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
Section 4: Topics Under His Several Jerusalem Visits:
Visit IV. —Invasion Visit
Of the occasion of the fourth and last of these four visits—call it Paul's Invasion Visit—we have, though but from one immediate source, what may, to some purposes, be called two distinct and different accounts, included one within another: to wit, that which the historian gives as from himself, and that which he puts into the mouth of his hero, whose adventures he is relating. On this subject, from the mouth of the hero, the historian has not given us, and probably could not give us, anything but mystery. From the circumstances, it will be seen, whether the appellation Invasion Visit, by which this last of his recorded visits to Jerusalem is here distinguished, is not fully justified.
Neither, of the occurrences which took place during the course of it, nor of the mode in which it terminated, have we any more than one account; viz. the account which, speaking in his own person, is given of it by the author of the Acts.23
But, upon one part of this account—and that a part in itself in no small degree obscure—light, and that such as, it is believed, will be found to dispel the darkness, will be seen thrown, by an article of the Mosaic law: upon which article, light will be seen reciprocally reflected, by the application here recorded as having been made of it. This regards the Temple scene:—an expensive ceremony spun out for days together only to produce the effect of an Oath.
On the occasion of this visit, in spite of a universal opposition on the part of all concerned—his own adherents and dependents, as well as his adversaries of all classes included,—Paul, for reasons by himself studiously concealed,—and, if brought to light at all, brought to light no otherways than by inference,—will be seen making his entry into Jerusalem, as it were by force. In the hope of freeing themselves, as it should seem, of this annoyance, it is,—that the rulers of the Christian church, insist upon his clearing himself from certain suspicions, in the harbouring of which the whole church had concurred.24
23 Be this as it may, that he must have been in the way to hear, from various persons present, accounts, such as they were, of what was said by Paul,—seems to follow almost of course. This seems applicable even to the latest of the two occasions; for, though the place, Cæsarea, was some distance from Jerusalem, 56 miles,—yet the distance was not so great, but that the persons, who were attached to him, might, for the most part, be naturally supposed to have followed him: and in particular the historian, who, according to his history, continued in Paul's suite till, at the conclusion of this his forced excursion, he arrived at Rome.
But, on the subject of possible materials, one concluding query here presents itself. On a subject such as that in question, on an occasion, such as that in question, for a purpose such as that in question, a speech such as either of those in question, might it not, by a person in the historian's situation—not to speak of other situations—be just as easily made without any special materials, as with any the most correct and complete stock of materials?
24 Between Paul's third visit, and that which is here reckoned as his fourth, another is, by some, supposedI to, have been taken place; on which supposition, this concluding one, which is here styled the fourth, ought to be reckoned the fifth.
But, for the support of this supposition, the grounds referred to for this purpose do not seem sufficient:—not that, if the supposition were true, any consequence material to the present purpose would follow.
For this supposition, what ground there is, consists in a passage in the Acts:
There we have the grounds of the supposition. But, what is the support they give to it?—declaration, affirming the existence of an intention, is one thing; actually existing intention is another. Even supposing the existence of the intention in question,—intention is one thing; corresponding action, another. Jerusalem is not mentioned. Cæsarea being on the sea-coast, Jerusalem is indeed in the interior: and therefore, it may be said, is a place, to which, if a man went from Cæsarea, he would "go up:" but, from Cæsarea, it being on the coast, a man could not go to any place in Judaea not on the coast, without going up.
So much for place:—and now as to time. The time mentioned as the object of the intention, is the passover; but, that the time, at which, being gone up, Paul "saluted the church"—this being all which, upon this going up, he is here stated as doing—that this time was the passover, is not stated.
As to the salute here stated as given to the church,—at the conclusion, and as a material part of the result, of this inquiry, it will appear plain beyond all doubt, that, if by "the church" be understood any member of it at Jerusalem, besides two, or at most three, of the Apostles,—according to this interpretation, from the time of his Conversion Visit to Damascus antecedently to his first visit to Jerusalem, down to the last visit here reckoned as his fourth—there never was a day on which the church would have received his salute.
What will also be rendered manifest is—that it was an object with the author of the Acts, to induce a belief, that Paul, before the conclusion of his first visit, was upon good terms with the church, and so continued to the last: and that, to this end, a purposed misrepresentation was employed by the historian.
Not that, in regard to the visit here in question, to the purpose of the argument—it makes any sort of difference, whether it had place or had not. If it had place, neither the conclusion, nor any part of the argument, will be seen to require any variation in consequence.
I Wells's Historical Geography of the Old and New Testament, ii. 271. Ch. 5. Of Saint Paul's Travels and Voyages into Asia. "St. Paul (says Wells very composedly) "having kept the passover at Jerusalem, went thence down"—And for this the Acts are quoted as above: but the Acts, it will here be seen, say no such thing.