Freethought Archives > Jeremy Bentham > Not Paul, But Jesus

CHAPTER VII.

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 1.

CONTEST AND PARTITION TREATY, AS PER ACTS, AND PAUL'S EPISTLES.
GALATIANS ii. 1 to 16.

1. 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 those 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, [Pg 229] 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.

So much for the question about Jewish rites.

We come now to the state of affairs between Paul and Peter. Concerning this, we have little, as hath been seen, from the author of the Acts: from Paul himself, not much: but what there is of it is of prime importance.

On this occasion, to judge from the account given in the Acts,—between Paul and Peter, all was harmony. In their principles, in their speeches, they may be seen pleading on the same side: arguing, and arguing in vain, both of them against the superior influence of James: of that James, of whose written works, in comparison of those we have from Paul, we have so little. But presently, on one side at least,—we shall see contention—preserving contention—and rival ambition, for the cause of it.

In this pregnant and instructive letter,—Paul's second letter to his Galatians,—the authenticity of which seems to be altogether out of the reach of doubt,—among the particulars, that bear relation to this the third visit, the following are those, by which the greatest share of attention seems demanded at our hands.

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In the first place, let us view them in the order in which they stand: that done, the degree of importance may determine the order in which they are considered.

1. Fourteen is the number of years, between this third visit of his to Jerusalem, reckoning either from the first of his visits made to that same holy place after his conversion, or from his departure from Damascus after his return thither from Arabia.

2. On this journey of his to Jerusalem, he has with him not only Barnabas, as mentioned in the Acts, but Titus, of whom no mention is there made.

3. It is by revelation, that this journey of his was undertaken.

4. The Gospel, which he then and there preaches, is a Gospel of his own.

5. Private at the same time, and for reasons thereupon given, is his mode of communicating it.

6. Titus, though at his disposal, he leaves uncircumcised.

7. False brethren is the appellation he bestows upon those, who, on this occasion, standing up for the Mosaic law, give occasion to this debate.

8. Elders, Apostles, kinsmen of Jesus,—be they who they may,—he, Paul, is not on this occasion a man to give place to any such persons: to give place by subjection: say rather in the way of subordination.

9. Unnamed are the persons, on whom the vituperation he discharges, is poured forth. Thus much only is said of them: namely, verse 12, that they "came from James," the brother of our Lord. Contemptuous throughout is the manner in which he speaks of all those persons whom he does not name. Quere, Who are they, to whom, in everything that goes before that same verse, he is alluding? It seems from thence, that it was with James, from whom they[Pg 231] received support, that those scruples of theirs, out of which sprung these differences and negotiations, originated.

10. Leaving the Jews to Peter—he claims to himself as his own the whole population of the Gentiles.

11. To this effect, an explicit agreement was actually entered into; parties, he and Barnabas of the one part; James, Peter, by his Hebrew surname of Cephas, and John, of the other part.

12. Of this agreement, one condition was—that, of such pecuniary profit, as should be among the fruits of the labors of Paul among the Gentiles, a part should be remitted, to be at the disposal of Peter.

13. Paul, at the time of this visit, stood up against Peter.

14. The cause, of his doing so, was—an alleged weakness and inconsistency in the conduct of Peter, and his gaining to his side—not only Jews of inferior account, but Barnabas.

15. The weakness and inconsistency consisted in this: viz: that whereas he himself had been in use to act with the Gentiles, yet after the arrival at Antioch of those who came from James at Jerusalem,—he from fear of the Jewish converts, not only ceased to eat with the Gentiles, but to the extent of his influence forced the Gentile converts to live after the manner of the Jews.

16. On the occasion of this his dispute with Peter, he gave it explicitly as his opinion,—that, to a convert to the religion of Jesus, Jew or Gentile,—observance of the Mosaic law would, as to everything peculiar to it, be useless, not to say worse than useless, Gal. 2:16, "for by the works of the law shall no "flesh be justified."

