3/30/2010 The Son of Man, exploring the Biblical concept
A Commentary on Immanuel
The Gospel of Truth
by Mel West
From the Transfiguration to the Cross
The Second Year of Jesus's ministry we can say effectively began with him and his disciples landing in the land of Gennesaret the day after JesusÕs Second Passover and the feeding of the five thousand. It marked a sad day in the lives of all those in Galilee who loved the (now dead) John the Baptist.
From this moment in the land of Gennesaret, which is the plain on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, below Capernaum, Jesus's fame grew. He and his disciples were invited to eat with a Pharisee who, seeing them not washing their hands before sitting down to dinner, complained about them. Afterwards Jesus called to the multitude, saying:
Matthew 15.11 Not that which goeth into a mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
15.12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
15.13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
15.14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
15.21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
We can return to Paul for a moment. Paul had witnessed Stephen the Martyrs teachings. Stephen had been accused of preaching that Jesus undermined the Law. Paul, in his epistles, focuses upon the fact that whatsoever you eat does not defile you. He had good reason for following that line of thought because Jesus, in Matthew, had made that statement with regard to the tradition of washing one's hands before dinner. He added in the illustration how the priests wash the inside of the cup from which they drink (like Christian priests do before Mass) but their insides are full of ravening and wickedness. The comparison to the cup, we admit, is an anachronism coming from Luke. Luke has this event occurring after the Seventy Disciples were anointed, which thing Matthew and Mark do not mention. Nevertheless, the teachings and events in Samaria remembered by Matthew and Mark are remembered by Luke. But Luke coincides them with the formal anointing of the Seventy and the sending them forth two by two.
On the way to Tyre and Sidon a woman cried to Jesus to rid her daughter of a devil. Jesus responded (Matthew 15.24) that He is sent to the Lost Sheep of Israel. Here we have a statement confirming his direction to his apostles, that they are to go to the Lost Sheep of Israel. But if this were true, then what was he doing in Samaria, heading for Tyre? Israel and Samaria are essentially the same province. But a true child of Israel has the pure blood of Jacob running in his veins. The Samaritans, on the other hand, were identified as having mixed blood, from the Assyrians, etc., in their veins. They also adopted the Assyrian religions, worshipping Baal, etc. So a Samaritan coming to Jesus might be spurned. His mission was to go to the Lost Sheep of Israel, wherever they may be found in the Land of Israel, aka Samaria. What is interesting in this account, considering the fact that Matthew would have been working from Mark's account, Matthew did not report the name of this Samaritan woman. Mark said she was not really a Samaritan but a Greek, a Syrophonician.
After this Jesus returned to the Sea of Galilee and went up to a mountain, and sat down there, with multitudes following him. Matthew again fails to report, as Mark had done before him, that Jesus returned here via Decapolis and there healed a deaf and dumb man. We suspect that as concerning the Syrophonician acronym and the healing of the deaf and dumb man either Matthew could not corroborate this information or that it was later interpolated into a revised version of Mark's gospel.
The people stayed with Jesus at the mount by Galilee for three days. During this time Jesus performed another miracle of feeding four thousand people with seven loaves and a few little fishes. Then he took ship and went to the coasts of Magdala. This tells us that the mountain where Jesus fed the four thousand was probably the same location he had earlier fed the five thousand near Bethsaida. For to take ship for Magdala he would have sailed half the length of the Sea of Galilee, going south from Bethsaida, to the western side of the Sea. And Magdala is the southern city on the plain of Gennesaret stretching between Capernaum and Magdala. Be what this may, Mark does not report that he sailed to Magdala, but rather he sailed to Dalmanutha, which we suspect is a name for the region near Magdala. Matthew may have been converting the place into a known and familiar town here.
The Pharisees and Sadducees came and tempted Jesus, asking him for a sign from heaven, that he is the Messiah. All three synoptic gospels agree in general with the succeeding teachings and events. In response he gave the parable of the Sign of Jonas and complained (in Matthew alone) that they could discern the face of the sky but not what time of day it is. Then he told his disciples to beware of the leaven of the pharisees and of the leaven of Herod. Matthew and Luke delete the reference to Herod, which is a major change in scripture. Here we suspect there is editing of Mark's gospel to account for any political jeopardy they might be in by publishing against Herod and his dynasty. Here Jesus reminds the multitude that he had fed five thousand of them and then again another four thousand with a few loaves of bread, whereas the leaven of the pharisees, which is their doctrine, cannot nourish them.
The Transfiguration and Jesus's Confession
Then he went to the capital city of HerodÕs Syrian province, called Caesarea-Philippi. Matthew says:
Matthew 16.13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
This is a correction to Mark's gospel:
Mark 8.27 And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?
What may be meant here is that Jesus and his disciples went into the towns of the province of Caesarea Philippi. Herod ruled from Caesarea Philippi, a town near Damascus. His province included Coele-Syria and Galilee, initially, after which much of Judaea came under his rule as well. Coele-Syria originally was the hollow or valley through which one could pass, from Galilee, into Syria towards Damascus. Later it included the wilderness from Damascus to the eastern side of the Dead Sea, probably through the annexation of Herod's territory of Edom stretching south from the southern edge of the Dead Sea. Herod was of the Hasmonian House and his heritage was of Edom, which territory was annexed as the southern limits of Coele-Syria. Masada, a fortress and wonderful palace on the southwestern corner of the Dead Sea was one of many forts he built throughout Judaea. Masada was later occupied by the Zealots rebelling against Rome after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Several hundred of the Zealots — all but a couple of people who had hidden themselves away — committed suicide after realizing they could not endure against the Roman siege below their mount.
In any event, not knowing whether Mark is referring to two towns, Caesarea and Philippi, or a general reference to the towns around Caesarea, which form the northern and original part of Coele-Syria, we suspect Matthew sharpened his pen a bit and made it clear that Jesus went to the coasts, or borders, of that town. Whereas Mark may not have been familiar with that country, Matthew was.
Somewhere near Caesarea Philippi Jesus climbed a mount and asked his disciples whom the multitude thinks he is. All three gospels agree in general on the statement that they think he is Elias, John the Baptist, or one of the prophets raised up. But Matthew amends Mark's gospel to include the name of Jerimiah and the fact that Peter answers that he believes Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Matthew, 16.18, then renames Peter and awards him with the Keys to the Kingdom. Peter would succeed Jesus. Mark and Luke, on the other hand, had Peter answering:
Thou art the Christ of God.
Luke has done another emendation of Mark's gospel here. Whereas the encounter with the Pharisee was after the Anointing of the Seventy Disciples, according to Luke, the moment Peter recognized Christ was prior to the anointing of the Seventy, according to Luke. Luke also takes issue with the Anointing of Peter as the head of the church, as well. But this appears to be an editorial decision by Luke, for some reason. All three gospels agree, however, that after Jesus inquired of the disciples and received Peter's confirmation that He is the Christ, Jesus began talking about going to Jerusalem to suffer and be raised the third day. Again, while Matthew has these conversations taking place after visiting Caesarea Philippi, Luke compresses these conversations and events into the time of the anointing of the apostles and before the anointing of the seventy disciples. This makes sense, in fact, because Jesus fed the five thousand, finishing his First year of Ministry on the Passover, and then went through the country of the Gadarenes on to the coasts ofTyre and returned to Galilee. He then took ship from Bethsaida back across to Magdala, at the southern edge of the plain of the Gadarenes, and from thence went up to Caesarea Philippi. Luke does not follow these movements from the moment of the feeding of the five thousand, where Jesus walked across the sea during the fourth watch, to the moment of the transfiguration atop the mount near Caesarea Philippi. Rather, he has Jesus anointing the twelve apostles and then going to the desert place near Bethsaida, before the Second Passover. Then, according to Luke 9.20 Jesus asks Peter, whom say ye that I am? Peter responds:
Luke 9.20 ...The Christ of God.
9.21 And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;
9.22 Saying, The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
Here again Luke follows Mark's lead, agreeing not only that Jesus is the Christ (not mentioning the Son of God) and the fact that from then on Jesus began talking about being rejected and slain by the priests, etc. Matthew interpolates in his story that Jesus will suffer in Jerusalem. Mark and Luke are silent on this issue. Again, we must at some time try to answer these questions:
l.Why did Matthew interpolate the fact that Jesus would suffer and die in Jerusalem when Mark had not mentioned it?
2.Why did Luke leave that reference out of his record, when all the data thus far suggests that Luke was editing Matthew and Mark's gospels?
