It is evident that the apostle did disclose secrets which cannot be found in Moses and the prophets. One of these was the secret of the resurrection made known at 1 Corinthians 15:15. Another was the secret of the evangel which occupies much of the epistle to the Romans 16:25 We must either take the statement that he had said nothing but what Moses and the prophets said of future occurrences in a general way of all his past course, or take it strictly of his conduct since his apprehension by the Jews.”
Paul continues with his explanation of these differences in 1 Corinthians 15:45-50. The soulish body we received from Adam or the first man is contrasted with the second Man, Who is the Lord out of heaven whose is a spiritual body and Paul says “And according as we (now) wear the image of the soilish, we should/shall be wearing the image also of the Celestial.” Where were those of Israel ever told they would have a celestial body like Christ’s? No this information is found only in Paul’s letters and or he would teach them in person as he discipled them. Paul has told them something very new and different from the earthly resurrection for Israel and which was recorded by their Prophets of old. They knew of the resurrection foretold, out of the dust, for the faithful saints, and that for the rest of the dead of which they were very familiar with, was to come on the earth, the just and the unjust. Daniel 12:1,2; John 5:27-29; Acts 24:15.
So I am in agreement that the prison epistles complete the Word of God and bring the Body of Christ to maturity but I can not agree with those that say before these letters were written nothing was said or taught about this new administration called the Body of Christ. To repeat myself, the Corinthians letters were written before the end of Acts, during the time period of Acts 19 and 20 and look at what all we have learned in them and I feel we have just scratched the surface.
Acts 21; Paul comes to Jerusalem with some friends and met with James and the elders. He shared with them what all God had wrought among the nations through his ministry and the elders say this to him at Acts 21:21 “You are beholding, brother, how many tens of thousands there are among the Jews who have believed, and all are inherently zealous for the law? Now they were instructed concerning you that you teach all the Jews amongst the nations apostasy from Moses, telling them not to be circumcising their children, nor yet to be walking in the customs. What is it, then? Undoubtedly a multitude must come together, for they will hear that you have come.”
This passage definitely tells us that Paul did indeed disciple Jews of the nations into the Body of Christ. The Jewish believers in the church which was begun by Jesus were outraged at what Paul was teaching their Israelite brethren. Why would they have been outraged if it was the same evangel as was authorized by the 12 apostles or the elders in Jerusalem? Paul was teaching those called in Grace into the Body of Christ that they were no longer Jews, tied to the Mosaic Law or customs, rituals etc. They were a remnant out of Israel called to begin a new administration, in a new standing with God and given a new destiny, to heaven.
There was a large group of the Jewish believers in Israel who hated Paul because of his evangel…which would not have been the case if he was preaching the same as the twelve had preached? The answer is obvious, for many reasons, he was not. They were clinging to the Law of Moses. They wanted both, Jesus and the Mosaic Law.
Paul is accused of denouncing the law when actually he said “the law was good and just” at Romans 7:12 and 1 Timothy 1:8 because it is Gods righteousness which is expressed by the Law but what he taught was that they were no longer in bondage to it and condemned by it. Perhaps they also hated what Paul taught if indeed he was teaching…their kingdom would not be restored until Gods work was finished among the nations?
The account in Acts 21 through 23 continues with Paul’s activities in Jerusalem, he had shaven his head, taking a Nazarene vow….previously in Acts 18:18 and is with some men also under a vow and all purified themselves in the sanctuary for seven days. The Jews hear of this and get upset and accuse Paul of taking Greeks into the sanctuary and of other things…pretty soon the whole city is stirred up and they seek to kill Paul again and are beating him. He is rescued by the chief captain of some soldiers…who binds him in chains and seeking to take him away from the crowd and into the citadel, but on the steps Paul asks the chief captain if he can speak to him and Paul tells him he is a Jew and a citizen of Tarsus and he asks to speak to the crowd and he is allowed to do so. Acts 21:31-40
In Acts 22:1-5 Paul begins telling the crowd who he is, in the Hebrew language “a Jewish man born in Tarsus, taught at the feet of Gamalaiel and according to the perfect manner of the law and of the fathers and zealous for God as ye all are this day.” He told them how he had persecuted the believers of Jesus and then tells his testimony in regarding his first meeting with Jesus, the risen Christ; of being struck blind and hearing Christ speak to him, of Ananias healing him, restoring his eyesight.
Acts 22:6-16 gives us more details of what happened with Paul than does the account in Acts 9. Paul gives his testimony of seeing the living Christ. “And it came to pass, that as I made my journey and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light around about me. And I fell unto the ground and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou Me? And I answered, Who are Thou, Lord? And He said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, Who thou persecutes. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of Him That spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord?
And the Lord said unto me, Arise and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there. Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarries thou? Arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
(One point off the subject, but note that it was Christ which spoke to Ananias and in this account it is said the God of thy forefathers…just one more verse showing us that Christ and Jehovah are God.)
Saul, as a religious leader in Israel needed cleansing of Israel’s sin which had led to his blindness and his persecuting those who believed in Jesus as their messiah. He had been blind spiritually, and he was struck physically blind that day, but he was first healed of his spiritual blindness and a few days later his physical blindness was also healed.
He continues with his account and tells them how he then went into Damascus and shared his experience and then of later, (the 3 years of Galatians 1:18 ) he went to Jerusalem and at some point, he entered the temple and while praying, Paul tells them, “Jesus Christ appeared and spoke to me and said to make haste and leave the city for they will not receive the testimony of Me” and also that Christ told him “depart for I will send thee far hence unto the nations.” but the crowd would not believe it and became enraged again demanding his life. He is taken by the chief captain into the citadel as the chief was planning to scourge or beat him but Paul then explains to him that he is also a Roman Citizen and it was not lawful to scourge an uncondemned Roman.
Acts 23:1-10 The next day, the chief priests and their council were ordered to appear and Paul is brought before them. Paul again defends himself and then realizing both Sadducees (who do not believe in the resurrection) and Pharisees (who do) were present he addresses them and says, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” This announcement then seems to cause these two opposing viewpoints to become the center of dissension and the Pharisees state they find no fault in Paul causing even more dissension so that the chief captain fearing Paul should be pulled in pieces sends soldiers to rescue him again and take him back to the citadel.
Verse 11 “And the night following the Lord stood by him and said, Be of good cheer, Paul for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Verses 12-33 Meanwhile forty Jewish men band together and make a vow to not eat until they have killed Paul and they tell the chief priests of their vow. So they then ask the chief captain to bring Paul down the next day under the pretense that they wish to speak with him again.
But Paul’s sister’s son hears of their plot and goes to the citadel and tells Paul and Paul asks the centurions guarding him to take the young man to the chief captain so he can tell him of the plot. Thus in the night with two hundred soldiers they safely take Paul to Antipatris which is about 40 miles from Jerusalem. The next day most of the soldiers returned and the remaining horsemen took Paul on to Caesarea with a letter from the chief captain to be given to Felix the governor explaining Paul’s case and the death plot by the Jews.
Acts 24:1-27; Paul is now at Caesarea and after 5 days Ananias the high priest and the elders and an orator named Tertullus came to the governor and testified against Paul. Paul is brought in and allowed to speak and he explains to those authorities his actions, stating that just 12 days previously he had entered Jerusalem to worship and having broken no laws and gives his defense. Felix gives Paul protection and liberty to have visitors. This chapter should be read through to get all the details as it deals with Paul’s experience with Felix in Caesarea and it seems the reason Felix talked with Paul so many times was that he was hoping for a bribe from Paul in order to release or help him. Verse 26
Acts 25:1-12; While Paul is bound for the 2 years in Caesarea it seems Felix was replaced then by Festus and also Festus was approached by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem proposing to him to have Paul brought back to Jerusalem, secretly planning to kill him. Festus goes to Caesura to visit with Paul and holds a hearing inviting many Jewish leaders to listen to Paul defend himself, Festus offers to send him and his case back to Jerusalem, Paul refuses and appeals to Caesar as a Roman Citizen. Knoch’s Commentary says, “Paul was through with Jerusalem and the Jewish nation as God had made it plain to Paul his next testimony was to be in Rome” and so Paul presses his rights as a Roman citizen demanding to be taken to Rome to appeal to Caesar.
He had spent 2 years in prison at Caesarea and it was finally decided by Festus that Paul should be sent to Rome. Verse 12,13 “And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying there is a certain man left in bonds by Felix” He continues to explain the whole situation to Agrippa and he then also wishes to hear Paul for himself. And so the next day Paul was brought into the place of hearing with many captains and principal men of the city. Agrippa tells them, the Jews want Paul dead but no crime can be proven and after examination Agrippa had nothing to charge him with and so let Paul speak for himself.
Remember in Acts 9:15,16 what Christ said to Ananias in relation to Saul’s calling when he told him to go to Damascus and restore his sight, “Go, for he is a choice instrument of Mine, to bear My name before both the nations and kings, besides the sons of Israel, for I shall be intimating to him how much he must be suffering for My names sake.” This prophecy has certainly been seen to be fulfilled in Paul’s life…and it was not over yet.
Acts 26:1-12 King Agrippa then asks to hear Paul’s defense and so Paul relates to him his life story from his youth forward and of his persecuting the believers in Jesus and then he gives the testimony of his meeting Christ on the road to Damascus. This is again interesting as in this narration we get more details of what the Lord said to Saul that day that are not in any other account. We will read Verses 13-23 for the narration he gave to King Agrippa and I want to review parts of Paul testimony because of the additional details as to what Christ told him that day on the Damascus road which are not in the Acts 9 account or the account he gave in Acts 22.
Verses 13-18 “At midday O King, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I hear a voice speaking unto me and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou Me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said Who are Thou Lord? And He said, I am Jesus Whom thou persecutes……….But rise and stand on your feet, for I was seen by you for this, to fix upon you before for a deputy and witness both of what you have perceived and that in which I will be seen by you, extricating you from the people and from the nations, to whom I am commissioning you, to open their eyes, to turn them about from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, for them to get a pardon of sins and an allotment among those who have been hallowed by faith that is in Me.”
So in Acts 9 Saul knew he was commissioned by the Lord to go to the nations! If we think for one minute…we have been told all that Christ ever said to Saul or Paul I think we are mistaken. Just as he has added more details each time he tells of that day, the reasons would be, that it has to do with the circumstances of his telling, and of to whom he was speaking and what was needed to be told in each circumstance. Let’s look at some of the things said in this passage and try to understand them.
Kick against the pricks…pricks were goads…Knoch’s commentary says, “In the Orient a sharp, pointed rod is used in place of a whip to urge animals to their task. To kick the sharp goad hurts no one but themselves. This is a graphic picture of Saul’s service up to this time. The Lord was using him to carry out His purpose, but hitherto Saul did not acknowledge his Master. He had been goaded into persecuting the saints. Henceforth he was to render willing, intelligent service. Henceforth he acknowledges Christ as his Lord.”
I don’t understand this, I read nothing in this that the Lord was making Saul persecute the believers…what I read is…..that it was hurting Saul by fighting the urgings of the giving of the signs by the Holy Spirit which was the proof that the early followers of Jesus were in fact in the right and Saul was in the wrong? Saul had been fighting the Lord…..a battle who could not win.
What does being a Deputy mean? This is translated in the Concordant as deputy and in the King James as minister. Remember we read earlier that the Apostle John was said to be a deputy in the Antioch synagogue and in the other places where it is used it shows a position of authority. The synagogues outside of the land of Israel were tied to Jerusalem, I am a little confused as they rejected Paul’s message of who Jesus was, and so how was John a deputy there since he was an Apostle of Jesus? Perhaps Paul said more than we realized in those synagogues?
I am not sure if this can be totally figured out since there are not accounts given of him proclaiming anything other than Jesus was the Son of God and Israel’s messiah and that He had been raised from the dead! Although we read several times while defending himself to the Jewish leaders seeking to kill him, he gives them his testimony of meeting Christ and of Him speaking personally to Him and tells them what Christ commissioned him to do, which was to go to the nations.
In this account, Christ said to Saul that he would witness to both of what he had seen that day and that which he shall be shown, later. And so Saul was to share his Damascus road experience in seeing the One, Jesus Christ in His Glory as the Son of God. We have seen that he faithfully followed those instructions. At every opportunity he shared that experience and his commission given to him by the risen Christ. It also said he would witness to that which he shall be shown. Saul was spoken to directly by Christ and the Holy Spirit many times, especially after his severing and as the Apostle Paul he was shown the vision, of the third heaven and said to be a revelation, this happening the day when he was stoned in Acts 14 and left for dead and Paul explained that incident in 2 Corinthians 12 1-3
So Saul knew what his commission was to be that day he met Christ, he was told that he was go to the nations and the sons of Israel and kings, offering a pardon of sins, (Israel) and an allotment among those who have been hallowed by faith. (The Body of Christ) Paul explains the revelation in Acts 26:19-21 when he tells King Agrippa, “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem and throughout all the coast of Judea and then to the nations, that they should repent and turn to God and do works for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple and went about to kill me.”
Acts 26:22,23 What Paul says in these verses is used as proof that he did not teach anything concerning the secret or the Body of Christ all during the acts era. But let’s look at it in its context. “Happening, then, on assistance from God, until this day I stand attesting both to small and to great, saying nothing outside of what both the prophets and Moses speak of impending occurrences, if it be the suffering Christ….if He, the first out of a resurrection of the dead, is about to be announcing light both to the people and to the nations.” First of all, if we are to take those words to mean that he had never spoken of anything but what was in the Old Testament we would have to remove Acts 13 from the Bible, because in that chapter he speaks of justification outside of the Law of Moses.
Next, we would have to throw out the letters he wrote during the Acts period, which teach many things not found in the Old Testament. So what was the meaning of the words, I have said nothing outside the prophets and Moses? He explains to Agrippa he has been arrested for preaching repentance which is of the expectation of Israel. In Verses 7, 8 He also asks, Why is it being judged unbelievable by you, if God is rousing the dead?
This is in reference to heralding that Jesus had been resurrected as foretold by the prophets and then he says at Verses 21,22 “On this account the Jews, apprehending me as I am in the sanctuary tried to lay hands on me. Happening then, on assistance from God, until this day I stand attesting…both to small and to great, saying nothing outside of what both the prophets and Moses speak of…….” The context of this chapter shows he is speaking of being arrested in Jerusalem after being in the temple and from that day until then he had said nothing outside of the Prophets and the Law of Moses.
To the traditional Jew, Paul spoke to them concerning their own expectation…waiting for a messiah and their kingdom to be restored. Paul would tell them Jesus had indeed been their messiah and had risen from the dead as was foretold He would! Paul’s defense given in this chapter and at several other times, the topic was of the resurrection of Jesus and of course it would enrage the Jewish leaders who denied that Jesus was the promised messiah and who had conspired to have him killed. To have it heralded that He had risen from the dead condemned their actions and they conspired also to discredit any who spoke of it, even though literally hundreds of Jews had seen the risen Jesus and some Gentile soldiers also saw the empty tomb.
The Jewish leaders wanted him to shut up because he was teaching Jesus was the messiah, Who they had killed but was raised from the dead by God. That is why he states the Prophets spoke of the resurrection and being one of the sects of the Pharisees, he knew they believed in the promise of the resurrections and so he asks why was it hard for them to believe that Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead?
What is said next in Acts 26:24-28 after Paul shares his testimony gave me a chuckle. “Festus cries out to Paul, thou art beside thyself much learning doth make thee mad” and King Agrippa in jest says, “Paul you almost persuade me to be a Christian.” It is obvious Paul displayed much passion with his calling and preaching.
King Agrippa and Governor Festus would have released Paul but because he had appealed to Caesar as a Roman citizen it was required for him to be sent to Rome. So he was not given up to the Jews who so wished to kill him and after being held for 2 years in Caesarea, Paul finally boards a ship in the fall which is heading to Rome. We then read that they “ship wreck at Malta and winter there and then in the spring find other ships and proceed to Rome.” Please read Acts 27:1 through 28:16 for the story of that journey. It is seen that Paul still has the power of healing as recorded in Acts 28:8, 9. We will go through this account when we do a review of the four letters Paul wrote in the Acts 19,20 time period looking for clues as to what he was teaching those he discipled before Acts 28:25-28.
The arguments for the Body of Christ beginning after Acts 28 closes
When Paul arrives in Rome he asks for the Jewish leaders to come to him, and he defends himself to them and they then also schedule another visit with him and at that visit Paul heralds Jesus to them for the whole day. Acts 28:23-29 His message is considered by some while others reject it. Paul then quotes Isaiah 6:9.10 the same passage Jesus quoted to the religious leaders in His ministry in Jerusalem at Matthew 13:14,15.
Isaiah 6:9,10 “Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive; For the heart of this people is waxed gross and their ears are dull of hearing and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and should be converted and I should heal them.” After Paul quoted this passage, the Jews departed and had great reasoning among themselves. This prophecy first given by Isaiah in his day, warning the nation of Israel just as Hosea also had warned them of their impending divorce.
That passage, then quoted hundreds of years later first by Jesus in Matthew 13 because of the rejecting of him and of His heralding of the kingdom as, their promised Messiah. I want to emphasize here, that it was the religious leaders which did the rejecting and who were guilty of influencing the common persons and using the civil authorities to do their dirty work. It was the responsibility of the religious leaders of Israel to guide their people in truth. They were in apostasy and failed in their duties…as Jesus said, the blind leading the blind….both falling into the pit…of error. Matthew 15:12-14
Paul as said years later also quoted Isaiah 6:9,10 first in his letter to the Roman ecclesia, Romans 11:25. And then at the end of Acts to the Jewish leaders he had called for them to come to him to hear his testimony as recorded in Acts 28. But we must remember that Paul applied that prophecy long before he gives it to the Jewish Leaders in Rome.
