Man’s separation from God because of his action in the Garden, leave man in a dismal state spiritually. Man’s spiritual condition does not change until the Administration of Grace and that does not begin until midway through the book of Acts.
We still need to answer the question about the term disciple being used in the Book of Acts. The believers in the Age of Grace have been reconciled to God. For us, the chasm no longer exists; we have no separation from God. So why is this term, disciple, used in the Book of Acts?
There are four reasons for the use of this term disciple in Acts:
It must be understood that the book of Acts is a book of transition. It is not a book of doctrine. It takes believers from the Christ Administration to the Revealing Administration and finally to the Administration of Grace. Acts goes from the Church of the Bride to the Church of the Body, from the Gospels to the Church Epistles. Throughout the vast majority of the Book of Acts the believers did not fully know what God had accomplished in His Son. And this brings us to the second reason.
The revelation from God of what He had accomplished in Jesus Christ is being revealed throughout the Book of Acts and even beyond the book of Acts.
The epistles that carry the doctrine, reproof, and correction for the Administration of Grace are Romans through Thessalonians. Doctrine is the right way of believing during our administration. Reproof is for when the believer has practical error in his life. It will bring him back to the right way to believe, to right doctrine. And correction is for doctrinal error in the life of the believer. It also will bring a believer back to the right way to believe.
The book of Acts is not doctrine, reproof, or correction. Rather it is instruction in righteousness and a book of history. It is the account of God working with men and women to see all that He, God, has accomplished for mankind. It is God revealing to the believers all that He has made available in this new administration.
But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
At the time Paul separates the disciples in Acts 19 only two of the Church Epistles are written, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. During Acts 19 Galatians and 1st Corinthians are written. After Acts 19 the remainder of the Church Epistles are a written.
Acts chapter 1 starts around 29 AD.
Acts chapter 12 is about 44 AD.
Acts chapter 15 is about 51 A.D.
Acts chapter 19 is about 55-57 AD.
Acts chapter 28 is about 62 AD.
Overall the Book of Acts covers a time span of about 35 years.
Throughout the book of Acts the believers are learning what God has done for them; what God has given to them; and how they were to walk in light of this new doctrine.
The men who received on the day of Pentecost were the disciples of Jesus Christ. They had learned discipline. They had learned to follow both their teacher and his teachings. And it is Jesus, their master and teacher that tells these men to go and make disciples.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
The Greek word for “teach” here is another form of the word mathetes. It means to “disciple another”.
Jesus Christ before the Ascension instructs his disciples to go and disciple others. These directions would have been in their minds as they began to minister and teach the people in Jerusalem.
The question must be asked, Why did Jesus Christ tell his disciples to disciple others if being a disciple was going to end in the Administration of Grace?
The answer is simple but hard for Christianity to hear; the Day of Pentecost is not the beginning of the Administration of Grace but rather the beginning of the Revealing Administration and in the Revealing Administration holy spirit will once again be upon believers rather than created within believers, as in the Administration of Grace. (see The Day of Pentecost).
Jesus Christ was not aware of the Administration of Grace, it was a secret known only to God until it was revealed to the Apostle Paul. Jesus Christ shows this when he is speaking with his disciples just before his Ascension.
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
The third reason the word disciple is used in the book of Acts is because the doctrine of the Administration of Grace was not revealed to the world until the Apostle Paul is sent forth by God in Acts 13.
As the doctrine of the Gospel of Grace and the fullness of what God has brought to pass comes to light this word disciple ceases to be used. The last time this word is used is in Acts chapter 21.
If we are to be disciples today, if we are to disciple ourselves to a person, God would have made it very clear in the church epistles.
The fourth and final reason this word disciple is used in the Book of Acts is because they were the disciples of Paul. They followed the man and what the man taught. But because they walked as the disciples of Paul, they grew out of their discipleship.
A man who only goes by his five senses can never go beyond his teacher. But a man with the spirit of God created within him is only limited in his view of God by what God chooses to reveal.
