Jesus's Words

Chapter 3: Paul Disbelieved.—Neither His Divine Commission nor His Inward Conversion Ever Credited by the Apostles or Their Jerusalem Disciples.—Source of Proof Stated

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Section 4: Topics Under His Several Jerusalem Visits:

Visit I. -Reconciliation Visit

Thick clouds, and those covering no small portion of its extent, will, after everything that can be done to dispel them, be found still hanging over the field of this inquiry. But, if to the purpose of the present question, sufficient light be elicited; in whatever darkness any collateral points may remain still involved, the conclusion will not be affected by it.

As to the credibility of Paul's story,—taken in itself, and viewed from the only position, from which we, at this time of day, can view it,—the question has just been discussed.

That which remains for discussion is—whether, from the Church, which Paul found in existence—the Church composed of the Apostles of Jesus, and his and their disciples—it ever obtained credence.

On this occasion, to the Apostles more particularly must the attention be directed: and this—not only because by their opinion, that of the great body of those disciples would, of course, on a point of such vital importance, be governed; but, because, in the case of these confidential servants and habitual attendants of Jesus, the individuals, of whom the body is composed, and who are designated by one and the same denomination, are always determinable: determinable, in such sort, that, at all times, wheresoever they are represented as being, the eye can follow them.

To judge with what aspect Paul with his pretensions was viewed by them, always with a view to the main question—whether, in any particular, the alleged supernatural cause of his outward conversion, and thence of his presumable inward conversion, ever obtained credence from them;—one primary object, which requires to be attended to, is—personal intercourse; viz. the sort of personal intercourse, which between him on the one part, and them, or some of them, on the other part, appears to have had place.

Of this intercourse, the several interviews, which appear to have had place, will form the links. Correspondent to those interviews will be found to be so many visits: all of them, except one, visits made by him to the great original metropolis of the Christian world—Jerusalem:—the scene of the acts and sufferings of the departed Jesus:—the ordinary abode of these his chosen disciples and successors. If, to these visits of Paul's is to be added any other interview,—it will be in another city, to wit, Antioch: and, in this instance, between Paul, and not, as in the case of the other visits might naturally be expected, the Apostles in a body; but one, or some other small number of members, by whom a visit to that place was made, in consequence of their having been selected for that purpose, and deputed by the rest.

Of the interviews corresponding with these visits, the real number,—and not only the real number, but the number upon record,—is unhappily, in no inconsiderable degree, exposed to doubt; for, considering the terms they were upon, as we shall see, at the interviews produced by Paul's first Jerusalem visit, it does not by any means follow, that, between the persons in question, because there were two more such visits, there was, on each occasion, an interview.

Two of them, however, at any rate, if any degree of credence whatever be given to the documents, remain altogether clear of doubt: and whatever uncertainty may be found to attach upon any of the others, may be regarded as so many fixed points: fixed points, forming so many standards of reference, to which the others may in speaking of them be referred, and by reference to which the reality and time of those others, will be endeavoured to be ascertained.

For the designation of the visits which produced these two unquestionable interviews, the terms Reconciliation Visit, and Invasion Visit, will here be employed: the former being that which gave rise to the first-mentioned of the two interviews, which, after the conversion, appear for certain to have had place between the rival and contending powers; the other, to the last.

1. Reconciliation Visit

By the Reconciliation Visit is here meant—that visit—by which was produced the first interview, which, after the conversion of Paul, had place between him and any of the Apostles. Its title to this appellation is altogether unquestionable. After these proceedings of Paul's, by which the destruction of so many of the Christians had already been effected, and that of all the rest was threatened,—it was not possible, that, without a reconciliation,—if not an inward at any rate an outward one,—any interview, on both sides voluntary, should have taken place. Of the Apostles, Peter was the acknowledged chief: that it was for the purpose of seeing Peter, that a visit of Paul's to Jerusalem—the first of those mentioned by him—was made,—is acknowledged by himself: acknowledged, in that Epistle of his, to his Galatian disciples, of which so much will have to be said, Galatians 1 and 2.20 Without the assistance of some mediator, scarcely was it in the nature of the case, that, in any way, any such reconciliation could have been effected. In the person of Barnabas,—a most munificent patron, as will be seen, of the infant church,—this indispensable friend was found.

According to the received chronology, the time of this visit was A.D. 38. In the account, given in the Acts, Acts 16:6, of the conjunct missionary excursion made from Antioch by Paul and Barnabas—an excursion, the commencement of which is, by that same chronology, placed in the year 53,—Galatia stands fifth, in the number of the places, which they are spoken of as visiting. Of any visit, made in that country, either before this or after it, no mention is to be found in the Acts, except in Acts 18:23: on which occasion, he is spoken of as revisiting Galatia, "strengthening the churches."21

Of what passed on the occasion of this visit, the account, given as above by Paul, will be seen receiving explanation, from what is said of this same visit in the Acts.

