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Book of Acts Chapter 15, Part 2 - Christogenea Internet Radio 10-04-2013
In the first part of our presentation of Acts chapter 15, we saw that there was a dispute at Antioch between Paul and Barnabas, primarily, on the one side, and certain Judaizers who had come from Jerusalem on the other, who insisted that those who were turned to Christianity should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Mosaic Law. Disputing these things, Paul and Barnabas then agreed to bring their case before the elder apostles in Jerusalem for a decision concerning these matters.
Later, in Jerusalem, upon hearing their arguments the apostle Peter spoke, professing that the people of the Nations received the gift of the Holy Spirit apart from any rituals whatsoever, and therefore it was not necessary for those turned to Christianity to perform such things. For this reason, Peter's conclusion was that the Nations should not be compelled to submit to the yoke of the Mosaic Law, where he said “Therefore now why tempt Yahweh to place a yoke upon the necks of the students which neither our fathers nor us have been able to bear? ” While later in his epistles Paul gives even greater Scriptural reasons for the passing of the Mosaic Law, we can see that the Book of Acts records a religious transition, and Peter's conclusion is justified, since upon investigation it is indeed supported by the Law and the prophets.
Peter then made a very important point that cannot be overlooked, where he is recorded as having said “11 But through the favor of Prince Yahshua we trust to be saved by the manner as they also.” There he not only admitted that the people of the Nations turning to Christ are saved by the grace of God, rather than by any doings of their own, but he also professed that Judaean Christians have that same anticipation, that their righteousness would not be found in a keeping of the the Law, but in Christ apart from the Law. So we see that in this instance Peter summarily agrees with all of those things concerning the Law which were later taught by Paul throughout his epistles.
Following Peter's discourse, Luke then records a response given by the apostle James, who for the most part agreed with Peter where he said in verse 19: “On which account I judge not to trouble those from among the Nations who turn to Yahweh”, attesting that the Nations should not be compelled to comply with the Mosaic Law. However there are three points which James must have felt were so important that they transcended submission to that Law.These three points are described as James' discourse continues in verse 20: “but to enjoin them to abstain from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from that which is strangled and from blood.” These three things, as we have seen at length where we finished with the first segment of this presentation of Acts 15, enjoin Christians to abstain from anything which embraces pagan idolatry, and to abstain from race-mixing and other illicit sexual relations, and to look into and keep certain of Yahweh's dietary laws. With this, James concludes by saying, as it is recorded in verse 21: “For Moses from generations of old has those who are proclaiming him in each city in the assembly halls, being read each and every Sabbath.” Here, in our opinion, James is making the statement that perhaps it is good for Christians to look into the Law, by informing them that it is indeed read each and every Sabbath in the Judaean assembly halls - which at that time were not yet reduced to being strictly Edomite in their management and attendance. Paul would agree, where he later says in his second epistle to Timothy that “16 All writing inspired of God is also beneficial for teaching, for evidence, for correction, for education which is in righteousness, 17 that the man of Yahweh would be perfect, having prepared himself for all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul must have also been referring to the Old Testament Scriptures. At a time when few could afford the luxury of books, the only place most people could hear the Law and the prophets was in the assembly halls of the Judaeans.
While Paul taught that those who demanded that Christians keep the Mosaic Law and the rituals sought to enslave them (Galatians 2:3-4), he also taught that Christians should not nullify the law on account of faith, but rather that through their faith they should seek to establish it, yet Christ being their only and final propitiation, there is no more need for rituals (Romans 3:21-31). The Pharisees of the time, seeking to maintain the institution of a professional priesthood, sought to continue to control the people as they had been doing for centuries. The stature of the temple was the pretext of their authority, but the Faith in Christ annulled their power over the people, leaving the temple and its priesthood and it rituals useless.
It cannot be told exactly when James had written the single epistle which survives in his name. Here concerning Acts chapter 15, we have seen that the events recorded took place about 47 AD. James died, according to the historian Flavius Josephus, circa 62 AD, or about 2 years after Paul departed for Rome, which would also be about 4 years after their last meeting as it is recorded in Acts chapter 21.
