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Volume 25 - Page 9 of 190 Index | Zoom | |
#8. The three R's.
Restoration. Reconciliation. Rejection.
pp. 67 - 70
In our last article we traced the story of the Acts to its geography. Before proceeding
to the detailed study of its several parts we must look at the three outstanding landmarks:
Jerusalem . . . . . Antioch . . . . . Rome, in their association with the corresponding three
distinctive phases of the Acts. We have devoted the first six articles of this series to the
demonstration of the fact that restoration is the dominating aspect of the opening section.
Noticeably associated with that is the insistence in the narrative on the place of
importance which the people of Israel still held. The question, "Wilt Thou at this time
RESTORE again the kingdom to ISRAEL?" (Acts 1: 6) indicates an expectation that is
maintained throughout the bulk of the Acts. "Ye men of Israel"; "Let all the house of
Israel know"; "Be it known unto all, and unto all the people of Israel"; "To give
repentance to Israel"; "Men of Israel", and similar expressions are found throughout
the Book, but particularly in the opening section (1: 15 - 12:).
So is it with the title "Jew". "There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews." "It is unlawful
that is a Jew" (said Peter); "The word to none but Jews only" (Acts 2:-12:).
But with chapter 13: comes a change. The Jew is still present, and for a period
covered by many chapters the apostle maintains the practice of going to the synagogues
of the Jews before he speaks to the Gentiles: but no longer can it be said "Jews only";
we now read "Jews and Greeks" (18: 4; 19: 10; 20: 21).
While Greeks are Gentiles, the Scripture suggests a difference between the two.
Mention is made of "Jews and Greeks" in a manner which suggests that they were united
in some way which could not equally be said of all Gentiles. The apostle differentiates
between Greeks and Barbarians, just as he does between wise and unwise (Rom. 1: 14).
In I Cor. 1: he associates the Greek with the search for wisdom (I Cor. 1: 22), and just as
righteousness is exhibited in Israel side by side with human failure, so wisdom is
exhibited in the Greeks side by side with human failure, and both find a meeting-place in
Christ. Consequently, if the key word of the opening section of Acts be restoration, in
association with Jerusalem, the Jew, and the ministry of Peter, so, as surely, the keynote
of the next division is reconciliation, associated with Antioch, the Jew and the Greek
together, and the ministry of Paul.
The possibility of the salvation of the Gentiles does not seem to have been entertained
by the apostles at Jerusalem. This is evidenced by the surprise with which the news of
the salvation of Cornelius was received.
"When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then
hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11: 18).