6. Paul the Apologist



Paul the Apologist

If Paul, as portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles, had to share the fame of miraculous power with Peter, and even had the honor of being worthy of direct revelations from heaven and wonderful visions, which he could only make use of after it was legitimized by the same privilege given to Peter, and finally, if entry into his historical sphere of influence was only possible after Peter had opened it for him – in short, if he had to sacrifice all his individuality and originality and give up his historical significance in favor of the primitive apostles – then during his last stay in Jerusalem, this work of humiliation was completed, and even the apostles protested against the idea that he was a revolutionary, as the people perceived him, and as he appears in the letters.


He now expounds his own protest, whereas hitherto events and their entanglements had deprived him of the glory of originality and of revolutionary power. He did not sacrifice the glory of the conquest himself, but the circumstance that Peter won the first fruits of paganism and first surrendered the privilege of Judaism, wrested from his hand the palm of the first victory which the epistles bestow on him. But now he himself assures us that he is a strictly legal man and that it could not have occurred to him to leave the legal ground – now he is the apologist of himself and proves by his legal conduct that the reproach of his opponents that he wants to undermine the appeal of the law is unfounded. If the revolution that triumphs in the dedication of salvation to the Gentiles cannot be denied, he at least excuses it by invoking the irresistible force that his heavenly Lord had driven him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Finally, in Rome and in his dealings with the local Jewish community, another side of his apologetics is completed, as he formulates a principle that he has strictly followed throughout his entire activity in pure generality: with their stubborn resistance to salvation, the Jews themselves are to blame for his turning to the Gentiles with the Gospel.


Thus, he presents the apology for his work and his person in three forms: – he is a strictly legal man, only the irresistible force of heaven drove him to the Gentiles, and the Jews themselves, in their blindness, pointed him to the sphere of activity to which his Lord had called him.

Therefore, the contrast against the letters reaches its highest point. Let’s see if he can maintain it.


The legalism of the apostle

Even before his last journey to Jerusalem, the apostle was driven to the holy city by his legal duty. He had just arrived in Ephesus and had left the synagogue, the Jews there invited him to stay for a long time, but duty *) called him to Jerusalem, he had to hold the upcoming feast there, the consideration of his legal duty made him overlook the possible and, given the willingness of the Jews, almost certain successes of his apostolic activity [in Ephesus] – he left for Caesarea, but actually only stole away to Jerusalem, i.e. the author only hints at the actual departure. i.e. the author only furtively hints at the actual departure for Jerusalem by only reporting that the apostle, “after he had gone up and greeted the church **), returned to Antioch”.

*) 18:21. δει με παντως …..

**) V. 22. ἀναβὰς …..


But why so furtively? Why does the author only hint at the fact that the departure for the holy city really took place in a fleetingly thrown participle? Why does he even avoid the name of the holy city?

The reason why the author uses the motive as evidence for the apostle’s legalistic attitude is because it is repeated shortly thereafter, and a detailed report on the journey to Jerusalem would have created a disturbing pleonasm.
Before his last trip to Jerusalem, when the apostle left Europe, he waited in Philippi until the Passover was over (Acts 20:6), thus demonstrating his legalistic attitude again by observing the festival in peace, even if not in the midst of the sacrificing community in Jerusalem. However, he did indeed want to celebrate a festival in the holy city when he bid farewell to Greece, the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 20:16), and he was in such a hurry to be in Jerusalem at the right time that he even bypassed Ephesus and summoned the elders of the local church to Miletus.
If the fear of overcrowding the narrative led the author to conceal the previous trip to Jerusalem, he, on the other hand, created an overabundance of motives in his account of the apostle’s last journey, which proves the uncertainty of his pragmatism and overall destroys his festival pragmatism.

The Feast of Pentecost drew the apostle to Jerusalem and at least hastened his journey. He had already made the decision to travel before, while he was in Ephesus in the midst of a fruitful ministry. Despite the success that surrounded him in Ephesus, he wanted to go to Jerusalem and then to Rome – he said, “I must also see Rome” (Acts 19:21).


He was only called to Jerusalem by the holy significance and legal importance of the city – he had to visit Jerusalem before he went to Rome – so he says later in his speech to Felix himself (24:11, 17) that he came to Jerusalem purely and solely with the intention of worshipping, and that after an absence of several years – (the author forgets that the apostle had secretly stolen away to Jerusalem shortly before) – he was driven by the desire to sacrifice in the holy city.