3. Why did Luke omit the movements of the disciples from the moment after feeding the five thousand to their trek towards Tyre and back to Bethsaida, back over across the lake to Magdala, and then north to Caesarea Philippi, where the transfiguration is reported to have taken place?
4. Luke admits that after the anointing of the twelve apostles, which took place just before the feeding of the five thousand and after the moment John the Baptist was buried, Jesus began talking about having to suffer, be slain, and raised the third day from the tomb. He places this before the moment he anoints the Seventy Disciples and sends them out two by two.
5. Why is it that only Luke mentions the anointing of the Seventy Disciples and the teachings which coincided with that event? Whereas the teachings are for the most part remembered by Matthew and Mark in other times and places, Luke creates an event of Anointing the Seventy and accredits certain teachings with that event. Who, then is right? Matthew/Mark or Luke?
About eight days after these sayings, says Luke, Jesus took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. We know from Matthew and Mark that the mountain is north of Galilee near Caesarea Philippi. Luke does not mention the place. This suggests that Luke did not have a complete copy of Matthew or Mark. He was working from a version which omitted the ministry from the feeding on the mount at Bethsaida to the Transfiguration on the mount near Caesarea Philippi. This, then would have forced him to work from memory. And he tells us specifically that the time of the Transfiguration was eight days after Peter identified him as Christ. This suggests that Jesus and his followers would have crisscrossed Israel, from the plain of the Gadarenes to Tyre and back to Bethsaida and then north to Caesarea Philippi in eight days.
Luke ought to have known how long after the feeding of the five thousand it was to the time Jesus was transfigured. We can say this with confidence because of the nature of the event. The miracle involved a multitude, of whom it is hard to explain, having Jesus's Second Passover of his ministry near Bethsaida — and not Jerusalem as it should have been — who had to have been in grief over the loss of their leader John the Baptist. The event was Jesus's Second Anniversary, John the Baptist's demise, and the beginning of Jesus's comments about suffering and his confession that He is the Messiah. We recall He told his apostles not to reveal that He is the Messiah. He said it for good purpose, for he knew the priests would take it as blasphemy. This also tells us that Jesus had not yet presented Himself in a blasphemous way. The transfiguration was the beginning of his blasphemy and the beginning, essentially, of His Second and Last year of Ministry. So Luke should have been quite familiar with the importance of this event and its timeliness to Jesus's Second Passover near Bethsaida, as well as the events which occurred in between. If he were part of the disciples following Jesus after the feeding of the five thousand, he would have remembered the intervening events Matthew and Mark recorded. And he would have remembered whether Peter called Jesus the Messiah and the Son of God, at the Transfiguration, or not. Let us continue, then, with the Transfiguration, as the gospels remembered it:
Luke 9.28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
9.29 As he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
Matthew 71.1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart.
17.2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Mark 9.3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.
We can see Matthew editing once again, adding the fact that in the Transfiguration Jesus's face did shine as the sun (like Moses's upon Mount Sinai). He converts Mark's statement of the condition of the raiment from a Scriptural source to a simple statement of it being white as light. But had he kept Mark's notation, he would have been able to tie into the Scriptural epitaph of the Ancient of Days described in the books of Enoch, Daniel, and Revelation. For the Ancient of Days had hair like wool and wore linen as white as snow [note that David wore white linen when he brought the Ark to the temple mount]. Mark may have known this comparison and therefore described the vision to match a commonly understood description of God as the Ancient of Days. In this instance, then, Matthew missed a cue which could have added to his argument how Jesus fulfilled prophesy. Then Jesus was seen talking to Elijah and Moses. After this all three gospels, including the epistle of Peter himself, agree that a voice came out of a cloud and said:
This is my beloved Son. Hear ye him.
Here, at line 928, we have another instance of editorializing. For Matthew amended Mark's version of the comment from the cloud to read:
Matthew 17.5 This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.
For those of the Son of God persuasion, the amendment by Matthew reinforces the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. It goes along with Peter's identification of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, which was not reported by Mark and Luke. While Mark and Luke repeat the very comment coming out of the cloud before John the Baptist a year earlier (exactly to the day), Matthew amends the comment to add some special favor. Obviously if God said Jesus is His Son, it would follow that He ought to be well pleased with Him. We find it hard to understand God telling us to hear His Son without the common understanding that God ought to be well pleased with that Son. The amendment in Matthew would appear, then, to be an interpolation by some over zealous scribe were it not for the comment Peter made in his second epistle:
II Peter 16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
18. And this voice which came from Heaven we heard, when we were with him in the Holy Mount.
Here Peter confirms the statement Matthew makes concerning that voice coming out of the cloud. He further uses this voice to confirm the foundation of Christian Teaching, that Jesus is the Son of God and warrants the special favor of God. Since Peter was one of three witnesses to observe the Transfiguration of Jesus, and since he uses his personal experience to confirm his position in his epistle, we are inclined to believe that Matthew recorded that statement correctly. Mark did not remember the statement that way or may have edited it because of its seemingly redundant comment, and Luke followed Mark's lead. See Psalm 2 and I Chronicles 17.13 for the actual usage of the term, Son of God, in prophesy.
Timothy 1.4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions rather than godly edifying which in faith: so do.
1.6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
1.7 desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
Titus 1.10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers specially they of the circumcision:
1.11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
1.14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
3.9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
We have just seen Peter respond to an accusation that he and the apostles in Jerusalem are not telling cunningly devised fables, following up the statement with his affirmation of having witnessed God tell the apostles that Jesus is His beloved son in whom He is well pleased. There can be no doubt that Peter is responding to Paul's comments to Titus and Timothy noted above, which letters were for general consumption in the church. In these few statements Paul attacked the very foundation of the other Apostles' beliefs and they all were of the Circumcision. Gentiles, being ignorant of the Law, can read these passages without giving them a second thought. A Jew, like Peter and the other Apostles, who would read these words would be greatly offended. This is an illustration where Paul ceased to teach Christ and focused on vociferously destroying the Judaic beliefs of the Apostles. Those Apostles, of whom there were the eleven original Apostles of Jesus, ought to have had some serious problems accepting Paul as one of their ministers had they known these epistles of Paul.
Because of the details concerning the Transfiguration and the information reported in Mark, concerning the missionary activity between the feeding of the five thousand and the Transfiguration near Caesarea Philippi, we are tempted to accept MatthewÕs greater knowledge of what happened then. He and Luke are not in agreement, however. Matthew has this event occuring six days after Peter identified Jesus as the Christ and Jesus confessed to it. Luke says it was eight days after these sayings, which were also clearly Peter's identification of Jesus and Jesus's confession as the Christ. Let us remember the event concerning Peter identifying Jesus as the event of Jesus's Confession. His Confession, a shocking event to the apostles, occurred on the Holy Mount near Caesarea Philippi. Matthew says it was about eight days later (Lukes says it was about six days later) that Jesus was Transfigured, another shocking experience for Peter, James, and John. No matter how shocking the transfiguration ought to have been to the three witnesses on the mount with Jesus, the one witness, John, didn't bother to mention it in his gospel, in confirmation of Jesus's Anointing. This is odd because the event was as important to Jesus's anointing as John the Baptist's anointing of him.
Jesus's Confession was a short time after he shared His Second Passover near Bethsaida. It was probably a few months after. Luke, however, has Jesus's Confession occurring right after the feeding of the five thousand near Bethsaida. And six days later He is Transfigured, according to Luke. This would make the Transfiguration exactly one year after Jesus was baptized (assuming he did not spend forty days in the desert being tempted by the Devil). For we recall He was baptized about a week before Passover, whereas he went to Nazareth and attended, three days after his Baptism, a wedding at Cana. Three days later, according to John, he was celebrating Passover in Jerusalem. So we can see how Luke may have recalled the event of the Transfiguration to be exactly one year to the day after Jesus was Baptized. This recall, unfortunately, does not appear to accommodate the Samaritan ministry to Tyre and back, nor does it include the (several months) ministry on the Jordan river near John the Baptist, until the Feast of Tabernacles.
By the time the Christians were being persecuted by Rome, with multitudes being crucified and lit on fire at night to light the Apian Way, or to fight animals in the Coliseum, Paul's congregation had flowered and had become in essence the principal body of the church. The Hebrew or Nazarene church of Peter, James, and the elders had been eclipsed by Paul. We say this because the Roman perception, which we can see in the writings of Tacitus (Annals 15.44), was that the Christians Hated Mankind and were godless (a term originally applied to the Jews). Tacitus, who made this complaint against the Christians, was an educated man and well respected for his credibility and style then as he is still to this day. For him to make a comment condemning the Christians, he must have had some evidence to suggest that they hated mankind. That evidence comes in Paul's Gospel.