In his epistle, writing to “the twelve tribes scattered abroad”, James certainly does display his expectation that Christians from among the Nations abide in the “implanted Word which is able to save your souls”, which is certainly a reference to the Law written in their hearts, prophesied in Jeremiah 31:33 and mentioned also by Paul at Romans 2:15 and 6:15. Here it is, from James chapter 1: “19 You know, my beloved brethren, that every man must be quick for which to listen, slow for which to speak, slow for anger. 20 Indeed the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of Yahweh. 21 On which account laying aside every filth and residue of evil, accept with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save your souls. 22 Now you must be doers of the Word and not hearers only, defrauding yourselves. 23 Because if one is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing the appearance of his race in a mirror, 24 for he observes himself and departs and immediately forgets of what sort he was. 25 But he peering into the perfect law of freedom and abiding by it, not being a forgetful hearer but a doer of work, he shall be blessed by his deed.”
This “implanted Word” and “perfect law of freedom”, as we see later in James' epistle, seems to include at least the ten commandments and other commands of Christ found in the Gospel, as is evident in James chapter 2: “8 If, however, you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture: 'You shall love him near to you as yourself', you do well. 9 But if you respect the stature of persons, you commit an error, being convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For he who should keep the whole law but would fail in one thing, has become liable for all. 11 For He having said 'you should not commit adultery' also said 'you should not commit murder', and if you do not commit adultery but you commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” The apostle John had said in his epistles that a murderer is one who hates his brother (1 John 3:15), and here James seems to be saying that same thing, informing us that the works, or deeds, which he expects Christians to perform are those related to loving our brethren as we love ourselves, and not related to the rituals of the law. In that chapter the theme is the respect of the status of persons, and James is teaching that we should seek to uplift our lesser brethren, and not seek to curry the favor of the wealthy at the expense of our lesser brethren.
However, from Acts chapter 21 and the discourse between Paul and James, who was accompanied by some other and unnamed elders as Luke had recorded, James evidently commanded Paul to do things according to the Mosaic Law that Paul acceded to, since James was indeed his elder, things which ultimately led to Paul's arrest. There the record shows that until near the end of his life James adhered to a different standard for Judaean Christians than that prescribed for Christians from among the Nations. While James did not expect Christians from among the Nations to keep the precepts of the Mosaic Law above what Christ and the apostles had explicitly commanded, outlined in both the Gospels and in Acts chapter 15, here it is revealed that James did indeed expect Judaean Christians to continue in the rituals and laws of Moses, explicitly including circumcision and certain of the purification rituals. The events of Acts chapter 21 occurred circa 58 AD, about 11 years after the events of Acts chapter 15. If we examine James' response to the words of Peter's discourse as they are recorded in Acts chapter 15, James agreed with Peter for the most part, but did not answer or agree with Peter's statement at Acts 15:11, where he said “But through the favor of Prince Yahshua we [meaning the Judaeans] trust to be saved by the manner as they also.”
From Acts chapter 21: “18 And on the next day Paul went in with us to Iakobos, and all the elders were present. 19 And greeting them he explained about each one of those things which Yahweh had done among the Nations through his ministry. 20 And those hearing it extolled Yahweh and said to him: 'You consider, brethren, how many myriads there are among the Judaeans who are believing, and all being zealous of the law. 21 And they are informed concerning you, that you teach departure from Moses for the Judaeans throughout all the Nations, saying for them not to circumcise the children nor to walk in the customs. 22 So what is it? By all means they shall hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do this which we say to you. There are among us four men having a vow upon themselves. 24 Taking them you must be purified with them and pay the expense for them that they shave their heads, and all shall know that that which they are informed concerning you is nothing, but that you yourself also walk in line keeping the law. 25 And concerning those of the Nations who believe, we deciding have commanded them to avoid both that which is sacrificed to idols and blood and strangled and fornication.' 26 Then Paul taking the men on the following day being purified with them, went into the temple giving notice of the fulfillment of the days of purification until when the offering is offered on behalf of each one of them.”
