By Charles H. Welch
Forbidding (Acts 28:31). Anything that illuminates that great dispensational section of the Acts, namely the twenty-eighth chapter, is of importance. The last verse ends with the words "no man forbidding him", akolutos "unhindered". Paul had known hindrances in his ministry, being on one occasion "forbidden" (koluo) of the Holy Ghost (Acts 16:6), or "let" or "hindered" by circumstances (Rom. 1:13), but these were temporary and local. There was a much more formidable hindrance that persisted throughout the whole of his ministry as recorded in the Acts, and that was the intense and fanatical opposition of his own people, the Jews. This is vividly set forth in the attitude of Elymas, who "withstood" the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith (Acts 13:8), and upon this typical Jew the judgment of blindness fell, a foreshadowing of what actually fell in Acts twenty-eight.
Following this instance of Elymas, the Acts records a long series of opposition by the Jews, and such words as "contradicting and blaspheming" (Acts 13:45); "stirring up" (Acts 13:50 and 14:2); "persuading" and "stoning" (Acts 14:19) and so on throughout the record. Gentiles as such either gave heed to the Apostle, or left him unmolested. Roman rulers treated him with toleration and even respect, it was the Jew who was the active opponent of the Apostle's message. Paul summed up the position early in the record, and wrote thus to the Thessalonians:
"The Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men" (1 Thess. 2:14,15).
Here is a damning list indeed-"killed" their Messiah and their prophets; "persecuted" the apostles; "please not" God, and "contrary" to all men. Could anything be added to make their condition worse? Yes, here it is: "FORBIDDING us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to FILL UP their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the UTTERMOST" (1 Thess. 2:16). "Forbidding" here is the Greek verb koluo, and it is because of the cessation of this attitude consequent upon Israel's dismissal in Acts twenty-eight that the record ends with the word akoluo "unforbidden".
In addition, we learn that the Apostle Peter would, apart from the vision given him, have "forbidden" the Gentile Cornelius to be baptized, and even suggests that he would have "forbidden" (Gk. kolusai) God (Acts 10:47, 11:17). Thus at the close of Peter's section of the Acts, we have the word "forbidden", while at the end of Paul's section we have "unforbidden". What a light these references throw upon the changing dispensations!