Matthew's concept of the Last Days coincides fairly well with Paul's teaching, except Paul added the Rapture of the church to the final scene. In both of their gospels the world is very soon put to the torch and that day could be any day and probably during the very generation of Paul and the Apostles. With the world put to the torch, only those saved by Paul's Gospel, through the blood and mediation of Jesus, would survive the holocaust. And their survival would be in this manner: They would see Jesus come in the clouds of Heaven and be raised up into the clouds to meet Him and then taken to heaven. After this the world would be destroyed by fire.
Peter and James, on the other hand, taught that though there would be a Tribulation, and though the world would be burned with fire, there would be a remnant saved for a New Heavens and a New Earth promised in the standard plan of the Hebrew Redemption which we have come to well know. Whereas the gospel of Peter and the Hebrews left us with the hope for a new earth in the end, which is something to Hope for, since it represents a day when Peace comes upon the earth, Paul's Gospel pretty much rejected this Promise. It had to, since the Promise focuses upon the redemption of the Jews and restoration of their Tabernacle, etc. Paul preached that the Jews had given up their inheritance as the Chosen People of God and now the elect of Paul's Church would be the Chosen People of God. All the Promises formally given to Israel would now be transferred to the New Chosen People. This logic leaves no Redemption Plan for Israel. In fact the Gentile are now called Israel and the Redemption Plan became, in Paul's thesis, a Kingdom Now. Since Paul believed that the Day of Tribulation could come during his own time, in answer to questions concerning the Kingdom, as to when it would come, He would have to answer that it is Now. He had to preach a Gospel of the Kingdom Now in order to be consistent with his belief that the Rapture could be any moment. The Kingdom Now philosophy also excludes the possibility of a Kingdom to come after the Tribulation. This thesis is reflected in Matthew's gospel:
Matthew 24.14 And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Luke did not agree with this statement of Matthew. Again, we can suspect with good evidence that Luke had a copy of Matthew and Mark before him and did not buy into the idea that the Kingdom is now and Jesus would return after the Gospel of the Kingdom had been preached to all the nations. Luke was rather following the Old Testament game plan where the Kingdom would come at the time the Children of Israel are restored or Redeemed. That would be when the time of the Gentile is fulfilled.
The Christian Ministry today, who focus a lot of money into the development of television towers, use this prophesy in Matthew of preaching to all the nations, as the authority for their unique form of the Ministry. They believe they are justified in whatever they do to broadcast the gospel to all the nations, hoping, in the process, they will see Jesus come in the clouds and catch the faithful away to heaven. Whereas they are entreating the promise of eternal life in Heaven, they leave a quite pessimistic future for the earth and its life forms. For they believe the earth and all in it will all be burned in fire and brimstone. And anyone hearing this teaching during Tacitus's day would conclude that the Christians hate mankind. Because of the Paulist doctrine, they identify, in fact, the appearance of Jesus with the concurrent extermination of the earth. Only those who believe in Jesus by way of Paul's Gospel will be saved. Paul makes this clear, since he states unequivocally that His Gospel will be used by Jesus in the Judgment of mankind. Here we have a view of Jesus coming in the clouds, opening Paul's Gospel, and then judging all mankind as to whether they are faithful to the Gospel of Paul. If not, Jesus will send them to the fire. If they are found to be pure of spot, they are caught up to heaven to everlasting life. Paul's teaching leaves you with this one final comment: if you fear for your life, then follow Paul's Gospel. Inherent to that gospel, as we have seen, are teachings to avoid questions about the Law (The Torah) and those of the Circumcision (Peter, the Apostles, and other Jews).
Historically we can see through Paul's Gospel that the Ministry to the Gentile became focused upon the scorn and derision of the Children of Israel, enabling these prophesies to be fulfilled, namely (and more specifically those in italics):
Isaiah 65.12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: Because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes and did choose that wherein I delighted not.
65.15 And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto My Chosen: for the Lord God shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name.
41.28 For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them and there was no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word.
Micah 5.3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
Deuteronomy 28.63 And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.
28.64 And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor they fathers have known, even wood and stone.
28.65 And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:
28.66 And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life;
28.67 In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.
28.68 And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.
While Matthew and Mark do not see this situation clearly, Luke saw it, knowing full well that the prophesies required the scattering of Israel, the selling away of the people as captives to the gentile, and the eventual gathering of the remnant and their redemption. Matthew and Mark, on the other hand, tend to focus on the Latter Day Judgment and the distress among the nations.
Deuteronomy 30.1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee.
The purpose of scattering the Children of Israel, though suggested that it is due to their wickedness, is not explained in the gospels' prophesies. But in Isaiah we can see a ready explanation: God is using the dispersion of the Children of Israel for the purpose of spreading the knowledge of His Name. Why would He do so? And how would He do it? He had promised them their land. According to the curse Moses said unto them, that if they fall away from Him, they shall see the curse of the Law, namely the scattering of the nation; the casting of them off the Promised Land. The original promise gave them land; the curse against the Promise would be to cast the Children of Israel off the Land.
The Curse of Moses is punishment for falling away from God's Law (which is followed with the promise of redemption — which thing Paul did not understand and Luke did); no-where in the Gospels is there any indication of an understanding that the dispersion of Israel is also for a further purpose of spreading the word of God. It is not so much as the Children of Israel are wicked, or even for the cause of God laying His hand against His own Messiah; but rather, according to Isaiah, He uses the dispersion of Israel to spread His Word!
The gospels teach that the Word of God (now the gospels of Matthew and Mark) must be taught to all the nations. The gospels and other teachings of the New Testament have taken the Curse of the Law (being scattered from the Holy Land) and assumed in the Curse that the end of it was to set a new people — even a new people that shall be born — as His Chosen. While we can see this was Promised and understood in the New Testament works, Paul seems to have become obsessed with the idea that God's turning away from Israel would be a permanent relationship, justifying the transfer of the Inheritance and Promise from the Jew to the Gentile. So let us read more of the further promise, how the dispersion of the Jews becomes a means of spreading the Word of God and will result in the eventual glorification of the Jews (which thing, again, Paul desired to ignore and teach against):
Deuteronomy 30.2 And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
30.3 That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.
30.7 And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
According to Luke, Jerusalem shall be trodden down until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled. This alludes to the fact that the Children of Israel will be redeemed back to their land and Jerusalem. Students in the church, seeing Luke's rendition, would have asked Paul and his teachers how such a thing could occur in light of the thesis of the Rapture, which could come at any moment. The question would be too hard for Paul to answer, (then as now) for it would require him to contradict himself concerning Old Testament Promises to Israel. Such questions concerning Luke's gospel would result in unending disputations. No wonder Paul warned against listening to Jewish fables and genealogies. And the more we compare Luke to the other Gospels, the more we can see the fact that Luke's gospel ought to have been objectionable to Paul's eyes.
Luke, along with Matthew and Mark, line 1510, then focuses upon the shaking of the heavens and the distress among nations. They do not explain the reason for the distress, which we know is owing to God's promise to then take His Wrath out against those who were against Israel: The Tribulation is an event designed against those who persecuted Israel.
Isaiah 4.4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem the midst thereof by the Spirt of Judgment, and by the Spirit of Burning.
11.10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and His Rest shall be glorious.
The persecution of the Jews results in not only them fleeing even from rumors, not having any place to rest, but also includes a Judgment of burning. Historically we can see, through Hitler, how the final instrument of the Judgment was carried out (we ought to hope, in this day, that it is over). During the Latter Days, of which this event is included, we are also told that a root of Jesse shall be an ensign of the people which the Gentiles shall seek and his rest shall be glorious. The church have assessed this prophesy to apply to Jesus, so we need not argue that case here. But it is worthwhile, perhaps, to point out that His Rest shall be glorious during the time of the Gentile (while they seek Him). The word Rest is taken to mean his death, which thing in terms of eternal life, is Rest. One does not die but goes to his eternal resting place. If Isaiah had not mentioned in chapter 53, the Suffering Messiah whom God Himself cuts off, the precept of the root of Jesse going to his place of rest, which would be glorious, would not be particularly meaningful. But since the Messiah is cut off, the significance of His Rest being Glorious suggests a glorious ministry of him taking place (after his life is cut off) midst the Gentile, which thing happened.