These Judaean Christians who clung to the Mosaic Law were later called Ebionites. The Ebionites loved James, and they hated Paul as an apostate because he taught the eclipse of the Mosaic Law. Later, Paul addressed them in his epistle to the Hebrews, explaining from Scripture that Levi was yet in the loins of Abraham when Abraham gave tithes to Melchisedek, and that since Christ was a priest of the order of Melchisedek, and not of Levi, that His priesthood transcended that of Levi. Paul then tells them that “the priesthood being changed, from necessity a change of law happens also”, found at Hebrews 7:12.
Paul did not necessarily have to agree with these demands to fulfill such a ritual, but it is obvious that he did fulfill them, acceding to his elders as he also had in the past when their decision was in his favor. It is also fully evident that James was in agreement with them, whether he originated them or not, since “all the elders” of Acts chapter 21 are not identified. Ostensibly, Peter was not in Jerusalem at this time. It is therefore evident that James esteemed that Judaean Christians should continue to be held to the Mosaic Law and the circumcision, along with other rituals such as the purification ritual that Paul was compelled to undergo. This is why, for my part, I am persuaded that James did not understand the one stick prophecy of Ezekiel chapter 37: for if Israel and Judah were to be one stick in the hand of God, and have but one king, it follows that they must have but one Law, and the prophecy concerning the law written in their hearts, made to Israel and Judah in connection with the promise of a New Covenant, did not exclude anyone of Israel or Judah.
Ezekiel 37: “15, The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 16, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: 17, And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. 18, And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? 19, Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. 20, And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. 21, And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the [nations], whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22, And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: 23, Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24, And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25, And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. 26, Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27, My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28, And the [nations] shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” Therefore we see Israel and Judah are prophesied to have one King, and keep the same Law. This can only happen in Christ, for whom David is a type. While the remnant of Judaea had a special purpose in the plan of Yahweh God, the people were no better than those of dispersed Israel. “Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion” (Psalm 114:2). This is also why Paul later taught in his epistles that “There is not one Judaean or Greek, there is not one bondman or freeman, there is not one male and female; for all you are one in Christ Yahshua”, and this is in his epistle to the Galatians where he chastises them for being persuaded by the Judaizers, explaining that those still under the rituals of the law were the children of bondage, and not the children of the Spirit. When either Judaeans or those of the Nations turned to Christ, all being of the seed of Israel, they became Christians, and equal members of the Body of Christ. [This is where the false doctrine of Kinism fails, which seeks to make multiple bodies of Christ. They attempt to make Christians of anyone, and then maintain racial segregation, when in reality only descendants of the authentic Israelites can be Christian in the first place. Therefore true Christianity IS racial segregation!]
As Paul later explains in Romans chapter 6, Christians should cease from wrongdoing, and seek obedience to God, however they are no longer bondmen of guilt, or sin, no longer being obligated to the rituals of the Old Covenant Levitical Law. Rather, they are granted grace by Christ through which they shall be judged righteous. As David said, and Paul quoted in Romans, Blessed is the man to whom Yahweh does not impute sin. Appreciating this, Christians should all the more desire to be obedient to Him. Paul concludes by asking “What then? Shall we commit wrongdoing because we are not under law, but under favor? Certainly not!...17 But feel grateful to Yahweh, that you were bondmen of guilt, but you obeyed from the heart, into which a form of instruction was transmitted. ” (Romans 6:15, 17). Writing this, earlier in his epistle Paul had already commended the Romans, who were the descendants of ancient Israelites that departed from Egypt before the Exodus (which is why they were wild olives), for having built a society founded upon the rule of law. This is found in Romans chapter 2, where he said that they “exhibit the work of the law written in their hearts, bearing witness with their conscience” (verse 15). It is evident in Scripture that the Levitical Law was not the original law of God, but was rather instituted for the purposes of the administration of a kingdom in its special relationship to God. Rathert an aboriginallaw existed, which may be considered to be the natural law of man (and man describes only Adamic man, as Paul himself uses the term throughout Romans chapter 5), is evident in Genesis 26:5, where Yahweh God attests that “...Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” If there was no aboriginal law, man could not have been adjudged wicked by God, and held accountable before any law existed, as he was in Genesis chapter 6. This is what Paul explained to the Hebrews throughout his epistle to them, and the Ebionites rejected even that. It is further evident that this natural law is reflected in the ten commandments, which were the first laws given to Israel, and they were given to Israel directly by Yahweh God Himself rather than through the hands of men (Exodus chapter 20).
