This is Chapter 18 of the book titled The Destiny of Israel and the Twilight of Christianity: In Quest of the Meaning and Significance of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, by John Saggio.










With the writing of the Book of Revelation, the death of King Herod Agrippa I, and the murder of the Apostle James, the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh enters into a new season. The Ecclesia of Jesus the Messiah also advances into middle adulthood. The Book of Revelation prepares the Saints for the imminent arrival of the great persecution and affliction associated with the time of Jacob’s trouble.

The death of King Herod Agrippa I marks the end of the Herodian line of rule over Judea, preparing the way for the last two decadent, counterfeit kings representing the Wild Beast of Apostate Israel. These two kings are insanely mad, the second worse than the first. They arise partly as a result of the inefficient and arrogant Roman procurators replacing King Herod Agrippa I, but mostly as a result of the poisonous injection of covenantal arrogance into Apostate Israel by The Adversary, enhancing the already developing decadent mind and heart of Cainite Israel.

The murder of the Apostle James (about 44 a.d.) foreshadows the great affliction soon to come upon the Kingdom of Priests. At the death of the Apostle James, no one is appointed as his successor. There would be no succession of any of the twelve Apostles. The spiritual warfare would be triumphantly completed within the course of the generation of the Twelve Apostles. The death of any of the Twelve Apostles reflected his ultimate sharing in the sufferings of Jesus the Messiah. At his, or their, resurrection, he, or they, would be gloriously restored to his, or their, throne of rule in the Celestial Jerusalem (the metaphorical Wife of the Lamb having entered into the Celestial Allotment prepared for her by Jesus the Messiah, her metaphorical husband by covenantal marriage).

The death of the Apostle James is countered by the extended mission of the Kingdom of Priests under the new, distinct apostleship of Paul added to the Ecclesia by Jesus the Messiah Himself. Paul is not appointed as James’ successor. James had been an Apostle to the circumcision. Paul does not sit upon the vacated throne of James. Paul is the commissioned Apostle to the Nations, the Uncircumcised. He is given authority to administrate the secret of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah: the Gospel of the Uncircumcision. James had been commissioned as one of the Twelve Apostles to the circumcision, the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh generated at Pentecost. He had proclaimed and taught the Gospel of the Circumcision, even as Peter is still in the process of proclaiming and teaching the same Gospel.

Thus, these three events contribute to the downward spiral of Apostate Israel’s mad, insane revolt against Rome to take place just 20 years hence. King Herod Agrippa I murders the Apostle James, pleasing the apostate Jews by offering them more intoxicating wine, thereby adding to their apostate zealousness. The Commander-In-Chief of the spiritually armed forces of the Kingdom of Priests, the New Israel of Yahweh, answers this assault upon His kingdom with the commissioning of a dynamically new apostleship, the apostleship to the uncircumcised nations, infuriating apostate Jewry with a distorted jealousy, adding to their intoxicated state of mind and heart.

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The Commissioning of Barnabas and Saul by the Spirit

In Antioch of Syria the spirit of Yahweh and His Anointed Son had led the Saints to evangelize the Greeks. As a result, many Greeks had believed and turned back to Yahweh, subjecting themselves to the lordship of Jesus the Messiah. This unique turn of events caused the faithful Saints to be designated as Messianics by those Jews remaining unconvinced of the Gospel. However, this designation did not yet result in a split between those Jews believing Jesus to be the promised Messiah and those Jews still in doubt. The Messianics were tolerated, and open dialogue between the two Jewish perspectives continued to occur. The debate revolved around the identity of Jesus the Nazarene and the relationship between the Mosaic Covenant and the newly consecrated Davidic Covenant. This debate was carried on within the confines of Judaism (the Temple and the synagogues). The Messianics were not yet perceived as Jewish heretics and were not yet compelled to withdraw from the synagogues. Many Jews were turning to Jesus as Messiah (Acts 2:41; 4:4, 32; 6:7a; 11:24). Among the priests themselves, “a vast throng . . . obeyed the faith” (Acts 6:7b CV). The Gospel of Jesus the Messiah was reaching the hearts of a multitude of Jews. The power of the spirit of Yahweh was most evident. Even the aristocratic rulers and teachers could not refute the legitimacy of the miraculous deeds being performed by the Apostles and faithful servants of Jesus the Messiah (Acts 4:15-16).

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The Encounter with Bar-Jesus: A Magician, a False Prophet, a Jew

Having been called by the spirit “for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2b CV), the Saints of the ecclesia in Antioch of Syria, after fasting and praying, consecrate Barnabas and Saul for their mission by “placing their hands on them” (Acts 13:3 CV), sending them away in confirmational obedience to the instruction of the spirit (about 45 a.d.). Jesus had previously revealed to His disciples that the spirit would be sent to them, and this spirit of truth would not be speaking from itself, but would be speaking that which it heard from Jesus Himself,

Yet whenever that may be coming—the spirit of truth—it will be guiding you into all the truth [of the Gospel], for it will not be speaking from itself, but whatsoever it should be hearing will it be speaking, and of what is coming will it be informing you. (John 16:13 CV)

Leaving Antioch of Syria, Barnabas and Saul head for the coast city of Seleucia. From this port city they will sail to the island of Cyprus, the native land of Barnabas. Arriving in the coast city of Salamis, they begin to announce the word of Yahweh, the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, in the synagogues of the Jews throughout the whole island. At this time, John Mark accompanies them in the work assigned them by Jesus the Messiah through the guidance of the spirit of truth. Arriving at the western coast port city of Paphos, they encounter “a certain man, a magician, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-Jesus . . .” (Acts 13:6 CV).

This Jew was associated with a Roman proconsul named Sergius Paul. Apparently, he was retained by Sergius Paul as a court astrologer, an advisor to the proconsul in official and personal affairs. Astrological knowledge and apothecary skills were highly valued in the ancient world for the wisdom derived from foretelling the future. Bar-Jesus was a Jew skilled in astrological interpretation of times, seasons, and events, as well as conjuration associated with the mixture and manipulation of chemical elements, thereby performing useful magical feats. According to the Mosaic Law, Israelites are forbidden to dabble in astrology and apothecary magic (see Deut. 4:19; 18:10-12; Lev. 19:26). Thus, Bar-Jesus is another example of apostate Jewry mingling with the ways of the nations.

Bar-Jesus in Hebrew means son of Yahweh Who saves. He is here described as a certain man, a magician, a false prophet, a Jew. He, thus, represents apostate Jewry. He is a counterfeit Jesus, a counterfeit son of Yahweh who attempts to save in his own name and power (Elymas, magician) the gentile Sergius Paul. He does not manifest or reflect the healing/saving light of Yahweh’s Law. He reflects a counterfeit light, an alien light derived from the darkness of the disapproved, distorted, contaminated mind of the wayward nations. In this, he shames, dishonors Yahweh the True and Living Elohim of Israel. He is a false prophet in the likeness of the wizards, the magicians, the sorcerers of the nations dwelling in their own unholy outer darkness of a non-covenantal relationship to the Only True and Living Elohim (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).

Thus, Israel, like Bar-Jesus, is dwelling and operating in the darkness of her own traditions and commandments conjured up by apostate and pseudo-shepherds seeking their own honor and welfare rather than the honor of Yahweh and the welfare of Yahweh’s people. Israel, therefore, is being called by Yahweh, by means of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, to “Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezk. 18:31 NASB). Israel, blinded by her own traditions and commandments, is working in darkness while the light of Yahweh’s Law has continued to shine upon her. By faithfully choosing to take heed to the Gospel, she makes for herself a new heart and a new spirit, thereby causing her covenantal cataracts to fall from her eyes, even as the scales fell from the eyes of Saul after his change of heart and spirit on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9:17-18).

Sergius Paul, an intelligent man (Acts 13:7 CV), hearing the proclamation of Barnabas and Saul, summons Barnabas and Saul in order to hear in more detail the word of the one and only living and true Elohim. He is open to and eager to hear this saving/healing word in contrast to Bar-Jesus (Elymas, the magician) who “withstood them, seeking to pervert the proconsul from the faith” (Acts 13:8 CV), even as Saul had done in relation to Stephen and the persecution of the Messianics after Stephen’s assassination.

At this point in Luke’s narrative, Saul is referred to no longer by his Hebrew name Saul (meaning asked for, alluding to Israel’s request for a king after the likeness of the nations, revealing her rebellious arrogance). He is now, and continues to be referred to by his Graeco-Roman name, Paul (meaning little one, alluding to his new heart and new spirit self-initiated after his humiliating confrontation with the exalted Jesus on the road to Damascus, revealing Saul’s humble subjection to the will of Yahweh his only legitimate King and to Jesus His Anointed Son reigning on the throne of David). Thus, Bar-Jesus symbolically represents disobedient, rebellious, arrogant Israel seeking to be like the nations in contrast to Saul/Paul who symbolically represents obedient, faithful, humble Israel repenting of her former request for a king after the likeness of the nations and seeking to be holy even as her Elohim is holy (Lev. 11:44-45).