In the speech to the elders at Miletus, on the other hand, he gives a completely different motive for the journey: the spirit has bound him, a supernatural power drives him to Jerusalem towards his destiny – he does not know his destiny, only that he knows that bonds and tribulations await him in Jerusalem – the spirit has proclaimed it to him from city to city and has not let him rest because of this testimony, driving him inexorably on – he suspects that his career will soon be complete (20:22-24).

Each of these two motives, however, makes the other superfluous – both even lay claim to such exclusive validity that they finally exclude each other – i.e. they originated in writing, but the writer’s skill was not great enough to bring them both into an intelligible connection.

In another respect, the report is overfilled, but this overfilling is at the same time a contradiction that drags the whole into its unhappy fate.

The day after his arrival in Jerusalem, Paul went to James and the elders, heard from them that the believing Jews of the capital were disturbed by the rumour that he was persuading the foreign Jews to apostatise from Moses, and received from them the advice to join four men who had taken a vow upon themselves and to be purified together with them in order to prove the groundlessness of the rumour and to show that he was also walking in strict observance of the law (21:20-24). Paul follows the advice, takes those four men with him to the temple and lets himself be purified together with them by haircut and sacrifice.


So it had happened by chance that Paul had taken the same vow on his arrival in Jerusalem, that he had let his hair grow as a result of this vow?

Indeed, the author answers, already in Greece the apostle had taken a vow, already in Cenchrea he had had his hair shaved *) – the author wants to prepare and explain here what happened in Jerusalem, he wants to report the beginning of the vow from which Paul released himself in Jerusalem, but he was mistaken in making the shaving of the hair, which signifies the end of the vow, the beginning of it, and he did not consider that it was impossible for the apostle on his journeys and in his constant contact with pagans to avoid the defilements which the Rasiraean had to flee from all.

*) 18:18. That Paul is the one who had the vow on himself is proven by the continuing unity of the subject vv. 18,19: ειχε . . . κατηντησε . . . κατέλιπε and the distinction of the apostle from the others xxx

Paul had already had to take a vow for a long time if he was to be able to join those four men on the mission. The author wanted to avoid this difficulty earlier, but he made the preparations so badly that the later event remains impossible. The event remains impossible.


James presupposes that the rumour that troubled the Jews in Jerusalem concerning the apostle was false – this presupposition is so certain to him that he considers every word about it to be useless, – Paul, too, does not say a word about the fact that he does abolish the law, nor does he give an apologetic discussion about the fact that this rumour does have a reason, but otherwise is based on a misunderstanding, he says nothing about the sense and extent to which he abolishes the law – rather, he tacitly agrees with James that the rumour lacks all foundation, and immediately knows how to follow his advice and to prove by the public solution of his vow that, with his strict legalism, an unfaithfulness to the law, such as the rumour presupposes in him, is impossible for him.

The Gentiles are not mentioned in the accusation which the rumour brought against him, only that he was accused of seducing the foreign Jews to apostasy from Moses and leading them not to circumcise their children and not to observe the legal customs, – and only James mentions in passing (21:25), that by the prompt suppression of this rumour the liberty of the Gentile Christians should not be affected, – only this anxiously added clause, which is partly intended to lift the inner improbability of the report, perhaps to cover it altogether, only serves to complete its dissolution.

The clause in itself is completely meaningless, since the rumor of the apostle’s unlawful transgression does not even remotely consider relying on a maxim that he observed towards the Gentiles. Neither by that rumor, nor by the Apostle’s obedience to the advice that James gave him, is the freedom of the Gentile Christians threatened, since it hardly existed on the ground that the current controversy took place.


On the contrary! That accusation, which had reached the ears of the believing Jews in Jerusalem, was supposed to encompass everything that was known about Paul, – was supposed to sum up his entire revolutionary activity in one expression – the people who spread that rumour wanted to attack Paul’s entire effectiveness – the crime of which he was accused was supposed to characterise his entire being.

His opposition to the law – and that is the main thing and the reason for the confusion that runs through the account and throws it to the ground – is thus misconceived in that accusation – wrongly approved and conceded in James’ clause – (he is right to spare the Gentiles from circumcision) – wrongly limited and brought back to its supposed correct limit – (so that the clause is based on the assumption that he would certainly violate the law if he wanted to exempt the believing Jews from circumcising their children, which is not the case).

