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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
Acts 15

 

 

Verse 1

Acts 15:1. τινες κατελ. ἀπὸ τῆς .: on the vagueness of the expression see Ramsay, St. Paul, pp. 158; I59.— κατελ., i.e., to Antioch; see critical notes for (278) reading, and additional note at end of chapter on the identification of Galatians 2:1-10 with Acts 15 : in the early Church in favour of the identification, cf. Iren., Hær., iii., 13, 3; Tertullian, Adv. Marc., v., 2.— ἐδίδασκον: imperfect, representing perhaps their continuous efforts to force their teaching on the brethren.— περιτέμνησθε, see critical note.— τῷ ἔθει ΄.: R.V. as in Acts 6:15, “custom of Moses”; in A.V. “manner,” which might be used of a temporary fashion or habit; ἔθος marks a national custom, but see also Deissmann, Neue Bibelstudien, p. 79. On its national significance, see art(279) “Circumcision,” B.D.2, and Hastings’ B.D., “Beschneidung”; Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 2, 174; Weber, Jüdische Theol., p. 266 (1897); Renan, Saint Paul, p. 66; and cf. Book of Jubilees, xv, cf. i.; Assumption of Moses, viii.; Jos., Ant., xx., 2, 4; c. Apion., ii., 14; Vita, xxiii.— σωθῆναι, i.e., in the Messianic salvation, cf. Acts 2:40, Acts 4:12, Acts 11:14. On the tradition that Cerinthus was amongst these Judaisers, as he and his had already rebuked Peter, Acts 11:2, see “Cerinthus,” Dict. of Christ. Biog., i., 447. It is very probable that the successful mission of Paul and Barnabas was really the immediate cause of this protest on the part of the narrow Judaic party. This party, as the Church in Jerusalem grew, may well have grown also; the case of Cornelius had been acquiesced in, but it was exceptional, and it was a very different thing to be asked to embrace all Gentiles in the new covenant, and to place them on a level with the Jewish Christians, whether they did homage or not to the Mosaic law, Hort, Ecclesia, p. 67; McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 192.


Verse 2

Acts 15:2. στάσεως: the word, with the exception of Mark 15:7, and Hebrews 9:8 (in a totally different sense), is peculiar to St. Luke: twice in his Gospel, and five times in Acts; used in classical Greek of sedition, discord, faction, and so of the factious opposition of parties in the state; frequent in LXX, but only once in any similar sense, Proverbs 17:14.— συζητήσεως, but ζητ.: “questioning,” R.V., cf. John 3:25; three times in St. Paul, 1 Timothy 6:4, 2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:9, in a depreciatory sense in each case; not in LXX or Apocrypha.— οὐκ ὀλίγης, see on Acts 12:18 and Acts 14:28; eight times in Acts.— ἔταξαν, sc., οἱ ἀδελφοὶ, Acts 15:1; no. discrepancy with Galatians 2:2, see additional note.— τινας ἄλλους: Titus amongst them, Galatians 2:1; Galatians 2:3; expression found only here in N.T.; men like the prophets and teachers in Acts 13:1 may have been included. On the attempt to identify Titus with Silas see Zöckler, in loco, and further Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 390, for the entire omission of Titus from Acts and its probable reason; Lightfoot, Biblical Essays, p. 281; Farrar, St. Paul, ii., 532; Alford, iii., 106, Proleg. A Gentile convert, and so keenly concerned in the settlement of the question, and in himself a proof of the “repentance unto life” granted to the Gentiles.— πρεσβ.: first mentioned in Acts 11:30, cf. note, in all official communications henceforth prominent, Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22-23, Acts 16:4, Acts 21:18, Lightfoot, Phil., p. 193.— ζητήματος: five times in Acts, nowhere else in N.T.; once in LXX, Ezekiel 36:37 A (see Hatch and Redpath), and in classical Greek; “question,” A. and R.V.


Verse 3

Acts 15:3. οἱ μὲν οὖν: Phœnicia and Samaria on the one hand welcome them with joy, but on the other hand the Church in Jerusalem is divided, Acts 15:5, see Rendall, Appendix on μὲν οὖν, p. 161. Blass however thinks that the words are used “without opposition” as often.— διήρχοντο τὴν φ. καὶ σ., see note on Acts 13:6. In both cases the presence of brethren is presupposed, cf. Acts 8:25, Acts 11:19, imperfect, “peragrabant donec pervenerunt,” Acts 15:4 (Blass).— προπεμφ.: escorted on their way, not as Titus 3:13, of being provided with necessaries for the journey (Wisdom of Solomon 19:2); cf. Acts 20:38, Acts 21:5, and so in classical Greek, only in Luke and Paul in N.T. (except once, 3 John 1:6), cf. Romans 15:24; but in 1 Corinthians 16:6; 1 Corinthians 16:11, 2 Corinthians 1:16, R.V. renders as in Titus, l. c., and John, l. c.; cf. 1 Esdras 4:47, Judith 10:15, 1 Maccabees 12:4, see Grimm-Thayer, sub v.; Polycarp, Phil., i., 1, of the conduct of St. Ignatius through Macedonia, amongst the early Christians, as amongst the Jews (Genesis 18:16), a mark of affection and respect. The meaning of the word, as Wendt points out, depends on the context.— ἐκδιηγ.: only here and in quotation, Acts 13:41 in N.T., “telling the tale of the conversion of the Gentiles”; so διηγεῖσθαι and ἐξηγεῖσθαι more frequently in Luke than in other N.T. writers. Hobart describes all three as medical terms but all three also occur frequently in LXX. ἐκδ.: cf. Habakkuk 1:5; several times in Ecclus., also in Josephus and Arist. (Grimm-Thayer, sub v.).— χ. μεγάλην: on Luke’s fondness for the predicate μέγας, Friedrich, p. 41, with χαρά as here, cf. Luke 2:10; Luke 24:52, Acts 8:8 (Matthew 2:10; Matthew 28:8), cf. LXX, Jonah 4:6, Isaiah 39:2, A. S.— ἐποίουν, imperfect, continuous joy, as they went from place to place, perhaps visiting Cornelius or Philip the Evangelist, Acts 8:40, in their progress.— ἐπιστροφὴν: only here in N.T. (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9), Sirach 18:21 (20), Sirach 49:2.


Verse 4

Acts 15:4. Council at Jerusalem.— παραγεν., Lucan, see above on Acts 5:21.— ἀπεδέχθησαν—if we read παρεδέχ., cf. 2 Maccabees 4:22 (but see Hatch and Redpath); with the idea of receiving with welcome, cf. Mark 4:20, Hebrews 12:6 (quotation); see Syn(280) δέχ. and λαμβ., Grimm-Thayer; in classical Greek = ὑποδέχομαι.— ὑπὸ τῆς ἐκκ.: the whole Church is regarded as concerned in the matter; as present at the public discussion in Acts 15:12 and as concurring in the decision, Acts 15:22 (30); the decree is issued by the Apostles and Elders, see on Acts 15:23.— μετʼ αὐτῶν, see above on Acts 14:27.