With this we shall proceed with Acts chapter 15:
22 Then it was determined by the ambassadors and the elders with the whole assembly to send men chosen from among them to Antiocheia with Paul and Barnabas: Iouda who is called Barsabbas and Silas, a man esteemed among the brethren, 23 writing through their hand:
The Codex Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text add thusly. The Codices Ephraemi Syri (C) and Bezae (D) have “writing a letter through their hand containing thusly”. The text follows the third century papyrus P45 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B).
This Iouda, or Judas, is evidently not the apostle Jude who bore the same name. Silas will later become a companion of Paul's, as we shall see towards the end of this chapter.
“The ambassadors and the elder brethren to those brethren among the Nations throughout Antiocheia and Suria and Kilikia, Greeting.
Here it is evident, that there were Christian brethren considered to be elders apart from the apostles themselves. The Codex Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text have “elders and brethren”. The decision of the apostles is shared in writing with all of the Christians of the region. Yet even this letter does not prevent Paul from having to deal with Judaizers – or men who would compel Christians to keep the circumcision and the Mosaic Law – in his subsequent travels, especially in Galatia, as he outlines in his epistle to those assemblies which are established later in his ministry.
24 Since we have heard that some coming out from among us have troubled[the Codex Bezae has agitated] you with words, ravaging your souls with things which we have not ordered, 25 it was determined by us, being of one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have given their souls on behalf of the Name of our Prince Yahshua Christ.
The ministries of Paul and Barnabas are officially recognized by the other apostles. The Judaizers, having been corrected, are not named in writing. The Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Vaticanus (B) want the words rendered coming out; the text follows the third century papyrus P45, the sixth century P33, the Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), Bezae (D), Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text.
The Codex Ephraemi Syri (C) and the Majority Text have “ravaging your souls saying to be circumcised and to keep the law, things which we have not ordered”; The Codex Laudianus (E) has “ravaging your souls saying it is necessary to be circumcised and to keep the law, things which we have not ordered”; the text follows the third century papyrus P45, the sixth century P33, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), and Bezae (D).
At the end of verse 26 the Codices Bezae (D) and Laudianus (E) add the words “in every trial”.
27 So we have sent Iouda and Silas and they by word announcing these things.[It may have been better rendered are announcing these things.]28 For it was determined by the Holy Spirit and by us to impose not any greater burden upon you but these necessities, 29 to abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled, and from fornication, from which keeping yourselves you shall do well. Farewell.”
The Codex Bezae has verse 29 to read “to abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood, and from fornication and whatever you wish not to happen to yourselves, to do not to another, from which keeping yourselves you do well bearing in the Holy Spirit. Farewell.” At least a portion of the interpolation is contextually nonsensical.
That the ten commandments, and the further commandment that Christians are to love one another, are already an explicit part of the Gospel, it is evident that these things added here by the apostles are an addition to those injunctions that the Gospel already contains. Furthermore, understanding the later example of Paul in his use of the word fornication at 1 Corinthians 10:8, where he refers to a race-mixing event for which Israel was cursed, described in the Book of Numbers, and by the statement of Jude in verse 7 of his short epistle, where he explain that fornication is the “going after of different flesh”, we also see here that the original apostles themselves, in the persons of James and Peter, issued an explicit command to Christians to abstain from race-mixing.
30 So then they being released[the Codex Bezae has being released in a few days] went down into Antiocheia, and gathering together the multitude they handed over the letter. 31 And reading it they rejoiced at the encouragement. 32 Then Iouda and Silas also themselves being interpreters of prophecy with many words [the Codex Bezae (D) has “full of the Holy Spirit with words” rather than “with many words”.] encouraged and reinforced the brethren, 33 and spending a time [or literally doing a time] they were released with peace from the brethren to those who sent them.
