The Davidic Promise And The Inclusion Of The Gentiles (Amos 9:9-15 And Acts 15:13-18): A Test Passage For Theological Systems -- By: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 20:2 (Jun 1977)
Article: The Davidic Promise And The Inclusion Of The Gentiles (Amos 9:9-15 And Acts 15:13-18): A Test Passage For Theological Systems
Author: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.


The Davidic Promise And The Inclusion Of The Gentiles
(Amos 9:9-15 And Acts 15:13-18):
A Test Passage For Theological Systems

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.*

It is virtually impossible to find a more appropriate set of canonical texts to test such a vast array of burning questions now posed in the whole curriculum of divinity than the two selected as a basis for this paper. The areas of debate are familiar by now: What is the relationship of the OT to the NT? What exegetical method(s) does/do the NT quotations of the OT employ, especially in argumentation that seeks OT support? What are the elements of continuity and/or discontinuity between Israel and the Church—or, to put it another way: Who are the “people of God” and what is the “kingdom of God”? Did the prophets envisage the Church or even the salvation of Gentiles during the Church age in their writings? Is there a single master plan or divine program involving eschatological completion for both Testaments?

I. Introduction

“No small dissension” on these issues still remains within the body of Christ long after some of the same questions were tackled by the Jerusalem council. The only difference is that the debate now centers around one thing that apparently was especially clear in that day—namely, the significance and meaning of the OT quotation used by James to resolve the issue under debate. But what was it in that passage that settled the controversy? Did James claim that the mission to the Gentiles, dare we even say to the Christian Church, was part of the divine revelation to Amos—in any form whatever? And did James thereby also indicate that a fulfillment of Amos’ prophecy had come in the day of the apostles?

A. Areas of Tension

Erich Sauer succinctly summarized the principal differences in the interpretation of the Amos and Acts passages. It was his judgment that whenever the subject of the Davidic kingship of Messiah’s kingdom is raised, especially as it relates to the Gentiles, three areas of tension emerge: (1) the time of the kingdom’s commencement (whether it was at the ascension and Pentecost, or at the future epiphany and parousia); (2) the form of this rule (whether it was solely inward and spiritual, or external, visible and historical-political); and (3) the ex-

*Walter Kaiser is professor of Semitic languages and Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

tent of this kingdom (whether it was over a spiritual body such as the Christian Church, or a political body such as national Israel and other lands and peoples).1 The vested int...

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