Chapter 10: Paul Disbelieved Continued.—Jerusalem Visit IV. Continued. His Arrival and Reception. Accused by All the Disciples of the Apostles, He Commences an Exculpatory Oath in the Temple. Dragged Out by Them—Rescued by a Roman Commander—Sent in Custody to Rome
Section 2: Low Tone Assumed by Him on This Occasion
On more accounts than one, remarkable,—and not a little instructive, is the account we have of this last recorded visit: and, in particular, as to what concerns the reception he experienced from the ruling powers of the Church.
It is, in some particulars, more especially to be depended upon,—inasmuch as, at this important meeting, the author of the Acts—if he is to be believed—was himself present.
The first remarkable circumstance is—that, on this occasion, Paul, the self-elected Apostle—instead of taking the lead, and introducing his companions—keeps behind, and is introduced by them: such was the pliancy, with which—even on this expedition, of invasion and projected conquest,—an expedition,—undertaken, in spite of everything that could be done, both on the part of the intended objects of the conquest, and on the part of his own adherents—such was the pliancy, with which this man, among whose boasts was that of being all things to all men, could bend himself to circumstances.
And, to whom was it, that this sort of reception, whatsoever it was, was afforded? Was it to Paul? No: it was to those, who, on other occasions, were with him; but, with whom, on this occasion, his prudence forced his pride to submit to be.
Witness the next verse, Acts 21:18; "And the day following," not till the day following, "Paul went in with us unto James." With them—with these his attendants—did Paul, then and there, go in:—not they with him.
At the house of James—mark well, now—who were the persons present? Answer—"all the elders." But, forasmuch as these elders were, all of them, present,—notice, within the compass of the two fragments of two days,—notice, to and by all of them must have been given and received: for it has just been seen, whether, between any of them, on the one hand,—and Paul, or, so much as any one of his attendants, on the other,—there could have been any such sort of good understanding, as to have produced any the least personal intercourse, but at, and on, the occasion of the general and formal meeting:—a meeting, which—as will be seen presently—had, for its sole object, the imposing upon him, in the event of his continuance at Jerusalem, an obligation: an obligation—to a man in his circumstances—it has been seen, of how perilous and repulsive a nature.
Such, then, was the notice, as to have brought to the place, all the Elders—All the Elders?—good. But, these Elders—Elders among the disciples in ordinary,—on an occasion such as this, what were they in comparison of the Apostles—the only known chosen servants, and constant companions of Jesus? Well, then, while—at this meeting—this formally convened meeting—those Elders were, every one of them, present—what was the number of Apostles present? Answer—Besides James, not one.
And—why James?—manifestly, because it was at his house, that the meeting was held.
And—why at his house? Because, on the occasion, and for the purpose, of the partition treaty,—that treaty, so necessary to the peace of the Church,—on the one hand; and, to the carrying on of Paul's scheme of dominion, on the other hand;—James was one, of the only three, who could ever endure the sight of the self-declared Apostle: Peter and John, as hath been seen, being the two others:—and, because, when, for the purpose of investing the meeting, in the eyes of the disciples at large, with the character of a meeting of the ruling administrative body—the Apostles,—less than that one, if there were any, there could not be. This one, James—under the pressure of the present emergency—prevailed upon himself to be: and, to be so irksome an intercourse—notwithstanding the obviousness of the demand for as great a number, as could be collected, of that primarily influential body—of no other of the Apostles, could the attendance be obtained: not even of Peter, who, on a former occasion, had brought himself to endure the hateful presence.