The Chronological Problem of Galatians 2:1-10 -- By: Stanley D. Toussaint

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 120:480 (Oct 1963)
Article: The Chronological Problem of Galatians 2:1-10
Author: Stanley D. Toussaint

The Chronological Problem of Galatians 2:1-10

Stanley D. Toussaint

Without a doubt, the outstanding problem in reconciling Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians with the book of Acts is the relating of Galatians 2:1–10 with Luke’s record. W. L. Knox calls this “the central problem of Acts.”1 Simply put the problem is this: Which of Paul’s visits to Jerusalem recorded in Acts is discussed in Galatians two ? Can the Acts account be squared with Paul’s autobiography in Galatians without facing hopeless discrepancies? According to Luke’s record Paul was in Jerusalem five times following his conversion. First, there was the visit to Jerusalem after Paul left Damascus (Acts 9:26–30). It is clear this corresponds with Galatians 1:18–20. Second, there was the famine visit recorded in Acts 11:27–30 and 12:25. Third, Paul visited Jerusalem at the time of the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:1–30). The fourth brief visit to Jerusalem following the second missionary journey is recorded in Acts 18:22. The fifth and final visit occasioned Paul’s Caesarean imprisonment (Acts 21:1523:35 ).

It is almost certain Galatians 2:1–10 is not viewing Paul’s fourth visit of Acts 18:22 and it cannot be describing the fifth.2 Unless Luke has omitted one of Paul’s visits to Jerusalem,3 a rather unlikely alternative, the reconciliation of

Galatians 2:1–10 with the Acts record is limited to two possibilities. In Galatians two Paul is referring either to his second or to his third visit to Jerusalem.4

In either case, Luke’s reliability has been called into question because of the difficulties involved in reconciling Galatians with Acts. Bruce states concerning Luke’s record of the Jerusalem council: “His account of this occasion has been impugned by a number of scholars as tendentious and largely unhistorical, mainly because of the difficulty of reconciling it with the evidence of the Pauline evidences difficulty that has been ...

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