Reading the Bible Yourself – Part 9

The Results of Right Division

The destiny or “hope ” of believers – After Acts

(Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; I & 2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon)

The nation of Israel did not repent however. As a result, many of the blessings promised to them were put on hold when believing Jews and Gentiles became one equal group.

The Greek word parousia, which means “coming” or “presence”, is frequently used of Christ’s second coming in the gospels and Acts period books. There is no mention of the Lord’s parousia in the letters written after Acts.

Neither is there any mention that the Lord was expected to return to the earth soon at the time when these letters were written. It is apparent that the Lord’s second coming was put on hold for the time being, but it will be the hope of many of those alive when Israel becomes the focus of God’s plan again, sometime in the future. Instead, we are told:

that we have been blessed “in the heavenly realms”. (Ephesians 1:3)
that we have been seated “with him in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians2:6)
that “our citizenship is in heaven” [not the earth]. (Philippians 3:20)

to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2). For further study, read Romans 13:12; Hebrews 10:25; 1 John 2:18.

(c) Healing and miraculous gifts – During Acts

Whilst the Lord was on earth, He performed many miracles. These were His “credentials”, or signs to show that He had authority from God (Acts 2:22). Likewise the apostles of the Acts period were given these gifts to show the Israelites that their message also had the authority of God (Acts 14:3). One of these miracles was the gift of healing.

“In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, ‘Stand up on your feed’ At that the man jumped up and began to walk.” (Acts 14:8-10)

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul. Handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” (Acts 19:11-12)

“[Publius’] father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.” (Acts 28:8-9)

Healing and miraculous gifts – after Acts

(Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; I & 2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon)

After Jews and Gentiles became as one, such miracles ceased. There are no records of instant healing in Scripture after this time. Instead, there are records of Paul being unable to heal:

“Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (I Timothy 5:23)

Had Paul still possessed the gift of healing he would have been able to send an apron or handkerchief to Timothy, as was previously the case.

“I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.” (2 Timothy 4:20)

Previously, Paul had cured “the rest of the sick” on Malta (Acts 28-9).

For further study see Acts 20:9-12; Philippians 2:25-28.


Summary of chapter 4

We have seen the principle of “All Scripture is given for us, but not all Scripture is about us” at work in this chapter. This does not mean that we should pay attention only to the letters written after Acts 28. Neither does it mean that we should ignore verses such as “love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Matthew 19:19 KM just because they appear in a portion of Scripture written before the end of Acts 28. Rather, by comparing one verse of Scripture with another, we find that verses such as this are very much in harmony with what is written in the epistles after Acts.

As a general rule, if a particular verse written before or during Acts conflicts with one written after the Acts period, then the one written after Acts should be taken as the verse which applies today.

By comparing verses from different parts of the Bible, it is evident that the dispensation in force during the Acts period is different to that which operates today. When we rightly divide the Bible, we will avoid applying the promises and statements made about Israel to ourselves.


Questions

The reader is encouraged to look up the Bible references given here and attempt to answer the following questions using the approach put forward in this chapter. Suggested answers may be found in Appendix 1. However, attempt these questions yourself before consulting the “Answers” section, in order to become familiar with using the methods discussed previously.

(1) Read Numbers 15:32-36. This man was judged for breaking the Sabbath.
(a) Should he have been killed (see Exodus 35:2)?
(b) Why doesn’t this contradict Colossians 2:16?

(2) Are the “Ten Commandments” (Exodus 20:1-17) relevant to the believer today? Why/why not?

(3) Compare Matthew 6:14-15 with Ephesians 4:32. Explain this difference.

 

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