Verse 5

Acts 15:5. For (281) see critical note.— ἐξανέστησαν: compound verb in this sense here only in N.T. (only elsewhere in quotation, Mark 12:19, Luke 20:28), but in classical Greek and in LXX, cf. Obadiah 1:1, Sirach 8:2; Sirach 17:23, 1 Maccabees 9:40. The double compound apparently gives at least some measure of emphasis, Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 43.— τινες τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς αἱρ. τῶν φ.: probably in some smaller and more private assembly in answer to the ἀνήγγ. of Acts 15:4, which seems to mean that the delegates at first announced informally in Jerusalem what had happened, just as they had done in Phœnicia and Samaria, cf. παρείσακτοι ἀδελφοί, Galatians 2:4. The Pharisees took up their remarks, objected—probably basing their teaching on the necessity of circumcision on such passages as Isaiah 56:6; cf. Isaiah 52:1 (Lumby); and then followed as a consequence the official assembly in Acts 15:6 (see Zöckler’s note, Acts 15:4, and in loco, p. 246, second edition). Or if we consider that a representative meeting of the whole Church is implied in Acts 15:4, and that the Apostles spoke before it, then the private conference of Galatians 2:2 may be regarded as taking place between the first public assembly, Acts 15:4, and the second in Acts 15:6 (Hort, Ecclesia, p. 69, cf. Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 126).— αἱρέσεως, see above p. 148.— τῶν φ.: the Pharisaic spirit had already shown itself in Acts 11:2, but this is the first definite mention in the book of the conversion of any of the Pharisees; not strange after the conversion of the priests, see note on Acts 6:7, or after the attitude of men like Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathæa towards our Lord, and the moderate counsels of Gamaliel.— πεπιστευκότες: believed, i.e., that Jesus was the Messiah, and the fulfiller of the law—but still only as the Head of a glorified Judaism, from which Gentiles were to be rigidly excluded unless they conformed to the enactments relating to circumcision. How difficult it was for a Pharisee Quietist probably of the earlier part of the first century to acknowledge that the law of circumcision and of Moses could possibly be regarded as unessential we may learn from Assumption of Moses, ix., 4–6, and viii., on circumcision, and see references on Acts 15:1.— αὐτούς, i.e., the Gentiles, speaking generally, not the τινας ἄλλους of Acts 15:2 (Lekebusch), the uncircumcised companions of Paul and Barnabas, although in accordance with Galatians 2:3-5 such persons would no doubt have been included.— τηρεῖν: only used here by St. Luke of keeping the law, and only else where in James 2:10 in a similar phrase, cf. Mark 7:9, John 9:16, of keeping the law of the Sabbath; Matthew 19:17, of keeping the commandments; Tobit 14:9 (, al.), Jos., Ant., xiii., 10, 6.


Verse 6

Acts 15:6. λόγου: “de causâ quæ in disceptationem venit” (Blass), cf. Acts 8:21, Acts 19:38. The Ecclesia at large was in some manner also present at this final assembly, cf. Acts 15:12; Acts 15:22, although the chief responsibility would rest with the Apostles and Elders, cf. Iren., Hær., iii., chap. Acts 12:14, “cum universa ecclesia convenisset in unum,” Zöckler, in loco, p. 246, and cf. p. 254; Hort, Ecclesia, pp. 66, 70, and see critical notes above.


Verse 7

Acts 15:7. ἀναστὰς, Lucan, see Acts 5:17; the position of Peter is one of authority, not of pre-eminence—the latter belongs to James. The part which Peter had formerly taken in the conversion of Cornelius would naturally make him the most fitting person to introduce the discussion. From Galatians 2:3 we learn that the general principle was debated with reference to the individual case of Titus.— ἀφʼ ἡμερῶν ἀρχαίων: “a good while ago,” meaning probably from the beginnings of the Christian Church, cf. Acts 11:15, Acts 21:16; cf. Philippians 4:15 (see Lightfoot’s note, l. c.), and cf. Clem. Rom., Cor(282), xlvii., 2, and Polycarp, Phil., i. 2; or, if the words are referred to the one definite incident of the conversion of the Gentile Cornelius, some ten or twelve years (Blass, “fortasse”) may have passed since that event, possibly longer, see Zöckler, Page, Knabenbauer, in loco. Others take the words as referring to our Lord’s declaration to St. Peter as long ago as at Cæsarea Philippi, Matthew 16:13-20; see Speaker’s Commentary, so Bishop Williams of Connecticut, Studies in the Book of Acts, p. 139 (1888). Rendall connects ἐν ἡμῖν with ἀρχ. on the ground that thus the whole phrase would point to early Christian days, whereas, without qualification, confusion as to its meaning would arise, cf. Acts 15:21. But a reference to the case of Cornelius need not exhaust the meaning of the phrase, and St. Peter would naturally think of his own choice by God as going back earlier still, dating from the foundation of the Church, and receiving its confirmation and significance in the acceptance of the Gospel by Cornelius,— ἐξελέξατο, see on Acts 1:2.— τοῦ εὐαγγ.: not used by St. Luke in his Gospel, but here and in Acts 20:24; used once by St. Peter, 1 Peter 4:17; so also εὐαγγελίζομαι, three times in the same Epistle.


Verse 8

Acts 15:8. καρδιογνώστης, Acts 1:24, where the same word is used by St. Peter; cf. Jeremiah 17:10. ἐτάζων καρδίας, and cf. St. Peter’s words in Acts 10:34.— καθὼς καὶ ἡμῖν, Acts 10:44, Acts 11:15.


Verse 9

Acts 15:9. τῇ πίστει καθαρίσας τ. κ.: the thought is described by Zöckler as equally Petrine, Pauline, and Johannine; cf. Acts 3:16; Acts 3:19, 1 Peter 1:18-21; Romans 2:24, 1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:2, Revelation 7:14; here it stands in contrast to the outward purification of circumcision upon which the Judaisers insisted, cf. also Acts 10:15, and for the phrase καθαρ. τὴν κ., Sirach 38:10. Rendall renders τῇ πίστει, the faith, i.e., the Christian faith, and he is no doubt right in this, in so far as the faith is faith in Jesus Christ (Schmid, Bibl. Theol. des N. T., pp. 424, 425), cf. St. Peter’s language in 1 Peter 1:18-22.


Verse 10

Acts 15:10. νῦν οὖν: in Acts four times, nowhere else in N.T.; cf. Acts 10:35, nunc igitur: LXX, Genesis 27:8, etc.; 1 Maccabees 10:71.— τί πειράζετε τὸν θ., cf. Acts 5:9, they put God to the proof, as to whether He had not admitted unworthy persons into the Church.— ἐπιθ. ζυγὸν: on the infinitive see Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 151; Blass, Gram., p. 221: metaphor common among the Rabbis, and also in classical literature, cf. Jeremiah 5:5, Lamentations 3:27, Sirach 51:26 (Zephaniah 3:9), and Matthew 11:29 (Luke 11:46), Galatians 5:1. Possibly in Jeremiah 5:5 reference is made to the yoke of the law, but Psalms of Solomon, Acts 7:8, cf. Acts 17:32, present undoubted instances of the metaphorical use of the term “the yoke” for the service of Jehovah. In Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, iii., 8 (Taylor, second edition, p. 46), we have a definite and twice repeated reference to the yoke of Thorah, cf. Apocalypse of Baruch, xli., 3 (Charles’ edition, p. 66 and note), and also Psalms of Solomon, Ryle and James, p. 72, note. It would seem therefore that St. Peter uses an almost technical word in his warning to the first Christians.— τῶν μαθητῶν, i.e., of those who had learnt of Christ and knew the meaning of His yoke, Matthew 11:29.— ἰσχ. βαστάσαι: cf. Acts 13:39. St. Peter no less than St. Paul endorses the charge made by St. Stephen, Acts 7:53.— οὔτε ἡμεῖς: a remarkable confession on St. Peter’s lips: the conversations with Paul and Barnabas, Galatians 2:7, may well have confirmed the attitude which he had taken after the baptism of Cornelius (Zôckler).


Verse 11

Acts 15:11. διὰ τῆς χ.: twice in his First Epistle St. Peter speaks of the grace of God, of the God of all grace; so also of the grace prophesied beforehand, of the grace brought to them, cf. also Acts 3:7 and 2 Peter 3:18. The exact phrase here is not found elsewhere in St. Peter, although common in St. Paul, but see Plumptre (Cambridge Bible) on 1 Peter 5:12. In R.V. σωθῆναι is joined more clearly with διά than in A.V.— κἀκεῖνοι, i.e., the Gentile Christians, not οἱ πατέρες (as St.Aug(283) and Calvin). For points of likeness between these, the last words of St. Peter in Acts, and his previous utterances, with characteristic idioms and expressions, see Alford on Acts 15:7 ff, cf. Schmid, Bibl. Theol. des N. T., p. 427.