So what we saw was that they first reject Jehovah as their husbandly owner, breaking their marriage contract with Him going after other gods, said to be taking of other lovers. They reject Jesus as their messiah, denying His supernatural miracles as from God and instead seek to kill him. They next reject the signs given by the Holy Spirit working in the chosen apostles…denying again they are from Jehovah the God they profess to serve. Three witnesses given to Israel…..the third becomes the unforgivable sin for Israel!
The Book of Acts closes with these verses. Acts 28:30,31 “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him”
According to Bullinger’s chart, Paul arrived in Rome in the Spring of A.D. 61. This is his first imprisonment in Rome and Paul spends two years in his own hired house, this was a house arrest, he was not allowed to leave but could have visitors and was treated well. (61-63 A.D.) During those two years he writes the prison epistles. Acts 28:30. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and maybe Philemon.
Basically the argument against Acts 13 marking the beginning of the Body of Christ is given by the Acts 28 people who feel Israel was ammi as God’s People and had to be cast away, thrust away, or divorced…again, before Paul could begin discipling for the Body of Christ and reveal the secrets he had been given for the new administration. I agree with the premise, Israel could not be His People in Covenant relationship…and God beginning another administration with a very diverse home law! But as said, I disagree with what is taught and that is that Israel had been restored as His People at their release from Babylon and thus needed to be cast away or divorced again so let’s go through the reasons I say this.
. The Argument for the beginning of the Body of Christ not being possible until after Acts 28
The viewpoint that the Body of Christ did not begin until after Acts 28:25-28, has several variations, but it seems to be first based on Israel’s status as God’s People, Israel, were they ammi or lo ammi?. It is commonly thought by the Acts 28 teachers and others that Israel had been taken back by Jehovah after her 70 years of captivity to Babylon and the 70 years of desolation for the land of Israel ended which was about 20 years after the captivity ended. Jerusalem was rebuilt about 400 years before Jesus began His earthly ministry. So, the Acts 28 teachers believer Israel was restored, remarried or taken back in favor at that time and so before God would or could turn to the nations or before Paul could reveal the secret hidden in God for the ages, which is of the Body of Christ, Israel would need to be divorced, again?
The teacher I previously mentioned held the belief that the church began after Acts 28 and not before he wrote his prison epistles. She looked to Acts 28:25-30 as being a more accurate explanation for this in her opinion, proving the casting away of Israel happened at this point in Acts.
I am aware that Dr. Bullinger held to the Acts 28 viewpoint and that even A.E. Knoch speaks of Israel being thrust away at Acts 28 in his commentary. So, I humbly as I am in no way the scholar that these men were….but through my studies of these viewpoints I had many questions and feel the lo ammi status was not fully understood and so I am presenting what conclusions I came too, yet I remain open to any information which would shed more light on this that I may have missed.
Luke wrote the book of Acts which is a historical account of the apostles. The first half of Acts deals with Peter and the 11 and then after Acts 15 we no longer hear of Peter it is all about Paul’s calling and his severing to go to the nations and his travels amongst the nations along with his companions being what we might call a new breed of apostles which these were not part of the 12 assigned to the bride church Jesus began for His messianic kingdom. In the book of Acts we will not find any references to the secret or the Body of Christ by Paul.
So keeping these things in mind let’s begin in Acts where we left off, let’s read Acts 28:16-20 Paul arrives in Rome, and “is allowed to remain by himself and with the soldier guarding him. Now it occurred that three days later he calls together the foremost Jews. Now at their coming together, he said to them, I, men, brethren, doing nothing contrary to the people or to the hereditary customs, was given up a prisoner out of Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, who, examining me, intended to release me, because not one cause of death, existed in me. Now at the contradicting of the Jews, I am compelled to appeal to Caesar…not as though having anything of which to accuse my nation. For this cause, then I call for you, to see and speak to you. For on account of the expectation of Israel this chain is lying about me.”
What did Paul mean when he says, “For on account of the expectation of Israel this
chain is lying about me?” Acts 28:20.
What was Israel’s expectation? They were promised through the Prophets that their kingdom would be restored to them, this was and still is Israel’s expectation, and they were also promised a messiah would come and would redeem them and rescue them from the Gentile domination they were under. To remind ourselves, Gentile domination began with their divorce and becoming lo ammi, Not My People. That domination began with Babylon and continued down to the days of Jesus. They were under the Roman Yoke a clue for us that they were still divorced and had not been remarried. But back to our question about the statement Paul made, for Israel’s expectation am I in chains.
Paul was simply saying, I have proclaimed to my brethren Israel’s expectation, which was that their messiah had come, and been rejected and killed but, God had raised Him from the dead as witnessed by hundreds before He returned to heaven. Paul heralding their expectation had come in the flesh but was rejected and so for this they wanted to kill him.
Again, it was the Jewish leaders in every city Paul visited who wanted to shut him up as they considered him at the very least a false prophet and at the very worst, his truth would shame them. It was the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem who had schemed and instigated the death of Jesus and so of course they would vehemently hate Paul for declaring Jesus had risen.
We know that Paul also taught justification outside of the Mosaic Law. But in the contexts which are given when he gives his defense to the Jewish leaders at different times throughout Acts they seem to center around the resurrection of Jesus. That is the witness they all needed to hear. So now in Rome, as he had been directed by the Lord to witness to the Jewish leaders there Paul explains to them of his arrest in Jerusalem and his defense, lets read their answer to him.
Continuing with Verses 21-28 “Now they say to him, neither do we receive letters concerning you from Judea, nor do any of the brethren coming along report or speak anything wicked concerning you. Now we count it worthwhile to hear from you what your disposition is. For indeed, concerning this sect, it is known to us that everywhere it is being contradicted. Now setting a day for him, more came to him in the lodging, to whom he expounded, certifying to the kingdom of God, besides persuading them concerning Jesus, both from the law of Moses and the prophets from morning till dusk. And these indeed were persuaded by what is said, yet others disbelieved. Now there being disagreements one with another, they were dismissed, Paul making one declaration, that, ideally the Holy Spirit speaks through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying.”
Go to this people and say, in hearing, you will be hearing,
And may by no
Means be understanding,
And observing, you will be observing, and may by
no means be perceiving.
For stoutened is the heart of this people, And with their ears heavily they hear,
And with their eyes they squint,
Lest at some time they may be perceiving with their eyes,
And with their ears should be hearing, and with their heart may be understanding
And should be turning about, and I shall be healing them.” Isaiah 6:9,10
Paul then says to them at Acts 28:28 “Let it be known to you then that to the nations was dispatched this salvation of God, and they will hear.” CLV The King James reads differently, “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” The Concordant is correct, with the words, was sent instead of is sent and also with using, nations instead of Gentiles. We have read all through Acts where Paul says this many times and so this was not the first time to state that he was going to the nations nor of his quoting Isaiah 6:9,10, He quoted it in Romans 11 one of the four letters written after Acts 13 and before Acts 28.
The Acts 28 argument is from that time forward the evangel is to be sent to the Gentiles or (nations) and not before. But as we have learned, he began going to the nations, from Acts 13 forward, after he was severed from Israel. We read over an over, his custom was to go to the Jew first, going into the synagogues first in each city and presenting the evangel of God and of His Christ to the Jewish religious leaders and so that term, going or turning to the nations did not mean solely to Gentiles, it meant his going to the Jews in dispersion who were living in those nations, the sons of Israel as well as to the Gentiles.
If, Israel was still lo ammi, it is also logical because of that, that the sons of Israel living in the nations outside of the land of Israel would have been considered by God as Gentiles or of the other nations? I will repeat as it is important that we understand the differences with the sons of Israel and the Jew. The name of Jew came from the tribe of Judah, thus the two tribe Kingdom named Judah, which was based in Jerusalem and responsible for maintaining the religion of Judaism. They were trying to follow the Mosaic Law. It was the attempt by those Jews to continue the worship of Jehovah and maintain their separateness from Gentiles.
Obviously of the thousands upon thousands of individuals from the 10 tribes which had left Jerusalem centuries earlier because of going into idolatry and were still scattered in every nation under the sun, not practicing Judaism would be considered gentiles by those who were. These are those of the 10 tribes in dispersion and so were not associated with Judah having been absorbed into the nations in which they lived
The synagogues in those nations were tied to Jerusalem and Judaism, an effort to provide a place of worship for the Jews living in the nations as well as hopefully those of the 10 tribes would come back to Judaism. So what I am trying to point out is that there are many fine details involved with the 12 tribes of Israel with most in the 10 tribes in dispersion and need to be considered when the term…going to the nations is being used as it does not mean….gentiles in the true sense which is those with no ties to a heritage as being an Israelite.
Getting back, to a main argument of the Acts 28 teachers, the conflict over, is or was. The Concordant translation is correct when it says the passage in Acts 28 should read “was sent” instead of is sent. Bullinger also points out in his notes in the Companion Bible the correct wording to be, was sent. But the Acts 28 people seem to be stuck in the King James faulty translation of using is sent because it supports their assertions that the Body of Christ did not begin until after Acts closes and from that point Paul is now going to the Gentiles!
While the account in Acts as well as the correct wording indicates Paul had already been going to the nations with his evangel since Acts 13. The King James also uses Gentiles in that passage as well as many other times while the Concordant uses nations and as we have seen this is correct because the Greek word is “ethnos” for nations of people. Bullinger’s notes also agree with Knoch on this too.
Yes, the nations Paul was sent to were Gentile nations but we cannot read that to mean he was then sent solely to Gentiles because as we have seen, over and over Paul went first to the Jews living in those nations and the sons of Israel lived in those nations. We also read many times in Acts, once Paul’s message was rejected by the Jewish leaders in the synagogues in each city he entered, he would say, he was now, going to go to the nations, or that they were turning to the nations and in the next city he would again enter the synagogue first. Here is a list of each place where Paul said those words, I am now going or turning to the nations: Acts 13:46,47; 18:6; 21:27; and 28:14.
Why would his repeating that same statement at Acts 28:28 have the meaning of divorcement and not at any of the other places? So this passage which is used as proof by the Acts 28 teachers as far as I can see does not prove a divorce or that the Body of Christ had not yet begun. And as I have already said, the King James is misleading in those two areas, is versus was and Gentiles versus Nations, causing us to think the evangel is or was going solely to the Gentiles as well as the going to Gentiles was just beginning when we also saw in Acts 13 the first Gentile, Sergius Paul was discipled.
So as already said, but always good to review, Paul had earlier said those same words we are now going or turning to the nations many times and he had also quoted Isaiah 6 earlier, the first time is in Romans 11 and so I am afraid the force of that statement and of the use of the passage in Isaiah 6:9,10 being used again in Acts 28:26,27 and given as proof by the Acts 28 teachers has lost its power for me since Paul quoted it earlier and Jesus even earlier than Paul quoted Isaiah. So, I have to ask, is there really anything new being said or done in this last chapter of Acts? It seems to be a repeat of what was said many times previously.
Just to understand when and why Jesus used Isaiah 6, let’s read that account. Jesus had first given the parable of the sower depicting the acceptance and rejection by individuals in Israel to the Kingdom evangel is found in Matthew 13:14,15 , in Verse 10 the disciples had asked Jesus why He spoke to the people in parables.
His answer is in Verses 11-16 “He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath to him shall be given and he shall have more abundance; but who shall hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath. Therefore speak I to them in a parable: because seeing they see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, ‘By hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand and seeing ye shall see and shall not perceive: For this peoples heart is waxed gross and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their hearts and should be converted, and I should heal them.’”
Jesus was telling His disciples that the Jews in His day were already blind, unable to see and unable to hear and thus unable to understand the parables He gave concerning their kingdom. Even though the Israelites so wanted to have the kingdom restored to them, but their main reason was to be set free from the bondage to the Roman Yoke. They did understand that when they were a restored nation, they would no longer be dominated by Gentiles nations. But, they did not want a humble man who taught love and kindness to be their messiah; they wanted a warrior king to smite the Roman yoke they were under and set them free because as Israel’s promises foretell for her, Israel when restored would rule over the Gentiles.
While in discussion with the Acts 28 teacher on When did the Body of Christ Begin, as said earlier, the point of whether Israel was ammi or lo ammi was very important to her and so much so that she has written an article and placed it on her web site aimed at the thoughts I had shared with her on why I felt Israel had remained lo ammi.
So in her argument on when the Body of Christ began of course this would be a key factor because the basis of the Acts 28 viewpoint is that Israel had been taken back by Jehovah and that is why the Body of Christ could not begin before or until Israel was divorced again. So the Acts 28 teachers must then find a place for Israel’s divorcement again? I think the faulty translating of the King James has led to this doctrine which I feel is in error.
The teacher I had this discussion with has written many articles and in them she states that nothing is said about the joint body which is the Body of Christ in any letters before Paul writes of it in Ephesians. This did not seem logical to me as that information concerning the Body of Christ and its celestial calling would have been quite the secret to reveal for the very first time in a letter written from Rome by Paul without any prior preparation for his disciples? This prompted me to research this out in the letters he wrote before Acts 28.
I wondered if the problem is in looking for exact terms…instead of simply finding things said which would be descriptions given for the specific term, the joint body? We know the joint body consists of Jews and Gentiles called into one body….and so when Paul speaks to those whom he has discipled which consisted of both these groups of people, isn’t he speaking to and about the joint body? Did he not tell them this in his early letters…no Jew are Greek, slave or free, male or female …all are one in the Body of Christ?
The prison epistles were written after Acts 28 by Paul from Rome during a two year period of time, when we are told he was under house arrest. Acts 28:30 These letters were to the Ephesians Colossians, Philippians and perhaps, Philemon. These are also called the perfection epistles as the information given in them have the meat of the new evangel Paul was given. And I agree that in them, Paul does indeed explain our calling fully, but I find it hard to conceive that Paul did not share the secret earlier with those he discipled in person?
For the very reason that his evangel was not only new but very different from Israel’s evangel, and his first disciples were Jews like himself and the sons of Israel living amongst the nations, not practicing Jews but of Hebrew heritage who all knew of the promises of the messianic kingdom on this earth. If Paul was not teaching new things what were the Judaisers so upset about, why were they opposing him and his teaching?
As I said, I find it hard to believe nothing was known of the body of Christ until the prison epistles were written since Paul explains the calling to the celestial realm and that would be something so new and powerful, I would think that it needed more explanation and discussion not available if he was not there in person to answer the many questions that letter would certainly generate? I just can’t help but ask; wouldn’t his listeners have needed some prior preparation for such a change in their beliefs?
How much have we today needed to study and discuss these letters to understand this evangel? And we were told all our life of going to heaven, the Jews had never heard that before. Don’t be misled to think that Gentiles were the first in this new church, they were not. Our Apostle Paul was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin and a Pharisee, a religious leader in Israel. We are going to see in this study just as Paul tells us many times, that the evangel was taken to the Jews first.
So these early members just like Paul were Jews or more correctly those of Israelite heritage and thus why they are said to be the sons of Israel. I think has reference to the ten tribes in dispersion as they used that name. Those of the two tribes were called Judah and that is where the name Jew comes from and so like Paul they had to give up Judaism and embrace their new calling into the Body of Christ.
Back to this letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians. This was an established ecclesia which Paul had discipled during the Acts era. Paul had been with the saints in Ephesus for 2 years and I find it hard to believe he did not discuss their calling with them even though we are not told what he told them in person in the book of Acts? So as I said earlier we want to look for hints or clues as to what Paul was teaching those he discipled.
Several other questions came up in that discussion with this particular Acts 28 teacher. The questions are related and intertwined with when the Body of Christ began, such as, Israel’s status, was she ammi or lo ammi when Jesus came and throughout the Acts period.
The other two questions were, when did the Conciliation of the world begin and also when did the Dispensation of Grace begin to operate fully. Paul was the Apostle to teach these new things as well as many other things the Jewish church did not know or truly understand and it seems these questions may have some bearing on understanding when the Body of Christ began or when it was revealed?
So here are the four questions we want to find answers for
Israel’s status, lo ammi or ammi…Hosea 1:9 When was she cast away and taken back? How many times?
When is God in Christ conciliating the world unto Himself…the dispensation of conciliation, spoken of at 2 Corinthians 5: 18,19
When did the dispensation or administration of Grace begin to operate fully...Ephesians 3:2
When did the Body of Christ, the secret hidden in God throughout the ages begin and when did Paul begin to teach his evangel about it. Colossians 1:25-27 Ephesians 3:9
I have also read it expressed many times that if Israel had repented during the Acts period, Christ could have and would have returned and set up His kingdom. What would have happened with the Body of Christ if Israel had repented before Saul was called or severed or before he then could reveal the secret hidden in God? Would it have remained hidden? I have not found anyone who addresses where would the Body of Christ come in if all Israel had repented and Christ returned to set up his kingdom in that era.
All I know is that God does not leave things up to chance; He knows what is going to happen “from the beginning to the end.” Isaiah 46:10. The Prophecies for Israel’s restoration do not indicate a possibility of her having any chance of being restored during the Acts period. Much is explained in Manual two and we will briefly touch on some of those prophecies a little further on in this article.
The Catholic Church became dominant in the 2nd and 3rd centuries onward taught that Peter was the apostle to follow and that Israel was cast away permanently and they, the Catholic Church were the bride of Christ and the replacement of the physical nation of Israel. So since we know that is not true for many reasons, but most important is that the Body of Christ is to follow Paul and not Peter.
The Catholic Church imitated the Jewish system of temple worship, priests and etc. They systematized the apostasy of the Body of Christ and the denominations which broke away from them, made small changes only. None are following Paul. Paul warned of the lies and myths which would enter the church he began at Ephesians 4:14.
Also prophecy shows us that Israel has been temporarily set aside only while God completes the Body of Christ which is an invisible church because it is made up of individuals God chooses and has nothing to do with denominations or church attendance. We also know that Israel will again play a big part in Jehovah’s plans for the reconciliation of this world after Paul’s evangel is completed in the Body of Christ.