Paul, being filled with the spirit (Acts 13:9), confronts Bar-Jesus. Imperiously looking him straight in the eye, Paul rebukes him, authoritatively decreeing,

O, full of all guile and all knavery, son of the Adversary, enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord [Yahweh]? And now, lo! the hand of the Lord is on you, and you shall be blind, not observing the sun until the appointed time. (Acts 13:10-11a CV)

Bar-Jesus is blinded, symbolically representing the covenantal condition of Apostate Israel from the time she asked for a king after the likeness of the nations. She had perverted the straight ways of Yahweh, which John the Baptist and Jesus had been sent to restore:

And he [John the Baptist] came into the entire country about the Jordan, heralding a baptism of repentance for the pardon of sins [make yourself a new heart and a new spirit], as it is written in the scroll of the sayings of Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one imploring: ‘In the wilderness make ready the road of the Lord [Yahweh]! Straight. . . . be making the highways’” of Him! (Luke 3:3-4 CV)

This blindness would last until the appointed time of Yahweh. The appointed time refers to the approach portion of the Parousia (Approach/Arrival) of Jesus the Messiah. At that time, the blind and ignorant Israelites of Yahweh under the deception of Apostate Israel (like Saul of Tarsus before his encounter with the exalted and revealed Jesus the Messiah) will turn back to Yahweh, repenting and believing the Gospel (making their hearts new and their spirits new), thereby having their eyes opened to the revelation of the glory of Jesus the Messiah in His glorified Ecclesia (even as Saul of Tarsus had his eyes opened as a result of his beholding the exalted glory of the revealed Jesus the Messiah on the road to Damascus). Apostate Israelites would also have their eyes opened as she would experience the judgment previously pronounced by Jesus and His Ecclesia (the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple). In the course of this destruction, they would be in essence beholding the Parousia of Jesus the Messiah.

Sergius Paul, beholding with his eyes the blinding of Bar-Jesus, perceives with his intelligent mind the power of the word of Yahweh the only living and true Elohim. He then proceeds to believe the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the good news addressed to the uncircumcised, Sergius Paul being intellectually and emotionally-in-heart “astonished at the teaching of the Lord [Yahweh and His Anointed Son/King](Acts 13:12 CV). Paul and Barnabas, representing the Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh, exemplify the proper relationship of Israel to the nations. The Israel of Yahweh announcing the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah is now, in fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, a light unto the nations to the glory and honor of Yahweh and His Anointed Son.

This Israel humbly submits herself to the reign of Yahweh’s elective Davidic Son, Jesus the Messiah, the New Davidic Warrior-King. This Israel faithfully follows Jesus the Messiah into spiritual warfare, courageously proclaiming the truth of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah and sharing in the sufferings of her Lord and King. Such is her contrast with Bar-Jesus and Apostate Israel. This Born-From-Above Israel obeys and fulfils the command of Yahweh, “Holy shall you become, for I am holy, Yahweh your Elohim” (Lev. 19:2 CV). This Israel of Yahweh has set herself apart for Yahweh’s service, making His ways straight on behalf of the welfare of Israel and the nations. This Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh has separated herself from the present crooked and evil generation of Apostate Israel (Phil. 2:15; Deut. 32:5).

Thus, the gentiles, the uncircumcised, the nations are now being blessed by the Seed of Abraham, Jesus the Messiah. The commissioning of Paul and Barnabas by the spirit speaking for Jesus the Messiah continues the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, . . .” (Gen. 22:18 KJV, see also Gal. 3:16). The light of Yahweh’s Gospel has blessed Sergius Paul upon his receiving by faith the truth concerning Jesus the Messiah the Seed of Abraham. This blessing is in spite of the effort of Bar-Jesus to “pervert the proconsul from the faith” (Acts 13:8 CV). The Adversary has been bound and cast into the submerged chaos of the land of Apostate Israel, hindering him from deceiving the nations (Rev. 20:1-3). Bar-Jesus attempts to deceive Sergius Paul, but is revealed to be powerless to accomplish his purpose. He is an enemy of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. His attempt to pervert and twist the straight ways of Yahweh in relation to the uncircumcised Sergius Paul is frustrated, vanquished, resulting in his own helplessness, his own dependence on the graciousness of his uncircumcised host, “he sought someone to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:11b CV).

The proclamation of the Gospel of the Uncircumcision cannot be hindered by Apostate Israel. It will not return to Yahweh void. It can be opposed by its enemies, but its success cannot be averted. The military operation of the invading New Davidic Kingdom continues its advancement, conquering its enemies while liberating the numerous captives held in bondage by The Adversary.

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The First Commissioned Synagogical Proclamation of the Gospel by
Paul Recorded in the Greek Scriptures

The spirit had chosen Barnabas and Saul for a significant mission in the proclamation of the Gospel. Saul had already been informed by Jesus the Messiah of his unique apostleship to the nations (the uncircumcised). In Arabia (about 34/35 a.d.) he had been instructed in the Gospel of the Uncircumcision. With the binding blindness disabling Bar-Jesus (the false Jewish prophet) and the liberating salvation of the uncircumcised Sergius Paul (demonstrating the healing of the wounded relationship between Yahweh Elohim and the nations), the leadership of the spirit-directed mission changes from Barnabas to Paul, the Apostle to the nations.

Paul had been commissioned with the Gospel of the Uncircumcision. He has now begun to administer this Gospel affecting the relationship of Yahweh with the gentiles. This secret of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah would become an offense of stumbling to many Jews. John Mark, apparently, is an example of a believing Messianic Jew who is religiously shaken at Yahweh’s grace administered to the uncircumcised gentiles having no association with a Jewish synagogue. Like Jonah, John Mark is upset with Yahweh’s unexpected graciousness to the gentiles at the expense of the Jews (the humiliation of Bar-Jesus, a Jew). This unbecoming hubris (excessive arrogant pride due to the Jewish perception of divine election) is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah as revealed by the spirit through the revelation of the secret of this Gospel, the Gospel of the Uncircumcision associated with Abram the uncircumcised elect forefather of the entire seed of faithful ones.

Due to his unbecoming hubris which was contrary to the direction of the spirit, John Mark departs from the mission, returning to Jerusalem. Bar-Jesus, a Jew, had been humiliated; an uncircumcised Roman proconsul having no association with a Jewish synagogue had been blessed at the expense of a Jew; and Barnabas, the son of consolation, who had been in the faith prior to Saul’s entrance and had been a mediator between the former persecutor Saul and the Apostles in Jerusalem (about 33 a.d.), had been (from John Mark’s perception) demoted in status. John Mark’s Judaistic religious foundation had been shaken. His special Jewish relationship with Yahweh seemed to be compromised.

From John Mark’s perspective, this could not be from Yahweh. It contradicted all he had been taught his entire life. He could not condone such abominable events. Separating himself from those shocking events, he later was able to reevaluate these events in light of a more precise understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. In spite of a later dispute between Paul and Barnabas concerning John Mark’s fitness to return to the mission (Acts 15:36-39), John Mark, having discerned the truth of the secret of the Gospel, would later become useful to Paul in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah (see 2 Tim. 4:11).

Paul, having now been guided by the spirit to initiate his apostleship given him by the exalted Christ, assumes leadership of the mission. He and Barnabas, along with some faithful Jews who had responded to the Gospel during the ministry throughout the island of Cyprus, passing through Perga of Pamphylia and arriving in Antioch of Pisidia, enter the local synagogue on the day of the sabbaths (a day upon which fell more than one sabbath). After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the chiefs of the synagogue, according to custom, invite the men of the congregation to share a word of exhortation, “Men, brethren, if there is in you any word of entreaty for the people, say it” (Acts 13:15b CV).

The people here referred to are the Jews. Rising from his seat, Paul begins to address his kinsmen, “Men, Israelites, and those who are fearing God [Yahweh], hear!” (Acts 13:16 CV). The God-fearers in the congregation (the uncircumcised) are not primarily the object of Paul’s words. They are outsiders overhearing what Paul is saying to his kinsmen, the Jews. What is addressed to the Jews, however, will be important to the God-fearers as those deeply concerned about the relationship of Yahweh to His people. For they are aware that through Israel they will be blessed. Thus, these God-fearers listen intently to what is spoken to the Jews.

Paul first identifies the Elohim of Israel as the Elohim Who had chosen “our fathers” (Acts 13:17). Thus, Paul identifies himself and his Jewish audience as kinsmen worshiping and serving Yahweh Elohim Who had chosen their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He alludes to Abraham as the recipient of the covenant of circumcision. This covenant was associated with Jacob’s sojourn in Egypt and the exaltation of the covenanted people during the time of Joseph’s rule in Egypt.

Paul passes over the period of Egyptian bondage, continuing the history of the elect people under Moses and the exodus out of Egypt. Yahweh had blessed the circumcised sons of Abraham and Jacob in the land of Egypt and had led them out of Egypt into the land of Canaan promised to Abraham. In the process, He had expelled seven nations whose lands He gave by allotment to His people.

Paul then mentions that period of the Judges under the prophet Samuel. During Samuel’s judgeship, the elect nation had requested a king after the likeness of the nations. Without commenting on the significance of this request, he recounts how Yahweh gave them Saul as the answer to their request and had to depose him for his disobedient ways. Implied in this narration is the nation’s rejection of Yahweh as her King and the failure of her king after the likeness of the nations to serve Yahweh faithfully and to secure the covenantal welfare of the elect nation.

Consequently, Yahweh replaced Saul, the king of the people’s desire, with David, the king of Yahweh’s choice: “I found David, of Jesse, a man according to My heart, who will be doing all [the choices of] My will” (Acts 13:22b CV). The nation’s rejection of Yahweh as her King in favor of a king after the likeness of the nations had necessitated a savior, David being a type of that savior. David is given the kingdom and a covenant promising him a son who would build a house for Yahweh’s name (2 Sam. 7:12-13). This covenant guaranteed the establishment of David’s kingdom. Unlike Saul, this future son of David would never be deposed or abandoned by Yahweh. Through this future son, Israel would be blessed and Yahweh’s kingship over Israel would be restored.