Verse 12

Acts 15:12. ἐσίγησε: may mean “became silent,” “itaque antea non tacuerant” (Blass), cf. Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, 21, A. and R.V., “kept silence”.— πᾶν τὸ πλῆθος: implying a general assembly of the Church; on the word see Acts 2:6, Acts 4:32, etc.— ἤκουον: imperfect, marking a continuous hearing; the silence and the audience both testified to the effect produced by St. Peter’s words.— βαρ. καὶ π., on the order here and in Acts 15:25 cf. Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 84.— ἐξηγουμένων: setting forth in detail; see above on Acts 15:3, and Acts 10:8.— ὅσα ἐποί., cf. Acts 14:27 and Acts 15:4. In each case the appeal is made to what God had done, and to the further answer to the prayer of Acts 4:30 by the miracles wrought among the Gentiles: it was an answer which a Jewish audience would understand, John 3:2. The historical truthfulness of Paul and Barnabas thus recounting the facts, and leaving the actual proof of the rightfulness of their method of working to Peter and James, is to Zeller inconceivable—an objection sufficiently answered by the consideration that Luke wished to represent not so much the attitude of Paul and Barnabas, but that of the original Apostles to the Gentile-question; and in Jerusalem it was only natural that Peter and James should be the spokesmen.


Verse 13

Acts 15:13. μετὰ δὲ τὸ σ., i.e., after Barnabas and Paul had ceased speaking.— ἀπεκ. . λ.: his speech may be divided into two parts: (1) reference to the prophecy foretelling the reception of the Gentiles; (2) his opinion on the conditions of that reception. . ἀκούσατέ μου: only here and in James 2:5.


Verse 14

Acts 15:14. συμεὼν: Peter so named only here and in 2 Peter 2:1. The use of the word here in its old Hebrew form by James is exactly what we should expect, cf. Luke 2:25; Luke 2:34, W.H(284); probably therefore the form current in Jerusalem, a form which reappears in the list of the successors of St. James in the bishopric of the Holy City, Eusebius, H. E., iv., 5, cf. Luke 24:34, from which also it would appear that the Hebrew name of Peter, in the contracted or uncontracted form, was current in Jerusalem.— πρῶτον like ἀπʼ ἀρ. ἡμ. in Acts 15:7.— ἐπεσκέψατο, cf. James 1:27, and above on Acts 7:23, Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 105.— λαβεῖν: infinitive of purpose, ἐξ ἐθνῶν λαὸν, ex gentibus populum, “egregium paradoxon” Bengel; the converts from among the Gentiles were no less than Israel the people of God. On ἔθνος and λαός see Acts 3:25.— τῷ ὀνόματι, i.e., who should bear His Name as a people of God, or may mean simply “for Himself,” God’s name being often so used. On the “pregnant use” of the word cf. James 2:7; James 5:10; James 5:14. St. James thus in his address agrees with St. Peter.


Verse 15

Acts 15:15. καὶ τούῳ, “and to this agree,” A. and R.V., i.e., to the fact just stated (so Wendt, Weiss, Blass, Ramsay); if the pronoun referred to St. Peter, as some take it, we should have had οἱ προφῆται, not as in text, οἱ λ. τῶν π. The quotation Amos 9:11-12, is freely cited from the LXX, and indeed the chief point made by St. James depends upon that version.— τῶν προφ., plural, as including those prophets whose words of prophecy had been of similar import.


Verse 16

Acts 15:16. ΄ετὰ ταῦτα: both Hebrew and LXX, ἐν τῇ ἐκει. τῇ ἡμέρᾳ, i.e., in the Messianic times, after the predicted chastisement of Israel: the house of David is in ruins, but it is to be re-erected, and from the restoration of its prosperity the Messianic blessings will flow: “the person of the Messiah does not appear in this prophecy, but there is the generic reference to the house of David, and the people of Israel,” Briggs, Messianic Prophecy, p. 163, Delitzsch, Messianische Weissagungen, second edition, p. 94. St. James sees the spiritual fulfilment of the prophecy in the kingdom of Christ erected on the Day of Pentecost, and in the ingathering of the Gentile nations to it. On the Messianic interpretations of the passage amongst the Jews see Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah, ii., 734.— ἀναστρέψω καὶ ἀνοι.: like Hebrew אשׁוב = I will return and do, i.e., I will do again—but not in LXX or Hebrew. In the latter we have simply אָקִום, and in LXX ἀναστήσω, where St. James has ἀνοικοδομήσω: the idea of restoration is fully contained in the twice repeated ἀνοι. and in ἀνορθώσω.— τὴν σκ. δ. πεπτ.: the noun is used to show how low the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12) had fallen—it is no longer a palace but a hut, and that in ruins: the Hebrew word might be used for a temporary structure of the boughs of trees as at the Feast of Tabernacles. We may compare the way in which this hope of restoration asserted itself in Psalms of Solomon, Acts 17:23, where Ryle and James, p. 137, compare the words with Amos 9:11, Jeremiah 30:9, etc. From the passage before us the Messiah received the name of Bar Naphli, “Son of the fallen”.— κατεσκαμμένα, see critical note. In LXX (285) has κατεσκαμ., α κατεστρ.


Verse 17

Acts 15:17. ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητ. οἱ κ. τῶν ἀνθρώπων τόν κ.: LXX and Hebrew are here considerably at variance. Hebrew: “that they may possess the remnant of Edom”. In LXX: “that the rest of men may seek after (the Lord)” (so also Arabic Version, whilst Vulgate, Peshitto, and Targum support the Massoretic text, see Briggs, u. s., p. 162). In LXX A τὸν κ. is found, but not in B. In LXX rendering אָדָם, men, takes the place of אֱדוֹם, Edom, and יִדְרְשׁוּ instead of יִירְשׁוּ, i.e., דָּרַשׁ, to seek, instead of יָרַשׁ, to possess.— καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη: explicative, “the rest of men,” i.e., the heathen: “sine respectu personarum et operum”.— ὅπως ἂν, Winer-Moulton, xlii., 6; Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 85; cf. Luke 2:35, Acts 3:19, Romans 3:4, and in no other instances, three of these quotations from LXX.— ἐφʼ οὓς ἐπικέκ.… ἐπʼ α.: “upon whom my name is called [pronounced]”: Hebraistic formula, cf. LXX, Jeremiah 41:15; and Deuteronomy 28:10, Isaiah 63:19, 2 Maccabees 8:15. In James 2:7, and only there in the N.T. does the same formula recur (see Mayor, Introd., and Nösgen, Geschichte der Neutest. Offb., ii., 51).


Verse 18

Acts 15:18. In R.V. the phrase ἀπʼ αἰῶνος is connected closely with the preceding clause, see critical notes: “who maketh these things known from the beginning of the world” (“of time,” Ramsay), or margin, “who doeth these things which were known” etc. St. James may perhaps have added the words freely to the LXX to emphasise his argument that the call of the Gentiles was a carrying out of God’s eternal purpose, but there is nothing corresponding to the words in the Hebrew, although at the end of Acts 15:11 we have ׃בִּימֵי עוֹלָם: LXX, καθὼς αἱ ἡμέραι ἀπʼ αἰῶνος, and somewhat similar phrase in Isaiah 45:21, see Zöckler, in loco, for different authorities, and for further discussion of the words, Klostermann, Probleme im Aposteltexte, p. 128. ἀπʼ αἰῶνος is peculiar to Luke in N.T., cf. Luke 1:70, Acts 3:21; it may simply = “of old time,” see Plummer, St. Luke, l. c., but here it may intimate that St. James refers to that purpose of God revealed by all the prophets, as in Acts 3:21. In Psalms of Solomon, Acts 8:7, ἀπʼ αἰῶνος seems to be equivalent to “from the creation of the heaven and earth,” cf. Ps. 118:52. If the conference was held in Greek, as we may reasonably conclude from the fact that Gentile interests were at stake, and that many of the Gentiles, as of the Hellenistic Jews, would probably be present, it is very significant that St. James, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, quotes the rendering of the LXX so apposite for his purpose, and that he should see the spiritual restoration of the house of David in the kingdom of Jesus, and the fulfilment of prophecy in the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of the Messiah, so exclusively guarded by the Jews.