Paul never taught the believers to be disciples. He understood the doctrine of the Grace Administration. He knew what God had wrought in Christ. He is the one that received all of the revelation pertaining to this administration.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Search what scriptures? The Old Testament! The problem is that the doctrine of the Grace Administration is not in the Old Testament, it was a secret known only to God; a secret that God did not reveal to anyone before the Apostle Paul.
Could they search for:
•The correct operation of the manifestation of the spirit in the church? •The accurate doctrine on the return of Christ for the Church of the Body? •That believers are as righteous as God? •About the gift ministries and their purpose in the church? •Could they search and learn about their “new” nature? •Could they understand the more excellent way? •Could they learn why speaking in tongues is profitable?
All of these things pertain to the Administration of Grace. God remained silent concerning this administration throughout eternity. Until He revealed the greatness of what He had accomplished in Christ to the Apostle Paul.
Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
Specifically what they searched in the scriptures was that Jesus was the Christ.
As Paul taught the administration of Grace, the believers had to follow Paul. The great difference now is that these men and women are spiritual. They have a new nature, a spiritual nature. Part of the purpose and reason for receiving holy spirit was that people could know the things that God had given.
1 Corinthians 2:12
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
We can know in this administration. For the first time since the Garden man does not need another man to show him everything about God. God created holy spirit within believers today so that each individual believer can walk and talk with God. No longer is the only view available the back of another person’s head! We are seated in the heavenlies, in the presence of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:13
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
Paul never taught the believers to be his disciples. Paul was not looking for any disciples. He never asked for their commitment or devotion to himself. Rather Paul taught them to walk and talk with God.
You can see a sequence to what Paul taught the believers concerning their walk with God.
1 Thessalonians 1:6
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.
The believers became followers (imitators in the Greek) of Paul. What Paul taught the people led them to Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ brings a person unto God.
1 Corinthians 11:1
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Again the word for followers is imitators in the Greek. First people followed Paul and his doctrine led them to following Jesus Christ and Christ brings a man or a woman to God.
1 Corinthians 4:15-17
For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
In verse 15, you see the orientialism when it refers to Paul as our Father in the Word. A title he has simply due to the fact that he is the one who received the revelation pertaining to this administration.
Next, in verse 16, we are told to follow a person, we are told to follow Paul. However, it is not a blanket statement. This section of scripture very clearly sets up when a believer should follow a leader and in what manner the believer should be a follower of another person in our administration. It never says, follow a leader no matter what he is doing, nor does it say we follow a person blindly.
Finally, in verse 17, the details are revealed, “my ways which be in Christ.” If a leader is off the Word of God no believer is ever instructed to follow wrong doctrine. If the leader does not line up with the words of God then stop following! In such a case the believer needs to start leading the leader. Do what Aquilla and Priscilla did with Apollos when his doctrine was wrong.
The word “ways” in verse 17 means “a road or a journey”.
There is only one place the road Christ will lead you. There is only one journey Christ will take you on and that is straight to God.
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Followers is again the word imitators.
This is the sequence.
First, a man shares God’s Word with you. If the man is teaching the accuracy and integrity of the Word of God, you will become an imitator of God. The final point, the ultimate point, is for each believer to be an imitator of God. Each believer can do this in our administration because we have God’s spirit within; we have God’s nature within.
For the first time God has created spirit within so that we have His spirit by nature. For the first time since the Garden every believer can have personal fellowship with God. No longer are we to only see the glory of God reflected on the face of another believer. Now we can see the glory of God for ourselves.
2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Now, as God’s children, we have an unobstructed view of the greatness of our Heavenly Father. And it looks so much better than the back of another man’s head!
To be a disciple in the Administration of Grace is no more than carnality for a disciple has placed a man between himself and God. In other administrations being a disciple was an honorable and praise worthy walk but in the Administration of Grace being a disciple is to be a believer that is weak, or immature in believing.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
“Present” is the Greek word paraisteemi and that means “to place yourself, to stand along side of”. We are supposed to place ourselves, to stand along side of God by the renewing of our minds so that we, each individual, know the will of God.