Paul now prepares his audience for the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus by describing Yahweh’s choice of David to replace the deposed Saul as “He roused David for their king” (Acts 13:22a CV). As he had “roused” David to be their king, so he had roused (v. 30) Jesus to be their King. This, Paul would soon declare to these Jews. However, at this point in his exhortation, he boldly declares, “From this one's seed, God [Yahweh], according to the promise, led to Israel a Saviour, Jesus” (Acts 13:23 CV).

He supports this declaration by referring to the ministry of John the Baptist. Paul testifies that at the close of the Baptist’s ministry, John had proclaimed that he was not the Messianic son of David, but the promised ministry of the Messianic son of David would soon follow the close of his ministry. Paul’s audience would be aware of the fact that the Baptist’s ministry of repentance had soon been followed by the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.

Having announced Jesus as the promised Savior out of the seed of David, Paul enthusiastically addresses his audience once again, “Men! Brethren! Sons of the family of Abraham, and, those among you who are fearing Yahweh! To us was the word of this salvation sent out” (Acts 13:26 my translation). The word of this salvation had been sent out to all Israel (the circumcised Jews) beginning in Jerusalem with the ministry of John the Baptist, the ministry of Jesus the Nazarene, the ministry of the twelve Apostles, and now the ministry of Paul and Barnabas. Salvation is of the Jews and for the Jews, the Southern Kingdom of Judah from which the Messianic son of David, the savior, would and did come.

This Gospel sent to Israel concerned the God-fearers also, since Yahweh had already extended this salvation through Peter and the circumcised Saints to Cornelius the uncircumcised God-fearer (about 34 a.d.) and the uncircumcised Greeks associated with the synagogue in Antioch of Syria (about 32 a.d.). Thus, Paul includes the God-fearers in Antioch of Pisidia as benefactors of this salvation now being announced to the Jews in this synagogue.

The Jewish aristocratic rulers and their adherents dwelling in Jerusalem, being ignorant of the Hebrew Scriptures concerning the promised Messiah, had delivered Jesus into the hands of the Romans for crucifixion death. In doing this, they unknowingly had fulfilled the purpose of Yahweh written in the Hebrew Scriptures. Thereupon, Yahweh “roused Him [Jesus] from among the dead” (Acts 13:30 CV). His disciples in Jerusalem have been witnesses of His resurrection to the Jews in Palestine. Paul and Barnabas are now delivering this Gospel of Yahweh’s salvation to the Jews and God-fearers in Antioch of Pisidia. This is the salvation promised to the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David).

Jesus, the Messianic son of David, has been roused (Acts 13:30 CV, NGEINT) from the dead never to return to decay (Acts 13:34 CV). Consequently, His kingdom will not be terminated, and He is extending the sure mercies of David to all those faithfully receiving this Gospel. Through this Davidic Savior, Yahweh is announcing the pardon of sins committed under the administration of the Mosaic Covenant: Those sins pardonable by following the requirements of the Law of Moses and those sins unpardonable under the administration of the Mosaic Law (such as murder, from which only David had been pardoned in accord with the sure mercies of Yahweh shown only to him, but presently being shown to all those faithfully receiving the Gospel).

However, Paul adds a third category of sins: “and from all from which you could not be justified in the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:39a CV). The Law of Moses could not justify in relation to the condition of death generated by Adam (the death common to all men, Num. 16:29). The Law of Moses also could not justify any Israelite in relation to the condition of national covenantal sin initiated at Sinai with the worshiping of the golden calf. Finally, the Law of Moses could not justify any Israelite in relation to the national covenantal sin entered into at Shiloh with the rejection of Yahweh as King in Yeshurun.

Only Jesus the Second Man (Adam) could provide the justification of life lost as a result of Adam’s sin. Only Jesus the Second Moses could provide the covenantal justification of life lost at Sinai. Only Jesus the Son of David could provide the kingdom justification of life lost at Shiloh. The justification of life lost by Adam was attained by the death of Jesus the son of Adam, the Son of Yahweh. The justification of life lost at Sinai was attained by the crucifixion death of Jesus the Lamb of Yahweh, Whose shed blood consecrated the New Covenant with Israel. The justification of life lost at Shiloh was attained by the resurrection and ascension to the throne of David by Jesus the Messiah, the son of David.

The justification of life associated with Shiloh alludes to the deposing of Saul and the rousing of David. This is another explanation of the significance of the change of name recorded in Acts 13:9. The name Saul is deposed for it is associated with the rejection of Yahweh as King in Yeshurun and with the rebellious persecution conducted by Saul the apostate Pharisee. The name Paul is roused, for it is associated with the repentant humility of David resulting in the special mercy shown David by Yahweh in relation to his murder of the husband of Bathsheba. In the Gospel, Jesus the son of David is administering the sure mercies of David to all entering the New Davidic Kingdom. This is exemplified by the Davidic mercy shown Saul the apostate Pharisee on the road to Damascus.

Paul’s announcement of the Gospel (the pardon of sins and justification of life) having been concluded, he warns his fellow Jews to beware. For Yahweh is performing a work in their generation which is shockingly unexpected and potentially disturbing to traditional customs and teachings. He is alluding to Habakkuk 1:5, “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (RSV). The prophet was referring to scoffers in Israel who because of their own distorted perceptions, and hubris, would not believe the activity of Yahweh among them even if they were told and/or beheld it with their own eyes. Paul is aware that the secret of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah will be offensive and scandalous to many Jews clinging to the traditions and teachings of the relatively recent fathers. His warning is not without justification, as the continuing narration will shortly reveal.

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The Response

At the conclusion of the meeting, Paul and Barnabas are entreated to elaborate on these declarations on the intervening sabbath, apparently referring to a sabbath falling on a day prior to the following weekly sabbath. Paul and Barnabas, having continued to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah on the intervening sabbath, gain a significant following:

Now the synagogue having broken up [on the intervening sabbath], many of the Jews and the reverent proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to remain in the grace [revealed in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah] of God [Yahweh]. (Acts 13:43 CV)

The Jews, at this point, are not antagonistic to the Gospel. The rulers of the synagogue have remained open to the word of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, inviting Paul and Barnabas, fellow Jews, to return on the intervening sabbath in order to further understand the implications of this Gospel.

As a result of this impressive elaboration on the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures now being fulfilled in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, many Jews and reverent proselytes follow Paul and Barnabas, receiving as truth the salvation of Yahweh sent to His people Israel in the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David. The Kingdom of Jesus the New Davidic Warrior-King continues to liberate the Jewish captives of The Adversary.

During this second synagogical instruction in the Law and the Prophets, Paul introduces his fellow Jews to the Gospel of the Uncircumcision, elaborating on the faithfulness of Abram while still uncircumcised. To this uncircumcised Abram Yahweh had declared,

And make you will I into a great nation, and bless you will I and make your name great, and become must you a blessing. . . . And blest in you and in your seed are all the families of the ground. (Genesis 12:2-3 CV)

This promise had been given to Abram while he was in uncircumcision and before the giving of the law. Thus, Abram had been justified by his faith while being uncircumcised.

And Abram believed in Yahweh Elohim, and Yahweh accounted this faith to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6 my translation)

If Yahweh had justified Abram by his faith while he was yet uncircumcised, it should be no surprise that Yahweh is now justifying the uncircumcised gentiles by their faith in the word of Yahweh being sent to the children of Abraham: his circumcised children and his uncircumcised children. For the children of Abraham are those characterized by faith in the word of Yahweh:

For what is the scripture saying? Now “Abraham believed Yahweh, and it [this faith] is accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to the worker, the wage is not accounted as a favor, but a debt. Yet to him who is not working, yet is believing on Him [Yahweh] Who is justifying the irreverent [in relation to Adam, Sinai, and Shiloh], his faith is accounted for righteousness. Even as David also is telling of the blessedness of the man to whom Yahweh is accounting righteousness apart from deeds: “Blessed are they whose lawless deeds were pardoned and whose sins were covered over! Blessed is the man to whom Yahweh should never be accounting sin!” This blessedness, then, is it for the circumcision or for the uncircumcision also? For we [Jews, the circumcised] are saying, “To Abraham faith is accounted for righteousness.” How, then, is it accounted? Being in circumcision or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he obtained the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which was in uncircumcision, for him to be the father of all those who are believing through uncircumcision, for righteousness to be accounted to them, and the father of the Circumcision, not to those of the Circumcision only, but to those also who are observing the elements of the faith in the footsteps of our father Abraham while in uncircumcision. (Romans 4:3-12 my translation)

Not only is the salvation of the uncircumcised gentiles associated with the faith of Abraham while uncircumcised, but this salvation is also associated with the sure mercies of David spoken of in Paul’s first proclamation of the Gospel in this synagogue.

Paul’s message has yet to arouse the jealous indignation of the Jewish rulers in this synagogue. Even though many Jews and reverent proselytes in the congregation had responded in faith to Paul’s message and Paul had expounded on the significance of Abraham’s faith while yet uncircumcised, the Jewish rulers in the synagogue had remained tolerant of the message of these two fellow-Jews. However, on the coming of the weekly sabbath, “almost the entire city was gathered to hear the word of the Lord [Yahweh] (Acts 13:44 CV). The word had gotten out concerning the message of these visiting Jews. The great numbers crowding into the synagogue to hear the message of these two Jews consisted of the devout Jews and proselytes who regularly attended the synagogue, those non-devout Jews who attended synagogue irregularly, those lawless Jews who had neglected their religious ties to the synagogue and the Temple in Jerusalem, the God-fearing gentiles associated with the synagogue, and probably a small number of gentiles in the city who had not been associated with the synagogue but had heard the word from their God-fearing friends and relatives concerning this unusual message proclaimed by these two visiting Jews.

