Volume 19, New Series, June, August 1957 No.'s 3 & 4

ACTS 26:21-23

Here is a brief passage, which, altogether unknown to its writer Luke or to Paul, has in our English translations created a tremendous amount of mischief and misunderstanding. As usual, the cause has been human carelessness; lack of noting, with the greatest care what Luke actually did write.

The blunder goes back, in English versions, beyond the 1611 Bible, to Tyndale (1534) and even to a fourteenth century Old English Version.

Paul was standing before Festus of the well-known loud voice, and the young King Agrippa. I quote the pertinent part of verse 22 as found in the King James Version: "saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come." Even I was deceived by this verse long years ago, and in my first wide-margin Bible (1911) had inserted a note in ink to the effect that "This excludes the Mystery," which I had copied from some important "authority."

Was it actually true that up till this point in Paul's life (say year A.D. 62 or so) he had taught both Jews and Gentiles nothing whatever but what is to be found in the Old Testament? It seems extraordinary that this should be the teaching of certain expositors even today, in view of what Paul wrote to various Gentile Churches during the period covered by Acts.

Even Wiclif appeared to know better. Here is how his quaint old Version reads (1380). It is not too difficult to understand and follow: "but I was holpen bi the help of god in to this day, and stonde witnessynge to lesse and to more, and I seye no thing ellis: thanne whiche thingis the profetis and moises spakun that schuln come, if crist is to suffre, if he is the first of agen risyng of deed men that schal schewe licht to the puple and to hethen men."

The Geneva Version of 1557 goes one better, summing up verse 22 in verse 23 thus: "To wit, that Christ should suffer. . . ." Darby goes on similar lines, "(namely)whether Christ should suffer; whether he first. . .." Rotherham's first translation (1872) reads thus: "nothing else saying than those things which both the prophets said were about to be brought to pass—and Moses;—if the Christ is a sufferer; if—foremost out of a resurrection of the dead—he is about to be declaring light; both to the people and to the Gentiles!"

One reason why I like to read older theological works is that they generally contain some gems of truth, gems, which, alas, are too often permitted to become lost to succeeding generations. There is Webster and Wilkinson's Greek New Testament, now over one hundred years old (1855), with the clear solution of our passage staring us all in the face, yet evidently totally unknown to some modern "dispensational" adventurers. Here is their note: "saying nothing apart from the prophets, on the question whether the Christ is capable of suffering; whether rising first from the dead, he is destined. ."

At this point it might help if we summarized Paul's position. In verse 19 he lets King Agrippa know quite bluntly that he, at least, did not become unyielding as regards the heavenly apparition which God gave him, but he announced to Jews and to Gentiles that they ought to reverse their minds an turn back right on to God, engaging in actions worthy of their repentance. "Due to these things, the Jews apprehending me (of all people) in the sanctuary, attempted to lay hands on me. Happening then, on that assistance which is from God, until this day I have been standing firm, witnessing to small as well as to great, saying nothing outside of what the prophets talk of future things to be occurring—as well as Moses(namely), whether the Messiah is capable of suffering (or, must suffer)—whether He, first out of a resurrection of dead ones is about to be announcing light to the People, as well as to the Gentiles."

Paul was in his element. He was absolutely fearless, rubbing in by the way some strong hints to the King. He knew that he must reach Rome, so his confidence in God never slacked. One has the feeling that both Festus and King Agrippa were made quite uncomfortable.

What Paul did not say, in his fearless and meticulously chosen words, was that for about thirty years he had confined himself entirely to teaching derived exclusively from the Hebrew Scriptures. One would think that teachers who are well aware that the old 1611 Version is often far from being accurate, would be extremely cautious when dealing with a passage such as We are now considering. There is an old saying in Britain, very often overlooked now-a-days, "Look after the pence and the pounds will look after themselves." In North America this would be, "Look after the cents, and the dollars will look after themselves." I agree wholeheartedly with this admirable precept, although when studying the Sacred Scriptures I would put matters thus: "Look after the small points in the grammar of the Greek, and the sense of the whole passage will look after itself."