At the end of verse 33 the Codex Ephraemi Syri (C) inserts: “but it was decided by Silas to stay with them”. The Codex Bezae (D) inserts “but it was decided by Silas to stay with them, and only Iouda went.” A version similar to that of the Codex Ephraemi Syri is found as verse 34 in the King James Version, where it differs from the Majority Text. Therefore the text of the Christogenea New Testament omits that verse, following the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus(A), Vaticanus (B), Laudianus and the Majority Text. However in any event, it is evident from verse 40 that Silas was in Antioch and did later accompany Paul on his missionary journeys to Anatolia and Europe. But that in itself is not an indication that he actually stayed in Antioch here at this point. Since the time that Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch after this point and before deciding to embark upon a second journey is not certain, many things may have transpired in the interim.
Every translation contains a certain amount of interpretation, which cannot be avoided. The Greek word προφήτης (4396) in a Christian context may refer to one who records communications from God and announces them to others, as we see in the Old Testament prophets; or it may refer to one who interprets the word of God for others, which is the most basic definition of the word as it is supplied by Liddell and Scott in their Greek-English Lexicon and which seems to be the sense Paul refers to at Ephesians 3:5 and 1 Corinthians 13:2 where he mentions understanding the mysteries of Scripture; or it also may refer to one who has an unnatural ability to know and reveal things which are generally not known. This last sense is that used by the Samaritan woman at the well in reference to Christ as it is recorded in John chapter 4, and is also the sense of the word as it is used by Paul in the closing verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 14. Therefore the phrase interpreters of prophecy here may have just as well been rendered simply as prophets. The context here, however, seems to indicate that the men were expounding the prophecies of Christ and of the precepts of Christianity from the Old Testament scriptures in order to prove that Christ was indeed the promised Messiah, and therefore the word here is rendered interpreters of prophecy, being plural.
35 Then Paul and Barnabas spent time in Antiocheia teaching and announcing the good message of the Word of the Prince with many others also. 36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas: “Now turning we should visit the brethren throughout every city in which we declared the Word of the Prince, how they sustain.”
The words “how they sustain” are quite literal, where the King James Version has “how they do”. A colloquial rendering may have been “how they hold up”, referring to an abidance in the Scriptures. There is no telling exactly how long it may have been since Paul's first missionary journey with Barnabas ended, which is recorded at the end of Acts chapter 14. However if it is 47 AD, and the Edict of Claudius mentioned at Acts 18:1 was issued in 49 AD, with all of Paul's travels described in Acts chapters 16 and 17, it was more likely to have been a period of only some weeks or perhaps months, rather than years,that Paul had tarried here in Antioch.
37 And Barnabas was resolved to take along also Iohannes who is called Markos. 38 But Paul thought it fitting not to bring him along, who withdrew from them from Pamphulia and did not go together with them to the work.
Like “Saul, who also is called Paul”, Mark had a second name, John, and sometimes he is called by one, but sometimes by the other. In Acts chapter 13 twice he is only called “John” by Luke. In Acts chapter 12 and in Acts 15:37 he is “John, whose surname was Mark”, and in Acts 15:39 he is only Mark. Taking for granted that he is the same Mark, as he certainly appears to be, he is called Mark at Colossians 4:10, 2 Timothy 4:11 and Philemon 24. He also appears to be the Mark of 1 Peter 5:13 where Peter calls him “Marcus my son”, as the King James Version has it.
Mark, or John Mark, is introduced to us in Acts chapter 12 where Peter, upon his miraculous escape from prison at the hands of the angel, goes to his home, where many of the other disciples are gathered. Barnabas and Paul are in Antioch at the end of Acts chapter 11, and they are not mentioned again until the end of Acts chapter 12, where upon returning to Jerusalem Mark accompanies them, which is recorded at Acts 12:25. It is mentioned in Acts 13:5 that John Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, where it says that “they had Iohannes for an assistant”. When John Mark failed to complete the mission, it does not give a reason except to say in verse 13: “And setting sail from Paphos, Paul and those with him came to Perge in Pamphulia, but withdrawing from them Iohannes returned to Jerusalem.”