When the author wanted to clear the apostle of the accusation that he was a revolutionary, he had to specify the accusation in some way. The accusation that he did not keep the law and did everything in his power to overthrow it would have been too general and vague — later, when the crisis broke out and the foreign Jews aroused the rebellion against the apostle, they generally only accused him of his enmity against the people, the law and the temple (21:28) – later, in the speeches in which the apostle justifies himself against his enemies, even reproach and accusation take on new forms and shapes, thus the author proves his inability to express in his “proper” way the real and historical opposition that Paul had formed against the law.


Not only his incapacity (the work of confusion thus still continues), but he also proves that it was actually impossible for him to form an accusation that was somewhat reminiscent of the apostle’s struggles and of his opponents’ accusations. His Paul is not a revolutionary, he did nothing that could even arouse the suspicion of the believing Jews; what he did among the Gentiles is only the continuation of the value of Peter, and if he remitted circumcision to the Gentiles, he acted under the authorisation of the primitive apostles and only carried out their express decision, which was moreover inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The revolutionary, the victorious opponent of the law stands outside, fights and wins in the letters – in the Acts of the Apostles he is to be cleansed from the stain of the revolutionary attitude – from a stain that fell on him through no fault of his own.

So how to shape the stain? How to formulate the accusation? How? It was a matter of the author’s fancy and art. When, therefore, he had at least to introduce the collision, to form it intelligibly, when it was a question of putting down a groundless rumour and at the same time leaving the Gentiles in peace and quiet and in the enjoyment of their liberty, he formed that rumour that the apostle was leading the Jews to apostasy from Moses, he formed the accusation which, according to the conditions in which he himself lived, was at most still the most conceivable crime of which the apostle could be accused, and he added the safeguarding clause of James.


Hence the thoroughgoing confusion!

But it remains the case that the accusation that the Apostle wants to free the Jews from the yoke of the Law, strikes at his whole historical effectiveness, and that the Apostle, by refuting the accusation, is to prove his unconditional and complete loyalty to the Law. He is not a revolutionary – an attack on the law, such as the rumour ascribes to him, would have been an outrage which he – he, the strictly legal man – found utterly impossible.

The Paul of Acts thus disavows the Paul of the Epistles – the apologist disavows the revolutionary – only this disavowal is unfortunate in so far as nothing in Acts could give rise to the suspicion that the apostle was a revolutionary.

Only in the Epistles does the man live and work who, in the freedom he won for the Gentiles, at the same time founded the freedom of the Jewish Christians and, by freeing the Gentiles, overthrew the law altogether. But this fighter and liberator, whom the Paul of the Acts of the Apostles disavows, will never recognise him either.

The Paul of the Epistle to the Galatians asserts his abolition of the law so absolutely, asserts it so ruthlessly for Jews and Gentiles, that the thought of any exemption is impossible to him and would even appear as a betrayal of the dearly bought freedom. He does not want to know that the freedom of the Gentile Christians, as an exceptional privilege, should not interfere with the legal custom of the Jewish Christians – nor does he think of leaving the Jews their law and only preserving the freedom of the Gentiles by a proviso in addition to their legality.


Instead of giving the apologists of today, who partly admit the contradiction between Paul’s behaviour and conduct in the Acts of the Apostles and his own statements in the Epistles, but hope to eliminate it by the assertion *) that the apostle, “if he did not want to be unfaithful to himself,” must have sent “more detailed explanations” before he followed the plan devised by James, – instead of taking away their hope and showing that the author of the Acts of the Apostles does not know and does not need explanations that would correct James’ presuppositions, since he knows nothing of the apostle’s activity and teaching that is directed against the law, – instead we prefer to point out how the author completely destroys his report by the way in which he brings about the catastrophe.

*) For example, Schneckenburger, op. cit. p. 64. 65.

The many myriads of believing Jews of whom James speaks (21:20) are, according to the own presuppositions of the Acts of the Apostles, an impossibility and cannot hold their own next to the presuppositions of the Epistles, according to which the early church consisted of poor alms-receivers.

When James explains that the zeal for the law of these thousands of believing Jews and their suspicion, which the rumor about the apostle’s revolutionary teaching has instilled in them, is to be feared, he particularly relies on the fact that a meeting of this multitude, as soon as they hear of Paul’s arrival, is absolutely necessary and cannot be avoided *) – and indeed an official, communal meeting, since the author knows very well that a popular gathering **), a gathering of the crowd, is not a meeting and both are precisely distinguished by language.