The close of Isaiah's book addresses a people declaring God's Glory among the Gentile:
Isaiah 66.19 And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul...to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.
66.20 And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses...as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord.
66.21 And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the Lord.
66.22 For as the New Heavens and the New Earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.
Peter understood this message well. It gave the Nazarenes the authority to go forth to tell the story of what happened to Jesus. Since Isaiah's major moment, chapter 53, involves the destruction of the Messiah by God, because of the wickedness of the Children of Israel, it follows that the end of the story ought to reflect somewhat on this moment. It does. In the end of Isaiah's thesis there are survivors of the holocaust against Israel (to scatter them) which go forth to tell God's Glory to the Gentile. That story, to conform to Isaiah, must include the Suffering Messiah epic.
In addition the prophesy says those escapees, who preach God's Glory to all the nations, shall have a hand in bringing the Children of Israel back to Him without Spot, like a clean vessel. Furthermore, God will make them Priests and Levites. Some of these people, whom we know must, at the least, have something to do with the Suffering Messiah, are eventually recognized as Priests and Levites. They were not necessarily entitled to be Priests and Levites, but because of their mission, which is to spread his glory among the nations, and to help restore his chosen, are given the special honor of being priests and Levites of God.
Testament of Benjamin: II.6 And then shall He judge all the gentiles, as many as believed him not when he appeared upon the earth. And he shall convict Israel through the Chosen Ones of the Gentiles.
The Latter Day Messiah shall convict Israel through the Chosen Ones of the Gentiles. This statement, though unique among scriptures, is very scriptural and reflects much of what is required in Isaiah, as referenced above. We know, for instance, that those who spread the Word concerning God's Glory (relating to what happened to the Suffering Messiah) must also have some function in the future conviction of Israel for the Suffering of the Messiah. While the Jews are not to blame for murdering Him, according to the prophesy, they are the cause of God cutting off the Messiah's Life. This cause must one day be brought forth to Judgment.
The scriptures provide for this Latter Day judgment. The scriptures, by way of Isaiah and the Psalms, provide for a Messiah whose life is cut off for the transgressions of My People, which requires in turn the element of shame and an eventual witness against My People to produce the shame. That is to say, the prophesy presumes that the Messiah is cut off because he is rejected of men and yet all the sins of Israel are laid upon him. The entire scenario is meaningless, we should think, if there is no vehicle or provision for the establishment later of the evidence that he who was rejected by Israel and caused to be cut off by God is the Messiah. So the anticipation in the Testament of Benjamin that the Latter Day Messiah must stand in Jerusalem and convict Israel for their transgressions against the Messiah, as well as God, is a valid anticipation. How the Messiah makes the conviction is also a valid expectation. For we know the prophesy provides for the root of Jesse being glorious to the Gentile, at least, and we also know that the Gentile will trod over Jerusalem until the time of the Gentile is finished. Revelation picks up on the theme and shows the Messiah, The Word, destroying the wicked with 144,000 Jews at his side. Suddenly, according to Revelation, 144,000 Jews begin to follow The Word in His War against the Wicked. Christian or not, it takes no great imaginative powers to conclude that the Gentile will be used as a vehicle to convict the Children of Israel of their wrongdoing against the Messiah. This is a scenario anyone can write with the Old Testament prophesies in hand.
Isaiah 42.1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my spirit upon Him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
42.4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
Zephaniah 3.8 Therefore, wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.
3.9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.
Two judgments are offered. Because the Suffering Messiah exists in prophesy, a judgment must take place to convict the transgressors of that Messiah. The transgressors are named in the prophesy as being the Children of Israel. Therefore, the Judgment must be against them for this cause.
The other judgment, well illustrated in all the prophets, is the Judgment of the Gentile. For the script called for using the Gentile to persecute the Children of Israel, forcing them to keep moving from one nation to another until the day comes when they are reduced to a remnant through the Spirit of Burning. This process becomes a means forecasting what God would then do to those who had persecuted Israel. So upon redeeming Israel we have the Promise (or curse, depending upon which side you are on) that those who persecuted Israel will be punished. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. The prophesies are true to this thesis, that God alone is justified in vengeance. He uses evil to lay evil on Israel and then rewards those recruited as the hand of evil with evil. In the end Israel is satisfied that their suffering was righteous and justified. The moment the Gentile who persecuted Israel are punished themselves, then Israel can say they are justified in righteousness. Thus, they refer to their Justifier (or Judge) Our Lord Our Righteousness, as noted in Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 3.20 At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord.
Haggai 2.6 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; yet once it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
3.7 And I will shake all nations and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord.
We have seen Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe the end time in this way vis a vis the shaking of the heavens and the earth. It will happen when Israel is redeemed, according to the parallel in Luke. In Matthew and Mark this promise is compressed to appear to be at the moment the Jews are scattered, leaving no Redemption Plan for them. Again, we have in Matthew and Mark a Kingdom Now approach, negating the need for the Kingdom to come at the time Israel is redeemed.
Jeremiah 23.5 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
23.6 In his days, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called: The Lord our Righteousness.
Prophesies such as these were cast away by Paul's Gospel. Clearly the King of Righteousness comes at a time when Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely. This is not an idle comment. The Jews have had few moments in history where they have dwelled safely. Certainly, in view of the prophesies of the dispersion, they cannot dwell safely on their land until they are redeemed and restored to the land! Their Kingdom comes at that time, when Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely. We suspect Luke could not accept Matthew and Mark's implication denying this thesis. Paul certainly wrestled with it. His thesis of the rapture and carrying all the saved away to Heaven before destroying all the earth by fire, leaving no Redemption for Israel, cannot recognize a day when Judah is saved and Israel dwells safely. We can illustrate the magnitude of this prophesy against Paul in the light of Paul's (and Jesus's) day. During that time Judah was not saved (because of the Roman occupation) and Israel did not dwell safely. Therefore, according to this prophesy, Jesus is not that Messiah. Jews would have been continuously bringing up this little bit of information to Paul, and Paul had no way to answer it but to strike out against the Jews and their Torah in general, calling it useless fables and genealogies.
Isaiah 30.27 Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire.
30.28 And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.
Paul was motivated to spread the Gospel of Jesus to the Gentile. The man whom God had chosen to do this, says Paul of himself, was a Jew, a pharisee, who had devoted a good part of his career to support the High Priest in Jerusalem in persecuting the blossoming Christian, then known as the Nazarene, community. Paul tells us of his mission in persecuting the Christians in Damascus and, coming down the road, saw a vision of Jesus who complained that Paul was pricking Him to no avail. From the vision, says Paul, Jesus directed him to be the Apostle to the Gentile. And from one who had been persecuting followers of Jesus, God selected a man who switched his persecution habits from the Christians now over to the Jews. He succeeded marvelously in his apostleship to the Gentile. But his success, without a doubt, relied upon the condemnation of the Jews.
We saw that he describes Jesus's Messiahship as one who will in the future judge the secrets of men. To understand the origin of this precept we found ourselves retracing the precepts of the Deliverer Messiah, The Word, and His times, with the forgoing results of a long string of prophesies. Paul had not done the same. In fact, His use of that appellation for Jesus reflected his limited perception, or knowledge, of the Promises of the End Times. He most certainly paid no attention to (or just simply spurned) the many promises that God would take his wrath out against those who had been against His Children Israel or even those who had condemned them! Significantly, this warning in prophesy is clearly presented by us and we wonder how it is that Paul would have overlooked it. (Later we shall see he was aware of this Curse but spurned it anyway).
As concerning the Old Testament Prophesies and the Law of Moses, which are the Five Books of Moses, Paul was in complete error. If it should be that the prophets are correct and that includes Moses and His curse against those who oppose the Law, then we must conclude that anyone condemning them would necessarily be misled, perhaps having a hook in his jaw, causing him to make some grievous errors. It turns out that that hook — in light of denial of The Word — was the belief that Jesus was the fulfillment of prophesy and, as such, became a New Covenant, justifying the abrogation of the Old Covenant to Israel. This belief, in turn, hinged upon the premise that Jesus would have set forth a New Covenant and in that Covenant Himself abrogated the Old Testament Promises. While this is certainly the approach Paul and Barnabas took in their ministry, the gospel tradition does not support them in their thesis that Jesus claimed to make a New Covenant. Furthermore, the gospels fail to realize that the Messiah, in making a New Covenant, has certain limitations, principally being the fact that the New Covenant must be made at the time The Children of Israel are redeemed and restored to their Promised Land. And because the Covenant is based upon this time period, it follows that the New Covenant must also reinforce all of the Promises made to the Children of Israel at the redemption and also must confirm the Curses placed against the Gentile. Again, the Curses against the Gentile are based upon the assumption that they will not accept the Law and have condemned the Children of Israel and those who follow the law.