Verse 19

Acts 15:19. διὸ ἐγὼ κρίνω: “wherefore my judgment is”. St. James apparently speaks as the president of the meeting, Chrysostom, Hom., xxxiii., and his words with the emphatic ἐγώ (Weiss) may express more than the opinion of a private member—he sums up the debate and proposes “the draught of a practical resolution” (see however Hort, Ecclesia, 79; Hackett, in loco; and on the other hand Moberly, Ministerial Priesthood, p. 147). If a position of authority is thus given to St. James at the conference, it is very significant that this should be so in Jerusalem itself, where the Twelve would naturally carry special weight. But this presidency and Apostolic authority of St. James in Jerusalem is exactly in accordance with the remarkable order of the three names referred to by St. Paul in Galatians 2:9 (cf. Acts 12:17; Acts 21:18). At the same time Acts 15:22 shows us that neither the authority of St. James nor that of the other Apostles is conceived of as overriding the general consent of the whole Church.— μὴ παρενοχλεῖν: only here in N.T.; “not to trouble,” A. and R.V.; it may be possible to press the παρά, “not to trouble further,” i.e., by anything more than he is about to mention, or in their conversion to God. The verb is found with dative and accusative in LXX for the former cf. Judges 14:17, 1 Maccabees 10:63 SR, Acts 12:14; and for the latter Jeremiah 26(46):27, 1 Maccabees 10:35. Bengel takes παρά as = præter, but whilst it is very doubtful how far the preposition can be so rendered here, he adds fides quieta non obturbanda.— τοῖς ἐπισ. cf. Acts 11:21, “who are turning to God”; present participle, as in acknowledgment of a work actually in progress.


Verse 20

Acts 15:20. ἐπιστεῖλαι (Acts 21:25), Hebrews 13:22; the verb is used of a written injunction, Westcott, l. c. (so Wendt here and in Acts 21:25, and so Klostermann), and so often in ecclesiastical writers; here it may mean to write or enjoin, or may well include both, cf. Hort, Ecclesia, p. 70, Westcott, u. s., Weiss, in loco; in classical Greek it is used in both senses. In LXX it is not used, except in a few passages in which the reading is doubtful, ἀπ. for ἐπ., see Hatch and Redpath, sub v.τοῦ ἀπέχεσθαι: Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 159, cf. Jeremiah 7:10, 1 Peter 2:11, 1 Timothy 4:3; generally without ἀπό.— τῶν ἀλισγμάτων: from Hellenistic verb, ἀλισγεῖν, LXX, Daniel 1:8, Malachi 1:7; Malachi 1:12, Sirach 40:29 (, al); may mean the pollution from the flesh used in heathen offerings = εἰδωλοθύτων in Acts 15:29 (Acts 21:25), cf. 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 10:14 ff, but see further Klostermann, Probleme im Aposteltexte, p. 144 ff., and Wendt, 1888 and 1899, in loco. The phrase stands by itself, and the three following genitives are not dependent upon it. If St. James’s words are interpreted more widely than as = εἰδωλοθύτων, Acts 15:29, they would involve the prohibition for a Christian not only not to eat anything offered to idols, or to share in the idolatrous feasts, but even to accept an invitation to a domestic feast of the Gentiles or at least to a participation in the food on such an occasion. That it was easy for Christians to run these risks is evident from 1 Corinthians 8:10 when St. Paul refers to the case of those who had not only eaten of the flesh offered to idols, but had also sat down to a feast in the idol’s temple.— τῆς πορνείας: the moral explanation of this close allocation of idolatry and uncleanness is that the former so often involved the latter. But Dr. Hort whilst pointing out that such an association is not fanciful or accidental, reminds us that we ought not to lay too much stress on the connection, since many forms of idolatry might fairly be regarded as free from that particular stain. The language, however, of St. James in his Epistle shows us how imperative it was in the moral atmosphere of the Syria of the first century to guard the Christian life from sexual defilement, and the burning language of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:15 and 1 Thessalonians 4:3, etc., shows us the terrible risks to which Christian morality was exposed, risks enhanced by the fact that the heathen view of impurity was so lax throughout the Roman empire, cf. Horace, Sat., i., 2, 31; Terence, Adelphi, i., 2, 21; Cicero, Pro Cælio, xx.; and on the intimate and almost universal connection between the heathen religious guilds and societies and the observance of nameless breaches of the Christian law of purity, see Loening, Die Gemeindeverfassung des Urchristenthums, and his references to Foucart, p. 12 ff. Without some special prohibition it was conceivable that a man might pass from some scene of licentious indulgence to the participation in the Supper of the Lord (Plumptre, Felten). An attempt has been made to refer the word here to the sin of incest, or to marriage within the forbidden degrees, rather than to the sin of fornication, so Holtzmann, Ritschl, Zöckler, Wendt, Ramsay; but on the other hand Meyer, Ewald, Godet, Weiss, and others take the word in its general sense as it is employed elsewhere in the N.T. From what has been said above, and from the way in which women might be called upon to serve impurely in a heathen temple (to which religious obligation, as Zöckler reminds us, some have seen a reference in the word here, cf. also Wendt, p. 332 (1888)), we see the need and the likelihood of such a specific enjoinder against the sin of fornication. Bentley conjectured χοιρείας or πορκείας.— τοῦ πνικτοῦ: “from that which has been strangled,” lit(286), such beasts as had been killed through strangling, and whose blood had not been let out when they were killed. For this prohibition reference is usually made to Leviticus 17:13, Deuteronomy 12:16; Deuteronomy 12:23, so Weiss, Wendt, Zöckler, Plumptre, Felten, Hackett. But on the other hand Dr. Hort contends that all attempts to find the prohibition in the Pentateuch quite fail, although he considers it perfectly conceivable that the flesh of animals strangled in such a way as not to allow of the letting out of blood would be counted as unlawful food by the Jews, cf. Origen, c. Cels., viii., 30; Judaistic Christianity, p. 73, and Appendix, p. 209. But his further remark, that if such a prohibition had been actually prescribed (as in his view it is not) we should have a separate fourth precept referring only to a particular case of the third precept, viz., abstinence from blood, is probably the reason why in , cf. Irenæus, Hær., iii., 12, 14; Cyprian, Testim, iii., 119; Tertullian, De Pudicitia, xii., the words καὶ τοῦ πνικτοῦ are omitted here and in the decree, Acts 15:29, although it is also possible that the laxer views on the subject in the West may have contributed to the omission (see Zöckler and Wendt). Dr. Hort leaves the difficulty unsolved, merely referring to the “Western” text without adopting it. But in Acts 21:25 the words are again found in a reference to, and in a summary of, the decree, although here too (287) consistently omits them (see critical notes).— τοῦ ἅματος: specially forbidden by the Jewish law, Leviticus 17:10, cf. Acts 3:17; Acts 7:26; Acts 19:26, Deuteronomy 12:16; Deuteronomy 12:23; Deuteronomy 15:23, and we may refer the prohibition, with Dr. Hort, to the feeling of mystery entertained by various nations of antiquity with regard to blood, so that the feeling is not exclusively Jewish, although the Jewish law had given it such express and divine sanction. “The blood is the life,” and abstinence from it was a manifestation of reverence for the life given by and dedicated to God. This was the ground upon which the Jews based, and still base, the prohibition. Nothing could override the command first given to Noah, Genesis 9:4, together with the permission to eat animal food, and renewed in the law. αἵμ. cannot refer (so Cyprian and Tertullian) to homicide, as the collocation with πνικτοῦ (if retained) is against any such interpretation. See additional note (2) at end of chapter.


Verse 21

Acts 15:21. ἐκ γενεῶν ἀρχαίων: pointing back to the first days when the Diaspora had first spread to any considerable extent in heathen lands: see on Acts 15:7. The exact phrase ( ἀπὸ) γενεῶν ἀρχ. occurs in Psalms of Solomon, Acts 18:14—from the generations of old the lights of heaven have not departed from their path. For the custom referred to here, see Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. ii., p. 55, E.T. The words seem closely connected in sense with the preceding in this way, viz., that the Gentile proselytes could long ago in the synagogues have been acquainted week by week with the spirit and enactments of the Mosaic law, and they would thus be the more easily inclined to take upon themselves the few elementary precepts laid down in the decree of the Jerusalem Church, so as to avoid any serious cause of offence to their Jewish-Christian brethren. Others however take the meaning to be that, as the Jewish Christians in their continual association with the synagogue would still hear the law read every Sabbath, there would be no intercourse between them and the Gentile Christians, unless the latter observed the necessary restrictions enjoined by the decree for brotherly intercommunion. There is no occasion to interpret the meaning to be that it is superfluous to write the decree to the Jewish Christians, since they knew its contents already from the law (so St. Chrysostom, and Blass), for a decree for the Jewish Christians is not in question, see Acts 15:23. Others again interpret: there is no fear that the Mosaic law should be neglected or despised “for Moses, etc.”. See further, Wendt, Weiss, McGiftert, Knabenbauer.