*) V. 22. παντως δει πληθος συνελθειν

**) V. 30. συνδρομη του λαου


Nevertheless, the author had the following popular gathering in mind already when he made James express his concern about the inevitable meeting of the community – he wanted to motivate and prepare this gathering in advance – but when the tumultuous gathering actually takes place (V. 30), the whole people of Jerusalem are on the square and the Jewish-Christian zealots have disappeared – yes, so completely disappeared and forgotten that it is only foreign Jews (V. 27) who have to come out and incite the crowd, the whole people ***) against the Apostle.

***) V. 27. παντα τον οχλον

The author himself eliminated the myriads of believing Jews, together with their suspicion, and he was right to do so, for the creation of these countless believers and zealots was a misguided one from the start and could not hold its own next to the brethren who received the apostle kindly on his arrival in Jerusalem, and next to the elders together with James, who supported him with their benevolent counsel. The contrast between these brothers and the hostile myriads is chaotic and groundless – the worrying position that the myriads of law-seekers occupy destroys the connection between the congregation and its leaders and rulers – those “myriads” therefore only experience their deserved fate when they are soon forgotten by the author.



The apostle’s speeches of defence

No! He is not a revolutionary – not a man of violence who, by virtue of his sense of self, rebels against the statutes of the old world and throws them down – he is not an opponent of the law – not the powerful destroyer who wants to destroy the law and free the world from its yoke – he is innocent – the apostle himself demonstrates this in his speech before the people, before Felix and Agrippa and, what is more, he shows before the synod with what anxiousness he seeks to obey every letter of the law.

This is not an innovator, who, with the same eagerness with which the apostle speaks to the people (22:3-21), presents the mission he received from the Gentiles, the mission that had not even been charged to him previously, as one that he could not avoid and that was even forced upon him by a higher power against his will. Thoroughly instructed in the paternal law at the feet of Gamaliel and a zealot for it, he was cast down by the Lord and when he wanted to work among the Jews in Jerusalem, he was sent by him to the Gentiles. Even then, when the Lord had taken him, he did not leave the connection with the Law, for Ananias, a legally pious man, introduced him to his ministry and he was kneeling in prayer in the temple when the Lord sent him to the Gentiles.


Thus no innovator speaks like the apostle, when he, before King Agrippa (26:2-23), again leads the proof from the notoriously established circumstance that he formerly belonged to the strictest sect of the Jews, that he did not throw himself into a work out of frivolous courage, into which rather the irresistible force of his Lord placed him – no! even that for which he is now accused is nothing new, – he hopes for nothing new, but only for the promise made to the fathers, and this hope is still common to him with the twelve tribes of his people – he also does not teach one word apart from what the prophets and Moses taught (26:6-7, 22).

He is no rebel, no apostate, for even if his opponents call the association to which he now belongs a sect, he still serves in it, as he explains to Felix (24:14-15), only the God of his fathers, he believes only what is written in the Law and the Prophets, and his only hope is that there will be a resurrection of the dead.

If these turns of phrase were perhaps only timid, his behaviour before the Synod is downright inappropriate, unattractive, and the position he gives himself to the Pharisaic part of the Synod can be called unworthy.

The Apostle uses a mistake of the high priest, which immediately causes his supporters to strike him on the mouth for the beginning of his defense speech, to “tell the truth” to the barbarian and at the same time to prove with what conscientiousness he follows the law, while his opponents do not respect it. He attacks the high priest, even using an insult against him, but when he is reminded whether he wants to insult the high priest, he retracts his outburst and assures that he did not know it was the high priest, otherwise he would certainly have shown him the respect that the law requires (23:1-5).


He acts as if he did not know the high priest – he wants to say that he had to conclude from his conduct that he was not the high priest – he secretly rejoices in the cleverness with which he strikes a blow at the high priest, tells him the truth and at the same time protects himself against the consequences of his dishonourable conduct against “the chief of his people”, – Unfortunately, however, only the author himself has spoiled the apostle’s unpleasant joy in his cleverness, this ugly tickle over his modesty, by having him address the high priest in his outburst as this authoritative person who sits in judgement over him *).