Perceiving this great throng of interested Jews and gentiles, the rulers of the synagogue “are filled with jealousy” (Acts 13:45 CV). Their indignation is aroused as a result of their apostate hubris. They are angered at the enormous success of these visiting Jews in attracting to the synagogue so vast a number of people and so socially and religiously diverse a group of people. Those rulers had not been able to achieve this kind of attendance. Like Jonah, their arrogant, Judaistic pride fills them with stubborn jealousy. They stubbornly cling to their misperceived superior elective status. They cannot accept that Yahweh would bless apart from their superior covenantal and religious status.

These apostate Jews love the world-order of Moses more than the word of the Elohim of Moses. They are more concerned with their covenantal and social standing than they are with the truth of Yahweh’s word. The issue should have been whether the proclamation of Paul and Barnabas is or is not the word of Yahweh Elohim. If it is the word of Yahweh, it must be obeyed, even if that means the loss of one’s covenantal and/or social standing, even if that means departure from the world-order of Moses to a new world-order being instituted by Yahweh the Elohim of Israel.

However, these jealous Jews cling tenaciously to their own perceptions about their prophesied mission to the gentiles. From their perspective, the gentiles would be blessed by Israel, but Israel would remain superior to the nations, maintaining her elect, holy status in the terrestrial realm.

They, thus, proceed to contradict the message of Paul and blaspheme the Gospel representing the word of Yahweh the Elohim of Israel. In this, they rebelliously place themselves in opposition to the mercy and kindness of Yahweh, even as Jonah had done for the same reason. This attack, however, does not represent a majority of the Jewish congregation. While these rulers discourage many from following the message of the Gospel, many others receive the word of Yahweh with joy, continuing in the grace of Yahweh being revealed in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah.

The New Davidic Kingdom of Jesus the Anointed One of Yahweh continues its successful invasion of the territory of the enemy, Apostate Israel. The Israelites of Yahweh are not rejecting their King. They are fleeing the apostate nation and pseudo-kingdom. They are escaping the chains of the stiff-necked, rebellious hubris of Cainish Israel. Concerning this pseudo Israel, Paul declares,

To you first was it necessary that the word of God [Yahweh] be spoken. Yet, since, in fact, you [Apostate Israel] are thrusting it away, and are judging yourselves not worthy of eonian life [Celestial Life in the imminent coming age], lo! we [the Apostles of the New-Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh] are turning to the nations. For thus the Lord [Yahweh through Jesus His Anointed Son] has directed us: “I have appointed Thee [Jesus the Messiah and His commissioned ministers] for a light of the nations; for Thee to be for salvation as far as the limits of the earth.” (Acts 13:46-47 CV)

It is this Apostate Israel who is rejecting Yahweh and His Word concerning Jesus the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Yahweh. The servants of Apostate Israel, through deceit, have enslaved the authentic people of Yahweh, even as these synagogical rulers seek the continued enslavement of those Jews deceived into rejecting the Gospel, those Jews kept blind and ignorant to the truth of the Gospel by means of the traditions and commandments of apostate fathers and the authoritative reputations of the aristocratic Jewish rulers committed to the apostate nation and pseudo kingdom.

The Gospel is first sent to the Jews. It confronts and corrects the misappropriated traditions and commandments of the apostate fathers with the purpose of liberating the authentic Jewish children of Abraham. Apostate Israel is warned of imminent judgment by a conquering nation and new kingdom in the process of fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. Apostate Israel is being overpowered. In desperation, she lashes out against this alien power, attempting to hold on to her apostate place and possessions. But her efforts are in vain, even as the prophetic testimony of Gamaliel confirms:

for if this counsel or this work should be of men, it will be demolished; yet if it is of God [Yahweh Elohim], you will not be able to demolish them—lest at some time you may be found fighters against God [Yahweh Elohim] also. (Acts 5:38b-39 CV)

Those authentic Jews possessing a circumcised heart are fleeing joyously from their present covenantal enslavement, having been set free from the deceiving doctrinal chains of their pseudo, hireling shepherds. The Born-From-Above Israel, though attacked, slandered, and persecuted by Apostate Israel and her minions, is advancing triumphantly. She cannot be demolished, for she fights in the name of Yahweh and His Anointed Son.

Paul and Barnabas triumphantly persuade the faithful Jews to remain in the grace of Yahweh. They defiantly shake off the dust of their feet against the apostate Jews, accusingly declaring, “we are turning to the nations” (Acts 13:46) in accordance with the Law and the Prophets. Apostate Israelites are thrusting away the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, judging themselves unworthy of the Celestial Life associated with the Celestial Allotment promised to Abraham and all his faithful elect children.

Hearing this declaration, the God-fearing uncircumcised gentiles associated with the Jewish synagogue and the group of uncircumcised gentiles unassociated with the synagogue (those representing the nations to whom Paul and Barnabas were turning) “rejoiced and glorified the word of Yahweh, and the ones who had been appointed for eonian life [because their hearts were open to the word of Yahweh] believed [the Gospel] (Acts 13:48 my translation).

These results are not indicative of the failure of Israel to receive her King and become a light to the nations. Apostate Israel fails and is defeated. The Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh and His Anointed Davidic King succeeds in saving all the authentic children of Abraham (circumcised and uncircumcised) to whom the Gospel had been sent in that present generation:

So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11 NASB)

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The Proclamation of the Gospel in Galatia: Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe

As a result of the success of the proclamation of the Gospel by Paul and Barnabas, the word of Yahweh is carried by its adherents dwelling in Antioch of Pisidia throughout the country surrounding Antioch. This infuriates the ruling apostate Jews. These enemies of the Gospel, having opposed Paul and Barnabas only verbally, now incite the foremost gentile authorities of the city against Paul and Barnabas, thus rousing up persecution resulting in the expulsion of Paul and Barnabas from the boundaries of the city.

It is at this time that these two Apostles shake off the dust from their feet, thus judging the apostate Jews in Antioch as unworthy of the Gospel. Proceeding forward into the territory of Galatia, the evangelists confidently depart knowing that “the disciples were filled with joy and holy spirit” Acts 13:52 CV). Thus, they depart as conquering warriors marching forward against the next stronghold of the enemy kingdom.

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Arriving in Iconium, the apostles of Jesus the Messiah enter into the local synagogue and announce the Gospel. Again, they are successful. A vast multitude of both Jews and Greek God-fearers believe the Gospel of Jesus the Messianic King (Acts 14:1 CV), being loosed from their despotic Judaistic chains. Escaping the apostate kingdom and the rule of the enslaving hireling shepherds administering the oppression resulting from the false traditions and commandments of Jewish men opposed to the rule and voice of Yahweh, they joyfully enter the New Davidic Kingdom of Jesus the Davidic Warrior-King.

But the stubborn, arrogant, apostate Jewish powers and authorities (jealous of the success of the Gospel and perceiving this success as covenantal abduction, religious thievery) stir up the anger of the local gentiles against the vast multitude of Jews and Greeks faithfully receiving the Gospel as the word of the One, True, Living Elohim of Israel. Nevertheless, the apostles remain a considerable time in Iconium, speaking boldly the word of Yahweh concerning Jesus the Messianic King and Savior, this teaching being confirmed by the occurrence of signs and miracles produced through the hands of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:3 CV).

Thus, the multitude of Iconium becomes divided. Some people side with the arrogant and jealous Jewish authorities, while others, being impressed with either the miraculous deeds or the Gospel message itself, or even both, are drawn to the apostles of Jesus the Messianic King Who is incorporating into His kingdom both Jews and Greeks. This tension could not continue without an outbreak of violence. When it is reported that the opposing Jews and gentiles, together with their chief authorities, are planning to stone the apostles, Paul and Barnabas escape into the cities of Lycaonia where they continue to announce the Gospel to the glory of Yahweh and His Anointed Son and to the covenantal welfare of both the Jews and Gentiles belonging to the faithful family of Abraham.

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Lystra and Derbe

Leaving Iconium, Paul and Barnabas head for the cities of Lycaonia,

Lystra and Derbe, and the country about. And there they were bringing the evangel. (Acts 14:6b-7 CV)

Unlike Paul and Barnabas’ entrance into Antioch of Pisidia and Iconium where they first visit the synagogue announcing the Gospel to the Jews first, in Lystra Luke records no entrance into the synagogue. It seems there is no synagogue in Lystra, though there certainly are Jews dwelling there (see Acts 16:1-2). Therefore, in, Lystra, Paul and Barnabas must have spoken first to the Jews residing there. In the course of bringing the Gospel to this territory, they first sought out the Jews. However, since Lystre and Derbe most likely had no synagogue, Luke records the most significant events from the perspective of his account.

Leaving Pisidian Antioch the evangelists had shaken off the dust from their feet, declaring they were turning to the nations. In Lystra, Luke provides an account of Paul and Barnabas turning to these nations untouched by the Jewish synagogues. As Paul is speaking to a group of people (most likely in the marketplace), a man crippled from his mother’s womb overhears him. Paul, looking intently at him, perceives this man has the faith to be healed. Paul heals the man’s lameness.

