THE DISPENSATIONAL POSITION OF THE BOOK OF THE “ACTS”

1. The original title of the Book was probably quite simply “Acts” (praxeis), as in Codex Sinaiticus http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/en/

and there is no reason to doubt that it owes its human authorship to Luke, “the beloved physician”

 

Colossians 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

 

2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

Crescens: He is not mentioned elsewhere; and perhaps had gone to GALATIA at his own instance and with the apostle’s consent. The same may be said of Titus. There is no condemnation of them, as of Demas, just that they are not said to have been sent, as Tychicus was.

 

Acts 2:27 Because Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.

Leave = forsake or abandon. Always translated “forsake” except here and Romans 9:29.

Holy one = mostly as rendering of Hebrew hā īd and means grace, or favour.

Tradition from very early times ascribes it to him. Eusebius (fl A.D. 300) in his Ecclesiastical History says, “Luke…a physician has left us two inspired books…one of these is his gospel…The other is his acts of the apostles which he composed not from what he had heard from others (like his gospel), but from what he had seen himself” (Book 111 chapter 4). http://www.founders.org/library/dagg_vol1/bk7c3.html

 

2. The Book is a record of the “Acts” of the Holy Spirit through “witnesses chosen before of God”. during the period of the final offer to the children of Israel of national restoration and blessing, on condition of national repentance and obedience.

 

Acts 10:41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.

 

In the O.T. the offer was made by the FATHER, as Jehovah, through the prophets and was rejected. In the Gospels the offer was renewed in and by the SON, and was again rejected.

 

Hebrews 1:1God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.

 

cP Zech 7:12-14

12. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in His spirit by the former prophets.

13. Therefore it is come to pass, that as He cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts.

14. But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not, Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

 

Matthew 23: 37- 39

37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.

Jerusalem: note the emphasis for the inhabitants.

38. Behold your house is left unto you desolate.

Your House: Very emphatic. At the beginning of the Lord’s ministry it was “My Father’s house”:

John 2:16

But at the end, after His rejection, it was “your house”.

House: i.e. the Temple, where He was speaking.

Desolate: Every “house and every place is desolate” where Christ is not.

39. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, “Blessed is He That cometh in the name of the LORD.”

Till: with an implying uncertainty. The not seeing was certain.

 

“Acts” records the third and final presentation by the HOLY SPIRIT, and its final rejection by the Nation. Of these “chosen witnesses” no mention is made of “works” done by any save those through Peter and John of the Twelve, and later those through Paul.

 

Acts 28: 25-28

25. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the the prophet unto our father,

26. Saying, “Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

27. 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.

28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.

Who are the Gentiles?

The term Gentile (from Latin gentilis, by the French "gentil", female: "gentille", meaning of or belonging to a clan or tribe) is used by English translators for the general implication of the word “Gentile” became to mean "non-Jew".

http://www.godsplan.org.uk/housesofisrael.htm

It is so important to understand the term Gentile; and more importantly to understand who it concerns, as well as the benefits of Salvation which will be bestowed on us by God Himself (Acts 28:28) [follow the link above].

 

3. The structure (page 1575) indicates that the Book consists of two main divisions (cP the structures of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, &c), each being divided into beautiful correspondence (see detail structures).

1.      The First portion, consisting of the first twelve chapters (after the introduction Acts 1:1-5), concerns the “witness” (Acts 1:8) of the apostles in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria (Ap 180). Peter the apostle of “the circumcision” (Galatians 2:7), is the central figure, and this section ends with his imprisonment at Jerusalem (A.D 44).

2.      The Second division, i.e. the last sixteen chapters, carries on the “witnessing” “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (cP 1:8; Colossians 1:33), Paul being the chief personage (Gal 2:7), This division terminates with his imprisonment at Rome in A.D 61 (Ap180). “Acts” was most probably published towards the end of that imprisonment. i.e. A.D. 62 - 63. The period covered by the entire Book  is therefore as follows:

 

i. From Pentecost A.D. 29 to Passover (Acts 12:3-4) A.D. 44.

ii. From Pentecost (/) A.D. 46 to A.D 61.

