Amos 9 and Acts 15

Posted By on November 6, 2010

This case is a fascinating one, as I am sure you all know now.  Opinion on the questions I posted varied in the comments:

1. What would you assume the “booth” or “tabernacle” of David is, referred to in v. 11?

* some saw a structure here; others saw David’s dynasty or household.

2. What would it mean to you that this “booth” or “tabernacle” is “fallen” and in need of repair?
3. What would you presume would be meant by the “rebuilding” of this “booth” or “tabernacle”?

* along with the above, it could point to a literal rebuilding or repair of a structure, or restoration of a dynastic line.

4. Who do you suppose would be “the remnant of Edom”?
* some saw Edom; others saw in Edom a broad reference to Gentiles.

This passage is quoted in Acts 15 at the Jerusalem council. The passage is very clearly applied to the formation of the church through David’s dynastic heir, Jesus. The church was the new manifestation of the people of God, which included Gentiles (it was “circumcision neutral”).

Now here is the rub. WHICH responses are “literal”? Did Luke cite the passage “literally”?  I put it this way since many think that literal citation and literal fulfillment is the only way Bible prophecy works, and that *exact* citation in line with “original intent” is required lest inerrancy be lost.

What say ye?

Here is what Beale and Carson’s book has to say about this passage.

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18 Responses to “Amos 9 and Acts 15”

  1. Greg Smith says:

    David’s tabernacle (2 Sam 6:17) was a literal structure, i.e., there was an actual tent where the ark was placed. The key idea for me is that this tent was not the Tabernacle which was still at Shiloh. Therefore, access was not restricted. Any could come in and see the Ark. This would include Gentiles, the sojourners in Israel. In Acts 15, there is no literal structure in site. The “structure” referenced is the Church which now has given Gentiles full access. The fulfillment is not literal but figurative.

  2. W. Edward Glenny wrote an interesting article about this from a Dispensationalist point of view:

    • MSH says:

      Sweet – Ed is a friend of mine. I’ll have to pick something out of this and needle him about it when I see him in a couple weeks. Thanks!

  3. blop2008 says:

    The link to Beale and Carson does not work

  4. John says:

    Dr Heiser, what is your take on the”Edom” in Amos 9. Is God using that term and applying it to all Gentiles?

    • MSH says:

      no, you’re not going to drag me back into eschatology! MY answer is that James (and Luke, who wrote Acts) sure seemed to take it that way. (And did James/Luke have to think of Edom as = Gentiles? Were the Edomites Gentiles? According to Genesis 36 they were the descendants of Esau, who was a son of Isaac, and so grandson of Abraham – i.e., not Gentile). Perhaps James saw Amos as speaking of a reconciliation of the “two lines” from Isaac — and then applied that to the “wholeness” of the people of God, using that as an analogy to include the Gentiles. Anyway, we can’t get exactly in the head of James / Luke, but they got from Edom to the Gentile inclusion.

  5. Craig says:

    Tabernacle of David is where David dwelt in his day; that is Zion. His castle was called the City of David. The Ark of the Covenant dwelt there for a time before being placed in the Temple. Zion is the place from where Jesus will rule over the nations. Zion is a place of rule and the Temple is a place of worship. It will have to be rebuilt because Jesus will rule from Zion (portrayed in the Psalms) during the Millennial Kingdom (1000 year reign of Christ on Earth). The remnant of Edom portion I take literal not figurative. Edom and Israel fought thru out the Old Testament. And, God’s final judgment on Edom is Israel will possess Edom (Obadiah 1:17). The whole book of Obadiah clearly lays out God’s judgment on Edom. So, Acts 15 tells us that God is visiting the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name then after that Jesus will return and rebuild the tabernacle of David (Zion, City of David) to rule and reign as King. Amos 9 tells us God will destroy the sinful kingdom Israel yet leaving a remnant and in that day (of destruction) God will rebuild the Tabernacle of David so that God’s people can possess the remnant of Edom (fulfilling Obadiah–Edom is one nation) and (by extension) all the nations called by my (God’s) name. The rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David will come after the Gentile gathering and the destruction/judgment of Israel. Luke cited the meaning of the passage literally, but not necessarily word for word. God can phrase a concept in the Bible in more than one way, e.g., 3.5 years of Jacobs Trouble, also stated as 42 months (Rev 11), 1260 days (Rev 12), time, times, and half (Dan 12) its the same idea said a different way. The idea comes across just not the exact wording, yet it is still literal.

