Part 2 – The Double Event of Acts 28:28
Really, if we are to appreciate the crisis at the end of Acts, we must have some idea of what was going on during Acts. What was the plan and purpose of God at that time? It is essential to know this.
If it had not been for the Lord's prayer at Calvary, we would not have the book of Acts. For at that time Israel would have been cut off. But that prayer was answered, and so Israel had another chance to accept the King and the kingdom. They had another opportunity to be the priestly nation they had been chosen to be (Exodus 19:6).
But if Israel had only confessed Christ as their Lord and believed in their heart that God raised Him from the dead, they would have escaped the fate that overtook them when The Roman General Titus took their city and burned their temple.
With that a double event happened in Acts which gives us some more insight as to the purpose of Israel and how that it will be worked out some day in the future. The Son of God descended and met Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road. And Saul, upon seeing the Lord, was converted (changed his mindset). And so it will be in that day when the Lord shall come again, that Israel shall be converted (Zechariah 12:10-14).
It can readily be seen by the metaphorical life of Paul what Israel was to do, and will do some day. They will be converted and then in turn will evangelize the nations (Gentiles). The gist of their message will be similar to that of John the Baptist, the Lord, the 12, and the 70. It will be concerning “the kingdom” to come on earth. And that is exactly what Paul proclaimed all throughout the Acts period, first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. This message to the Gentile believers in the Synagogues was Paul's special gospel, “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). At no time during Acts did Paul mention or know ‘the dispensation (administration) of the mystery [eternally planned secret].” That came later, after Acts.
Paul speaks of his typical ministry as one born out of due time. He said he was a type of those who would believe hereafter (referring to Israel in that day) “Howbeit for this cause I [Paul] obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” 1 Timothy 1:16 (KJV). Paul foreshadowed the work of the 12 and other overcomers who serve the Lord in the millennium, the great commission given to the 12 in Matthew 28:18-20.
Note Paul's argument in Romans 11:1 and verses following. Paul was a type (a metaphor) of the believing remnant of Israel at that time. He was saved, he was an Israelite, and so a type and pledge concerning those who believed at that time, as well as in a future time when Israel would finally believe. This was no mystery, but ‘kingdom’ truth.
Paul's ministry was a priestly ministry, even as Israel's will be some day. He speaks of the offering up of the Gentiles as being acceptable. This is in connection with Isaiah 61:6 where it says that Israel will be priests of the Lord. And back in Exodus 19, we saw that the nation was to be “a kingdom of priests.”
The gospel in Acts is concerns “the kingdom.” It is “to the Jew first.” But Israel rejected the King and His kingdom saying; “we will not have this man to reign over us.” (Luke 19:14b). Then Paul spoke of to the Gentiles to provoke Israel to bear fruit (cf. Rom. 11:11). This began with Peter in “the house of Cornelius.” But later, after Acts 28, the Jew ceased to be first. And that was an historic episode in world events, even till now. Then ‘the Salvation of God’ was ‘sent to the Gentiles.’
In Acts 20:24 Paul expresses the wish that he might finish his course with joy. In reading this chapter slowly, we discover that he is on his way to Jerusalem, not knowing what might befall him there. It is well that we examine very carefully his statements to the Ephesian elders where Paul sums up his ministry so far. It is connected with tears, temptations (trials), and the like. His message to the Jews and also to the Greeks was repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. This course he is about to finish is connected with proclaiming “the kingdom” of God, and since he is testifying of the grace of God, we are to know that this is a kingdom message, not the dispensation or administration of the mystery. And Paul further states that with regard to this kingdom message, he has not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. This is not claiming to declare the plan and purpose of God, but only God's counsel as to the kingdom. We dare not add to these words. Just leave it there.
So far at that time, Paul has known only one course which he is to run. That was to proclaim “the kingdom” to the dispersed of Israel, and then to Gentiles when Israel failed to take advantage of the message. This latter is “the gospel of the grace of God” (Act 20:24b). The apostle has been in the major centers of the world in which Jews have their synagogues (Rome excepted) and there is a reason that he should feel that his course was just about ended. He knows no further steps as yet during the Acts period.
It was no secret to Paul that Israel had been chosen as a priestly nation, a mediator between God and the nations (The Gentiles). He knew that Israel had failed so far in her mission because of her sins. He also knew that Christ came to save His people from their sins so that they could fulfill this mission. He was aware of the fact that the ministry of the Lord and of the 12 had failed to bring Israel to repentance so that this mission might be fulfilled. And now he is face to face with the fact that his own ministry among the dispersed of Israel has produced no change. So far, nothing has been revealed to any apostle as to what might take place if Israel failed and refused to witness to the nations. When we study Romans, we see some of the grief of the spirit of Paul as he sees his nation becoming a failure and the world in darkness.
It is no wonder then that Paul makes his last trip to Jerusalem with fear and trembling, not knowing what would befall him there. He has not been told what would be the outcome of Israel's failure to receive their Messiah. No doubt Satan is full of glee as he sees the nations deprived of a witness to the salvation that was of the Jews. The only plan so far revealed seems to be going to pieces and failing. It appears that the nations will be left in darkness and that the name of the Most High God will not be known by them. A great crisis is approaching.