As the man joyously leaps up and begins walking, the throngs in the marketplace, perceiving what Paul had done, conclude that Paul and Barnabas must be Hermes and Zeus come down in the form of men. The priest of Zeus, along with the throngs of these worshipers of the gods, begin to make preparations to offer a sacrifice to these gods descended from the heaven above. Paul and Barnabas, tearing their garments, push their way into the midst of the throng, crying out,

Men! Why are you doing these things? We also are men of like emotions as you, bringing the evangel to you to turn you back from these vain things to the living God [Elohim], Who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them; Who in the generations having passed by let all the nations go their own ways, although He left Himself not without the testimony of good acts, giving showers from heaven and fruitbearing seasons, filling your hearts with nourishment and gladness. (Acts 14:15-17 my translation)

When the throngs had declared Paul and Barnabas gods, they had spoken in their local tongue, Lycaonian (Acts 14:11). Luke records this as a foreshadowing of the speech of Paul given to avoid the attempted idolatrous sacrifice. Paul’s speech alludes to the confusion of tongues during the construction of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9). Yahweh had at that time scattered the nations, transforming their one language into many languages and giving them up to their own rebellious and distorted ways.

Out of this confusion of speech, intellect, and behavior, Yahweh had called Abram in order to provide a remedy for the disobedience of the nations. This man Abram would be Yahweh’s instrument in blessing the scattered and confused nations. As the nations had drifted into idolatry, creating and worshiping their own gods to their own detriment, Yahweh, through Abram and his seed, would lead them out of the slavery of the ancient world of the gods which they had created for themselves.

It is the Gospel of the Uncircumcision committed to Paul which now had begun to fulfill Yahweh’s promise to bless all the nations, all the families of the earth, through Abram and his seed. Abram had been called out of the midst of the distorted nations. He had believed the word of Yahweh and had been blessed. The Gospel of Jesus the Messiah associated with the promise made to Abram and his seed had now been revealed to the circumcised children of Abraham. It had been a secret concealed within the Hebrew Scriptures and concealed within the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah (until revealed to Paul the Apostle to the nations) as the Gospel of the Uncircumcision.

As uncircumcised Abram had been called out of the midst of the corrupt nations and had been blessed through his faith, so also uncircumcised gentiles were now being called out of the midst of their own corrupt nations in order to be blessed by their own faith in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah associated with the faith of uncircumcised Abram. Thus, the nations were being called by Yahweh to turn back to the One, True, Living Elohim from their vain worship of the pseudo-gods of their own creation. In turning away from idolatry to the Only, True, Living Elohim, they would be turning to Yahweh the Elohim of Israel, being incorporated into the Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh as full-fledged citizens apart from the requirement of circumcision and apart from the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. As children of faithful Abram, they would be recognized and identified by a circumcised heart of faith in the word of Yahweh being spoken in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah.

Having succeeded in stopping the throngs of uncircumcised pagans from engaging in idolatrous sacrifice, Paul and Barnabas continue evangelizing the Jews and gentiles in Lystra and the surrounding territory. Learning of the continued success of these two supposed renegade Jews, indignant and jealous Jews from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium arrive in Lystra. Stirring up the throngs, they persuade them to stone Paul. In Antioch Paul and Barnabas had been expelled; in Iconium Paul had been threatened with stoning; in Lystra the threat becomes a reality. But Paul miraculously survives the stoning. Being resurrected, he and the disciples who had surrounded his assumed-dead body reenter the city.

The following day, Paul and Barnabas leave to evangelize the city of Derbe. In this campaign, the apostles make “a considerable number of disciples” (Acts 14:21 CV). The Davidic Kingdom of Jesus the Messiah continues to increase in numbers. Jesus as the son, THE SEED of Abraham, triumphantly liberates from the idolatrous nations a great number of uncircumcised gentiles previously under the debilitating power and authority of The Adversary and the Els assigned to the nations by Yahweh.

Paul and Barnabas then return through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia “establishing the souls of the disciples [both Jews and gentiles], besides entreating them to remain in the faith and saying that, ‘Through many afflictions must we be entering into the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22 CV). Only those faithful to the end would enter into the Celestial Allotment. These disciples have been called, not out of Egypt as ancient Israel had been called, but out of the world-order of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant, out of the world-order of Apostate Israel, out of the world-order of the ancient gods.

In this new exodus, they are marching through this present spiritual wilderness to the Celestial Allotment promised to the faithful children of Abraham (the entire Seed of Abraham: circumcised and uncircumcised). Those failing to conquer to the end (as testified in the Book of Revelation) would forfeit the Celestial Promised Land, losing their status as children of Abraham while forming the nucleus of a new religion, Christianity, Yahweh’s instrument through which He would deliver all the nations of the earth from the ancient world of the gods.

Thus, Yahweh would no longer be the Holy, covenantal Elohim of Israel alone. As He had been before the Tower of Babel, so He would once again be the One, True, Living Elohim of all nations, reigning through the agency of Jesus the Only-Begotten Anointed One and His Ecclesia residing in the Celestial Realm. In time, the age (eon) of the nations would end. The age of the human race come of age would rise out of the ashes of the disintegrated, obsolete nations.

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The Return to Antioch of Syria

Before returning to Antioch of Syria, Paul and Barnabas appoint elders over the Ecclesia (assembly) of those faithful to Jesus in each city which had been evangelized. These elders are selected out of the Jewish faithful ones. It is the obligation of the circumcised seed of Abraham to guide, instruct, counsel, and exhort the uncircumcised seed of Abraham in the knowledge of the way of Yahweh revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures. These faithful Jews are also responsible for exemplifying the Abrahamic walk in the spirit.

The faithful Jews well-grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures are those most capable of understanding the implications of the New Davidic Covenant and the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah (consisting of the Gospel of the Circumcision and the Gospel of the Uncircumcision, the latter of which had been in the past concealed in the Law and the Prophets but in the present has been revealed by the spirit to the Saints, the circumcised faithful disciples of Jesus the Messiah). Paul and Barnabas would personally teach those Torah-educated Jews, opening their minds and hearts to that which Yahweh had concealed in their holy scriptures until revealed in the present appointed time:

The things being concealed are Yahweh our Elohim’s, yet the things being revealed are ours and our sons’ until the [completion] of the eon [the Mosaic Eon], so that we might keep all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 CV)

Reminding these elders and assemblies of faithful disciples of the necessity of sharing in the sufferings of Jesus the Messiah to the end of the Mosaic Eon (imminently, close at hand), with prayer and fasting the apostles commit these assemblies to Yahweh and His Anointed Son/King.

Having completed the first phase of the task appointed them by the spirit, they return to Antioch of Syria from where they had been “given over to the grace of God [Yahweh] (Acts 14:26 CV). Arriving in Antioch, at the earliest opportunity, Paul and Barnabas call a gathering of the assembly of faithful Messianics. These faithful disciples of Jesus the Messiah have continued to worship Yahweh in the synagogue, as well as meet separately on intervening days between each sabbath. On such an intervening day, Paul and Barnabas inform these brethren of their journeys, giving a detailed account of that which Yahweh had accomplished through their ministry, especially emphasizing how “He opened to the nations a door of faith” (Acts 14:27b CV) in accord with the Hebrew Scriptures committed to Israel.

The time of Israel’s exile is ending. The time of her salvation has arrived. She has now been invigorated with the spirit of Yahweh to fulfill her responsibility to the nations. In the past, corporate Israel had failed to maintain her role as light to the nations, becoming a byword among the nations:

And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword [a taunt], among all nations whither the Lord [Yahweh] shall lead thee. (Deuteronomy 28:37 KJV)

But if ye shall at all turn from following me, . . . then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them . . . and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people. . . . (1 Kings 9:6a, 7a, 7c KJV)

Thou [Yahweh] makest us a byword [a taunt] among the heathen, a shaking of the head [a laughingstock] among the people [peoples, NASB]. (Psalms 44:14 KJV)

through the [corporate] transgression of the law you [Jews] are dishonoring God [Yahweh]! For because of you [Jews as a corporate nation] the name of God [Yahweh] is being blasphemed among the nations, according as it is written [in Isaiah 52:5]. (Romans 2:23b-24 CV)

In the present, Yahweh has established a new covenant with Israel, writing His law on the fleshy tablets of their hearts. In accord with this New Covenant, those Gentiles faithfully receiving and obeying the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah are being incorporated into the newly Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh’s New Covenant. These uncircumcised Gentiles are no longer guests among members of the elect nation; they are full-fledged citizens of this newly generated spiritual Israel without having to submit to circumcision in the flesh (see Eph. 2:13-18). This, indeed, is joyous news to both Israel and the nations! And the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh rejoiced in this newly revealed salvation of Yahweh formerly concealed in the Law and the Prophets, which scriptures had been given only to Yahweh’s elect people, Israel.

Their report completed, Paul and Barnabas remain a considerable amount of time with the disciples dwelling in Antioch of Syria (Acts 14:28), resuming their role as elders, apostles, and prophets among this faithful Messianic assembly (ecclesia) and continuing to attend the synagogue on the sabbaths, proclaiming the Gospel of the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets as often as opportunity allowed.

