The Interpretation of Acts 15:13-18 -- By: Willard Maxwell Aldrich

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 111:444 (Oct 1954)
Article: The Interpretation of Acts 15:13-18
Author: Willard Maxwell Aldrich


The Interpretation of Acts 15:13-18

Willard Maxwell Aldrich

[Editor’s Note: Dr. Aldrich is President of the Multnomah School of the Bible, Portland, Oregon, and Editor of The Doorstep Evangel.]

C. I. Scofield is said to have regarded Acts 15:13–18 as the most important passage in the New Testament from the dispensational point of view.

The passage is important because it tells what God is doing in the present age and it harmonizes God’s present dealings with the Gentiles with the Messianic expectation of the Jews.

Premillennialists and dispensationalists maintain that the passage sets forth God’s prophetic program in two separate parts: (1) God is now (for the first time) visiting the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name, and (2) after this Christ will return to rebuild the house of David and to subject the whole world unto Himself.

Amillennialists maintain that the Old Testament quotation found in verses 16 and 17 concerning the return of Christ is to be spiritualized and to find its fulfillment in the church during this age. They emphatically deny that it refers to a future personal Advent of Christ to establish a literal Messianic reign.

The purpose of this paper is to show that the Old Testament prophecy was not intended to be spiritualized and applied to the church in this age, but that it is to have a future literal fulfillment in renewed national dealings with Israel.

The Old Testament Quotation

Our passage is the official summation of the judgment

of the first council of the Church at Jerusalem concerning the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church and their freedom from the law of Moses. James is the spokesman, and he said:

“Men and brethren, hearken unto me:

14 Simeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles,
to take out of them a people for his name.

15 And to this agree the words of the prophets;
as it is written,

16 After these things I will return
And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen;
And I will build again the ruins thereof, And I will set it up:

17 That the residue of men may seek after the Lord,
And all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called,

18 Saith the Lord, who maketh, these things known from of old.”

One of the chief objections to the premillennial view of the passa...

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