*) V. 3. και συ καθη κρινων με κατα τον νομον ;

Equally unsightly and unworthy is the eagerness and self-abasement with which the Apostle appeals to the sectarian spirit of the Pharisees in order to win them over to his side against the Sadducean assessors of the Sanhedrin – unsightly the zeal with which he exclaims and assures: “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees!” – unworthy the turn he takes, avoiding the actual accusation and pretending to be accused for the sake of hope and because of the resurrection of the dead – (“of the righteous and the unrighteous,” as he adds in his speech before Felix) – The author does achieve his purpose and ultimately enjoys the pleasure that the two factions in the Sanhedrin confront each other and the Pharisees outright declare that they find nothing wrong with the accused, even admitting that a spirit or angel – (as if the Damascus appearance were one of the disputed points or had even been mentioned in the course of the proceedings!) – could have spoken with him. However, the author enjoys this pleasure only at the expense of the Apostle, who must discard everything he is in the letters for the sake of this triumph, and at the expense of probability, as despite the author, it remains impossible that the Pharisees, if the Apostle really wanted to avoid the actual point of contention, would have allowed it and forgotten that the belief in the resurrection of the dead is not at all the same as the belief in the risen Jesus.



Nor do we want to argue with today’s apologist about whether the apostle was capable of answering to the people and the authorities in such a fearful and unworthy manner – rather, we will put an end to all arguments and free the apostle from the stain that the author’s unattractive composition casts on him, by showing how these negotiations before the spiritual and temporal rulers, as well as the catastrophe with which they ended, are copied verbatim from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ interrogations and the final tragedy of his life.

The Roman governor, who had imprisoned the apostle in the popular tumult, first sends him before the Sanhedrin, Paul then has to answer before the governor Felix and finally meets with King Agrippa – so the sequence is repeated in which the Jesus of Luke’s Gospel first stands before the Sanhedrin, then before Pilate, and finally before Herod.


When Jesus pleads before the Synod, the servants strike him on the face – (Mark 14:65) – so the high priest gives orders to strike the apostle on the mouth *).

The Synedrium “bound” Jesus and “delivered” him to Pilate – so the prophet Agabus prophesied to the apostle when he stopped in Caesarea on his last journey to Jerusalem that the Jews would bind him and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles **).

Pilate initially refuses to comply with the Jews’ intentions, “knowing (Mark 15:20) that the chief priests had delivered him up only out of envy” – so Felix also seeks to stall the Jews, “knowing full well how the matter stood” (24:22).

Pilate’s wife learns in a dream that Jesus is a righteous man, warns her husband and the latter, when he has to give in to the people, declares that he does not want to be guilty of the blood of this righteous man – so Felix, with his wife Drusilla, a Jewess, listens to the apostle about his faith, is frightened when he hears his argument, and is only strengthened in his intention to stall the cause ***).

*) The scene John 18:22-23 is only copied from the Acts of the Apostles.

**)Mark 15:1 δήσαντες . . . παρέδωκαν
Acts 21: 11. δησουσιν . . . και παραδωσουσιν.

***) Acts 24:24-25. Whether the author had the present Gospel of Matthew (27:19, 24) in mind or a source scripture used by the compiler of the same, this question does not belong here.


Felix – whose hesitation the author clumsily explains even from the circumstance that he hoped for a bribe from Paul for his release – wants to show the Jews a favor as he leaves his post and leaves the Apostle behind in custody (Acts 24:27) – Festus, his successor, wants to show the Jews a favor again and proposes to the Apostle, although the case has already been referred to Rome and is settled, whether he wants to be judged in Jerusalem (25:9) – the author has combined a twofold allusion from the Gospels into one – he thought of the fact that Pilate used to show favor to the people by releasing a prisoner at Passover, and at the same time of the other circumstance that Pilate finally wanted to do enough for the people and their hatred of the accused when he released Barabbas and offered them Jesus *).

*) Mark 15:15. βουλομενος τω οχλω το ικανον ποιησαι
Acts 24:27. θελων χαριτας καταθεσθαι
Acts 25:9. θελων χαριν καταθεσθαι

The overcrowding which the author brought from the source material of Luke’s Gospel in the original arrangement of the last tragedy has been faithfully repeated by the author of the Acts of the Apostles.

As Herod happened to be in Jerusalem in those days when the cause of Jesus came before Pilate, so it happened that Agrippa also happened to be “several days” in Caesarea, where Paul’s trial was being conducted. (Luke. 23:7, Acts 25:13.)