We recall here in prophesy how the Gentile are seen eating pork while claiming their portion of the inheritance. In the curse we have seen above, God's fury will come up against them who do not obey the Law. The Messiah has only a few areas of movement where He can modify the Old Law or create a New Law. Areas of movement concern feasts and sacrifices. In several places God said He hated their feasts and sacrifices, because the people's lips are near to him and their hearts are far from Him. A pure sacrifice to God, the Psalms conclude, is a Contrite heart (see our work, Song of an Unicorn on this). This becomes the very substance behind the creation of the Sacrificed Messiah who demonstrates to the world the value of Humility (through the self-same-sacrifice of God — or His Son). The message of humility comes home when we contrast it with the final judgment scene against the Gentile, who are judged according to their Vanity. The Judge sifts the world with Vanity. It is by Vanity that Gog, for instance, is led into Armageddon with all his troops and allies with him. It is by the hook of Vanity that bodies are seen strewn from one end of the earth to the other. It is the judgment of Vanity when Israel is finally convinced or convicted that they caused God to take the life of their Messiah. In simple terms the Old Testament Prophets have done a good job in describing the exposition of Vanity and God's perception towards it. Again, it is worthwhile to note that in the setting up of blame for the murder of the Messiah, God states openly that it is He who smote the Messiah — no one else. He was caused to afflict the Messiah because of the iniquities of the Children of Israel. Vanity might conclude, on the other hand, that Israel killed its Messiah, and then try to persecute them for it. Vanity would not be inclined to notice that it is God who said He cut off the life of the Messiah, not Israel. It is a minor point, in a way, but in another way very significant. For the Vain tend to doubt the ability of God to do the things He sets Himself to do, to either bless or condemn those whom He wills—or to reserve the rights of vengeace to himself: i.e., thou shalt not kill.
The War over the Law
When Paul sought to justify his Cause of converting the Gentile, he immediately ran up against opposition from pagan priests. The idea of Jesus being salvation from sins, like another Adonis, who is a pagan type of Jesus, was compatible with Gentile belief. Jesus could, in fact, become another Apollo or Adonis to the Gentile. Paul, in fact, complains about the confusion of Jesus with Apollo in his epistles. But this confusion factor was not the problem of proselytization of the Gentile; the problem in presenting Jesus to the Gentile was the Law of Moses. While this was not a problem much later in the spread of the Moslem religion (because Mohammed fully endorsed the Law of Moses), Paul saw that the foundation of Christianity on the Law would be too difficult to present. Even though Jesus fully endorsed the Law, Paul could not go along with the Law and taught disobedience to the Law. In simple terms the teaching to disobey the Law was called the Gospel of Uncircumcision. Circumcision was a requirement of the Law. Paul taught that circumcision was no longer required. To the Gentiles that would have been a Godsend, since circumcision could be rather quite painful to an adult male. Food laws, etc., also came under attack, once the thesis of breaking the Law and justifying it via Jesus came into focus. Thus, the Gentile were taught to eat whatever is put before them, or whatever is offered in the shambles (market).
While this may not have been seen as a total disaster to Judaic teaching, from the Gentile point of view, it in practice ought to have been an abomination to the Jewish synagogues, since Paul based his ministry in the synagogues. It was in these places the best chances of converts could be reaped, for the Jews already believed in the coming of the Messiah, that He would be a vehicle of Salvation, and could understand its relationship to their own time: when Rome had come down and occupied them and now had them hoping for a saviour on the order of another Moses or Joshua. Reaping converts from the synagogue could, therefore, bring a plentiful harvest and establish a base from which the Gentile could be converted.
Back in Jerusalem the church under Peter and James, the brother of Jesus, proceeded on the basis that the Law of Moses still applies. Anyone brought into the church must become a Jew first in order to become a Christian. One cannot eat pork and one must be circumcised, is what the Law says. One must obey the Sabbath, which is Saturday.
Acts chapter 10 tells us of the conversion of the first Gentile, in fact, whose name was Cornelius. He was a Roman Centurion and the story goes to the effect that God told Peter that what one eats is of no import and that he must go to Caesarea to make a conversion, which turned out to be the Gentile, uncircumcised, pork eating Cornelius. Apparently Cornelius was taken into the church as he was (uncircumcised?) and did not require reformation apart from showing faith in Jesus. This is what Acts asks us to believe. However, Peter's epistles make a substantial argument that one must conform to the law. In a letter from Paul we are given more credence to Peter's position on obedience to the Law, where he is accused of sitting down at a Gentile table, during a supper of both Jew and Gentile, and, realizing his mistake, got up and moved to the Jewish table. So Peter knew the Law and openly obeyed it. The reason why he could not sit at the Gentile table is that the food being offered there did not have to be kosher and Peter, or any Jew at the table, would have no way of knowing that the food they would be taking would be kosher. To assure one is in conformance with the food law, then, the Jew, such as was Peter, was expected to sit at the Jews' table. This avoided any problems of accidentally violating the law.
One law, though spurious as it may seem to us, required that a lamb could not be cooked in its mother's milk. We industrialized people might have difficulty even imagining such a practice, but obviously during Moses's day cooking a lamb in its mother's milk may have been practiced. From a practical sort of way, however, we may imagine Peter, or any other Jew, sitting at a Gentile table where lamb is being served. A pertinent question would be, Was it cooked in its mother's milk? If such a practice was unheard of in that place then, Peter need not worry, need he? But this illustrates preparation requirements which are regulated by the Jews' Law. Another Law had to do with the way the animal providing meat for the table is killed. If he is not killed in a certain way, the Jew cannot eat the food. How would Peter, then, know the food was prepared properly, as it came from a Gentile cook? Not knowing all the answers, and being concerned about not violating the law, particularly in front of other Jews, it appears that Peter got up and moved to the Jews' table. We wonder, however, where Paul ate? Did he, being a Jew, eat at the Gentile table in front of the Jews or did he eat at the Jews' table, offending his Gentile congregation?
This event of which Paul relates, certainly happened after Cornelius had been converted. And we wonder how Peter must have really felt about bringing the Gentile, Cornelius, into the church without requiring him to be circumcised, and to obey the food laws, etc. Acts would have us believe that there would have been no problem here; in fact it and Paul's epistle suggest that Peter and other Jews were hypocrites, not following the law themselves but expecting the Gentile to follow the Law! To illustrate the hypocrisy, once again, Paul referred to Peter sitting down at the Gentile table. Behind the story could be the situation that Peter did not know that there were Gentiles at the table or the other possibility that Peter regularly sat at meat with Gentiles when there were no other Jews around. The story in Paul's epistle gives us further direction in this regard, for Cornelius could theoretically have been sitting at the table which Peter was forced to abandon. In fact, if there were more Gentiles in the Jerusalem church it is probable that Peter would have had to avoid eating or even socializing with those Gentile converts. More importantly, the Gentile in the Jerusalem church (which we may call the Nazarene Church) could not participate in worship in the Temple, along with Peter and James their leaders. Here, then, Paul's thesis that certain Jews of the Nazarene church were hypocrites cannot hold much water. We conclude, in fact, that though it could be suggested that Peter had shown the hypocrisy, it may have been one of his disciples. Nevertheless, says Paul, Peter was to blame.
Further analysis of this problem cited by Paul must be viewed from the real recorded perspective: Paul was an offense against all Jews. Acts records the real substance of the matter, telling us how he was called back to Jerusalem to answer to charges of preaching uncircumcision. He returns to Jerusalem, worships in the Temple, taking a Gentile with him into an area forbidden to the uncircumcised and then, having stirred up the Jews, denies ever having taught uncircumcision! We recount the charges:
Acts 2.21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
Paul denied these charges and then proceeded to worship in the Temple:
Acts 2.26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
2.27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him.
We recall the very same Jews—those of Asia—being stirred up against Paul's predecessor, Stephen!
Acts 2.28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this Holy Place.
25. 7 And when he was come [to Caesarea to face the charges before King Agrippa], the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
Here we have Paul being recorded as being accused of teaching Uncircumcision then going into the temple to fulfill his Temple Worship duty and doing it in such a way that it would openly offend the Jews. Paul had to have known his associate(s) whom he took into the temple were uncircumcised, pork eating Gentile, and knowing this he had to also have known his offense against the Temple and the Jews before he did it. The offense would be comparable to one going into a Christian church and throwing a cross down upon the floor; for it would be an open act of denial of the very tenets of the sanctuary. Paul went into the temple and openly threw down to the floor the Laws of Moses!