Here, in verse 23, the Greek uses the tiny word ei twice, meaning if or whether. Everyone of us is aware of the great importance of this word at times. We speak of a "big IF." The IF in verse 23 is very important. Yet some translators have stumbled at this little word, and suggest instead that the Greek should have used the word hoti, meaning "that" —that Christ should suffer, (and) that he should be the first. . .." But this is neither what Paul said or meant. Paul's contention before Festus and Agrippa was that while witnessing to his Jewish opponents, he confined himself to their own Scriptures in respect of two or three of the most important points, which he mentions. Schaff's Commentary on Acts (by Howson and Spence, 1880) expresses the matter well: "Paul is here giving a summary of the usual arguments he made, use of in his preaching respecting the long-expected Messiah. Now the three great questions at issue between the Jew and the Christian were touched upon by him here:—(1) This expected One of Moses and the Prophets was not only a triumphant—such as the Jews loved to dwell on—but a suffering Messiah, (2) This One so long looked for was to be the first-begotten from the dead, the second Adam—the One who should begin a series of developments of life and resurrection for the benefit of mankind (as developed by Paul in 1. Cor. 15 and Rom. 5:17, 18). (3) The Messiah, when He came, should be the Herald of life and light not only to the Jew, but to the despised Gentile."

Prof. F. F. Bruce, of Sheffield University, in his volume on The Acts (page 447) supports the above explanations, saying, "By these headings Luke summarizes the arguments from O.T. used by Paul to Agrippa."

Let us bear in mind the great stumbling-block (Greek skandalon) of the Jews. To them it was a most scandalous idea that their Messiah should come to suffer or live a life of shameful treatment. Even up till the last moment the Lord's own chosen disciples could not believe or tolerate the idea that He, of all people, was to be crucified as a common felon: The Jews asked for signs to guide them, but they failed to understand the many signs their own Scriptures had foretold for centuries. Therefore when Christ came, they stumbled at the scandalous thought of a suffering Messiah. Greeks on the other hand, sought after human wisdom, so to the Gentiles Christ turned out to be absurdity, nonsense (1. Cor. 1:22-24).

That is why Paul used in Acts 26:23 the unusual Greek word pathEtos, only found here. The ordinary participle is found in 1. Peter 2:19, 20 and elsewhere, meaning "suffering." Therefore the word found in Acts 26:23 must mean something different. It is a Verbal Adjective, and its full meaning is "capable of suffering." The Revised Version of 1881, and the Revised Standard Version, read "must suffer." The Companion Bible here has a note, "is liable or destined to suffer." Other Versions express the same idea in other words.

Gloag (on Acts), asking whether the Jews in general believed in a suffering Messiah, says, "they believed in a triumphant and victorious Messiah; and the sufferings of Jesus were a great obstacle to their receiving Him as the Messiah. Hence Paul endeavoured to remove this obstacle, by proving from the books of the prophets that the Messiah was liable to suffering. This constituted the first great point of dispute between Paul and the Jews. The other point had reference to the call of the Gentiles into the Christian church." Meyer (on Acts) says, "What the prophets and Moses have spoken concerning the future, whether (namely) the Messiah is exposed to suffering, etc. Paul expresses himself in problematic form (ei, if), because it was just the point of debate among the Jews whether a suffering Messiah was to be believed in (John. 12:34), as in fact such a one constantly proved an offence unto them (1. Cor. 1:23; Gal. 5:11). Paul in his preaching has said nothing else than what Moses and the prophets have spoken as the future state of the case on this point; he has propounded nothing new, nothing of his own invention concerning it."

Doubtless when Paul and Silas reached Berea (or rather Beroya; Acts 17:10) and found Jews who were really noble-minded and willing to examine the Scriptures, the two must have confined themselves to these Scriptures when dealing with the above main points,(Editor's note; the construction here, especially the latter part of 17:3 implies what could only have been verified by the "four-gospels") which alone would necessitate a great deal of searching. Yet as true Bereans, I imagine they must have studied whole contexts, not merely isolated statements. Gentile students, on the other hand, are far too much inclined to ignore relevant contexts, to their own great loss and confusion.

