Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 29, 1956
NUMBER 46, PAGE 4-5a

It's In The English

F. Y. T.

For some months now certain brethren have been making a strong effort to prove that it is right for one church to become the "centralized, distributing agency" for many other churches. One of the arguments that has been advanced in support of this is that Barnabas and Saul took a certain benevolence from the brethren in Antioch "unto the brethren that dwelt in Judea", and delivered that bounty into the hands of the Jerusalem elders for distribution throughout Judea.

To sustain this contention it is argued that Paul could not have visited the Judean churches for he was "unknown by face unto the churches of Judea" (Gal. 1:22), and that he remained unknown to them. Some lengthy dissertations have been printed purporting to show from the Greek — verbs, tenses, hair-line shades of meaning, etc. — that Paul remained unknown by face to the churches of Judea. Otherwise, it is contended, his argument in Galatians chapter two is invalid.

We deeply appreciate Brother J. W. Roberts' effort to prove the "sponsoring church" contention by the scriptures. He is the only one of the brethren who have taken any prominent part in these discussions who has appealed to the scriptures in an effort to find authority for the centralized "sponsoring church" type of congregational cooperation. Most of the others have appealed to past practices and to prejudice.

But let us take a look at the contention that Paul remained "unknown by face" to the Judean churches until after the meeting in Jerusalem (described in Acts 15 and Galatians 2.) The New Testament reveals that after he became a Christian Paul made not more than five visits into Judea. They are as follows:

First visit — (Acts 9:26-30; Gal. 1:18-20). This visit was confined to Jerusalem, and lasted only fifteen days.

Second visit — (Acts 11:30-12:25.) This was the time when the benevolence was taken "to the brethren that dwelt in Judea." It apparently lasted over a period of several months.

Third visit — (Acts 15:1-30; Gal. 2:1-10.) This visit was the noted "Jerusalem conference", and lasted for only a few days. The apostle was in Jerusalem on business, attended to the business, and returned immediately with Barnabas, Judas, and Silas to Antioch.

Fourth visit — (Acts 18:22.) This is the briefest visit of all, (if indeed he even reached Judea!) and is fully dealt with in one short verse, "And when he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and saluted the church, and went down to Antioch." There is more than a little question as to whether Paul even set foot on Judean soil at this time.

Fifth visit — (Acts 21:8-27:2.) This is the longest "visit" of all and for all of it except the first two days Paul was confined to a prison cell.

Acts 26:20

It was during this fifth visit to Judea that Paul declared before King Agrippa, "Wherefore, 0 King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but declared both to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God . . ." (Acts 26:19, 20.) The significant phrase in that statement is "THROUGHOUT ALL THE COUNTRY OF JUDEA." And the pertinent question is; when did he do it?

We can begin to narrow the problem down by eliminating Visit Number One from the possibilities, for he tells us plainly following that visit that "I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ." (Gal. 1:21, 22). We can next eliminate Visit Number Five from consideration, for he was imprisoned the next day after reaching Jerusalem, and had come directly from Caesarea to that city.

That leaves us Visits Two, Three, and Four, as possibilities for his preaching "throughout all the country of Judea." Very clearly it was not done on Visit Number Four, for that whole visit is comprehended in the statement, "And when he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and saluted the church, and went down to Antioch." It is very possible (in spite of the King James Version) that he did not even reach Jerusalem on this visit but actually "saluted the church" at Caesarea and then went down to Antioch.

Did he preach "throughout all the country of Judea" when he went down to the city of Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15 and Galatians 2? The record not only does not suggest it, but on the contrary does not even permit of an extended journey.

That leaves us only one possibility so far as the inspired record is concerned — Visit Number Two, when he and Barnabas delivered the relief from Antioch "unto the brethren that dwelt in Judea." So far as the Bible record is concerned, this is the only time Paul could have preached "throughout all the country of Judea." That he did do such preaching is declared in his own words. That such preaching would make him "known by face to the churches in Judea" is undeniable. Now when did he do it?

There is one other possibility, namely, that sometime after the Jerusalem conference, and before the imprisonment and speech before Agrippa, Paul made an extended UNRECORDED tour throughout all the country of Judea." This is the position Brother Roberts will be forced to take if he stands by his argument. We believe careful study will bring him to an abandonment of his false argument, for to assume an extended tour throughout all the country of Judea between the time of the Jerusalem conference and the imprisonment would involve him in difficulties that are simply insuperable from what we know of Paul's activities and travels within that period.

In this brief essay we have not depended upon supposed or real hair-line distinctions and shades of meaning between Greek verbs and tenses and idiomatic constructions. What we have pointed out here is all IN THE ENGLISH, and is easily ascertainable by any student who can read intelligently and who will take the time and patience to study the text — the English text. We certainly do not disparage the Greek. We do not regret one hour of the many we have spent in studying it. But we are simply pointing out that there are very, very few false theories which cannot be refuted by the English. In all the many articles Brother Roberts has written on this subject, we do not recall having seen even a casual reference to Acts 26:20. We hope he will favor us with a dissertation on that verse. If he will, he will find that this explanation of Paul's statement (that he had preached "throughout all the country of Judea") is in harmony with the Greek text, makes clear and simple an otherwise inexplicable statement, and is even in line with the thinking of the "ablest commentators" who have commented on the verse.

Paul made not more than five visits to Judea after he became a Christian, so far as the inspired record reveals. One of them (AND ONLY ONE) afforded him the opportunity to preach "throughout all the country of Judea." That one was the second visit — the time when he and Barnabas delivered the relief from Antioch "unto the brethren that dwelt in Judea."