The record also says that certain Jews cried out against him for polluting the temple (and the religion). Among those who were crying out against him had to be the leaders of the Nazarene Church and probably included Peter and James.
Later Acts leads us to believe the charges against him continued, but now the record says they were charges which could not be proved. We may recall that this statement of the charges against Paul was made at the end of his ministry; for afterwards Paul was sent to Rome and subsequently crucified (for his offenses against the Jews). We beg to differ with the writer of Acts. For in laying this comment unto the truth of the matter we can see clearly that Paul's letters, written long before his arrest in Jerusalem for the charges against him, clearly reflect a well established doctrine of preaching uncircumcision and the denial of the Laws of Moses. He admits in his epistles, even, that he preached the doctrine in the synagogues! Paul answered the charges against him by denying to King Agrippa he preached uncircumcision or offended the Jewish religion!:
Acts 25.8 while he answered for himself, neither against the Law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all.
25.10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
This record shows that Paul Lied. And he lied in a very big way. Had Peter and James believed anything they had preached or done according to what they preached, the very gospel of Paul aught to have been repulsive to them. For Paul's entire teaching optimized Jesus as if her were opposed to the Laws of Moses, which thing had no foundation.
To accept Paul's thesis that he did not lie, we would have to record the charges of Paul offending the temple and the Jews, earlier recorded, to be a lie. We would also have to believe that his many epistles, which teach Uncircumcision and disobedience to the Law, were also written by another than Paul and had nothing to do with his ministry.
The case before King Agrippa in Caesarea, before the Judgment Seat of Judah, probably involved two matters: one was that Paul was preaching uncircumcision and the other that Paul was a follower of the (false messiah) Jesus. We say this because the argument gravitates from charges of offending the Jews to being a follower of Jesus. The two matters are not interrelated! For Jesus had never disobeyed the Law nor taught disobedience to the Law; nor was his church in Jerusalem, under Peter and James, guilty of the same. Luke's final comment of the Apostles continuing to worship in the temple confirms this.
Paul's methods of preaching become more evident here. When He taught His Gospel he predicated it upon the basis that Jesus is the Messiah because He rose from the dead (fulfilling prophesy not currently in the Bible):
Acts 26.6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
26.7 unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hopeÕs sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
It is hard to believe that the Jews, including Peter and the Apostles, accused Paul of following the teachings of Jesus! While in the early days after Jesus's crucifixion, one being a Christian (or Nazarene) in Jerusalem may not have been a safe thing to do — for which cause we see Peter and the disciples fleeing into Galilee — after things settled down (the persecution arising from Stephen's martyrdom) the disciples probably had no problem practicing their faith in Jerusalem. We say this with some confidence because the record shows Peter James and the Apostles continuing to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem.
We must place ourselves in the scene as much as we can to understand what probably did occur. Peter, James, and the other elders were probably at the sidelines observing Paul's arrest and trial. They had to have had mixed emotions towards Paul, for Paul had done great things in creating the Gentile Church and sending financial support to Jerusalem. If he had not gained entrance into their hearts by his teaching of uncircumcision he probably smoothed the way with his donations. The record seems to be silent here as to what the elders in Jerusalem were doing about Paul's arrest. Were they defending him? We suspect not. Were the Nazarenes being rounded up and arrested with Paul and brought before King Agrippa? We suspect not. We suspect, in fact, that Paul had no defense against the charges and his only way out, so to speak, would be to convert King Agrippa to Jesus according to the Gospel of Paul. So Paul denies offending the Jews and then proceeds to convert the King to believing in Jesus:
Acts 26.8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
26.9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Now we are confused as to Paul's defense. He shifts his defense from the charges of polluting the Jewish temple and Law (we refer to this later as trampling on the law) and focuses it on persuading King Agrippa that Jesus is the Messiah because God resurrected him from the dead. But then Paul goes on to talk about how he, himself, persecuted the Christians (Nazarenes):
Acts 26.10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
26.11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
26.12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
26.13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
26.14 And when were were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
26.15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
26.16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
26.17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
26.18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
26.19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
26.20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
26.21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
Paul is not telling the entire truth here. He is omitting the facts of his letters which condemn those who are circumcised and obey the Law, the Torah. He was accused of the same offenses as Stephen was accused, and more. For Paul took an uncircumcised Greek into the Temple where he ought not to have gone.
Acts 26.22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
Again, Paul is not telling the truth. His letters testify of a quite complex theology teaching against the Law, the Torah of Moses. In that Law we have seen prophesies of Moses which deal with the Latter Day Messiah, his function, and his times. Most of those things could not be applied to Jesus! Any thinking Jew in the hearing of Paul's teachings could see that linking Jesus to some prophesies in particular would be cause for a great stretching of the truth (see our comment on Matthew 12.16, chapter 17). The same applies to the other prophets. Paul taught that Jesus brought the promised New Covenant. The New Covenant does not appear until the Latter Days. Paul taught that his time was the Latter Days. The Latter Days are characterized by the fact that the Children of Israel had been scattered to all the nations; then would God gather them again and Redeem them, with His Messiah with Him. These facts could simply not be related to Paul's day without considerable distortion and imagination! The fact that Paul claimed he taught only what Moses and the Prophets Promised is a Lie. The truth is he not only distorted what they promised, but he condemned the promises altogether!
Acts 26.23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
The prophets, Isaiah and David, certainly spoke of a Suffering Messiah, as we have seen. Should he rise from the dead? That prophesy is in the Book of Adam and Eve which is not canonized and therefore irrelevant to Paul's argument. Should he be the first to rise from the dead? At the time of the Judgment the Messiah appears and raises the dead. If He is the same as the Suffering Messiah who is killed, then He would be the first to rise from the dead. If He is another, but of course the same spirit of God, He would not be raised from the dead but rather released for the occasion prophesied of him when those times come.
We recall Paul complained against some who said that Jesus had already been resurrected. What Paul actually believed in terms of the Resurrection of the Messiah is not clear. As for the Messiah Promised as a light unto the Gentile, Paul has some credibility here. Jesus thought he was that Messiah and Matthew begins his gospel account of Jesus going into Galilee, justified as fulfilling the prophesy that he would be a light to the Gentile. But we have good reason to believe that the prophesies are divided on this score. Some which refer to the Messiah being a light to the Gentile unequivocally relate to the Deliverer Messiah of the Latter Days. Others, through the last verses of Isaiah's book, for instance, would tie the Suffering Messiah, God's Glory, into the epitaph of being a Light unto the Gentile.
Acts 26.24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
26.25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
26.26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
26.27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Paul's teaching of Types and Shadows goes against the prophets, since it depends upon the claim that all the Old Testament events and sayings were merely forshadowing the Messiah. That was their only purpose. Once the Messiah is displayed, then, the Old Testament is no longer Law or binding. Paul also, connected with this statement, demoted the Hebrew Scriptures to being the Old Testament, being no longer valid and now passed away, being replaced now with a New Testament. Furthermore, Paul said in his epistles that all Scripture is inspired writings of God. This differs with the Rabbis' point of view that the prophets were the mouth of God and did not speak by inspiration but were His Word. Paul's defense of himself, using the prophets whose credibility he had attempted to destroy, is shocking.
Acts 26.28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
26.29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
26.30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
26.31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
If Paul's letters had been furnished to Agrippa's Judgment Seat, King Agrippa might have come to a different conclusion, for the King was a practicing Jew and ought to have had the hackles on the back of his neck raise if he were to read Paul's railings against the uncircumcised and their fables.
Acts 26.32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
We have just reviewed the record of Paul facing King Agrippa. King Agrippa was the great grandson of Herod the Great and grandson of Herod Antipas who had put John the Baptist to death and mocked Jesus the Christ. The King observed the Jewish religion, according to Paul's testimony. The charges we had earlier heard against Paul of polluting the temple and preaching uncircumcision should have been a basis of condemning Paul from King Agrippa's point of view, provided the charges were true.
The story before King Agrippa ends with two statements of importance. The first statement is that King Agrippa was almost convinced of being a Christian. The second statement was that Paul was by the court's opinion innocent. As concerning the charges, these two statements would not relate to one another. Certainly there were Paul's accusers before the King as well; and it is most probable that they recounted to the king how Paul had been preaching against the Law and the circumcised church. They were probably priests and pharisees and Jews who had actually heard Paul preaching in the synagogues. Among these had to be some Nazarenes — even representatives from the synagogues in Asia — who were offended in Paul's teachings. Had this writer been alive then, he would have been seen among the offended Nazarenes.