One expositor quotes one single verse, Acts 26:22, without thinking, apparently that verse 23 is vital to the sense. He then quotes from two paraphrases of verse 22, those by Moffatt and Weymouth. Another expositor, who claims that his understanding of the Scriptures is unique, has for many years quoted Acts 26:22 time after time without as much as troubling to say anything about the following verse. The reason for this, is, of course, that both of these men wish verse 22 to be true as it stands. It suits them to think that Paul divulged nothing outside of the Hebrew Scriptures until a date after the close of the Acts period. Just a few years ago I read the following, that in Acts 17:2 we learn that Paul's manner was to reason out of the Scriptures, summing up his teaching to a certain point, saying: "I continue to this day, witnessing both, to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come" (Acts 26:22). But why could not this writer have been quite honest and quoted verse 23 also, which sums up verse 22? The two verses are obviously joined, and must be taken together. In one case in the year 1938 he did quote verse 23, as Paul's "extension" of verse 22, adding, "This refers particularly to the gospel which Paul had preached." If that is all that can be said about the contents of verse 23, it shews that the writer had totally missed its meaning. A little later he writes as follows: "If upon examination it should be found that the early epistles do contain truth which neither the prophets nor Moses did say should come, then there will have to be a drastic readjustment of our teaching. At the moment, however, our position is that the Mystery (i.e., the Secret of Eph. 3) is not found in these early epistles, and that they belong to a different dispensation."

This seems a very strange pronouncement to come from an expositor who had had about thirty years experience, and a very "Berean" expositor at that. Could he not easily have found out what these early epistles of Paul did say, as to important revelations not made in the Old Testament? Of course anyone knows that "the Mystery" was not revealed in Paul's earlier epistles, although I myself have long thought that its contents were strongly hinted at; and may have been divulged to certain maturer believers.


The fact that the Greek word mustErion, meaning a secret, occurs in Romans, 1. Corinthians, and 2. Thessalonians as many as eight times ought to exclude any dubiety concerning revelations made through these epistles which must have been totally unknown in Old Testament times.

Romans 11:25 reveals a secret quite unknown to the Old Testament, concerning the insensitiveness of the bulk of Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles comes in. Romans 16:25-26 tells of another secret, which was hushed in eonian times, but being manifested in Paul's time, through his prophetic scriptures. This is understood to be what we find in Romans 11:15, world-conciliation or world-change, which is undoubtedly connected with verse 25 of the same chapter, and its secret.

In 1. Cor. 2:7-10 we find Paul talking God's wisdom among mature saints in a secret, which (wisdom) had been concealed; things which eye perceives not, and ear hears not, which never ascended to the human heart, even the deep things of God.

1. Cor. 4:1 reveals that Paul and others were stewards of God's secrets. The two final words here are without definite articles. It does not say, "the secrets of God," as though there were definite or well known secrets. But in ch. 13:2 we note a most interesting difference. The 1611 Version is feeble in saying "And though I. . . . . understand all mysteries." We ought to read "If ever I may. . . . . perceive the secrets all." When the Greek thus sets the word "all" after the noun or pronoun, the word all seems to be more effective, inclusive, and emphatic. Thus, 1. Thess. 5:26, "greet the brethren all"; 1. Cor. 10:1, "our fathers all were under the cloud"; 1. Cor. 15:7, "thereafter by the apostles all."

About thirty years ago the construction in 1. Cor. 13:2 led me to think that very probably Paul at that time was aware of all the secrets, though he could not divulge them until the proper time. Why should he speak at all about "the secrets all"? Does it not seem that he was aware of a set of secrets, a definite number of secrets? He cannot be writing about secrets in general. The definite article here makes them to be definite secrets which he had in mind. In support of this I would remark that all God's secrets are more or less interrelated with the result that it is much easier to learn them as one whole cluster than to learn them sporadically as though they were unrelated.

He who is capable of grasping the meaning of one of the secrets will surely desire to learn more of the other secrets and become initiated into them. Paul informs us in 2. Cor. 12:1-4 that at an earlier period he was "snatched away to a third heaven," and that he was "snatched away into the paradise," and heard unutterable statements which it was not permitted a man to talk of then. He could hardly have ventured into these two regions without learning much about them, and the inhabitants in them in future ages. That these utterances were made to him while he was to all appearances dead in Lystra (Acts 14:19), as suggested in the Concordant Version and elsewhere, is highly probable, and the dates correspond fairly closely. This is much more likely than the date of Acts 9 (Paul's call), the details of which are expanded at Acts 26:13-18.

