Acts - The book of TransitionVolume 4, Number 10
Created Date: August 6, 2016
Posted Date: August 6, 2016
Faith in Acts - The Book of Transition:
A great deal of anxiety exists today because of uncertainty and violence throughout the world. Many ask what happened to the manifestations of great power working though men such as Moses, Gideon, Samson, David and others on behalf of God’s People Israel, and, what happened to the miracles in the Pentecostal church described in the first part of Acts; communicating with each other regardless of language, healings, opening the doors of prisons, etc. (see Vol 4, No 2) Sir Robert Anderson published a book in the early 1900’s titled “The Silence of God” explaining the reason for heaven’s silence in the affairs of men since the Pentecostal church was set aside, and the heavens are still silent. I submit that a failure to see the difference between God’s exclusive dealings with His chosen earthly people Israel and His present dealings with all mankind during this age of Grace is the cause of confusion and consternation among believers. And the root of this is failure to understand the primary purpose of the Book of Acts, which is to describe the transition from the Earthly Kingdom message for Israel to this dispensation in which we find ourselves as members of the Church, the Body of Christ wherein we are saved by Grace through faith alone, as revealed to the Apostle Paul. In today’s study we find evidence of this transition as we begin to trace the Greek word pistis, usually translated “faith” through Acts. Just the fact the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to use the word “faith” 16 times in Acts is significant, 16 being 2 times 8 and 8 being the number for resurrection or new beginnings in the Bible. Thus the 16 appearances of “faith” are indicative of the transition to and introduction of the dispensation God entrusted to the Apostle Paul. Today’s study compares the first and last occurrences of the word “faith” in Acts and a key to the cause of the problems in world.
In Faith Study Vol 4, No 1we examined Acts, 3:16 where “faith” is first used in Acts. There the Apostle Peter said the man lame from birth who sat begging at the Temple was healed through faith in and by Jesus Christ. His healing had everything to do with God’s promise for a Kingdom on earth to Israel. It occurred in the Temple in Jerusalem where Jewish believers adhered to the Law of Moses and awaited Jesus Christ’s return to establish His Kingdom and Peter was carrying out the commission given to the 12 Apostles: “... Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name (that is Jesus’ name) shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” . The lame man was healed because Peter had the authority to do so under Christ’s commission to the 12 Apostles.
Contrasting that incident with the last time the word faith appears in Acts we see the change. There we find the Apostle Paul testifying before King Agrippa, describing his conversion some years earlier on the road to Damascus. Paul quotes The Lord Jesus Christ: “And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”-18.
In reciting that incident, Paul reveals more of what The Lord told him than what is recorded in the original account in. The original account does not mention The Lord’s words: “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me,” . This is by design because revealing this information at this later point in time shows the progression of the transition from the Kingdom message for Israel to the message of God’s Grace to Gentile and Jew revealed to the Apostle Paul ( , -7). At the time of Paul’s testimony to King Agrippa, Israel was well on its way to being set aside for a time (which has been almost 2000 years now), -36.
The Greek word “exaire’o” (Strong # 1807) translated “delivering” in the phrase “delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,” Acts 26:17, is found twice in Matthew, 5 times in Acts and once in Galatians for a total of, interestingly, 8 times in the New Testament. And by comparing its use in each passage we can better understand its meaning. Inand 18:9 it is translated “pluck out” where Jesus was teaching the requirements for entering His Heavenly Kingdom on Earth: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matthew 5:29. Without delving into the dispensational aspects of this passage, we readily understand the meaning of “exaire’o,” is to pluck out. In Stephen used this word to explain how Joseph was “delivered” out of slavery, affliction or tribulation into which his brothers had sold him and instead, made Governor over Egypt. In Stephan again used this word describing how God told Moses He would “deliver” his people from their maltreatment/ affliction in Egypt. In it is used by Peter in recounting how the Angel of the Lord “delivered” him out of prison and the hand of Herod, which was the affliction the Jews wished upon him. In it is translated “rescued” when the Roman Centurion took the Apostle Paul from the mob of Jews who would have killed him. And in the Apostle Paul uses it, describing how the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins to “deliver” us out of this present evil age. We can readily see how this word can be translated “plucked out” in all these passages, possibly conveying the thought better than the words “delivered,” “deliver” or “rescued.”
And so in our text we understand The Lord told Paul He was making him a minister of the things he had seen and those things He would show him in the future, “plucking him out” from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom he was being sent,. The word “people” here is the Greek “laos” (Strong #2992), always translated “people” found most often in Acts, 48 out of the 143 times it is used in the NT. The Lord plucked Paul out from his people, which of course was Israel (see ) who were under the law, as well as from the Gentile nations. Being plucked out from both Jews and Gentiles he was in turn sent to both to open their eyes; to turn them from darkness to light and the power of Satan unto God, that they (we) may receive forgiveness of sins and receive the inheritance along with all those who are sanctified (set aside as holy) by faith that is in The Lord Jesus Christ, . This clearly demonstrates that the message Paul was given to preach was totally different from any preceding. Its been almost 2000 years since The Lord plucked Paul out and sent him to preach the good news that anyone who simply believes Christ died for their sins, was buried and rose again the third day, has been saved to eternal life, -4, . And we who believe the Gospel committed to Paul have an inheritance, along with all others who believe and we are separated or made holy with them by the faith that is in Jesus Christ, Acts 26:18b.
Our text also gives the reason for the turmoil in the world as Acts 26:18a clearly states that everyone who doesn’t believe the Gospel are:
•Blind to the Truth,
•In the Dark spiritually,
•Under the power of Satan.
Let’s read these four verses again and let the words I’ve bolded soak in: “And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering (plucking out) thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”. Simply put, those who reject the Gospel are blind to the truth, in the dark spiritually and under the power of Satan.
Paul expands on this thought in his epistle to the Ephesians: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”-3. Simply put, believers today are plucked out of humanity, Galatians 1:4, leaving all those who do not believe in the category just described. Therefore it is no wonder our world, the governments and religions therein are in shambles and will only get worse, this because all who do not believe the Gospel are blind to the truth; in the dark spiritually and are under the power of and live according to Satan. The Word of God says it and as we look around us it is indeed a sobering thought!