That Mark was known by Peter for so long would explain why Peter called him “my son” although Mark's mother Mary, mentioned in Acts 12:12, could not have been Peter's wife. However in Colossians 4:10 Paul calls him “Markos - the cousin of Barnabas”, and from this we learn two things, because these must be one and the same Mark: first, that Paul and Mark were reconciled later in life, although Barnabas for whatever reason is not mentioned again in Scripture after Acts chapter 15, and second, that Mark was a close relative of Barnabas', which may explain why Barnabas defended him here so far as to split off from Paul rather than leave Mark behind.
39 And there was irritation, consequently for them to depart from each other, and for Barnabas taking Markos to sail off to Kupros.
While the split with Paul was permanent, Barnabas had to have continued in his own ministry, although none of it is recorded in Scripture except that the Corinthian Christians must have been familiar with him apart from the ministry of Paul, since Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians referred to Barnabas as if they knew him. That epistle was written much later than the time of this account here in Acts chapter 15. In fact, according to Scripture Paul did not even evangelize in Corinth until Acts chapter 18.
40 But Paul selecting Silas departed, he being given in favor of the Princeby the brethren. 41 And they passed through Suria and Kilikia reinforcing the assemblies.
The third century papyrus P45, the Codices Ephraemi Syri (C) and Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text have “being given in the favor of Yahweh”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus(A), Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D). The Codex Bezae has several other variations from the other ancient manuscripts throughout these verses which are not noted here, however that manuscript also inserts at the end of this verse the words “transmitting the commandments of the elders.”
Acts chapter 15, and the rest of the Book of Acts, is not a complete narrative by any means. If it were, we would have far more than 15 chapters thus far for the 16-year period covered by the narrative up to this point. Rather, the Book of Acts is only a collection of accounts recorded from the events which stretched over a period of thirty years, some which Luke had received from others and others which he had recorded first-hand, later putting them all into a chronological narrative.
In order to more fully understand Acts chapter 15, Paul's own recollection of the events which it records should be examined, which he recounts in Galatians chapters 1 and 2. Galatia is first mentioned in connection with Paul's ministry in Acts chapter 16, and again in Acts chapter 18, and evidently there were many Christian assemblies there which Paul had either founded or which he had an early hand in helping to establish and strengthen. In his epistle to the Galatians, it is evident from chapter 1 that he is writing them with a warning of a “different gospel”, and from chapter 3 it is evident that the “different gospel” which they were receiving had to do with the Judaizers who were attempting to compel the Galatians to undergo circumcision and to keep the Mosaic Law, in spite of the decisions of the apostles themselves which are recorded in Acts 15.
From Galatians 1: “15 But when it pleased Yahweh, Who selected me from my mother’s womb and called me through His favor 16 to reveal His Son by me that I announce Him among the Nations, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 Nor had I gone up to Jerusalem to those who were ambassadors before me. Rather I departed into Arabia, then again returned to Damaskos. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to relate an account to Kephas, and remained with him fifteen days; 19 but the other ambassadors I saw not, except Iakobos the brother of the Prince.”
By the phrase “other ambassadors” in this passage, Paul must be referring to the original 11, and after the account of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8, there is no mention of any of the original apostles except Peter and James, except for the mention of the slaying of the other James, the son of Zebedee in Acts chapter 12, whom Paul did not necessarily see. The apostle Philip, if in fact he is “Philip the evangelist”, is mentioned on only one other occasion, in Acts chapter 21. Except for these, after the slaying of Stephen none of the rest of the original 11 apostles are mentioned by name in the Book of Acts. After Acts chapter 1, most of them are not mentioned again in the Book of Acts at all.
All of this adds to what we learn of Paul's conversion and his first visit to see the apostles in Jerusalem as it is recorded in Acts chapter 9, where he is introduced to them by Barnabas himself. In that chapter, Paul is threatened by certain Hellenists and is sent by the other apostles to Tarsus (Acts 9:30), which is his home town and the capital city of the district of Kilikia (Cilicia). Here in Galatians we learn that the time which Paul spent with the apostles in Jerusalem during the events recorded in Acts chapter 9 was only about fifteen days.
