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When James cited Amos 9:11-12 in defense of his decision, he deliberately changed the words “In that day I will raise up" to "After this I will return". Is James rendering of "After this I will return" in reference to the Second Coming and subsequent 1000 year reign (thus establishing fallen tent of David)? Dispensationalist author John Walvoord wrote:

He states, in effect, that it was God’s purpose to bless the Gentiles as well as Israel, but in their order. God was to visit the Gentiles first, “to take out of them a people for his name.” James goes on to say that this is entirely in keeping with the prophets, for they had stated that the period of Jewish blessing and triumph should be after the Gentile period: “After these things I will return, And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen.” Instead of identifying the period of Gentile conversion with the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David, it is carefully distinguished by the first (Gentile blessing), and after this, referring to Israel’s coming glory. The passage instead of identifying God’s purpose for the church and for the nation, Israel, established a specific time order. Israel’s blessing will not come until “I return,” ... That it could not refer either to the Incarnation or to the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost is evident in that neither are “return’s.” The passage under consideration constitutes, then, an important guide in determining the purpose of God. God will first conclude His work for the Gentiles in the period of Israel’s dispersion; then He will return to bring in the promised blessings for Israel. It is needless to say that this confirms the interpretation that Christ is not now on the throne of David bringing blessing to Israel as the prophets predicted, but He is rather on His Father’s throne waiting for the coming earthly kingdom and interceding for His own who form the church.

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James was neither quoting nor even paraphrasing the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (LXX), but appears to have changed the wording of the Scripture based on statements made by the Apostle Paul. That is, the Apostle Paul received exclusive divine revelation concerning the current era (the Church), which Paul terms "the mystery." That is, he defines this mystery as follows:

Ephesians 3:1-7 (NASB)
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.

At no time in the Hebrew Bible were Jews and Gentiles ever to be "equal" with one another in covenant relationship. After Paul had received this exclusive divine revelation, he then approached Peter, James, and John concerning this mystery.

Galatians 2:1-2 (NASB)
1 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.

These events described in Galatians appear to have occurred in Acts Chapter 15, when Paul made direct contact with the Jerusalem church concerning the debate concerning the relationship between Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles. Therefore, later IN THE SAME CHAPTER James then mentions "after these things" (Acts 15:16), which would appear to be to the church age or "the mystery" which the Apostle Paul had just revealed to them there in the Jerusalem council as already noted from Galatians 2:1-2.

In another passage, the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthian Gentile church that the end of this mystery period also is called a "mystery" (1 Cor 15:51-53), which further suggests that the current era is an intercalation of time not formerly revealed to others except to the Apostle Paul alone. That is, if the end of the current era is the rapture (termed a "mystery" by Paul in 1 Cor 15:51-53), then the subsequent events that follow would appear to point toward the consummation of the fulfillment of apocalyptic predictive prophecy in the Hebrew Bible, the Gospels, and the Book of Revelation. It was therefore this consummation to which James was alluding that would follow the rapture of "the mystery" church age. That is, "after these things of the church age..."

In this regard, then, Jesus is "not yet" sitting on the throne of David; however, he is "already" qualified and able to do so at any moment (pending the consummation of the present church age).

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  • "That is, the Apostle Paul received exclusive divine revelation ..." So you would maintain that all of Divine Revelation was not completed in the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Christ? – user15733 Nov 22 '16 at 18:49
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William M. Schniedewind (Society and the Promise to David, pages 63-64) says that Amos 9:11 has been widely analysed and is regarded as a post-Exilic addition. Acts 15:16 is no doubt original to Acts but is as much a reference to the Second Temple destruction in 70 CE as it is a citation of Amos 9:11. At the time of writing, the author was aware of the second destruction but, decades earlier, James had not been.

A reference to the destruction of 70 CE could hardly have been spoken by James in the 40s or 50s - it is an authorial gloss. Also, if we regard the Epistle of James as having been written by James himself, there is not a hint of eschatology in the epistle. If James could not have spoken the words of Acts 15:16, the question is whether the author of Acts intended this to refer to a Second Coming and 1000 year reign. Jacob Jervell (The Theology of the Acts of the Apostles, pages 22-23) says that the reference to rebuilding the tabernacle should be read as describing the missionary work to the Gentiles. Notice that it forms part of the speech that James gave when he agreed to the missionary work to be undertaken.