In 1. Cor. 15:51-54 Paul, divulges a very importaht secret never as much as mentioned, in the Hebrew Scriptures. "Behold, a secret I am telling you." In an eye-twinkle we shall all be changed. The dead saints will be roused, incorruptible. Paul then repeats, "and we shall be changed," and shews how the change will operate. That is to say, verse's 52, to 55 are all concerned with the secret regarding a change, one subject. No revelation like this was ever divulged concerning Israel. This is something entirely new. The "last trump" or "final trumpet," connected with this secret change, can have no connection with any other trumpet. We must not imagine that in the future only one single trump is to be sounded. The next statement in verse 52 says "For He will be trumpeting," or, we might understand it thus, "For it will go on trumpeting." And "in the final trump" the sudden change will take, place. Note also, that Paul brings himself into this sudden and extraordinary change, "and WE shall be changed." What he writes too, concerning the wearing of the image of the celestial, in v. 49, is far more than a mere hint. The whole argument from v. 40 down to v. 49 comes wonderfully near to telling us about a celestial destiny.

Recently I was deeply shocked to read of an extraordinary effort to get rid of the secret revealed in 1. Cor. 15:51. This is contained in the June, 1939 issue of "The Berean Expositor," at page 108. It is well nigh incredible that anyone should write the following words, "in verse 51, we have: Musterion humin legO: 'Do I speak a mystery when I tell you this?'—the implied answer being, of course, 'No.' To sum up, we may conclude that, when the Apostle taught the glorious doctrine of the resurrection, he did not go beyond the testimony of Moses and the Prophets."

Our passage, however, verses 50 to 55, does not mention resurrection. It relates to the change which will take place. It also contains, in v. 51, the word "Behold!" Godet says this is a "call to attention, and the term mustErion, mystery, justifies the call." The Expositors Greek N.T. says, "This bodily change. . . is the object of a momentous revelation communicated to Paul, to which he calls our earnest attention: 'Lo, I tell you a mystery!'" But evidently Mr. C. H. Welch is superior to all expositors and scholars and versions. He coolly ignores the little word "Behold!" utilized by the Holy Spirit, and turns a Divine Truth into a silly and fatuous question, something which not a single translator has, ever dared to do here. In all the other 212 cases where the Greek word idou (behold, lo, see) occurs, not a single time is it part of a question. This fact ought to be final. The Differentiator dares not stand back and knowingly allow God's revelations to be played with.

The same reprehensible methods have been employed when, dealing with Romans 11:25. Although Major Withers has descanted on this on pages 158 and 159 of our August, 1956 issue, I should like to add my comments. The "Berean Expositor" of April, 1939, quotes a few verses from the Old Testament to prove the blindness of Israel. This, however, was never a secret (see Rom. 11:8). The secret of Rom. 11:25 has to do with the duration of Israel's stupor. To palm off Isa. 29:18, "the eyes of the blind shall see (out of obscurity)" as proof of Israel's blindness or the period of that blindness, is childish and very far-fetched. But we are then told, "The secret of Romans 11. is here, for those who are able to discern it." Anyone who possesses this ability must be extraordinarily wise and gifted.

Then we are taken to Deut. 29:29 and a note from the Companion Bible on the meaning of the verse is given: "The secret things, even the revealed things (belong) to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law, i.e., the revealed things, and the secret things which have not been, but will yet be revealed." Unfortunately, Dr. Bullinger's punctuation has been manipulated: his inverted commas finish with the word law. The New World version here explains the great difficulty in the disputed Hebrew text, and translates thus: "The things concealed belong to Jehovah our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons to time indefinite, that we may carry out all the words of this law." The Revised Standard Version follows the same order of words, ignoring the words in the Hebrew which were dotted by the Sopherim as doubtful (see Note in Rotherham).

The fact remains, however, that the secret of Rom. 11:25 was revealed in an epistle sent mainly to Gentiles. Further, would it be true to say that Jews in general today are (1) aware of their own blindness, and (2) aware when that blindness will end? The Jew today does not even know that his God is calling out Gentiles.

Not One of the passages cited in the "Berean Expositor" is relevant to its argument. Dust is cast into the eyes of its readers, in an artificial attempt to get rid of important Divine revelations which totally overthrow the invention called the "Dispensational Boundary" at the end of the book of Acts, and the absurd idea that during the whole period covered by Acts Paul proclaimed "None Other Things" than were mentioned in the Old Testament.


With one statement in The "Berean Expositor" (May, 1956) I thoroughly agree: The events which took place in the year A.D. 70 "make a change of the attitude of God to the Gentiles imperative, if salvation is not to die out of the earth. What God would do, should Israel fail, no one could tell, for such an event is neither foreshadowed nor discussed."