Next Paul persuaded King Agrippa that he had been given direction to preach the gospel to the Gentile. But somehow — not recorded in the story — Paul persuaded King Agrippa that the Gospel of Jesus is justification for abrogating the Law and polluting the Temple. He had to proceed on this basis in order for the court to reach the conclusion that Paul was innocent of the charges! The defense was either in this accord or it followed the lines of total confusion, causing the court to lose focus on the issues and concentrate on whether Jesus were the Messiah. Acts suggests that Paul did a pretty good job of confusing the issue, and many at the trial probably became sympathetic to him because of his zealous and persuasive conviction towards Jesus, whose teaching was absolutely in agreement with the Laws of Moses. Taking the point of view that King Agrippa knew very little of Christian teaching and probably nothing at all — but certainly knew they (the Nazarenes) were not offensive to Jewish Law — we ought to conclude that Paul firstly lied about offending the Jewish Law and then proceeded to preach Jesus and His Salvation. This seems to be the gist of the record in Acts. By the time he was done, having switched his defense to defending Jesus, the people in the court hearing had forgotten about the specific charges against Paul.
Paul was a very persuasive man. We suspect that he had a similar affect on Peter and the Elders in the church in Jerusalem, probably persuading them that it was not only acceptable to bring Gentiles into the church but also that once they are brought in they ought to be treated as equals. That is, any Gentile convert, though still uncircumcised and an eater of forbidden foods, ought not to be avoided or rudely treated. We might be persuaded to believe that Paul had convinced the church in Jerusalem that it was acceptable for Nazarenes to sit at meat with Gentile converts. We say we are almost persuaded. But the record of PaulÕs epistle to the Galatians persuades us along opposite lines:
Galatians 2.7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the Gospel of the Uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the Circumcisions was unto Peter;
2.8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
2.9 And when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
2.10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
There is no objection, nor should their have been, of Paul preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. At that time (before Paul received His Charge) there was One Gospel. That gospel preached Salvation in Jesus through his blood sacrifice and resurrection; it also preached obedience to the Laws of Moses. For before Paul taught the Gospel of Uncircumcision, the Nazarenes had no basis of, or argument for, abrogating the Law. Stephen had taught along similar lines as Paul, we saw, and we know his teachings, if they truly maintained that Jesus abrogated the Law, were a radical departure from what Peter taught. In his commentary Paul suggests that the Elders, or Apostles in Jerusalem, authorized him to preach the Gospel of Uncircumcision. Paul's Gospel of Uncircumcision disinherited the Jews and taught anti-Semitism. We agree that Peter and the Elders agreed to let Paul preach, and we agree that they were aware of some of the things he taught as concerning uncircumcision. But we certainly cannot agree that Peter and the Elders would have sat quietly by and consented to PaulÕs thesis of Abrogating the Torah and the Prophets and disinheriting the Jews and their Latter Day Messiah. It is certain that Peter and James could never have accepted his thesis of abrogating the Law. We have on record, in fact, Peter's and James' epistles which argue the case of faith with works. This case is an argument which requires obedience to the Laws of Moses. Paul took the opposite point of view, saying that by faith and the grace of Jesus you are saved. One's works (obedience to the Law, such as circumcision) have nothing to do with Salvation, said Paul.
In spite of the opposition between Peter's doctrine and Paul's, we are led to believe — even by modern Christian scholasticism, such as Halley's Bible Handbook and others — that Peter and Paul were in agreement! Nothing could be further from the truth. For Peter could not argue that one is required to obey the Law without himself observing it. Paul seems to argue that Peter was a hypocrite, however. In the story of Corneilius in Acts we are told that Peter did, in fact, eat with men of the uncircumcision:
Acts 11.1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
11.2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,
11.3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
To understand the charge of hypocrisy against Peter, we must review the problem of obeying the food laws. The Law did not say do not eat at the same table as a Gentile. It was rather a ban against eating certain foods, most particularly pork. Along with pork one was forbidden to eat mice, and other repulsive foods, which thing most people would not have a problem obeying. The main controversy of the food law involved pork, though shellfish might have been an issue had there been a lot of people living off of shellfish, since shellfish were also banned; rabbits were also banned. But sitting at a table where such things were being served was not forbidden in the law. By tradition, however, it was forbidden. We have, in fact, the instance of Jesus going to a Publican's house and eating with him. Most certainly Jesus was not served forbidden foods; otherwise the gospel record would have recorded it. For such an act would have been raucously condemned. But Jesus, in this instance, was chastised for eating with publicans and sinners; that is, sitting at the same table with them. We note that he was not accused, like Paul, of breaking the Law. In fact, we have a common consensus among the Gospels of Jesus saying that he had broken none of the laws of Moses and most assuredly He argued that all the Law and the prophets must be upheld. Because of His sayings and the absence of any charges of Him breaking the Law, we must conclude that Jesus may have sat at the same table of the Gentiles but did not eat any food forbidden by the law. If Peter had done the same, then there is nothing wrong or hypocritical in his act.
Peter and the other Jews — the Nazarenes — had a problem. Once the Gentile began coming into the church, even being brought in by Paul, the rules of the Association would have to change. At first, before Paul, the rules of the Association required one to obey the Law and be circumcised, etc. Paul began arguing that the Gentile have a right to Salvation as well as the Jew. Peter and the Elders could not argue against this, nor ought they to have opposed it. Our record of Cornelius tells us that they had already been dealing with bringing the Gentile into the Association long before Paul began his ministry in the church. It is probable that Peter and the Elders allowed Gentiles into their congregation, or Association, with the requirement that they be circumcised and obey all the Law, particularly the food laws. In all probability there had to be another like Stephen who may not have bought into the circumcision and food law requirements. We know, however, that the Asian Churches, both in the complaints mentioned in Acts against Paul and those against Stephen, were conservative and true to the Nazarene tradition. That is, they were practicing Jews.
Though some Gentiles may have been allowed into the congregation of the Nazarenes in Jerusalem and Asia, it is probable, because of the complaints of those churches mentioned in Acts, they were not lax in obedience to the Law. Gentiles had to become Jews in those churches. This we know from the very testimony in Acts about them, as they complained against both Paul and Stephen.
Peter and the Elders, the Apostles, in Jerusalem had a serious problem on their hands. Once they agreed to allow Paul to bring the Gentile into the church they would be dealing with the problem of where to sit at table. The solution is clearly mentioned in Acts. Whenever there was a congregation of both Gentile converts, who were yet uncircumcised (or refused to do so), and the Circumcised Nazarenes, there would be arranged two sets of tables. One set would be for the Nazarenes and the other for the Uncircumcised Gentile converts.
This solution, however, was a bigoted way to handle things. Now we have people all sharing a common love for Jesus, being taught to love one another, breaking into two separate groups when eating together. And they must have eaten together frequently, at least every Passover (later to be called Easter, signifying the Resurrection of Jesus). Paul's teaching and proselytization of the Gentile, we see, would eventually have to explode at one of those tables.
How would you like it if the leader of your religion, a great and revered leader, such as Peter, were to avoid sitting with you at dinner? Christianity — both the brands of which Peter and Paul taught — represented equality. All men are created equal before God. But built into the Jewish Law was a requirement of Separation. The Jews, by their Law, were Separated unto God and made distinctly different and marked by God. A man who is circumcised cannot hide that mark. He is marked for life. In the early days of persecuting Jews, hypothetically all one need do is cause a Jew to undress to determine whether he is a Jew. This, we say, is a hypothetical proposal, since many in that day already practiced Circumcision and among them are mentioned the Arabians and Egyptians. The practice of Circumcision may have evolved in other nations parallel to the Jewish practice introduced to Abraham. For the most part however, separating a Jew from a Greek, all one need do is ask him to undress. The same is true of the Nazarenes. To distinguish a Nazarene from a Greek all one need do is to ask him to undress. And, of course, there is a far simpler way of separating them and that is to invite the Nazarene and the Greek to dinner. The Nazarene, to avoid breaking the Law, will not sit at the same table as the Greek.
Recognizing that Peter probably was no more guilty of breaking the Law than Jesus, whereas He may have sat at the same table as publicans and sinners, both Jesus and most certainly Peter still observed the law:
Acts 10.34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
10.35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
10.36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
10.37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
10.38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
10.39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
10.40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
10.41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
10.42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of Quick and Dead.
