Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 11:20:07 -0500
Subject: Re: Numerology in Mark

In any case, the passages dealing with the 7 deacons in Acts are very
interesting. I certainly cannot agree with your assessment that they only
refer to some busboys being sent to clean tables, or whatever it was you
said... To the contrary, in my view, this is an intentionally cryptic
reference containing a debris of an earlier historical source. The fact
that the names of the 7 deacons are given is important. I don't think the
writer would have given the names of unimportant persons. "The laying on
of hands" in Acts 6:6 also should tell us something. This whole passage
was analysed at length by Morton Smith, and also by Loisy. Koester also
takes it very seriously.

And also, of course, Stephen was the leader of the 7. Was he just a
busboy for Luke? I doubt it.

Of course in a case like this nothing can be proven for certain. But to me
all this probably refers to something very important. 

We should also keep in mind that the Acts goes on after this passage to
the martyrdom of Stephen, and then to the first persecutions in 8:1. The
source is then resumed in Ch. 11, and describes the scattering of the
Hellenists and the spread of Christianity to the diaspora. The real sequel
is in Acts 11:19ff. 

           Now those who had been scattered by the persecution 
           in connection with Stephen traveled as far as       
           Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message  
           only to Jews.                                       
           Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene,  
           went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also,  
           telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.    

Isn't this the crucial turnign point? Please note that Paul is nowhere is
sight as yet. 

           The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of
           people believed and turned to the Lord.             
           News of this reached the ears of the church at      
           Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.        
           When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of 
           God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain   
           true to the Lord with all their hearts.              
           He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith,
           and a great number of people were brought to the     

So here you have Barnabas as the first "official apostle to the Gentiles". 
Of course Paul later seemed to usurp this title. 

           Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,       
           and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So 
           for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the      
           church and taught great numbers of people. The       
           disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.   

Barnabas is in the leadership position here. So how could Paul later claim
this title to himself? Something is fishy here. Most likely this text in
the Galatians: 
                Galatians 2:7-8 (English-NIV)                   
           On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted  
           with the task of preaching the gospel to the         
           Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.                        
           For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as 
           an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my       
           ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.              



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