Verse 22

Acts 15:22. ἔδοξε: the word is often found in public resolutions and official decrees, Herod., i., 3; Thuc., iv., 118 L) and .).— τοῖς ἀποσ.… ἐκλεξ.… γράψ.: on the irregular construction see Page and Rendall, and instances in Alford and Lumby; and further, Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 173.— σὺν ὅλῃ τῇ ἐκκλ., cf. Acts 15:12, πᾶν τὸ πλῆθος, cf. Iren., Hær. iii., 12.— ἐκλεξ. ἄνδρας πέμψαι: “to choose men out of their company, and send,” R.V. In A.V. we lose sight of the fact that the choice was thus made in the rendering “chosen men,” a rendering which takes ἐκλεξ. middle as if passive (see Wendt’s just criticism, and cf. Acts 15:40 ἐπιλεξ.).— ἰούδαν τὸν ἐπικ. β., see critical note, sometimes regarded as a brother of Joseph Barsabbas in Acts 1:23. Ewald thinks that he was actually identical with him. Nothing further is known of him, but if he was a brother of Joseph Barsabbas, he too may have been amongst the personal followers of the Lord; hence his leading position, see also B.D.2 “Judas,” p. 1830.— σίλαν, cf. Acts 15:40, Acts 16:19; Acts 16:25; Acts 16:29, Acts 17:4; Acts 17:10; Acts 17:14, Acts 18:5, 2 Corinthians 1:19, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:1, 1 Peter 5:12. The name may have been contracted for Silvanus, but it may also have been a Greek equivalent for a Hebrew name שֶׁלֶשׁ = Tertius, or שֶׁלַח, Genesis 10:24, see especially Winer-Schmiedel, p. 143, note, and Zahn, Einleitung, i., p. 23, who prefers שׁאל, “bitten, erfragen”. Paul always used the form σιλουανός (so 1 Peter 5:12), Blass, Gram., pp. 70, 71, Winer-Schmiedel, u. s., and also pp. 74, 75. On the supposed identity of Silas with Titus, who is never mentioned in Acts, see above; and Wendt, in loco. If the two passages, 2 Corinthians 1:19; 2 Corinthians 8:23, on which the advocates of this view rely make the identity possible, the description of Titus, Galatians 2:3, is completely at variance with the description of Silas in this chapter (“perversa, ne quid durius dicam, conjectura” Blass, in commenting on the supposed identity).— ἡγουμένους, cf. Acts 15:32, προφῆται ὄντες: the word is also used in Hebrews 13 three times, once of those who had passed away, Acts 15:7, and in Acts 15:17; Acts 15:24 of actual authorities to be obeyed. The word is applied in the LXX to various forms of authority and leadership (see also references to the word in classical Greek, Grimm-Thayer), and cf. Clem. Rom., Cor(288), i. 3 (Acts 21:6), with Acts 15:7, xxxvii. 2, Leviticus 1, lx. 4. It is quite possible that it may have essentially = διδάσκαλοι, Acts 13:1 (cf. Acts 14:12, ἡγούμ. τοῦ λόγου), cf. Heb. u. s., with Didaché, iv.1, and see Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, p. 249; Harnack, Proleg. to Didaché, p. 95; or the mere fact that Judas and Silas may both have been personal followers of Jesus would have conferred upon them a high degree of authority (Plumptre); or the term ἡγου. may be used as a general one, and we cannot say to what particular office or qualification it may have extended besides that involved in Acts 15:32. For use of the word in sub-apostolic times see Gore, Church and the Ministry, p. 322, etc., Moberly, Ministerial Priesthood, pp. 166, 186. The word may be called characteristic of St. Luke (Friedrich, p. 22, cf. Luke 22:26, Acts 7:10 (of civil rule), Acts 14:12).


Verse 23

Acts 15:23.— οἱ ἀπόστ. καὶ οἱ πρεσβ. καὶ οἱ ἀδελ., but in R.V. “the Apostles and the elder brethren,” see critical notes. The phrase as it stands in R.V. has been called meaningless (Page), but Hort, Ecclesia, p. 71, while admitting that the phrase is unusual, defends it as indicating that they who held the office of elder were to be regarded as bearing the characteristic from which the title itself had arisen, and that they were but elder brethren at the head of a great family of brethren (cf. Knabenbauer in loco). It is of course quite possible that ἀδελ. is merely to be taken as in apposition to ἀπόστ. and πρεσβ., meaning that as brethren they sent a message to brethren (Wendt, Felten, Page).— τοῖς κατὰ τὴν . κ. τ. λ., see below.— χαίρειν: amongst the Epistles of the N.T. only that of St. James thus commences, as has been often pointed out by Bengel and others. The coincidence may be a chance one, but it is the more remarkable, since the letter may well have been written and dictated by St. James in his authoritative position. On the phrase in letters see Mayor’s interesting note on James 1:1. It occurs again in Acts 23:26, but nowhere else in N.T.


Verse 24

Acts 15:24. On the similarity of this verse in phraseology to St. Luke’s preface, Luke 1:1, Schwegler, Zeller, Weiss, Friedrich, Hilgenfeld, and others have commented. But, after all, in what does the likeness consist? Simply in the fact that here as there we have ἐπειδή introducing the antecedent clause, and ἔδοξεν the subsequent clause. Friedrich (p. 46) considers this as too striking to be a matter of chance, but strangely he writes each of the two passages as if they commenced with the same word, see below on Acts 15:28ἐπειδήπερ. This word is a curious one, and is only found in Luke 1:1 (not in LXX), but there is no authority for reading it in the passage before us in Acts. Nösgen, Apostelgeschichte, p. 45, refers to instances of a similar formula and phraseology as in use in Jewish writings, cf. Jost, Jüd. Gesch., i., 284.— τινὲς ἐξ ἡμῶν, cf. for the expression Galatians 2:12.— ἐξελ., see critical notes.— ἐτάραξαν ἡμᾶς cf. Galatians 1:7; Galatians 5:10. λόγοις may mean with words only, words without true doctrine.— ἀνασκευάζοντες, “subverting,” A. and R.V.; not in LXX, and only here in N.T., in classical Greek, primarily colligere vasa, to pack up, and so to carry away: or to dismantle a place; to destroy, overthrow, and so trop. as in text—of breaking treaties (Polyb.), of destroying an opponent’s arguments (Arist.). Nösgen and Felten note it amongst the non-Lucan words in the decree, so βάρος, τὸ ἐπάναγκες, διὰ λόγον, ἀπαγγέλλειν, εὖ πράττειν, ἔῤῥωσθε, ἀγαπητός.— οἷς οὐ διεστειλὰμεθα: “to whom we gave no commandment,” R.V., omitting “such,” not in text, and weakens; in Tyndale, Cramner, and Genevan Version; cf. Galatians 2:12, and Acts 21:20; only used once in passive in N.T., Hebrews 12:20, often in LXX in middle voice, meaning to warn, cf. also its meaning in Judith 11:12 with Mark 5:43, etc.


Verse 25

Acts 15:25. γενομ. ὁμοθυμαδόν: “having come to one accord,” “einmutig geworden,” Weiss: ὁμοθ., though frequent in Acts, see Acts 1:14, only here with γεν. For the form of the phrase as indicating mutual deliberation on the part of the Church collectively see “Council,” Dict. of Chr. Ant., i., 474.— ἐκλεξ. ἄνδρας: “to choose out men and send them unto you,” R.V., whether we read accusative or dative see critical note, and cf. Acts 15:22.— ἀγαπητοῖς: very frequent in St. Paul’s Epistles; used three times by St. James in his Epistle, twice by St. Peter in his First Epistle, four times in the Second, cf. Acts 3:15, where the word is used by St. Peter of St. Paul, ten times by St. John: it was therefore a very natural word to occur in the letter, and we may compare it with the right hand of fellowship given by the three Apostles just named to Barnabas and Paul, Galatians 2:9.— β. καὶ π.: this order because in Jerusalem Church; see above on Acts 15:12. Meyer, Bleek, Nösgen, Wendt, all note its truthful significance.


Verse 26

Acts 15:26. παραδεδωκόσι τὰς ψ. α.: “hazarded their lives,” A. and R.V.; so in classical Greek, and in LXX, Daniel 3:28 (95). The sufferings of the missionaries aries in their first journey were evidently well known, and appeal was fittingly made to them in recognition of their self-sacrifice, and in proof of their sincerity.


