New Testament Types in Acts: Part 6
Dec 01, 2006
Acts 6-8 presents a lengthy New Testament type in the stories of Stephen and Philip. These were two of the seven original deacons in the Jerusalem Church.
It seems that Stephen became engaged in a biblical discussion with a particular Jewish sect called "The Synagogue of the Libertines" (Acts 6:9). Dr. Bullinger tells us in his notes:
"During the Civil Wars many Jews had been enslaved, and afterwards set free by their masters. A manumitted slave was called libertinus. These were probably descendants of such freedmen who had returned to Jerusalem, after the decree of Tiberius expelling the Jews from Rome about 20 A.D."
These Libertines, including Jews who had returned from Cyrene and Alexandria (vs. 9), were unable to argue against Stephen's teaching--not doubt how Scripture had prophesied of the Messiah's death and resurrection and how Jesus was the fulfillment of the Passover Lamb. No doubt this also included a discussion about the changes in the law from lambs to The Lamb, from physical temple to the temple of our bodies, from old Jerusalem to the New, from Levitical to Melchizedek priesthood, etc. This opened Stephen up to charges of blasphemy (vs. 13, 14).
They dragged Stephen before the religious Council, and chapter 7 records the lengthy speech that Stephen gave. He gave a brief history from Abraham to Christ, showing that in the days of the exodus from Egypt, the people had brought with them shrines to Moloch and Rompha (7:43).
He reminds them also that the temple of Solomon--and any house made by human hands--was insufficient to house the God of the Universe (7:48). This implied that the current temple in Jerusalem was also insufficient and that God had prepared a different house--our bodies--in which to dwell.
Then Stephen really unloaded the truth upon them in verses 51, 52,
" (51) You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. (52) Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become."
This was too much for them. They could not deny that Scripture itself says all of this about them and their forefathers, but this only made them angry, because they did not have a heart to hear the word of the Lord. And so they rushed upon him, took him out, and stoned him to death.
I believe that this event took place on the Day of Atonement or in that vicinity, because Stephen became a type of the first goat that was killed on that day. He was killed on a charge of blasphemy--the same charge as in the case of Jesus Himself.
Also, there is a direct parallel between this story and that found in Numbers 13 and 14, where Israel refused to go into the Promised Land. That also happened on the Day of Atonement, "the time of the first-ripe grapes" (Num. 13:20). In fact, as I showed in Secrets of Time, it was the 50th Jubilee from Adam, the time when the people were to return to their inheritance. But they did not have the faith to do this, and so that Jubilee was turned into a Day of Atonement, a day of mourning and repentance each year afterward.
When Caleb and Joshua urged the people to repent of their decision and to enter by faith, the people nearly stoned them (14:10).
"But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel."
In that case, they dropped their stones and decided perhaps that was not such a good idea after all. Nonetheless, their minds and hearts were closed, and they still refused to enter the Promised Land.
In the case of Stephen in Acts 7, the people actually did stone him, as he beheld the glory of God appearing to him.
" (55) but being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus [Joshua, or Yeshua] standing at the right hand of God; (56) and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'."
In both stories, the glory of God appeared, and both stories involve "Joshua" or Jesus, who each were rejected by the people in their own day in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled in regard to the first goat on the Day of Atonement. This incident, by the way, provided the lawful judgment by which the Church and the overcomers would have to spend the next 40 Jubilees in the wilderness. Not only the unbelieving Church in the wilderness, but also Caleb and Joshua would have to wait as well.
The addition of Stephen overlaid upon this type gives a further detail. Stephen's name means "crown," or more specifically, a victor's wreath. In rejecting Stephen, they were essentially rejecting the victor's wreath, which the Promised Land signified.
Paul, who was then called Saul, gave assent to the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1). Yet he later repented, showing that path by which the people could enter the Promised Land. God later allowed Paul to be judged in the same manner as he had judged Stephen, for he too was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19, 20). However, Stephen had prayed forgiveness for those who stoned him (7:60), and so Paul survived this stoning. Ah, the power of forgiveness!
At the end of Paul's life, he wrote to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:5,
"And also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules [lawfully]."
Later in 2 Tim. 4:7, 8 he says,
" (7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; (8) in the future there is laid up for me the crown [stephanos, "victor's wreath"] of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."
Paul, like Caleb and Joshua, knew that he had to wait for a future time to enter the Promised Land. Yet he knew that he had obtained the same promise that Caleb and Joshua had obtained--that they would be alive on the day that the people entered the Promised Land as one Body at the Feast of Tabernacles.
This is why the resurrection of the dead must take place FIRST. It is to raise all those overcomers who have died in the past, so that they might join the living overcomers on earth and enter the Promised Land as one complete Body at the appointed time. They cannot be made perfect apart from us (Heb. 11:40); yet we who are alive at the end of the Age cannot precede those who have fallen asleep (1 Thess. 4:15). We can only enter the Promised Land together as one Body.
The purpose of resurrection is to unite the overcomers from all generations into one Body at the time of the feast of Trumpets, so that two weeks later on the feast of Tabernacles, we can all enter the Promised Land (immortality) together. Then our Head comes upon the Body to further complete this New Man during the midst of Tabernacles. And finally, on the eighth day of Tabernacles this perfected New Man may be presented to the Father on the day prescribed in the law.
This is the sixth part of a series titled "New Testament Types in Acts." To view all parts, click the link below.