Documentation Published on Monday, 11 September 2023

Timegaps in Biblical Chronology: Reading only one part of the Word does not always give all of the facts

Reading only one part of the Word does not always give all of the facts

The book of Acts, or if we want to use the proper title, The Acts of the Holy Apostles described by Luke, is the author's account of the first century church, focusing especially on the work of the apostles, and also the apostle Paul.

Although Luke often travelled with Paul and the other apostles, not everything Paul did was recorded. This can lead to confusion, give the impression that there are flaws. However, if we read the whole Word (2 Timothy 3:16) in context, we find that there are no errors. Here's a good example.

We read in Acts 9 about Paul's conversion. After spending three days in Judas' house (Acts 9:11), Ananias prayed for him. We read in verse 19 that he then spent a few days with the disciples in Damascus, and then began preaching the gospel. Then the Jews decided to kill him (v. 23). Paul heard about it, and the disciples then lowered him into a basket against the wall at night (v. 25).

This is where the problem arises. In the next verse (verse 26), Luke describes how Paul arrived in Jerusalem, trying to join the disciples in the city. Yet they were afraid of him, and Barnabas assisted him. We therefore deduce, quite logically, that Paul left Damascus and arrived in Jerusalem directly afterwards. However, this is not true. Let me explain why.

We read, as described by Paul himself, that he repented (Galatians 1:15) and was given the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. He writes, however, that he immediately did not consult flesh and blood (i.e., people), nor immediately went to Jerusalem, but to Arabia, where he remained for three years before returning again to Damascus and arrived in Jerusalem only three years afterwards. Notice how he very emphatically describes the idea that he immediately (immediately) went to Jerusalem, not using the negative.

There is thus a big difference in terms of what Luke writes about Paul, and what the apostle himself records. This is not a mistake. We must understand that although Luke recorded many of the events, he was not present everywhere. He writes that Paul descended into a basket on the wall. From here for a period of three years (perhaps longer), Luke knows nothing about Paul, and the apostle himself fills in the details for us, as described in Galatians 1.

Paul went to Arabia alone after Acts 9:25, learning from the Lord there (he did not consult flesh and blood), before returning to Damascus and later going to Jerusalem. Luke picks up the story from verse 26. Why did Luke not describe the events in Arabia? Because it was a period where the Lord Himself taught Paul. Luke's description is therefore not incorrect (Acts 9:25 and 26). He merely picks up the story in verse 26. Paul describes what happened during the other three years.

Many readers may dismiss this explanation as unimportant and miss such a great truth in the Word. Let us learn to study the Word in context. It comes only through continued study of the Bible. Word choices are there for a reason, and we need to learn to look at them more carefully.

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