But perhaps there were foreshadowings. Perhaps Ephesians 3 was not only a "legitimate expansion of Paul's earlier Epistles," but a necessary expansion, something which mature Gentiles must have suspected or expected, knowing God as they did. Had we lived then, I. Thess. 4 (snatched away in clouds), like 1. Cor. 15 (bodies celestial), would inevitably have made us look to the skies and the heavens, while Gal. 3:28 just as clearly points to a "Joint Body."

What does the Ephesian Epistle say for itself? Although it contains the first written revelation, in black and white, conceming the blessings and nature of the Joint Body, Paul makes the historic announcement in the most undemonstrative terms, almost as though he was putting on record, for future generations, what he had already told the Ephesians and others.

There is nothing like the sudden rousing trumpet call of 1. Cor. 15:51, "Behold! a secret to you I am telling!" He does not say here, the secret, but a secret, something quite new, now being revealed for the first time. But in Eph. 3:2-3 Paul placidly relates that "Since surely you heard of the administration of the grace of God (that being given to me for you)—that by way of revelation the secret was made known to me,"—assuming they already knew what he meant by the secret, and that they had surely heard about it. Perhaps this is why v. 6 simply says, "the Gentiles to be"—not "are to be" (henceforth)? The publication of this secret was the natural and inevitable outcome of all Paul's earlier Epistles.

"NONE OTHER THINGS" (continued)

We have seen that Paul made public, and set in writing in Ephesians 3:1-6 for the benefit of future generations, including ourselves, what was clearly known already to some of the spiritual members in the churches of his day. Verse 2 of this passage makes this crystal clear. There is as little dubiety in the meaning of the first two Greek words here as there is in, 2. Cor. 5:3 (ei ge, "since surely").

Almost all translators and commentators are in line with a rendering such as the following: "Since you surely heard of the stewardship of the grace of God which is being given me for you: that by revelation the secret was made known to me. . . ." Even although the two verbs, "heard" and "was made known" are in the aorist or timeless form in the Greek, it cannot be denied that they refer to the past. Paul was in prison, about one thousand miles away from the Ephesians, thus he could not say they were "surely hearing" something new at that moment. The verb is not in the present tense, so it must refer to some time in the past.

Alford thus renders: "if, that is (ei ge 'assuming that': The Ephesians had heard all this, and St. Paul was now delicately reminding them of it . . .), ye heard of the economy of the grace of God. . . . how that by revelation. . ." A. S. Way thus paraphrases, "you have surely heard of the stewardship. .. . . You have heard that it was by direct revelation, that the mystic secret of God's purpose was made known to me." Cunnington in his Adelphi N.T. (1919) reads, "if indeed ye have heard. . . . how that by revelation," but in his Western N.T. (1926) he alters to "for surely ye have heard. . . . how that. . .." Moffatt reads, "for surely you have heard how the grace of God. . . . how the divine secret. . . .." Scarlett (1798) says, "seeing ye have heard .. . . that he revealed to me the mystery...." The New World version reads, "if, really, you have heard about the stewardship. . . . that by way of a revelation. . . . ." Dewes reads, "I take for granted ye heard. . . . how that the mystery was made known to me by revelation." Olshausen states that the subordinate clause, "that by way of revelation. . . ." defines the idea of the chief clause, "if surely ye heard. . . ." more accurately. He gives to ei ge the meaning "that is to say, if you, as I may suppose, have heard." Eph. 4:21 shews the force of this expression, "Now you did not thus learn the Christ, since surely you heard Him, and in Him you were taught."

The illustrious Prof. Frederic Godet of Switzerland even went back to the final few verses of Romans 16 to discover strong hints of the contents of Eph. 3:3-5, by comparing similar expressions in both passages (revelation, revealed; times eonian, in other ages; being made known, not made known; prophetic Scriptures, apostles and prophets).

