During the “Acts of the Apostles,” there was not a spiritual unity
between believers. The reason being; one set of believers were still
zealous of the Law of Moses, and another set reckoned they were dead to
the Law. The former, we refer to as the Born Again Ones and the latter,
the Justified Ones.
The very nature of the Law created an enmity between the groups. The Law
was a “middle wall of partition” between the ones who were justified by
faith, alone, and the ones who were only born again. The word,
“partition,” carries with it the idea of “a divider,” “a separation,” or
“a dividing wall.”
The Born Again Ones were, for the most part, Christian Jews. However,
among their ranks were many Gentiles who came under their influence,
many of whom had been proselytes. These Gentiles had been Judaized: that
is to say, they believed that Jesus Christ was, indeed, Israel’s
Messiah. Along with this faith, they were obliged to keep the Law of
Moses. It is evident during the Acts era that there was a concerted
effort made by certain elements of the believing Christian Jews, the
Extremists, to intimidate the Justified Ones into observing the Law. In
fact, just about the whole of the Galatians Epistle is Paul’s effort to
counteract this Judaizing influence. Traces of this refuting of the
Judaizers are also found in Romans.
Very few students of the Word have recognized the fact that the Born
Again Ones, who were zealous of the Law, persecuted the Justified Ones.
Not all of Paul’s trouble Paul were instigated by unbelievers, but
rather, a great deal of them were from the Born Again Ones.
Let it be realized that as long as one set of believers kept the Law and
another set did not—there was an “enmity.”
“For He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the
middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his Flesh the
enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to
make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that He might
reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the
enmity thereby:” (Ephesians 2:14-16).
We learn from these verses that among the great things accomplished on
the Cross was the fact, which was not revealed until after Acts 28, that
the middle wall was broken down; the law of commandments contained in
ordinances was abolished; the enmity was slain. All of this was for the
purpose of reconciling both (Born Again Ones and Justified Ones) unto
God in one body by the Cross.
How significant is this truth? It is believed that this is the first
time the Word speaks concerning the two factions being united in one
body. They were not united in one body during the Acts period; neither
were there two “bodies” during Acts. One may ask; “Weren’t all believers
members of the Body of Christ during Acts?” The Bible doesn’t indicate
that to be true. We should not join together what God did not. Peter,
James, John, and Jude never mentioned the “Body of Christ.” Search their
writings, and it will become apparent they did not minister to the Body
Keep in mind that during the “Acts of the Apostles,” there were two sets
of believers: those who believed the Circumcision’s Gospel and those who
embraced Paul’s Gospel of the Uncircumcision. Truths concerning the Body
of Christ were doctrines exclusive to the Apostle Paul. Those who
believed his report were incorporated into the Acts period Body of
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the
same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one
members one of another”
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the
blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of
the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for
we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1
The “we” in the above verses has reference to the Justified Ones. The
“all are members,” likewise, refers to all of the Justified Ones by the
faith of Christ. They were members of that body—the Body of Christ.
“All” doesn’t mean all believers without distinction. “Now ye are the
body of Christ.” This referred to those who believed Paul’s gospel
message. This did not include the Born Again Ones.
Were the Born Again Ones saved? Yes, they were. However, their position
and standing before the Lord Jesus Christ was not as exalted as the
Justified Ones. The Justified Ones were identified with a “better” hope
(Hebrews 7:19), “better” promises (Hebrews 8:6), and a “better”
resurrection (Hebrews 11:35). “Better” in the sense of more noble (cf.
Strongs # 2909).
Paul asserts in Romans 8:17; “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God,
and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we
may be also glorified together.”
Being heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ was for those who were
justified by the faith of Christ during the Acts period. This was not
said of the Born Again Ones.
Even though Peter’s converts were not included in the make-up of the
Body of Christ; nevertheless, he was assured that the Born Again Ones
had precious promises from God.
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that
by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the
corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).
Bible students tend to want to include all Acts believers into the
calling of the “Body of Christ.” The Bible doesn’t lump them together;
neither should we. The Body of Christ, during the Acts period, must not
be confused with the Body over which Christ Jesus is the Head which came
into being after the book of Acts closed. In other words, the “church
which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” is not
the “Body” of the Acts period, even though many who lived through the
dispensational change of Acts 28 were membered into the One Body (i.e.
the One New Man) of Ephesians.
All of this has been pointed out in order to bring to light the fact
that there were two major sets of believers during Acts. There was
enmity between them—the middle wall of partition. Synonyms for the word,
enmity, are: hostility, antipathy, antagonism, aggression, and
animosity. The hostility expressed was launched by the Born Again Ones
because they were not part and parcel of the higher calling.
The subsequent revelation to Paul, the Lord’s prisoner regarding the
Mystery, brought to light the fact that something happened on the Cross
that was not made known until after Acts 28. The new and fresh
revelation was that the Law, with its’ “handwriting of ordinances” was
abolished, taken out of the way, and nailed to the Cross. With the
enmity gone, there could be peace. This peace did not exist during the
“Acts of the Apostles.”
The hostility and hatred was seen in Acts 21 and 22. The Jews “which
were of Asia” were probably Born Again Ones. They were the ones who
accused Paul of taking Trophimus into the temple. They accused him of
teaching Jews to forsake the Law of Moses.
What the expositors and commentators refer to as Judaizers were, in
fact, Christian Jews whom we have identified as Extremists.
In concluding this study, it should be stated that the main burden of
the Galatian Epistle can be summed up in the following verse:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,
and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).
The yoke of bondage was the Law. The Justified Ones, under the ministry
of Paul, stood in jeopardy of having received Paul’s labor in vain; “I
am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain”
The Extremists came into Galatia questioning Paul’s authority and the
gospel which he preached. They insisted that those who took their stand,
as being justified by faith alone, must be circumcised and keep the Law.
In plainer words, they preached the Gospel of the Circumcision to those
who had already embraced the Gospel of the Uncircumcision.
Paul marveled that they had so soon been removed from Him Who called
them into the grace of Christ unto “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6). He
went on to tell them that if any man, even Peter, James or John; or even
if an angel from heaven preached unto them another gospel, “let them be
accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
In the NIV, “let them be accursed” is rendered, “let them be eternally
condemned.” This was very severe language. This reminds me of highway
signs (billboards) that people see when they enter the State of Texas on
interstate highways—DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS. Then, in smaller captions,
the signs warn the people that it is unlawful to “litter” in the state.
Now, that’s not all Paul had to say concerning the Extremists:
“I would they (i.e.Extremists) were even cut off which trouble you”
“Cut off” sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? The NIV translates the
verse as follows:
“As for those agitators (i.e. Extremists), I wish they would go the
whole way and emasculate themselves!”
DON’T MESS WITH PAUL’S CONVERTS
The great Apostle to the Gentiles, when it came to believers who
perverted the doctrine which he received from the Lord Jesus Christ
Himself, he was not very charitable or forgiving.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to
this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God”
It was only to those who walked according “to this rule” did Paul bestow
peace and mercy. Not to those who walked contrary-wise. Not only that,
but the symbols of his persecution, which were indelibly branded on his
back― he wore as badges of honor.
“From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks
of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17).