Most people will, in their study of the Bible, recognize and acknowledge that God has progressively unfolded His plan for man. This means, He has added more and more meaning and given new light as the ages of time advanced. Few, however, see that such advances include administrational or dispensational changes. It seems that many grow “near sighted” and fail to see these changes—especially in the Book of Acts—insisting on blending truth instead  of attaching truth to the proper administration by rightly dividing (2 Tim. 2:15). The following is an attempt to illustrate the transitional and dispensational nature of the Book of Acts.


The Two Divisions of the Book:

  • In the first half of Acts, the ministry of Peter, the “Apostle to the Circumcision” is preeminent (Acts 1-2).
  • In the second half of Acts, the ministry of Paul, the “Apostle to the Uncircumcision” is preeminent (Acts 13-26).

 The conclusion is obvious: there is a change in leadership.

 The Changing Witnessing Patterns:

  • In the first half of Acts, Gospel witness is limited to the “Jews only” (Acts 11:19).
  • In the second half of Acts, the Jews were given priority in hearing the Gospel (Acts 13:26, 46; Rom. 1:16).
  • But after the closing of Acts, the Gospel witness is given without any racial priorities (Rom. 3:22; 10:12; Titus 2:11).

  What other choice have we but to conclude that a change is taking place?


The Change of Gospel content:

  • The Gospel of the Kingdom (Lk. 3:3-16; 18:13-26; Acts 2:38; 22:16). Look at the common question in each of the above Scripture passages. “What must I do to be saved?” Check out the answers!
  • Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 16:30-31; Eph. 2:8-9).

  When seen side by side, the conclusion is obvious: a change        is taking place.


The Geographical and Ecclesiastical Movement:

  • In Chapters 1-7 of Acts, Peter is the leader, the Twelve are active, centered in Jerusalem and the Kingdom message goes to Israel.
  • In Chapters 8-12 of Acts, there is a moving away from Jerusalem. Paul is moving in and Peter and the Twelve are moving out. Samaria and the Gentiles are in the foreground.
  • In Chapters 13-28 of Acts, we see only Paul. Antioch is the new center and the Grace Message goes to all men. The action moves to Antioch.
  • In Acts 28:16-31 of Acts, finally at Rome, Israel’s Kingdom hopes are temporarily set aside.

  The conclusion again is obvious: a change is taking place.


The Jewish Agency for Evangelism is Set Aside:

  • Isaiah 49:6, 66:18-19 and many other Old Testament passages tell us Israel was to be the agency through which Gentiles were to be saved.
  • Acts 13:46 and 28:27-28 clearly state that this Jewish Agency for evangelism is being set aside in favor of an entirely new agency: the Body of Christ.

  The conclusion again is obvious: a change is taking place.


Old Testament Principles and Principles of the Dispensation of Grace Operating Side-by-Side:

  • The Angel of the Lord (5:19; 8:26; 12:7, 23; 27:23), and visions (Acts 9:10; 10:3, 17; 16:9), led, guided, and assisted believers. Such things were common place in the Old Testament with God’s dealings with Israel.
  • The Holy Spirit is leading, guiding, and assisting believers (Acts 9:32; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6. 20-23, 28), which is common throughout all the Dispensation of Grace.

  The conclusion again is obvious: a change is taking place.


The Changing Patterns for Water Baptism and Spirit Baptism:

  • Before the Book of Acts: water baptism only (Jn. 1:31; 7:39; 14:17; cf., Heb. 9:10).
  • In Acts 2:38: First water baptism, then Spirit baptism.
  • In Acts 8:14-18: First water baptism, then Spirit baptism by the laying on of hands.
  • In Acts 19:44-48: First Spirit baptism, then water baptism.
  • After the Acts: Spirit baptism only (Eph. 4:5).

  The inescapable conclusion: a change is taking place.


The Change in Financial Policies of Believers:

  • Kingdom Collectivism (2:44-45; 4:33-34; 5:1-11). “Neither was there any among them that lacked.”
  • Church Grace (11:29; cf., Rom. 15:26). “For the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”

  What other conclusion is there? A change is taking place.


The Three Major Turning Points in the Book of Acts:

  • The Outrage against Stephen (Acts 7:57-58).
  • The Outbreak against Paul (Acts 22:22).
  • The Outgoing to the Gentiles (Acts 28:28).

  What are these if not turning points? And, if they do not indi-   cate a pointing to another dispensation, then to what are they pointing?


If the Book of Acts were a “Handbook for the Function and Operation of the Local Church Today,” then we must have …

  • Apostolic Rulership (5:11; cf., Mt. 16:19; Jn. 20:23)
  • Communal Living (2:44-45; 4:34-37; 5:1-11)
  • Temple Worship (2:46; 3:1; 5:42; 21:26-27)
  • Healings (5:15-16; 19:12)
  • Tongues (2:4, 11; 10:46; 19:6)
  • Miracles (6:8; 8:6; 19:11)
  • Visions (11:5; 16:9; 18:9)
  • Laying on of Hands (8:18; 19:6)
  • Baptism for Salvation and Gift of the Holy Spirit (2:38; 22:16)
  • Women Preachers (21:20)
  • Angelic Visitations (5:19, 26; 12:7, 23; 27:23)



We must be aware of the nature of the Book of Acts lest we create hopeless chaos by mixing Jewish Kingdom truth with Church-Age truth. Please, let’s not be guilty of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”