Vol. 5, No. 4
~ Page 12 ~
The 39 Old Testament books and the 4 Gospels look forward to the Book of Acts, and the succeeding 22 New Testament books look backward to the Book of Acts. It is the support, the fulcrum, on which all the other Bible books are balanced, and without which one would wonder why the other books were written.
Sad it is that some Gospel preachers, who formerly preached the importance of the Book of Acts, now say that the Book of Acts is only "the shadow or the reflection of a ham sandwich [the four Gospels]," and "you won't get much nourishment eating the shadow or reflection of a ham sandwich." On such a "substanceless shadow," writes a veteran Gospel preacher, the restoration movement has been fed and "long ago starved to death. We are a dead movement." He continues, "Plugging into any part of the Scripture except the Gospels" is "like plugging an electric motor into a reflection of a power outlet."
On the other hand, in God's sight, the whole of the Old Testament (cf. 2 Peter 1:21; Revelation 19:10) and the four Gospels are prologues to the Book of Acts. All of those books, 43 of them, antedate "the beginning" of the "new covenant" (Jeremiah 31:31; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8), which beginning is first described in the Book of Acts (11:15).
Before "the beginning" of the "new covenant," John the immerser (Matthew 3:1) preached that sinners "should believe on the One coming after him, that is, on Jesus" (Acts 19:4). And after Jesus had come and had "finished" (John 17:4) his work, sinners believed on the One who had come, and "were immersed into the name of the Lord Jesus," just as John the immerser had foretold, a fact first recorded in the Book of Acts (19:5).
In a prologue book Jesus had "charged his disciples that they should tell no man that he was the Christ" (Matthew 16:20). But, on the day of "the beginning" of the "new covenant," Peter preached that Jesus is "both Lord and Christ," an essential element first revealed in the Book of Acts (2:36).
An essential element in the new covenant is the baptism commanded in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20), but the apostles who heard that command were instructed to "wait" on its execution until they were "endued with power from on high" (Acts 1:4; Luke 24:49). One has to turn to the Book of Acts to read about the coming of the "power from on high," and the resultant preaching of the baptism of the great commission (Acts 2:1-3, 36-38).
An essential element in the new covenant is the actual establishment of the "church" (ekklesia, the called-out people). Before the history recorded in the Book of Acts, the church had existed only in promise: "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). It is to the Book of Acts that one must turn to find the first time the church is spoken of as being in existence: "Day by day the Lord was adding the ones being saved to the church" (ekklesia, Acts 2:47, uncials E, P, and Psi; and thereafter 19 times in Acts).
An essential element in the new covenant is that a Christian's physical "body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in" him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But that glorious doctrine (deity in a human body) was not factual in the days of the four gospels (John 7:39), and was not factual until Jesus had been "glorified" in heaven (Acts 2:30-33). Only then was "the gift of the Holy Spirit" promised to baptized believers, namely, "the Holy Spirit whom God" gives "to them who obey him," a heavenly bestowal first announced in the Book of Acts (2:38; 5:32).
An essential element in the new covenant is a cancellation of the old covenant's infant membership (Exodus 24:8; Hebrews 8:11, 13) in favor of each person's own personal faith in Jesus when he has "gladly received the word," a teaching first revealed in the Book of Acts (2:41).
An essential element in the new covenant is the cancellation of a national "council" (sunedrion, sanedrion, Luke 22:66) in favor of a plurality of "elders in every congregation," a fact first revealed in the Book of Acts (14:23).
An essential element in the new covenant is the cancellation of Sabbath keeping (Exodus 20:8) in favor of a "first day of the week" assembly "to break the bread," a fact first revealed in the Book of Acts (20:7).
An essential element in the new covenant is the proclamation of a "a new name, which the mouth of the Lord" would name (Isaiah 66:2), and which he did through two prophets (Barnabas and Saul, Acts 13:1), who, by a divine revelation (chrematidzo) first "called the disciples Christians," a fact first revealed in the Book of Acts (11:25-26).
An essential element in the new covenant is the actual kingship of Jesus, after he ascended into heaven, as "God had sworn to" David (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Psalm 89:3-4; 132:11) that "he would set one of his descendants on his throne," a fact first revealed in the Book of Acts (2:30).
Outside of the Book of Acts, there is no completely reliable history of "the beginning" of the "new covenant."