Chapter 8: Interview the Fourth.—Peter at Antioch.—Deputies to Antioch From Jerusalem, Judas and Silas.—Paul Disagrees With Peter and Barnabas, Quits Antioch, and on a Missionary Excursion Takes With Him Silas. What Concerns the Partition Treaty, Down to This Period, Reviewed.—Peter and the Apostles Justified
Section 4: Peter and the Apostles Justified, As to the Financial Stipulation in the Treaty, and the Succeeding Missionary Labours of Peter Among the Gentiles
Of the financial stipulation, the account we have has been seen:—an account given by one of the parties to it—Paul:—the other party being—the Apostles. In the instance of Paul, in the demonstration, supposed to be given of it, the worldliness, of the motives which gave birth to it, has in a manner been taken for granted. Well, then, if in the one instance such was the character of it,—in the other instance, can it have been any other? The question is a natural one; but not less so is the answer. For note, the stipulation is express—that, by Paul—by Paul out of the profits of his vocation—the poor, meaning the poor of Jerusalem—the poor among the disciples of the Apostles—should be remembered. Remembered, and how? Remembered, by payment of the money—into the hands, either of the Apostles themselves, or, what comes to the same thing, some other persons, in connection with them, and acting under their influence. Now, then, once more. Of the man, by whom the money was to be paid—of this man, the motives, you say, were worldly: is it credible then, that they should have been less so, in the instance of the men by whom they were to be received?
Answer. Oh! yes, that it is. Between the two cases, there is this broad difference. Whatever Paul might receive, he would receive for himself: whatever, after payment made, under the treaty, to the use of the Jerusalem poor, he retained,—he might retain for his own use. But the Apostles—that which, if anything, they received, in the name of the poor, and as for the use of that same poor,—would they—could they, for their own use, retain it, or any part of it? Not they, indeed. Not in their hands were the poor's funds: not in theirs, but in a very different set of hands:—in the hands of a set of trustees—of the trustees already mentioned in this work, Ch. 2—of those administrators, whose function, to every reader who has not the Greek original in view, is so unfortunately disguised by the word Deacons. And these deacons, by whom appointed? By the Apostles? No; but, by the whole communion of the saints—by the whole number of the members of the Christian commonwealth;—and in the way of free election,—election, on the principle of universal suffrage. Monarchists and Aristocrats! mark well!—of universal suffrage.
So much for the treaty itself. Now, as to the subsequent conduct of the parties, under it, and in relation to it. As to the partition—Paul to the Gentiles, Peter and his associates to the Jews—such was the letter of it. Such being the letter—what, at the same time, was the spirit of it? Manifestly this: on the one hand, that the field, to which Paul's exertions should apply themselves, and confine themselves, should be that field, for the cultivation of which, with any prospect of success, he was exclusively qualified: on the other hand, that the field, to which their exertions should apply themselves and confine themselves, should be that, for the cultivation of which, they were—if not exclusively, at any rate more peculiarly, qualified. In a word—that, of all that portion of the world, that presented itself as open to the exertions, of those who preached in the name of Jesus,—they should reserve to themselves that part which was already in their possession, to wit, Jerusalem, and its near neighbourhood, together with such parts of Judea, and its neighbourhood, of which their own language, the Hebrew, was the vernacular language: this minute portion of the world reserved, all the rest was to be left open to him: over every other part of it he was to be at liberty to cast forth his shoe. Judea—the country of the Jews? say, rather, the Jews themselves:—the Jews wherever found: for, revelation apart, it was in language, that Paul's pretensions—his exclusive qualifications—consisted. The Apostles spoke nothing but Hebrew: Paul was learned, and eloquent, in a certain sort, in Greek.
In regard to the interpretation to be put upon this treaty,—suppose any doubt to have place,—in the word Gentile, would obviously the seat and source of it to be to be found. Suppose, on the one hand persons to be the objects, of which it was meant to be designative,—then, let there be but so much as one single uncircumcised man in Jerusalem, or elsewhere,—to whom, in the view of gaining him over to their communion, the Apostles, or, with their cognizance, any of their disciples, addressed themselves,—here would, on their part, be a breach of the treaty. Suppose, on the other hand, places to be the objects, of which it was meant to be designative,—on that supposition, within that tract of country, within which alone, the necessary means, of communicating with the bulk of the population, were in their possession,—they might apply themselves, to all persons without restriction: and this, still without any real breach of the agreement—of the spirit and real import of the agreement.
In respect either of persons or places, by the agreement, according to this—the obvious sense of it—what was it that Paul gave up? In truth, just nothing. Had his mind been in a sober state,—strange indeed, if the field thus afforded by the whole heathen world, was not wide enough for his labour: in all parts of it he could not be at once; and the most promising parts were open to his choice. Cessation of Paul's hostilities excepted, what was it that the Apostles gained? Not much more.
As already observed—what was not gained by it, is what is above: what was really gained by it, is what follows.
What Paul gained was—exemption from the annoyance, which otherwise he would everywhere have been exposed to have received, by being designated as the quondam notorious persecutor, and still unreconciled enemy, of the Apostles and their disciples:—in a word, of all others who preached in the name of Jesus.
That which the Apostles actually gained, was—that confirmation and extension of their influence, which followed of course, upon every extension, received by that field, within which the influence of the name of Jesus was extended.