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The Jerusalem Council

Sometime during this extensive stay in Antioch of Syria by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:28), some brethren from Judea arrive in Antioch (about 48/49 a.d.). These Jews proceed to teach the brethren committed to Jesus as the promised Messiah that circumcision is necessary to participate in the salvation sent to Israel. From the perspective of these Messianic Jews, even though the Gentile believers in Jesus the Messiah are not under the Law of Moses as associated with Israel’s unique covenantal relationship with Yahweh (the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant), they must still be circumcised since Abraham himself, not being under the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant, had been circumcised. Thus, the Gentiles believing the Gospel and participating in the promises given to Abraham come under the covenant of circumcision made with Abraham in Genesis 17:4-14, which covenant concludes,

And My covenant comes to be in your flesh for a covenant eonian. And the uncircumcised male, the flesh of whose foreskin was not circumcised in the eighth day, that soul also shall be cut off from his people. My covenant he annuls. (Genesis 17:13b-14 CV)

The faithful Gentiles, though not under the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant, must be circumcised in order to become legitimate covenantal children of Abraham.

Paul and Barnabas immediately engage in fervent dissension and debate with these Jewish brethren from Judea. At stake is a proper understanding of the Gospel as it is associated with Israel’s unique New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenantal relationship with Yahweh. According to Paul’s testimony in Galatians 2:1-2, at this time in Antioch of Syria, he receives a revelation directing him to go to Jerusalem and discuss this vital issue with those of repute (James, John, Peter, and the rest of the Apostles). With them, he is to share the secret of the Gospel which he and Barnabas had been proclaiming, along with the accomplished results of the grace of Yahweh in opening a door of faith to the nations.

Fourteen years prior to this revelation, Saul, returning from Arabia, had shared with Peter, James and the other Apostles (Gal. 1:18-19) the Gospel of the Uncircumcision which had then been assigned him by Jesus the Messiah. Now, in Jerusalem and according to the revelation given to him in Antioch of Syria, he is to share the actual results of the carrying out of his apostleship to the nations. Now, he is to share the complex scriptural implications of the secret of the Gospel and the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant made with Israel through the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the Messiah.

Having received this revelation and having shared it with the assembly of faithful ones in Antioch of Syria, the assembly appoints Paul and Barnabas, along with some others (including the uncircumcised Titus, Gal. 2:1), to travel to Jerusalem and take up the issue with the ruling Apostles and elders (including James acting as regent in the physical absence of Jesus the Messiah). This chronological description of events follows the pattern of that recorded in Acts 13:1-3 (the spirit by revelation calls Barnabas and Saul to a ministry and the assembly, fasting, praying, and placing their hands on these two chosen vessels, obeying the revelation, officially send them on their way). This delegation, on the way to Jerusalem, passes through Phoenicia as well as Samaria “detailing the turning about of the nations [unassociated with the Jewish synagogue] (Acts 15:3b CV).

This report causes great joy to all the Jewish Messianics in these territories. This implies the question about to be taken up in Jerusalem is a technical, scriptural, theological problem at this time, the concern of the Jewish Messianic scholars, teachers, and rulers. Also, some of these Messianic leaders already foresee the social ethnic implications of the entrance of gentiles unassociated with the guidance and instruction of the Jewish synagogue. Social and synagogical association of gentiles with ethnic Jews can lead to disastrous political and social upheavals if not appropriately supervised.

The God-fearing Gentiles associated with the synagogues are not a threat to social association with ethnic Jews. These Gentiles would understand their place and behave accordingly, avoiding the offending of Jewish ethnic peculiarities. The Messianic faithful Jews are obligated not to unnecessarily offend or desecrate Jewish ethnic identity markers, such as dietary regulations, sabbath observance, and circumcision. This is in conformity with the principle that salvation is of the Jews.

The Messianic Jews are not Christians. They are Messianics. They are authentic Jews committed to Jesus as the promised Davidic Messiah. They are expecting the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom. They do not despise their circumcision. They seek to fulfill the law. They observe the sabbaths and offer the appropriate sacrifices. They continue to attend their local synagogues.

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The Reception by the Jerusalem Assembly

Upon arriving in Jerusalem, the delegation meets privately with James, Peter, John, and the rest of the Apostles. Paul and Barnabas report the success of their mission commissioned by the spirit, and Paul, once again, presents the significance to the Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh of his Apostleship and the Gospel of the Uncircumcision committed to him. His purpose is to maintain the unity of the one Ecclesia of Jesus the Messiah. There is no dispute between James, Peter, John, the rest of the Apostles, and Paul and Barnabas. The one spirit of Yahweh and Jesus the Messiah is guiding and teaching all these servants of Jesus the Messiah.

Faithful to the guidance and teaching of this spirit are these men committed to the One and True Gospel of Jesus the New Davidic Warrior-King. There is no spiritual, covenantal, disharmony among these spiritual warrior-commanders in relation to the essential issues of the faith. They all walk in spirit not in flesh. They are all faithful sons of Abraham, obeying the voice of Yahweh in the midst of the spiritual warfare against Apostate Israel. They are all aware of their Lord’s Parable of the Tares. The enemies of Yahweh and His Anointed Davidic Warrior-King sown in their midst by The Adversary will not be allowed to deceive them into disobeying the voice of the One, True, Living Elohim of Israel (and His Anointed Son) spoken through the spirit.

When the Jerusalem assembly is convened by the Apostles and elders, James presides over the meeting. Paul and Barnabas are introduced and invited to address the congregation, reporting in detail the success of their mission as Yahweh had opened a door of faith to the nations. Having described the mission commissioned by the spirit and its enormous triumphs on behalf of the New Davidic Kingdom and Nation, Paul then introduces the issue that had caused much dispute among the members of the assembly in Antioch of Syria.

In response, some from the sect of the Pharisees who had believed the Gospel rise up in the midst of the congregation demanding that the faithful Gentiles be circumcised and be required to keep the Law of Moses. This demand causes much questioning among the members of the congregation. Discussion of the issue leads to numerous attempts to resolve the issue from scripture. During this debate presided over by James, the Pharisees present their scriptural argument for their demand.

Some of these Pharisees are false brethren, tares planted by The Adversary. They had infiltrated the ranks of the Messianic Jews in order to instigate discord and division causing the destruction of this sect which they perceived to be a political, social, and religious threat to the welfare of national Israel (see Gal. 2:3-5). These Pharisees defend the necessity of circumcision and the keeping of the Mosaic Law on the basis of the only legitimate Jewish covenant, the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. They pretend to believe in Jesus the Messiah by placing His ministry within the context of the Mosaic Covenant. Tragically, they reject the existence of a new covenant. Jesus as savior is the savior of Israel alone. Gentiles can participate in this Jewish salvation by believing in Jesus as the savior of Israel and submitting to circumcision, binding them to observance of the Mosaic Law. Thus, a gentile must become a full-fledged Jew in accord with the requirement of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant in order to be saved.

Consequently, they deny the reality of the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant and the freedom and sonship achieved by means of this New Covenant. This denial means the rejection of the blood of Jesus the Messiah as the consecrating blood of Yahweh’s New Covenant with Israel. It means a denial of the impending curse of the law proclaimed by John the Baptist and Jesus. To these Pharisees the Law of Moses is not a present curse. Its curse had been implemented in the past with the Babylonian exile. Their expectation is the end of the current exile with the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom in accordance with the fulfillment, the perfection of the Mosaic Law. Therefore, they cling to the Mosaic Law for eschatological covenantal life, restoring Israel to her elective, righteous supremacy over the nations.

Eschatological fulfillment under the Law of Moses is refuted by Paul and other faithful Jewish Messianics by pointing to those passages in the Hebrew Scriptures which indicate the insufficiency of the Mosaic Covenant and the necessity for the blood of the suffering servant of Isaiah chapter 53 in order to forgive the sins of Israel committed under the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. The new covenant of Jeremiah and Ezekiel had necessitated the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the Messiah in order to deliver Israel from the curse of the law. The Mosaic Law could not provide the salvation of Israel because the Mosaic Law is the cause of Israel’s need for salvation. The Gospel of Jesus the Messiah proclaims the deliverance of Israel from the accusation of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. Moses is the accuser of Israel, not her savior. Jesus the Messiah is the savior of Israel prophesied by Moses himself (Deut. 18:18).

There are, however, authentically faithful Pharisees who are not sons of The Adversary. These Pharisees sincerely believe that Gentiles need to be circumcised according to the custom of the Mosaic Law. They do not deny the New Covenant. They do not claim that the necessity for circumcision is the authority of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. They build their case for circumcision on the covenant of circumcision made with Abraham long before the establishment of the Sinatic Covenant. The New Covenant, therefore, requires circumcision since all elective members of the New Covenant must be legitimate, faithful children of Abraham.

Paul, however, expounding on the Gospel of the Uncircumcision committed to him by the exalted Jesus Christ and confirmed by the calling of the spirit and grace of Yahweh revealed in the work the spirit had called both him and Barnabas to perform, explains how Abraham had been called and justified by Yahweh before he had been circumcised. Circumcision had been a sign of Abram’s faith which he had demonstrated while still uncircumcised. Therefore, the Gentiles, like uncircumcised Abram, could be justified by faith in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah apart from circumcision. Such Gentiles would be legitimate children of Abraham the father of both circumcised and uncircumcised believers according to the current word of Yahweh being spoken in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, The Son and THE SEED promised to Abraham.

As Abraham (Abram) had been called out from among the nations in the condition of uncircumcision, so the present uncircumcised sons of Abraham (Abram) are being called out from among the nations. Consequently, they are to become full-fledged members of the elective people, the elective nation of Yahweh, the newly Born-From-Above Israel covenantally bound to Yahweh, not by the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant, but by the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant consecrated by the blood of Jesus the Lamb of Yahweh.

