LESSON SEVEN: ACTS PART 2

“Also the sons of the foreigner [l‘beni ha-nakar] who join themselves to HaShem, to serve Him, and to love the Name of HaShem, to be His servants – Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant – Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
Isaiah 56:6-6

Introduction

  • The book of Acts is a transitional book, but not in the way that is most often referenced. Acts is not about Christianity taking over from Judaism. It is not about “Grace” over the “Law.” It is not about the “Church” replacing Israel.
  • It is a chronological account of the believers in the early-to-mid-First Century and shows how G-d added Gentiles into His family of Israel.

The Conflicts in the Apostolic Scriptures

  • In the past, many have considered the conflicts in the Apostolic Scriptures to be:
    • Christian vs Jew
    • Christian vs Pharisee
    • Scripture vs Tradition
    • Grace vs Law
    • Faith vs Works
  • These conflicts are largely an anachronistic reflex from the Protestant Reformation; and earlier from a perceived completion between Christianity and Judaism.
  • The major conflicts in the Apostolic Scriptures in reality were:
    • Kingdom of Light vs Kingdom of Darkness
    • Inclusion vs Exclusion of Gentiles

Background

  • Genesis 12:3: The blessing of the Nations, through Israel.
  • Exodus 12:38; 43-50: A mixed multitude, including gerim [sojourner]. Not for those known as “bein” [stranger].
  • Num 15:28-29: One Torah [Law] for Israel and gerim.
  • Ezra 10:3: After Babylonian Captivity, separation from pagan.
  • By the Second Century, a formal process for Gentile inclusion was formulated: ritual conversion.
  • Separation from all Gentiles was assumed by all pious Jews.

Gentiles Added to the Commonwealth of Israel

  • Acts 10:1-5: Cornelius was not a convert to Judaism, but he worshipped the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and in the manner of Judaism. Yet, he was forbidden the eat the Passover.
  • Acts 10:28: Peter thinks it is “unlawful” to be in company with a Gentile. What “law”?
  • Acts 10:9-16: What was this vision about; what was its purpose? It is not about “Grace vs Law” – it is about Gentiles being grafted in!
  • Acts 10:28; 11:18: 15:1-16: Gentile inclusion was the big “shock” for the first disciples. It confirmed the promises to Abraham and David.
  • Acts 21:20-29: Gentile inclusion was also a big shock to nominal Judaism, and a primary complaint against “the Way.”
  • Eph 2:10-19: Good news for gerim… Through Messiah, you are in the household of HaShem! Not by the “works of men” (i.e. ritual conversion), but by grace through faith.

Summary

  • The two principle contests of the Apostolic Scriptures are in a way the same as the TaNaKh, namely how one can move from the Kingdom of Darkness, into the Kingdom of Light… through redemption by Messiah.