That the Ephesian Epistle was in the nature of an encyclical, passed round among the various Pauline ecclesias, is now generally agreed. Paul instructed that the Colossian Epistle should be read (or studied) in the Laodicean ecclesia, while a Laodicean Epistle was to be read by the Colossians (Col. 4:16). And it should be clear that all Paul's Epistles must have been thus passed around. The idea that certain ecclesias such as those at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, and Thessalonica only received their own Epistles, and that these Epistles pertained only to blessings to be enjoyed on earth in the millennial Kingdom, while the ecclesias at Ephesus, Philippi, and Colosse were blessed with all spiritual blessings in the celestial regions, must shew up Paul in a most unfavourable light, besides setting forth the God of all Grace as one who shews respect of persons. When Paul spent two years at Ephesus, he must surely have taught Gentiles the same truths as he had already taught other Gentiles.

That there existed for about five or ten years a brief "dispensation" which lasted until Paul reached Rome, during which 1. Cor. 15:51-54 was current truth and expectation, which at Rome Paul suddenly caused to be obsolete, and replaced by an expectation quite different, is hard to believe. God does not operate so clumsily, as though He were like so many human beings who never know their own minds.

One might logically enquire, will Galatians 3:28 be true of Gentiles during the Millennium, "for all you are one in Christ Jesus," or will it then be true that there is "neither Jew nor Greek"?

Long before Paul sailed to Rome, he must have been well aware that the chiefs of the Jews there were as insensitive as those in the Land. Doubtless he was surprised to find them at least not unfriendly, but willing to listen to him. Yet the fact that there was no unreasonable spite or bitterness only shewed up the insensitiveness of the bulk of them all the more. And that was all he required to know.

Thus it is not unreasonable to think that Paul may have dropped very plain hints among the maturer saints of the Gentiles as to what was to eventuate. In fact, Paul sails very close to the wind in Romans 11 Verse 7 reveals that what Israel is pursuing after, she did not encounter. Verse 11 says "by their falling-aside is salvation to the Gentiles," while the next verse says this falling-aside is a world's riches, and their discomfiture is riches of Gentiles. Hitherto, in all the New Testament, there has been no mention of Israel's "falling-aside" (paraptOma). This is very significant.

Then in verse 15 Paul refers boldly to two climacteric phases in the long history of Israel. "For if their castingaway (apobolE) is world-conciliation, what (will be) the taking-back (proslEmpsis) if not life from among dead ones?" Paul uses no subjunctive mood here, as though to say, "If they should be cast away," or, "what would a taking-back be?" Challis renders by the words "rejection" and "reception into favour." As world conciliation was already in force (Rom. 5:10-11; 2. Cor. 5:18-21), along with new creation, and as God had given to Paul and others the ministry of the Conciliation and the word of the Conciliation, one can only conclude that Israel's casting-away must persist for a considerable time.

Romans 11 comes very near to saying that God's Eonian Nation was no longer His People. But if there was to be any future "taking-back," there must of necessity also be a remnant left, when the bulk of the nation was cast away, or the Nation would altogether have become like Sodom and Gomorrah. That is to say, the existence of a remnant, and a remnant only (as Rom. 9:27 clearly implies), signifies that God had cast off the bulk of the Nation. The Greek word here (hupoleimma, literally, under-left) contains the sense of secrecy, concealment, something out of sight and probably diminished, as shewn in Dunbar's Lexicon.

There exists also the further implication that this casting-away of the bulk of Israel must continue for a considerable time. This follows from Rom. 10:21, "Now toward Israel He is saying, 'The whole day do I spread out My hands toward a people unyielding and contradicting.'" And now they were more unyielding than ever.

If, as Mr. C. H. Welch has claimed (Berean Expositor, April, 1939), the secret of Romans 11:25 was actually revealed in the Old Testament (see my previous chapter in The Differentiator for June), and was therefore no secret when Paul divulged it as a secret, why does Mr. Welch, on page 40 of The Berean Expositor of 1941 write that, "The dispensational section of Romans had a secret the making known of which illuminated the problem resulting from Israel's failure (Rom. 11:25), and this is the theme of another doxology, namely that which closes Romans 11 at verses 33-36"? So there was a secret after all, there was a "problem"?

As for the doxology, does it not arise here from the fact that Paul has reached that point which Mr. Welch, for nearly fifty years, has been calling his "Dispensational Boundary" or "Frontier," although Mr. Welch has all along placed his Frontier at Acts 28:28?