Verse 27

Acts 15:27. . καὶ σ. καὶ αὐτοὺς: “who themselves also shall tell you the same things by word of mouth,” R.V. Judas and Silas were sent to confirm personally the contents of the letter, as they could speak with authority as representing the Church at Jerusalem, while Barnabas and Saul alone would be regarded as already committed to the conciliatory side (Alford). The present participle, as the writer thinks of Judas and Silas as actually present with the letter at its reception, cf. ἀπεστάλκαμεν, “we have sent” by a common idiom, and also Acts 21:16; Blass compares Thuc., vii., 26, ἔπεμψαν ἀγγέλλοντας, Gram., p. 194.— τὰ αὐτὰ: not the same things as Barnabas and Paul had preached, but, as διὰ λ. intimates, the same things as the letter contained, see critical notes.


Verse 28

Acts 15:28. ἔδοξε γὰρ τῷ . π. καὶ ἡμῖν: “causa principalis” and “causa ministerialis” of the decree. The words of Hooker exactly describe the meaning and purpose of the words, E. P., iii., 10, 2, cf. Acts 8:6-7, and cf. St. Chrysostom’s words, Hom., xxxiii., “not making themselves equal to Him [i.e., the Holy Ghost]—they are not so mad—the one to the Holy Ghost, that they may not deem it to be of man; the other to us, that they may be taught that they also themselves admit the Gentiles, although themselves being in circumcision”. On other suggested but improbable meanings see Alford’s and Wendt’s notes. The words became a kind of general formula in the decrees of Councils and Synods, cf. the phrase commonly prefixed to Councils: Sancto Spiritu suggerente (Dict. Chr. Ant., i., 483). On this classical construction of ἔδοξε τῷ with the infinitive see Nestle’s note, Expository Times, December, 1898. Moreover it would seem that this ἔδοξε is quite in accordance with the manner in which Jewish Rabbis would formulate their decisions.— μηδὲν πλέονβάρος: the words indicate authority on the part of the speakers, although in Acts 15:20 we read only of “enjoining”. St. Peter had used the cognate verb in Acts 15:10, cf. Revelation 2:24, where the same noun occurs with a possible reference to the decree, see Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 309, and Plumptre, in loco.— ἐπάναγκες, i.e., for mutual intercourse, that Jewish and Gentile Christians might live as brethren in the One Lord. There is nothing said to imply that these four abstinences were to be imposed as necessary to salvation; the receivers of the letter are only told that it should be well with them if they observed the decree, and we cannot interpret εὖ πράξετε as = σωθήσεσθε. At the same time the word was a very emphatic one, and might be easily interpreted, as it speedily was, in a narrower sense, Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 172; Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 310. Rendall compares the use of ἀναγκαῖος in Thuc., i., 90.


Verse 29

Acts 15:29. ἀπέχ.: preposition omitted as in Acts 15:20, W.H(289); so usually in classical Greek, but in N.T. ἀπέχ. ἀπό, 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; so in LXX, Job 1:1; Job 1:8; Job 2:3, etc. On the difference in meaning in the two constructions, see Alford and Wendt, in loco.εἰδωλοθύτων, see Acts 15:20.— πνικτοῦ: omitted in Western text; see critical notes.— διατηροῦντες ἑαυτοὺς: verb, only in Luke, cf. Luke 2:51 (in LXX with ἐκ or ἀπό, Psalms 11:7, Proverbs 21:23). In James 1:27 we have a somewhat striking similarity of expression (cf. also John 17:15).— εὖ πράξετε: “it shall be well with you,” R.V.; viz., through the peace and concord established in the Christian community, cf. 2 Maccabees 9:19, so in classical Greek. The reading in A.V. is somewhat ambiguous, but the Greek signifies prosperity. For , see critical notes.— ἔῤῥωσθε, see critical notes, 2 Maccabees 11:21; 2 Maccabees 11:33, 3 Maccabees 7:9, etc., and often in classics; a natural conclusion of a letter addressed to Gentile Christians, see additional note (2) at end of chapter.


Verse 30

Acts 15:30. οἱ μὲν οὖνἀναγνόντες δέ: two parties are presented as acting in concert as here (or in opposition), see Rendall, Acts, Appendix on μὲν οὖν, p. 161.— ἦλθον, but κατῆλθον, R.V., Jerusalem is still the centre from which Barnabas and Paul go down. See reading in , critical note.— τὸ πλῆθος= ἐκκλησία, cf. Acts 14:27; Deissmann, Neue Bibelstudien, p. 59, especially refers to this passage: τὸ πλ.=Christengemeinde at Antioch, cf. plebs, populus in Lat. Chr. authors.— ἐπέδωκαν τὴν ἐπισ., see instances in Wetstein of same phrase in same sense.


Verse 31

Acts 15:31. παρακλήσει: A. and R.V. “consolation” (“exhortation” margin, R.V.). The former rendering seems suitable here, because the letter causes rejoicing, not as an exhortation, but as a message of relief and concord. Ramsay and Hort render “encouragement”. Barnabas was a fitting bearer of such a message, cf. Acts 4:36.


Verse 32

Acts 15:32. καὶ αὐτοὶ προφ. ὄντες: Wendt, so Meyer, takes καὶ αὐτοί not with προφ. ὄντες (these words in commas), but with the words which follow, indicating that Judas and Silas gave encouragement to the brethren personally (cf. Acts 15:27), as the letter had verbally; but punctuation of T.R. in R.V., W.H(290), Weiss, etc. On καὶ αὐτοί and its frequency in St. Luke, Friedrich, p. 37; Hawkins, Horæ Synopticæ (1899), p. 33.— παρἐκάλεσαν: A. and R.V. “exhorted”; R.V. margin, “comforted,” Ramsay, “encouraged” (so Hort; or “exhorted”). Possibly the word may include something of all these meanings (see also Alford’s note).— ἐπεστήριξαν, cf. Acts 14:22.


Verse 33

Acts 15:33. ποιήσαντες δὲ χρόνον, cf. Acts 18:23, and Acts 20:3, only in Acts in N.T., cf. 2 Corinthians 11:25, James 4:13. For the phrase both in LXX and classical Greek (so in Latin), see Wetstein, Blass, Grimm. In LXX cf. Proverbs 13:23, Ecclesiastes 6:12 (Tobit 10:7), so Hebrew עָשַׂה.— μετʼ εἰρήνης: exact phrase only Hebrews 11:31 in N.T.; in LXX several times; in Apocryha, in 1 and 3 Macc.— πρὸς τοὺς ἀποσ.: but if as in R.V., “unto those that had sent them” (see critical notes and Hort, Ecclesia, p. 73), i.e., the whole synod at Jerusalem, not only the Apostles.


Verse 34

Acts 15:34. Omitted in R.V. text, but not in margin. See critical notes.


Verse 35

Acts 15:35. διέτριβον, cf. Acts 12:19, and see also on Acts 16:12. In LXX cf. Leviticus 14:8, Jeremiah 42 (35):7, Judith 10:2, 2 Maccabees 14:23. So also in classics with or without χρόνον.— διδάσ. καὶ εὐαγγ.: possibly the first may refer to work inside the Church, and the second to work outside, but the distinction can scarcely be pressed. Within this time, according to Wendt, falls the incident between Paul and Peter, Galatians 2:11. On the other hand, see Weiss, Apostelgeschichte, p. 194, who thinks that the τινας ἡμέρας excludes, Galatians 2, etc., but the phrase is very indefinite, and may have included months as well as days, cf. Acts 16:12, and Acts 9:23. On the incident referred to see additional note at end of chapter.


Verse 36

Acts 15:36. μετὰ δέ: second missionary journey commences, ending Acts 18:22.— ἐπιστρέψαντες, reversi, cf. Luke 2:39, W.H(291), Acts 17:31. The word is so used in LXX, and in modern Greek (Kennedy, p. 155).— δὴ, see on Acts 13:2.— ἐπισκεψ., see above on Acts 6:3. The word was characteristic of a man like St. Paul, whose heart was the heart of the world, and who daily sustained the care of all the churches.— πῶς ἔχουσι: “in fide, amore, spe … nervus visitationis ecclesiasticæ” Bengel.