1. As to his place in relation to the Apostles. His was not inferior to anybody's: upon terms altogether[Pg 232] equal did he treat with the Apostles: in and by the first partition treaty,—he, with Barnabas for his colleague,—Barnabas, from whom, according to the Acts, he afterwards separated,—obtains the whole of the Gentile world for the field of their labors. Thus elevated, according to his account of the matter, was the situation, occupied by him on the occasion of this his third visit to Jerusalem, in comparison of what it had been at the time of his first,—and, to all appearance, at the time of the second. At the time of his first visit, the Apostles,—all but Peter and James, upon which two Barnabas forced him,—turned their backs upon him: upon his second visit, none of them, as far as appears, had anything to do with him: now, upon his third visit, they deal with him upon equal terms: and now, not only Peter and James, but John, are stated as having intercourse with him.

2. Of this partition treaty, important as it is, no mention is to be found in the Acts. From first to last,—in the account given in the Acts, no such figure does he make as in his own. In the Acts, of the speech of Peter, and even of that of James, the substance is reported: of Paul's, nothing more than the subject: viz. his own achievements among the Gentiles: against Paul's opinion, as well as Peter's, the compromise, moved by James, is represented as carried.

3. As to the cause, or occasion, of his third visit to Jerusalem. In the account given in the Acts, it is particularly and clearly enough explained. It is in conjunction with Barnabas that he goes thither: both of them, to confer with the Apostles and elders, on the subject of the notion, entertained by numbers among the Jewish converts, that, by conversion to the religion of Jesus, they were not set free from any of the obligations imposed by the law of Moses.

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Of this commission,—creditable as it could not but have been to him,—Paul, in his account of the matter, as given to the Galatians, makes not the least mention. No: it is not from men on this occasion nor on others, it is not from men, that he received his authority, but from God: it is by revelation, that is, immediately from God, and by a sort of miracle.

4. What, in obedience to this revelation, he was to do, and did accordingly, was,—the preaching of a gospel of his own; a gospel which as yet he had not preached to any body but the Gentiles. Preaching? how and where? in an assembly of the whole body of the believers in Jesus, the Apostles themselves included? No: but privately, and only to the leading men among them: "to them which were of reputation."

A gospel of his own? Yes: that he did. Further on, it will be seen what it was: a Gospel, of which, as far as appears from the evangelists, no traces are to be found, in anything said by Jesus: especially, if what, on that occasion, he, Paul, taught by word of mouth at Antioch, agreed with what we shall find him teaching in his Epistles.

5. "False brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring up into bondage." Liberty? what liberty? evidently that liberty which consisted in exemption from the ceremonials of the Mosaic law. Who then were these false brethren, these sticklers for the ceremonial law? If the account in the Acts is to be believed,—they were the greater part of the fraternity of Christians in Jerusalem: a party so considerable, that Peter, the chief of the Apostles, though in his sentiments on this subject so decidedly and completely opposite to them, was obliged to give way to it: and, as to several of[Pg 234] the obligations,—by which, as above stated, no small obstacle was opposed to the progress of the religion of Jesus,—the whole body of the Apostles found themselves under the like necessity. If he himself is to be believed, Gal. 2:12, the men in question were men, who, if they continued in those scruples in which they went beyond the brother of our Lord, had, at any rate, in the first instance, received from that highly distinguished personage their instructions. And shortly after this, Acts 16:3, in deference to this party, Paul himself "took Timothy, a Gentile, and circumcised him." But, supposing the public transactions, thus reported in the history of the author of the Acts, to have really had place;—namely, mission of Paul and Barnabas, from the Christians of Antioch to Jerusalem,—mission of Judas Barsabas and Silas, from the Apostles and elders, with Paul and Barnabas in their company, to Antioch,—letter of the Apostles and elders sent by them to the Christians of Antioch,—all this supposed, how erroneous soever in their opinions, in affirmance of the obligatoriness of these ceremonials,—this majority, to whose scruples the whole body of the Apostles saw reason to give way,—could they, by this self-intruded convert, be considered as persons to whom the epithet of false brethren, would be admitted to be applicable?

6. Does it not seem, rather, that this story, about the deputation of Paul and Barnabas to the Apostles and brethren at Jerusalem from the Apostles at Antioch, and the counter deputation of Judas Barsabas, and Silas, to accompany Paul and Barnabas on their return to Antioch, bearing all of them together a letter from the Apostles at Jerusalem,—was an invention of the anonymous author of the Acts? or else a story, either altogether false, or false in great part, picked up by him, and thus inserted?

