The regular visitor to GoedBericht knows that this website has assigned a special place to Paul as “apostle and teacher of nations”. Because of Israel’s unbelief (Rom.11:11-15), he was called to preach “the evangel of the uncircumcision” (Gal.2:7). His message is determinative, as long as Israel as a nation is set aside.
Some people find that this does not go far enough. They bring a division (dichotomy) into Paul’s ministry and see the boundary line in Acts 28:28. Until that time, Paul would have preached the restoration of the kingdom to Israel and after that, no more. From then on, he would have made known “the secret” and also “the ecclesia which is His body”. The consequence of this view is that the letters which Paul wrote before this, e.g., the letters to the Romans, Corinthians and Thessalonians are not directly applicable to our time. For example, the expectation of “the snatching away” (1Thes.4) would be for the faithful in Israel and for “the stranger within the gates”, but not for “the Body”.
I see very strong objections to this view(s). In short, they come down to this:
- In Acts 28:28, Paul does not say that the salvation of God to the nations would be sent. On the contrary, he declared in Rome, what he had earlier preached in the synagogues, namely, that the salvation of God to the Gentiles was sent (click here).
- From the beginning of his ministry, Paul knew that Jerusalem would not repent (Hand.22: 18).
- Paul already preached, in his earliest letters (Rom.16:25,26; 1Cor.2:7), “the secret” that had been concealed for the eons.
- Already in the Corinthian letter, did Paul set forth the truth of the ecclesia being the Body of Christ apart (1Cor.12:12.13).
- The truth of “the snatching away” and of “meeting the Lord in the air,” is definitely not for Israel. For with the coming of the Messiah on the Mount of Olives, will this people not go upwards, but it will the flee into the mountains (Zech.14:4,5).
This perception of Acts 28:28 makes Bible reading rather complex and speculative.
- Nowhere in his prison epistles did Paul state or even gave a hint that the expectation, which he previously had set forth (“comfort one another with these words”; 1Thes.4:18), no longer would apply. The whole idea is based on inferences and reasonings.
- While Paul stressed that there is “one Body”, this particular idea is saying that there are two Bodies. The Body of Christ of which Paul speaks in the Corinth-letter is said to be a different Body than the one of which he is speaking in the Ephesian and Colossian letter…
- How do we know what Paul has written before and after Acts 28:28? A number of letters of Paul are easily dated on the basis of Acts, but for most of them, this does not work. The well-known E. W. Bullinger (Companion Bible) said that seven letters were written by Paul, after Acts 28. But others believe that this is to be limited to four letters. Still others claim that it are only three. And yet again others assert it are two letters: Ephesians and Colossians. And even that is not 100% sure because these letters could have been written during the two years that Paul was a prisoner in Caesarea. Would the Acts 28:28 opinion be correct, it is essential to have a definitive answer on what is before and after Acts 28. The mere fact that this dating in Scripture is missing, is a clear indication that this view is irrelevant.
Translation: Peter Feddema