Part 1 – Israel’s Crisis of Unbelief

This Article is part of a multi-part Study Series called Israel’s Acts 28 Crisis.

Since the great dividing line, the ‘turning point’ in Biblical earthly and heavenly history is at the end of the book of Acts, we here set forth some of the changes that did take place at that time and their bearing on God's plan and purpose for today’s age of “the dispensation of the grace of God.”

“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me [Paul] to you-ward [Gentiles, v1]: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery [secret]; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” Ephesians 3:2-4 (KJV)

It is not a question of when did the dispensation or administration of “the mystery” begin. There is no question about that. What matters is the sorting out of the things that pertain to a former administration and what belong to a present administration. This seems to be the great field of confusion. This great confusion among the various factions and divisions of Christendom has led to dimming the line of Paul’s words seen in the Acts 28:28 demarcation, many have lost sight of it.

In these days we hear a great deal about unity. Various segments of fractured Christendom are trying to get together again. They are trying to make a unity of their doctrinal divisions. But in Paul’s Ephesians 4:3 we have a unity that is already made and we are to keep it. Yet, men try to invent an artificial unity while rejecting the one unity that God has already created for us today. Man-made unities of 501(C)3 church organizations and independent groups are nearly always centered about the doctrinal and ceremonial observances such as THE LORD'S SUPPER and WATER BAPTISM and WORSHIP and some may add SPIRITUAL GIFTS. But the existing unity that is made without hands, which we are to “keep” has as its center the “ONE LORD.” Paul here says the external religious things that man highly esteems are now thrown out and that we ought not to let anyone judge us for separating ourselves from such religious ordinances.

16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat [dietary laws], or in drink [laws], or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days [of Israel]: Colossians 2:16 (KJV)

We today live under pure grace, having no dietary laws ceremonial observances, or special days. Paul wrote; “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14 (KJV). One day many of God's religious workmen are going to be throughly ashamed because they have not been diligent in “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

After the Acts 28 divide Paul admonished his grace believers as to how we ought to “rightly divide the Word of truth.” The main overarching issue in which religionist fail to rightly divide are with regard to dividing that which applies to “the kingdom” long promised to Israel and … that of the Gentile “church, which is His body.” Consider that Peter as “the Apostle to the circumcision [Israel]” was given the keys to “the kingdom,” not to today’s Pauline “church, which is His body(Eph. 1:22b-23a).

It may be that some have noticed that in the 6,000 years since Adam, there is a broad division of three parts; roughly 2,000 years of Gentile predominance, then 2,000 years of Israel's prominence, and now today almost 2,000 years of Gentile kingdoms again. The first 2,000 years takes the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Most of the rest of the Bible has to do with the second 2,000-year period where the Nation of Israel was on the scene. (You also may want to read about the “Four Biblical Eras” at: .)

During the second period we cannot fail to note that the Nation Israel, being set “above all people” (Exo. 19:5), had a profound influence upon the way God dealt with the nations (the Gentiles) with whom they came in contact. The promise made to Abraham and the special mission of Israel can explain this. We also note that histories of nations are not recorded where they had no contacts with Israel. In all the racial disputes in these days, it might be well to look back to Deuteronomy 32:8, where the God set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel. Evidently each nation had its own assigned place. And we can say so long as Israel is a nation, we have HISTORY.

The “times of the Gentiles” began when practically all the 12 tribes were taken out of the land into captivity. This time of the Gentiles is the times during which the streets of Jerusalem would be trod by foreigners or Gentiles. The image in Daniel 2 gives the scope. It began with the head of gold, Nebuchadnezzar, and ends with the 10 toes, whatever they may represent. They are yet to come. Could they be the 10 kings of the Moslem empire?

This period of time we now live in is an interval that is not recorded in prophecy. The length of this period of time is hinted at in Hosea 6:2, as the two days which may be 2,000 years (cf. 2Peter 3:8). But contrary to popular opinion, this period is not in the 70th week of Daniel 9:24.

We need to examine Israel's national position and how it is connected with the administration (dispensation) of “the mystery.” Between what we call the OT and the NT is an interval of several hundred years. It is a period of silence prophetically. No revelation is given to God's people during that time.

Men assume that the Old Testament is finished with Malachi and that the New Testament begins with the Gospels. But this is not true?

If you read Malachi, you will find that it is written to the Jews and that it announces the King and His kingdom. Go on into Matthew and you find the same people addressed and in the same land. The temple is there, they have the same law, and the same city is their beloved city. So what difference do we find between Malachi and Matthew?

Just this; Malachi says that the Messiah shall come, and Matthew says that the Messiah has come.

John the Baptist announced “the kingdom” being “at hand.” The Lord announced “the kingdom.” The 12 announced “the kingdom.” The 70 announced “the kingdom.” And all of them asked Israel to repent so as to be in readiness for that kingdom. It was “at hand.”

The Son of Abraham, the Son of David, Jesu, walked their streets and gave them the good news of the kingdom. They crucified Him and that was their answer to the good news. The nation of Israel will never see Him again till they “look upon Him Whom they pierced” (Zech. 12:10). Then they will receive Him.

But there is something else about the gospel preached in the time of the four gospels. It also had a message for the Gentiles. Christ as “the Seed” or Son of Abraham. And it was in Abraham's Seed that the nations (Gentiles) should be blessed. David's Son was to be the everlasting King of Israel. But there is a condition here.

