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Galatians 1 vs Acts 9: Paul in Jerusalem

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  • Galatians 1 vs Acts 9: Paul in Jerusalem

    A topic on another board has spilled a lot of electrons on whether Luke was inspired based on the following two verses. The posters over there never actually wanted to talk about the verses themselves, so I thought that I would drag the verses and my first thoughts over and open up the topic for some friendly discussion.

    Galatians 1:18–19
    18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.

    Acts 9:26–27
    26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.



    My Response:

    Someone once quipped "The real miracle in the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den is NOT that Daniel was not eaten by the lions. The real miracle is that Daniel didn't break a hip."
    His point was that when we read the first few chapters of Daniel, it compresses so much time into so few chapters that we tend to have a false mental image (reinforced by Sunday school pictures) that the young boy who refused to eat the rich foods is the young man who was thrown into the pit with the lions. Read carefully who was king. Daniel grew up under one king, was exiled from court long enough to be forgotten, and returned to court under a third king. It was Daniel as an old man with a long life of very public service that his enemies could find no flaw with except his love for God as a weapon to trap him. It was a very old man thrown into a pit with those lions, not a boy and not a young man.

    Does the author of Daniel lie? Did he get it wrong? Is he attempting to trick us?
    No. He was attempting to present just enough of Daniel's life to show to us God's faithfulness to those that trust in Him. The bulk of the book of Daniel is about the visions and the messages for future generations.

    We should not loose sight of the lesson of the "Miracle of Daniel not breaking a Hip" when we look at Acts 9 and Galatians 1. Both are brief summaries of events designed to reveal something specific about God and not to present an exhaustive narrative of the historic event. Reading both encounters side by side and including more lines for better context, they appear to interleave to tell a story that stretched out over years. A beautiful tale. From this rich work of God, each author drew a small overlapping portion to tell a different important fact about God.

    Those who cannot harmonize the passages, simply do not want to harmonize the passages.
    Since we have already spilled three pages of comments without addressing the actual apparent contradiction, I have to assume that there is little interest in actually drilling down hard on the facts. So I leave you to continue to debating the inspiration of Luke. I just wanted to go on record as saying that the contradiction is an illusion, like the mental image of a young Daniel in the Lion's Den.

    Thank you and God Bless,
    Arthur
    So what are your thoughts on the apparent contradiction (I assume no one thinks "Luke" and "Acts" should be removed from the Bible)?

  • #2
    The most logical explanation is that these refer to two different visits. In Galatians Paul spoke of a visit to Arabia that Luke didn't mention in Acts, so there is no reason to think that Paul didn't also make a visit to Jerusalem that Luke failed to mention.
    Clyde Herrin's Blog
    Comment>

    • #3
      Originally posted by theophilus View Post
      The most logical explanation is that these refer to two different visits. In Galatians Paul spoke of a visit to Arabia that Luke didn't mention in Acts, so there is no reason to think that Paul didn't also make a visit to Jerusalem that Luke failed to mention.
      Galatians 1: 11-24 (for context)
      11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[fn] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

      18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.



      Acts 9:26-31 (for context)
      26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

      31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.



      So the events in Jerusalem in Acts 9:27 happen after Galatians 1:24 and would be Paul's second visit with Peter & James and first visit with the rest of the Apostles.
      Is that what you suggest?




      Comment>

      • #4
        I do not see any an apparent contradiction. A contradiction is a "combination of statements, ideas, or features of a situation that are opposed to one another."

        Both Luke and Paul say that he left Damascus for Jerusalem.

        Paul says that he went up to Jerusalem to visit Peter. Luke gives no reason.

        Luke says that Paul attempted to join the disciples but they were all afraid of him. Note the word is disciples not apostles.

        Luke states that it was Barnabas who took him and brought him to the apostles. Note that the word apostles is plural but just how many of the apostles were there Luke does not tell us.

        Paul states the only apostles he saw were Peter and James the brother of the Lord. That fits with Luke (i.e. apostles, more than one).

        Paul states that he stayed with Peter fifteen days. Luke says "he [i.e. Paul] went in and out among them [i.e. the apostles, at the very least Peter and James] at Jerusalem."

        Luke states that Paul "spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. Fifteen days I would think would have been more than enough time to do that.

        I see no reason they could not be the same event. Paul adds some details that Luke had no reason to add, while Luke adds some details that Paul did not need to address because it had nothing to do with his point.

        Is it possible there was another visit? Yes, but since there is no contradiction there is no need to think that there was.
        Comment>

        • #5
          Can James (the brother of Jesus) be properly called 'an Apostle'?
          I know he was head of the Church in Jerusalem.
          Was he commissioned by Christ? (like Paul and the eleven and whoever they drew lots to replace Judas).

          [As an attender of a Pentacostal Church ... the term Apostle is one I hear abused by visitors, so it rubs me the wrong way and I instantly ask "What do you mean by 'Apostle'?]
          Comment>

          • #6
            Originally posted by atpollard View Post
            Can James (the brother of Jesus) be properly called 'an Apostle'?
            Paul says "I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother." Paul places him within that group.
            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by Origen View Post
              Paul says "I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother." Paul places him within that group.
              Paul's word is good enough for me. ;)
              Thanks.
              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by atpollard View Post
                So the events in Jerusalem in Acts 9:27 happen after Galatians 1:24 and would be Paul's second visit with Peter & James and first visit with the rest of the Apostles.
                Is that what you suggest?
                Yes, that seems to me to be the most likely explanation.
                Clyde Herrin's Blog
                Comment>
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