Chapter 7: Paul Disbelieved Continued. After His Third Jerusalem Visit, Contest Between Him and Peter at Antioch. Partition Treaty: Paul for Himself: Peter, James and John for the Apostles
Section 3: Time of the Partition-Treaty, Most Probably That of Visit I
The time, at which this partition-treaty took place, appears involved in much obscurity, and presents some difficulties: question—whether it was at the first, or not till the third, of these visits—of these four visits of Paul's to Jerusalem.
The consideration, by which the assigning to it the time of the first visit has been determined, is—that it was at this first visit, that the demand for it, in respect of all interests concerned, namely, that of the religion of Jesus—that of the existing Christians in general,—as well as that of the individuals particularly concerned on both sides,—took place: that, from that time, so, as far as appears, did the observance of it: and that it was not till a long time after, that either symptoms, or complaints of non-observance, seem to have made their appearance.
4. Among the conditions of the treaty, the financial stipulation has been brought to view:—party to be remembered, the poor—then under the gentle sway of the Apostles: party, by whom they were to be remembered, Paul—their recognized, though, for aught appears, no otherwise than locally and negatively recognized, associate. In and by the Deputation Visit, on the part of Paul, with the assistance of Barnabas,—we see this stipulation actually conformed to and carried into effect. From the Christians at Antioch to the Apostles at Jerusalem,—for the benefit of the poor, at that metropolis of the Christian world, by the conjoined hands of Paul and Barnabas,—money, it has been seen, was actually brought.
On the other hand, an observation which, at first sight, may seem to shut the door against this supposition, is—that whereas in his letter, to his Galatians, after saying,
But, in neither of these considerations, is there anything, that presents itself as conclusive, against the supposition—that whatever treaty there was, took place at the first visit.
1. As to the first, at that time it is, that for giving intimation of the treaty, giving the right hands of fellowship is the expression employed: and that if this union were to be taken in a literal, and thence in a physical sense, as an agreement in which, as a token of mutual consent, the physical operation of junction of hands was employed,—here must have been an actual meeting, in which John was seen as well as the two others—and, consequently, on the supposition that the account thus given by Paul, is, in this particular, on both occasions correct,—this must have been a different meeting from the first: on which supposition, on comparison with the account given in the Acts of Paul's second visit,—there can be no difficulty in determining that this visit cannot have been any other than the third. But, so evidently figurative is the turn of the expression,—that, even in the language used in this country at this time, slight indeed, if it amounted to anything at all, would be the force, of the inference drawn from it, in favour of the supposition of mutual presence. To signify an agreement on any point—especially if regarded as important—who is there that would scruple to speak of his having given the right hand of fellowship to another, although it were known to be only by letter? or, even through the medium of a common friend, and without any personal intercourse?
2. As to the other consideration, whatsoever might be the force of it, if applied to a composition of modern times—after so many intervening centuries, during several of which the arts of literary composition have, with the benefit of the facilities afforded by the press, been the subject of general study and practice;—whatsoever on this supposition might be the force of it, applied to the style and character of Paul, little weight seems necessary to be attached to it. Of the confusion—designed or undesigned—in which the style of this self-named Apostle involves every point it touches upon, not a page can be read without presenting samples in abundance, to every eye that can endure to open itself to them: in this very work, some must probably have already offered themselves to notice; and before it closes, many will be presented in this express view: the point in question belongs to the field of chronology: and, of the perturbate mode of his operation in this field, a particular exemplification has been already brought to view, Ch. 2, in a passage, in which, of a long train of sufferings and perils,—some real, some to all appearance not so—the one first undergone is last mentioned.39 From the order in which two events are mentioned by this writer, no argument, in any degree conclusive, can be deduced, for the persuasion, that that which stands first mentioned, was so much as intended by him to be regarded as that which first took place.
In the very passage, in which the giving the right hands of fellowship to him and Barnabas is mentioned, and immediately after these very words,—it is said—that
But, two verses before, stands that, in which mention is made of the circumstance, by which, according to Paul, the course taken by the Apostles, in respect of their entering, into this treaty, is brought to view. "But contrariwise," says he,
Now these perceptions—the perceptions thus ascribed by him to the Apostles—when was it that they were obtained? Evidently at no time whatever, if not at the time of his first visit: for, these were the perceptions—say rather the conceptions—the conveyance of which is beyond dispute manifest, not only from the whole nature of the case, according to the accounts we have of it, but from the account expressly given by the author of the Acts; and that account, in some part confirmed, and not in any part contradicted, by Paul himself, and in this very epistle.40
To conclude. That, at the time of the Deputation Visit, Visit III., the treaty in question could not but have been on the carpet, seems, it must be confessed, altogether probable, not to say unquestionable. But, that at the time of the Reconciliation Visit, Visit I.,—it was already on the carpet, seems, if possible, still more so. For, without some understanding between Paul and the Apostles—and that to the effect of this same treaty (the impossibility that Paul's conversion story should have been the cause, having, it is believed, been hereinabove demonstrated) without some understanding of this sort, neither the continuance ascribed to the Reconciliation Visit, nor the existence of either of the two succeeding visits, to wit, the Money-bringing Visit, and this Deputation Visit, seem within the bounds of moral possibility.41
40 To this same Partition Treaty, allusion seems discernible in Paul's Epistle to his Roman adherents.
41 From this passage in Paul's Epistle to his Galatians,II compared with a passage in his first Epistle to the CorinthiansIII—the Bible edited by Scholey, in a note to Acts 15:39, (being the passage in which the rupture between Paul and Barnabas is mentioned), draws the inference, that, after this rupture between Paul and Barnabas, a reconciliation took place.
From the passage in question, if taken by itself, true it is that this supposition is a natural one enough. For, according to all appearances, the date of this Epistle to the Corinthians is posterior to that of the rupture: and, from the conjunct mention of the two names, if there were no evidence on the other side, it might naturally enough be supposed probable, how far soever from certain, that the intention was thereby, to report the two persons, as operating in conjunction, and even in each other's company. But, to the purpose of the argument no such supposition (it will be seen) is necessary. Labouring they both were herein represented to be, and to all appearance were, in the same field, viz. the field of the Gentiles: labouring, after and in conformity to this same treaty—the agreement made by them with the Apostles—the partition treaty so often mentioned. But, from this it followed not, by any means, that they were labouring in the same part of that field. For the purpose of the argument, the question was—What was the sort of relation, that had taken place, between these two preachers on the one part, and their respective disciples on the other? It is of this relation that it is stated by Paul, and stated truly, that as between him and Barnabas, it was the same: both being actual labourers in their respective parts of the same field: both being equally at liberty to cease from, to put an end to, their respective labours at any time: not that both were labouring in the same place, or in any sort of concert.