Again from Galatians 1: “20 Now the things I write to you, behold, in the presence of Yahweh, that I do not lie. 21 After that I went into the regions of Syria and Kilikia.”
In Acts 15:23 we saw that the letter which the apostles at Jerusalem wrote to the Christians at Antioch concerning their decision in relation to the circumcision and the Mosaic Law was more fully addressed to “those brethren among the Nations throughout Antiocheia and Suria and Kilikia”. While Paul and Barnabas did not go to Kilikia on their first missionary journey, here in the last verse of Acts chapter 15 we see that Paul and Silas “passed through Suria and Kilikia reinforcing the assemblies”. Therefore we learn only from this later epistle to the Galatians, that Paul himself must have been the founder of these Christian assemblies in Syria and Kilikia which he is now visiting with Silas, and that they must have been founded during the period of time that Paul was in Tarsus, before Barnabas went to search for him there, as it is recorded in Acts 11:25. Tarsus was actually not very far from Antioch, but closer by sea than by land. Antioch was actually in Syria, although it is addressed separately in the Acts 15 letter.
Again, from Galatians 1: “22 But I was unknown in appearance to the assemblies of Judaea which are among the number of the Anointed. 23 And they were only hearing: 'That he who persecuting us at one time, is now announcing the faith which he once endeavored to destroy.' 24 And they supposed Yahweh was within me.”
Paul had not been in Judaea after his conversion to Christ, except for the few weeks that he was with the apostles in Jerusalem before departing for Tarsus. He did not return to Jerusalem for a long time afterwards, and therefore the Christians of Judaea would not have known him personally.
From Galatians 2: “1 Then after fourteen years I had again gone up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titos along also; 2 and I had gone up after a revelation, and laid upon them the good message which I proclaim among the Nations, but privately to those of repute, lest in any way I strive, or have strived, in vain.”
Now Paul was sent to Jerusalem with Barnabas as it is recorded in Acts 11:29-30, and they are recorded as having returned from Jerusalem in Acts 12:25. But there is no record of anything they may have done during this trip to Jerusalem, except that they delivered “relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea”, as the King James Version has it at Acts 11:29. During this time, the slaying of James the son of Zebedee and the arrest of Peter are recorded, as well as the death of Herod Agrippa I. However it is unclear as to whether Paul and Barnabas are actually with the apostles at any of these events, and they may have been concurrent to the time that the two men were yet in Antioch, or still in their travels. Due to the persecution, it is possible that they did not even see the apostles themselves at this time.
Therefore I would rather interpret Paul's words here to be referring to the events of Acts chapter 15, when indeed Paul went to Jerusalem specifically to lay “upon them the good message which I proclaim among the Nations”. Paul's words here do not necessarily preclude a trip to Jerusalem in the interim, such as that recorded in Acts chapters 11 and 12 which we have just discussed.
3 Yet not even Titos who with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised 4 by those privily introduced false brethren, such who infiltrate to spy out our freedom, which we have in Christ Yahshua, in order that they may enslave us; 5 to whom not even for a minute did we yield in subjection, at which the truth of the good message would persevere for the sake of you.
We have seen in Acts 15:5 that among the number of the Christians in Jerusalem were men who had been “persuaded by the sect of the Pharisees”. Here Paul infers that they were Edomite interlopers attempting to infiltrate and corrupt the fledgling Christian creed.
Titos was not circumcised, and could not be persuaded to be circumcised. He was vindicated when the side of Paul and Barnabas prevailed over the Judaizers in the decision of the apostles recorded in Acts chapter 15. However we shall see that Paul himself, at the opening of Acts chapter 16, personally circumcised Timothy, and ostensibly because his mother was a Judaean, and he did so explicitly on account of the Judaeans. Therefore perhaps even Paul, it seems, at this relatively early time, did not yet realize that Judaean Christians as well as those of the Nations should put away the works of the Mosaic Law.
