Pentecost and the Acts

1. The declaration

We believe that Pentecost, with its accompanying miracles and the church of the Acts period, are to he differentiated from the church of the dispensation of the mystery. ''The signs following'' belonged to that period when the people of Israel still remained before God as a ''people.'' In Acts 28. they were set aside for the time being, and with them went all that pertained to Pentecost. Tongues, healings and such gifts have no place in the sphere of the church of the One Body.

2. Scriptural grounds.

' ... this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel' (Acts 2:16).

'David ... being a prophet ... He would raise up Christ, to sit on his throne ... therefore being by the right hand of God exalted ... He hath shed forth this' (Acts 2:29-33).

'Which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles' (Heb. 2:3,4).

'In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people ... wherefore tongues are for a sign' (1 Cor. 14:21,22).

' ... God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings' (1 Cor. 12:28).

' ... Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick' (2 Tim. 4:20).

' ... use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities' (1 Tim. 5:23).

3. An examination of the meaning of Pentecost.

The word Pentecost comes from pentekontae 'fifty', and was the name given to the feast held fifty days after the morrow of the offering of the firstfruits (Lev. 23:15-21). It was one of the three feasts held at Jerusalem at which the attendance of every male was compulsory.

In Acts 2 we find Jews, gathered out of every nation, at Jerusalem for this feast. No Gentile would or could attend it unless he was already a proselyte. Peter declares that the day of Pentecost fulfils the prophecy of Joel 2:28,29, and links up the sevenfold outpouring of spiritual gifts with the now postponed sevenfold wonders in heaven and earth that belong to the day of the Lord and the book of the Revelation. Addressing 'men of Judaea', 'dwellers at Jerusalem', 'men of Israel', and 'all the house of Israel', he declares that in the capacity of the Seed of David and the Occupant of his throne, the risen Christ has shed forth 'this' which they see and hear. One has only to consider Peter's attitude upon being told to go to Cornelius (Acts 10), or the amazement of the church in Acts 11, to be sure that no church began at Pentecost in which Jew and Gentile were included on equal terms.

Without following the theme of the Acts step by step, we take it up again in the last chapter. There the conditions of Mark 16:15-20 are in full force; the hope of Israel still holds good (Acts 28:20), the Jew is still first (verse 17), and not until Israel in Rome reject the Messiah, as Israel in the land had done, do we read the words : 'The salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it' (Acts 28:28).

The prison ministry of Paul follows, and in this ministry miraculous healings cease. Paul who previously cured disease by a handkerchief (Acts 19:12) now sends a prescription (1 Tim. 5:23). Yet he retains his faith to the end (2 Tim. 4:7). Miracles had a message for Israel and all who, as instructed by the Hebrew Scriptures, looked for the Messiah (Matt. 11:2-6). They were given to the Gentile churches during the Acts to provoke Israel to jealously, if possible (Rom. 10:19; 11:11). When the olive tree was cut down in Acts 28, the Gentile branches could no longer stand. A new movement from God was absolutely necessary to meet the new circumstances, and that new movement was the revelation of the present dispensation of the mystery, in which the hope of Israel and Pentecostal conditions have no place.

For the difference between the body of 1 Corinthians 12 and of Ephesians the reader is referred to The Berean Expositor, Vol. 18, p. 177.