Sacrificing Paul's Credibility to Rescue Acts

Exegesis / Eisegesis

In Galatians it is clearly stated by Paul that after his conversion he went once to Jerusalem to see Peter and then again 14 years later. Yet Acts has him going to Jerusalem three times during this same period of time. .

Galatians 1:18 ... after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter ... See Context

Galatians 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem ... See Context

Acts 9:26 ... when Saul was come to Jerusalem ... See Context

Acts 11:30 & 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry ... See Context

Acts 15:2 ... they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem ... See Context

Yet to a Bible apologist what appears in the Bible to look like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is not a duck! To try and explain away a contradiction like the one above, apologists for the Bible will claim the use of a lofty sounding technical term, such as exegesis. Those that will rightfully acknowledge that Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15:1-30 are concerned with the very same issues and events, will claim that Paul's visit to Jerusalem in Acts 11:30 &12:25 wasn't important to Paul's argument, and this is the reason Paul doesn't mention it in Galatians. While those that are too embarrassed to rightfully acknowledge that Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15:1-30 are concerned with the same things, will claim that Galatians 2:1-10 does not equal Acts 15:1-30, but equals the visit in Acts 11:30 &12:25 and that Acts 15:1-30 occurred at a later date.

Neither argument is the reflection of a precise analysis (exegesis), but is the reflection of eisegesis, reading things into the texts that is neither said, nor is implied. Both are sacrificing Paul's credibility to rescue Acts from itself. They are completely disregarding the preponderance of evidence that Acts is contradicting Galatians elsewhere. And both are giving preference to the claims of a secondary source over what is said in the primary source, which is the equivalent of saying that Acts is a more reliable account of what Paul did, than is Paul's own account of his doings!

In more cases than not, when a Christian apologist claims to be using exegesis to explain a Biblical difficulty, they are using eisegesis instead. For it is in their self-interest to uphold the belief that what is claimed of God and Christ in the Bible is inerrant. Thus they confound the confused by dazzling them with lofty sounding terms which will allow them to alter troublesome things in the Bible, which they would not do if it were a secular document being questioned. For it is by holding the Bible to a lesser standard of proof than that of a secular document that apologists for the Bible explain away its many absurdities and contradictions. Yet to a Bible apologist what appears in the Bible to look like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is not a duck!

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary

Eisegesis: "the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one's own ideas"

Webster's New World College Dictionary 4th Edition

Exegesis: "explanation, to lead, explain, guide, critical analysis, or interpretation of a word, or literary passage, etc., esp. in the Bible "

Comparing Galatians 2:1-10 with Acts 11:27-30 & 12:25

To argue that Galatians 2:1-10 occurred during Paul's alleged Jerusalem visit in Acts 11:27-30 & 12:25 is to completely dismiss what was agreed to in Galatians 2:1-10. For after that alleged visit the Paul of Acts continues to go unto the circumcision, a clear violation to what is agreed to in Galatians 2:9. On top of that, if the agreement had occurred during that alleged visit, why would the Gentiles have needed to plead with the Paul of Acts to preach to them?

Galatians 2:9 ... that we should go unto the heathen (Gentiles), and they unto the circumcision (Observers of the law)... See Context

Acts 13:5 ... (Barnabas and Saul) preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews... See Context

Acts 13:14 ... they (Paul and Barnabas) came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue ... See Context

Acts 14:1 ... (Paul and Barnabas) went both together into the synagogue of the Jews ... See Context

Acts 13:42 ... when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought (Paul) that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. See Context

Connecting the Dots: "A dearth throughout all the world"

To claim that the revelation in Acts 11:27-30 and Galatians 2:2 are the same is avoiding what Paul says he did after he refers to the revelation in Galatians 2:2. For it is self-evident that the revelation is concerning the gospel that he preached to the Gentiles. Nothing is in it that would infer that Paul was being told to bring relief to Jerusalem because of a famine. Whereas the alleged reason in Acts 11 is to deliver relief to Jerusalem because of a dearth throughout all the world, period! A dearth which did not exist!

Galatians 2: 2 ... I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles ... See Context

Acts 11:27 ... in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28: And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29: Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. See Context

Comparing Galatians 2:1-10 with Acts 15:1-30

To claim that Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15:1-30 are different accounts of the same events is also avoiding the primary issue that was agreed to in Jerusalem as well. For even after Acts 15 the befuddled Paul of Acts is completely oblivious of any agreement and he continues preaching unto the circumcision!

Regardless of how one tries to harmonize the accounts of Galatians 2:1-10 with Acts 11:27-30 & 12:25, or with Acts 15:1-30, it is self-evident that the Paul of Acts is completely oblivious of the agreement in Galatians 2:9. At no time does he cease from violating the agreement by preaching "unto the circumcision." Even his meaningless threat in Acts 18:6 "from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles" makes it self-evident that the author, or authors of Acts were either ignorant of the agreement in Galatians 2:9, or is purposely denying that there was an agreement.