From Galatians 2: “6 Now from those reputed to be something, whatsoever they were then makes not one difference to me. Yahweh does not receive a man’s stature, therefore to me those of repute are conferred nothing. 7 But on the contrary, having seen that I have been entrusted with the good message of the uncircumcised, just as Petros of the circumcised, 8 (He who has been operating within Petros for a message of the circumcised, has also operated within me for the Nations,) 9 and knowing the favor being given to me, Iakobos and Kephas and Iohannes, those reputed to be pillars, had given right hands of fellowship to me and to Barnabas, that we are for the Nations, and they for the circumcised; 10 only that we should remember the poor, the same thing which I had then been anxious to do.”
Although Paul and Barnabas split, Paul still continued to recognize the legitimacy of Barnabas' ministry. The reference to “those reputed to be pillars”, of course, is to Peter and James. The reference to John may be to John Mark, since the apostle John the son of Zebedee is not mentioned again in Acts after Acts chapter 8.
Finally, from Galatians 2: “11 But when Kephas had come to Antiocheia, I had confronted him personally because he was condemning himself: 12 for before some who were to come from Iakobos, he had eaten in common with the Nations, but when they came he withdrew and separated himself, being in fear of those of the circumcised; 13 and also the rest of the Judaeans had acted with him, so that even Barnabas had been led away by them in hypocrisy.”
Peter communed with those of the household of Cornelius (Acts chapters 10 and 11), and later, in his discourse defending Paul in Acts chapter 15, expressed Christian unity between Judaean Christians and those of the Nations in verse 11 where he said: “But through the favor of Prince Yahshua we trust to be saved by the manner as they also.” Evidently Peter later reverted to the Mosaic Law that commanded those of the circumcision to eschew the uncircumcised.
This event described in Galatians, where Paul describes a confrontation with the other apostles, is not recorded in the Book of Acts, where there is no mention whatsoever that Peter was ever in Antioch. Peter is not mentioned again in the Book of Acts after chapter 15 where he is recorded as having spoken in Paul's favor. After Acts chapter 15 where Paul departs from Antioch, he is only mentioned once, and very briefly, as having visited there again: in Acts 18:18. Elsewhere, only Pisidian Antioch is mentioned by Luke elsewhere following these events.
Seemingly, the only opportunity where these things may have occurred is where Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch after the decision by the apostles in Acts chapter 15, and that Peter may have visited the assembly there at that time. Yet if that is the case, Barnabas' hypocrisy mentioned here in Galatians 2:13 was not enough to cause Paul to split with him, but his insistence on taking Mark along on their next journey was, and therefore for that reason did they split before that journey was made.
However if that is the case, then Paul should not have circumcised Timothy during his second missionary journey, described in the opening verses of Acts chapter 16, or he would be guilty of that same hypocrisy which he charges the others with, described in Galatians chapter 2.
The only valid conclusion is that Paul was together with Peter, Barnabas, and some of the others once more in Antioch at some time after Paul's having circumcised Timothy, and that the event is not recorded in the Book of Acts. It must be, that the visit to Antioch in Acts chapter 18 is where Paul confronted Peter, but nothing is said of it in the Book of Acts. That is where and when Paul confronted Peter, which he describes in Galatians chapter 2. Additionally, the Book of Acts being a record of religious transition from Moses to Christ, evidently when Paul circumcised Timothy he himself did not have the same understanding which he had years later, which is reflected in his epistle to the Galatians.
[These lines amended to make a correction since this program was produced. - WRF]
In any event, Luke admits Paul's having circumcised Timothy in the opening of Acts chapter 16, where Paul himself apparently accedes to the decision of at least some of the apostles, namely James, to keep Judaean Christians under the Mosaic Law, as we have examined in the words of James in Acts chapter 21 where Paul again accedes to his wishes.
It seems that while Paul does not agree with the direction they had taken, and where he accedes to his elders all the way through Acts chapter 21, later on he nevertheless asserts the freedom to express that disagreement to the Galatians and the other assemblies which received his letters, and to the Hebrews themselves in his epistle to them, and therefore he judges his elders to be in error. By the time of the writing of the epistle to the Galatians, Paul clearly considered Judaean Christians who insisted upon keeping the Mosaic Law to be hypocrites, and he addresses their errors fully in his epistle to the Hebrews.