Herod had for some time desired to see Jesus, when the Roman governor granted him his wish-so Agrippa says to the governor Festus: “I would also like to hear the man,” and Festus promises him the fulfilment of his wish. *)

*) Luke 23, 8. ην γαρ θελων εξ ικανου ιδειν αυτον
Acts 25, 22. εβουλομην και αυτος του ανθρωπου ακουσαι


Herod is in the company of his soldiers when Jesus stands before him – Agrippa, accompanied by the captains, enters the judgment house where he will see the apostle **).

**) Luke 23:11. συν τοις στρατευμασιν αυτου
Acts 25:23. συν τοις χιλιαρχοις

“You have brought this man to me as if he would draw away the people,” Pilate declares to the chief priests and rulers of the people after Herod had sent Jesus back, “and behold, I find in this man none of the things of which you accuse him, nor does Herod” – even when he stood before Herod, “nothing has been done to him that is worthy of death” – so the governor and Agrippa say to each other after the apostle’s conversation with the latter has ended: “this man has done nothing worthy of death” – both agree with the favourably disposed Pharisees of the Sanhedrin, who also declare that they find nothing wrong in this man ***)

***) Luke 23:15. ουδεν αξιον θανατου εστιν πεπραγμενον αυτω
Acts 26:31. ουδεν θανατου αξιον πρασσει ο ανθρωπος ουτος
Acts 23:9. ουδεν κακον ευρισκομεν εν τω ανθρωπω τουτω

Pilate certainly wanted to release Jesus – so Agrippa also says to Festus: this man could have been released if he had not appealed to the emperor (26:23) – but the fate of both must be fulfilled in spite of the good will and the favourable mood of their Gentile judges – Pilate finally hands over Jesus to the will of the Jews – Festus hands over Paul to the official who takes him to Rome *)

*) Luke 23:25. παρεδωκε
Acts 27:1. παρεδιδουν

But now we also know what to make of the Roman citizenship, which the apostle is said to have possessed from birth, against all historical probability. It is a means of pragmatism to fulfil the destiny **) that wanted him in Rome, and if we find no other reliable evidence that the apostle was really once in Rome, then the Acts of the Apostles are also unable to vouch for the fact that the apostle appeared in Rome. For the journey of which it reports, the stay in the metropolis which it describes, is only a work of pragmatism, and is only intended to give the apostle the opportunity to express in basically full clarity and generality the basic apologetic maxim which he followed from the beginning and throughout the whole course of his activity.

It is about the esteem in which he held the Jews.

**) In passing it should be noted: – his citizenship and the appeal to it frees the apostle from the scourging that was already intended for him (22:24) and that is really carried out on Jesus (Mark 15:15) – earlier in Philippi (16:23) the apostle had been scourged, but the authorities of the city were also frightened when they heard that he was a Roman citizen.



The basic apologetic framework of the apostle

Although the apostle’s appointment to the ministry, that he should bear the name of the Lord before the Gentiles, was clear from the beginning and established (9:15) by divine revelation, he still appeared directly after his conversion before the Jews only. Even the bad experience he had of their malice – they threatened his life and forced him to flee from Damascus – could not stop him from trying again with them when he arrived in Jerusalem, but again he had to flee because the obdurate were still trying to kill him (9:20-30).

He tried again with the stubborn and turned to them when he appeared on his first missionary journey to Antioch in Pisidia – but again with the same unfortunate success, whereupon he openly and frankly *) stated his principle with Barnabas – (a principle, by the way, with whose establishment Peter had likewise preceded him 3:25-26) – “to you,” he cries, “the word of God had to be proclaimed first, but now that you have cast it from you and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, see, we turn to the Gentiles.”

*) 13:46. παρρησιασάμενοί

Nevertheless, he still does not appear as the resolute and independent apostle to the Gentiles as he characterises himself in the Epistle to the Galatians. When the hatred of the Jews had driven him out of Antioch, he immediately preached in the synagogue of Iconium (14:1) – in order to arouse the Jewish hatred anew, which then pursued him to Derbe and Lystra, where he found no Jews, so that his effectiveness among the Gentiles had to be disturbed and interrupted by the Jewish persecutors of Antioch and Iconium who were rushing after him.


n the second great journey of discord, the same course of events, the same entanglement, the same end in Thessalonica and before (17: 2-14) – indeed, at the very moment when the author describes the apostle’s public appearance in the marketplace of Athens as a consequence *) of the impression made on him by the sight of the pagan nature of the city, he cannot refrain from inserting in the sentence indicating this consequence the note that the apostle appeared in the synagogue before the Jews, he thus confuses the construction of the sentence to the extent that he separates the consequence from the occasion.

