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him. And afterwards, ch. xiii, 1-3, in the account of the extraordinary mission of Paul and Barnabas from Antioch to Cyprus, and other parts, there is no mention made of any apostle, as present at Antioch; and it is plain, there was not one there.
All these considerations induce me to think, that none of the twelve apostles left Judea to teach either Jews or Gentiles in other countries until after this council.
Having now, as I apprehend, shown this to be very probable, I shall mention some remarks; whereby there may be an opportunity for answering objections, though several have been already obviated.
1. There was a fitness in it. It was very proper and even expedient, that the apostles should stay a good while in Judea, to assert and confirm the truth of Christ's resurrection by teaching, and by miraculous works, and do their utmost to bring the Jewish people to faith in Jesus as the Christ.
2. As this was fit, it is likely that they had received some command from Christ himself, or some direction from the Holy Ghost to stay thus long in Judea.
3. There were considerations that would incline them to it, and induce them to do what was fit to be done, and was agreeable to the mind of Christ. One was the difficulty of preaching the gospel in foreign countries. This would induce them to stay in Judea till the circumstances of things facilitated their farther progress, or called them to it. Another thing was their affection for the Jewish people, their countrymen, especially those of Judea, with whom they had been brought up, and among whom they dwelt, together with a persuasion of the great value of the blessing of the gospel. This last consideration, I apprehend, would induce them to labour in Judea, with earnest desires, and some hopes of bringing all, or however many, to faith in Jesus. This influenced Paul also to a great degree, and for a good while. Nor was he without hopes of persuading his brethren and countrymen to what appeared to himself very certain and evident: so he says in his speech to the people at Jerusalem. Acts xxii. 17-20. He assures them, that whilst he was worshipping at Jerusalem, in the temple, he had a trance or ecstasy: that he there saw Christ, who said to him, "Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me." Paul pleaded, that they must needs pay a regard to his testimony, who was well known to have been for some while very zealous in opposing his followers,
and was now convinced and persuaded. But the Lord said unto him," Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles." This trance, or vision, seems to have happened in the year 44, after that Paul had preached at Antioch with great success among Gentiles. Nevertheless he had an earnest desire to make one attempt more among the Jews of Judea, where was the body of that people and if they could have been persuaded, many abroad would follow their example. And it required an express and repeated order from Jesus Christ, in vision, to induce him to lay aside that design, and to proceed to preach to Gentiles in remote parts.
It is a most affectionate concern, which he expresses for the Jewish people in divers places of the epistle to the Romans, written so late as the year 58. ch. ix. 1—5; x. 1, 2; xi. 4; "if by any means," says he, "I may provoke them to emulation which are my flesh, and might save some of them." Nor can it be questioned, that the like sentiments prevailed in the other apostles. If it needs any proof, let St. Peter's discourses at the beginning of the book of the Acts be consulted, particularly ch. ii. 38—40 ; iii. 22-26; not to refer to any other.
4. There were many advantages attending the stay of the apostles in Judea. Many more Jews were by this means converted, than otherwise there would have been. Luke says, Acts iv. 4, that "the number of the men was five thousand." But when Paul came to Jerusalem some years afterwards, James says to him, "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe," ch. xxi. 20. And it is very likely, that the Jewish believers had better and freer principles, than otherwise they would have had. They were, it is true, for observing the law themselves, ver. 20: but they agreed, that the Gentiles were under no such obligations, ver. 25. Farther, by this means every step taken in planting the christian religion, and spreading the gospel in the world, had the sanction of all the apostles, and of the whole church of Jerusalem.
Upon occasion of the persecution at Jerusalem, many were "scattered abroad, who went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them," Acts viii. 5. "Now when the apostles, which were at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John." This was the first step taken in carrying the gospel to any, beside native Jews, and proselytes to their religion. And what had been done by
Philip at Samaria, was approved and ratified by all the apostles.
The next step was preaching to Gentiles, which work was solemnly allotted to Peter." And the apostles and elders that were in Judea, heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God," ch. xi. 1. Upon Peter's rehearsing to them the whole affair, and what had happened at the house of Cornelius at Cæsarea, all were satisfied. "They glorified God, saying: then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life," ver. 18.
Soon after this, some of those who were scattered abroad upon the persecution, went to Antioch, and there “ spake to the Greeks," or Gentiles," preaching the Lord Jesus. And a great number believed, and turned to the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church, which was at Jerusalem; and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch," ver. 19–22. This step therefore was also approved and ratified by the whole church of Jerusalem, including the apostles.