As discussed in Manual Two, it will be through the restored nation of Israel that Jehovah will be glorified in the entire world. There are many prophecies yet to be fulfilled given long before Jesus was born, hundreds of them, and many speak of the times of restoration promised for Israel as a nation and kingdom to be restored before Christ returns to set up His Kingdom.
Hopefully we have seen how necessary is the need to rightly divide these Old Testament prophecies for the times in which they are intended to occur. Many are before His return and many others are for afterwards and during His Millennial reign and beyond. Yet, the standard teaching in Christendom is to either spiritualize the prophecies or run them all together and apply them all as speaking of the time after His return. So much exciting truth is missed by doing so.
In regards to the teaching that if Israel had repented during the Acts era and proclamation, Christ would have returned and set up His kingdom. There is no scriptural evidence to support that, much more proving just the opposite. The Body of Christ was not some after thought or last ditch effort on Gods part; it was planned “from before the foundation or disruption of the world” as Ephesians 1:3 explains.
It was also foretold that Israel would reject her own messiah, He was to suffer and die and be raised out of death and so what happened in the first century was ordained by God. We must always remember, God at any moment in time can intervene in human affairs and can prevent things which would not work out for His purpose.
The messiah of Israel must be rejected and killed, He was fore ordained from before the world began to be “the lamb of God which is taking away the sins of the world.” John 1:29 His death is what purchased humanity from the inherited sin and death received from Adam! We only look at Israel’s failures with our human thinking, no other nations would have done any better…..it is through the human failure that God is able and willing to demonstrate Who He is and without humanity’s failure we would never see His powerful works and divine love for us. 1 Corinthians 15:22
So, perhaps because of the many tainted doctrines which have been passed down through the centuries in the many denominations, these things we have referred to and what happened at Acts 28 needs to be looked at again with fresh eyes? Was Israel divorced again or was perhaps what happened at the close of Acts just that the rule of going to the Jew first with the evangel of Christ by means of the dispensation of Holy Spirit over?
Also, if my thoughts are correct, it seems highly likely that the prophecy given to Daniel in answer to his prayer, on when his people would be restored, has not yet even begun to be fulfilled. That prophecy is found at Daniel 9:24-27 and is the prophecy of the seventy weeks which will lead Israel as a restored nation to the messianic kingdom.
I am of the opinion those seventy weeks had not even yet begun to be fulfilled when Jesus came. This is also contrary to the usual interpretation. But, would explain why, neither Jesus nor not one of the Apostles ever refers to any part of that prophecy having been fulfilled in their day as proof of His messiah-ship…or that He was the anointed one spoken of in that prophecy and that his death on the cross, was the meaning of the term in Daniels prophecy of the cutting off of an anointed one.
This is one of the reasons I wonder if indeed that prophecy is speaking of the death of Jesus. In Manual Two, I discuss how that verse has been translated and why in that particular verse, it was the translators who chose to change anointed to the messiah as they had interpreted it to mean Jesus.
Or a different view was given by this Acts 28 teacher I was in discussion with, she believed, that passage should be interpreted as “the cutting off because this in Daniels prophecy should be applied to Israel being cast away at Acts 28:28.” This interpretation of hers comes from her Acts 28 position but it too does not seem to fit if Israel was already cast away and waiting for the times of restoration.
On the question of Israel’s status with God, I think if we would ask most church goers about Israel being cast away by God, the common answer would be after they rejected and killed Jesus. Most do not understand the divorce foretold by Hosea 1:9 and that when Babylon conquered Jerusalem that was the evidence of the divorce or casting away of them as a nation. This name is found only in Hosea, if she was in and out of lo ammi more than once, would not that name have been used each time to signify that?
The book of Hosea is a portrait of a husband with an unfaithful wife…picturing the marriage relationship Jehovah had with Israel. The divorce ended the exclusive covenant relationship but not His purpose for Israel which is also tied to the promises given to the fathers, which are that through Abraham’s seed, would come, blessings for all families of the earth.
Abraham’s son, Isaac produced Jacob who was later name Israel by Jehovah and his 12 sons became the nation of Israel through which came Jesus and by means of Him, all families of the earth will be blessed. To assume Israel’s role is finished with the producing of the Saviour of the world is having blinders on.
Jesus said He was building a church and that 12 Apostles would sit on 12 thrones in His Messianic kingdom not in heaven as is wrongly taught, but on this very earth judging the 12 tribes of Israel and through the resurrected and vivified Jewish saints, bringing the world to Christ! This is Israel’s evangel, not ours in the Body of Christ, the secret of the Body of Christ was hidden during the ministry of Jesus.
We are going to hopefully understand Israel’s divorce has to do with ending Israel in covenant relationship with Jehovah as their husbandly owner. That divorce took place about 400 years before the birth of Jesus. The issue we want to first look at and try to settle in our minds is, were they ever taken back in marriage by Jehovah and then divorced or cast away again….at Acts 28 as is taught? Why, is this important? Because it is tied to when did or when could the Body of Christ begin.
According to this view, this is the reason that the secret of Ephesians 3:6-9 is not revealed until after Acts ends and supposedly is when Israel is again divorced. So after Paul is imprisoned and writes Ephesians and the other prison epistles revealing the secret concerning the Body of Christ for the first time? Please read this chapter in Ephesians through and note that in Verse 1,2 Paul says, “On this behalf I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you, the nations…since you surely hear of the administration of the grace of God that is given to me for you, by revelation the secret is made known to me……..”
How are we to understand those words? “You surely hear of the administration of the grace of God…….” Those to whom he is writing in Ephesians, he just said, that they had heard of his administration before he is writing this letter to them? How then, can we say, the secret was not spoken of by him when in person with them? How can we say that Paul does not take his evangel to the nations until after Acts 28 when we read all through Acts that he was on his journeys through the nations and he writes four letters to ecclesia that he began and who had been taught things by Paul which caused the Judaising Christians to oppose him.
So to review basically the argument against Acts 13 marking the beginning of the Body of Christ is given by the Acts 28 people who feel Israel was ammi as God’s People and had to be cast away, thrust away, or divorced…again, before Paul could begin discipling for the Body of Christ and reveal the secrets he had been given for the new administration. I agree with the premise, Israel could not be His People in Covenant relationship…and God beginning another administration with a very diverse home law! But as said, I disagree with what is taught and that is Israel had been restored as His People at their release from Babylon and thus needed to be cast away or divorced again so let’s go through the reasons I say this
Was Israel, ammi (My People) or lo ammi (Not My People) when Jesus came? Hosea 1:9,10
If Israel had remained lo ammi, in the divorced status, which means not taken back by Jehovah in the covenant relationship held previously, then the obstacle of her needing to be cast away again did not even exist and would certainly affect when the Body of Christ could begin and thus when it began! It then is important to try and understand Israel’s status with Jehovah after the 70 years were up and of course when Jesus came and all during the Acts period. Was she ammi, His People or lo ammi, Not My People?
We must understand and always remember this is in reference to the covenant relationship, the husband and wife relationship, which that covenant signified. As their God, He continued to watch over and use them and He promised to restore them again, but the important part of that promise is that they are to be restored as one nation with all 12 tribes reunited, and returned to the land of Israel, that has never happened yet. The 12 tribes were still split after being released from Babylon and on down through the centuries till the days of Jesus, they were still split and all through the Acts period, most of the sons of Israel were living in dispersion, scattered in the other nations……the nations which Paul was sent to with his evangel.
Another prophecy given by Hosea as to Israel’s restoration following her time of divorcement is found in Hosea 5:15-6:1 “I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early. Come and let us return unto the LORD; for he hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.” What must be understood is Jehovah requires national repentance from the 12 tribes…only the two tribe kingdom returned to rebuild Jerusalem when freed from Babylon.
Please read the 26th Chapter of Leviticus and note the warnings and requirements Jehovah laid out for these people. In Verses 14-32 Jehovah tells them what all will befall them if they break the covenant with Him. Verses 33-35 is really a prophecy of the time the land will be desolated, in order to give it back its Sabbaths….please remember this was foretold long before the nation split or neglected its Sabbaths. In Verses 36-46 the promise to remember His promises to their fathers and take them back following a time of affliction which will bring about national repentance. That affliction will be the time of Jacobs’s trouble…Jeremiah 30:7.
This prophecy in Jeremiah has been confused with the time of tribulation foretold for the last days in the book of the unveiling. For an in depth study of these prophecies and many others for Israel please refer to Manual Two. The point in all of this which is pertinent to our discussion of whether Israel remained lo ammi or not and I propose that she did, is that the requirements given in scripture for national repentance were not met in the past and as of yet have never been met by the nation of Israel formed by God as twelve tribes. The two tribe kingdom of Judah, attempted to return to a semblance of the worship of Jehovah and the Law covenant, but in my opinion that did not meet the requirements, Israel the nation remained lo ammi.
I have had many questions on this for some time and I have looked for evidence that they were restored as His People after their release from Babylon. I could not find any, but instead found many reasons for believing just the opposite and so it does not seem to me that they were taken back into the relationship they had with Him before, which was the covenant relationship and is the meaning of ammi, My People in the complete sense.
The prophecy given by Hosea foretelling that Israel would be divorced by Jehovah for her idolatry and unfaithfulness to Him as their husbandly owner and would one day be returned to Him. But while they are lo ammi that meant His protection would be withdrawn as they were no longer in covenant relationship with Him. Remember what He told them many times while in covenant relationship with Him, blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience, Deuteronomy 11:26-28 and Moses also foretold their future failure and the losing of their kingdom at Deuteronomy 30:1.
The offer was made over and over in the Old Testament before and after their divorce and before their Babylonian captivity…that offer was repent and your kingdom will be restored! Has that ever happened? What does restore mean for Israel? The 12 tribes reunited and living as one kingdom in the Land of Israel again and worshipping Jehovah! When Jesus was born, the 10 tribes were still scattered…in Paul’s ministry the 10 tribes were still scattered, thus the expression, Israel in dispersion.
Israel has never been restored! How then could she ever have been married again or made ammi, His People in the fullest sense of the meaning of those words? When they are His People they are to be His witnesses, a nation witnessing to the fact that Jehovah is the most High God! Their failure has not given this witness to the world! But their restoration will and on a far grander scale that they ever could have 2500 years ago! Today, the entire world of nations has developed with technology linking all the nations…what happens in Israel is known in minutes around the world.
We need to understand Jehovah’s relationship with Israel and that there is a fine line between the need for national repentance in order for Jehovah to take them back into covenant relationship from the individual repentance that took place among individual Jews and those of Israelites heritage living amongst the nations and who were called to Jesus Christ. Israel’s evangel is very multi faceted as we have learned as we will learn more of in Manual Two.
There are prophecies for the nation restored and prophecies for the Jews called out of Israel to be in the remnant church which Jesus began in His ministry, and who will be the bride of the lambkin in His messianic kingdom. Besides the secret…hidden in God, which entailed the sons of Israel, those of Israelite heritage called out of the nations and into the Body of Christ and joined by Gentiles
I think perhaps a little tweaking to the order of things needs to be thought about. First, that there is unfinished business between Jehovah and the nation of Israel. Every prophet, God raised up in Israel’s history, called to her, to repent for their unfaithfulness to Jehovah, their husbandly owner, and for breaking the Old Law Covenant with Him. They were first warned for a very long time, that if they did not obey Him and their Law Covenant they would be cast away and after they were cast away, divorced, they were told to repent if they wanted to be restored as a nation again. So the first order of business for Israel would be repentance for that sin of unfaithfulness, the turning to idolatry and breaking their covenant with Jehovah
Was Israel restored to that covenant relationship after those 70 years? In my discussion with the Acts 28 teacher, whose argument was in favor of them being made ammi again was because those of Israel who returned to Jerusalem prayed and asked for forgiveness and rebuilt the temple, dedicating it to Jehovah and even offered 12 bulls in sacrifice in symbolism of the 12 tribes…which by the way were not in attendance as they were still scattered in the surrounding nations with no desire to return to Jehovah or Jerusalem. But she felt that small group who rebuilt proved Jehovah took them back in marriage. But does it?
We must remember, all during their captivity in Babylon, Jehovah worked with individuals in Israel, like Daniel and his three friends and many others who remained faithful to Him. He answered prayers, gave dreams and visions along with the interpretations and even brought about dramatic and miraculous, rescues for those faithful. He used Daniel and others to record His Words written to His cast off people while they were lo ammi…showing that Jehovah was with many of them, but the nation was still lo ammi…Not My People in the covenant relationship. My goodness, not every individual in Israel had been unfaithful to Jehovah and yet He divorced the nation! We are talking of the nation of Israel, being divorced, ending the covenant relationship but that did not end His work with individuals in that divorced nation.
Jehovah created Israel to be a nation of 12 tribes living in the land together as one kingdom. Their temple, which was first a tent and that tent, was carried from place to place and later, when Solomon built a permanent temple, always had the Ark of the Covenant sitting in the Most Holy compartment of both the tent and the permanent temple.
Jehovah’s presence with His People was signified by the Shekinah glory, a visible cloud and light representing His presence and it rested between the Cherubim carved on that ark. NONE of those things were restored to that rebuilt temple after their release from Babylon. The Ark of the Covenant has never been found…the Shekinah glory never returned to the rebuilt temple and even Jewish history verifies this. The twelve tribes were not reunited and brought back to the land which is foretold will happen when they are restored again as a nation or kingdom! That has never happened yet!
In fact, in the notes on Haggai 1:8 in the Companion Bible I just noticed this comment, “The later Talmudists regard a missing “h” in the term, I will get Me honour…as betokening the fact that five things were lacking in the second Temple, “h” is the 5th letter in their alphabet and it also speaks to grace. Remember how we learned earlier, when Jehovah changed Abram’s and Sari’s names to Abraham and Sarah, an “h” was added to each of them. Anyway, the list of the five missing things, in the rebuilt temple was: 1. the ark 2. the sacred fire. 3. the Shekinah. 4. the Urim and Thummim. 5. the spirit of prophecy.
How can we say that Israel was restored, made ammi again with these missing things which were connected to their covenant with Jehovah? If they were important before the divorce then certainly if the divorce was annulled, why wouldn’t they be important again? Add to that, that only the two tribe kingdom of Judah returned, and even not all of them, plus the 10 tribes of Israel were still scattered in other lands.
When Israel is again restored as His People in covenant relationship they will have their own kingdom, a nation separate from the other nations, no longer under any kind of Gentile domination. All things will be restored, that is what, the term, the times of the restoration of all things means…not a few things…not a half hearted attempt to bring a token worship of Jehovah! When that nation is restored, Jehovah will be glorified finally!! Jehovah will be present with His People again, protecting them from their enemies…signs and miracles will be back.
That is what is promised and described for these people in all of their prophecies for when they are again in favor with Him. The scriptures state emphatically for this to happen, there must be National repentance and not that of a few individuals and that did not happen when they were released from Babylon and has not happened yet, but it will happen, because Gods word tells us that it will!
We must understand that Israel is always His People, in the absolute sense, in that He promised to watch over them where ever they are scattered in the world until it is time to bring them back home, to their land, all twelve tribes reunited as one kingdom again and restored to Him in worship under the Mosaic Law. Deuteronomy 30:1-5 Jeremiah 31:28. So, whether they are in favor or out of favor, in or out of covenant relationship, they are always His People as their God is Jehovah and He is faithful.
Why? Because of His promises to the fathers, beginning with Abraham, and passed on down to Isaac and Jacob whose name was changed by Jehovah to Israel, who also was the father of twelve sons, whose descendants became the twelve tribes of Israel. Remember the first covenant He made with Abram…it was an unconditional covenant, Abram slept through it and only Jehovah was bound by it? Jehovah is faithful even when His People are not.
Paul explains it nicely at Romans 3:1-4 “What, then is the prerogative of the Jew, or what is the benefit of circumcision? Much in every manner. For first, indeed, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. For what if some disbelieve? Will not their unbelief nullify the faithfulness of God? May it not be coming to that!”
Did Jehovah ignore their sins and rejection, no of course not? He is the perfect example of a parent, teaching through discipline but never turning His back on them entirely. While out of the covenant relationship, and no longer their husbandly owner, He is not required to protect and maintain them as a nation and kingdom. But as a People, His chosen People, He is required to see to it that they are not wiped off this earth because of His promises to the fathers and because those promises involve a future work for them when they are restored again as His People. Romans 11:28 “Beloved because of the fathers.”
Satan has tried to annihilate this People throughout every country in the world that they have fled to, by turning on them and yet they multiply and grow! In the end times Satan will try again. The nation of Israel failed as imperfect humans will and Jehovah knew they would fail, but in the future through Him they will succeed in that all the families of the earth will be blessed just as He promised to Abraham. Jehovah will make it happen. Through their failures God will be glorified as He will show them mercy and grace them as He has done for the Body of Christ. We are the example of God’s work in saving His Creation.
All that the nation of Israel has suffered is preparing them for the honor they will have in Christ’s kingdom of ruling the nations of this world with Him, bringing those promised blessings to all families of the earth. In the Messianic Kingdom, He will give them a new heart, with His law placed in their hearts and minds; Jeremiah 31:31-33 and because of that they will be able to live up to His standards through His Grace and by means of His spirit within them. Think also of the parable Jesus gave of the prodigal son and apply it to the nation of Israel! Luke 15:11-32. Why did Jesus give that parable and many others like it, if Israel had already returned to Jehovah in Covenant relationship and was ammi again?
Another way we might explain the Covenant Relationship; Jehovah was their husbandly owner, ruled from within their midst, giving them many visible signs that He was in attendance with them and from their temple. When Jehovah was in attendance with His People and wrong doing occurred, He dealt with it visibly and quickly. After their divorce He withdrew from them and instead used the Gentile nations to discipline them, starting with Assyria and Babylon on down to the Roman Empire which was ruling over them when Jesus walked the land and is the nation which destroyed the temple the last time, sending the remaining Jews further into dispersion throughout the world….as foretold!
