By Larry Ray Hafley
From Oklahoma: “A Baptist preacher, using Acts 26.20-2-3 as a proof text, says that Moses and the prophets did not predict that a new doctrine should come after Christ was crucified on the cross. What is he teaching of Paul in that passage, and did the prophets teach a different way of salvation after the cross?”
Acts 26:20-23 is part of Paul’s answer before King Agrippa “touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews” (Acts 26:2). Paul recalls and recounts his conversion, discussing and describing the Lord’s appearance unto him. Having received a divine summons, Paul says, “Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 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: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the (lead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:19-23).
The Teaching of Paul in Acts 26:20-23
The Jews constantly charged that advocates of the faith of Christ spoke “blasphemous words against Moses and against God,” and “against this holy place and the law” (Acts 6:11, 13; 21:27, 28; 24:5-9). This accusation was of their own imagination; it was false. In countering the indictment, Paul and others showed that the church was but the fulfillment of Old Testament promise and prophecy. Moses and the prophets said, “That Christ should suffer, and that he should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” Paul said he preached those facts because that is what “the prophets and Moses did say should come.
On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, two dismayed, discouraged disciples were lamenting His death. They thought the end of His life was the termination of their hopes. “Then he (Jesus) said unto them, O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:25-27). In other words, this is what “the prophets and Moses did say should come.” See Luke 24:44-47.
In Acts 2 and 3, Peter made the same appeal to Old Testament testimony (Acts 2:25-36). “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many (prophets-LRH) as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days” (Acts 3:24). What they preached was divinely documented, Peter urgently affirmed.
Paul’s speech in Acts 13 is a masterpiece on this theme. Read verses 14-41. He says that Jesus’ death was !he fulfillment of Scripture. Note the emphasis on fulfillment of Scripture as Paul repeats that very word three times to italicize the thought that he is preaching “none other things than those the prophets and Moses did say should come.”
Compare Acts 3:24-26; 13:32-39; 26:6,7. Each passage refers to “the promise made of God unto our fathers.” Jesus is the fruition, the completion of the hope of the Jews. Far front being its detractor and destroyer, He is its object and subject. The gospel is, in Paul’s words, “the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20). Paul was imprisoned for the Gospel’s sake (Col. 4:3; 2 Tim. 2:8, 9). He was in bonds “for the hope of Israel;” therefore, the Gospel is “,he hope of Israel.” The Jews sought to kill Paul because he preached the Gospel (Acts 26: 20, 21), but ,he Gospel he preached (Christ’s suffering and death-Cf. Acts 17:2, 3) was the very thing “the prophets and. Moses did say should come.”
A “Different Way,” A “New Doctrine”?
Can one say, “New Testament,” without speaking of a new doctrine? Does the Baptist preacher who promoted the questions ever use the term, “New Testament?” The Lord said, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant 1 made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt” (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-13). God says it is “new,” and if it is “not according” to the covenant of Sinai, then it is different in some respects.
Jer. 31:34 reveals at least two fundamental differences. First, entrance into the kingdom will be by means of the law, the word of the “new covenant,” written in their hearts. It will not be necessary in the new covenant to teach one to know the Lord, for he will know the Lord, else he would not be in the fellowship. The Jews were raised in the nation of Israel and were taught, saying, “know the Lord.” In spiritual Israel, one is a citizen because he knows the Lord (Jn. 8:32; 17:3). Second, continual sacrifices were no longer essential. All new,” “different” sacrifice is in effect. That sacrifice is Christ, not animals (Heb. 10:1-17). The Hebrew writer says the Holy Spirit spoke of the will and sacrifice of Christ in Jer. 31:31-34 (Heb. 10:15-17). He calls the remission of sins procured and provided by Christ, “a new and living way” (Heb. 10:20).
In Acts 26:20-23, Paul taught that Jewish charges against the Gospel were false because what he preached was precisely what “the prophets and Moses did say should come.” “But this I confess unto thee, that after the wav (the Gospel-LRH) which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Acts 24:14).
Yes, a “new covenant,” “a new and living way” came after Christ’s death. It was “not according” to the covenant made at Sinai; hence, it was different. Remember the sequence of events: (1) Christ should suffer; (2) He should be raised from the dead; (3) He should show light to the Jews and Gentiles; thus, it was after Christ was crucified on the cross” that this “new” and “different” way was to come into force. See Hebrews 9:16, 17.
Truth Magazine XX: 42, pp. 669-670
October 21, 1976