Israel was called to be a channel of blessing to the Gentiles. But their unbelief and sins stood in the way. They never were able to accomplish that for which they were chosen. So their Messiah came to take away their sins so that they might be an able witness.

They had limited the many nations spoken of to Abraham and later one nation, and forgotten the very purpose for which they had been chosen as a nation. Even today they have not remembered this.

Today we find many teachers, in their over anxious zeal for Paul and what they call Pauline teaching, deny that Paul was to proclaim those things which he had seen (Acts 26:16). Some tell us that Paul never at any time preached concerning the kingdom, but in all his ministry taught the mystery. But, let us see what the Word says. For, in Romans 15:8 Paul speaks of the ministry of Christ as of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers of Israel. Right here it would be a good thing to go back and read how the promises were made in turn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What did these promises have to say? The next verse in Romans 15 starts to explain this point, “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to Thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto Thy name. This is a quotation from 2 Samuel 22:50 and Psalms 18:49. This is not the administration of “the mystery [secret].” For this was no secret, it was foretold.

Then the 10th verse goes on, And again he saith Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with His people. The Gentiles are to rejoice with His people, Israel. This is no secret as is quoted from Deuteronomy 32:43.

Verse 11 almost repeats the same thing, but is quoted from Psalms 117:1.

Now note verse 12. This is millennial, it is concerning the kingdom the hope of Israel. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in Him shall the Gentiles trust (hope). This is plainly the kingdom and Paul is talking about it. Romans is Paul's last epistle before Acts 28:28 and he is still proclaiming the kingdom!

We might go back and remind ourselves that in Matthew 10:5-15 the Lord instructs the disciples, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles ...but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This began to change when Peter was instructed to go to the house of Cornelius and Paul began to preach to the Gentiles in Antioch of Pisidia. But did this change mark the beginning of the church of the administration of “the mystery [secret]”? As we have seen above, this was no secret. Therefore the grafting in of Gentiles to partake of Israel's hope and blessings was no secret, neither was it THE SECRET of the Pauline “mystery.” If it were, then Peter was the one who first proclaimed it, not Paul. Think this over, and read it again.

Furthermore, this abrogation of the command of “GO NOT,” did not mark the beginning of “GO YE” in Matthew 28:19, for that is only to be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom when the Lord will be with the 12 in their ministry, even unto the end of the age.

The door of mercy was opened to the Gentiles at Acts 10 and nowhere else. At that point they were no longer dogs eating crumbs from the Children's table, but guests and partakers with Israel. They then could become children of Abraham by faith and be partakers of the promises. All of this had been foretold, so we must conclude that when the Gentiles could eat at Israel's table as guests, this was not ‘the dispensation [or administration] of the mystery.’

Wrong division has caused a great deal of confusion in Bible teaching today. The dividing of the Bible into the Old and New Testaments is an example of this wrong division. The New Testament or New Covenant with Israel and with Judah (Jeremiah 31:31) has never been in force yet. And the synoptic gospels can be seen to be a continuation of the OT. The historical events of John's gospel are likewise a continuation of the OT. Then Acts is a continuation of what the Lord began to do and to teach in the gospels (Acts 1:1-2). And if this be true, then we will have to add some books to Paul’s books that were written during the ministry recorded in Acts.

If the reader will see the truth of this above, he will find the answer to a lot of questions that otherwise will remain forever unanswered. And the proof that we speak is found in Hebrews 1:1-2, where we read, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” We know that the Son, the resurrected Lord Jesus, spoke while here on the earth, and He spoke also from heaven after His ascension.

And since the period covered by Acts was a continuation of what He both began to do and to teach while here in flesh, we cannot expect to find much that is new in Acts and in the epistles written during Acts. The numerous quotations from the OT prove this to be true. Even as late as Acts 26:22 Paul declared that he had not preached anything except what the prophets and Moses foretold. In Hebrews 8, Paul quotes from Jeremiah 31 concerning the New Covenant, and again in 10:16-17. Between these two you will find that “the new does not come in until the old has waxed old and is put away.” And where was the old put away? The Old was put away with Paul’s declaration of Acts 28:28?

Like all men in the flesh, Israel had to see the need of a Savior from sin before they could appreciate a kingdom of righteousness. This was the stumbling that blocked their progress.

So we read of the result of this in Matthew 12. In verse 6 we see One rejected who is greater than the temple. In verse 41 we see One rejected who was greater than the prophets. And in verse 42 we see the rejection of One greater than Solomon, yea, greater than any king of past, present, or future.

Then in this same chapter the King of Israel foretells the end of this wicked generation, repudiates even fleshly ties with His family and identifies Himself with those who will believe. Then begins in Matthew13 the mysteries of the kingdom, but not without a quotation from Isaiah 6:9-10 (Matthew 12:14,15). The “Mystery” begins where the history of Israel leaves off. And so it is with the parables of the kingdom, they have a future application. The 8 parables of Matthew 13 should be carefully studied in detail and in structure.

When the rejection is complete and Israel murders their King, the Lord's prayer on Calvary (“forgive them they know not what they do”) is answered and Israel is given another chance to repent.

But they failed, and so in Acts 28 Paul quotes for the last time Isaiah 6:9-10. 9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 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, and be healed. Isaiah 6:9-10 (KJV)

Israel passes off the scene and ‘the dispensation (administration) of the mystery” begins.