  6. Erasmus says:

    I don’t see an inclusion here (in the way that we see it in the Pauline corpus). I see “not enough information” yet. Luke writes what was stated at the Council and if Amos is read we see that context is king. “In that day” pretty much seals it in the mind of a Jew and James was nothing if not that. It appears that he’s including the Gentiles here, but I’d disagree with Michael about it being literally “…very clearly applied to the formation of the church through David’s dynastic heir, Jesus”.

    What is very clear is this is what James was doing, but the question is whether we should be taking James’ words as ex cathedra? As or your implication, Michael, that, “The church was the new manifestation of the people of God, which included Gentiles (it was “circumcision neutral”)”, you’ve just slipped in a whole truckload of your theology on this one context in Acts. My view (of course my interpretation) is that Ephesians 3:6 (yes I think is was Pauline…), “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:” (gotta get all those “suns” in there, BTW) points to a different inclusion than that which James (and even Peter through much of Acts) intends.

    • MSH says:

      I’m not slipping in anything. The nature of the church is one of the few things the NT is clear about in this regard. I don’t see any meaningful difference between what I wrote and what you wrote. Galatians 3 (see the end) is explicit — the Gentile inherited the promises given to Abraham. This opened the way for the Church, where believing Jew and Gentile are equally included.

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    source: Urdu Poetry

  8. Erasmus says:

    I think we, as exegetes, put far too much gravity into the speeches in Acts as dogmatic statements FOR the Christian church (as opposed to the “church in the wilderness” and other “churches” in Scripture). We have made Peter the Pope on Pentecost and it’s far sooner than the RC’s do. We make James, the brother of Jesus, nearly as perfect a mouthpiece for God. Here, we’re making James’ statements normative, in hermeneutical terms, for the Christian church too; and I’m not sure if that’s a reasonable position. He didn’t have (yet) the revelation that was eventually shown to Paul in prison in Rome which actually gives a different take on Gentile inclusion than it appears James is giving in Acts 15. The article by your friend Ed Glenny is quite explicit on this as well. Even you have alluded to the fact that, “we can’t get exactly in the head of James / Luke” from the Acts 15 record. Most recognize that he is linking the Gentile inclusion to the Leviticus record regarding the “alien living among you”; a very far cry from having Jew and Gentile “both one” and “fellowheirs”, “fellow members of the body”, and “fellowpartakers”of the promise “in Christ”.
    Now, as a dispensationalist, I have resolved that the “church which is his body” was a secret, not some mystery hidden in the prophet’s writings. It was “hid in God”, “hid from ages and generations”, “in other ages not made known unto the sons of men”, “now (according to Ephesians) revealed to his holy apostles and prophets”, etc.; and the relationship of the Jews and Gentiles in the “dispensation of the Secret” (aka – the “dispensation of the grace of God”) is not the same as that which is prophesied by the Hebrew prophets. So, while I see some of the apostles in Acts eventually “getting it” (read: Peter, Paul and John), I see others such as James holding the line on the Law and, while giving lip service to some quasi-newness, essentially trying to keep the newly formed “church” under the wraps of Judaism (anyone reading the rest of Acts can see that James was really not a friend-o-Paul (and if he was, he was powerless to protect the man). James was more proud of the fact that, yes, there were “thousands of Jews (who) have now become believers” but BTW (and not coincidentally), “all of them (are) staunch upholders of the Law.” Was this a good thing? I think not.
    We’d have to have some lengthy discussion on what the “blessings of Abraham” are and what “promises” you are talking about, eh?

  9. Bran says:

    1.) Seems to be the nation of Israel

    14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
    They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
    They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
    They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
    15 I will plant them in their land,
    And no longer shall they be pulled up
    From the land I have given them,”
    Says the LORD your God

    2.) i think the passage explains it when referencing the captivity
    3.) i think, again, the passage explains it when it tells of bringing them back to the land.
    4.) I don’t know, though i can’t reconcile it with gentiles in general as the verse simply refers tot hem next.

    12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom,[d]
    And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”

    if the remnant of Edom IS gentiles, why be redundant?

  10. Joseph Ludvigson says:

    None of you address the seeming discripancy between the Act quote referring to “men” and the Amos hebrew referring the “Edom”. I don’t have a Septuagint handy, but I suspect the quote in Acts is from the Septuagint, and should be used to correct the modern hebrew copies of Amos.

    • MSH says:

      we can’t assume the LXX is a correction of the Hebrew text for a couple of reasons: (1) the LXX is demonstrably bad in places (they had to guess just like translators of later times); (2) the NT writers don’t mind “mixing and matching” texts, opting for one reading over another to make their point. A reading in LXX might just suit their fancy and make their case, rather than them seeking a correction.

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