Church pastors must articulate their concerns to the church body. Apparently, the scene has shifted to include a multitude in Acts 15.12-17. Maybe they heard what was going on and gradually came together, or maybe the leaders met first and then came to the multitude of believers during an open church meeting. Certainly everyone was amazed at how God had worked through Barnabas and Paul among the Gentiles. Once everyone settled in and there was a silence, the pastor got up to speak.
Pastor James of the Jerusalem church led the council as the host pastor of the church. He now summarizes what Peter said earlier, and then points up the fact that Simon’s declaration was in agreement with the prophets. That is, Simon clearly was speaking of an agreement (not fulfillment) with the OT prophecies when it came to the matter of the salvation of Gentiles (see Amos 9.11-12).
It all began with the conversion of Cornelius and his family. God visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name (Acts 15.14). They would remain Gentiles and not become Jews. There will be no racial distinctions in the church of God. It would consist of people from all over the world. Those who come to Christ by grace alone through faith alone make up the church. Interestingly, James quotes the Septuagint (LXX) when he quotes Amos. That’s significant because he is in Jerusalem. By quoting the LXX, James is approving of the actions of Barnabas and Paul. It was a definitive way to show his support by quoting the Greek (Gentile) Scriptures. It would have been difficult for the legalist Pharisees to hear him do that.
Dr. Stewart Custer states that the Dead Sea Scroll 4Q has a Hebrew text that exactly agrees with the Greek of Acts. That’s pretty amazing when you stop to think about it. This is how this text flows:
- First, God is taking out of the Gentiles a people for His name (He is still doing that today).
- But Jesus Christ will return and rebuild the tabernacle of David during the Millennial Kingdom. I know of no NT context where the tabernacle of David refers to the church.
- Once the Millennial reign of Christ is established, all people who populate the kingdom are saved by grace through faith in Christ. As time goes forward, many will be born that need to be converted. Isaiah prophecies of the multitudes of these conversions.
- At that time all the nations shall flow into the LORD’s house (Isaiah 2.2). The Gentiles shall seek Him and His resting places shall be glorious (Isaiah 11.10). All flesh shall come to worship before the LORD (Isaiah 66.23).
I don’t believe the church can fulfill any of these prophecies of which Isaiah speaks. As Gentiles are converted today, we are witnessing just the beginning of the advancing day when God will be all in all to all peoples. Then, the great eternal day begins.
The Good News is that God is doing all these things. Gentiles are not Jews, but God is calling them by His name. If God is going to welcome Gentiles into His future millennial kingdom, then He will do so presently during this aspect of His glorious and eternal reign through the church!
- God visits the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name (vv.14-15).
- “After this I will return” (v. 16): after the church age, the Lord Jesus will return.
- “And will rebuild the tabernacle of David” (v. 16): set up the millennial reign.
- The Gentiles will be brought to the LORD after the Kingdom is set up on the earth.
People who don’t believe in a literal Millennium Kingdom interpret this text by saying that the return and rebuilding of the tabernacle refer to the resurrection of Christ and the establishment of the church. But as I have already mentioned, there is no biblical citation in the NT where the tabernacle of David refers to the church.