NEW TESTAMENT TIMES
and were friendly to the Jews. Nevertheless, he was still outside the covenant people, and under the old dispensation he could not be received into covenant privileges until he united himself with the nation by submitting himself to the whole Mosaic Law. Yet now such restrictions were removed by the plain guidance of the Spirit of God. Evidently an entirely new dispensation had begun.
At Jerusalem Peter's strange action in receiving Gentiles into the Church without requiring them to become Jews gave rise to some discussion. Acts 11:1–18. But the apostles had no difficulty in convincing the brethren of the necessity for what he had done. The guidance of the Holy Spirit had been perfectly plain. When the brethren heard what Peter said, "they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life."
The freedom of the Gentiles had not yet, however, fully been revealed. For a time the case of Cornelius seems to have been regarded as exceptional. The Holy Spirit had plainly commanded Peter to receive Cornelius and his friends without requiring them to be united to the people of Israel, but perhaps similar definite guidance was required before others could be received. The underlying reason for Gentile freedom, in other words, had not yet fully been revealed.
The revelation, however, was not long delayed; it came especially through the Apostle Paul. But meanwhile Paul was being prepared for his work.
Acts 9:19-30, and Parallels
After the journey to Arabia, which was mentioned at the end of Lesson XVI, Paul returned to Damascus, and preached to the Jews, endeavoring to convince them that Jesus was really the Messiah. His preaching aroused opposition, and the Jews, with the help of an officer of King Aretas of Arabia, had tried to kill him. But the brethren lowered him over the city wall in a basket, and so he escaped to Jerusalem, Acts 9:23–25; II Cor. 11:31–33, where he desired to become acquainted with Peter. No doubt he then talked with Peter especially about the events of the earthly ministry of Jesus and the appearances of the risen Christ. He also engaged in preaching to the Greek-speaking Jews. But when these Greek-speaking Jews sought to kill him, the brethren sent him away to Tarsus. He was unwilling to go, being