Jesus's Words

Chapter 6: Paul Disbelieved Continued.—Jerusalem Visit III. Deputation Visit.—Paul and Barnabas Delegated by Antioch Saints, To Confer on the Necessity of Jewish Rites to Heathen Converts to the Religion of Jesus

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Section 2: The Delegates How Received.—Council of Apostles and Elders

Against the pretensions of a man thus supported, vain, on the part of the original and real Apostles, would have been any attempt, to resist the pretensions of this their self-constituted rival: they, Barnabas and Paul, were received, says the author of the Acts, of the Church and of the Apostles and Elders.31

Arrived at Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas told their own story—related their adventures and experiences—declared, to use the language of the Acts 15:4, all things that God had done unto them.

Notwithstanding the utmost exertion of Paul's ever-ready eloquence,—some, it is stated, there were, who, believers as, in a certain sort, they were in the religion of Jesus,—were not to be persuaded, to give up so much as a single tittle of the Mosaic law: these were, as it was natural they should be, of the sect of Pharisees. Acts says, 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.Acts 15:5

Of these private discussions, the result was—the convocation of an assembly of the managing body, in which, associated with the Apostles, we find others—under the name of Elders.

How, on an occasion, on which the proposed subject of determination was a question of such cardinal importance to the religion of Jesus;—how it should have come to pass, that the Apostles, to whom alone, and by whom alone, the whole tenor of the acts and sayings of Jesus had been made known—made known by an uninterrupted habit of exclusive intimacy, and especially during the short but momentous interval between his resurrection and ascension;—how it should have happened, that, to the Apostles, any other persons not possessed of these first of all titles to credence and influence, should have come to be associated,—is not mentioned. Upon no other authority than that of this author, are we to believe it to be true? On the supposition of its being true,—there seems to be, humanly speaking, but one way to account for it. That which the Apostles, and they alone, could contribute to the cause, was—the authority and the evidence resulting from that peculiar intimacy: what they could not contribute was—money and influence derived from ordinary and external sources: to the exclusive possession of these latter titles to regard, will, therefore, it should seem, be to be ascribed, supposing it credited, the circumstance of an incorporation otherwise so incongruous.

"Received," say the Acts 15:4, they were.—But by whom received?—By the Church, by the Apostles, by the Elders, says that same history in that same place. By the Apostles: to wit—so as any one would conclude—by all the Apostles—by the whole fellowship of Apostles.

Whether in any, and, if so, in what degree that conclusion is correct, we have no determinate means of knowing.

If, however, it was so to the utmost,—nothing appears in favor of the notion, that between Paul on the one part, and the Apostles and their disciples on the other, there existed at this time any real harmony. For, in what character was it that he made his appearance? In that of a commissioned envoy, from the whole body of the Church, established in that station, which was next in importance to Jerusalem, to which he was sent. And who was it that, at that time, as on both the former times, he, Paul, had in his company? Still his constant patron and associate Barnabas—the munificent friend and patron of that church which he was visiting—the indefatigable Barnabas.

By Paul himself, in his Epistle to the Galatians(See Galatians 2:9-11.) the idea of any such extensive cordiality,—say rather of cordiality to any the smallest extent,—is pretty plainly negatived.32 On that occasion, it was that of the Partition Treaty, what his interest required was—that, on the part of the Apostles and their disciples, the concurrence given to it, should appear as extensive as possible. If then they had all of them, really and personally concurred in it,—or even if the contrary had not been notorious, this is the conception which he would have been forward to convey and inculcate. No such notion, however, does he venture to convey. When speaking of them in general terms—of no affection on either side, more kindly than that of ill humor, does he give any intimation. 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.Galatians 2;6

When, again, he comes to speak of the sort of intercourse, such as it was, which he had with the Apostles,—who are the persons that he speaks of? All the Apostles? the body of the Apostles in general?—No: James, Cephas, the Hebrew name of which Peter is a translation, and John: these three, and no more. These are the men, whom, to him Paul and his protector Barnabas in conjunction, he on that same occasion speaks of, as "giving the right hand of fellowship:" to wit, for the purpose of the Partition Treaty, the terms of which immediately follow.

And, even of these men, in what way does he speak? As of men "who seemed to be pillars:" so that, as to what concerned the rest of the Apostles, he found himself reduced to speak no otherwise than by conjecture. And this same "right hand of fellowship"—what was their inducement for giving it?—It was, says he, that "they perceived the grace that was given unto me": i.e., in plain language, and ungrounded pretension apart,—the power, which they saw he had, of doing mischief:—of passing, from the character of a jealous and restless rival, into that of a declared enemy: into that character, in which he had originally appeared, and with such disastrous effect.

Immediately after this comes the mention of the visit, made by Peter to Antioch: and therefore it is, that, no sooner is Peter—that chief of the Apostles of Jesus—mentioned,—than he is mentioned, as a man whom this Paul withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.Galatians 2:11

Peter was to be blamed: those other Jews that were come to Antioch from James—they were to be blamed. Barnabas, under whose powerful protection,—by the Church at Jerusalem, her justly odious persecutor had, at three different times, been endured,—he too was to be blamed. He too was, at that time, to be blamed; and, as will be seen presently after, openly quarrelled with; and, if on this point the Acts are to be believed, parted with. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus.Acts 15:39


31 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.Acts 15:4

32 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: 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. Galatians 2:6, 9-11.

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