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Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

- Acts

by A.E. Knoch


The Acts is a continuation of Luke's Account. No longer does the Son of Mankind Himself make known the evangel, but by the Spirit of God through His apostles. He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they are not aware what they are doing." Thus the unbelieving nation once more hears the evangel of the kingdom, enforced by His resurrection from the dead. Israel had rejected Jehovah under the law. They rejected their Messiah when He came in mercy. Acts is a record of their rejection of the spirit of grace which lingers over them until blindness overtakes them for the eon. It begins with the descent of the spirit. It traces the rejection of the spirit. It ends with the spirit's repudiation of Israel. In the beginning, Peter unlocks the door of the kingdom for the Jews; at the close, Paul, in Rome, shuts the door of the kingdom and locks up Israel in obstinacy. This treatise is transitional. From the first extreme where the nations seem to have no place at all, it leads us on until we arrive at the opposite, where the Jew loses his priority. It is a record of Israel's response to the renewed proclamation of pardon, and chronicles their apostasy and their gradual rejection. But it also records God's answer to their defection,

so that He, instead of being balked in His purpose to bless the other nations, makes their apostasy the basis of a much greater and grander grace than the nations could have experienced if Israel had not apostatized. There is no definite statement of this, for the subject of the book forbids it, yet all the symptoms of the present grace will be found, and each symptom follows a crisis in the apostasy of the chosen nation. In reading Acts let us remember that God is concerned with the kingdom to Israel, yet all the while He is making room for that distinct display of grace which we enjoy and which is fully expounded in Paul's epistles, most of which were written during this interregnum. This account is a series of acts and counteracts. Jerusalem's stoning of Stephen is followed by the introduction of Saul of Tarsus. The persecution in Judea and Samaria is followed by his call on the Damascus road. The murder of James is succeeded by the severance of Saul. When the Jerusalem believers try to kill Paul, he is sent to Rome, where the nation of Israel is set aside and the salvation of God is sent to all the nations. Peter appears prominently in the first parts of Act_2:1 - Act_12:24 , but Paul replaces him in the latter portion. All that Peter did was more than matched by Paul. Every miracle the chief of the Circumcision apostles wrought was eclipsed by a similar sign, greater in glory and grace. No truth characteristic of the present actually appears on the pages of Acts. Yet the distinctive doctrines we enjoy did not fall from heaven like a meteor; they gradually rose to view like the sun. In Acts we see their early refracted light before they appear above the horizon. Justification of a kind is preached at Pisidian Antioch, conciliation becomes clear as the evangel reaches the nations through Jewish opposition, and the way is opened for the celestial secret of Paul's prison epistles by the public repudiation of Israel in Rome. The ministries of Paul, as recorded in Acts, bring us up to, but never into, present truth. That is found alone in his epistles. This transitional era, from our Lord's crucifixion to the full establishment of the present secret economy, was marked by a series of changes in dispensation and administration. It is of prime importance that we understand the trend and character of these dispensational divisions, so that we may intelligently follow the inauguration of the economy or administration which is in force today.

These changes may be viewed from two entirely different standpoints. In the book of Acts they mark the steps which led to the rejection of the kingdom by Israel and of Israel by God. In Paul's epistles the same crises are seen as they prepare for the introduction of the present administration. The trend of truth is continually away from the earthly and physical to the celestial and spiritual. The accompanying outline [omitted] suggests the steps in Israel's defection and the gradual reception of the nations into blessing. One line is associated with the ministries of the twelve, the other with the apostle Paul. The two lines overlap. Paul is introduced immediately after the murder of Stephen by Jerusalem and each successive lapse of Israel is followed by adding another step in the course which culminated in the revelation of the present secret economy when he became a prisoner in Rome. Paul's ministries keep pace with each phase of Israel's apostasy. Their unrighteousness is offset by faith righteousness as proclaimed at Pisidian Antioch. When their folly and poverty are manifest, he proclaims God's wisdom and wealth in Corinth, the commercial capital of the day. When their priestly functions fail, he goes to Ephesus, the religious center of the gentile world, and reveals the conciliation. Finally, when the promise of political supremacy is taken from them, Paul is in Rome, the world's political capital, and there he proclaims a new economy based on their political repudiation. According to the prophets of old, all blessing for the nations is through and with the nation of Israel. So it will be in the kingdom. The distinctive truths of the present secret economy are based on the opposite of this. They follow Israel's failure and apostasy. So far as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures, in the accounts of our Lord, and in the Circumcision epistles, there is no basis for blessing at all now, for Israel is the only channel that they know. The book of Acts fills the chasm between the kingdom economy and the present and traces the many steps which lead up to the blessing of the nations during this period, while Israel is thrust aside. It prepares the devout student of previous revelation for the astounding declaration with which it closes, that the salvation of God is to be sent directly to the nations, apart from Israel's mediacy, and that the nations will hear it. Throughout the Acts the nations are treated as subjects of the kingdom and subordinate to the Jewish nation. This is the case even in Paul's early epistles. The nations were debtors to Israel ( Rom_15:27 ). But Israel's blessing waits until the fullness of the nations has come in (Ro.11), and when the apostle reveals the great secret that those under Paul's ministry are to be joint enjoyers of a celestial allotment, and a joint body and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus ( Eph_3:6 ), the entire kingdom economy vanishes and a new, secret economy takes its place. The great confusion among the saints today will vanish to a large extent if they will recognize the transitional, kingdom character of Acts, and draw their doctrine from Paul's epistles, especially those written at its close, before which the present secret administration was not revealed, and its doctrines were undeveloped, while God lingered over His ancient and beloved people Israel.



The Rejection of Israel

Testimony in Jerusalem Act_2-7:60

Judea and Samaria Act_8:4-40

The Limits of the Land Act_9:31 - Act_11:30

Decrees Issued for the Nations Act_15:1-29

Persecution of Paul Act_21:20 - Act_25:11

Israel is Thrust Aside Act_28:25-28

The Reception of the Nations

Saul Introduced Act_8:1-8

Saul Called Act_9:1-31

Saul Separated by the Spirit Act_13:2

Paul Repudiates the Physical Act_19:21 ; 2Co_5:16

Reveals the Secret Eph_3:9

Dispensation Pardon for Repentence and Baptism Justification Conciliation Celestial Glory


Christ Crucified Act_1:3

Stephen Stoned Act_7:38

Disciples Scattered Act_8:1

James Killed Act_12:2

Paul Stoned at Lystra Act_14:29

Paul about to be Killed Act_21:31

Paul Imprisoned in Rome Act_28:16-31

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