Verse 37

Acts 15:37. ἐβουλεύσατο, but ἐβούλετο see critical note, “wished,” volebat; R. V., “was minded” almost too strong. Possibly owing to his kinship, Barnabas may have taken a more lenient view than Paul.


Verse 38

Acts 15:38. ἠξίου, cf. Acts 28:22 (Luke 7:7), and cf. 1 Maccabees 11:28, 2 Maccabees 2:8, etc.— ἐβούλ. is a mild word compared with this.— συμπαραλαβεῖν, cf. Acts 12:25, used also by Paul in Galatians 2:1 of taking Titus with him to Jerusalem, and nowhere else in N.T. except in this passage, cf. Job 1:4, 3 Maccabees 1:1, so in classical Greek.— τὸν ἀποστάντα ἀπʼ αὐτῶν: the neutral word ἀποχωρεῖν ἀπʼ αὐτῶν, Acts 13:13, is not used here, but a word which may denote not disloyalty in the sense of apostasy from Christ, but to the mission, 1 Timothy 4:1 (Rendall); it is doubtful, however, whether we can press this (see Weiss, in loco).— τοῦτον: significant at the end of the verse, and note also decisive contradiction between συμπαραλ., Acts 15:37, and μὴ συμπαραλ. here.


Verse 39

Acts 15:39. παροξυσμός, Hebrews 10:24, in different sense, nowhere else in N.T. The verb is found twice, Acts 17:16, 1 Corinthians 13:5; in the former passage of Paul’s righteous provocation in Athens, and in the latter of irritation of mind as here; the noun twice in LXX of God’s righteous anger, Deuteronomy 29:28, Jeremiah 39(32):37 (cf. also the verb, Deuteronomy 9:7-8, etc.), so too in Dem. Both noun and verb are common in medical language (Hobart); παροξυσμός, φησίν, ἐγένετο οὐχ ἔχθρα οὐδὲ φιλονεικία; in the result good, for Mark was stirred up to greater diligence by Paul, and the kindness of Barnabas made him cling to him all the more devotedly, cf. Oecumenius, in loco.— ἀποχωρισθῆναι: “they parted asunder,” R.V., cf. διαχωρίζεσθαι ἀπό, Genesis 13:11; Genesis 13:14, cf. Luke 9:33.— παραλαβόντα: not the compound verb, because Barnabas alone takes Mark.— ἐκπλεῦσαι: with εἰς also in Acts 18:18, with ἀπό in Acts 20:6; On πλέω and the number of its compounds in St. Luke, cf. Acts 27:4, etc.— εἰς κ.: where he could be sure of influence, since by family he belonged to the Jews settled there, Acts 4:36. Barnabas is not mentioned again in Acts, and it is to be noted that St. Paul’s friendship was not permanently impaired either with him or with Mark (see Chrysostom, in loco, and cf. 1 Corinthians 9:6). In Galatians 2:13 St. Paul in speaking of Barnabas marks by implication his high estimate of his character and the expectations he had formed of him; καὶ β. “even Barnabas” (Lightfoot, Gal., in loco, and Hackett). According to tradition Barnabas remained in Cyprus until his death, and the appearance of Mark at a later stage may point to this; but although possibly Mark’s rejoining Paul may have been occasioned by the death of Barnabas, the sources for the life of Barnabas outside the N.T. are quite untrustworthy, “Barnabas,” B.D.2; Hackett, Acts, p. 192. Whatever his fortunes may have been, St. Luke did not estimate his work in the same category as that of Paul as a main factor in the development of the Church, although we must never forget that “twice over did Barnabas save Saul for the work of Christianity”.— ΄άρκον: In his two imprisonments St. Paul mentions Mark in terms of high approval, Colossians 4:10-11, Philemon 1:24, 2 Timothy 4:11. In the first imprisonment St. Paul significantly recommends him to the Colossians as being the cousin of Barnabas, one of his own fellow-labourers unto the kingdom of God, one amongst the few who had been a παρηγορία, a comfort unto him. In such words as these St. Paul breaks the silence of the years during which we hear nothing of the relations between him and Mark, although the same notice in Colossians seems to indicate an earlier reconciliation than the date of the letter, since the Churches of the Lycus valley had already been instructed to receive Mark if he passed that way, Expositor, August, 1897, “St. Mark in the N.T.” (Dr. Swete), p. 85.


Verse 40

Acts 15:40. π. δὲ ἐπιλεξ. σ.: not in the place of Mark, but in the place of Barnabas, Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 171; having chosen, i.e., for himself: sibi eligere; only in N.T. in this sense, but in classical Greek and in LXX, 1 Samuel 2:28 A, 2 Samuel 10:9 R, Sirach 6:18, 1 Esdras 9:16, 1 Maccabees 1:63 R, Acts 5:17, etc.; “elegit ut socium, non ut ministrum” (Blass). If Silas had not returned to Jerusalem, but had remained in Antioch (see above on Acts 15:35), he had doubtless recommended himself to Paul by some special proof of fitness for dealing sympathetically with the relations of the Jewish Christians and the Gentile converts. This sympathy on the part of Silas would be the more marked and significant as he was himself almost certainly a Hebrew; otherwise we cannot account for his high position in the Jerusalem Church, Acts 15:22, although his Roman citizenship is implied in Acts 16:37; perhaps this latter fact may account for his freedom from narrow Jewish prejudices. If we may identify, as we reasonably may, the Silas of Acts with the Silas (Silvanus) of the Epistles, 2 Corinthians 1:19, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:1, 1 Peter 5:12, the last mention of him by St. Peter becomes very suggestive. For St. Peter’s First Epistle contains the names of the two men, Mark and Silvanus, who had originally been members of the Jerusalem Church, Acts 12:12; Acts 15:22, and moreover the two oldest of St. Paul’s associates, whose brotherly Christian concord had been broken for the time (when Paul chose the latter in the place of Barnabas, and rejected Mark’s services altogether), but who are now both found at St. Peter’s side in Rome (assuming that Babylon is Rome), evidently at one with him and with each other; the one the bearer of a letter, the other the sender of greetings, to Pauline Churches. If St. Paul had passed to his rest, and the leader had thus changed, the teaching was the same, as the names of Silvanus and Mark assure us, and St. Peter takes up and carries on the work of the Apostle of the Gentiles, see Dr. Swete, u. s., pp. 87, 88.— ἐξῆλθε, cf. Luke 9:6, 3 John, Acts 15:7, where the word is used of going forth for missionary work.— παραδοθεὶς, cf. Acts 14:26. Possibly we may infer that the Church took Paul’s view of the point at issue between himself and Barnabas, but on the other hand we cannot prove this, because the writer’s thoughts are so specially fixed upon Paul as the great and chief worker in the organisation and unification of the Church.


Verse 41

Acts 15:41. διήρχετο, see above on Acts 13:6.— συρίαν καὶ κιλικίαν: as Barnabas had turned to Cyprus, the scene of his early labours in the Gospel, and perhaps also his own home, so Paul turned to Syria and Cilicia, not only because his home was in Cilicia, but also because he had worked there in his early Christian life and labours, Galatians 1:21; Galatians 1:23. It is a coincidence with the notice in Gal. that St. Luke here and in Acts 15:23 presupposes the existence of Churches in Syria and Cilicia, although nothing had been previously said of their foundation, whilst the presence of Saul at Tarsus is twice intimated, Acts 9:30, Acts 11:25. Moreover the commencement of the letter, Acts 15:22-23, indicates that these regions had been the centre of the teaching of the Judaisers, and St. Paul’s presence, together with the fact that Silas, a prominent and leading member of the Jerusalem Church, was his colleague, would doubtless help to prevent further disquiet. On the addition to the verse in the Bezan text see critical note.

Additional note (1).