That which, besides what is above, they ought to have gained, but did not gain, is—exemption from all such annoyance, as could not but be inflicted on them, in proportion as Paul, preaching to persons, to whom they had access, a Gospel which was his, and not theirs,—should, while in pretence and name an associate, be, in truth and effect, an adversary and opponent.
This is what—though they not only should have gained, but might also reasonably have expected to gain—they did not gain. For, not to insist any more on his secret intrigues in Jerusalem itself, and his open opposition in the second Jerusalem, Antioch, as above; we shall—when we come to the next and last of his interviews with the Apostles on the occasion of his Invasion Visit—see, to what lengths the madness of his ambition carried him, in that birthplace and metropolis of the Christian world.
By the sort of connection, which, notwithstanding such obvious and naturally powerful principles of discrimination, have on each occasion, been visible, as between the undoubted Apostles, and this self-styled one—three distinguishable questions cannot but, from time to time, have been presenting themselves:—1. The sort of countenance—partial, cold, and guarded as it was—shown by the old established and goodly fellowship to the ever-intruding individual—is it credible? 2. Can it, in fact, have been manifested, in conjunction with a disbelief, on their part, of his pretensions to a degree of supernatural favour with the Almighty, equal or superior to their own? 3. And, if not only possible, but actual—was it, in point of morality, justifiable?
By a few obvious enough considerations, an answer—and, it is hoped, a not altogether unsatisfactory one,—may be given to all these questions.
As to whatever was natural in the course of the events, Barnabas was necessary to the rising Church: and Paul was, all along, necessary, or, at least, was so thought, to Barnabas.
1. Barnabas was necessary to the Church. Already, it has been seen, how preeminent was the support received by it from his munificence. In him, it had found at once the most liberal of benefactors, and, unless Peter be an exception, the most indefatigable of agents. On the part of no one of even the chosen servants of Jesus, do proofs of equal zeal and activity present themselves to our view.
In an ensuing chapter, we shall see Peter trying his strength among the Gentiles. Yet, from the direction thus given to his Apostolic zeal, no violation of the treaty, it will be seen, can with justice be imputed to him, if the interpretation above given to the word Gentiles be correct.
1. In the first place,—according to the Acts, the date of this excursion is antecedent to that third interview, which took place on the occasion of Paul's third Jerusalem Visit—his Deputation Visit: that is to say, to the time, at which, and not before, though, if the above reasoning be just, in a sort of general terms the preliminaries had been agreed upon, the general preliminary arrangements were followed, confirmed, explained, and liquidated, by more particular ones.
2. In the next place—of all the places,—which, in the course of this excursion of Peter's, are mentioned as having been visited by him,—there is not one, that Paul is mentioned as having ever visited: whereas, in the first of them that is mentioned, the Apostles are mentioned as having already a band of disciples.42
3. In the third place,—the date, assigned to this excursion of Peter's, is, by several years, antecedent even to the first, of the several excursions of Paul's, of which mention is made in the Acts. In the received chronology—date assigned to the commencement of Peter's excursion, A.D. 35; date assigned to Paul's first excursion, A.D. 45.
While Peter was thus occupying himself, Paul was still at Tarsus:43 at Tarsus—his own birthplace—whereto,—in consequence of the danger, to which his life had been exposed by his first Jerusalem Visit, his Reconciliation Visit,—he had taken his flight.44
4. In the fourth place,—notwithstanding the perpetual hostility of Paul's mind, as towards Peter and the rest of the Apostles,—on no occasion, on the score of any breach of this article in the partition treaty, is any complaint, on the part of Paul, to be found. When dissatisfaction is expressed, doctrine alone is mentioned by him as the source of it: doctrine, the ostensible; dominion, the original and real source.
Spite of the treaty,—spite of the manifest interest, of the only genuine religion of Jesus—the Gospel taught by the Apostles,—still in places to which they had access—in places in which, in consequence, they had formed connections,—he persisted in intruding himself: intruding himself, with that Gospel which he says himself, was his, not theirs—and not being theirs, was not Jesus's:—intruding himself, in places, in which, even had his Gospel been Jesus's, their connections being established, there existed no demand for him and his. Can this be doubted of? If yes, all doubt will at any rate be removed, when,—spite of all the endeavours that could be employed, either by them or by his own adherents, to prevail upon him to desist,—we shall see him entering Jerusalem on his Invasion Visit: as if, while, for preaching the religion of Jesus, all the world, with the exception of the Jewish part of it, was not enough for this intruder,—the Apostles of Jesus—eleven in number, with their elected associate, Matthias,—were not, all together, enough, for that small part of it.
The name he preached in, that indeed not his own, but Jesus's: but the doctrine he preached—the Gospel, as he called it—not Jesus's, nor anybody else's, but his own. All this, as he has the assurance to declare,—all this did he preach without their knowledge. And why without their knowledge? because, as he himself has the still more extraordinary assurance to declare—for confession is the result not of assurance, but weakness—because, as he himself acknowledges,—if so it had been, that this Gospel of his had come to the knowledge of the Apostles—of those associates, to whom he was all along holding out the right hand of fellowship, this Gospel of his could not have been listened to—this preaching of his would have been in vain.
Already, however—for in this he may be believed—already, throughout this first intercourse, though the expression is not used till he came to speak of the third,—already must the right hand of fellowship have been held out, and on both sides: and, what followed of course,—and was not only affirmed by his statement, but demonstrated by the result,—on this last occasion was the treaty again brought upon the carpet and confirmed, after such modifications as it may naturally have received, from the consideration of intervening incidents.