Notes and References
A timeline for the book of Acts View Full Size Image
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The dates are important for the progression of the Jewish believers and the introduction of the teaching of Apostle Paul to the Gentiles. Paul revealed the 'mystery' that the Gentiles would be saved by faith in Jesus alone outside of the covenenat between God and Israel. Jesus was the bridge between God and the Gentiles. Jesus also became the righteousness of the law for Isreal through his death. Isreal is still under the covenant (Stay with me until the end of this study - then you too will understand and see for yourself the truth of the scriptures in Acts - not in church doctrine). Gentiles were never part of the covenant.
If you do a study of dates in Acts, there are too many references to mention and they all vary by a few years. The dates of the writing of these books cannot be definitely pinned down, but certain enough to show a timeline for the purpose of this study.
James - 50
First Thessalonians - 52-53.
Second Thessalonians - 52-53.
Galatians - 55. (Acts 15 - the same year)
First Corinthians - 57.
Second Corinthians - 57.
Romans - 57-58.
Philippians - 62-63.
Colossians - 62-63
Philemon - 62-63.
Ephesians - 62-63.
Luke - 63.
Acts - 64.
First Timothy - 65.
Titus - 65.
Second Timothy - 66.
Mark - 66.
Matthew - 67.
Hebrews - 67 (could be after the destruction of the temple in AD 70).
First Peter - 67-68.
Second Peter - 68.
Jude - 68.
Apocalypse - 68.
John - c. 85.
Epistles of John - 90-95.
INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF ACTS
First, we have to understand this main principle, “I am a Gentile.” I have no Jewish ethnicity. I was not raised in the Jewish faith. I am not a child of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am a Gentile. Now if you happen to be Jewish, then you will have to look at the scriptures a bit differently, because “Mystery” of grace which is the righteousness of the law given by Messiah to you!
Also look for key words; Mystery, Law which is talking about the Law of Moses or Mosaic Law, revelation, circumcision or Jews, uncircumcision or Greek or Gentile, "my gospel" whichPaul uses this term, and time words like "but now", "until", "before", etc. These are all key words, many of which I overlooked over the years and now recognize as keys or clues. "Falling from grace" in Paul's writings usually refers to Gentiles trying to follow Judaism or the Mosaic Law. I overlooked that one, mainly because of teaching out of context, but it is extremely important!
Was the earthly ministry of Christ ever to the Gentiles or in other words non-Jews? NO! (emphasis added is mine)
21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan (a Gentile) came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Jesus called her a dog!! How many of us would have gone away and had a pity party? This drives home my point, Jesus had nothing to do with the Gentiles in his earthly ministry. He could not become defiled according to Mosaic Law! This woman impressed Him with her faith and what a great and wise response! "yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table" WOW! One she admitted she was a dog, two, her faith showed that even a crumb from Jesus would be enough to heal her daughter! That is a sermon all by itself!!
A woman, a Jew, having seven devils had more access to Jesus than this Canaanite woman.
1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
Being a Gentile myself, I would have been considered a Dog! Which equals NO ACCESS to Jesus during His earthly ministry. The only other example of Jesus dealing with a Gentile was the Centurion's servant recorded in Matthew 8 and Luke 7.
NOW SKIP FORWARD TO PAUL AND THE “MYSTERY”
I understand also a mystery or a secret was kept hidden from all men until it was revealed to Paul by Jesus Christ first hand miraculously on the road to Damascus and in the three years while Paul was in Arabia. What was this “mystery”?
25 For I would not, brethren (Gentile believers), that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
32 For God hath concluded them (Israel/Jews) all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
Romans 16:25, 26
25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations (G1484 ethnos = Gentiles) for the obedience of faith:
1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Now we see that the mystery , delivered directly to Paul by Christ, is the gospel to the Gentiles, but Paul also iterated emphatically that salvation is by faith alone without the Mosaic Law.
1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (Jews coming in and preaching the Mosaic Law and circumcision)
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Paul says let them be accursed twice! We should take heed! I have been exhorted by sincere teachers that unless I keep portions of that Old Mosaic Law or Old Testament, I would be cursed or more specifically NOT blessed! This should be a clear warning to those who continue to preach that the OLD TESTAMENT LAW (all or in part) is to be adhered to by the Gentile Christian congregation! Paul goes on to describe how he received the gospel and how he got it directly from God and not the apostles in Jerusalem. He had gone up to Jerusalem 17 years (3years in Arabia and Damascus + 14 years after his first visit to Jerusalem) after receiving the revelation of the mystery of the gospel to the Gentiles, and disputed with the apostles over GRACE! False brethren Paul is referring to are those who are teaching that OLD TESTAMENT LAW must be kept by these Gentile Christians.
Galatians Chapter 2
1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, (THE APSOTLES) lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (THE APOSTLES) (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat (THE APOSTLES) in conference added nothing to me:
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (GENTILES) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (JEWS) was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision (JEWS), the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen (GENTILES), and they unto the circumcision (JEWS).
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision (Believing JEWS!).
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. (G5272 hypocracy)
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed (The Mosaic Law), I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Galatians 3:1, 2
1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Paul never mentions the other lawful demands of the encounter in Jerusalem with the apostles here in Galatians from:
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
I believe this is notable for these reasons:
1.) That even Jesus said eating certain things do not make you unclean;
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
2.) More importantly it was forcing the keeping of the Mosaic Law for Gentiles which Paul rejected;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
One final point all Old Testament scripture is good for instruction and the knowledge of God and His revealed purposes for mankind, but not all pertain to salvation, justification, or our relationship with God. Christ is our relationship AS GENTILES, not the keeping of church rules, Old Testament Laws, feasts, holy days, or day of worship.
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Having these basic principles understood, we can read and study the Acts of the Apostles with clarity by comparing scripture with scripture and coming to the truth without religious or doctrinal bias.
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