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7. Mark now, in this letter of Paul, another circumstance: and judge whether it tends not to cast discredit on what is said of Peter in the Acts.

In the Acts account we have seen Peter in the great council, supporting, in a sort of speech, the liberty side—of the question,—Jesus against Moses,—supporting it in the great council, in which, in that same account, Paul, though present, is, as to that point, represented as silent: in that same account, shall we see Peter, five years before this time, addressing himself to the Gentiles,—using this same liberty,—and, when called to account for doing so, employing his pair of visions, his and Cornelius's, Acts 10:30-41, in and for his defence: we shall see him in this new part of his career,—in this part, for which he was by both education and habits of life so ill qualified,—we shall see him so much in earliest in this part of his labors, as to have expended miracles,—a supernatural cure, and even a raising from the dead,—for his support in it.

Had any such facts really happened—facts in their nature so notorious,—would Paul, in this letter of his to the Galatians, have spoken of Peter, as if he had never made, or attempted to make, any progress in the conversion of the Gentiles? Speaking of the sticklers for Moses, as well as of Peter,—would he have said "When they saw that the Gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the Gospel of the circumcision was to Peter?" Gal. 2:7, "For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles?"

That, in some way or other, Peter had tried his hand upon some persons who were Gentiles—in this there is nothing but what may well enough be believed: provided it be also believed—that, in the experiment[Pg 236] so made by him, he had little or no success:—for, that after the expenditure of two such miracles of so public a nature, besides a pair of visions,—he had after all made so poor a hand of it, as to be content to give up to Paul the whole of his prospects from that quarter,—does it seem credible?

8. As to the partition-treaty itself,—whatsoever were the incidents that had brought it about, nothing could be more natural—nothing more probable—nothing more beneficial to the common cause—to the religion of Jesus, meaning always so far as the religion taught by Paul was comfortable to it. Each retained to himself the only part of the field, for the cultivation of which he was qualified: each gave up no other part of the field, than that, for the cultivation of which he was not qualified.

9. Gal. 2:12. "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.

10. "But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.

11. "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.

12. Gal. 2:10. "Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

13. "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

14. "For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were[Pg 237] 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.

15. "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?"

16. "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."

Note, in this same letter, the mention made of Peter's eating with the Gentiles. "For before that certain came from James, he, Peter, did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision."

Note here, an additional reason for discrediting the whole story of Peter's expedition,—miracles and visions included,—as reported in the Acts. In regard to the visions,—from this circumstance it may be seen, that either no such visions were, as stated in the Acts 11:1-13, related by Peter, on his defence against the accusations preferred against him on this ground,—or that, if any such relation was given, no credit was given to it: for, it is after this, and, according to appearance, long after,—that, according to the Acts 15:1-33, not less than five years after, the meeting at Jerusalem took place; that meeting, at which, at the motion of James, the adherence to the Mosaic law[Pg 238] was indeed in part dispensed with; but, so far as regards the practice charged upon Peter as an offence,—namely the eating with the Gentiles, insisted on and ordained.

If Paul's evidence was good and conclusive evidence in support of Paul's visions,—how came Peter's evidence not to be received as good and conclusive evidence in support of Peter's visions? Paul's evidence, with the visions reported by it, was not better evidence, in support of his claim to the Apostleship,—than Peter's visions, if the account in the Acts is to be believed, in support of the abrogation of the Mosaic law. Yet, as, according to the author of the Acts, by Paul's account of his visions, the Apostles were not any of them convinced; so here, according to Paul, by Peter's account of his visions, if ever really related to the fellowship of the Apostles, and to the elders,—their associates,—that same goodly fellowship was not convinced.


SECTION 2.

PARTITION-TREATY—PROBABILITY GIVEN, BY THE FINANCIAL STIPULATION, TO PAUL'S ACCOUNT OF IT.