Such was the nature of the open discussion of this issue among the members of the Messianic assembly in Jerusalem. As always, the spirit continues to guide and direct the hearts and minds of the faithful followers of Jesus the Messiah, maintaining the unity of purpose and the harmony of doctrine and conduct characteristic of the Ecclesia of Jesus the Messiah.

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The Testimony of Peter

Sometime during the course of the discussion taking place among the brethren, Peter rises and reminds the assembly of how Yahweh in a vision had instructed him that what Yahweh calls clean, no man is to call unclean. Soon after this vision, Peter reiterates how Yahweh sent him to the house of the Uncircumcised, God-fearing Cornelius to whom Peter proclaimed “the word of the evangel” (Acts 15:7 CV). By Peter’s mouth the nations began to hear the Gospel, and believing the word of the Gospel, the holy spirit of Yahweh and His Anointed Son fell upon Cornelius and all those in his household even as it had come upon the Jewish disciples of Jesus at Pentecost. The hearts of these uncircumcised Gentiles had been cleansed by faith even as the hearts of the circumcised Jews had been cleansed by faith.

Peter, now addressing the Pharisees in the assembly who had insisted that the uncircumcised believers be circumcised and be required to keep the Law of Moses (those tares, those false, counterfeit brethren seeking to enslave the new disciples of Jesus the Messiah to the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant), declares,

Why, then, are you [these apostate Pharisaic spies] now trying God [Yahweh], by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers [their relatively recent fathers] nor we are strong enough to bear? But through the grace of the Lord Jesus we are believing, to be saved in a manner even as they [the uncircumcised believing Gentiles]. (Acts 15:10-11 CV)

The yoke Peter refers to is not the Mosaic Law of Yahweh, but the hypocritical, alien, pseudo-yoke of the traditions and commandments of the fathers developed during the centuries of the exile. Mark describes the yoke of these pseudo-shepherds as follows,

And the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together around Him [Jesus] when they had come from Jerusalem and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews [adhering to the traditions and commandments associated with this alien yoke] do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” (Mark 7:1-5 NASB)

Jesus, responding to their alien yoke, replies,

Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” Neglecting the commandment of God [Yahweh], you hold to the tradition of men. . . . You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. . . . Moses said... but you say, . . . thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that. (Mark 7:6-13 NASB)

The yoke of the Mosaic Law of Yahweh is not a burden which cannot be borne. Jesus describes the yoke of Yahweh’s Law as follows:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB)

Thus, Peter does not condemn the Mosaic Law of Yahweh as being a burden which cannot be kept. He does not contradict Moses:

For this instruction that I [Moses] am enjoining on you today, it is neither too difficult for you, nor is it too far off. (Deuteronomy 30:11 CV)

Set your heart on all the words which I am testifying among you today, so that you may enjoin them on your sons to observe to obey all the words of this law. For it is not an empty word for you; it means your [covenantal] life, and by this word you may prolong your days on the ground where you are crossing over the Jordan to tenant it. (Deuteronomy 32:46-47 CV)

Rather, Peter condemns the hypocritical alien yoke of the pseudo-shepherds of Apostate Israel and their arrogant Jewish adherents.

These pseudo-shepherds, like their ancient forefathers in the wilderness, fail to acknowledge the work of Yahweh being performed in their midst:

They probed [tried, put on trial] El in their heart By requesting food for their soul [their senses]. So they spoke against Elohim; they said, Is El able to arrange a table in the wilderness? Behold, He smote the rock, and waters gushed out, . . . But is He able to give bread? Or can He prepare meat for His people? Wherefore Yahweh heard, and He was enraged, and a fire was ignited against Jacob, . . . For they did not believe in Elohim, And they did not trust in His salvation. (Psalms 78:18-22 CV)

Yahweh again had recently smote the rock (Jesus) and waters had gushed out (the life-giving waters of the Gospel), yet these Cainite apostates continue to defy and grieve Yahweh, like the Israelites in the wilderness of whom it is written,

How often they defied Him in the wilderness [of Apostate Israel]; they grieved him in the desolation [of the apostate yoke]. (Psalms 78:40 CV)

Like the first evil generation exiting Egypt in the sight of Yahweh’s mighty works on their behalf, this last evil generation of Israelites represented by these apostate spies are a

generation stubborn and rebellious, A generation that had neither established its heart, Nor was its spirit faithful to El. (Psalms 78:8b CV)

This final evil generation of Cainish Israelites, in spite of Yahweh’s gracious and merciful signs and miracles being performed in their sight and in spite of Yahweh’s gracious and merciful proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah being spoken in their hearing, would continue to the end of the Mosaic Eon

again and again probing El, And the Holy One of Israel they set as a mark. (Psalms 78:41 CV)

Apostate Israel, rejecting Moses and Jesus, would judge herself unworthy of the Celestial Allotment promised to the faithful children of Abraham, dooming herself to the final execution of the curse of the law and the termination of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. But the Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh, represented by the faithful Abelite Israelites, obediently casting off the apostate yoke of Cain, would not fail to receive the Abrahamic Promise, successfully entering into her Celestial Allotment at the end of the then present contemporary generation of Jesus.

It is this yoke, condemned by Jesus, which Peter refuses to place upon the faithful disciples of Jesus the Messiah. It is this alien, apostate yoke that these instigating spies seek to place around the neck of the disciples, thereby enslaving them once again to the hypocrisy of Apostate Israel. Peter, thus, agrees with Paul’s analysis of these enemies, these deceptive tares of The Adversary:

Yet it was because of the false brethren who were smuggled in, who came in by the way to spy out our freedom which we have in Messiah Jesus, in order that they might enslave us, to whom we did not simulate by subjection for even an hour, in order that the truth of the Gospel should be continuing with you. (Galatians 2:4-5 my translation)

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The Response of the Assembly

As Peter completes his testimony based on his personal experience, the entire assembly is left in silence. The guidance of the spirit in relation to Peter’s encounter with Cornelius has had an assuring effect on the members of this elect ecclesia. Responding to this holy silence, Barnabas and Paul, confirming Peter’s testimony of the hand of Yahweh in recent events, convey to the whole assembly of those initiated into the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant the mighty hand of Yahweh among the nations. Yahweh had displayed through their hands the very signs and miracles produced among the populace of Jewish Judea. Thus, these events occurring within and without the Land of Promise to both Jews and gentiles are perceived through the spirit to be brought about by the hand of Yahweh and His Anointed Son/King, Jesus the Messiah.

In this there is complete unity and harmony throughout the Ecclesia of Jesus the Messiah. The conniving apostate antichrists (antimessianics) deceptively disguised as Messianics have not been able to contaminate, pollute, or destroy the new fellowship of believers committed to Yahweh’s New Covenant with the recently Born-From-Above Holy Israel ruled over by the New Davidic Warrior-King, Jesus the Messiah enthroned in the Celestial Realm upon the seat of David.

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The Testimony and Judgment of James

In the physical absence of the King (Jesus the Messiah, seated on the throne of David in the Celestial Realm), James, the brother of Jesus and, thus, the regent on Jesus’ terrestrial throne, delivers the concluding speech to the deliberations of this holy convention. From the Prophets, He confirms the testimony of Peter, quoting from Amos 9:9-15. Amos had prophesied concerning Yahweh’s promise to “rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen” (Acts 15:16a CV), alluding to the division of David’s kingdom into the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel, as well as the Babylonian exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

According to Amos, this restoration of the Davidic Kingdom would consist of the reuniting of two groups:

So that those left of the men [the house of David, the Southern Kingdom of Judah] should be seeking out Yahweh, as well as all the nations [the Lo-Ammi Northern Kingdom of Israel], on them over whom My name is invoked. (Acts 15:17a my translation)

James concludes that Amos is referring to the present salvation of the Jews (the Saints) and the Gentiles (the Lo-Ammi Kingdom of Ephraim/Israel, the uncircumcised faithful ones, such as Cornelius the God-fearer and the uncircumcised Gentiles unassociated with the Jewish synagogues, those reached by Paul and Barnabas) as a result of the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah (consisting of complimentary Gospels: The Gospel of the Circumcision and the Gospel of the Uncircumcision). The work of Yahweh presently being accomplished through the guidance and revelation of the spirit is in the process of fulfilling the Law and the Prophets.

Thus, James, the sitting regent king of the new reunited nation and kingdom, hands down a decision:

Wherefore I decide not to be harassing those from the nations who are turning back to God [Yahweh Elohim], but to write an epistle [letter] to them to be abstaining from ceremonial pollution with idols, and prostitution, and what is strangled, and blood. For Moses, from ancient generations, city by city, has those who are heralding him, being read on every sabbath in the synagogues. (Acts 15:19-21 CV)

This decision, recognizing the freedom of the Gentiles from circumcision and the necessity of protecting the ethnic religious culture of the Jews, is collegially agreed upon by the whole assembly of the Messianic faithful ones of the Israel of Yahweh. Consequently, the question concerning circumcision of the Gentiles is resolved with a holy consensus consisting of James (the sitting regent king), the Apostles, the elders, Paul and Barnabas, and the entire membership of the holy, elect ecclesia in Jerusalem (excluding the pseudo, antichrist, apostate members within the sect of the believing Pharisees who had deceivingly smuggled themselves into the Jerusalem assembly of Messianics). This decision is most significant, since Jerusalem is the central headquarters of the newly reunited Davidic Nation and Kingdom of Yahweh the One, True, Living Elohim of Israel.

