The popular view of Acts is that from beginning to end it is primarily the record of the birth and growth of the church of this present age. The correct view is that it is primarily the record of the fall and diminishing of Israel. It demonstrates step-by-step why Israel was set aside, and salvation sent to the Gentiles apart from them. It reveals why the commission that Christ gave the twelve apostles had to be suspended and another apostle raised up to go to the Gentiles with a new message and ministry. Paul was not sent under the same commission as the twelve apostles (cf. Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 1:17). Acts is not primarily a book of doctrine but rather an historical record of the transition period in which God moved from the nation of Israel to the Body of Christ; from the gospel of the kingdom to the gospel of the grace of God; from the ministry of Peter (Acts 1-12) to that of Paul (Acts 13-28).

The emphasis on Israel throughout the book of Acts has caused some dispensationalists to wrongly conclude that the Body of Christ did not begin until after Acts 28:28. Although E.W. Bullinger began to lay the groundwork for this extreme view about six years before his death in 1913, the main proponent was Charles Welch (1880-1967). He was a Bible corrector that denied hell and taught other extreme views. Paul wrote six of his inspired epistles before Acts 21 (1 & 2 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Romans) and there is doctrine about and for the Body of Christ clearly set forth in those epistles (e.g., Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 4:1; 12:13; 15:51; Gal. 3:27-28; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). This simple fact absolutely refutes the Acts 28 position. Paul also spoke of the fall of Israel in those early epistles (Rom. 11:11-15; 1 Thess. 2:14-16).

Acts 26:22-23

22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:

23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

Acts 28ers think that Paul said in verse 22 proves he did not receive the mystery of the Body of Christ during his Acts ministry. They typically do not quote the rest of the sentence in verse 23 which specifies what he was talking about. In the context it was Paul’s purpose to expose the hypocrisy of the unbelieving Jews for wanting to kill him for preaching a message that was based on the OT scripture they themselves professed to believe. Paul received new revelations from Christ that he had already written about in the epistles he wrote BEFORE he went to Jerusalem for the final time (e.g., Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 12:13; 15:3-4, 51; Gal. 1:11-12), but none of them were contrary to the prophesied truth of verse 23. The gospel of God (Rom. 1:1-4) is foundational to the gospel of the grace of God.

Acts 28:20

For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.

Acts 28ers think that what Paul said in this verse proves that he preached the gospel of the kingdom throughout his Acts ministry and that the Body of Christ had not yet begun. Paul was not a prisoner for preaching the gospel of the kingdom, but for his ministry among the Gentiles (Eph. 3:1) and for preaching the mystery of the gospel (Eph. 6:19-20). He also said that he was a “prisoner of the Lord” (Eph. 4:1). The OT prophets said that the Lord is “the hope of Israel” (Jer. 14:7-9; 17:12-14; Joel 3:16-17). More specifically, the resurrection in general, and the resurrection of Christ in particular, is the hope of Israel (Acts 23:6; 24:14-15; 25:18-19; 26:6-8). Paul did not preach the gospel of the kingdom, but he was a witness of the resurrection of Christ, and he proved to the Jews from the OT that Jesus was the risen Christ (2 Tim. 2:8-9). After all, if they didn’t first believe that Jesus was the prophesied Christ, they would not believe the gospel of the grace of God that was revealed to Paul (1 Cor. 15:3-4; Gal. 1:11-12).