And henceforward no objections could be made by wise men against preaching to Gentiles and receiving them, but what arose from the difficulty of the work. Nevertheless some good while after this, there was a dispute raised at Antioch by some bigoted Jews, who asserted it to be necessary, that the Gentile believers" should be circumcised after the manner of Moses." This occasioned the council of Jerusalem; where the controversy was fully determined by the apostles and elders: which was a great advantage. By this means the manner of receiving Gentiles was fixed, and settled beyond dispute, and beyond opposition: or, if any should be made afterwards, it could not be successful, nor very troublesome. And we may be assured, that all the apostles, and their disciples, would be harmonious, and preach the same doctrine to Jews and Gentiles, wheresoever they went.
5. There was a necessity of the apostles staying in Judea, till about this time. Otherwise, they could not have sufficiently testified the doctrine concerning Jesus in Judea, nor have fully taught the Jewish people, so as to render them inexcusable, if they did not believe, and repent.
If we consider the state of things in Judea, we may discern, that in the year 44, the apostles had not had an opportunity to fulfil their ministry in that country. It must be evident to all from the history in the Acts, that for some while, soon after our Lord's ascension, the apostles were
grievously harassed, and hardly used by the Jewish council or rulers: which was the more so, because of the weakness of Pilate's government, for some time before he was dismissed from the province. And afterwards, about the time of his removal, Stephen was stoned, and a great persecution began: which, as I apprehend, continued from the beginning of the year 36, to the beginning of the year 40, when the churches had rest of which rest, undoubtedly, the apostles made good use. St. Luke's words are: "Then had the churches rest throughout Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, and were edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied," ch. ix. 31. After which follows an account of Peter's passing throughout all quarters, his going to Lydda, and there healing Eneas, then to Joppa, where he raised Tabitha: and from thence to Cæsarea, and there preaching to Cornelius, and his company and of some other matters, reaching to ch. xi. 26. How long that rest, or peace and tranquillity continued, in all its fulness, we cannot say exactly: perhaps it lasted a year, or more. And it is not unlikely, that in that space of time other apostles, beside Peter, travelled in Judea, and the several parts of it, preaching the gospel, and confirming the disciples. But upon Herod Agrippa being made king of all Judea by Claudius in the year 41, that peace would be abated, if not interrupted. From the beginning of his reign, especially from his arrival in Judea, and during the remainder of it, the disciples must have been under many difficulties, and discouragements, prince and people being of one mind. And toward the end of his reign he became an open and violent persecutor, till Divine Providence smote him that he died. After his death Judea came to be in the hands of Roman procurators, Cuspius Fadus, Tiberius Alexander, Cumanus, Felix, Festus: when, probably, the disciples of Jesus had for several years together more liberty than they had had at any time since the resurrection of Jesus, excepting the interval of rest and tranquillity, before taken notice of. For those governors or procurators had no orders from the Roman emperor to persecute or disturb any Jews. And that those governors were not disposed to disturb the christians, may be argued from the treatment given to Paul by Felix, and Festus, and the officers under them. Now therefore from the year 44, to the time of the council in 49, or 50, and afterwards, the apostles went on fulfilling their ministry. All of them, as I apprehend, stayed in Judea, till the time of the council: soon after which some did,
probably, go abroad. However, several of them might stay there a good while longer, and not remove, till a little before the commencement of the Jewish war in 66.
6. We may now perceive the benefit of the early choice and call of Paul to be an apostle. Who having been several years employed and exercised in preaching to Jews in Judea, and out of it, was ready to preach to Gentiles likewise, as soon as a door was opened for applying to them at Antioch, and other places: as there was, after Peter had received Cornelius at Cæsarea: whilst it was not as yet fit for any of the twelve apostles to leave the land of Israel.
7. We now obtain some assistance for interpreting those expressions of Paul, Gal. ii. 7, 8, 9. "When they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was committed 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 they gave unto me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision." And Rom. xi. 13," inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office." Those expressions cannot be intended to signify that Paul was apostle of the Gentiles only, and exclusive of the Jews: or that Peter, and the other of the twelve, were apostles of the circumcision only, exclusive of the Gentiles. For an apostle is a teacher or master of the whole world. They were appointed to be so by Christ: nor could their commission be limited by any compact among themselves. Our Lord's commission given to his twelve apostles, is in Matthew to this purpose: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations," ch. xxviii. 19, and in Luke xxiv. 46, 47, " He said to them, that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." And Acts i. 8, " And ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." And Mark xvi. 15, " And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." And ver. 20. " And they went forth and preached every where." Of Paul, the Lord says in a vision to Ananias at Damascus: "He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel," Acts ix. 5. And Paul says to king Agrippa: "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision: but showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and