When the nation of Israel is restored as promised she will be back in the covenant relationship with Jehovah again as it is foretold repeatedly in the Old Testament prophecies, this means under the Mosaic Covenant again and thus those prophecies for her restoration are to be fulfilled before Christ returns, most of those prophecies have wrongly been taught to apply to the messianic kingdom after Christ returns, but that is when they will be under the New Covenant and will recognize Christ is their Jehovah.
Here are just a couple verses out of the hundreds foretelling Israel’s times of restoration. Jeremiah 32:37-42; Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:25-27. As a reminder, the nation will be restored with all twelve tribes back in the land, the temple rebuilt, priest officiating, a king sitting on the throne and the returning to the worship of Jehovah, all of this must take place in order to bring on the last days, the end times foretold of Israel’s greatest apostasy yet, setting the stage for the persecution from the antichrist and then Christ’s return to rescue them and which ushers in His millennial kingdom. So many prophecies for Israel must be tested as to what differs and rightly divided and then placed in their own proper time or season.
During the Pentecostal era, the Holy Spirit through the twelve apostles for the kingdom or bride church gave visible proofs that He was with the chosen, the saints heralding Jesus as Messiah. The 10 tribes of the 12 for the most part were still scattered in the surrounding nations then and they still are today, scattered throughout the world, and dominated by Gentile nations in one way or another. The state of Israel also still dominated by the surrounding Gentiles, a Mosque is on the site where their temple should be rebuilt if they truly were fulfilling prophecy, but they are not…yet! Now we could say that Jehovah overrules them from heaven, invisibly as He is in control of those who wish to annihilate them.
He allows her enemies to keep her in her place of discipline or chastisement, but He continues to watch over them, bringing them to the time and place when they will be restored as a Nation and sovereign Kingdom as in the days of Solomon and it is then that once again, He will actively and visibly be present with them again and their enemies will know…who Jehovah is as He will protect that nation as it will rebuild and the 12 tribes will be regathered and there will be a time of prosperity and peace!
After their release from Babylon it is said only 5% of the deported Jews returned to rebuild Jerusalem, a small group of Jews, from Judah, the two tribe kingdom, returned, led by Nehemiah and Ezra, two faithful priests. Without the influence of those two faithful priests after only about 30 years many of the priests and allowed the worship to become so corrupted that Jehovah used Malachi to pronounce His displeasure on them.
Also from the time shortly after Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt, for the next 400 hundred years until John the Baptist, Jerusalem was besieged by one war after another with the temple being desecrated by Gentiles many times and then Israel was dominated by the Roman Empire and that empire finally burnt Jerusalem to the ground in A.D.70.
The book of Malachi tells of their unfaithfulness and disregard for Jehovah, after their return. In that book, the plea from Jehovah was “Return to Me and I will return to you” Malachi 3:7 Jehovah did not raise up another prophet for four hundred years, when He does, it was John the Baptist…what was his message…? Repent, the kingdom is near. Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15 Repent from what?
They had not yet killed and rejected Jesus their Messiah or rejected His kingdom offer. But, they still needed to repent from their sins of unfaithfulness and their broken covenant relationship with Jehovah, thus they were still lo ammi.
That state began with Jehovah leaving them because they first left Him and He allowed them to be conquered and taken into Babylonian captivity and thus the times of Gentiles began. Stripped of their kingdom and nation, with Gentile domination to rule over them, until they as a nation repent! If the nation of Israel had been ammi again and restored as His People why would Jehovah raise up John the Baptist to tell them “to repent for near is the kingdom of the heavens”? Jesus also preached “repent, for the king of heaven is at hand.” at Matthew 4:17
For these reasons it does not seem to me that at their release from Babylon, Israel was made ammi as Gods people in covenant relationship and so that would mean that all during Jesus ministry and during the book of Acts she was already lo ammi and did not need to be cast away again. Now Bullinger has a chart of what he calls, the lo ammi times and in it, has them in and out of lo ammi many times. I just can’t make that fit? I agree they were in and out of favor, but was there ever more than one divorce? I can’t find that said if so.
The Acts 28 people point to Paul’s quoting of Isaiah 6:9,10 “Go and tell this People, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this People fat and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, (repent) and be healed.” Paul quotes part of this to the Jews in the last chapter of Acts.
But this passage was first quoted to them by Jesus at Matthew 13 and repeated in every gospel book afterwards as well as by Paul first in Romans 11 and then lastly in Acts 28. This seems to me since it is repeated so often, to indicate an ongoing condition and not a pronouncement of its beginning? The blindness foretold in Isaiah 6:9,10 was the explanation for their rejection of Jesus and His chosen Apostles as Israel was spiritually insensitive and so were unable to see, hear or understand Gods evangel, in other words spiritual things. Just like unbelievers today, without Gods spirit they too are blind, unable to respond to His Word…also said to be in darkness another description of not understand spiritual things.
While Paul has told us we are not of the darkness but of the day…or in other words the light…because of being given the indwelling spirit of God. I think it is important to understand that being spiritually insensitive is what is meant by blindness…as Paul says the soulish man cannot understand spiritual things…1 Corinthians 2:14,15
In order to fulfill the Prophets, Jesus did His job and came to His own brethren, the Apostles did their job, and so Israel was heralded the evangel of the kingdom by its King and by the twelve Apostles He chose to rule and reign with Him in His kingdom when He returns. Also the Holy Spirit did its job, through signs and miracles. Jesus and the evangel of Who He was, the son of David and their messiah was preached by the first the twelve and later when Saul began preaching, he too taught the same things, it is said that he was the first to preach that Jesus was the Son of God. But this is said by those who feel the four gospels accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written after Paul comes on the scene. While recent studies indicate otherwise, which I will add the information we have found on this further on in this article.
Briefly though that research seems to show the four gospel accounts were most likely written in the months following Pentecost…and in them it is declared that Jesus was the Son of God and rightly so, as those men witnessed Jesus in His ministry...His death, His resurrections, they talked with him for 40 days after He was risen, witnessed His ability to walk through walls and watched Him ascend into Heaven. They also witnessed the Holy Spirits arrival at Pentecost just as Jesus had promised them…He would send them the comforter.
After Saul is severed at Acts 13 and becomes the Apostle Paul Acts 14, he also went to his own brethren of Israelite heritage who were living in dispersion outside of Israel, amongst the nations, to which Paul was sent. In acts we read over and over each city Paul would enter he would go directly to the synagogue of the Jews first and we can read why at Romans 1:16, to the Jew first. He preached to the Jewish leaders which were practicing Judaism in other words following the Mosaic Law. We might ask again, why to the Jew first? Paul says, “For in it God’s righteousness is being revealed” Just as already said, God was being faithful to the promises He made to the fathers! Even though divorced they were His chosen People.
The promises to the fathers were given Israel were they not? Israel was formed first on this earth was she not? She was likened to a first born son and as a wife. She was in covenant relationship with Jehovah. Israel was used by Jehovah to record His Holy Word and to reveal His righteous laws and standards and to safeguard the scrolls on which His Words were recorded. Later those scrolls were to be shared with all mankind. Jesus died on the cross for all mankind. Would it not be necessary that the Jew first be given the witness of the faithfulness and righteousness of their own God, Jehovah even though Israel was unfaithful and at the time of their own messiah’s arrival and later with His appointed apostles most of Israel did not recognize it? Yes, because Jehovah is always faithful!
During the end times when more Jews will be called out of the restored nation of Israel to Christ, they will read the Word and see the fulfillments of Jehovah’s promises given to them and they will herald it to their brethren, but they will be hated for it. It seems as though those chosen by God must suffer rejection in their lives in order to understand perhaps the rejection He and His Christ suffer? But, those latter day saints will proclaim that Jesus was the very Christ and that He will come again. After Christ returns the entire nation will understand finally and in the earthly resurrections the rest of Israel, the unfaithful ones will also come to see, hear and understand, both the just and the unjust. Daniel 12:1,2
When we read Zechariah 12-14 we can see that these prophecies tells us exactly the time when they will finally understand, it is for the last generation of Jews living through the tribulation time during the Last Days and who will then see Christ arrive to save them as their conquering King. He will rescue them from the armies of the antichrist, it is described quite vividly, it is then that they will understand he was Jesus of Nazareth, killed by their forefathers and national repentance for that rejection will fill the land.
Read also, Zechariah 13:6 After Christ arrives rescuing Jerusalem and the Jews fighting off the antichrist’s armies, he then will enter the city of Jerusalem, and be hailed as their King….but they will then see the wounds on the Jesus and will ask where did He receive them? His words to them are foretold to be, I received them in the house of my friends…Friends in the scriptures has the meaning…of my own people while strangers is used of gentiles…they then will recognize Jesus of Nazareth had been the Christ.
When Jesus came the first time, Israel was looking for a conquering King not a humble man who was killed like a common criminal. This fulfilled Isaiah 6:9,10 which foretold she would be blind and unable to understand; her own prophecies while lo ammi. Not one Jewish leader of those days will be able to say, when they stand before Christ, I did not know you had come. It was heralded for over 35 years in their day and has been recorded throughout history ever since and every Jew alive since has heard of Jesus.
When He arrives as their conquering King they will recognize Him, they will know that Jesus had been their God, Jehovah in the flesh, Who came to save them and their forefathers had killed Him. That’s why Zechariah 12:10-14 tells us they will have a national mourning.
After the death of Jesus and before He ascended into heaven, the disciples also asked Jesus about their kingdom and when would it be restored “Lord, are you at this time restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6 He told them it was not for them to know the time, certainly if it were possible that it could come in their lifetime…would not Jesus had told them what they needed to do in order for Him to return. I feel they would have been given that very important information? His answer indicates it would not come in their lifetimes and so they did not need to know. Also, if Israel had been restored centuries earlier why did they ask about when it would be restored…the 12 tribes were still split and dispersed in the world? Israel had not been restored so how could she be divorced again….at Acts 28?
Jesus in his ministry, said, He had come only to the “lost sheep of the House of Israel” Matthew 15:24, if they had been restored and were ammi, as His People again, who were the lost? Many will say the 10 tribes were; yes they were still scattered in other countries, in dispersion at that time and they still are today. They had not yet been restored to Israel, why not if ammi again? The point being, the prophecies foretelling Israel’s restoration as His People again, tell us the 12 tribes will be reunited and returned to the land of Israel. Also Jesus did not go to the other countries to find those lost sheep; He remained in the land of Israel going to the lost sheep there which would have been primarily those who were in Judaism.
When Peter gave his speech at Pentecost as recorded in Acts 3, He told them that Israel must repent in order for the times of restoration to come and before Jesus could leave heaven. Why was Peter talking about the needed repentance for Israel’s restoration if she was already restored as His People again? She rejected Jesus because she was lo ammi, and without Gods Spirit to guide her, she could not understand her own scriptures. Israel must first repent of breaking the Mosaic Covenant and of her unfaithfulness to Jehovah. That is the unfinished business Jehovah has with Israel, they return to Him first, He will restore them as a kingdom once again with the 12 tribes reunited and all back in the land of Israel. This is what is needed to prepare them and the world for Christ’s return.
Those of Israel before Paul was severed were being called into the Kingdom church, the bride church begun by Jesus. If Israel was ammi, I am wondering, could a remnant have been called out of the nation while in covenant relationship with Jehovah? We are told God chose them, opened their eyes and through the signs aided them to believe in Jesus…what about those left blind, unable to believe, would that be a righteous thing for God to do while they were in covenant relationship with Him? Did Israel need to be lo ammi in order for Jesus to come and to die and fulfill the Law covenant?
Also, would God have been able to call Jews out of the nation if they were ammi and in the covenant relationship into the Body of Christ? Would not this be taking some out of Law into Grace? The Law was a hard taskmaster and not compatible with Grace. How could all of this be going on in a nation who was still in Covenant relationship with Jehovah?
I just can’t make all of this fit, it is more logical that they were not His People in the sense of no longer being in the covenant relationship with Jehovah and why John the Baptist calls them to repent. And why Jesus said they were blind and His parables were intended to keep them from understanding. They were already lo ammi and cast away long before and this allowed God to select a remnant of believers out of that blind nation to be the nucleus of the church which will be the bride of the lambkin in the Messianic kingdom. How could He be selecting a bride if He still had a wife?
So, let’s suppose for all of the above discussed reasons Israel has remained in the lo ammi condition from their Babylonian captivity and down till the days of Jesus and right on through to our day. That would mean that nothing needed to wait for Israel to be cast away again. The way was wide open for Jesus to live and die amongst His People fulfilling prophecy…nothing was in the way for God in Christ and the conciliating of the world and nothing would be in the way for the Body of Christ to begin with the dispensation of Grace. Except that, God has a time schedule for all things and as Paul said, to the Jew first.
Jesus had to first come to His People and carry out His ministry in Israel which was to begin to build His church first, calling out a remnant of believers and then to die, as His blood purchased not only Israel but all humanity out from under the condemnation of sin and death. So Jesus had to be offered up as the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. John 1:29 And right on time, God’s time, Saul was called and was later severed and sent to the nations to call out another remnant from Israel which was to begin forming the new administration.
The purpose of the ministry of the twelve, going to the Jew first, was to add to the church Jesus began and they too were told to preach in Judea, Israel and Samaria and the entire land” Acts 1:8. This would be the land of Israel. In the King James it says the entire earth, but the word in the Greek is “ge” with land as earth, as in “land distinct from water, or land distinct from heaven or a country distinct from other countries.” It did not mean the world, that Greek word is cosmos. The 12 were to only go to those who were Jews or of Israelite heritage living within the land of Israel. That’s all, so our next question should then be, what of the dispersed sons of Israel … living in all the countries outside of the land of Judea?
Judea is said to be the southern part of the land of Israel from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea. As we will see as we go through Acts, Paul was given the commission to go to the nations and this means the countries outside the land of Israel in which lived the sons of Israel and Jews in dispersion! They were given to Paul to disciple as well as the Gentiles living in those countries.
Those in dispersion would be the 10 tribes which left Jerusalem over 100 years before Babylon conquered Jerusalem and they had not returned to the fold so to speak. Of them some made the pilgrimage every year for the Passover but many did not. Those in dispersion I think we are going to come to understand for the most part are the nations spoken of and were the assignment given to Barnabas and Paul.
The term, To the Jew first…needs to be kept in mind as Jews lived in the nations, Jew is tied to the religion of Judaism centered or ruled from Jerusalem. All through Acts, Paul goes first to the synagogues of the Jews in each city that he visits in the nations and preaches to them usually on the Sabbath days and then after he is rejected by those Jewish leaders in those synagogues, he goes into the streets and preaches to anyone who will listen.
I may not be correct but at this time, I feel Israel has been lo ammi from her divorce 400 years before Christ came and she was never taken back into marriage, the covenant relationship with Jehovah and thus that would mean she was lo ammi all that time and throughout the Acts period. So if this is correct, the beginning of the Body of Christ did not have to wait for Israel to be divorced. But it did need to wait for the schedule God had ordained and as Paul said many times, the evangel of Christ was to go to the Jew first, this was the order used by God in His Plan of the Ages.
We acknowledge that this is a controversial issue concerning, when did Paul reveal the secret hidden in God, which is the Body of Christ. Even among those who profess to rightly divide Gods’ Word, and recognize that Paul was given a secret or mystery to reveal and that this was a different or new evangel from Israel’s.
There are the differing views of when and so many wander off the path in different directions. Some bring Israel and the Body of Christ together at some point as one church. Some have the tribulation saints of Israel going to heaven in the rapture with the Body of Christ while others say the Body of Christ comes back and rules with Israel on the earth.
I have asked some who have these differing views, when or at what point do we draw a line and stop rightly dividing God’s Word or in other words at what point do we no longer maintain our separation from Israel and her kingdom promises? I cannot find where Paul tells us where to draw the line with rightly dividing. Once we stop testing things which differ and rightly dividing them the separation between Israel and the Body can become muddy and confusing.
Also in our study and in looking for when did the Body of Christ begin, I think we will be confused if we forget that Paul said the evangels were taken, to the Jew first. For me it makes sense and becomes clearer to view Israel as being lo ammi with those of Israel the 10 tribes, who were in dispersion and are those who are being considered with the term, being sent to the nations.
Yes these were Gentile nations and the door of faith was now open to gentiles, and while lo ammi, even Israel is viewed by God as gentile. But we must also remember that all through Acts, we are told that Paul went to the Jew first. The Jew being those practicing Judaism and striving to follow the Mosaic Law, Paul would go into the synagogues to herald Jesus to the Jewish leaders in those countries he visited, they were the ones who should have been guiding the people of Israel in truth and were not.
But God is always faithful to His chosen People, even when lo ammi and so they hear the evangel of Christ first….and a remnant out of Israel form both the Bride of the lambkin and the Body of Christ. The sooner we recognize that Gentiles are added to the remnant of Israel which began the Body of Christ I feel the more we will appreciate how God is working with Israel then, and how He will work with her in the future. She was His chosen People!
Trying to figure out when the Body of Christ began in the book of Acts is difficult as the writer of the historical account, was Luke, and he does not tell us if or when Paul knew of or taught the secret or mystery of the Body of Christ. So we will have to look at the epistles Paul wrote during and before Acts closes to see if there are any hints or clues given in them which would make us think that Paul had talked about the secret of the Body of Christ before he wrote of it in Ephesians and Colossians.
In Knoch’s commentary…there is a chart showing how he laid out the order of the letters Paul wrote.
A. E. Knoch’s Chart
The Preparatory Epistles
Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians and Galatians
The Perfection Epistles, written from prison
Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians
The Promissory Epistles
1st and 2nd Thessalonians
The Personal Letters
1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus and Philemon
These are laid out differently from how Bullinger and others have them as most have the Thessalonians letters amongst Paul’s first to be written. I noticed Bob Evely also has them first in his Study on Acts and this is called the early theory.