 

Consecutively, from A.D. 29 to A.D 61 = 32 years.  (4x8=32. 10) This must not be confounded with the whole period between the Crucifixion, the climax of the national rejection of the Lord as Messiah, and the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, viz, from A.D 29 to A.D. 69; that is 40 years

 

4. THE DISPENSATIONAL TEACHING OF “ACTS” is of profoundest importance and is significantly set forth by the Structures; In the earlier section, the “witnessing” of the Twelve, as recorded from 2.5 to the end of chapter 12, was to “Jews and proselytes” 2:10 alone (proselyte: as used in the Greek Old Testament for "stranger"), “unto you (Jews) first”(3:26) &c. Their subject was that Jesus (“the Nazarene”) is the Messiah; cP Acts 2:31,36; 3:18-20; 4:10,26; 5:42; 8:5,37; (see note) 9:20-22; At Damascus after his “Conversion”, Saul (Paul) “preached (kērussō) Ap 121.1) Jesus (see note on 9:20)in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God”, and proved “that this is very Christ”, i.e. Jesus as the Messiah. There was no proclamation to Gentiles as such (see 11:3). The preaching of the word was to the Jews only. (11:19), and to the Gentile proselytes, that the crucified “Nazarene”, Jesus, was in truth the Messiah (see Note on 10:48). The duration of this witnessing was about 15 years; The second part of “Acts” records the apostleship of Paul, and his “witnessing”, which was to Jews and Gentiles alike. He was the “chosen vessel” separated by the Holy Spirit “to bear My name before Gentiles and Kings, and sons of Israel”

(huiōn te Israel, 9:15) His subject was “Jesus and the resurrection” (17:18). Not, be it marked,  Jesus as Messiah, but Jesus (Saviour-God), raised from among the dead, and made the federal head of a new race of beings by resurrection, as announced in ;

 

Psalms 2:7 I will declare the decree:

                 The LORD hath said unto Me, “Thou art

                 My Son;

                 This day have I begotten Thee.  

 

With which compare Acts 13: 32-39, and see Notes. This “witnessing” lasted the 15-16 years of the labours of Paul and those associated with him until the imprisonment in A.D.61 And to the Jews was given priority of hearing the message (13 5, 14, 42, 43,; 14.1; 17.1, 10, 17; 18.4, 7,19, 26; 19.8)

 

Acts 13: 32-39

32. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

Declare unto you glad tidings = tell you good news.

33. God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that He hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, `Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.’

In that He hath…again = having raised up.

It is also &c = It has been written in the second Psalm also. see Psalm 2:7 above.

Begotten Thee = brought Thee to the birth, i.e. in resurrection.

34. And as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, He said on this wise, `I will give you the sure mercies of David.’

Corruption: see note on 2;27. Here corruption means the place of corruption, i.e. the grave, for He did not see corruption and therefore could not return to it.

Acts 2:27 notes, leave, forsake or abandon.

The sure mercies = are the promises faithfully kept by the Almighty.

35. Wherefore He saith also in another Psalm, `Thou shalt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption:’

The reference is;

Psalm 16:10 For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; Neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.

36. For David after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.

37. But He, Whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

38. Be it known unto therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto the forgiveness of sins.:

39. And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

 

5. Throughout the whole period of the “Acts”, the witnessing was accompanied by the miraculous gifts promised;

 

Mark 16:17-18

17. And these signs shalt follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

 

At the close these gifts ceased, as is plain from the significance of other chapters &c. One being 1Tim 5:23.

 

1Timothy 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

 

Thenceforward,  the privilege of proclaiming and “witnessing” was taken from the Jew, and “the Salvation of God” (see note on Isa 49:6) was “sent to the Gentiles”

 

Isa 43:10 “Ye are My witnesses,” saith the LORD, “and My servant Whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no GOD formed, neither shall there be after Me.

Saith the LORD = Jehovah’s oracle.

My Servant = Israel. Three are so called in this book:

1.      David (here)

2.      Israel or Jacob (the nation)

3.      Messiah.

 

Acts 28:28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the gentiles, and that they will hear it.”

 

The proclamation is now by witnesses taken out from among “all the Gentiles among whom My name is called” (15:17), including of course the Jewish members of “the body”.

