Monday, July 10, 2017

Bringing in the Name

“After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.  And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks” (Acts18:1-4).

As you may know, the original New Testament Greek texts were copied by hand so they could be distributed to the churches. On rare occasions individual scribes, hoping to illuminate the text, added explanatory notes which, though they’re not part of the received text, shed light on it. One of these variants is found in Acts 18:4.

The accepted text of The Acts of the Apostles reads as above: “And he (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.” An enterprising scribe at some point added a phrase: “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, bringing in the name of the Lord Jesus; and tried to persuade the Jews and the Greeks.”[1]

“Bringing in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Interesting! It appears that this scribe, having heard Paul speak, was thinking of his method of expounding the scriptures.

Paul had little more than the Old Testament in his hands. The New Testament, apart from some of the Gospels, had not yet been written. Thus Paul argued almost solely from the Jewish scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah and did so by reading Messianic passages from the Old Testament, “bringing in (inserting) the name of the Lord Jesus” where it was appropriate to do so. It’s sound methodology and I commend the method as a way of reading the Old Testament.

I think of Isaiah 53:4,5:

“Surely Jesus has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Jesus was pierced for our transgressions; crushed for our iniquities. Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by Jesus’ wounds we are healed.”

Paul’s homiletic is especially apropos when we read the Book of Psalms for, as I believe, all the psalms are Messianic and all can be placed in Jesus' mouth or applied directly to Him. Accordingly:

When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you, Lord Jesus, are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).

That puts a face on our companion as we walk through that dark valley. The Lord Jesus will walk with us though all others must turn back.

David Roper

[1] For those of you who care about this sort of thing, one 7th Century manuscript [D] and some versions of the Syriac and Vulgate have the variant: “και εντιθεις το ονομα του κυριου Iησου.”

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