There are two schools of thought in regard to the special revelation that God gave Paul regarding the Gentiles (Colossians 1:25-27.) There is a group of good, dedicated Christians who adhere to the Acts 13 position and there is another group of good, dedicated Christians who cling to the Acts 28 position. Having been in both groups at different times and having great respect for the leaders in both of these positions, I will list what I believe are the scriptural reasons I have selected one position over the other.
AFTER Acts 13:46, but BEFORE Acts 28:28:
- Worship in synagogues attended by Paul - Acts 14:1, 17:1, 10, 17, 18:4, 19, 26, 19:8. AFTER Acts 28:28 - none mentioned; only churches.
- Abraham, patriarch of Israel - mentioned 31 times. AFTER Acts 28:28 - no mention.
- Jacob, renamed "Israel" - Genesis 32:28 - mentioned 5 times. AFTER Acts 28:28 - no mention.
- Israel, as a nation - mentioned 21 times. AFTER Acts 28:28 - 1 time, Ephesians 2:12 - difference between Jew and Gentile.
- Paul continued to preach on the Sabbath - Acts 15:21, 16:13, 17:2, 18:4. AFTER Acts 28:28, "sabbath days" are mentioned in a negative manner.
- Paul continued his ministry to the synagogues - Acts 14:1, 17:2, 18:4, 19:8. AFTER Acts 28:28 - no mention.
- Paul endorsed and delivered four commandments to Gentiles - Acts 15:20, 28-29, 16:4. AFTER Acts 28:28 - never mentioned.
- Paul endorsed and performed baptisms - Acts 16:15, 33, 18:8. AFTER Acts 28:28 - never mentioned.
- Gift of tongues, miracles and healing still operative - Acts 14:10, 19:6, 11, 28:8-9. AFTER Acts 28:28 - no spiritual gifts of any kind mentioned. Paul left friends sick (Philippians 2:26-30; 2 Timothy 4:20.)
- Paul kept Jewish feasts (18:21) and practiced Judaism by taking vows and shaving his head (18:19, 21:23-26.) AFTER Acts 28:28 - no mention.
- Paul handled snakes as per Mark 16:18 (Acts 28:5.) AFTER Acts 28:28 - no mention.
- Paul taught nothing new to the Jews at Rome, no mention of the mystery (Acts 28:20,23.) The "mystery" mentioned in Romans 16:25 must refer to the one he spoke of in Romans 11:12-25. The "wild olive tree" (Gentile) is grafted into "olive tree" (Israel.) The Gentile is still dependent upon Israel. This is the new covenant that Christ, Israel's Lamb and High Priest brought to Israel through His death, burial and resurrection. It does not make sense that Paul would explain a "mystery" regarding an olive tree and then refer to an entirely different one pertaining to Christ's body (Ephesians 1:22-23.) The Jew was still first (Romans 1:16; 3:1-2; 9:1-5; 11:12-25.)
- The saved are compared as unto a human body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) and a bride (2 Corinthians 11:2.) AFTER Acts 28:28, the saved are described as Christ's body, masculine, not bride. Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:13.
- Gifts are different in their importance in the New Covenant (1 Corinthians 12:28-31.) AFTER Acts 28:28, there are less gifts and all are equal in importance (Ephesians 4:11-12.)
By beginning "the mystery" at Acts 13 one must co-mingle the new covenant and the body of Christ; there is no clear distinction between the church which is His bride and the church which is His body. The Acts 13 position allows the gifts of the Spirit to still be operative today, the Acts 28 position does not. The Acts 13 position gives little room for the new covenant, while the Acts 28 position lets the new covenant have its run and is concluded in Acts 28:28.