 

6. Having now before us all the “sequence of fact”, we can trace the “the progress o9f doctrine”, the development of dispensational teaching in Acts, as well as in the complementary “Church” Epistles of Paul, and the limitations of the strictly Hebrew Epistles (Ap 180 and introduced Notes to each). Our Lord’s words in (John 16:12-13) are precious, and they are precise. (see Notes in location).

 

John 16:12-13.

12. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

13. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.

All TRUTH = all the truth necessary for His people from Ascension to Decension; the truth concerning the Pentecostal Church, the blessed hope of His return, and the mystery or secret of the Body of Christ, yet to be revealed to Paul.

The Gospels record what the Lord “began to do and teach” (1:1) after His resurrection He continued “speaking of things pertaining to the Kingdom” (Ap112); and after His ascension the teaching is carried on by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the TRUTH. (John 14.16, 17, 26: 15,26) Who was to guide (lead on) into “all the truth”.

During the “Acts” period, believers were guided into much truth, truth in advance of what had previously been revealed. They were instructed in much that they had been unable “to bear” before the coming of the Holy Spirit to instruct them. But not even yet had they been guided into “all the truth”.

This was reserved, and not permitted to be revealed, until the public proclaiming of “the Kingdom” had ended after the close of the “Acts”. Then it was, at the  commencement of this present interim period during which “blindness in part had happened to Israel”  that the “church which is His body”, began to be formed” to the praise of the glory of His grace” as above stated, and as the facts show, this church did not begin at Pentecost as is so commonly taught and believed.

 

Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Fulness: That is the fulness of times when the full number of Acts 15: 17 is completed.

 

Acts 15: 17 `That the residue of men might seek after the LORD, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called,’ saith the LORD, `Who doeth all these things.’

The residue = the faithful remnant.

Men: Greek anthrōpos Ap 123.1 the Hebrew would be ādām, while the A.V. text of Amos 9:12 is Edom (Hebrew ēdōm), but the consonants are the same, and the only difference is in the pointing. That ādām, not Edom, is right can hardly be questioned, or James would not have used it.

Seek After = earnestly seek.

All the Gentiles the Gentiles take the second place.

Who doeth &c. Most of the texts read, “Who maketh these things known from the beginning of the world.”

Zechariah 8:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; `In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take holdout of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, “ We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”

The fulfilment of this is still future.

You: I.e. with God’s, people Israel.

1 Peter 1:10 &c Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.

cP Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the gentiles be fulfilled.

Led away captive. Josephus speaks of 1,100,000 slain and 97,000taken away to Egyptian mines and elsewhere (Bell. lud. vi.9).

Trodden down: Not the future tense of the verb (pateō), but the future of the verb “to be”, with the Passive. Part. of pateō = shall be and remain trodden down, in a way that it had never been before. The reference is to the Mohammadan possession since A.D. 636 in succession to the “fourth” or Roman possession

Dan 2:40 notes: The fourth: i.e. Rome. Observe that it does not say there were “four and no more”, as alleged; but “the fourth”. The fifth is revealed in

Dan 3:41-43. The power which was to succeed Rome in the possession of Jerusalem was to be the Mohammedan power, which was still future when our Lord referred to it in Luke 21:24 (above); but the Lord does not name it, because the condition of Acts 3:18-26 could not be anticipated, assumed, or forestalled.

Until, &c. So that a day is coming when the nations will cease to tread it down, and it will be possessed by its rightful owner—Israel.

cP Isaiah 59:20 And the redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.

The Redeemer: = a Redeemer i.e. the Messiah. Quoted in Rom 11:26-27, showing that the fullness of the Gentiles, must be the fullness of the Gentile times.

Ephesians 1:22-23

22.  And hath put all things under His feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.

23.  Which is His body, the fulness of him That filleth all in all.

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of His grace, whereas He hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Notes on Ephesians 1: 15-14 Wherefore on account of this, a pledge; the gift of the new nature (Spirit) is a pledge of God’s future gifts in the same kind, thus differing from any ordinary pledge.

2 Corinthians 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

A foretaste or pledge of some future benefit.

1 Peter 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.

 

Amen.