Acts 15: Paul and Barnabas sent to Jerusalem

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by blhowes, Jun 30, 2004.

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  1. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    This morning I was reading Acts 15, where it talks about Paul and Barnabas disputing with the men from Judaea, and eventually being sent to Jerusalem to resolved the circumcision issue. I have a couple questions about the passage.

    I've always wondered why the church didn't just accept the apostolic authority of Paul. At the beginning of the chapter, I started thinking that maybe these people just saw Paul as any other person and questioned his apostolic authority, like the people mentioned in 2 Corinthians (I think).

    Then, when I got to verse 24, another thought came to mind:

    Act 15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:

    I had never realized that the people Paul was arguing with were people from the church of Jerusalem. I started wondering if the church sent Paul and Barnabas back to Jerusalem because they were caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they had Paul's apostolic authority while, on the other hand, they had representatives of another apostolic authority. They believed the 12 apostles had special authority and they believed Paul had that same authority. Since they couldn't decide which apostolic authority was correct, they sent them to Jerusalem to "fight it out among themselves".

    What do you think?

    The second question I have is about Acts 15:21.

    Act 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

    In the rest of the verses, they're teaching that the practice of circumcision is not necessary for Gentiles. Is this verse teaching that, although circumcision wouldn't continue into the NT, the Law of Moses does? Any thoughts?

    Finally, I wonder if anybody has any thoughts about verse 16:

    Acts 15:16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:

    I don't think, and I think most here would agree, that this is talking about some future tabernacle that is going to be built. Holding that view of the scripture seems to make it just so irrelevant to the topic being discussed at Jerusalem.

    How would you explain the phrases in this verse? What is the tabernacle of David referred to here? In what way is it "built again", implying that it previously had been built and needs to be rebuilt? How is the tabernacle fallen down, and what does it mean to build the ruins thereof and set it up?

    Bob
     
  2. IX

    IX Inactive User

    As to the first observation I would just reply with Acts 15:1-5.

    As Paul was in this city teaching and strengthing the faith of those in this place some came down from Judea, and basically seemed to begin to debate with Paul. Verse 2 says that it was no small "dissension and dispute". I would imagine that with the severity of whats at stake the town leaders along with Paul would want to head off this conflict at the source.

    I believe we see what happened at Paul's arrival in Galatians 2:11-16.

    What was Peter doing in Antioch? Possibly the Jews having heard from John Mark (who left Paul) what Paul was preaching felt that they needed to follow up on what liberty Paul was preaching, for fear of losing their Jewish heritage.




    [quote:86c6ee67e0]
    The second question I have is about Acts 15:21.

    Act 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

    In the rest of the verses, they're teaching that the practice of circumcision is not necessary for Gentiles. Is this verse teaching that, although circumcision wouldn't continue into the NT, the Law of Moses does? Any thoughts?
    [/quote:86c6ee67e0]

    Calvin comments on this verse that James (who is speaking) is describing the difficulty of laying to rest the whole of the Law of Moses, which has been apart of their lives for so long. So James makes mention of those items within the Law that still have equity in the NT, at this time, for the Gentiles to be taught.


    [quote:86c6ee67e0]
    Finally, I wonder if anybody has any thoughts about verse 16:

    Acts 15:16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
    [/quote:86c6ee67e0]

    James in verse 14 is relating Paul's witness to the gentiles as the fulfilment this passage from Amos 9:11-13. With in the context of the discussion they are having, it would seem to me that it is a duel reference. First to the tabernacle of David's time which has time and again been torn down, but this time for good, because in its second reference to Christ, who is likened to the Temple (Matthew 2:19-22), has been torn down and built up again (in death and resurrection) and is now a witness through Paul to the gentiles who now come and seek to worship at this rebuilt Temple which is Christ. I see this as another way of telling those present that the old is passed, and we must follow what is new and happening before us in Christ.

    Peace and Grace in Christ
    John
     
  3. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    John,
    First, welcome to the forum. Glad you could join us.

    Thanks for your response. I really appreciate it, especially the other passages (the Galatians one in particular) you brought up for me to consider.

    I hope you enjoy your stay here at the forum. What you did in your post is one of the things I enjoy most about this forum. Its such a great opportunity to think about the scriptures from a different perspective when others share a slightly different way of looking at a passage or another related passage to consider. In another thread I asked some other questions about Acts 15. In that thread, Matthew (webmaster) brought my attention to Acts 21, which I had never thought of before or even realized the connection. Then, you come along and give me another passage to consider. This is great!

    Thanks,
    Bob

    [Edited on 7-5-2004 by blhowes]
     
  4. IX

    IX Inactive User

    Bob,

    Thank you so much for the warm welcome.

    I too look forward to the ongoing exchange of ideas and understandings of the things of God that help us all to grow or at least think more deeply about our faith.

    May we never take others Christians for granted, thinking we know enough on our own.

    Peace and Grace in Christ!
     
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