Of this important treaty, mention may have been seen above. In the financial stipulation which may have been observed in it,—may be seen a circumstance, by which an additional degree of credibility seems to be given, to Paul's account of the transaction; at the same time that light is thrown upon the nature of it. Paul alone, with his adherents, were to address themselves to the Gentiles: but, in return for the countenance given to him by Peter and the rest[Pg 239] of the Apostles, he was to remember the poor; which is what, says he, "I also was forward to do." Now, as to the remembering the poor, what is meant by it at this time of day, was meant by it at that time of day, or it would not have been meant by it at this:—supplying money, need it be added? for the use of the poor. Whatsoever, in relation to this money, was the intention of the rulers,—whether to retain any part in compensation for their own trouble, or to distribute among the poor the whole of it, without deduction;—in other words, whether profit as well as patronage,—or patronage alone, and without profit,—was to be the fruit;—human nature must, in this instance, have ceased to be human nature, if, to the men in question—Apostles as they were—the money could have been altogether an object of indifference. According to a statement, to which, as above, ch. ii., though contained in this anonymous history, there seems no reason to refuse credence,—community of goods—a principle, even now, in these days, acted upon by the Moravian Christians—was a principle, acted upon in those days, by the Jewish Christians. The property of each was thrown into one common stock: and the disposal of it was committed to a set of trustees, who—it is positively related—were confirmed, and, to all appearance, were recommended by,—and continued to act under the influence of,—the Apostles.

On neither side were motives of the ordinary human complexion—motives by which man's nature was made to be governed—wanting, to the contracting parties. By Peter and the rest of the Apostles, much experience had been acquired, of the activity and energy of this their self-constituted colleague: within that field of action, which alone was suited to their powers, and within which they had stood[Pg 240] exposed to be disturbed by his interference, within that field to be secured against such interference,—was, to them and their interests, an object of no small moment. Such seems to have been the consideration, on the part of the acknowledged and indisputable Apostles.

Not less obvious was the advantage, which, by the stipulation of this same treaty in his favour, was in a still more effectual manner, secured to Paul. That, when the whole transaction was so fresh,—all that Paul was able to say for himself, with all that Barnabas was able to say for him, had not been sufficient, to induce the Apostles to give credence to his story about the manner of his conversion,—in a word, to regard him in any other light than that of an impostor,—is directly asserted by the author of the Acts. So again, in his unpremeditated speech to the enraged multitude, Acts 22:18, "They will not receive thy testimony concerning me," is the information which the Acts make him report as having been communicated to him by the Lord, when "while I prayed in the Temple," says he, ver. 17, "I was in a trance." Should a charge to any such effect happen to encounter him in the course of his labours;—should he, in a word, find himself stigmatized as an impostor;—find himself encountered by a certificate of impostorship;—a certificate, signed by the known and sole confidential servants, as well as constant companions, of that Jesus, whom—without so much as pretending any knowledge of his person, he had thus pretended to have heard without seeing him,—and at a time and place, in which he was neither heard nor seen by anybody else;—it is obvious enough, in any such case, how formidable an obstruction of this sort was liable to prove. On the other hand, so he were but once seen to be publicly recognized, in the[Pg 241] character of an associate and acknowledged labourer in the same field,—a recognition of him in that character—a virtual recognition at least, if not an express one—would be seen to have taken place:—a recognition, such as it would scarcely, at any time after, be in their power to revoke: since it would scarcely be possible for them, ever to accuse him of the principal offence, without accusing themselves of the correspondent connivance. Note, that, of this treaty, important as it was—this partition-treaty—by which a division was made of the whole Christian world—no mention, not any the least hint, is to be found in the Acts.

Thus much for this third visit of Paul's to Jerusalem, reckoning from the time of his conversion: thus much for this third visit, and the partition-treaty that was the result of it. In and by his fourth visit to that original metropolis of the Christian world,—we shall see how this same treaty was violated—violated, without any the slightest reason or pretext, or so much as an attempt, on the part of his anonymous biographer,—either by his own mouth, or by that of his hero,—to assign a motive. Violated—that is to say, by and on the part of Paul: for, of Peter, no further mention is, in all this history, to be found.

