|THE DISPENSATIONAL POSITION OF THE BOOK OF THE "ACTS". This Is Appendix 181 From The Companion Bible.|
1. The original title of the Book
was probably simply "Acts" (praxeis),
as in Codex Sinaiticus
and there is no reason to doubt that it
owes its human authorship to Luke,
"the beloved physician" (Colossians
Tradition from very early times ascribes it to him.
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 III, chapter 4).
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.
In the Old Testament the offer was made by the
as Jehovah, through the prophets (Hebrews
and was rejected (compare Zechariah
etc.). In the Gospels the offer was renewed
in and by the
and was again rejected (Matthew
etc.). "Acts" records the
third and final presentation by the
and its final rejection by the Nation
etc.). 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.
3. The Structure
(page 1575 in The Companion Bible)
shows that the Book consists of two main divisions
(compare the Structures of Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc. in The Companion Bible),
each being divided in beautiful correspondence
(see detail Structures in The Companion Bible).
The FIRST portion, consisting of the first twelve chapters (after the introduction 1:1-5), concerns the "witness" (1:8) of the apostles in Jerusalem, Judaea, and Samaria (Appendix 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).
The SECOND division, that is to say, the last sixteen chapters, carries on the "witnessing" "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (compare 1:8; Colossians 1:23), Paul being the chief personage (Galatians 2:7). This division terminates with his imprisonment at Rome in A.D. 61 (Appendix 180). "Acts" was most probably published towards the end of that imprisonment, that is to say, A.D. 62-63.
The period covered by the entire Book is therefore as follows:
i. From Pentecost A.D. 29 to Passover (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 (4 × 8 = 32. Appendix 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, namely, from A.D. 29 to A.D. 69; that is, 40 years (Appendix 10). 4. The DISPENSATIONAL TEACHING OF "ACTS" is of profoundest import, and is significantly set forth by the Structures; compare also Appendix 180.
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; "unto you (Jews) first" (3:26), etc. Their subject was that Jesus ("the Nazarene") IS the Messiah; compare 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 (kerusso, Appendix 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", that is to say, Jesus as the Messiah.
There was no proclamation to Gentiles as such (see
The preaching of the Word was to the Jews only
and to the Gentile proselytes,
that the crucified "Nazarene",
Jesus, was in truth the Messiah (see Note on
The duration of this witnessing was about 15 years;
see above and
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" (huion te Israel,
His subject was
"Jesus and the resurrection"
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 Psalm
with which compare
and see Notes.
lasted the 15-16 years (see 3 above)
of the labours of Paul and those associated
with him till the imprisonment in
61. And to the Jew was given priority of hearing the message
(13:5, 14, 42, 43;
17:1, 10, 17;
18:4, 7, 19, 26;
5. Throughout the whole
period of the "Acts",
the witnessing was accompanied
by the miraculous gifts promised
5:5, 10, 15, 16;
8:6, 7, 13;
28:3-6, 8, 9.
At the close these gifts ceased,
as is plain from the significance of
68). See Appendix 180.
Thenceforward, the privilege of proclaiming and
etc.) was taken from the Jew,
and "the salvation of God"
(see Note on Isaiah
was "sent ¹
to the Gentiles"
The proclamation is now by
witnesses taken out from among
"all the Gentiles upon
whom My Name is called"
including of course the Jewish members of
6. Having now before us all the
"sequence of fact"
(compare also the Structure,
page 1575, in The Companion Bible and
we can trace
"the progress of doctrine",
the development of
in Acts, as well as in the complementary
"Church" Epistles of Paul,
and the limitations of the strictly Hebrew Epistles
and Introduction Notes to each).
Our Lord's words in John
are precious, and they are precise
(see Note in location).
The Gospels record what the Lord
"began to do and teach"
after His resurrection He continued
"speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom"
and after His Ascension the teaching is
carried on by the Holy Spirit,
the Spirit of the truth (John
14:16, 17, 26;
Who was to guide (lead on) into
"all the truth"
(see Notes, John
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".
(See the Notes on the Epistles,
Then it was,
at the commencement of this present interim
period during which
"blindness in part is happened to Israel"
that "the church which is His body"
began to be formed
"to the praise of the glory of His grace"
and Note on
As above stated,
and as the facts show,
this church did not
begin at Pentecost as is so
commonly taught and believed.
¹ Sent = sent away; Greek apostello. Implying the mission or commission employed, and the power and authority backing it. (Appendix 174. 1).