James and Dispensationalism

Friday, August 28, 2015

“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things (Acts 15:13-17 KJV).

What can the Apostle James teach us about dispensational Bible study?

In the famous Jerusalem Council of A.D. 50; James, Peter, and John heard Paul and Barnabas give their testimony of Paul’s ministry (verse 12). Israel’s God had indeed left her and was now reaching the Gentiles through Paul. James commented with today’s Scripture, quoting Amos 9:11,12: “[11] In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: [12] That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this.”

Obviously, “After this” was not in Amos’ original prophecy: James added it to interpret the passage according to the divine revelation he learned from Paul. Interestingly, Amos knew nothing of our Dispensation of Grace or of the Church the Body of Christ. (Simeon/Peter had an experience with Gentile Cornelius years earlier, in chapter 10, helping both him and James understand God was going to the Gentiles.)

Like the other Old Testament prophets, the Prophet Amos foretold that, one day, Jesus Christ would return to fulfill the Davidic Covenant (cf. Luke 1:31-33). He would be Israel’s King, thereby making her His kingdom of priests. But, what happened to Peter and Paul caused James to realize prophecy was delayed. Peter wrote about it in his second epistle, chapter 3, also learning from Paul. Yes, James agreed, Israel’s kingdom is coming, just not today!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “I experienced difficult times. Was God chastening me?