*) 17:17 οὖν

In Corinth the scene is repeated which had already taken place in Antioch: – the apostle first addresses the Jews, teaches in their synagogue, but when they interrupted him with blasphemies, he explained to them that he leaves them to their fate and “now goes vindicated to the Gentiles. (18:5-6.)

In vain – as if he meant only the Gentiles of this one city, in the midst of which he then teaches for a year and a half – as if he were not the Apostle to the Gentiles par excellence, he first teaches again in the synagogue in Ephesus, until the obduracy of the Jews forces him to use the school of a Gentile for his lectures (19:8-9).


In Rome, finally, the same beginning, the same entanglement, but this time a conclusion of really general importance – a really final decision!

Immediately after his hasty arrangements were made, Paul called a meeting of the heads of the Roman Jews – they agreed on a day on which he was to give them a detailed lecture on his teaching – they appeared on the appointed day, Paul preaches to them about Jesus from the law and the prophets – the Jews, however, got into inner discord because of his teaching and left him after he reminded them of the saying of Isaiah about the hardness of heart and obduracy of this people and explained to them that salvation is sent to the Gentiles and that they will hear it (C. 28, 25 – 28). 28, 25 – 28).

This people, the Jewish people and the Gentiles, now stand in opposition to each other with their opposite nature and destiny, decidedly and forever.

The matter is ended, the matter is decided and the author has achieved his purpose.

Paul is and remains the apostle to the Gentiles, but he did not bring about the break with Judaism either wilfully or of his own accord; rather, the Jews, through their obstinacy and obduracy, brought about and forced the break.

Paul was faithful and compliant to Judaism even after his conversion and throughout his entire ministry, but the Jews rejected him and drove him to the Gentiles.

The apostle broke through the barrier of Judaism, but only with the help of the Jews, who pushed him away and thus caused him to go to the Gentiles.


Christianity is universal and also extends to the Gentiles – but only the hatred of the Jews has made it the property of the Gentiles.

By achieving this purpose and brilliantly proving the innocence of the Apostle, the author of the Acts of the Apostles has achieved even more – he has robbed Christianity of its creative and conquering power, and only by the chance that the Jews opposed him, has he made it the principle of life and salvation for the nations – his Paul does not turn to the Gentiles by virtue of his original and independent conviction that salvation belongs to them, but he brings them the gift of the gospel only after the Jews have rejected it – he does not act from the outset in the certainty that the Gentiles are the heirs of salvation, but he brings it to them only after the Jews have dispossessed themselves and made the heavenly treasure ownerless – in short, the author has finally achieved so much that the great turning point that the Paul of the letters brings about through his own conviction and establishes on the basis of the power and universality of the gospel itself is only due to chance – the chance that the Jews did not accept the offered salvation.

And yet he did not achieve his actual intention, as he rather betrayed his intention through the uniformity with which he repeatedly and constantly allows his Paul to turn to the Jews despite his calling as the apostle to the Gentiles and despite all adverse experiences. He exposes his intention completely and at the same time destroys any thought of implementation by letting the Apostle in Rome follow the same maxim and only refer to the disbelief of the Jews as a reason to turn to the Gentiles. In order to achieve his intention, the author must present the matter as if there was no community in Rome yet – he must therefore forget and make his readers forget that at the time when Paul entered Rome as a prisoner, the Epistle to the Romans must already have been written and that the Roman community is presupposed to be world-famous from the same letter – finally, he must speak of the Jews, as Paul explained to them that he carried his chains for the sake of the hope of Israel, in such a way that it is clear that they had not yet had the opportunity to get to know the new sect closely and were only dependent on the rumor that told them that it was being contradicted everywhere (Acts 28:22). However, the author was not completely able to deny the assumption that he had to exclude; rather, by letting “the brothers” (v. 15) from Rome come to meet the Apostle upon his arrival, he unintentionally revealed that he was aware of the assumption that there was already a community in Rome at that time, which was so familiar and insurmountable that he could not completely deny it despite his best intentions. –


We now summarize our investigation.



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Neil Godfrey

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