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Acts: What basics do we all need to know about that book? 

Gary Googe Oct 02

The book of Acts in the Bible is, among other things, a book of history.  It is there to show us how things went from what many call the Dispensation of Law to the present Dispensation of Grace.  The whole book of Acts shows us the transition that took place from one to the other.  In the former, the Mosaic Law was given to Israel through Moses as a way of life for God’s people in that timeframe.  The Dispensation of the Grace of God was later provided for our time through the apostle Paul.  The Law was given TO Israel and Paul’s message was given later TO us, the Gentiles.  Both are important for our learning, but Paul’s message is specifically to us and for our application today.

Romans 15:4 

4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. [Emphasis added]

However, all those things must be studied with the realization that anything there that conflicts with the things given to us by the apostle Paul, and there’s a lot, is not addressed to us.  In Scripture the sorting out of these things is called rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15  

15 Study [SPOUDAZO = be diligent] to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]

It is for lack or “diligence” in this that we have so much division today among God’s people.  It is because of what we might call “the wrong division of Scripture” that we have denominationalism today.  The conflict and the resultant division have occurred because of all the misunderstanding concerning these things. No matter what position you hold on a variety of things in the Bible, you’re always in a minority position on it.

The book of Acts is simply a continuation of the same program God had in place in the timeframe of the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  That same program that included observance of the Mosaic Law continued right on into the timeframe of the book of Acts.  Much prophecy from “the Old Testament” was then being fulfilled, including what happened in the early part of the book of Acts.

Acts 2:16-17 

16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel

Joel was a prophet who spoke and wrote TO Israel as recorded in Joel 2:28. This prophecy does not relate to us today, but to a time long before us and then again in the coming 7-year period of the time known as The Tribulation which follows what is called The Rapture.  This prophecy was only partially fulfilled in the time of Acts 2.  Israel’s rejection of her Messiah interrupted its complete fulfillment.

17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: [Emphasis added]

Everything that is recorded here in this Acts 2 passage is in connection with the Jews, the house of Israel, not us today.

Acts 2:36-47 

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified [as an expression of their rejection of Him as their Messiah], both Lord and Christ. 

God’s work was then still directed toward Israel, not the Gentiles.  The change to what we have today would come later at the time of the salvation of Saul of Tarsus.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 

Then notice the answer Peter gives to this very important question. Is it the same as what we would need to tell someone today who asked this question? It is not! 

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

Again, is this what we are to tell people today in answer to this question? No, it is not! 

39 For the promise is unto you [Israelites], and to your children, and to all that are afar off [scattered foreign Israelites], even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward [SKOLIOS = crooked] generation

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized [water baptism]: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls

For more information about baptism, please see my article—

Baptism: What are we to believe about it?

Even three thousand being converted may seem like a lot of people but it was not. Considering that it is estimated that there were well over a million in and around Jerusalem, comparatively speaking, it was only a fewVery few would ultimately respond to the gospel message of the twelve apostles.  The vast majority would continue in their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine [which included observance of the Mosaic Law] and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

This was because the Jews demanded a sign for evidence that the message was true [1 Corinthians 1:22].  God provided plenty of them, but they still rejected what they were told.

44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common

This was in response to the command for believers to sell all their possessions and to have all things common [Luke 18:22 & Acts 4:34-35].  As you may recall, this is what our Lord commanded the one called “the rich young ruler” to do [Matthew 19:21]. 

45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

This was all in anticipation of a coming earthly kingdom that has now been postponed to a still future time because of Israel’s ultimate rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. 

46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church [this “church” was made up of only Israelites, not Gentiles] daily such as should be saved. [Emphasis added]

As I’ve mentioned, the message of the apostles and others, this gospel of the kingdom that demanded for them to accept Jesus as their messiah and to be water baptized, was ultimately rejected by the people of Israel.  This rejection all later came to a head with the stoning of Stephen recorded in Acts 7.  That event was then immediately followed with the salvation of Saul of Tarsus who was later renamed Paul as he becomes the apostle to the Gentiles.  It was at the point of his salvation that things changed from what they had then to what we have now.  In the remaining chapters of Acts we see the transition period during which certain things went on that don’t occur now.  This included such things as speaking in tongues [certain people being able to miraculously speak languages in which they had not training], perform miracles, heal people at will, and more.  However, by the end of the timeframe of the book of Acts all these special abilities were withdrawn.  One of Paul’s clearest statements about this was given to the Corinthian believers.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10  

8 Charity [CHARITY = love] never faileth [it is ongoing]: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail [come to an end]; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge [the spiritual gift of knowledge], it shall vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [all because the Scriptures were still not complete].

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [Emphasis added]

The word “perfect” in verse ten is in the neuter gender in the Greek text.  It therefore cannot refer to a person, but to an object. That object is the complete canon of Scripture—the Bible

Today, no one has these special gifts of the Spirit. There’s a lot of counterfeiting going on, but not the reality.  The need for the gifts ceased when the writing of the Scriptures was completed. 

The special gifts of the spirit continued to function in the period represented by the book of Acts.  But by the end of that period, they had all stopped because their purpose had been fulfilled


The book of Acts is a transitional book.  Many churches today try to emulate the miraculous things described there.  Their intentions may be good, but their practice in that is wrong.  The book of Acts is there to show us how things went from being all about Israel to being all about the Body of Christ that is almost entirely made up of Gentiles. These groups represent two churches, that is, two assemblies of people.  The apostle Peter headed up the first and the apostle Paul headed up the second.  These are two groups with two different gospel messages.  

Galatians 2:7  

7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision [Gentiles] was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [Emphasis added]

There are several articles on our website that will give you more information about this. Here are the names of three of them.  

Gospel:  Is OUR gospel in “the four gospels”? 

Gospel:  Which gospel did the 12 apostles preach after the ascension? 

Gospels:  Did Peter & Paul preach the same gospel? 

Because so many churches have rejected this, claiming there’s only one gospel in the Bible, we have denominationalism creating an abundance of misunderstanding, confusion, and division.  Complete ignorance or simply misunderstanding about the meaning of right division has caused this.  The grip that false traditional theology has on so many people is tremendous.  I hope you’ll work to be a wonderful exception to that.

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