Paul's trip to Rome was a further fellowship with the sufferings of Christ. Events on that seafaring trip may now appear as prophetic, the breaking up of the ship and the serpent dropped into the fire. But it is significant that when Paul left Jerusalem, that city lost its influence and importance in the world.
After Paul's arrest in the temple in Jerusalem, he was in prison at Caesarea 2 years. He appealed to Caesar and started out for Rome in the fall. It was not till spring that he arrived in Rome. So it was getting close to 3 years after leaving Jerusalem till the all-day conference with the Jewish leaders in Rome as recorded in Acts 28.
Now we are ready to make a more detailed study of Acts 28:23-31. This is the crisis toward which we have been traveling in this study.
Mr. Charles H. Welch made the discovery of the structure of this passage. So we make use of it.
A. Jews come to Paul’s lodging. The day.
B. Expounded the Kingdom of God.
C. Persuading concerning Jesus.
D. Out of Law and Prophets.
E. Morning till evening.
F. Agreed not.
G. Departed (sent away).
H. A Word of Holy Ghost.
I. Go unto this People.
J. They Hear ... and not understand.
K. Isa. 6:10 quoted.
J. They will hear.
I. Sent unto the Gentiles.
H. Salvation of God.
F. Great reasoning.
D. With all confidence (no Ref. to OT).
C. Teaches concerning Lord Jesus Christ.
B. Preaches Kingdom of God.
A. All come to hired house. Two years.
Many times in the past Paul had turned to the Gentile believers and preached to them in the synagogues when the Jews rejected his gospel. His gospel then was concerning the King and the kingdom, to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles. There was one difference in these two messages. He never told the Jews that they were absolved from the law. But he told the Gentiles that they were not to observe the law, but could partake of the good things of Israel upon the grounds of grace.
But here the Jew is forcefully brought face to face with the finality of the statement that the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles. This is the end of the kingdom gospel for Israel from that day to this.
Note that he argues from the Law and Prophets to the Jews, persuading them about Jesus (Jewish name). But later, when Gentiles and Jews come to his house, he teaches concerning the Lord Jesus Christ (a title by which the Gentiles know Him). This is not from the Law and Prophets, but by revelation Paul received directly from the Lord (Gal. 1:12).
The reader should study this structure and compare with the Scripture passage, noting the parallels and contrasts of the members.
Peter had opened the doors of the kingdom to the Jews at Pentecost, and later to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. But the rejection of the Jews was completed at Rome, and so Paul closed the doors of the Kingdom. “The Mystery [revelation of the secret]” now begins.
After the statement, The salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, the ministry of Paul was Teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ. He no longer had a Messianic witness. Instead of preaching another King than Caesar, Paul began to preach of an ascended Lord who is not only Head of “The Church, which is His Body,” but made “Head over all things in heaven and earth.”
The one body of an earthly people (Israel) has passed from the scene. Now there is “one body,” but made up of a heavenly people. God finished with the one body before taking up another one body. The line of demarcation is sharp and clear. The administration of promise ended abruptly, and the administration of the mystery began - silently, but surely. And no doubt it will end as silently and abruptly as it began.
Up to Acts 28:28 all things came about according to prophecy, in due season. Peter quoted the Scriptures freely at Pentecost. Likewise he could quote them when in the house of the Gentile, Cornelius. For it had been foretold that Gentiles would share in Israel's blessings. At the council in Jerusalem, it was agreed that Paul was right in preaching “the gospel of the kingdom” to Gentiles in the Synagogues. In his last epistle before the crisis, Paul in Romans spent some time in chapters 9, 10 and 11 showing how that his ministry among the Gentiles was according to the law and the prophets. It was no mystery hid from ages and generations. He was proclaiming the good news of the kingdom to Gentiles, that they could partake of the hope and blessings of Israel, but without having to keep Israel's ceremonial law.
Acts 28:31 tells us that Paul spoke with all confidence in his own hired house. When in prison he asks those at Ephesus to pray for him that he might speak boldly. This is the same word as confidence. He had a guard at his side day and night and the Jews could no longer annoy and persecute him.
Could the two whole years have any significance and connection with Hosea 6:2-3? Does it mean that there is to be a period of 2 days (2,000 years) after Acts 28:28 till Israel will be on the scene again? There are other references to 2 days that the reader may wish to look up.
Religious Tradition speaks of the book of Acts as the early history of the church. Those days are wrongly supposed to be the first days of the church, but note how often they are spoken of as “the last days.” Instead of being the first days of the church, they were the last days of the administration of promise. Note especially 1 John 2:18. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” 1 John 2:18 (KJV)
When Paul quoted Isaiah 6:10 the churches [Jewish assemblies) were finished and the church began. No longer was the word church used in the plural of assemblies here on earth, but it is the “one body” or ‘church seated in the heavens with Christ its Head.’
No longer could the Gentiles be called aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:12). That commonwealth ceased to be. No longer were the Gentiles strangers to the covenants of promise, for those covenants were no longer in effect. Israel has fallen and today is no longer God's people. At last the Gentiles take first place (far a time).
At last the first and eternal purpose of the God in Christ is revealed here.
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he [God the Father] might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him [Christ]:” Ephesians 1:10 (KJV)
(Adapted by Arthur Licursi from: https://believer.com/right-division/the-acts-28-crisis )