I have an article written by Ted Mc Divitt with the research he did on when he thought the Thessalonian letters were written and why. His arguments are pretty strong in that they were not early letters but later ones and the information on the snatching away in Thessalonians fits in with having been written after the prison epistles. His article can be read on Rick Farwell’s website. www.geocities.com/tws490/
But I do find it interesting that Bullinger felt the Thessalonian letters were written early on as he followed the Acts 28 time frame and as said in the first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul explains the snatching away of the Body of Christ to heaven. This can be read at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and also Paul tells them they will not see the indignation which is something the nation of Israel will go through in the next chapter of 5:9,10. So how does that agree with their view that Paul taught nothing about the Body of Christ with its celestial calling until he writes the letter to the Ephesians?
Why would Paul have been writing about the snatching away of a body he had not even told them about yet? If the letters to the Thessalonians were indeed the first letters written…I would think they then show us that there had to of been a very early revealing of the secret of the Body of Christ and its calling with its destiny to heaven but I do not rest my view on this one item…it is just something the Acts 28 people certainly should explain as it contradicts their teaching.
I asked the Acts 28 teacher which prompted this study, this very question but I never received an answer. If Thessalonians were the first letters written by Paul…they would be in the time frame of between Acts 13 and Acts 28 and would certainly show us that the secret was revealed long before Acts 28? But I am leaning toward a later writing and so cannot offer this as evidence for my side of the debate.
In the chart in the Concordant Commentary, the Thessalonian epistles are listed as being written after the prison epistles, and as I said that does make more sense for the above mentioned reasons. Romans is listed ahead of the Corinthian letters but I am wondering if Bullinger’s chart is more accurate with Romans following the Corinthian letters and Galatians as Romans seems to be a more mature letter, but…I will leave it for you the reader to decide after reading through them in that order
Knoch and Bullinger were in agreement about which letters Paul wrote during the Acts period but not in the order of some of the others. We just need to remember they were probably written in a different order from that which we find them in our current Bibles.
The order of the writing of these letters seem to be, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians and Romans
These are estimated to have been written within the time frame of Acts 19 and 20. If, I remember right the book of Acts covers at least a 30 year period of time which begins right before Christ’s return to heaven followed by Pentecost. The letters Paul wrote during Acts were written after he was severed and given the commission to be the Apostle to the nations in Acts 13.
When I read these letters in this order, starting with the Corinthians letters, then Galatians and followed by Romans… it seemed to me to show a progression of counsel. Starting with an immature church or administration and then when we get into Romans it is a more mature letter, getting into the legalities of sin and the Law…again remember the early members called into the Body were those of Israel, some Jews and many sons of Israel, non practicing Jews.
Centuries of their traditions and bondage to the Law Covenant with Jehovah had been ingrained into their thinking, now Paul comes along and is telling them all of that was worth nothing in comparison to what they had be given in Grace through Christ? Like him, they were called, chosen and graced outside of the Law. He tells them; let the old ways go, embrace the new spiritual realm in Christ and at the same time the Judaisers from Jerusalem were telling them, Paul is wrong, you need the Mosaic Law with your belief in Jesus Christ in order to be saved….sound familiar?
All of us should understand how hard it is to readjust our thinking, especially of those things we have believed since childhood. We all have had to do this and because we have been given God’s spirit to help us. We have been blessed with learning many wonderful new truths and there is so much more to uncover. But it is sometimes very hard to get the old teaching out of our brains and not everyone is able to even attempt it, we should not judge those who do not wish to do this or who do not understand why for some of us, the search for truth never seems to end. Before any new teaching can sink in we must always be ready to make room for it ….by double checking and perhaps letting go of something that is false, this is the only way for us to learn and be set free from error.
Bullinger’s time frame for Paul
Note, that after Acts 13 and before Acts 28 we are told in Acts 19:1,10 that Paul was at Ephesus for 2 years and in the Companion Bible, Dr. Bullinger has Paul during that time writing 1 Corinthians from Ephesus in the spring of 57 A.D. He then has him going to Macedonia, as brought out in Acts 19:21 and 20:1-3 and possibly from there writing 2 Corinthians in the fall of the same year and writing Galatians in the winter.
Next, Dr. Bullinger shows Paul writes Romans from Corinth in the following spring of 58 A.D. These epistles are figured out to have been written during these times by his travels as documented in the book of Acts and by comparing people and places he refers to in his travels in his other epistles also. We will do a more complete review of the four letters Paul wrote in the Acts time frame.
The argument against the Acts 28 viewpoint and of Israel needing ….to be divorced again.
If we are correct that Israel was not ammi but had remained lo ammi, Not His People in Covenant relationship all along, and so when Jesus came and all through the Acts era Israel was still in the divorced status this would of course, pull the rug out from under the Acts 28 position. Israel would not need to be divorced as she was already divorced. This would then mean the Body of Christ could begin earlier than Acts 28. So we can see how important this is to their viewpoint.
If Israel did not need to be divorced again, there would be no time restriction needing to be considered for when the Body of Christ could begin. Except…..that it would begin when it was God’s time for it to begin! Or we might use the words of Jesus, it is in the Fathers jurisdictions for when things begin and end. If in doubt as to whether Israel had remained lo ammi please review the arguments presented earlier in this article beginning on Page 10.
The next point brought out in her argument is based on Acts 28:29 which in the King James AV reads, “And when he had said these words the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.”
“The Jews departed” The Acts 28 teacher says, this means they were then divorced, is this true?
The Acts 28 teacher I had my discussion with uses as further proof that Israel had to of been ammi because she was divorced again at the close of Acts and she based the belief of a second divorce on the statement, and the Jews departed, or more to the point, it is the word, departed in this one verse which she says, actually means divorce.
She believes there is a hidden and great meaning in the word “departed.” I will quote her reasoning on this here, “the Greek word departed in Verse 29 as “being (aperkomai) in comparison with the Greek word used for departed (apoluento) in Verse 24, they departed.” The Greek word used in Verse 24 she says, never refers to divorce. It has the simple meaning of, having left.
While the other word used in the King James, at Verse 29 can also have the meaning of “divorce” and is used in other places that way by the translators. But there is a problem with this, in that, Verse 29, is said to have not been in the older texts, but was added later. In looking into this, I found that both Bullinger and Knoch state that to be the case, which is, that Verse 29 is not found in the original texts.
Knoch points out in the Concordant Commentary that Verse 29 is not in the three texts he used for his translating work, and he used the most accepted ones. The Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Sinanticus and the Codex Vatinacus. So the point being, her reasoning is founded on an illegitimate verse, inserted later. But she places much authority on it with these words, “the Holy Spirit giving this different Greek word to signify the divorce of Israel.”
So she uses Verse 29 having a different Greek word which is translated as departed but has the meaning of divorce to prove her point that Israel was then divorced, again. I find it unacceptable to use that verse as proof of a second divorce since the authenticity of the verse is in question. If her argument was valid and true, something as momentous as Israel being divorced again, surely more evidence would be given in the scriptures to state or support a second divorcing as basically the Jewish rule as proof of authenticity was to be given by the mouth of two or three witnesses.
So I think in going back to her own statement made on Verse 24, which was that the Greek word used in it, for departed had the simple meaning of having left….really says it all. The Jewish leaders listened to Paul, reasoning on what he told them, some were swayed and some were not and they left the building! A very simple statement was given and yet in order to prove a doctrine I feel she has used a mysterious clue which is not backed up by any other proofs and based on an illegitimate verse. I have not found where it is said in scripture that Israel is divorced again!
This is an example of how we all need to be careful and not grasp at straws in order to prove a point or doctrine we personally hold to be true. Truth stands on its own and will only be reinforced in the scriptures the more we study and search them.
In this article I have looked at all her arguments in an effort to understand why she so strongly believes the way she does and I have tried to present them here as fairly as possible. My goal has not been to prove her wrong; I wanted to understand her position but most importantly to find the truth of this subject. But I cannot accept Acts 28:29 as a proof text for the divorcement of Israel.
Now I am not sure as I said earlier, if all who favor the Acts 28 viewpoint, hold to all the points that this particular teacher does. I cannot help but think that this point as well as all the other points put forth in support of Israel being divorced again in Acts 28:25-28 along with the related premise that the Body of Christ could not begin before the book of Acts closes, to be on extremely, shaky ground.
The next thing which is taught about the Acts Era with the dispensation of Holy Spirit is that Israel was being offered the chance to repent and if they had, Christ would have returned and set up His kingdom. So it is said until that offer was withdrawn the Body of Christ could not begin.
For all the reasons which we have been discussing in this article, I found that teaching also hard to understand; as we were told many times that spiritual blindness was already on Israel, and so she was unable to understand what was being heralded to her. We also learned that God does the choosing and that God chose a remnant out of that blind nation and He opens the eyes of those He chooses. Jesus explained that was how his followers were given understanding by the Father and after His resurrection by Holy Spirit.
He again states this at Luke 24:44-46 “Now He said to them, These are My words, which I speak to you, still being with you, for all must be fulfilled that is written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms concerning Me. Then He opens up their mind to understand the scriptures, and said to them that thus is it written, and thus must the Christ be suffering and rise from among the dead the third day, and there is to be heralded in His name repentance for the pardon of sins, to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Remember the rule, to the Jew first, the heralding began in Jerusalem for His church, first).
We also learned in Acts 2:41 at Pentecost that God added in about 3000 that day to the church or ecclesia which Jesus had begun and which He refers to as My church or ecclesia at Matthew 16:17,18. It was made up of Jews chosen by God and at Pentecost only a remnant believed out of the whole nation and in the years following through the ministry of the 12 Apostles. They had been instructed by Jesus, to go into Judea, Samaria and the land of Israel not the entire earth as taught by Christendom through faulty translating. In Acts 21:20 the elders in Jerusalem also stating that, 10’s of thousands of Jews came to believe that Jesus was their messiah. These were added to the church Jesus began, whose destiny is the earthly kingdom.
While Saul is our example of how Christ chose him, blinding him physically but opening up his spiritual sight. Christ did not choose Saul because he had asked or had repented, but while Saul was in his sin, Christ in all His Glory, revealed Himself to him, waking him up so to speak, on the road to Damascus. So the scriptures are very clear, unless God opens an individual’s eyes and heart they cannot see or believe. Since Jehovah did not open the entire nation’s eyes, ears and hearts, how could there have been national repentance which is the requirement given, in order for Israel to be restored as a kingdom or nation again?
Also, Jesus gave no inkling to His apostles that the kingdom was to come at that time, when they asked “Lord, art Thou at this time restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6 His answer was, “Not yours is it to know the times or eras which the Father placed in His own jurisdiction.”
If it was supposed that Israel’s restoration could have happened in their lifetime wouldn’t it have been important for the apostles chosen for that kingdom to have known? Please review on your own all the prophecies Jesus gave them for the times of the end which were to occur before He would return. None of which fit into the Pentecostal era, also a thorough study of Old Testament prophecy agrees that, it was not the time for Israel’s restoration or for Christ’s return. Matthew 24:1-51
According to Old Testament prophecy given concerning the times of restoration for Israel, with the evangel given over and over for it, stating that Israel must, repent, return to Me and I will return to you. Those prophecies give many details of the times of restoration for Israel, but most important is that the 12 tribes will return to the Land of Israel from where they have been scattered by Jehovah in the entire world and reunited as one Nation and Kingdom again, just as Jehovah created them after their exodus from Egypt. Which by the way I think that we can view that exodus as a picture or type of their future exodus which will be when they will be gathered from the entire world and take possession of the Promised Land.
Also, very important, for when they are restored, is that they will no longer be under Gentile domination, but will be reunited and restored as a sovereign nation again, and they will return to the worship of Jehovah. This all must occur and be accomplished in the land and in the nation of Israel before Jesus Christ will leave heaven and return to Israel and set up His kingdom. Acts 3:20, 21
The fulfillment of those promises with the requirements given, certainly were not present when their 70 years of captivity, servitude and desolation to Babylon ended. They were not fulfilled even when a small group of Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the city and the temple. Those promises were not fulfilled within the Acts era and thus there was no chance whatsoever of the nation repenting because they were instead fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9,10! Blindness! What happened in that era was that only individuals repented and were becoming part of the bride church for the future messianic kingdom.
Many interesting things are said in the prophecies foretelling Israel’s restoration, such as; there would first be national repentance most likely after a devastating war or attack on those living in Israel now. Next it is said, Jehovah would hear the cry of Jews and intervene and destroy the enemies which had attacked Israel. It is said the 12 tribes who are now scattered in the entire world will return to the land of Israel to rebuild. It is most interesting that it is also said that when they return it will be to rebuild upon the heap which was Jerusalem, showing a future destruction of what the Jacobite nation has built in our day. Jeremiah 30:18 Jerusalem was not a heap when Jesus came and did not become a heap until A.D.70. The Israel state has not rebuilt their temple nor do they have control of their land, they are still plagued by gentiles. They are not the fulfillment of Israel’s restoration as Christendom again, in error believes. When they return to Jehovah, they will not need America as an ally…Jehovah will protect them in miraculous ways and demonstrations of His power.
Please do not say, well she was a heap after the Babylonian captivity ended, yes she was, but none of the many other things foretold for the times of restoration were fulfilled as I have briefly just given some of them here, what has been foretold is still waiting fulfillment and when it is time, all of His Word will be fulfilled and Israel will become ammi, again, His People in covenant relationship. Remember Peter’s words in Acts 3…the times of restoration of all things. Restoration, not made new. Restore mean to bring things back to their original condition. When Christ returns things will then be made new…but before then, Israel must first be restored to the nation she was in the past.
We learned in Manual One, the importance of the rule to rightly divide, we also learned in Manual Two that rule for Biblical interpretation does not end with separating the evangel given the Body of Christ from Israel’s evangel. We learned Israel’s Prophetic Word also needs to be rightly divided within itself because so many of the prophecies run together like a continual stream of events and are not in chronological order but are given for different times or seasons. Some spoke to their immediate situation and some are speaking to the times of restoration promised for the nation of Israel taking them out of their lo ammi status and some refer to the time after Christ returns. The common teaching is to wrongly, apply them all for after Christ returns.
In Manual Two, titled “Israel in Prophecy and the Times of Restoration” This subject is looked at in depth, but briefly the prophecies which are foretold for Israel’s restoration as a kingdom and return to favor with Jehovah in covenant relationship have yet to be fulfilled and so much must occur before Christ will return to Israel. Since so many qualifications which are given in prophecy for her restoration were not fulfilled in the first century, or before or after, how could the kingdom of Christ have come in the first century? Also how could Israel have been cast away again if she had not yet been restored?
The religious leaders of Jesus day were blind spiritually, and years of living in pagan countries and being dominated by pagan rulers they had incorporated many pagan doctrines into Judaism and they did not rightly divide their own prophecies. Jesus gave them an example of the necessity of doing so in Luke 4:17-20 when He read from the scroll of Isaiah 61:1,2 making a division by reading and applying what was fulfilled in Him and leaving the rest of the same paragraph unread because it was for the future.
But, the Jewish leaders were looking only at the promises in the Old Testament which applied to His Second Advent and not rightly dividing their own scriptures, missed all that described His first advent which describes His birth and life in Israel as a humble, perfect man….who would be rejected and killed.
His second advent is described as the arrival of a glorious conquering King rescuing His People, from the man of lawlessness, who becomes the antichrist set on annihilating the Jews. They overlooked the prophecies which foretold His birth and that He would come as a humble man who would not overthrow the Roman Empire but instead would suffer and die for them. So with all that said, I just cannot agree that Israel had the chance to repent and if she had done so Christ would have returned and set up His kingdom along with the statement that since she did not, then God began the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ was not Plan B…It was all along within Plan A!
The Acts 28;28 position states that Paul taught nothing concerning the secret hidden in God for the ages which is that the Body of Christ was a the Joint Body, made up of Jews and Gentiles, and who are the new administration with the calling to the celestial realm until Acts closes and he then is free to write of it and so he writes the letter to the Ephesians revealing it for the first time.
The argument is that the 4 letters Paul wrote before he went to prison could have nothing in them about the Body of Christ because Israel was still ammi and because the kingdom was being offered to her. As we have discussed both those issues, I think we have seen that those teachings are not true. I am wondering if somehow that thought pattern is a result of how in the 2nd and 3rd centuries so called Christians became very hostile to the Jews?
They were taught that the rejection and murder of Jesus by the Jews caused God to cast them away forever as His People. They were also taught the Body of Christ replaced Israel and became the new Israel, the Israel of God and or a spiritual Israel. So the teaching was that Israel had been given one last chance to repent, accept Jesus as their messiah and Savior and since they did not, the Body of Christ began.
Of course Free will also entered in as it was not taught that God did the choosing but instead that Gentiles were accepting Jesus Christ on their own and thus that is why they were saved and on the error went. I also think part of the problem was that they followed Peter and were not following Paul and understanding his counsel to rightly dividing Gods Word of Truth.
This dislike of the Jews I feel also contributed to the neglect of Old Testament prophecy for Israel, with not understanding the uniqueness of Israel’s position as the wife of Jehovah in the marriage contract, the Old Mosaic Law Covenant and Jehovah as their Husbandly owner. The divorce broke the marriage contract but not the promises given the fathers concerning Israel and the many promises given that nation’s fathers, waiting to be fulfilled by Jehovah!
Now, I think perhaps we will also understand how the Catholic Church perhaps evolved with so many of the Jewish believers in Jesus and yet they were trying to convince the saints following Paul that they needed the Mosaic Law included in with their worship of Christ. We can see the Jewish influence, the fathers as priests acting as mediators, between the saints and God, dressed in their Jewish looking robes, incense, candles and building churches which resemble the Jewish temple. By the 3rd century the spiritualizing of the scriptures was common and thus those believers were hopelessly muddled and just as blind as Israel.
Later sects broke away from the dominant Catholic church forming denominations but most also were still spiritualizing, later some denominations have tried to get back to taking the Bible literally and understanding Old Testament prophecy, but what Prophecies they did look to, were mostly those which pertain to Christ and the last days, using those texts to scare people into coming to church.
