Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 26, 1959

Some Perversions Of Scripture Refuted

A. Hugh Clark, Baytown, Texas

There are some so eager to defend their idols at any expense that they rush into pulpit and press with such exegetical inanities and ridiculous perversions of simple statements of scripture as are not only no defense at all, but which brand them, in the minds of those who are really serious in the pursuit of truth, as shallow, unsafe purveyers of the opinions of others which they themselves, have not taken time seriously to consider. Had they taken the time and made the effort to think things through, they would never have fallen into such obviously childish error.

And what shall we say of those who accept the statements of such as these as "The voice of an oracle" when all the time they have access to the Sacred Volume, an almost casual glance at which in the connections announced, would forever explode the fanciful theory being directed at them! Truly, "If the blind lead the blind, born shall fall into the ditch."

If any are disposed to think that the language here used in dealing with such is too austere, or that it is unkind, let him remember the apostolic anathemas pronounced upon those who pervert the gospel, and further, let him remember that the teaching of God's word is no trifling undertaking in which a man can afford to be guided by personal desires, emotional upheavals, prejudices and biases based upon the desire to be on the popular side, et cetera, et cetera. James says, "Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment. Before any man delivers himself regarding the truth of God, he ought to have engaged in such serious, intensive, personal study of the Bible as that he is, in no sense parroting what another has said, but speaking the convictions of his own mind, based upon his own personal knowledge of what God has actually said.

We are frequently treated in these days, as an example of the sort of thing I am talking about, to an exegetical flourish on the part of some tyro, which actually denies outright, what the passage under consideration really says! Let us notice Acts 11:27-30, where Luke says concerning the relief sent from Antioch to the needy brethren of Judaea, "And the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren that dwelt in Judaea: which also they did, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul." Vs. 29-30.

But, there are those preachers and brethren, who are so eager, as well as hard-pressed, to find an example Of the "sponsoring church" in the New Testament, one church sending THROUGH another church to the needs of others, that they are willing to argue from this passage, that this relief was actually sent to elders of the Jerusalem church only and was really distributed to the other churches by them.

Of course, it is perfectly obvious to anyone that such involves an outright denial of what the passage actually says, and requires a plain substitution of the word Jerusalem for the word Judaea in the text. But, so blinded are they by their prejudices, and so eager are they to find an example of their unscriptural practices, that such unholy handling of the word of God is nothing to them. However, no amount of theological juggling nor ignorant or vicious perversion can destroy the fact that the passage actually says that this relief was sent by the hand of Barnabas and Saul to the Elders of Judaea. And since the New Testament authorizes "Elders in every church" (Acts 14:23) and we know there were a number of churches in Judaea, the passage simply states that the relief was delivered by Barnabas and Saul to the Elders in the churches of Judaea.

But again, one asks, "If this be true, how could Paul truthfully make the statement contained in Gal. 1:21, where he said, "I was still unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ." The answer to this question lies in determining when, as Paul declares in the passage, "He was still unknown by face to the churches of Judaea, etc." It is readily admitted that had he referred, in this passage, to a time after the distribution of the relief from Antioch by Barnabas and himself, he would have contradicted himself. Here again one needs only to look at the passage and take account of what is really said.

Paul, in Galatians, chapter one, while recounting his movements after his conversion says, (vs. 21) "Then I came into the region of Syria and Cilicia" And as an additional fact he says, that at that time, that is, at the time when he came into Syria and allele, he was still unknown by face to the churches in Judaea. But this trip to Cilicia (Acts 9:26-30 was before even the establishment of the church at Antioch, whose benevolence he and Barnabas distributed to the elders of the churches of Judaea, the account of which is read at Antioch, Paul was still down at Tarsus, his home in Cilicia, when Barnabas, whom the church at Jerusalem had sent down to Antioch upon learning of the church there, perceiving that he needed someone to help him, "Went forth to Tarsus to seek for Saul: and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch . . ." (Acts 11:25-26.)

Consequently, those of the sponsoring church persuasion in dealing with Acts 11:27-30 and Gal. 1:21, in their passion to find even a semblance of scriptural warrant for their unscriptural practices, pervert both passages. And the errors in which they involve themselves are so obvious, as here pointed out, that anyone who calls himself a gospel preacher and is guilty ought to be heartily ashamed of himself.