By Oscar M. Baker
Each of these books has a present prospect, but used events of the past for proof and background. Each one recognizes the line of demarcation where Israel ceased to be the favored nation with dispensational advantages over all others. Each was written primarily to Gentiles. And the background of each is the failure of Israel to recognize and receive her Messiah.
ACTS. The whole purpose and climax of the book is summed up in the words, The salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles. It was written just after Paul had written Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians and in defense of the teaching of those letters. So then, Luke had to go back to where he had left off in his gospel and show how that the re-offer of the kingdom, beginning at Pentecost, finally ended up in the failure of Israel to repent. So as a nation, she was set aside for the time being and the Gentiles were given opportunity to learn about a secret which had been hid from ages and generations and which had to do with a purpose determined before the ages began. So Acts 28:28 marks a definite end of the dispensation of promise. From that time to this, no one could by faith become a child of Abraham and partake of the covenants of promise.
Acts tells of the re-offer of the kingdom first at Jerusalem, and the beginning looked pretty good. But many opposed the truth and soon the believers were in the minority and persecution began. Then came the dispersion of the believers from Jerusalem. Paul preached to those outside the land, but they also refused to believe. So the doors of the kingdom were closed.
JOHN. In John, the purpose and climax come at the first, rather than last as in Acts. John tell us that Christ came unto His own possessions and His own people received Him not. But as many others (Gentiles) who received Him, they became children of God (not Abraham).
Just as Luke told the history of the rejection in the Pentecostal period, John told of the rejection during the gospel period, but ending with the same event, Acts 28:28.
John's message is told in 1:1-18; 3:13-21 and 3:31-36. These passages are truth for today. The rest constitutes proof and background for the conclusion of 1:11,12. The purpose is stated in 20:30,31 and the means of accomplishing this purpose is 3:16.
Although we recognize the fact that after the Acts 28:28 frontier Luke would lead us to believe that there was the dispensation of the mystery, John does not give any indication of it. So far as he records, there is eternal life for the present and resurrection in the future for any that believe on Christ. He says nothing about sonship and adoption (Eph. 1:5) but John does not reveal it.
The reader may now be ready to go over these two writings and compare and contrast them so as to get the essential meanings of them.
(Reprinted from Truth For Today Vol. 18 No. 10)