Everyone I read or hear challenges everybody else to “rightly divide the word” (2 Timothy 2:15.) This is good advice, but it is obvious that many of those who challenge others to “rightly divide” are not doing so themselves. How can I be sure of this? They all disagree. As someone once said, “We can’t all be right, but we can all be wrong.” It is interesting to note that some pertinent verses in scripture are very salient and some seem to be constantly ignored. Probably no other verse has helped me get things in perspective as 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.”
Paul had been assaulted by the Jews when he was in the Temple, charging him with bringing Gentiles into the Temple. As they went about to kill him (Acts 21:31) the Romans rescued him. When threats were made on Paul’s life, he was transported to Caesarea and held in custody. The Romans were perplexed; Paul had not broken any laws, but they didn’t want to offend the Jews (Acts 25:9.) In the middle of this, Paul, as a Roman citizen, appealed unto Caesar, and as a citizen, he must go before Caesar in Rome. In Rome, he called the Jewish leaders together and spoke to them about Jesus Christ. For the first time in his ministry, Paul received a kind of “ho-hum” response to his message. Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9-10, then added v. 28 above.
This became one of the greatest landmarks in the New Testament. Never had “salvation” been in the hands of the Gentiles. Since Abraham, salvation had been with the Jews.
“Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22
Be aware that we are not speaking of the gospel but salvation. The gospel was carried to the Gentiles by Peter in Acts 10 and from that time until Acts 28:28, it was always to the “Jew first” (Romans 1:16.) When Paul was rejected by the Jews in a city, he would turn to the Gentiles, but when he entered the next city, he went back to the Jew first (compare Acts 13:46 with Acts 14:1 and Acts 17:1-2.)
The nation of Israel was God’s chosen people to bring salvation to this world. There was not a time that a Gentile could not come and partake of God’s blessings in either Testament. Neither was there a time that the Jews were to evangelize the Gentiles. Jesus emphasized this:
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.” Matthew 10:5
In the Old Testament, Israel rejected God the Father. In the gospels, Israel rejected and crucified God the Son. In the Acts period, Israel rejected God the Holy Spirit. There were no more courts of appeal. Israel was to be a channel of blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:2-3,) but they became a container that grew stagnant. They became proud and haughty. Israel was set aside at Acts 28:28. The Gentiles have done no better and their time is drawing to a close. The promises of God to Israel have not been set aside and neither has the time of Jacob’s trouble. They are still in Israel’s future, but today Israel is without a complete religion. They have no priesthood and they have no altar.
For approximately 2000 years the Gentiles have been in control of God’s salvation. The Bible schools, the Bible based churches and ministries have been Gentiles driven. The Bible was printed and distributed by Gentiles. Things changed even in Paul’s writings before and after Acts 28:28. Paul wrote seven books before Acts 28:28 and seven books afterward. All other New Testament writers wrote during the Acts period, none after Acts 28:28. Tradition says John wrote Revelation and John in about 88-90 A.D. Space does not permit me to write about the date of Revelation other than to say it was probably written much earlier. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:1-5 with Revelation 10:4; you will again need to forget tradition and let the words say exactly what they are saying, not what someone wants them to say. If words mean anything, you will know that Paul is not speaking of himself in 2 Corinthians 12:1-5.
Look at some quick hits on the difference in Paul’s writings (and the others) before Acts 28:28 and after Acts 28:28. After Acts 28:28 Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Titus and 1-2 Timothy.
After Acts 28:28:
1. There is no laying on of hands for physical healing. (People got sick; some stayed sick; Philippians 2:25-30; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20)
2. There is no raising the dead, casting out demons or performing miracles. The gift of tongues is never mentioned again.
3. The gifts of ministry are changed and rearranged from 1 Corinthians 12:28 to Ephesians 4:11. You will note some gifts rated over others (1st, 2nd, 3rd) in the Corinth letter, with no such rating after Acts 28:28.
4. The image of saved is changed from a bride (female) to a man. Note 2 Corinthians 11:2 (the Jewish-Gentile church) with Ephesians 4:13 (Gentile-Jewish church.)
5. If you look at the “body” in 1 Corinthians 12 you will find parts of that body which “seem to be more feeble” (v. 22,) “less honorable” and having “uncomely parts” (v. 23.) Paul’s description of the Gentile church is found in Ephesians 5:27: “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
6. The “body” of 1 Corinthians 12 lists “ear,” “eye,” “smelling” and “the head” as all parts of the body. Ephesians 1:22-23 tells us that Christ is the Head of that body.
Paul admonished us to “study…rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15.) To divide means to separate. The one thing the Bible always teaches is separation.
Hope this gives you some food for thought.
Keep Looking Up!