In this letter addressed to the uncircumcised faithful ones out of the nations (those dwelling at Antioch and Syria and Cilicia), an important assurance is conveyed. The Jerusalem ecclesia had not sent those rabbinic scholars of traditional repute who had announced the disturbing message that they had to be circumcised. The letter, rejecting the necessity of circumcision, also includes a prescription for Gentile behavior which is intended to protect synagogical and social relations with ethnic Jews, both those committed to and uncommitted to the Messiahship of Jesus. For both groups of Jews, the Mosaic Law continues to operate. It had not yet been terminated.

For the Messianic Jew, the Mosaic Covenant could not provide salvation (the promise of new covenantal life culminating with the entrance of the faithful ones into the promised Celestial Allotment). However, the faithful Messianic Jew, in order to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (“you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” Ex. 19:6 KJV), must faithfully observe the Law of Moses in order that the New Born-From-Above Israel as a national entity would reflect the honor and glory of Yahweh in the midst of the apostate nation, which faithful observance Apostate Israel had failed to accomplish, resulting in her exilic historical existence and her reputation for blaspheming the name of Yahweh among the nations (Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24).

Yahweh’s honor and glory called for a nation faithfully executing His law individually and nationally. Therefore, the faithful Messianic Jews had no intention of abandoning the Law of Moses or the synagogue. This new holy nation would bear the honorable and gracious yoke of Yahweh’s Law while putting off the alien yoke developed by the disobedient generations of Apostate Israel. This new holy nation would obey the laws of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant as illuminated by The Law of Jesus the Messiah. By doing so, she would bring honor and glory to the One, True, Living Elohim of Israel.

Consequently, the appropriate behavior of the faithful Gentiles is vital to the national honor and glory of the New Born-From-Above Israel of Yahweh. Though these Gentiles need not be circumcised, since they are incorporated into the new nation as faithful uncircumcised sons of Abraham, this does not mean they are at liberty to behave lawlessly. In accordance with the Law of Moses, these faithful Gentiles would be encouraged to obey the laws which had been applicable to gentile resident aliens choosing to dwell in the land of Israel (see Leviticus, chapters 17-18).

The four recommendations to the faithful Gentiles (avoidance of pollution from idols, pollution from porneia [sexual immorality], pollution from the meat of strangled animals, and pollution from the eating of blood) are a condensation incorporating the essence of the laws listed in Leviticus, chapters 17‑18. These four prohibitions, therefore, are considered by the holy spirit and the Jerusalem assembly appropriate restraints upon Gentile Messianics, allowing them to associate with Jewish ethnic Messianics and Jewish ethnic non-messianics without offending present Jewish ethnic observances. These four laws had been associated with the Noahic laws (Gen. 9:4-6).

The adoption of these basic laws is deemed sufficient to legitimize in the eyes of non-messianic Jews the integration of Gentile and Jewish Messianics in worship and table fellowship. As to these Jewish non-messianics, they had long applied such requirements regulating association with gentiles in the synagogues, as well as in social encounters outside the synagogues. The Jewish Messianics sought to maintain these ethnic Jewish requirements of the Gentile Messianics, since they continued to attend the synagogues, encouraging the Gentile Messianics to join them.

Yahweh is, thus, presently visiting His people, in His hand a measuring line designating salvation or judgment (Rev. 11:1-2). The chaff is in the process of being separated from the grain. Salvation is of the Jews. The end of the Mosaic Eon is imminent. The eschatological Ecclesia of Jesus the Messiah is the authentic One, True, Living Israel of Yahweh, generated and created to achieve the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets during the present course of her own contemporary generation.

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The Return to Antioch of Syria With the Jerusalem Letter

The letter from the Jerusalem Assembly to the assembly at Antioch of Syria is delivered by Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas. Arriving in Antioch, the assembly of Messianics is convened, at which time the letter is handed over to the elders. After the reading of the letter in the hearing of the entire congregation, the disciples rejoice at the consolation conveyed by the letter.

Judas and Silas, representing the Jerusalem Assembly, also being prophets, encourage and exhort the faithful brethren in Antioch “by many a word” (Acts 15:32b CV), strengthening the brethren in the faith. Remaining in Antioch for a time as Jewish prophetic teachers, they are eventually dismissed by the elders with peace, releasing them from their commission in order for them to return to those who had commissioned them.

Paul and Barnabas, however, having been commissioned by the elders of the Antioch assembly, remain in Antioch teaching the Messianic brethren in the more complex truths of the secret of the Gospel previously concealed in the Hebrew Scriptures, along with the help of many other Jews appropriately educated in the Hebrew Scriptures. Attending the synagogue on the sabbaths, Paul, Barnabas, and the other Messianic Jewish teachers continue proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah to their fellow-kinsmen in the flesh. Following the prohibitions listed in the letter from the Jerusalem Assembly and observing the requirements of the Jews for gentiles attending the synagogue and socializing with the Jews, the Gentile Messianics also continue to attend the local synagogue on the sabbaths. Thus, these faithful Gentiles increase their knowledge and understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures through the agenda of synagogical instruction and the instruction of the Apostles and Messianic Jewish teachers taking place on the intervening days between sabbaths.

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The Guidance of the Spirit in the Dispute Between Paul and Barnabas

After some time in Antioch, having taught and established the brethren, Paul indicates to Barnabas that it is now appropriate to return to the cities in which they had previously announced the word of Yahweh during the mission which had been commissioned by the spirit. It is their responsibility to secure the development of the brethren dwelling in these cities. In the course of this return visitation, they would deliver to these Messianic brethren the letter from the Jerusalem Assembly, thus delivering to these assemblies the decrees which these assemblies are to maintain.

These Jewish customs, Paul would explain, are a minimum concession necessitated in order to secure the communal spirit enabling ethnic Jews and gentiles to live together in unity. These laws associated with Noah and the nations and incorporated in the Mosaic Law to regulate the social and religious relations of gentile resident aliens in the land of Israel, although possessing no soteriological benefits (even for non-Messianic Jews), do play an important part in the proclamation of the Gospel. The faithful observance of these laws facilitates the righteous and desirable interchange among ethnic Jews, Messianic Jews, and Messianic Gentiles, allowing a continual open dialogue with ethnic Jews, since the Gospel is sent first to the Jews:

To you [ethnic Jews] first, Yahweh, raising His invigorating Son, commissions Him to bless you by turning away each of you from your malignant ways [the traditions and commandments of the fathers, the pseudo-shepherds]. (Acts 3:26 my translation)

to the Jew first, and to the Greek as well. (Romans 1:16b CV)

Accordingly, fellowship in the synagogues between ethnic Jews, on the one hand, and Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles, on the other, would be maintained, in accordance with the will of Yahweh, the One, True, Living Elohim of Israel.

Barnabas, immediately agreeing to the proposal of Paul, begins to make plans for the journey, intending to take John Mark along as a ministerial assistant in the work. Paul, learning of Barnabas’ intent, refuses to accept John Mark as a fellow worker. He had abandoned the work previously, and Paul counts him as untrustworthy of such a vital and vulnerable endeavor. From Paul’s perspective, this young man would be a liability, possibly exposing them to shame and dishonor, thereby jeopardizing the reputation of the evangelists and the honor of Yahweh associated with the Gospel.

Barnabas disagrees with Paul’s possible scenario. He has confidence in John Mark, realizing his previous weakness, but presently confident of John Mark’s reformed resolve. The dispute between the two apostles entailed such deeply felt irritation and anger, that Luke records, “Now they become so incensed as to recoil from one another” (Acts 15:39b CV).

Barnabas perceives John Mark primarily with his heart. Barnabas is the great conciliator, Joseph, surnamed Barnabas, “Son of consolation” (Acts 4:36 CV). Paul, the trained Jewish rabbi, perceives John Mark primarily with his critical mind, evaluating him in relation to the seriousness, the holiness of the eschatological significance of the work.

On this basis, Paul stands firmly against risking the highly sensitive, inviolable nature of the evangelistic commission of the very spirit of Yahweh and His Anointed Son/King. The delicate evangelistic relationship with ethnic Jewry is highly combustible. Any repetition of John Mark’s previous attitude and behavior could be the spark which ignites a social and/or religious conflagration disintegrating the delicate relation between ethnic Jews and Messianic Jews righteously associated with Messianic Gentiles in accord with the requirement of the New Davidic/Abrahamic Covenant.

The dispute between Paul and Barnabas is so intense that the two former partners in the holy mission part company. The second phase of the mission, about to be engaged in, is now divided between the two apostles. Barnabas, taking as his associate John Mark, travels to Cyprus revisiting the formerly evangelized cities in order to assist in the further growth and spiritual development in knowledge and conduct. Paul, selecting Silas as his associate, travels through Syria and Cilicia “establishing the ecclesias [assemblies of faithful Messianic Jews and Gentiles] (Acts 15:41 CV), as he makes his way back to the assemblies established in the cities of Galatia. Although personal disputes and social quarrels can occur between faithful followers of Jesus the Messiah, the guidance of the spirit guarantees the success of the Gospel in bringing about the triumphant victory of the New Davidic Kingdom and the completion of the Ecclesia (the Assembly of called-out ones) of Jesus the Messiah, resulting in her entrance into the Celestial Allotment promised to the faithful children of Abraham.