Galatians 2:9 that we should go unto the heathen (Gentiles), and they unto the circumcision (Observers of the law). See Context

Acts 17:1 ... where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2: And Paul, AS HIS MANNER WAS, WENT IN UNTO THEM... See Context

Acts 17:10 ... (Paul and Silas) coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews ... See Context

Acts 17:17 ... disputed he (Paul) in the synagogue with the Jews ... See Context

Acts 18:4 ... (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath ... See Context

Acts 18:19 ... (Paul) himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. See Context

Acts 18:6 Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. See Context

Acts 19:8 ... (Paul) went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months ... See Context

Synagogues and Gentiles

When reading Acts one might think that in those days the best place to look for a Gentile was in a synagogue. To argue that the synagogues in Acts were churches is absurd; a synagogue is a synagogue! And although it is truly a quagmire trying to translate ancient Hebrew and Greek into a modern language, it's still worth noting that the word Paul uses in his Epistles to describe where he preached is not the word synagogue.

To dismiss the claims in Acts that Paul continued preaching in the synagogues after the agreement in Galatians 2:9 is intellectually dishonest. The concern of Galatians 2:9 is not with what region one was to preach in, but to whom one was to preach to. Even the babble in Acts 15:7 confirms that preaching to Gentiles was not a geographical matter. Both Acts 18:6 and Galatians 2:9 are clearly saying that the Gentiles were separate from those who observed the law. And it's an absurdity to think that the only place that the Gentiles had available to them to discuss religious matters was a synagogue.

Galatians 2:9 that we should go unto the heathen (Gentiles), and they unto the circumcision (Jews, observers of the laws of Moses). See Context

Acts 18:6 ... from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. See Context

The Land of OZ

The Paul of Acts is portrayed as being the wimpy subordinate of the leaders of the Jerusalem Church, whose gospel is subject to their approval as well. And it is thus that he stands silent and submissively by as James decrees that although HE will not require that the Gentiles be circumcised, they will nevertheless be required to observe certain laws of Moses, which is an out and out contradiction of what Paul has said in Galatians:

Galatians 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor... See Context

Since the Paul of Acts does not have the same honcho status that is enjoyed by the leaders of the Jerusalem church, Judas and Silas are appointed to accompany him back to Antioch, with a letter from its most exalted leader, James. The letter is to insure that all the little munchkins back in Antioch understood that what they were being told to observe has come from the highest of authorities. And true to its effeminate narrative, Acts says all the little uncircumcised munchkins in Antioch were giddy and overcome with joy upon hearing from the land of Oz. Well, if it were your foreskin that was in peril, you might have been jumping for joy too!

In spite of the love-in that Acts is claiming occurred in Antioch, Paul says otherwise. He says that when those from James (Judas and Silas) arrived in Antioch, Peter was made fearful and became a hypocrite, and that he had to rebuke Peter for it.

Acts 15:27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas ... See Context

Acts 15:30 ... they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 31: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 32: And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. See Context

Galatians 2:11 ... when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12: For before that certain (epistle) came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they (Judas and Silas) were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. See Context

Soup's on!

Being embarrassed by Paul's claim of rebuking Peter's hypocrisy, some insist that Galatians 2: 11-14 happened before the Apostolic Agreement in Acts 15. It's just another example of how an apologists for the Bible will refuse to acknowledge the obvious. The dietary restrictions in the so-called Apostolic Agreement requires that the Gentiles abstain from eating meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled. Whereas the food fight in Galatians 2:12 involves Gentiles and Jews eating together, period! It is an issue that revolves around the Jewish 'Laws of Separation'. For example: Eating with Gentiles, a Jew might accidentally eat forbidden meat. And the Jews considered Gentiles to be unclean, and because their uncleanness was contagious they were not to eat with Gentiles.

Not only do these defenders of fabrications dismiss the chronological order of events in Galatians, but are doing it in Acts as well! By conveniently avoiding the fact that even before the so-called Apostolic Agreement, Peter defended his eating with Gentiles by claiming that God had personally approved of it. It should also be noted that Peter's vision occurs even before Paul's alleged trip in Acts (11:27-30 & 12:25).

See Peter's vision: Acts 11:1-18

See Laws of Separation: Jubilees 22:16

Trying to justify the dietary restrictions in Acts 15:19-21 by claiming that if the believers of Paul's gospel were permitted to eat things forbidden to a Jew it would cause division among the brethren is to believe that the followers of Paul gathered in synagogues. For the requirements in Acts 15:19-21 is the requirements of a synagogue, see Acts 15:21.

