Now - Acts 26:17

By Charles H. Welch

Now in Acts 26:17. Most scholars are agreed that the word "now" in Acts 26:17, "Unto whom now I send thee" is a gloss, an addition by a writer who sought either to preserve or to enforce what he conceived to be the import of the passage. Those who deny that Acts twenty-eight constitutes a dispensational frontier have given undue emphasis to this omission. The present tense of the verb apostello, "I send thee" can have no other meaning than I Now send thee, whether the preposition is included or omitted. It is impossible to translate Acts 26:17:

"Unto whom I AM SENDING thee (in the present), some years ago (in the past), when I met thee on the road to Damascus".

In Acts 22:17-21 we learn that Paul was in the temple and in a trance, and therefore this cannot be when he was on the road to Damascus, and there he heard the voice of the Lord saying:

"Depart: for I will send (future) thee far hence unto the Gentiles".

Here we have the future exapostello, and of course here the word "now" is impossible. In Acts 26: 17 that promise to send Paul in the future was about to be fulfilled, and the word translated "send" changes from the future to the present, it is "now" as the ancient gloss indicated.

The Gentiles to whom Paul was to be sent were "far off" but at the moment unidentified. Subsequently we learn that Rome was in view.

In Acts 19:21 Paul said, "I must also see Rome". In Acts 23: 11 the Lord said to Paul, "So must thou bear witness also at Rome". And at Rome Paul announced, consequent upon the rejection for a season of Israel, that:

"The salvation of God is sent" (or "was sent" as already revealed in Acts 26:17) unto the Gentiles (far off ones at Rome)".

There is no need for the reader to stampede, because some, who are antagonistic to the Acts twenty-eight position have seized upon these Scriptures for their own ends. We want them, just as they are written, unaltered. The only difference in the two readings of Acts 26:17 is that of emphasis. In one, the reading "now" is expressed, in the other the word "now" is implicit in the present tense of the verb.

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