By His Blood – The Dividing Line in the Book of Acts
Galatians 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.
During the ministry of Jesus, Peter asked how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me. Jesus responded with a number, seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). Now many in the western world, miss the significance of this statement because we fail to understand what the significance of that number 490 is.
Jesus is actually directing his words to confirm the prophesy in the Book of Daniel, of seventy weeks with seven days in a week. It is understood that a day for a year is used as conversion, or 490 years has been given to Israel to repent for her sins. Why does it matter, you may ask? Well, in my understanding, it actually plays a part in understanding the book of Acts and to find the dividing line.
Now many people hold different views on these passages, but I personally hold closest to the Partial-Preterists or what is sometimes called the Historical view which means that some of the events of the Bible happened in the past. You may disagree with me on my views, but agreeing with my understanding of Daniel 9, is not necessary for understanding my overall point, of God’s Faithfulness to His Promise, and understanding the dividing line in the Book of Acts.
So looking at Daniel 9 and the first sixty-nine weeks of this time measure (Daniel 9:25) contained an initial ‘seven week’ or 49 year period (457 B.C. to 408 B.C.). This period was a time of restoration and repairing of the walls and streets of the city of Jerusalem under the supervision of Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:8-17; 4:17). These were ‘troublous times’ because of extreme opposition from enemy neighbors (Nehemiah 4:7).
The sixty-two week period or 434 years extended from 408 B.C. to 27A.D. at the time of Jesus’ water baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. This completed the first sixty-nine weeks of the prophecy which was a period of 483 years. People, of course move things around by a year or two years, but these are what have generally been accepted dates.
In Daniel 9:26, after the sixty-two weeks or “in the midst of” the 70th week Messiah was cut off and officially “caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease” (Daniel 9:26-27). This was none other than the crucifixion of Jesus when he ‘confirmed’ or ratified the new Covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31-33; and brought an end to the need for a temple sacrifice system in circa 31AD.
Because of Israel’s rejection and crucifixion of Jesus Christ during the 70th week, Jerusalem was later destroy by the Roman army in 70AD (Daniel 9:26). Not to get caught too far off point, If we do the math, we still have about three and a half more years to bring the completion of the 490 years.
This is where the Book of Acts Opens. There are still three and a half years of God’s exclusive favour upon the Jews. If we count from the Crucifixion of Jesus and add the additional three and a half year period, we land at the Stoning of Stephen in circa 34AD (Acts 7:54-60). From that point forward in the book of Acts, we read the conversion of Saul to Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:1-22), Peter gets his vision concerning the gentiles (Acts10:9-18), the house of Cornelius is converted (Acts 10:19-48) and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles to the astonishment of the Jews (Acts 10:45). That does not mean the Jews were not being preached to, but their exclusivity of the Gospel was no longer in place.
This is the backdrop that I use to understand the Book of Acts. I’m not saying I am right, but this is the framing to understand why Paul told the Galatians of two Gospels, one of the Gentiles and one of the Circumcision (Galatians 2:7). It is the reason that Paul received of the Lord his revelation of “His” Gospel (Romans 2:16), while Peter who walked with Jesus for three and a half years found the things Paul wrote sometimes difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16).
In my opinion, Jesus trained the twelve to be Apostles to faithfully complete the Lord’s Ministry to the Jews for the remaining three and a half years of the Daniel 9 prophesy. After the stoning of Stephen, there was a shift, and the Apostles had to learn that transition from Law to Grace, as we see recorded in the Book of Acts and taught by Paul. If you agree with my time frame or not, the point I want to make, is that after the stoning of Stephen, the Gentiles are awakened to the Gospel, and that is the dividing line that we see, as we transition from Peter’s ministry to Paul’s.