Acts 1:8 Reconsidered: A Stub Track, a Siding, or a Main Track? -- By: John H. Niemelä

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 24:47 (Autumn 2011)
Article: Acts 1:8 Reconsidered: A Stub Track, a Siding, or a Main Track?
Author: John H. Niemelä


Acts 1:8 Reconsidered:
A Stub Track, a Siding, or a Main Track?

John H. Niemelä

Professor

Rocky Mountain Bible College & Seminary

Denver, CO

I. Introduction

In Acts 1:7 Jesus refused to answer the eleven’s question about if He was about to restore the kingdom to Israel at that time. Acts 1:8 starts with alla (but), a strong disjunction. We can safely say that v 8 stands in contrast with v 7, but the crucial question is: What is the nature of that contrast? Three options exist, but most people are only familiar with two of them: a non-dispensational approach and the traditional Dispensational approach. Zane Hodges introduced me to another Dispensational interpretation (the third option) in his Acts course at Dallas Theological Seminary in 1984.

Non-dispensationalists view the Church as an end in itself, a spiritual kingdom that replaced Israel. They do not see history as a track leading to the Millennium.

Most Dispensationalists view Acts 1:8 as if Jesus said, in effect, “Don’t concern yourselves right now about when the Father will restore the kingdom to Israel. Abandon your thoughts of Israel and focus on the Church now.”

Zane Hodges viewed Acts 1:8 as a continuation of God’s preparation for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. In effect, this view says, “Fellows, the Father has not said when the restoration of Israel is coming. However, as my witnesses near and far, you have an important role in preparing for the return of Israel’s kingdom.”

In this article I illustrate the three views with three different railroad tracks. A stub track is a short dead end track leading away from the main track and ending in a bumping post

or other obstruction. A side track is a relatively short railroad track that is joined to the main track by switches. It runs parallel to the main track and allows other trains to pass.

II. Non-Dispensationalists: Acts 1:8 Teaches That The Church Replaces Israel

Non-dispensationalists reject any restored kingdom to Israel. If the disciples’ expectation that Jesus might then restore the kingdom were correct, these theologians would need to abandon their model. Thus, non-dispensationalists strive to see v 7 as: “Don’t ask when the kingdom will be restored,” and v 8 as: “Instead (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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