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New Testament Types in Acts: Part 11

Dec 07, 2006

Caesarea was a city built by King Herod in honor of Augustus Caesar. This was not Caesarea Philippi, but rather Caesarea Sebaste, also called Caesarea Stratonis. Herod also built a breakwater in order to give it a man-made harbor for shipping.

Philip moved here with his family, for he had four daughters who were prophetic (Acts 21:8, 9). Because the city was under the protection of Rome, it was largely out of the reach of the temple priests in Jerusalem who opposed and persecuted the early Christians. In fact, Philip's house was probably the main refuge for Christians fleeing from persecution.

What is not generally known is that Zaccheus was the first bishop of Caesarea and was under the protection of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion who was headquartered in the same city. This forms the background for the types in the next few chapters of the book of Acts.

In Acts 9 we find Saul energized by the stoning of Stephen. Now he wants to kill all of the Christians, not only in Jerusalem but as far away as Damascus. The priestly authorities in Jerusalem were only too happy to give him the necessary papers authorizing this (9:2). But as Saul rode to Damascus on his mission of murder, a light from heaven struck him to the ground, and a voice came out of the light saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (9:4).

Jesus identified himself as the One speaking and told him to enter Damascus and await further instructions. When he arose, he found that he had been blinded. and this condition lasted for three days (9:9).

Meanwhile, Jesus spoke to another man named Ananias, telling him to find Saul in the house of Judas and pray that he might receive his sight. Ananias knew of Saul and his mission, so he questioned the Lord's sanity. But the Lord told him that Saul was His "chosen instrument." So Ananias was obedient and did as He was instructed.

Saul then began to testify of Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus! It was not long before the Jewish opposition were plotting to kill Saul. But he was able to escape. Because the gates were watched, he was lowered over the wall in a basket (9:25). From here he fled directly to Mount Sinai in Arabia (Gal. 1:17) in order to receive a greater understanding of the relationship between law and grace.

Thus, he did not receive his understanding from the apostles, but from God Himself (Gal. 1:16). In those early days it is doubtful if the apostles would have been able to understand the extent to which God was about to forsake Jerusalem. But Paul's revelation is expressed clearly in Gal. 4:21-31, where he says that "Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem." The believers, however, were of Sarah, the New Jerusalem. God had cast out the old Jerusalem, even as Abraham had cast out Hagar and her son.

The rise of modern Zionism has largely extinguished Paul's revelation of this, for the Jewish occupation of Palestine and control of Jerusalem seem to give the Judaizers evidence that God has once again taken Hagar back into His tent and made her the woman chosen to bring forth the promise. But Isaiah 28:1-6 and Jeremiah 19:10-11 both prophesy the utter destruction of Jerusalem in a way that has yet to be fulfilled.

The book of Acts does not record Saul's visit to Arabia. It just says that He went to Jerusalem, where the Jewish leaders were wanting to kill him, and the Christians did not trust him. But Barnabas found him and brought him to the disciples, telling them his story. Paul's fearlessness was such that he even began teaching the word in Jerusalem (Acts 9:28). This put his life in danger, however, and the disciples took him to Caesarea, no doubt to Philip's house, to await passage on a ship to Tarsus (9:30).

There he remained for 10 years before Barnabas came down from Antioch and brought him back to participate in the revival going on there at that time (Acts 11:25). During this move of the Spirit, the prophet Agabus prophesied of a great famine that was soon to come. So they took up a collection of money and sent it to the apostles in Jerusalem by the hand of Barnabas and Saul (11:30). When they returned to Antioch, the Holy Spirit sent these men out in what is called Paul's first missionary journey (13:2), for only then did Saul begin to use his Roman name, Paul (13:9).

With that account in mind, let us now return to the events in Acts 9 and study the types that prophesy of the fulfillment of Tabernacles at the end of the Pentecostal era.

The two works of Christ are expressed in the laws of the two doves and two goats (Lev. 14 and 16). But there are actually three main feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. And so there is more than one combination applicable to these prophetic laws. We may view them in a Passover-to-Pentecost sense, in that they speak of moving from Old Covenant to the New Covenant (or Old Testament to New Testament).

That is the first fulfillment on the surface of the book of Acts, for in this book we see the historical account of what occurred after the change from the Passover Age to Pentecost. In that context, Saul's transformation and his subsequent name change (Paul) shows us the contrast between the Old and New Covenants.

Under the Old Covenant, Paul's zealousness merely brought him into bondage to his carnal mind. Under the New Covenant, Paul became a bondservant of Jesus Christ, which brought him true freedom. As Saul, he was of Hagar; but when he became a son of Sarah, his name was changed to Paul. Another way of looking at this is to see that Saul is a Hebrew name that identified him with just one nation (a local perspective). But Paul was a Roman name and reflected a more universal perspective of the Kingdom of God.

The second view is to see the two works of Christ as moving from Pentecost to Tabernacles. Pentecost is a transitional feast, allowing a person to either move forward into Tabernacles or to revert back into Judaism's love for Hagar-Jerusalem and its obsession with thinking that the old Jerusalem is called to bring forth the promised Kingdom.

Paul saw this problem and wrote a number of epistles to cut people loose from the old mentality. It was difficult, however, because the other apostles may not have had such a clear vision of the New Jerusalem. Hence, Galatians, Colossians, and especially Hebrews are written specifically to refute the re-judaization of the Church.

And so the two works of Christ also present to us the move from Pentecost to Tabernacles, along the pattern of the move from King Saul to King David. This is perhaps the most important connecting link between Old and New Testament types, because the New Testament Saul was a Benjamite named after King Saul, the Benjamite in the Old Testament.

As I have shown in many other places, King Saul was crowned on the day of wheat harvest, known later as Pentecost (1 Sam. 12:17). He was a Pentecostal type in the Old Testament, who persecuted David, the Tabernacles-type overcomer. Even so, in the New Testament, Saul persecuted the Church in the same manner, and as time passed, the Church (Pentecost) began to persecute its overcomers also.

The situation has evolved, and no longer do we burn people at the stake for refusing to come under the authority of the Church hierarchy; but yet the Church continues to malign the overcomers. Instead of rejoicing at a greater understanding of Scripture, they often perceive a new revelation by a spirit of competition, as if Tabernacles is a threat to Pentecost.

The change from Saul to Paul also teaches us how to go beyond Pentecost into the fullness of Tabernacles. But we can only see this if we understand Paul as a prophetic type.

This is the eleventh part of a series titled "New Testament Types in Acts." To view all parts, click the link below.

New Testament Types in Acts

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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones