Q359 : Mid-Acts Dispensationalism and the Day of Pentecost

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Q359 : Mid-Acts Dispensationalism and the Day of Pentecost

[This is a follow-up to a previous question concerning Mid-Acts Dispensationalisma.]

Ron Samdahl responded by noting:

  1. . . . it would be easy to refute Acts 2, The only basis for Acts 2 is the coming of the Holy Spirit but that was an OT promise, a covenant promise to Israel. If you read Acts 2 that is clear.
  2. . . . Peter addressed Jews only and certainly made no mention that Jews and Gentiles were equal in Christ and party to one body.
  3. . . . No non-Pauline writer ever even mentions the Church, the body of Christ and they all write to a Jewish audience. Then you have passages where Paul wrote that he began the Church and that seals it.
But John isn't written to just Jews, wasn't it likely written to the Ephesian Gentiles? Nor is Revelation (to the churches which are all mixed and Gentile...). It doesn't make any sense to me what he's saying as Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:13 says 'For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.' And Acts 10:44-48 (Peter and Gentiles). Eph 2:21-22 Paul alludes to all fitted together and growing into a holy temple in the Lord — Jewish reference to a Gentile audience.... 1 Corth 3:16-17 and again in 1 Corth 6:19, and 2 corth 6:16 .... - Paul keeps repeating this same type of situation. And 6:16 references Exodus 29:45, Revelation 21:3, Hebrews 8:10, Jeremiah 32:38, Leviticus 26:12, Eze 37:26-27, Eze 11:20, Jer 31:33, Zech 2:10-11, Jer 24:7, etc. I could keep going on how many times the reference to "and they shall be my people in old and new testament. What am I missing??

How does his statement jive with Romans 8:9 and 11 : You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him....If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you?

Samdahl has to be splitting the Spirit up or something crazy like that, I think they do try to say there are 'two churches' I heard something about a 'little flock' they claim is the Jewish believers before Paul and that 'church' - none of which fits with the rest of Scripture . . .

A359 : by Tony Garland

Taking each point made by Samdahl in turn:

  1. Regarding Samdahl’s refutation of Acts 2 as the beginning of the Church, I've already dealt with that in my answer to Q355a where I explore the significance of what Peter told his fellow Jews in Acts 11. Namely, that what God gave the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius in Acts 10 was the same as what happened to the Jews “at the first” (Acts 2). So the claim that Acts 2 is for Jews only is refuted by the words of Peter. And this is because Acts 2 records Spirit baptism—the same Spirit baptism that happened involving Jews (Acts 2), Samaritans (Acts 8), and Gentiles (Acts 10). As I also pointed out, this is the same Spirit baptism that Paul describes in 1 Cor. 12:13.
  2. While Peter didn’t mention the equality of Jew and Gentile in Acts 2, he certainly did in Acts 10 (Acts 10:34-35) which was precisely the purpose of God’s revelation of the animals in the blanket earlier in the chapter. Here’s the logic: Peter claimed that Gentiles were acceptable to God on the same basis as the Jews (Acts 10:34), and also came to understand that the Gentiles were Spirit baptized the same way as the Jews on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 11:17). By refusing to acknowledge this truth, Samdahl is sitting in the place of Peter’s critics in Acts 11–refusing to accept the equal footing of Gentiles and Jews which God showed Peter in Acts 10 and Peter came to understand in Acts 11. Again, this is key: Peter explains that Acts 10 is the Gentile equivalent of Acts 2–the same Spirit baptism happened for both the Jews in Acts 2 and the Gentiles in Acts 10. Samdahl wants to claim an early exclusively Jewish group, but Acts 10-11 (and Peter) refute that view. The sequence of God’s work forming the Church (Jews first, then Samaritans, then Gentiles) must not be deemed as a form of separation.
  3. Here again: the argument from silence. Not mentioning something is not conclusive proof of such a conclusion. I could use the same technique to claim that homosexuality is acceptable to God because Jesus never explicitly said otherwise (he was “silent” on the issue). Paul nowhere says “I began the Church” — that is putting words into his mouth. Paul received special revelation about the Church. God chose him as a special instrument to give that revelation—but, like Peter, Paul didn’t come to that knowledge until after God had already done the work of establishing the Church. As I’ve also said, numerous times, this isn’t about who understood what and when. It is about how God defines the Church and when He began the process.

The problem you are wrestling with here is that MAD proponents do not read scripture the same as you and I. They compartmentalize things. Since Hebrews wasn’t written by Paul, then it has nothing to do with the Church (so they conclude). So when we point to writings that are not by Paul, we are already on losing ground. It’s a bit like quoting the Q’uran in a discussion with normative Christians—they don’t think it is written to them and (rightly) discount what it has to say. My experience is that you will never make headway citing non-Pauline epistles in a MAD discussion because they view them as a “canon within the canon” (less applicable and authoritative to the Church). This is why I’ve stayed focused on Acts (since they themselves use it to divide the body of Christ). I’ve given very strong evidence—from Acts itself and the words of Peter—that you can’t separate the baptizing work of Acts 10 (Gentiles) from the same baptizing work in Acts 2 (Jews). That seals the deal.

I’ve also expounded on why the baptism in 1Cor. 12:13 is not a different baptism than the Spirit baptism of Acts. From my perspective, that knocks out the two key “pillars” upon which MAD attempts to make its case. Until these can be properly dealt with, nothing else is going to be fruitful as other arguments are largely inferred from silence and the continued insistence that it was revelation given to Paul, rather than action taken by God, that started the Church.

Mid-Acts Dispensationalists split things up into a smaller Jewish/apostolic group of believers (who they say were baptized by Christ with the Spirit) and the body of Christ (later, who they say were baptized by the Spirit—with what: they don’t say). I addressed that in my previous Q/A by pointing out that the English distinction between in/with/by is artificial: the underlying Greek phrase is identical in all Spirit baptism-related passages.

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