But still not grasping the enormity of Israel’s promised, times of restoration or her role in Gods plan of the ages. Thus they made Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks to fit in with Christ’s birth or death and so eliminated most of those 70 weeks as having already occurred. Perhaps these misconceptions are also part of our subject matter of when did and or when could the Body of Christ begin.
But do we understand the reasoning behind the need to wait for the Body of Christ to begin if Israel were again ammi as His People, and again in covenant relationship? God could not turn to the nations and begin a new administration with Gentiles in it! I don’t even think He could call out a remnant as His future bride if Israel was still His wife!
Although I cannot explain it, I think somehow, the legality of Israel in covenant relationship with Jehovah which made her God’s administration of Law would not allow Him to do so. And so before He could begin another administration the new administration given to Paul based on Grace, the old would have to be over, or canceled, put on hold or be non existent.
But, If Israel was still in her divorced, lo ammi status, all during that time, there would have been nothing preventing Jehovah to first, begin selecting and preparing a bride for the Messianic kingdom nor secondly, for the calling of Saul and giving him the commission to go to the nations, discipling, the sons of Israel, Jews and Gentiles with their following him as the Apostle Paul into the new administration of Grace. Again, these things are in the Fathers jurisdiction for when they are to begin and for when they are to end.
We have looked at a few of the things said by Paul in the four letters he wrote after Acts 13 and before Acts 28 and it seems to me that Paul said things which apply to the Body of Christ. We have discussed what Paul taught at 1 Corinthians 12:12,13, 27 it sure sounds like to me, that he was explaining the Body of Christ, comparing it to a human body because he says, the body is made up of Jews and Greeks, slaves and free and, in one spirit baptized into one body, and he also said, Now you are the body of Christ…..”
It has been said that this chapter was speaking in a general way about members of different ecclesias, but I think a careful reading of the chapter indicates otherwise. If he were speaking to them as an individual ecclesia but who were a part of the Body of Christ he could have said so. We can also compare those words he used in 1 Corinthians with what he writes to the Galatians.
He used the same words or terms in Galatians 3:28 “For whoever are baptized into Christ, put on Christ, in Whom there is no Jew nor yet Greek, there is no slave nor yet free, there is no male and female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.” I have not heard anyone state that he was not speaking about the Body of Christ here?
These descriptions fit only the Body of Christ because those who were called into the church Jesus began, and who are to be the Bride of the lambkin are Jews and do not give up their nationality as sons of Israel they remain as those of Israel. Paul was not talking to those particular Jews or about them! He was talking to Jews who had been called into the Body of Christ and who were on the same level with those Israelites of the nations as well as eh true Gentiles called into the Body of Christ.
This mixed group became a joint body, a new administration with a different home law from the bride church. This was an attitude adjustment for Jews, who were taught for centuries that they were to not associate with Gentiles, because they were special and placed above them…because Jehovah had chosen them and made them a Holy Nation! But at the same time…those Jews in the bride church were also to recognize all believers in Jesus Christ were equals…the Jew no longer held pre eminences over the gentiles or those of the nations. This was not truly understood by them or fully accepted.
Both those letters we have just referred to, were written around Acts 19 or 20 as was his second letter to the Corinthians, he reveals something else in that 2nd letter to them, which was also new, he says “I tell you a secret, we shall all not be put to repose yet we all will be changed, in an instant, in the twinkle of an eye at the last trump” 2 Corinthians 15:51,52
This was certainly information that was different from Israel’s evangel. Paul said it was a secret; the earthly resurrections were not a secret they are recorded in Old Testament prophecy. Paul was revealing to them something new, information concerning the saints in Corinth called into the Body of Christ! The secret was concerning the resurrection for those in the Body of Christ with a celestial body. How or why would he write a letter telling them these things if they knew nothing of the Body of Christ or of its celestial calling until years later when he writes to the Ephesians?
This secret given by Paul in 2 Corinthians added to the resurrections which were part of Israel’s expectation, which was that they were to be raised from the dead to live on this earth again. In the Old Testament, Job knew of it, David knew of it and it was spoken of by Daniel at Daniel 12:1,2 and he was given more details of its timing in Verses 12,13.
This was referred to by the Apostle John at John 5:27-29 and Paul quoted Daniel in Acts 24:15 “the resurrection which is impending for both the just and the unjust.” John also added to the understanding of the earthly resurrections, explaining at Revelation 20:5,6 the time frame, that there would be 1000 years between the raising of the just (the faithful before Israel was formed and the faithful of Israel) and the unjust, (the rest of the dead who are said to standing at the Great White Throne.)
Paul was the only writer to speak of being raised with the celestial glory. Later in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 he adds more information which he does not begin by saying that he had another secret to share. He says he does not want them to be ignorant concerning those reposing and then gives the details. It sounds like to me, they just needed more clarification of how the snatching away, affected those who were dead in relation to those who were still alive. Paul reassures them, we are a unit, one body a body of saints, in which no one has preeminence over another in the Body of Christ, even in the snatching away, we all will rise and be changed and go together to meet the Lord in the air.
We also read in Galatians 1:6-14 Paul wrote of them being called in the grace of Christ and he tells them if anyone brings them an evangel different from what he brought them…they are to be accursed. He emphasizes, his evangel came not from men which would mean he did not learn it from the 12, or the elders in Jerusalem but through revelations from Christ.
In Galatians 2, Paul stated, that after 14 years he submitted the evangel he was heralding amongst the nations. Why, would he submit the evangel he was heralding, if he was heralding the same evangel as they were? Verses 7-10 explains he was given the evangel for the uncircumcision, this would mean Gentiles or more accurately, those of all the nations and or those not practicing Judaism with circumcision and yet we know he followed the rule, to the Jew first throughout the book of Acts.
At Galatians 3:22 Paul teaches we are given Jesus Christ’s faith. “Jesus Christ’s faith may be given to those believing. ….” This too is a new teaching; those of Israel were given signs to instill faith, to give them a reason to believe Jehovah….but that was taken for granted and very few developed enough faith to be obedient. Not all their fault…human nature, you and I would be no different. The signs, the Law which is physical was designed to show them and us that unless Gods Spirit is given none can truly believe or please Him.
We are given Jesus Christ’s faith, we cannot help but believe even when things make no sense….without ever seeing the risen Jesus, we believe that He did rise from the dead. Without learning directly from Paul we believe his words, that we are the Body of Christ and will be taken to meet the Lord in the air…without truly understanding it all, we believe. I have placed an article listing all the places which tell that we are given Jesus Christ’s faith in the back of this Manual.
Galatians 3:24 shows us he is talking to Jews or those of Israelite heritage who were discipled by him into the Body of Christ. “So that the law has become our escort to Christ that we may be justified by faith.” Our escort, only the nations of Israel was given the Law Covenant as their escort to Christ. Verse 26, “you are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus.” The adoption of sons seems to be privy to those called into the Body of Christ, we only find it used in Paul’s letters, Galatians 4:4 Ephesians 1:5 Romans 8:15, 23 and 9:4.
While those of Israel are referred to as the children of God. John 13:33 1 John 2:1,12,28; 3;7, 18;4;4, 5;21. Why an adoption? A adoption is when one not of the family and is made or brought into the family. Those of Israel were lo ammi…not God People and the Gentiles, never having been Gods People…adopted.
There are several places in the KJAV which have been translated wrongly, speaking of those of Israel coming to Christ as being sons of God, while in the Concordant they are translated as children of God. In Bullinger’s notes he shows in these passages the word for children is teknon which is in the Greek plural and not the word for son while the Greek word for son is Huio’s. Again Knoch and Bullinger agree on this. Two important passages in the KJ which should read children of God are, John 1:13, 1 John 3:1,
In Appendix 23 of The Companion Bible, Bullinger points out, “It is only by the Divine specific act of creation that any created being can be called “a son of God.” For that which is “born of the flesh is flesh and that born of spirit is spirit?” John 3:6 “Adam is called a “son of God” in Luke 3:38 as he was a direct creation.” And let’s also read Job 38:7 “When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” The celestial beings direct creations through the spirit.
Now in view of those thoughts we might try to understand Paul’s words at Romans 9:1-4 “The truth am I telling in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifying together with me in His spirit, that my sorrow is great, and unintermittent pain is in my heart….for I myself wished to be anathema from Christ for my brethren, my relatives according to the flesh, who are Israelites, whose is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the legislation and the divine service and the promises: whose are the fathers and out of whom is the Christ according to the flesh, Who is over all, God be blessed for the eons, Amen!”
Israel was a chosen nation, a peculiar people. Deuteronomy 14:2 and 26:18 A chosen nation in covenant relationship with Him and thus it is said at Exodus 4:22 “My son, My firstborn is Israel” This is in reference to the nation. The divorce must have changed the relationship and that is why Paul speaks of those called into the Body of Christ as being adopted as sons. Ours is a spiritual adoption by means of the spirit, we do not become sons of Israel. Israel in their kingdom, through the spirit of God will be sons.
This is also why those called into the Body of Christ are said to be a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17 and are called “sons of God” at Ephesians 2:10 Paul also tells us this at Romans 8:14, 15 “For whoever are being led by Gods spirit, these are sons of God. For you did not get slavery’s spirit to fear again, but you have the spirit of sonship, in which we are crying Abba, Father! The spirit itself is testifying together with our spirit that we are children of God.” It is Paul who speaks of the believer as a son. Neither, Peter, James nor John uses the Greek word, huios, for son, of a believer…that seems to be exclusive to the Apostle Paul’s evangel. Okay, getting back to our present study
We also read earlier what Paul had written in Romans 11 of how Israel becomes calloused in part until the complement of the eras and then all Israel would be saved. Who or what are these words in reference to if not the Body of Christ? When Paul wrote those letters to the Corinthians, Galatians and the Romans who was he talking to if not the new administration which is the body of Christ?
I just don’t understand how it can be said these letters are not giving new information about and for the Body of Christ? Those scriptures indicate Paul did indeed speak of many new things connected to the Body of Christ in the letters written before Acts closes and so the basis or foundation of the Acts 28 arguments for me, just fall flat. I also cannot comprehend Paul never speaking of these things in person to his disciples?
I find it interesting how Paul says at Romans 11:2b “God does not thrust away His people whom He foreknew.” I have said this before but will say again…obviously Jehovah did indeed divorce His People centuries earlier and so what is Paul meaning? That God would not thrust them away permanently, perhaps that question had come up with the Jewish brethren in learning the Body of Christ then held pre eminence over Israel and her expectation? Perhaps they feared the nation of Israel would never be restored? Thus Paul reassures them, the setting aside of Israel’s expectation was for a season….until God completes the Body of Christ and then would all Israel be saved.
Now what is really interesting is that before Isaiah penned those words used by the Acts 28 teachers to prove Israel was then cast away and which as we have seen were previously quoted several times in the New Testament, Moses centuries earlier said something very similar and interesting about Israel. Before they had even entered the Promised Land and centuries before they were divorced, Moses says of Israel in Deuteronomy 29:4 “Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.” Moses telling them Jehovah was not helping them to understand spiritual things long before they failed as a nation and long before they were even divorced.
Jesus also told them, “Jerusalem shall be trodden by the nations, until the eras of the nations (Gentiles) may be fulfilled.” is not that evidence that the nation was still lo ammi in His day? Luke 21:24. In this chapter, Jesus also foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple; He also gave signs of the last days before His return. If as it is said, during the Pentecostal era, Israel had repented, the kingdom would have come then….what of His Prophecies given in this chapter? God does not give prophecy with maybe or an if….He foretells the future because He is in control of it! The eras of the nations must run its course before the Kingdom of Israel will be restored and before Jesus Christ will come to her again.
In Bullinger’s notes on this passage, he indicated the statement made by Jesus was not that those times of being trodden down would begin soon…but that they would be continuing. He explains that the law of the language used is thus, “with the use of the verb to be, a passive Participle of pateo and it means, shall be or shall remain trodden down in a way as they never had been before.”
Israel had been trodden down by Gentile nations ever since Babylon destroyed that city and temple. When Jesus gave those words, they were still trodden down, by the Roman Empire. Yes they had a temple and were allowed to worship but they paid taxes to Rome and answered to Rome! In A. D. 70 their city and temple was destroyed again and Jews scattered even more into the world…to be trodden down by every nation they went to…like never before.
Today, many suppose Israel has been restored, since they occupy a small portion of their land, but not so, she does not have control of the entire land of Israel, much of it is held and occupied by her enemies. Israel is still trodden down by Gentiles. The 12 tribes have not returned and they do have their temple and without it the true worship of Jehovah cannot be practiced.
As long as Israel is dominated in this way by other nations, the Gentiles, they will remain lo ammi, and blind, these two elements are key to their lo ammi condition and during which they are considered Not My People as Isaiah 6 said, spiritually blind and as Paul said calloused along with what Jesus said about the Gentile domination of the land of Israel. Those conditions have existed from the time of the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar who conquered them and later burning Jerusalem to the ground right on through to our day!
Knoch also said that Israel was thrust aside at Acts 28 but I am pretty sure from the other things he says in his Concordant Commentary that he believed Paul knew the secret before the end of Acts. In fact Knoch says as much on Page 225 of the Concordant Commentary. “Paul must have had many precious meetings with his believing brethren. He must have made known to them those transcendent truths which he teaches in his Perfection Epistles.”
I agree with Knoch, in that it would indeed seem logical that Paul would have shared those truths with his disciples and especially those who were apostles under him for the Body of Christ. I also believe that he knew the secret from at least Acts 14 if not before and as we have seen and will review a little further on, there are many clues in the letters he wrote before arriving in Rome at Acts 28 that I feel show, he not only knew the secret of the Body of Christ but was also sharing it in person. The letters put into writing, his prophetic words as our prophet and were given him from Christ for the completing of the Word of God which means, by his evangel which revealed the secret administration as the next phase of Gods plan of salvation for all mankind.
We need to remember Paul did not write the book of Acts, Luke did and it was not Luke’s prerogative to reveal Paul’s evangel. I believe we will find truth for the Body of Christ in every letter Paul wrote. The early letters are prepatory for a minor ecclesia, bringing them to the perfection epistles which indeed contain the deeper truths given for the Body of Christ to mature.
We must remember based on what we have learned throughout Acts, the evangels, went, to the Jew first and so Paul was teaching many secrets first to those of Israelite heritage who were a people, who had never even entertained the idea of justification outside the Law of Moses or of the conciliation of the world or of reconciliation of them in Grace, acquitted of all sin or most of all, the secret hidden in God of a Joint body made up of Jews and Gentiles who were to be equals.
The Jews no longer holding any preeminence over Gentiles and most awesome of all, the realization of their new calling, the celestial destiny which meant they were going to be taken to heaven by and with Christ! They were taught they would share His heavenly allotment. They understood allotments, Israel’s 12 tribes had been given earthly allotments in the past and now Paul teaches them that they were to receive the heavenly allotment which Christ possesses.
It seems to me from the few things we have already read in those letters that they do contain information for the Body of Christ….maybe what is said in these is misunderstood because the first members placed in the Body were Jews and Paul is speaking to them of things which are Jewish in nature and thus would not apply to the Gentile saints who are called to share with the Jews in the new administration.
Because of the Jewish nature of many of the things Paul talked about is why some feel nothing said in these first four letters are for the Body of Christ? I also feel this thinking was influenced by the King James translation which over and over says, Paul was going to the Gentiles when as we have already discussed, the Greek word ethnos, means nations of people. So the Concordant Version correctly translated Paul’s words when he said, we are now turning or going to the nations. Both Jew and Gentile lived in those nations.
We also learned that all through the Acts account, Paul followed the rule….to the Jews first….and so in the nations he traveled through, in each city he visited, he would first herald Christ to the Jewish leaders in the synagogues and of course the Jewish lay person in attendance would hear Paul presenting the evangel. The Jews called into the Body of Christ would need to be carefully educated as to the home law for this new administration. They were not familiar with Grace only works. Remember Paul’s words, no Jew or Gentile no male or female, no bond or free in the Body of Christ, Galatians 3:27-29. The new administration is a joint body, made up of Jew and Gentile who are equals. Ephesians 3:6
This would be a big adjustment for the mentality of the Jew who for centuries had been taught to stay separate from Gentiles and as Gods Special People that they were superior. Also remember when Paul said all he was and all he had in his role as a Pharisee and heritage as a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin…was as refuse, which the Greek word if translated more accurately would be manure or dung! His gave his own comparison to what he leaves behind with what he was given in Christ! Philippians 3:4-8
The Gentiles Paul disciples would also need specific counsel for their individual circumstances as many would have come out of idolatry with some pagan religions in his day practicing temple prostitution. They would also bring with them many other pagan practices which were their customs or traditions.
Along with these changes or adjustments in their thinking, these early believers called into the Body of Christ were being besieged by the Jewish believers in Jesus to add Law keeping into their belief system. From every side, Paul’s disciples were being pulled away from his evangel, which offered a simple freedom in Grace. No rituals, no decrees…no works were needed, just a need to come to a realization of the truth of who they were in Christ. Colossians 2:2; Titus 1:1,2
No doubt, those Paul discipled had become the target of Satan, his goal to always thwart Gods work would then be focused on the change in God’s program, the new administration. But, Satan not understanding the Grace this new group of saints were called and placed within will one day realize that none of his schemes would succeed with the loss of even one of these saints from the Body even if unfaithful or deceived! That is what Grace means, to be placed in Christ and becoming the New Creation.
We are secure, not because of our own faithfulness or our knowledge or of any works we may do, otherwise it would not be GRACE! Our security rests upon the faithfulness of Jesus Christ with Him as our head and we as His body or complement and because as the Father, He is faithful. 2 Timothy 2:13
Thus Paul gave counsel against all of the stratagems used by Satan and this is why he stressed they were to follow him and his sound doctrine. They were not to listen to other believers in Jesus Christ, if what they taught was different from what he had taught them and that would mean they were not bound by anything that came from the elders in Jerusalem even though they too professed Jesus as the Christ.
