Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 6

We pick up our study through the book of Acts today in Acts 2 which deals with the day of Pentecost.

Chapter 2
VERSE 1: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. The day of Pentecost was the 50th day after the first day of the week after Passover, as instructed in Leviticus 23:15-16. This day was fully come only after seven sabbaths had passed, not counting the Sabbath immediately following Passover, but only those after the feast of firstfruits, which was always on a Sunday. I know that is a mouthful, but there it is.

Notice that they are all with one accord in one place. Acts 1:13 says that they were in an upper room when they chose Matthias; however, we are not told that they are still in the upper room here. The only insight as to where they were is found in verse 2, where we are told that they were in a house. Since few houses (then or now) would hold about a hundred and twenty people (see Acts 1:15), it could be that only the 12 were present in this particular house (though the traditional view says there were 120). I personally believe that only the Twelve were present for the following reasons: few houses can hold 120 people, let alone seated (v.2); if there were 120 of them, they were all Galileans according to v.7; and verse 14 speaks only of the Twelve. Of course, that is just my perspective and I don't plan on starting a church on it.

VERSES 2-3: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. These two verses give the physical description of the event, the next verse will give the spiritual description. Just as a side note, the word cloven means split or divided. Dr. Randy White points out that it is interesting that from the English language: in Old English cleave meant "to separate," while in Middle English, cleave had come to mean the exact opposite (as in Genesis 2:24).

VERSE 4: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. While we know that this event was both prophesied (cf. vv. 16-17) and phenomenal, we are not fully able to understand what it means to be filled with the Holy Ghost, at least not from this passage alone. We are able to tell that an additional occurrence, which is fully related, is that they began to speak with other tongues. In context, this is other human languages.

Interestingly, almost the entirety of Christendom will point to this verse as the birth of the church. However, that can not be drawn from the text at all. Instead of being the birth of the church, I submit to you that it was instead just an adding to the already existing kingdom church. Why do I say that? - Because this is not the first time that the Holy Spirit had been given to the apostles at all. In the Gospel of John, it says, Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Again, nothing in the verse implicitly says that this was the birth of the church. To do so is using eisegesis (reading into the text) instead of exegesis (drawing from the text). I also believe it will become more apparent as we make our way through Acts that the church of which you and I are a part was not born in these verses. The literal Kingdom was being offered and ultimately, refused which led to God raising up the Apostle Paul to take the Gospel of Grace to the Gentiles. 

Just a bit of backtracking here on my part. If you read the Gospels with the lens that says Jesus was creating a new spiritual Jerusalem as a new spiritual Moses, leading a new spiritual exodus to a new spiritual Kingdom, you will arrive at the church was born in Acts 2. However, if you will read the Gospels literally and stop spiritualizing the text, you will see that Jesus literally came to offer a literal Kingdom that was ultimately rejected and postponed, you can not arrive at the birth of the church in Acts 2. So, before you start regurgitating what you have been taught by your milder replacement theology friends, take the lenses off and read the text using proper exegesis. 


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 5

Before proceeding into chapter two, I think that it would be a good time to give a primer on Pentecost. Firstly, in my opinion, Pentecost has everything to do with the Kingdom and nothing to do with the Body of Christ. I say this because the Body of Christ could not have begun until the Kingdom had been officially been offered and rejected by the nation of Israel. For too long I believed that this was done in the Gospels. No, it wasn't. In the Gospels, the message was "repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7). Notice, it says, "at hand", not here, but at hand. It could not have been offered until the Messiah had been crucified (Hebrews 9:16-17). This is exactly what happened in the first several chapters of Acts. It was offered by Peter and was ultimately rejected at the stoning of Stephen. Afterward, the mystery of the Body of Christ was revealed to the Apostle Paul. 

Again, the Gospel of the Kingdom had to be rejected first. Paul explains it this way in Romans 11:28-32, "As concerning the gospel, they (Jews) are enemies for your (Gentiles) sakes: but as touching the election, they (Jews) are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye (Gentiles) in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their (Jews) unbelief: Even so have these (Jews) also now not believed, that through your (Gentiles) mercy they (Jews) also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them (Jews) all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." Pentecost was the beginning of the Jewish nation being "in unbelief". The NASB uses the phrase "shut up in disobedience". This had to happen before mercy could be extended to the Gentile.

However, with that said, God was not surprised by their rejection and already had a plan that involved the Gentiles. Paul says in this way in Romans 11:15, "For if the casting away of them (Jews) be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them (Jews) be, but life from the dead?" In other words, the casting away of the Jews meant the reconciliation of the world. That means that it was only by the setting aside of Israel that the rest of the world could be a recipient of God’s grace through Christ's crucifixion. Of course, it will also be the removal of the church through which Israel will be the recipient of God’s promises to Abraham.