And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. Acts 9:26-30

2. Invasion Visit

By the Invasion Visit is here meant—that visit of Paul to Jerusalem, by which his arrestation, and consequent visit to Rome in a state of confinement, were produced. Invasion it may well be termed: the object of it having manifestly been—the making, in that original metropolis of the Christian world, spiritual conquests, at the expense of the gentle sway of the Apostles: spiritual acquisitions—not to speak of their natural consequences, temporal ones. It was undertaken, as will be seen, in spite of the most strenuous exertions, made for the prevention of it: made, not only by those, whose dominions he was so needlessly invading, but by the unanimous remonstrances and entreaties of his own adherents.

The date—assigned to the commencement of this visit, is A.D. 60. Interval, between this his last recorded visit and his first, according to the received chronology, 22 years.

Neither of the occasion of it, nor of any individual occurrence which took place in the course of it, have we any account—from any other source than the history of the Acts. Paul's account is all in generals.

3. Paul's Jerusalem Visit the Second.

According to the Acts, Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.Acts 11:30 Between these two indisputable interviews of Paul's with the Apostles occurs another visit, herein designated by the name of the Money-bringing Visit. Under the apprehension of a predicted dearth, money is sent from the Antioch to the Jerusalem saints. Barnabas, and with him Paul, are employed in the conveyance of it. Time, assigned to this Visit, A.D. 43. Of this visit, not any the least trace is to be found in any Epistle of Paul's. Yet, in this Epistle of his to his Galatians, he will be seen undertaking in a manner, to give an account, of every visit of his to Jerusalem, in which, with reference to spiritual dominion, between himself and the Apostles, anything material had ever passed.

By this silence of Paul's, no counter-evidence is opposed, to the account given of this visit in the Acts. What may very well be is,—that he went along with the money, and departed, without having had any personal communication with any Apostle, or even with any one of their disciples.

4. Deputation Visit.

Paul's Jerusalem Visit the Third—say his Deputation Visit. According to the Acts,(See Acts 15:1-4.) Paul being at the Syrian Antioch, certain men came thither from Judea, teaching, that Mosaic circumcision is necessary to Christian salvation. Dissension being thus produced, Paul, and Barnabas as usual with him, are dispatched to confer on this subject with the Apostles and the Elders—Time, assigned to this visit, A.D. 52. Interval between the first and this third visit—years 15.

In addition to the first Jerusalem Visit, mentioned as above by Paul, to wit, in the first chapter of his Epistle to his Galatians,—in the second, mention is made of another.

Of the incidents mentioned by Paul, as belonging to this other visit, scarcely can any one, unless it be that of his having Barnabas for a companion, be found, that presents itself as being the same with any incident mentioned in the Acts, in the account given of the above named Deputation Visit. But, between the two accounts, neither does any repugnance manifest itself: and, forasmuch as, in a statement, the purpose of which required that no interview, in which anything material passed between him and the Apostles, should pass unnoticed,—he mentions no more than one visit besides the first,—it seems reasonable to conclude, that it was but one and the same visit, that, in the penning of both these accounts, was in view.

As far as appears, it is from the account thus given by Paul of the second, of the two visits mentioned by him as made to Jerusalem, that the received chronology has deduced the year, which it assigns to the Deputation Visit, as recorded in the Acts.

In Paul's account alone—in Paul's, and not in that in the Acts—is the distance given in a determinate number of years. According to one of two interpretations, 17—the number above mentioned as adopted in the current chronology—is the number of years mentioned by Paul as intervening between those two visits. But even in this place, a circumstance that must not pass altogether unnoticed is,—that, according to another interpretation, to which the text presents itself as almost equally open, the length of the interval would be considerably greater. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.Galatians 1:17 After what period?—after that of his conversion? or after the expiration of this his second visit to Damascus? Reckoning from this latter period, the interval may be ever so much greater than that of the three years: for, to the three years may be added an indefinite length of time for the second, and even for the first, of his abodes at Damascus. But, as we advance, reason will appear for concluding, that, being in the eyes of the Damascus rulers, as well as the Jerusalem rulers, a traitor—in the highest degree a traitor—his abode at Damascus could not, at either of these times, have been other than short as well as secret.

Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. Galatians 2:1This being supposed to be the Deputation Visit, these fourteen added to the former three, make the seventeen.

5. Peter's Antioch Visit.

In Paul's Epistle, addressed to his Galatians, as above,—immediately after the mention of his own second Jerusalem Visit as above, comes the mention of an interview, which he says he has at Antioch with Peter: Peter was come to AntiochGalatians 2:11 In the Acts 15:22, immediately upon the back of the accounts of the Deputation Visit, as above,—comes an account of what may be called a counter Deputation Visit. Of the former Deputation Visit, according to the Acts, the result is—from the Apostles, the Elders, and the whole Church, a letter, concluding with a decree: and to send chosen men of their own companyActs 15:22 this letter is stated as having been carried to Antioch: and, with these men, so chosen, Paul and Barnabas are stated as returning to Antioch, from which city, as above, they had been deputed. As and for the names of "chosen men," those of Judas, surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, are mentioned: "chief men among the brethren" is another title by which they are, both of them, distinguished. To these, no other names are added: in particular, not that of Peter. Thus far the Acts.