The truth is—that, instead of "the Acts of the Apostles," the History of Paul—namely, from the time of his conversion to the time of his arrival at Rome—would have been the more proper denomination of it. Of any other of the Apostles, and their acts,—little, if anything, more is said, than what is just sufficient, to prepare the reader, for the history of Paul, by bringing to view the state of the Christian world, at the time of his coming upon the stage. As to Saint Peter,—the author's chief hero being[Pg 242] all along Saint Paul, in whose train, during this last-mentioned of his excursions, he represents himself as being established,—what is said of Saint Peter and his achievements, stands, as it were, but as an episode. And though, by this historiographer, no mention is made of the partition-treaty, it has eventually been of use to us, by serving to show what, at the time of entering into that engagement, was the situation of St. Peter; and how good the title is, which the transaction presents to our credence,—as being so natural, because so manifestly for the advantage of both the contracting parties, as well as of the religion of Jesus, in so far as that of Paul was conformable to it.


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[Pg 243] 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, Gal. i. 18, 19, after saying, "I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days," and adding, "But other of the Apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord's brother"; he, not more than fourteen verses afterwards, Gal. 2:9, in the verse in which his account of this important treaty is continued,—speaks as if it was at that very time that he had seen—not only the above two Apostles, on this occasion designated by the names of James and Cephas—but John likewise: and that this must have been his third Jerusalem visit, because it is after mention made of that same third visit, which, in a passage intermediate between these, namely, Gal. 2:1, is stated, in express terms, as being by fourteen years posterior to his first visit,[38] that this circumstance, of his seeing John likewise, is mentioned as having had place.

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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[Pg 245] 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 "we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision." Thus, then, the conjunct[Pg 246] excursion of Paul and Barnabas—an excursion, not commenced till about ten years after this same first visit, Acts 13 and 14, is mentioned, as an incident at that time future. True it is, that the word directly expressive of the future is, in the English translation, but an interpretation, and as such marked. But, had any prior excursion of this kind taken place before, there seems no reason to suppose, that the event, which, by the context, would surely have been taken for an event then as yet to come,—would, had the intention been to represent it as no more than a repetition of what had taken place already, have received a form, so ill adapted to its intended purpose.

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, Gal. 2:7, "when they saw that the Gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the Gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter:" 9. "And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen," ... &c.

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[Pg 247] account, in some part confirmed, and not in any part contradicted, by Paul himself, and in this very epistle.[40]

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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]


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FOOTNOTES:

[38] Gal. 2:1. "Then fourteen years after, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also."

[39] 2 Cor. 2:32. "In Damascus, the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me," &c. namely, on his conversion.

[40] To this same Partition Treaty, allusion seems discernible in Paul's Epistle to his Roman adherents. Romans 15:15 to 22. "Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you, in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,—That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the Gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.—I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.—For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient by word and deed,—through mighty signs and wonders by the power of the spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.—Yea, so I have strived to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:—but, as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.—For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you."

[41] From this passage in Paul's Epistle to his Galatians[II.], compared with a passage in his first Epistle to the Corinthians[III.]—the Bible edited by Scholey, in a note to Acts xv. 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. "Or I only, and Barnabas, have not we, says Paul, power to forbear working?"

Thus inconclusive is the argument, by which the existence of a reconciliation is inferred. Against evidence so weak, the contrary evidence seems decisive. After mention made by him of the rupture,—had any reconciliation ever taken place, within the compass of time embraced by his history, would the author of the Acts have left it unnoticed? That, among his objects was the painting every incident, in colours at least as favourable, to the church in general, and to Paul in particular, as he durst,—is sufficiently manifest. By a rupture between two such holy persons,—a token, more or less impressive, of human infirmity, could not but be presented to view: and, to any reflecting mind—in those marks of warmth at least, to say nothing worse, which, from first to last, are so conspicuous, in the character and conduct, of this the historian's patron and principal hero, ground could scarce fail to be seen, for supposing—that it was to his side rather than that of Barnabas—the generous and ever-disinterested Barnabas—that the blame, principally, if not exclusively, appertained.

[II.] Gal. ii. 9. "They gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."

[III.] 1 Cor. ix. 6. "Or, I only, and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?"


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