What is the “tabernacle of David” in the fifteenth chapter of Acts? In the study of this question, let each one read carefully and prayerfully the entire chapter and study well the proceedings of the council of Jerusalem.
The “tabernacle of David” is evidently David’s house, or David’s family. In this most authorities agree. What has befallen the “tabernacle of David?” Verses 16 and 17 declare that it “is fallen” and in “ruins.” When did “David’s tabernacle” fall or come to ruin? When one from “David’s tabernacle,” or David’s family, ceased to occupy the throne of David as king over Israel. What did God purpose to do for David’s fallen and ruined tabernacle? Through the prophet Amos, he said he would “build again” and “set it up” (Amos 9.11-12).
How would God do this? He swore with an oath to David that of the fruit of his loins he would raise up one to sit on David’s throne, and David and Peter declared that he “spoke of the resurrection of Christ” (2 Samuel 7.12; Psalm 16.8-10; Acts 2.25-36). When was this promise and oath fulfilled? Jesus of Nazareth was “of the seed of David” (2 Timothy 2.8), "of the fruit of his loins” (Acts 2.30), “offspring of David” (Revelation 22.16), “root of David” (Revelation 5.5), “son of David” (Matthew 9.27; 12.52), and was born “in the city of David” (Luke 2.11). When God raised Jesus, this son of David, from the dead, exalted him at his right hand, gave him “the key of David” (Revelation 3.7), “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28.18), made him “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2.36), “King of kings” (1 Timothy 6.15), and “Lord of lords” (Revelation 17.14), David’s tabernacle was then rebuilt, and set up, God’s oath and promise had been fulfilled, and Jesus, David’s son, was the anointed ruler on his father David’s throne.
Why was God to “build again” and “set up” David’s fallen and ruined tabernacle? We are not left to guess. “That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called” (Acts 15.17). If Christ is not now on David’s throne, then David’s tabernacle has not been rebuilt. If David’s tabernacle has not yet been rebuilt, and if, as some contend, it will not be rebuilt and set up until the second coming of Christ, then not one Gentile that lives or has lived on earth has ever been saved or ever can be saved until after Christ’s second coming. We live and labor in vain, and our loved ones who have died without God and having no hope in the world (sic).
David’s tabernacle must be rebuilt before the Gentiles could “seek after the Lord.” If the Bible teaches that the Gentiles have sought the Lord and are saved, then I know that David’s tabernacle has been rebuilt and set up. This I purpose to prove, and here are my witnesses: Peter, Paul, Barnabas, James, and “the prophets:”
- Peter’s speech in the Jerusalem council was positive and emphatic that he was chosen of God, the the Gentiles by his mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe (Acts 15.7-11).
- Paul affirmed that God had approved of his ministrations among the Gentiles by miracles and signs (Acts 15.12).
- Barnabas testified that the Gentiles had been saved and that God had shown his approval by the wondrous signs and wonders (Acts 15.12).
- James fully endorsed Peter’s speech and attested the fact that God had chosen from among the Gentiles a people for misname, and clinched the argument by saying, “To this agree the words of the prophets,” quoting Almost 9.11-12 as follows: “After these things I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men may seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called” (Acts 15.16-17).
That it is abundantly proven that the Gentiles have sought the Lord, and are saved, none can or will deny. Therefore, “David’s tabernacle” has been rebuilt and set up, and Christ with “the key of David” is now the anointed ruler on David’s throne (Acts 2.30-36).
The doctrine that Christ is not now on David’s throne invalidates the Gentiles’ hope, strikes at the fundamentals of the scheme of redemption, sows discord among brethren, and necessarily affects the fellowship, joy, and peace that should prevail among the children of God.
“So then let us follow after the things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another,” “giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Romans 14.19; Ephesians 4.3).
August 29, 1929