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The words of the prophet are in agreement with this, as it is written: After this I will rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles (nations) who bear My Name, says the LORD who does these things that have been known for ages._ (Act 15:15-18, quoting LXX, Amos 9:11-12)

Why did not the Apostles quote a prophecy that would lead the nations to the glorious Temple, instead of one that spoke of a run-down tent, hastily set up by King David? (e.g. Isaiah 2:1-3, The mountain of the LORD's Temple will be established...) (See 1 Chronicles 17:1, the ark of the Covenant is under a tent.)

Did it have to do with the type of new worship? Davidic joyous musical style? Did it have to do with the absence of sacrifices? Or some other biblical reason?

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  • Succoth Interestingly, Amos, in the O.T., didn't use the word mishkah (tabernacle), nor the word ohel (tent, tabernacle), but the more rustic word sukkah (which referred to just temporary boughs and branches, or covering, as were used on the Feast of Booths (F. of Tabernacles).
    – ray grant
    Jul 22, 2023 at 21:02

4 Answers 4

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Acts 15:1-21 described the Council at Jerusalem, the apostles and elders met to hearing a controversial question that raised by the converted Pharisees. Paul and Barnabas plead on behalf of the gentiles against it.

5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

Let me requote the speech of James by NIV

16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,

17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’—

18 things known from long ago. (Acts 15:16-18 NIV)

It is clearly the topic was around the gentiles, who were not supposed to worship the Lord in the Holy Temple.

James' speech requoted the prophesy of Amos (Amos 9:11-12), that obviously he edited some words to fit its application to the current matter. The obvious edit was Amos 9:12

12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the Lord, who will do these things.

Amos prophesy was clearly referred to the return of the exiles, and James quoted it referred to a double prophesy of the salvation of the gentiles. By then, the church replaced the Holy Temple as the heart of worship.

'David's fallen tent' is likely referred to the priesthood worship, enforced by the laws, was fallen. 'A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse (David's father); from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.' (Isaiah 11:1 NIV). On its ruin, the Lord will raise Jesus who is the son of David to lead the Church, restoring a new way of worship for the rest of mankind, and all the Gentiles who seek the Lord will join the Jews to become one.

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Bengel is most helpful here:

τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυὶδ, the tabernacle of David It is otherwise (elsewhere) called the house of David, the throne of David; but here the tent of David, because his concerns had been reduced to great lowness of condition. Often the Church of the New Testament, which was to be built up even of Gentiles, is described under the allegory of architecture: Psalm 102:14-16; Ephesians 2:20. The tabernacle of David, that is, of Christ. [The Church, in which Christ, the antitype of David, dwells and reigns.—V. g.]

That is, the royal throne and kingdom of David, called the "tent of David" was in ruins - the Davidic monarchy and ceased to exist at the Babylonian captivity about 600 years before James' statement in Acts 15.

Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah was to be the fulfillment of Davidic covenant and inherited the royal throne of David:

Luke 1:32, 33 – He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end!”

See also John 1:49, etc.

Thus, the royal line of David, of which, humanly speaking, Jesus was descended, was inherited by Jesus and re-established as the kingdom of heaven. Thus, the restored/rebuilt "tent of David" is a Messianic prophecy.

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The Septuagint uses G4633 (σκηνή skēnē) as a translation of H5521 (סֻכָּה sukâ). Luke himself uses the same word several times in the Book of Acts, each time meaning "tabernacle".

John 7:2 says "Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand." (KJV). Other translations use the word "shelters", "booths", "sukkot", and "tents", but the underlying Greek word is G4634 (skēnopēgia skēnopēgia), which is a form of the same word.

It could be considered as "tent", but in context the meaning is clearly "tabernacle":

Outline of Biblical Usage

  • I. tent, tabernacle, (made of green boughs, or skins or other materials)
  • II. of that well known movable temple of God after the pattern of which the temple at Jerusalem was built

It does not literally mean a tent, or even a temple.

In this context, it means a place representing the presence of God.

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  • Tent Thanks for the research. From reading 1 Chronicles 15:1, 17:1, is seems that David pitched an ordinary tent, not even the Mosaic tabernacle which the Ark used to be in. He considered it crude, and thought it better to build a Temple. But Amos by-passes the Temple, and refers back to a "tent." Does this make any difference in Acts? Or were the Apostles instead zeroing in on the second part of the prophecy, emphasizing the inclusion of all nations into the Church?
    – ray grant
    Jul 19, 2023 at 19:55
  • My view. The issue was whether Gentiles should be required to convert to Judaism as a prerequisite to become Christians. The decision was that no, Judaism was a specific covenant between God and Israel, independent of God's relationship with the rest of mankind. For instance, Zechariah 14:16 shows that the Gentile nations will keep God's festivals and Laws while being independent of Israel's covenant with God. Jul 19, 2023 at 21:19
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John 10:16 ESV

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Ray is correct in saying that, "Gentiles should not be required to convert to Judaism as a prerequisite to become Christians. Judaism was a specific covenant between God and Israel, independent of God's relationship with the rest of mankind."

Before the Mosaic Covenant was given, another covenant existed from the time of Noah, after the Flood, which pertained to all of humanity. The Noahid Law is a covenant that would include "the other sheep" as mentioned in John 10:16 and other Bible verses. Many of you do not need me to expound any further. I will provide any other information that you may require of me if asked.

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