As to Paul, in the account he gives, of the discussion, to which, after—and apparently, as above, in consequence of—his secondly mentioned interview with Peter at Jerusalem,—no mention is made either of Judas Barsabas, or of Silas: of Peter—and him alone—it is, that, on this occasion, any mention is made. Peter comes, as it should seem, to Antioch from Jerusalem; which last city seems to have been his ordinary abode. But, on this occasion likewise, in addition to this visitor, mention is again made of Barnabas, of whom, as far as appears, from the time of the Reconciliation Visit down to this time, Antioch was the ordinary abode. In relation to each of these several Visits, a brief preparatory indication of the topic or topics, which will be brought to view, when an account comes to be given of it, may in this place have its use.

1. Reconciliation Visit

On this occasion, a difficulty that naturally presents itself—is—if the relation is in substance true, and the occasion is the same—how it can have happened, that if Peter was at Antioch—Peter, the universally acknowledged chief of the Apostles—no mention should be to be found of him in the Acts: instead of him, two men as yet unknown—this Judas Barsabas, and this Silas—neither of them of the number belonging to the goodly fellowship of the Apostles,—being the only persons mentioned.

But, for this difficulty, conjecture presents a solution, in which there is nothing either in itself improbable, or inconsistent with either of the two accounts—that of Paul as above, and that in the Acts. This is—that those two were the men, and the only men, deputed in the first instance: but, that after them, at no long interval, came thither to their assistance that chief of the Apostles. Whether the importance of the question be considered—to wit, whether, upon being received as Christians, Gentiles should be obliged to submit to Mosaic circumcision—whether the importance of the question, or the strenuousness of the debates to which it is spoken of as having given rise, Acts 15:2, be considered—the visit of the chief of the Apostles at Jerusalem, to the scene of controversy at Antioch, presents not any supposition, to which any imputation of improbability seems to attach.

And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 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: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 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: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
Acts 15:1-34

Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, 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. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Galatians 2:1-21

Of the falsity of his story concerning the manner of his conversion,—one proof, that has been given, has been deduced from the inconsistency, of the several accounts which we have of it—all of them originally from himself—as compared with one another.

Of the erroneousness of the notion of his having ever been in the eyes of the Apostles what he professed himself to be—of this, and at the same time of the want of correctness, and trustworthiness, in every account, which, by him, or from him, is to be seen rendered, of his proceedings, adventures, and dangers—proof will, on the ensuing occasions, be afforded, by evidence of this same kind: by similar instances of inconsistency, which will be all along brought to view.

On the occasion of his first visit to Jerusalem—to the metropolis of Christendom—will be to be noted—

  1. 1. The cause and manner of his arrival.
  2. 2. The circumstances of his abode—its duration, and business.
  3. 3. The cause and circumstances of his departure.
  4. 4. The general result of this his expedition.

  1. 1. Of the cause of his visit, and manner of his arrival, we shall see two different accounts: namely, one, given by himself directly, in an epistle of his to his disciples in Galatia; the other, by a man, who afterwards became his adherent and travelling companion—namely the author of the Acts.
  2. 2. Of the duration and business of his abode, we shall see, in like manner, two different accounts, delivered respectively by those same pens.
  3. 3. So, of the cause of his departure;—from the same two sources.
  4. 4. So, of the circumstances of it.
  5. 5. Of the general result of this same expedition of his, we have no fewer than three different accounts: namely, the same two as above; with the addition of a third, as reported, in the Acts, to have been given by Paul himself, in the course of the speech he made, at the time of his fourth visit, to an assembled multitude, headed by the constituted authorities among the Jews:—when, after having been dragged by force out of the Temple, he would—had he not been saved by a commander of the Roman guard—have been torn to pieces.

On this occasion, we shall find, that, by his own confession, made for a particular purpose—for the purpose of saving his life—under an exigency which allowed no time for the study of consistency, and recorded by the blindness and inconsiderateness of his biographer;—we shall find, that the account, whatever it was, which, on the occasion of this his first visit, he gave of himself to the Apostles, failed altogether in its endeavours to obtain credence.


20 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.Galatians 1:18

21 Of any mention made of Galatia, in any of the Books of the New Testament, the following are, according to Cruden's Concordance, the only instances: "...have given order to the churches at Galatia." 1st Corinthians 16:1 Times, assigned to these Epistles, A.D. 59. "Crescens is departed to Galatia,"2nd Timothy 4:10 A.D. 66. "to the strangers scattered in Galatia,"1st Peter 1:1 dated A.D. 60.

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