On the same page 40 as is quoted from above, Mr. Welch writes, "If Israel should finally fail and fall, the prophets had nothing to tell us of how God would cope with the resulting problem." Quite true, but while Israel had been steadily failing and falling for years since they crucified their Messiah, Paul had been building up the Body of Christ, which was to continue its witness to Divine Truth for the impending centuries. Romans 11:11 makes it clear that Israel had at least tripped or stumbled, and by their falling-aside the Salvation (came) to the Gentiles. Undoubtedly the Salvation of God had reached the Gentiles, but nowhere is there the slightest hint in Paul's Epistles that these Gentiles would find their expectation in the Millennium.

ROMANS 15:8-13

In his pamphlet, "The Dispensational Frontier" (1953), and also elsewhere, Mr. C. H. Welch labours hard to maintain that the "Hope of Israel" extends from Acts 1:6 to Acts 28:20, to the very frontiers of the dispensation, and then it abruptly ends.

I have already proved, grammatically, that he was grievously mistaken regarding Paul's chain in Acts 28:20 (see The Differentiator for October, 1955, pages 214-216). It was due to the false expectation or hope of unbelieving Israel that Paul had been put in chains. Had the Nation entertained the real and proper hope as stated in their own Scriptures, namely, the Messiah Himself, they would have supported Paul, instead of persecuting him.

Mr. Welch then deals with the argument contained in Romans 15:8-13. He boldly states that "Romans fifteen. . . . speaks of the 'hope' entertained by believing Gentiles towards the close of Paul's public ministry. After writing 1. Thess. 4, and 1. Cor. 15, and other passages relative to the hope of the Church during the Acts, the Apostle gives as his last word on the subject before his first ministry ceased (Acts 20:22-25), in the last epistle of the period, the epistle to the Romans:
"There  shall be a root  of  Jesse,  and He that shall rise to reign
 over the Gentiles; in Him shall the Gentiles HOPE (elpizo); now
 the God  of that  HOPE  (elpis)  fill you with all joy and peace in
believing." (Rom. 15:12, 13).

Then he adds, "Here the hope of the church is based upon the prophecy of Isaiah eleven, and is focussed upon the millennial kingdom." After shewing that the "one hope" of Eph. and Col. cannot be millennial in character, he continues, "there is one hope extending throughout the whole period covered by the Acts of the Apostles, endorsed by Paul in his epistles, and clinched by his reference in Acts 28:20, and that is, 'The hope of Israel'" He then quotes Acts 1:6 and 26:6-7. But surely with regard to the latter it cannot be affirmed that the Twelve Tribes genuinely expected to attain to the promise which came to be by God unto the fathers? Doubtless, they continued offering divine service night and day. But of what avail could this be if at the same time they rejected their Messiah? It was Paul who possessed the true expectation concerning which he was indicted by Jews.

Mr. Welch then continues:
"If the evidence of these  four crucial  passages Acts 1:6, 26:6, 7,
Romans 15:12, 13 and Acts 28:20 is not sufficient to prove to out
critics  that  the hope that covers  this whole  period of the Acts,
together with the churches that were called into being while  the
Acts  was in  making,  is one and  the same, nothing we  can add
can be expected to bring conviction, but we cannot let the matter
 pass without registering  our  concern at  the blindness  and ob-
stinacy of any believer who, could so react  to these  statements
of Holy Writ. . . ."

If Romans 15:12-13 states the "hope that was before the church during the Acts period," would it not have been wiser had Mr. Welch first of all given a proper explanation of Romans 15? Apparently the sight of four quotations from the Old Testament has decided his mind. These must be "millennial." What connection could they have with members of the Body of Christ?

In a "structure" of the book of Romans, in The Berean Expositor of March, 1926, ch. 15:8-33 is set down as "Relation of Jewish and Gentile believers." In the Concordant Version structure ch. 15:8-21 is set down as referring to "Previous Ministry." Mr. Welch's description seems much better, if it covers down to verse 21 only.

Chapter 14 deals with sundry observances, eating, judging others, giving an account to God. What is the main theme in ch. 15? It begins with our serving others. The Old Testament was written for our teaching, so that we might have hope, or expectation. The people of the world are without any definite hope, but we have a clear hope (made known in 1. Cor. 15 and 1. Thess. 4). With one mind and mouth we should glorify God, and this can best be done by receiving one another. "Wherefore be taking one another to yourselves, according as the Christ also took you to Himself, for God's glory." Verse 8 then follows, with a reason: "For I am saying, Christ has become servant of Circumcision for the sake of God's truthfulness, unto confirming the patriarchal promises; yet the Gentiles to glorify God for the sake of mercy. . . . ."