The gospel authors did anticipate the return of Jesus, with Mark chapter 13 even suggesting that this would be during the lifetimes of some who had heard Jesus. The author of Luke-Acts is anxious that the gentiles be reached before Jesus returns.

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  • If Amos 9:11 is a post-Exilic addition the choice of word is inconsistent with the conclusions reached by Schniedewind and others. The Hebrew סֻכַּ֥ת (Amos 9:11) is never used to describe either the Temple or the Tabernacle. The word means tent or booth as in the Feast of Booths or a temporary shelter for people of livestock. There is no sound exegesis that connects what is written to the destruction of the first Temple by the Babylonians. – Revelation Lad May 10 '16 at 19:21
  • @RevelationLad Thank U for the advice on this - I have edited accordingly. But why is the reverential reference to 'the tabernacle of David' which will be raised up and rebuilt as in the days of old? What else was the redactor thinking of, if not the First Temple? – Dick Harfield May 10 '16 at 21:05
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James was not the one to supply that reading. He is not modifying the text and then claiming "it is written". His LXX must have read differently from the versions we have. If he changed it and asserted that he was simply quoting it and appealing to its authority then he is a fraud, no? It is possible though that he is conflating the verse with another related verse though I know not which off the top of my head.

Walvoord's point about him referencing a still future enthronement is spot on. The messiah is "the lord's anointed one" which refers to his being that designated and promised descendant of David to be king of Israel forever:

Luk_1:32  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

Jesus' eternal destiny is to rule Israel forever as king:

Luk 1:33  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

It is only during this period called "the times of the gentiles/nations" that Jesus' reign has been temporarily extended so that he "rules in the midst of his enemies with a rod of iron":

Psa_2:9  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

Rev_2:27  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

Rev_12:5  And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

Rev_19:15  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Notice that God promises to temporarily "send out" the messiah's influence and rule unwilling peoples:

Psa 110:1  A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.  Psa 110:2  The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.  Psa 110:3  Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.  Psa 110:4  The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.  Psa 110:5  The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.  Psa 110:6  He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.  Psa 110:7  He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

However, once he has subdued the nations (via the harrowing curses and plagues in Revelation) he will rebuild the temple, restore the nation of Israel and Israel will become one of the subject nations and God himself will once again be KURIOS over all the world:

1Co 15:24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  1Co 15:25  For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.  1Co 15:26  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.  1Co 15:27  For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.  1Co 15:28  And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

So James' more accurate LXX reveals that God's "turning away" from Israel is only temporary for God will "return" to the Israel program after the "Church Age" in which we find ourselves.

Now:

Messiah's rule is from God's right hand from which he serves as KURIOS as God places the hostile nations under his feet via demoralizing acts of divine terrorism.

When God "returns" to the Israel program:

The temple will be rebuilt and Jesus will rule Israel among a willing people (Psalm 110:3). God will rule the world over all the nations of the earth (including Israel) as king of kings (with Jesus being one of the subject kings).

KJV unless otherwise noted

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I have always understood that the "After this" in Acts 15:16 is a reference to the calling out of the Gentiles. After this "I will return." Who will return? Jesus Christ, obviously.

In Romans 9, 10 and 11, Paul basically nails down the fact that God is not yet finished with Israel, as proponents of Replacement Theology like to proclaim.

Romans 11:25 says:

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

This clearly says that the 'blindness' will eventually be removed. The "fullness of the Gentiles" is that group of people that God, in his foreknowledge, has predestinated to be in the Church. It's clear that the Kingdom has been postponed and we thus had the "calling out of the church" (a "mystery" [ref. Ephesians 3:3-6]).

The "After this" in verse 16 of Acts 15 is therefore referring to the fullness of the Gentiles, and after this occurs, the blindness is removed from Israel and then the return of Christ. Of course, there is only a "remnant" that is promised in this age.

In any event, the other comments here were excellent, and far more eloquent, but I felt the need to chime-in here and offer some thoughts on this particular verse, because I heard a teacher the other day say that he was entirely baffled by it, which led me into all types of circular studies, etc.

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