10.43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
10.44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
10.45 And they of the Circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy ghost.
10.46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
10.47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
10.48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
11.1 And the Apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
11.2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the Circumcision contended with him,
11.3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
Here we get close to the truth of the matter. Peter, and others with him (at least the six men who went to Caesarea with him) concluded that the Gospel of Jesus also ought to be Salvation to the Gentiles as well. And this doctrine ought to conclude that by Baptism the Gentile, as well as Jew, would become a New Person in the Body of Jesus saved by the Remission of sin. What we mean here is that by believing in Jesus one is saved, for his death, to fulfill Isaiah's prophesy in chapter 53, would be an Atonement for sin. The atonement is not restricted to Jews but offered to all men. The earlier event, where a congregation included some Gentiles in their midst who also began to speak in tongues, sheds light on the direction the faith seemed to be headed. People would hear of Jesus's Salvation. To pursue the hearing, since faith, as Paul says, cometh by hearing and by hearing the Word of the Lord, new proselytes would come to a congregation or meeting in which the Service of the LordÕs Table was presented. This service became the Mass common among Christian churches. Probably before the Mass the minister, such as Peter, would recount the story of Jesus's ministry and resurrection. In the early days that story probably began with John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness Salvation through repentance and Baptism in the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, just as Peter reminded us in his speech above quoted from Acts. Jesus began his ministry teaching this doctrine of Repentance and Baptism, preparing for the Kingdom of God. We recall that He was accused by JohnÕs disciples of baptizing more people than John. The accusation suggests that Jesus was trying to steal John's ministry in their eyes, since they questioned his legitimacy of doing so. John the Baptist replied that Jesus had a right to baptize (though it was Jesus's disciples who did the baptizing)!
Setting the beginning of the New Christian Faith upon the foundation of John the Baptist, then the minister would recount how John was that voice in the wilderness prophesied by Isaiah and that voice prepared the way before the Lord which is Jesus. For a time they may have brought up the fact that John the Baptist was Elijah, but once the Gospel of John began to be preached we suspect this issue was silenced. For preaching John the Baptist as Elijah would have drawn questions from those who had read JohnÕs Gospel saying that John the Baptist was not Elijah. And that, in turn, really complicates things, because then they would be embroiled over discussions as to what time it is (Elijah comes with the Judgment of God and the Gospels show that Jesus did not then come for Judgment and would come for that at His Second Coming).
Having gone over the relationship of John the Baptist to Jesus, the Nazarene Gospel would recount how Jesus taught and was later crucified, was resurrected after three days, and how his death represents a Remission from Sin. The capstone of the teaching would be to recite Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, how Jesus suffered and his suffering was for the Atonement of mankindÕs sins. The teaching would have to respond, as well, to whether all men are saved and whether the sins are remitted after Baptism. The answer would be that first you must be Baptized and confess that Jesus is your Lord and Saviour. Jesus said in the Gospels, anyone who confesses me I will confess before God. Presentation of this Gospel in the hearing of Gentiles would lead to conversion and baptism. Once you have confessed your belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, unto Eternal Life, and once you then have been Baptized, you are reborn as a New Person in the body of Christ Jesus. This was the teaching of the Nazarenes in Peter's day and still continues to be the core of all Christian teaching.
Peter and Paul both use the same argument, inherent to the Nazarene Gospel, that God does not judge with respect to persons. Paul adds to this thesis that we are all sinners and come short of the glory of God. This thesis mandates equal treatment of all who come to Salvation in Jesus! Simply stated, Paul would say to Peter, the Gentile have a right to sit at mass too and they need not obey the law! Peter (the Nazarenes) would respond, they must obey the Law, for faith without works is in vain. In the meantime, though the Gentile were coming into the church as a flood, the issue remained unresolved. Paul would not agree with Peter and Peter could not agree with Paul, and they soon separated unto two different paths. But Peter was still considered, even by Paul, the head of the church, though Paul led his congregation to believe that he had received an anointing directly by Jesus which was equal to Peter's. Paul argued that he ought to be ranked as one of the chiefs of the apostles. He argues this case in his letters and recalls how he sacrificed himself, was put in prison several times, etc. justifying, by his works, that he had a right to be a leader of the church and counted as an Apostle.
An Apostle (according to Peter's criteria) was one who knew and walked with Jesus and who was appointed by Jesus as one of his Twelve inner guard. When Judas Iscariot hanged himself, there was an opening for the position of Apostle. Though another had been elected to that position, Paul tried to edge in on that inner core position by calling himself an Apostle of the Lord. Peter and the other Apostles might have been irritated over Paul's self appointed title, claiming authority as an Elder himself, for they knew that Paul never met Jesus in person. By Paul's teaching also, we suspect that Peter wondered whether Paul really had the Spirit of Jesus speak to Him. For seeing through all the letters one quickly realizes that Paul used Jesus as an argument for abrogating the Law of Moses, which thing Jesus never supported, according to the gospel record, as evidenced in Peter's epistles.
In all probability the services of the early Christians included charismatic features, such as occasional outbursts of the adherents speaking in tongues. For from the beginning Speaking in Tongues was considered the main evidence that the Holy Spirit is present in the service. This phenomena — and it would be phenomenal to an outsider, as it is even today — might cause an onlooking Gentile to get caught up in the ecstasy of the service. Many people speaking different tongues all at one time is a strange phenomenon!
Here we have a problem being voiced: Those in the congregation of which Acts 10.46 tells, were Jews, Nazarenes. They asked Peter, who was probably leading the Service, whether the Gentile had a right to speak in tongues. Peter concluded that perhaps the Holy Spirit had descended upon them too and they ought to therefore have a right to receive the communion (wine and bread of the mass) and the opportunity to receive Salvation by Jesus.
Certainly, if we were witnessing the proceedings and, being Gentiles, believed that Jesus was an opportunity to receive Eternal Life through Remission from sins, we also would run to the Altar! Here we have a problem, for we can envision some gentiles kneeling before Peter with their hands outstretched to receive the bread and wine of the communion, which is interpreted as the Flesh and Blood of Jesus.
Acts 11.4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them saying,
11.5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, a certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:
11.6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
11.7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.
11.8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.
11.9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
11.10 And this was done three times; and all were drawn up again into heaven.
11.11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.
11.12 And the spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting, moreover, these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the manÕs house:
11.13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
11.14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
11.15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
11.16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy ghost.
In all the gospel accounts which report this saying, the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, it was John the Baptist who said this, not Jesus!
Acts 11.17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
11.18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
While this event is recorded as having occurred in A.D. 41, we know that in A.D. 58 PaulÕs epistle to the Galatians complained about Peter moving from the table of the Gentiles to the table of the Jews. Peter's conduct in A.D. 58 was not according to the attitude reported in A.D. 41 concerning the vision telling him to eat whatsoever is put before him. If God really told Peter, in effect, that the food law is waived in A.D. 41, it seems ridiculous for anyone to then write about him respecting the food laws seventeen years later! We do not believe that Peter was that kind of a person who would openly contradict himself in front of his congregation. Either the Law applied or it didn't. If it didn't then he ought not to pretend to obey it and he ought not to argue the case that faith without works is to no avail, against Paul's position. We believe that some sly scribe inserted a report of Peter which has no basis of fact, for the report is totally out of Peter's character and not consistent with any other sayings and reports of him. In reflection on the truth of the matter, Peter probably did receive a vision and it probably did tell him to go to Joppa and save a Gentile household. The vision probably told him that the Gentile should not be excluded. As for waiving the food laws, we would like to see that come to be true, no less than Paul; but using Peter as an authority to waive the law will, from the evidence given, bring no profit. Peter was a defender of the Law. He may have sat at Gentile tables, just as Jesus before him, but he certainly cannot be accused, based upon the evidence, of eating banned foods, or arguing for the same.
Because of Paul's accusation, Peter would most certainly have been by appearance a hypocrite in the eyes of the Gentile. For the precept of Christianity is that by Faith in Jesus one is Saved and one's sins are atoned for by the Blood of Jesus. Works, or obedience to the Law, are not necessary to Salvation. Paul could point to Peter getting up from a Gentile table to move to the Jews' table as a hypocritical position, since the premise of Christianity is that all men are equal before Jesus and, therefore, Peter ought to treat Gentiles as equals to the Nazarenes. If he were not even willing to sit with them, he certainly could be accused as (hypocriticaly) not treating them as equals.
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