By the time Paul writes his letters to Timothy the Jewish church centered in Jerusalem were in apostasy because of holding onto the Mosaic Law and so would go the church Paul began especially so after his death. 2 Timothy 4:3 Paul guided and taught all of those he had discipled, in person or through his letters, whether it was the Jew or the Gentile called into the Body of Christ and this is why he says, “imitate me as I am of Christ” 1 Corinthians 11:1. Paul did not know Jesus, the man, he met the glorified Christ, he talked with Him and received direct revelations from Him and this is why…..we are to follow Paul. 2 Timothy 3:10
So with that said, I would like to review what took place from Acts 13 to Acts 28
The arguments for Acts 13 as the official beginning of the Body of Christ seem to be much stronger than those given for Acts 9 or for Acts 28. With Acts 2 not being under consideration in this review as we learned, the time of Pentecost pertains to the church begun by Jesus for the earthly Kingdom after His return to Israel….the bride. Matthew 16:18, Acts 5:11..
We will also be going through the four letters Paul wrote after his severing in Acts 13 and before Acts 28 in more depth and see what else we can find to settle the matter of when the Body of Christ began, because I would like to put this matter to rest. Also at the same time, we want to bring closure to the other questions we asked at the beginning of this discussion which seem to be related or tie in with when the Body of Christ officially began. Those questions were, when did the conciliation of the world begin and when did the grace dispensation begin, at the cross or when the Body of Christ began? So here is a list, to remind us of these questions which seem to all be inter related.
Was Israel lo ammi or not?
When did the Body of Christ begin?
When did the Grace dispensation begin?
When did the Conciliation of the world begin?
We have discussed the lo ammi question pretty thoroughly and have seen that Israel’s status of being God’s People in covenant relationship needs to be understood. Before God could choose a bride for the lambkin in His coming Kingdom, Israel needed to be divorced. Before God could begin a new administration…a joint body of Jew and Gentile in Grace, Israel needed to be divorced. It appears to me that Israel had remained lo ammi and divorced all through the ministry of Jesus and into the Pentecostal era and all through the Acts account and so she did not need to be divorced again.
One of the difficulties with understanding when the Body of Christ could begin, comes the question of how God could have two administrations at work at the same time. It is pointed to their then being, Law and Grace. Again, if Israel was lo ammi….the reason for that status was the breaking of the covenant with Jehovah and so the Law Covenant would not be in operation even though the religious Jews were observing the Law and these are of those two tribes, name Judah which had returned to Jerusalem centuries earlier.
In the ministry of Jesus, He ordained that there would be 12 Apostles for the church that He began and He told Peter he was to head it at Matthew 16:18 “I will build My church” This is the church which was added to at Pentecost and is spoken of also as a church at Acts 5:11. The word church is English for the Greek word ecclesia….This word applies to a group of people and so can mean a gathering of saints, or a mob rioting, which is why we will find it also translated as an assembly. Matthew 18:17 The context must be looked at in each passage, but with the accounts we are referring to they are in reference to those following Jesus and that is why He says, My church.
Also we can factor in that the Law issue was settled by the blood of Christ on the Cross. So the followers of Jesus making up the Jewish church were not bound by the law covenant. But they continued to observe it as it was their custom and tradition. The 12 Apostles were told by Jesus that their calling was to the messianic kingdom to rule and reign with Him on this earth when He returned. And so I do think the death of the Apostle James in Acts 12, as previously said, needs to be factored in as the unity of the 12 was then broken.
The role of these 12 Apostles was to function as a governing body; the number 12 represents governmental order. The 12 were to herald Jesus as the messiah and thus disciple others into the church begun by Jesus, whose destiny is for the Messianic kingdom on earth of which the faithful will be the bride of the lambkin. These Jewish saints were spoken of as being in the way until later the name of Christian…was given them as a derogatory label.
So we then see Saul and Barnabus severed after the death of James and so does that not show us that God did not begin a new administration or ecclesia until after the unity of the 12 had been broken? Thus the cessation for Israel’s evangel probably began with the death of James and it was then time for Saul’s work amongst the nations to begin with his evangel given him by Christ. His evangel said to of been hidden in God for the ages was for the Body of Christ which was a new administration and to be separate from the previous administration governed by the 12 Apostles under Jesus. Four more of the 12 apostles were martyred after Acts 13 and before Acts 28. An administration cannot function without its leaders…?
Most of the 12 are not talked about in Acts, I have often wondered why? Also we see that Peter allows James the brother of Jesus who was not an Apostle to head up the elders in Jerusalem and so he seems to have exercised more authority than Peter and we find no instructions were given by Jesus for his brother to take over His church?
In Acts 10 we are given Peter’s experience with first the vision from God on things once declared unclean were now declared to be clean and Peter was told to go to the home of Cornelius the Roman Centurion in order to disciple this Gentile man and household into the Jewish church, as we read they all received John’s baptism. But they were not circumcised and this event was so out of the norm that Peter was summoned to Jerusalem to explain his actions to the elders.
In Acts 11 we read of the meeting with the elders in Jerusalem and Peter explaining as to why he went into a Gentile’s home. This showing that the saints of the Jewish church were still keeping separate from Gentiles and not going to the nations with the evangel of Jesus Christ, still following the instructions of going only to Jews or those in the land of Israel with the exception of Samaria. After that, the only thing we read about Peter again is in Acts 15 there is another meeting in Jerusalem over circumcision because it sounds like those discipled by Paul and Barnabus were being told they could not be saved without circumcision…and of course they objected and so a meeting was called.
Peter was in attendance and defends Paul and Barnabus reminding the elders that God cleanses the hearts of Gentiles by faith and they should not be putting a yoke on them. This meeting recorded in Acts 15 and when an edict or decree was issued, by James for new converts to abstain from blood and idolatry. After this chapter in Acts we hear no more of Peter….the rest of Acts is all about the Apostle Paul and his missionary journeys of going to the nations.
It is estimated by Bob Evely in his outline on the book of Acts, that Paul traveled over 12,000 miles during his 34 year ministry. This would have been on foot, and by ship, it is commonly thought he took three journeys but it is possible there was a fourth journey after his two year say in Rome and before his death. I have added the article done by Ted McDivitt to this Manual for the readers’ consideration of that possibility of his having made four missionary journeys instead of only three as some believe and of the timing for when the letters to the Thessalonians were written.
But as we have seen, in the missionary journeys made by Paul as recorded in Acts, he went first to the Jews living amongst those nations. Now the question has been put to me, was he then discipling those Jews into the kingdom church based in Jerusalem? I do not think so, how confusing would that be?
I cannot see Paul heralding his evangel to a group, let’s say with some Jews and some Gentiles in it and then saying…okay, you are going to heaven and nope, not you, you are going to be in the earthly kingdom. For me, that sounds too much like the choosing up of sides as to who goes into what team for a baseball game? So again we have to ask why the severing if it does not mark a change!
The severing at Acts 13 has to be the dividing line, of something or for some reason….or why else would he and Barnabus have been severed? Those who respond to Paul’s evangel would be his disciples and of the evangel of which he was made the Apostle for. What his evangel was based on were his personal revelations from Christ. We also read of a separate set of Apostles who worked with him and who traveled with him and ministered to him and for him while in his confinements. Paul, Barnabus and those others said to be apostles who worked with him were not replacing those of the 12 who had died.
Jesus chose only 12 apostles for His church and He promised that 12 and only 12 would sit on 12 thrones in His kingdom on this earth and their work in the earthly kingdom would be judging the 12 tribes of Israel. That church is entirely Jewish! Those of Israel which were called into the Body of Christ, give up their nationality, their heritage and traditions, they no longer have superiority over the heathens! Those in the Body of Christ are equals.
It is in this chapter that for the first time we read of the name change from Saul to Paul after he and Barnabus were severed, Acts 13:9,13 He was always referred to as Saul until after his severing and then we read that he begins using the Gentile name of Paul, and according to Knoch’s commentary that name comes “from the root to cease and indicates the present interval, marking the cessation of divine dealing with Israel until God restores them to Himself:” But I wonder if it would mean, he ceased from looking to Israelis expectation as he had been given a new expectation?
In Acts 13:2-4 we read that following the severing, they sail to Cyprus and go to Salamis and are announcing the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews in those cities. At Acts 13:5 we read of John being a deputy, lets understand who this John was, in the King James it says he was a minister and in the Concordant a deputy, I had a question about this earlier as the way it is stated, it first sounded like he was the deputy of the synagogue there, but actually meant he was traveling with Barnabus and Paul and ministered to them, in other words he was to help them.
If we back up to Acts 12:12, 25 we find out who this John was, “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry and took with them John whose surname was Mark” And Bullinger’s notes state, “the holy spirit did not send him it seems he was related to Barnabus and says he invited John Mark to go with them.” The Concordant Keyword says the name means Timidity and that he was the cousin of Barnabas and wrote the second (gospel) account of Mark.
He is also spoken of later in Acts 15:37,39; This gives the account of when Barnabas wants John also who is called Mark to come along with them again, but Paul did not because John, Mark had left them on that earlier trip and Paul felt he was not worthy and thus Barnabas and Paul became so incensed at each other that Barnabas takes Mark leaving Paul and sails to Cyprus and so Paul continues on his journey without Barnabus. Later, this, John Mark is spoken of, as a worker with Paul and so they must have kissed and made up….? He is spoken of in these passages, 2 Timothy 4:11: Philemon 24 and it seems that he was Peter’s son at 1 Peter 5:13. So Barnabus, Peter and John Mark were related.
Back to Acts 13 Paul and those who were with him, then traveled to the island of Paphos and there they had the encounter we read of earlier concerning the proconsul, Serguis Paul and of Paul calling blindness on Elymas who was a Jew and a magician who tried to prevent this Gentile man from hearing Paul’s evangel. It is interesting that the first Gentile Paul discipled after his severing also was named Paul, Acts 13:7. The physical blinding of Elymas is also said to give a type for the spiritual blindness which was upon Israel.
Sergius Paul is the first Gentile we read of being discipled by Paul who was not a proselyte, or having to go through Israel first before coming to Christ. There is no record of this man being given John’s baptism in contrast with when Peter went to the home of Cornelius, which it is recounted in Acts 10 that he and his entire household were baptized. I have read that some wonder if Saul took the name of Paul in honor of the first Gentile discipled by him. But this can not be proven in the scriptures. Saul was a Roman citizen and so would also have a Roman name. Saul was his Hebrew name and Paul his Roman name.
Acts 13:13 “Now setting out from Paphos, those about Paul came to Perga of Pamphylia. Yet John, departing from them, returns to Jerusalem. This is where John Mark leaves the group and heads back to Jerusalem and this departure, seems to be the reason for the later controversy between Paul and Barnabus when Barnabus wanted John Mark to travel with them again.
Acts 13:14, From there they travel back to Antioch and “entering the synagogue the day of the Sabbaths. And after the reading of the law and the prophets they are asked if they have a word for the people.” In Acts 13:16-39 Paul stands up in this synagogue and gives quite a talk concerning Israel’s past and of the work of John the Baptist and of Jesus being crucified but how God rouses Him from the dead and that He was seen for many days by many people. And then Paul says this, Verse 32 “And we are bringing to you the evangel which comes to be a promise to the fathers that God fully fulfilled this for our children in raising Jesus, as it is written in the second psalms….”
He continues to expound on the resurrection of Jesus and then in the next Verses of 38,39 he says, “Let it be know to you, men, brethren, that through this One is being announced to you the pardon of sins and from all from which you could not be justified in the law of Moses, in this One everyone who is believing is being justified.”
So we see that Acts 13:39 is the first time we read that Paul speaks of, “Justification outside of the Mosaic Law” so here is a clue to our question about the Grace dispensation, when did it begin. How can there be justification without grace? Remember the question was raised, at the cross or with Paul and if with Paul then when? It does not seem that earlier grace was being given as we remember in Acts 5 that the Holy Spirit challenged the husband and wife who had lied to the apostles about a contribution made by them and they were both struck dead.
That certainly seems to be a sign, that grace was not in operation. We know Paul received the ultimate grace at his calling in Acts 9 and yet we also read that as an Israeli he was given John’s baptism and also the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is no record of his teaching the giving of justification in this way until after his severing in Acts 13:3. In order for one to be given justification outside of the Mosaic Law it would only be possible for several reasons. Israel was still lo ammi….thus in reality the Law Covenant was not operating in the divine viewpoint.
We are told Christ fulfilled the Law on the cross but we also know that was not understood by the early Pentecostal saints for the most part, they held on to the Law with its traditions and rituals, they wanted religion. Another reason would be, if God was operating in Mercy or Grace or both? We need to decide who was given this justification outside of the Law of Moses? Paul proclaimed this in the synagogue of the Jews and in connection with the evangel of Jesus Christ. saying, “let it then be known to you, men, brethren, that through this One is being announced to you the pardon of sins, and from all from which you could not be justified in the law of Moses, in this One everyone who is believing is being justified.”
This of course would be in reference to the Jews who had been given that Mosaic Law centuries earlier. Gentiles were never in the Covenant relationship with Jehovah and so were not under the Mosaic Law but this also could be said in explanation that Gentiles being called in faith did not need the Mosaic Law to the frustration of the Law Keeping Jews who wanted them to be under its bondage. The Jews needed to understand this change, as we have seen Jews were used for the church Jesus began and Jews were also the first members called into the Body of Christ.
So I have to ask if those Jewish leaders had responded to Paul, or as some did ….were they then in the Body of Christ? I ask this because, I am under the impression that justification is one of the many spiritual blessings given for those in the Body of Christ? Ephesians 1:3-12 But Paul said it is given to those who are believing in Jesus as the Christ or that the Law was no more?
We know those called into the Body of Christ are given this justification of which only Paul spoke of and Yes, as we are learning, the first members called into the Body of Christ were Israelites or the sons of Israel or a Jew under Law. But we then need to ask, did the Pentecostal saints receive justification and again it does not seem so since we read that they were given a pardon of sins and as we learned a pardon can be revoked. Justification is a complete acquittal of all sin. Jesus gave an example of the revoking of a pardon at Matthew 18:23-35. Please read this account and then we will look at how A.E. Knoch explained the difference with acquittal and pardon in the Concordant Commentary.
Knoch makes another interesting statement in his commentary on Acts 13:38 “Those Pentecostal believers who had been forgiven like the ten thousand talent debt, yet refused to extend this blessing to the gentiles who owed much less, had their pardon revoked.” He continues to write about what Paul was saying concerning justification outside the Law.
Knoch continues…“Now, however, the apostle offers them more than pardon. Those who were pardoned still tried to keep the Law of Moses. (Acts 21:20) He promises an acquittal from their infractions of the law, on the ground of faith. Pardon takes guilt for granted. Justification or acquittal denies guilt. They mingle here for a moment, but in Paul’s epistles those who are justified are beyond the necessity of any pardon, for they are pronounced not guilty.”
So we ask the question were the saints in the bride church given justification outside the Law of Moses? Do we read anywhere that the Jewish saints in the church begun by Jesus….received it? It does not seem so, because we read that they must remain faithful or lose on their calling to rule and reign with Christ. We find James speaking of it…but in relation to their works at James 2:20-26.
Perhaps this is another clue as to why, the severing of Saul and Barnabus? Would they not need to be severed from Israel, her heritage, her Old Law Covenant with its rituals…and thus acquitted of Israel’s national sin in order to be a demonstration of Gods complete Grace which gives justification? Always remembering it is not because of anything they did or you and I do….but in Gods dispensation of Grace, justification is ours because we have been given the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
This is why we are said to be His body and He is said to be our head. That description is a figure of speech; the likening of a body with its head is used, to describe the new administration begun by Paul. That name, the body of Christ, denotes how intimately we belong to Him as we are part of Him and He is part of us. The head governs the body, knows every detail of the body and has control of its functions and thus, He directs our steps, our lives.
Justification is given in the grace dispensation because we are placed in Christ, Who has it! Thus if Paul’s severing signals the beginning of the heralding of his evangel with the calling in Grace, for a new administration with the benefit of being justified without works, because of that grace, would that mean the dispensation of Grace was also in operation? Perhaps not fully as of yet, a time of transition?
Returning to Paul’s long speech at Acts 13:42-45 which aroused some interest as we read, “Now, at their being out, (of the synagogue) they (the lay Jews) entreated that these declarations be spoken to them on the intervening Sabbath. Now the synagogue having broken up, many of the Jews and the reverent proselytes follow Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to remain in the grace of God. Now on the coming Sabbath almost the entire city was gathered to hear the word of the Lord, Yet the Jews, (the Jewish Leaders) perceiving the throngs are filled with jealousy and they contradicted the things spoken by Paul, blaspheming.”
What did that statement mean, to remain in the grace of God? Paul and Barnabus persuaded them to remain in the grace of God. I suspect that this means they shared the evangel of grace with the Jews and proselytes and helped them to understand the calling in grace to the new administration! Would this not mean that they then were discipled by Paul and Barnabus?
Paul addresses the Jewish leaders who were opposing them in the next verses, Acts 13:46,47 “Being bold, both Paul and Barnabas say, To you first was it necessary that the word of God be spoken. Yet since, in fact, you are thrusting it away, and are judging yourselves not worthy of eonian life lo, we are turning to the nations. For thus the Lord has directed us; I have appointed thee for a light of the nations; for Thee to be for salvation as far as the limits of the earth. Now on hearing this, the nations rejoiced and glorified the word of the Lord, and they believe, whoever were set for life eonian.” This statement of turning to the nations again was made long before it is said at Acts 28.
I also wondered…at the statement, the nations rejoiced….how could a nation rejoice? This of course has to be referring to some individuals in the crowd listening who were of the nations. Again with what we have learned in regard to this term used of the nations, couldn’t this mean either, the sons of Israel as well as the Gentiles?