To dismiss the fact that had Paul required the Gentiles to observe the dietary laws of Moses in the account of Acts15: 20 he would have been a hypocrite and was undermining his gospel as well, are we to never mind that the very reason Paul rebukes Peter in Antioch is not over what was being eaten, but concerns the Jewish laws of separation? And never mind that it is only after those who were sent by James (Judas and Silas) arrive in Antioch that Peter became a hypocrite? And never mind that Paul identifies James as the leader of those who were causing Peter and others to be inconsistent with the truth of Paul's gospel? And never mind that Paul says that it was agreed to in Jerusalem that he was to go among the Gentiles, while those of the Jerusalem Church were to go to those of the synagogues? And to never mind that only one thing was asked of Paul in Jerusalem?

When comparing Galatians 2:9-10 with Galatians 2:12, only one of two conclusions about James can be reached: Either James was completely ignorant of the agreement that Paul says was reached in Galatians 2:9-10, or James had no intentions of honoring the agreement to begin with. For unlike Paul, James was not trying to establish a new religion, but saw himself first as a Jew, who was an upholder of the true precepts of Judaism. And according to the Gospels, the very same can be said of his brother, Jesus, as well. Neither were all that concerned with what a Gentile believes.

 Squabbling over Circumcision

In Acts, its wimpy Paul is so fearful of the Jews that he has to take little Timothy and have him circumcised. The silliness of that ridiculus claim begs the question - Did men in those days go around showing their penis to one another?

Acts 16:3 Him (Timothy) would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters ... See Context

To believe that when in the very center of Judaism (Jerusalem), Paul stood his ground in refusing to allow Titus to be circumcised, how can one not question the account in Acts of Paul having little Timmy circumcised? Never mind questioning the mindset of grown men allowing it?

Galatians 2:3 ... neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. See Context

It is mind boggling that the primitive religious practice of circumcision doesn't cause more controversy than it does? It's one thing to believe that the primitives believed that circumcision pleased God, but altogether another thing that people today still believe that it pleases God that men inflict this barbaric and painful ritual upon an infant. For if one has doubts as to whether or not circumcision is painful, all one needs do is pinch them self in the appropriate place and a revelation will surely be forthcoming.

Regardless of what the Bible claims, circumcision is an African ritual that was a practiced in Egypt during the fourth dynasty, long before the alleged time of Abraham in the fifteenth dynasty. It's an example of what the Hebrews appropriated from others and claimed it as their own.

Simon Says:

It is because Paul is portrayed in Acts as being the wimpy subordinate of James, that it can claim that Paul was obedient to the demand of James to make a public example of himself as an observer and guardian of the Law. If one believes that Galatians has any validity at all, they would have to be utterly naive to believe that Paul pandered for James, by making a public example of himself as an observer and guardian of the Law for the benefit of those who hated his gospel.

Acts 21:23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; 24: Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. See Context

Messianic Jews / Messianic Judaism

Galatians is an argument against the dogma of the Jerusalem Church; the same dogma being preached today by various Jewish Messianic movements that are claiming Jesus is the Messiah. For where Paul preached that faith alone pleased God, the Jerusalem Church insisted that the works of the laws should govern one's faith in God. It was because of this difference that in Galatians 2:9, an agreement was made that Paul was to preach his gospel to the Gentiles, and those of the Jerusalem Church would preach theirs to the Jews. Yet it is self-evident in Galatians 2:12 that James did not observe the agreement. And that Paul's anger in his letter to the Galatians is in direct response to the meddling of James and the Judaizers, who were trying to undermine Paul's gospel by imposing "the works of the law" upon those whom Paul had been given charge over, the Gentiles!


Regardless of whether or not Acts was in reaction to the teachings of Marcion, it is a fabrication of the Roman Church. Its purpose in making Paul an observer and guardian of the law is designed to undermine Paul's gospel of faith. Its replacing personal faith with requirements of observing religious rituals and legalisms, rendering one's faith in God to be made subject to the approval of men. For with the inclusion of Acts in the New Testament the claim that Paul's gospel overcame the demands of ritual legalisms is false.

I do not claim that all that I argue is without error, but I believe that the essence of my argument is true. It would be beyond my understanding how anyone who is truthful before God could claim after reading my argument that there are no contradictions between Galatians and Acts.

Most preachers are aware of the conflict between Galatians and Acts, but would rather that their flock remain ignorant of them: not because they fear that knowledge of such things would hinder one's faith in God, but because it would hinder one's faith in them.

Galatians versus Acts

Part 1: Is God The Author of Confusion?

Part 2: The Jerusalem Conference and Apostolic Decree

Part 3: Sacrificing Paul's Credibility to Rescue Acts

Other writings of Wayne Lamar Harrington

In Defense of the Goodness of God


Revealing the Spiritual duality of the Bible. For it serves neither God nor truth to try and rationalize irrational things the Bible has said of God.

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