Here Thomas Lewin, M.A. (Life and Epistles of St. Paul) 1874) has a good note: "Christ came to the Gentiles, not to fulfil the promises (which were made exclusively to the Jews), but out of the mercy of God; and the Gentiles, therefore, who receive the Gospel, not by promise but by mercy, ought the more on that account to glorify God."

This leads Paul to think of other cases where God does or will shew mercy to Gentiles, and he cites four cases in the O.T. which prophesied this. Those who once were "without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12) now find God the Merciful.

It matters little whether the four citations from the O.T. refer to Paul's day, our day, or the Millennium. The point for us is, that we as Gentiles have obtained mercy. Let us then glorify the God of mercy by receiving one another as Christ received us, in mercy. If we really believe in that mercy, we shall reckon every brother and sister superior to ourselves. But if we look down on the beliefs of another, then we have lost sight of the mercy which saved us.

Anyone who sets up his special brand of "Truth" is really forming his own sect, and thus trampling on God's mercy. It is to be hoped that there will never arise something termed "Differentiator Truth," because that would mean the creation of a sect.

What Paul is not doing in the 15th of Romans is to point the Roman saints to the Millennium. Much of Psalm 68 has been reckoned as millennial, but the fact that verse 18 is quoted in Eph. 4:8 does not necessarily make the whole Epistle or any of it millennial. Exodus 20:12 will undoubtedly find a glorious fulfilment during the Millennium. Yet it is quoted in Eph. 6:2-3. Does that mean that the Body of Christ will co-exist with Israel on earth in the Millennium?

Prof. F. Godet of Neuchatel, whose commentary on Romans was translated into English from the French in 1881, expresses much the same ideas as Lewin, but lays more stress upon the Christian hope. But the four citations in Rom. 15 from the O.T. did not arouse in his mind the thought that the hope of the Roman believers was the Millennium. In fact, Godet sees in these quotations the "future participation of the Gentiles" in divine blessing.

"For as much as was written before was written for our (special; hEmeteran) teaching, that through the endurance and through the comfort of the Scriptures we may have the expectation." Godet says that it is through these dispositions (endurance and comfort) that we are kept at the height of Christian hope which anticipates the joy of perfect salvation. To acquire these graces, we must go not only to the Scriptures, but to God Himself, and these graces will pave the way for communion of hearts, all together aspiring vehemently after the same supreme good, as the common impulse. This produces common adoration, and the ideal is attained, the union of the entire church, composed of Jews and Gentiles, the Jews celebrating God's faithfulness and truthfulness, and the Gentiles magnifying His grace and mercy. Godet says this is the meaning of the passage, vv. 8 to 13.

In his later volume, "Introduction of the New Testament Paul's Epistles" (1892), Godet again refers to Romans 15:1-13, pointing out that at Rome, although the decided majority of the believers was of Gentile birth, a certain duality existed betwixt Jews and Gentlles. Paul therefore invited these two classes to receive each other as Christ had received them both, and to unite their voices in a common and yet varied thanksgiving, the one part glorifying tbe faithfulness of God in the fulfilment of His old promises made to their fathers, the other celebrating His bounty, His mercy towards the most fallen beings, the Gentiles, to whom He has given all, without having promised them anything. "Thus will be fulfilled the magnificent future predicted by the psalmists and the prophets. May the Spirit of the Lord effect it!"

I do not know of any fairly modern expositor who has exhibited such great shrewdness as Prof. Godet (1812-1900). His opinions are always worth studying. He had a most penetrating vision, and was quite free from theological extravagances. In passing, it might be added that in the same volume he gives it as his opinion that the date of the event mentioned in 2. Cor. 12:1-4 (say about A.D. 44) was the time when "there was granted to him (Paul) that rapture to the third heaven which he kept so long secret, "including" the mystery of the union of Christ and the Church."

It is freely admitted that most expositors have failed to explain Romans 15:8-13. To bring in here the Millennium in any way as the hope of believers would be to stultify Paul altogether and ruin his argument, not to mention dishonouring the God of inspiration. The passage is concerned with the conduct of the believers, not their destiny.

Unfortunately, I do not expect Mr. Welch to change his mind on any of the above matters. On the second page of his first volume in 1909 he held the same view concerning Rom. 15, and seems to have reiterated it at times ever since.