This statement made by Paul to those Jewish Leaders was quoted from Isaiah 49:6 and also has some interesting things to consider. This chapter in Isaiah deals with the coming of their Messiah with Him personifying Israel. In other words as their redeemer…He redeems them in their unfaithfulness because of His faithfulness.
Lets read Verses 5-7 “And now, saith the LORD (Jehovah) that formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob again to Him, though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength.. And He said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be my Salvation unto the end of the earth.. Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and His Holy One, to Him Whom man despiseth, to Him Whom the nation abbhoreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship because of the LORD That is faithful and the Holy One of Israel, and He shall choose Thee.”
In this passage, Verse 6, which Paul quoted at Acts 13:46,47 used it as his authority in going to the nations after having first presented his evangel to the Jewish leaders. In this verse in the Hebrew, the word goyim is used for Gentiles or Nations, which indicates a separation of the nation of Israel from the other nations. What also is interesting is that Verse 7 speaks to the rejection of Israel of their redeemer, “Whom man despiseth, to Him Whom the nation abhorreth,”
According to Bullinger’s notes, “The Hebrew word used here for the nation is goi: i.e. a heathen nation. So called here for Israel’s unbelief and rejection of the Messiah.” So it was the nation of Israel which rejected or abhorreth their own messiah…Isaiah in prophecy speaks of them with the word “goi” given for a heathen nation. Isaiah was written before Israel was conquered by Babylon and when she entered her lo ammi condition. The entire chapter of Isaiah 49 foretells her rejection of their messiah and as we saw Israel is described as a heathen nation when she does that and so for me this is more proof, showing she was lo ammi when Jesus came and died.
In this passage of Isaiah, we have two examples of Israel’s lo ammi status, first with her being called Jacob which is the name of the rebel and describes Israel in her rebellious state and while she is lo ammi and also the reference to Israel as being goi a singular form for nation from Goyim, the plural for the heathen nations. Again, if as I believe Israel remained lo ammi when Jesus came and also was when Acts was enacted and written…then we see here a precedent given in Isaiah for Israel being goi, a heathen nation. And so while she is divorced she would be considered by God to be just one of the nations. In her lo ammi state she was also as a heathen nation.
And so, as we can see this term…going to the nations can mean going to the Gentiles, but as we have seen, the Jews in dispersion lived amongst those nations and if they are what is being referred to with that term…that means many of those from the 10 tribes scattered about are who Paul disciples.
It was the traditional Jews tied to Judaism having synagogues in the nations but outside of the land of Israel that Paul went to first, proclaiming to those Jewish leaders the evangel of Christ. Paul following the rule, to the Jew first, in each city in those nations, Gentile countries. That term covers a bigger area than to just mean going to the Gentiles as though Paul no loner discipled Jews or those called the sons of Israel. I think we are just scratching the surface of this subject…?
We have seen that the term going or turning to the nations has been for the most part wrongfully translated in the King James as, going or turning to the Gentiles which gave the Bible student the impression that Paul after he was severed went only to the true Gentiles which is not the case.
Okay, in this chapter of Acts 13….we have seen many new things denoting a change….the severing, (from Israel) being officially sent to the nations by the Holy Spirit. That announcement was made in the presence of prophets and teachers in Antioch who then laid hands on Saul and Barnabus and sent them out to follow that commission. In this chapter we also read of the first Gentile being discipled, Sergius Paul and that John’s baptism was not given him or at any other time after this for a Gentile.
We also read of Paul’s announcing of justification for those believing in Christ, outside the Law of Moses, being given by God and not earned, which means Grace was for the first time perhaps being understood or shown? For me these events are far more significant of a change taking place in Gods program with a turning away from Israel and turning to the nations that what we read happened in Acts 28!
In the next chapter, and at Acts 14:14 is the first time that we read of Paul being said to be an Apostle and the same applies with Barnabus. We had not ever read of the Apostles Saul or of Barnabus before this chapter. It is also important to remember they had been “severed by the Holy Spirit for a work.” Acts 13:1-3 “Sever, by all means, to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them”
What was the work? We know when Saul was struck blind on the road to Damascus, the Lord sent Ananias to go and heal Saul’s blindness and told him that He had a special work for Saul in Acts 9:15,16 “Go, for he is a choice instrument of Mine, to bear My name before both the nations and kings, besides the sons of Israel, for I shall be intimating to him how much he must be suffering for My names sake.”
In Acts 22:21 Paul relates another time the Lord spoke to him telling of his commission, “And He said to me, Go! For I shall be delegating you afar to the nations.” Also another time, when he was arrested in Jerusalem he tells of the Lord speaking to him again at Acts 23:11 “Now the ensuing night, standing by him, the Lord said, Courage! For as you certify to that which concerns Me in Jerusalem, thus you must testify in Rome also.”
In Acts 26:1-23 Paul tells King Agrippa of his life and education and then how he had persecuted the followers of Jesus and of His experience that day on the road to Damascus and then he tells him some of what the Lord said to him that day. “Now the Lord said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet, for I was seen by you for this, to fix upon you before for a deputy and a witness both of what you have perceived and that in which I will be seen by you, extricating you from the people and from the nations, to whom I am commissioning you…”
We have seen what his work or commission was to be, it was said, that he was to go to the sons of Israel, who are referred to in scripture as the or My or His People, usually capitalized in relation to their ammi status or because of His choosing them from all other peoples. So in this passage the Lord said He would be, extricating or taking him out from the people and from the nations, which I think means He promised he would be rescuing him, from his own Jewish people and from those of the nations, which would fight him and seek his death. The same Greek word, translated extricating is used in Acts 7:10 for delivered out of his afflictions.
We can refer to Paul’s own words which adds to why he was severed found at Romans 1:1 “Paul a slave of Christ Jesus, a called apostle severed for the evangel of God” It would be good here to review the different evangels spoken of in the scriptures and more specifically in Acts and the letters Paul wrote.
We read of The Evangel of God, The Evangel of Christ and My evangel. These are the three most used in Acts and Paul’s letters and of importance and they would be named differently for a reason. There are other evangels spoken of, the evangel of peace, the evangel of the uncircumcision which tie into Paul’s evangel. There is also the evangel of Peace, stated by Peter in Acts 10:36 and Paul in Ephesians 6:16.
The Evangel of God By the time Paul wrote this letter to the Romans, I feel he knew the secret of the Body of Christ as it is obvious in Acts 14 that Paul received revelations concerning it and Gods overall plan. And we read in the earlier letter to the Corinthians and Galatians Paul explaining what the Body of Christ consisted of and those in this body were equals.
Here is a list of scriptures which refer to the evangel of God, please pause here and take the time to read them. Acts 20:24. 2 Corinthians 11:7, Romans 15:16, 1 Thessalonians 1:15, 2:2,8,9, 1 Timothy 1:11 and 1 Peter 4:17.
At Romans 1:1 Paul had said he was severed for the evangel of God and that for the nations, acting as a priest of the evangel of God.” at Romans 15:16 but in Romans 15:19 Paul also states “he has completed the evangel of Christ. What would the differences be? I think we have to look at the words, severed, and completed. We know his work was not completed in regards to going to the nations and building and edifying the Body of Christ.
But he said he had completed the evangel of Christ, or fully heralded it is how it is said in the King James. Does this mean his heralding Christ as Israel’s messiah to the Jewish leaders was over? The Concordant says fulfilled, at Acts 19:21. Romans was written in the time frame of Acts 20, it is possible, this is the time frame for the closing of the Pentecostal era and that is what is meant by being fulfilled….in the aspect of what was required had been accomplished, the Jews had their witness.
Yet, in Acts 28, he does give a final witness to the Jewish leaders when he is in Rome he asks for them to come to him and he heralds Jesus to them but no signs were given? So I think it must mean he was completely heralding the evangel of Christ or fully heralded it where ever he went in his travels.
Now the other possibility is that, with his knowledge of the secrets given him by Christ, he fully understood what Christ accomplished on the cross. Not just for the Jew but for the Gentiles and in fact as he later teaches, the cross is for the whole creation. So could Paul have meant he was fully heralding the complete evangel of Christ, that for the earthly kingdom and that of the heavenly? We will discuss this in more depth at the end of this study.
When we read the context of Romans 15:19 and 20 it sounds like he wanted to head out into virgin territory? “Yet thus I am ambitious to be bringing the evangel where Christ is not named lest I may be building on another’s foundation, but, according as it is written, They who were not informed concerning Him shall see, And they who have not heard shall understand.” Paul quotes this from Isaiah 52:15, or was he saying that is what he had already been doing in his travels?
In relation to the evangel of God wouldn’t he be referring to his personal knowledge at the time he wrote the letter to the Roman ecclesia and by his use of that term, it contain both evangels, that for Israel and that for the Body of Christ because he totally understood both of them. Before his severing, that term was most likely only concerned with the then known evangel given to Israel. But it seems to me it is a general term covering both churches and both realms when Paul uses it.
His severing at Acts 13 and of which he speaks of at Romans 1:1 and took place in Antioch outside of Israel, where he and Barnabas had been for some time because these were where the Jews of the nations lived as well as a synagogue of the Jews. The letter to the Romans again estimated to be written about Acts 19,20. Always remember Saul was called outside of Israel. Spent most of his time outside of Israel and his commission and ministry was outside of Israel to go to the nations…called out of Israel…severed!
Paul also refers to the Evangel of Christ at 1 Corinthians 9:12, 2 Corinthians 2:12, 4:4, 9:13 and 10:14; Galatians 1:7; Philippians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 3:2 and 2 Thessalonians 1:8. Please read these on your own, but the one thing we can make note of…Paul still refers to this evangel after Acts has closed in the letters he writes and so what he said in Romans did not mean he was finished with the evangel of Christ. I think it does show us that this evangel is about Jesus Christ and is He not the basis for both groups of saints?
The evangel of God would encompass all that God does and will do with both groups of saints through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the foundation of His work. The revelations Paul received added to the previous knowledge of Gods Evangel and was new information for the Body of Christ and thus it was Paul’s work to share and teach those revelations to those called with him into the Body.
Paul also on occasion would say, My evangel. Likewise, Paul taught what he knew and what had been given to him by the glorified Christ for the Body of Christ since it was given to him solely from Christ, and he was severed from Israel’s expectation and made the Apostle to the nations, in other words for the Body of Christ as it’s members come out from all nations making up a joint body…would it not be entirely proper for him to refer it is as my evangel or the evangel I was given to dispense or bring to you. Romans 2:16, 16:25, and 2 Timothy 2:8
A big difference with Paul from those of the 12 Apostles is that he understood both evangels, they did not. With his understanding of the complete evangel or purpose of God, he alone would be qualified to minister to Jews within their evangel as well as to those who were called into the Body of Christ. He would have understood where they came from as well as where they were going in regards to Gods will for them. And as we have seen he did need to minister to Jews called out of Israel’s expectation into the Body of Christ. Now I also suspect, that the Jews in the nations had not responded to what they heard concerning Jesus until Paul proclaimed Him to them.
This would be especially so, if they were foreknown by God to be in the Body of Christ. Yet there were those of Paul’s own family, who had seen the risen Jesus and are said to be Paul’s followers and or apostles even. I have said this before and will repeat…Israelis expectation along with the Evangel proclaimed by the 12 is very multi faceted. I feel that far too long it has it been simplified.
And so we should be appreciating how much Israel or the Jews called out of Israel were tied to the foundation of the Body of Christ during Paul’s ministry. Christendom has kicked Israel’s expectation to the dust for centuries and gloried in that which is given Gentiles as the Body of Christ and yet not even truly understanding or presenting who we are in Christ with the spiritual blessings given this body.
So we have seen what the work to which Paul was called and later severed for and why it is logical that our answer as to what was Saul severed from, would be that which pertains to Israel’s evangel. Again what was Israel’s evangel; Paul refers to it is as the expectation of Israel. The nation was looking for their messiah and the restorations of their nations as a sovereign kingdom out from under Gentile domination. The followers of Jesus were looking for national repentance so that Jesus Christ would return to set up His kingdom and thereby rescue Israel from gentile domination.
Because, there were two elements in Israel; the believers in Jesus as their messiah and those who did not accept Jesus. The believers evangel was that Jesus Christ was their messiah, and that God had raised Him from the dead, repent and He will return and set up His kingdom. Once Saul was severed and becomes the Apostle Paul, he would no longer be part of Israel’s expectation or of the evangel for the Jewish saints heralding repentance needed for entrance into their earthly Kingdom.
And so, since we are told that he was severed for the evangel of God…that evangel must contain information not found in the evangels for Israel and thus would this not be telling us, he is now ready or free to teach his evangel, the secrets for and which were about the Body of Christ? I think so, as Paul was not an Apostle for Israel; he was made the Apostle for the Body of Christ a new administration.
So to sum this up, perhaps we can view it like this, I believe the evangel of God when referred to it by Paul would contain everything he knew about both the evangels, in other words God’s complete evangel for the Salvation of All, whether for the Jew or that for the nations. All that Paul knew and understood would be included with those words and if he knew the secret of the Body of Christ when he said, severed for the evangel of God it would be included. I do believe that he knew that particular secret as well as many others from at least Acts 14 when he was stoned and thought dead.
We are not told of every conversation that Paul had with Christ! Paul relates that incident of when he was stoned in 2 Corinthians 12 which tells of being taken to the third heaven and seeing the paradise earth. That was a vision given to him of the future obviously showing the future of both groups of saints, used by God for the Salvation of all and reconciliation of His universe. Israel will be in the paradise earth and the Body of Christ in heaven, each doing their reconciling work for God. Paul knew a lot if not all, when he wrote the letters to the Corinthians, the Galatians and the Romans.
What Paul was shown by Christ through the revelations he received were added to what he knew of Israel’s evangel and the knowledge of God’s evangel broadened. God’s work in Israel selecting Jewish saints for the Bride of the lambkin came to a halt at some point in time most likely with the death of the last apostle, which was John. Today when we refer to God’s evangel it is that which is for the Body of Christ, because Israel’s evangel is on hold.
But, in Paul’s day whether it was Peter or Paul who was teaching, it was Gods evangel as that title covers His revealed information for salvation. Peter taught what he knew and what had been given to him for the saints given to Jesus which will rule and reign with Him in the earthly kingdom. Paul was able to teach both; once he was severed his primary focus would be his evangel.
Both Peter and Paul were sent by Jesus Christ, but to minister to two separate groups of saints called by God with the two separate destinies. Peter was commissioned by Jesus before His death for the earthly and Paul commissioned after His death, about 7 years later, by the risen Glorified Christ, for the heavenly or celestial calling. So let’s now briefly review them.
Israel is the earthly sphere of Gods evangel which is of redemption through their messiah, His Son, Jesus Christ…Israel needed redemption and thus the messiah was promised to come, through repeated failure they were divorced and needed forgiveness, pardon of sin and redemption. God’s purpose for Israel in the future on this earth is that through them the families of the earth are to be blessed as promised to Abraham. When Israel is restored as a kingdom, with the 12 tribes reunited and returning to the land of Israel…God Prophetic Word will be fulfilled in her up to and following the Second Advent of Christ.
The Body of Christ is called in Grace, individuals are chosen by God from every nation, and they are given the indwelling spirit of Christ and the faith of Jesus Christ, enabling them to believe. These chosen ones are declared righteous and justified, acquitted from sin and offenses. God does the choosing, we do not decide to accept Christ, we recognize the truth of Who He is and what He did on the cross because we are first chosen by God and enabled to grasp spiritual things. They are not chosen for anything they have done to earn it but Grace is God’s complete unmerited favor or choice. Paul says we are God’s workmanship and it not by any of our own works.
We have nothing in of ourselves to boast in…we can only boast in Christ. Ephesians 2:4-10 “Yet God being rich in mercy, because of His vast love which He loves us (we also being dead to the offenses and the lusts), vivifies us together in Christ (in grace are you saved!) and rouses us together and seats us together among the celestials, in Christ Jesus, that in the oncoming eons, He should be displaying the transcendent riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ. For in grace through faith, are you saved, and this is not out of you it is Gods approach present, not of works, lest anyone should be boasting. For His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God makes ready before hand, that we should be walking in them.”
The Body of Christ was a new administration created in Christ because of His work on the cross. It is being used by God in total contrast to the Law Covenant given Israel with its promises which were dependant upon their faithfulness to Jehovah. The New administration is the opposite, created to demonstrate God’s mercy and Grace and Conciliation given by God not dependant on it’s faithfulness but on Gods. This new administration began because Israel is lo ammi to temporarily replace her as His People to reveal His Grace as a firstfruit of that same Grace eventual encompassing His entire Universe
The new administration is the Body of Christ called to and chosen for the heavenly sphere. This is Gods evangel completed and revealed to Paul to be a spiritual entity with God adding to its number while Israel is in her divorced status, of lo ammi, which the dispensation of Grace and the conciliation will reign during the interval of time between Israel’s past and her future. Just as Jesus said, Jerusalem was to be trodden down by the nations for a season. That lo ammi condition will continue for Israel until Christ calls the Body of Christ out of this world, the snatching away, to meet Him in the air, thus ending the grace dispensation and the time of conciliation for this world.
Then will be the time for God to turn His attention back to the unfinished business with Israel in preparation for the Second Advent of Christ. In the following eons God will through Christ reconcile all on the earth and all in the heavens until Himself just as Paul foretells at Colossians 1:18-20 “And He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be coming first, for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell, and through him to reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of his cross), through him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens..”
This then will be when Paul’s words also will be fulfilled given at 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 “Whenever He should be nullifying all sovereignty and all authority and power. For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy is being abolished death; For he subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him. Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.”
Let’s now take a journey through the four letters of 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, that Paul wrote during the time period between Acts 13 and Acts 28 . We are looking to see if we can find any more clues as to if he taught the secret hidden in God for the ages, which is the Body of Christ either in person or in those letters. I want us to watch for things said in them which may reflect what he teaches later in the prison epistles.