Sunday, May 10, 2020

Acts Study | Session 14 | 5:34-42

Today we pick up our study in Acts 5:34-42 and take an even closer look at the difference between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace. We also take a bit of detour in an attempt to understand when Paul first heard the Gospel of Grace and what that meant for him and us.

VERSES 34-35: Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. Who was Gamaliel? Not that much is known of him, but we do know that he was Paul's teacher according to Acts 22:3. Why also know that he was a highly respected Rabbi because he had been given the prestigious title of Rabban which only seven other rabbis ever received in Israel's history.

VERSES 36-39: For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. (37)  After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. (38)  And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: (39)  But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. Gamaliel goes on to give examples of leaders who had rose up in the past and how they and their causes failed. He also ended with a warning that they did not want to be found in the end fighting against God.

This reminds me fo the promise that Paul gave in Romans 8:32 when he said, What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? In the end, no matter how it turns out, we win!

VERSE 40: And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. They were told a second time that they were not to speak in the name of Jesus. Notice, they were not told to not teach the death, burial, and resurrection, but in the name of Jesus. They only preached the name. Why? No one could deny the resurrection at this point. Jerusalem was filled with eyewitnesses to all of it. The Gospel of the Kingdom was still being preached at this point and would continue until the mystery was revealed to Paul.

Our Gospel (Rabbit Trail)
I am amazed that when I point out the obvious difference between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace, they get all befuddled and even defensive. Why? It is so obvious! 1Cor 15:1-4 tells us that the Gospel that saves us is a belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. This could not have been taught in the Gospels because it hadn't happened yet. What is so hard to understand about that? Again, what was bad news to the Jew was good news to the Gentile. Romans 1:16 tells us that it is obtained simply by faith/belief with no works required. 1Cor 1:18 tells us that that faith is in the completed work of Christ on the cross. Also, compare 1 Cor 1:23-24. Furthermore, Eph 2:1; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 2:11-13 tells us that no works are necessary under the Gospel of Grace at all. Only belief. That is our Gospel that Paul referred to in 1Co 15:1-4! Why would he say our Gospel?

With that said, the next obvious conclusion, at least in my journey, was that the church could not have started at Pentecost (33AD) because our Gospel was not even made known until after the conversion of Paul to whom it was first given. As a matter of fact, I believe that Paul was the first convert into the Body of Christ. After all, he was the first to hear and receive the Gospel of Grace! I mean think about it!

1Tim 1:15-16 tells us that Paul was the first of many who would follow the same pattern. He was the original, the first, of how the rest of us were to be saved! Note the word hereafter. That means from this point forward or to be about to be in Greek. Everyone who comes into the Body of Christ comes in after Paul and in the same way by faith. Note that the next word after hereafter which is believe. Not repent and be baptized like the Gospel of the Kingdom. Just believe.

Another point, the word Christian is not even found in the Bible until Acts 11:26 at Antioch in 42AD which was a Gentile assembly, not in Acts 2.

When did Paul hear about this Gospel of Grace? Was it in Arabia as recorded in Gal 1:1-17? Afterward, he did go to Jerusalem to see Peter and even stayed there fifteen days (Gal 1:18), but v.19 makes it clear that, other than Peter, he saw no one else but James, so this could not have been the Council of Acts 15 when the other apostles were present. Or did Paul hear the Gospel of Grace it during the fourteen years before he returned to Jerusalem for the council in 52AD (Gal 2:1-9)?

Not sure. At least it is still a subject of study for me, so I am not going to hypothesize at this point. Either way, he received it at some point and was the first convert under our Gospel.

Side Note: 2Cor12:7 was apparently when it happened and that was around 46AD. How that all fits? Still working on it. I believe that one of the mistakes we make when we read the book of Acts is thinking that it all happened about the same time. It didn't. The first chapter was in 33AD and the last in 63AD. That's thirty years! Another illustration of that is that Paul was converted in 34AD and the counsel was not until at least 52AD. That is nineteen years!

VERSES 41-42: And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (42)  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Instead of being bitter about the whole thing, they counted it an honor to suffer shame for his name. Also, notice that they continued daily in the temple. The Temple was still fully operational and the center of Jewish life. Nothing had changed in that regard at all.

When we get to Paul, we will find that other than a vow that he took to reach the Jewish nation, he had nothing to do with the Temple. He doesn't tell the new converts that they have to go to Jerusalem at all. Instead, fellowships are started in homes. In reality, the entire concept of a building as a meeting place was foreign to the early church. The big buildings we meet in today are simply throwbacks to the Roman Churches as they attempted to set themselves up as the new Israel.

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