By Oscar M. Baker
It is amazing, as we look through the New Testament, so-called, that there is a clear line of cleavage at Acts 28:28. It is like going out from the dark to the light. Of course some things, especially of the flesh, disappear at that point. There is where the 9 gifts of the Spirit ceased. There has been much counterfeiting of these things, but the real thing is just not here today.
Paul went into his own hired house in Rome as one bound for the hope of Israel. But after a meeting with the Jewish leaders, and their rejection, Paul later writes that he is a prisoner for the Gentiles, Israel is off the scene, divorced and set aside till now.
Before this point in history there had been mysteries from time to time, but now it is The Mystery that is proclaimed. And it is the duty of every believer today to find out what this mystery or secret is. It is important.
In all of his early ministry Paul had spoken none other things than what the prophets and Moses said. He stuck to the Hebrew Bible, the only Bible of that day. And all the writings of our New Testament up to that historical point, where Israel were divorced, were based on Moses and the prophets. But not so after that point. When Paul received the revelation of the mystery, he immediately wrote Ephesians, Moses and the prophets are now left behind.
Especially in his Corinthian letters and the Thessalonian letters, Paul was expecting the raising of Israel and they along with believers who were alive would be raptured up into the air to meet the Lord coming down from heaven to set up the great millennial kingdom. But now in a short time, Paul was resigned to die, as he writes to Timothy. These are Paul's last words recorded.
Paul was an ardent preacher of the New Covenant, especially quoting from Jer. 31:31 in his Hebrew letter. This was the hope of Israel. But after Acts, nothing more is said about it.
In Romans Paul stressed the fact that the gospel was to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile. But later he had no message for the nation that was no longer a nation.
The Gentile believers from Acts 13 till the end were simply grafted into the olive tree, representing Israel, to make them bear fruit. But after the cutting off of Israel, the Gentiles were the center of the scene, and blest with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.
From the preaching of John Baptist till the end of Acts, the kingdom of heaven was the theme. Suddenly that ceased and the dispensation of the mystery was revealed with its church, the body of Christ.
From Acts 13 up to the end of Acts, both Jew and Gentile were blest with faithful Abraham. But now members of the church are blest in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. A change from an earthly hope to a heavenly hope.
(Reprinted from Truth For Today, Vol. 37, 1985)