Amongst recent writers on the Acts, Mr. Rendall has stated that the evidence for the identification of Acts 15 with Galatians 2:1-10 is overwhelming, Appendix to Acts, pp. 357, 359. If we cannot fully endorse this, it is at all events noticeable that critics of widely different schools of thought have refused to regard the alleged differences between the two as irreconcilable; in this conservative writers like Lechler, Godet, Belser, Knabenbauer and Zahn, Einleitung, ii., 627, 628; scientific critics, as we may call them, like Reuss, B. Weiss; and still more advanced critics like Lipsius and H. Holtzmann are agreed. This general agreement is recognised and endorsed by Wendt, p. 255 (1899), see also K. Schmidt, “Apostelkonvent,” in Real-Encyclopädie für protest. Theol. (Hauck), p. 704 ff. Amongst English writers Lightfoot, Hort, Sanday, Salmon, Drummond, Turner may be quoted on the same side (so too McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 208), (see for the points of agreement, Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 123; Drummond, Galatians, p. 73 ff.; Salmon, “Galatians,” B.D.2; Reuss, Geschichte des h. . des N. T., p. 60, sixth edition, and very fully in Belser, Die Selbstvertheidigung der h. Paulus im Galaterbriefe, p. 83 ff., 1896; for the difficulty in identifying Galatians 2 with any other visit of St. Paul to Jerusalem, cf. Salmon, Lightfoot, u. s., and Zahn, u. s., Felten, Introd. to Apostelgeschichte, p. 46). But the recent forcible attempt of Professor Ramsay to identify Galatians 2:1-10 with St. Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem, Acts 11:30; Acts 12:25, and not with the third visit, Acts 15, has opened up the whole question again (see on the same identification recently proposed from a very different point of view by Völter, Witness of the Epistles, p. 231, and also by Spitta, Apostelgeschichte, p. 184). At first sight it is no doubt in favour of this conclusion that according to Acts the journey, Acts 11:30, is the second made by St. Paul to Jerusalem, and the journey in 15 the third, whilst Galatians 2:1 also describes a journey which the Apostle himself represents as his second to the mother-city. We cannot fairly solve this difficulty by cutting the knot with McGiffert, who regards Acts 11:30; Acts 11:15 as = Galatians 2:1-10, and thinks that Luke found two independent accounts of the same journey, and supposed them to refer to separate events (Apostolic Age, p. 171); or by concluding with Drummond, Galatians, p. 78, that the writer of Acts made a mistake in bringing St. Paul to Jerusalem at the time of the famine, so that Galatians 2 and Acts 15 both refer to his second visit (cf. to the same effect, Wendt, p. 218 (1899), who looks upon the visit described in Acts 11:25 as a mistake of the author, at all events as regards Paul). But McGiffert and Drummond are both right in emphasising one most important and, as it seems to us, crucial difficulty in the way of the view advocated by Ramsay; if he is correct, it is difficult to see any object in the visit described in Acts 15. After the decision already arrived at in Galatians 2:1-10 : Acts 11:30; Acts 12:25, the question then ex hypothesi at issue could scarcely have been raised again in the manner described in Acts 15. Moreover, whilst Ramsay admits that another purpose was achieved by the journey to Jerusalem described in Galatians 2:1-10, although only as a mere private piece of business, St. Paul, p. 57, he maintains that the special and primary object of the visit was to relieve the poor. But if the pillars of the Church were already aware, as ex hypothesi they must have been aware, that St. Paul came to Jerusalem bringing food and money for the poor (Acts 11:29-30), we may be pardoned for finding it difficult to believe that the “one charge alone” (Galatians 2:10) which they gave him was to do the very thing which he actually came for the purpose of doing. If, too, Barnabas and Saul had just been associated in helping the poor, and if the expression καὶ ἐσπούδασα, Galatians 2:10, refers, as Professor Ramsay holds, to this service, we should hardly have expected Paul to use the first person singular, but rather to have associated Barnabas with himself in his reference to their work of love and danger. Professor Ramsay emphasises the fact (Expositor, p. 183, March, 1896) that Luke pointedly records that the distribution was carried out to its completion by Barnabas and Saul in person (Acts 12:25). Why then does Paul only refer to his own zeal in remembering the poor in Acts 11:29; Acts 12:25 = Galatians 2:1-10? (On the force of the aorist as against Professor Ramsay’s view, see Expositor, March, 1899, p. 221, Mr. Vernon Bartlet’s note.) Galatians 2:10 should rather be read in the light of 1 Corinthians 16:1-3; if the first-named Epistle was also the first in point of time, then we can understand how, whilst it contains no specific and definite mention of a collection for the Church at Jerusalem, which is so emphasised in 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 Corinthians 8:9, etc., yet the eager desire of the pillars of the Church that the poor in Judæa should be remembered, and the thought of a fund for supplying their needs, may well have been working in St. Paul’s mind from the earlier time of the expression of that desire and need, Galatians 2:10, Expositor, November, 1893, “Pauline Collection for the Saints,’ and April, 1894, “The Galatians of St. Paul,” Rendall Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 67.

For reasons why St. Paul did not refer to his second visit to Jerusalem when writing to the Galatians see on Acts 11:30, and Salmon, “Galatians,” B.D.2, p. 1111; Sanday, Expositor, February, 1896, p. 92; Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 61; “Acts of the Apostles,” p. 30, Hastings’ B.D. and “Chron. of the N.T.,” ibid., p. 423; Zahn, Einleitung, ii., 629. Further: Dr. Sanday has emphasised the fact that at the time of St. Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem the state of things which we find in Acts 15 (the third visit) did not exist; that a stage in the controversy as to the terms of admission of Gentile converts had been reached by the date of Acts 15 which had not been reached at the date of Acts 11:30; that at this latter date, e.g., there was no such clear demarcation of spheres between St. Peter and St. Paul, and that it is not until Acts 13:46 that the turning-point is actually reached: henceforth St. Paul assumes his true “Apostleship of the Gentiles,” and preaches a real “Gospel of the uncircumcision”; see especially Expositor, July, 1896, p. 62. Of course Professor Ramsay’s theory obliges us to place Galatians 2:1-10 before the Apostolic Conference, and to suppose that when the events narrated in Galatians 2 took place, the journey of Acts 13, 14 was still in the future. But is not the whole tone and attitude of St. Paul in Galatians 2:1-10, placing himself, e.g., before Barnabas in Acts 15:9 and evidently regarding himself as the foremost representative of one sphere of missionary work, as St. Peter was of the other, Acts 15:8, more easily explained if his first missionary journey was already an accomplished fact and not still in the future?

In the two short references to Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem, Acts 11:30; Acts 12:25, it is still “Barnabas and Saul,” so too in Acts 13:1-2; Acts 13:7; not till Acts 13:9 does the change come: henceforth Paul takes the lead, Acts 13:13; Acts 13:16; Acts 13:43; Acts 13:45; Acts 13:50, etc., with two exceptions as Professor Ramsay pointedly describes them (see above on Acts 13:9), and in the account of the Conference and all connected with it St. Luke and the Church at Antioch evidently regard Paul as the leader, Acts 15:2 (2), 22 (although the Church at Jerusalem places Barnabas first, Acts 15:12; Acts 15:25). But in Acts 11:30, Acts 12:25 the historian speaks of “Barnabas and Saul”. The whole position of St. Paul assigned to him by St. Luke in Acts 15 is in harmony with the Apostle’s own claims and prominence in Galatians 2:1-10; it is not in harmony with the subordinate place which the same St. Luke assigns to him in the second visit to Jerusalem. In other words, if Galatians 2:1-10 = Acts 15, then St. Paul’s claim to be an Apostle of the Gentiles is ratified by the Gentile Luke; but if Galatians 2:1-10 = Acts 11:30; Acts 12:25, then there is no hint in Acts that Luke as yet regarded Paul in any other light than a subordinate to the Hebrew Barnabas; he is still Saul, not Paul. For the points of discrepancy between Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15 see same authorities as above; one point upon which Ramsay strongly insists, viz., that a visit which is said to be “by revelation,” Galatians 2:2, cannot be identified with a visit which takes place by the appointment of the Church, Acts 15:2, is surely hypercritical; it would not be the first occasion on which the Spirit and the Church had spoken in harmony; in Acts 13:3-4 the Church ἀπέλυσαν sent away Paul and Barnabas, and yet in the next verse we read οἱ ἐκπεμφθέντες ὑπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος, see Lightfoot, Galatians, . 125; Drummond, Galatians, . 75; Turner, “Chronology of the N.T.,” Hastings’ B.D., p. 424; cf. also Wendt, p. 258 (1899), and Zahn, Einleitung, ii., 632, who both point out that the statements referred to are by no means mutually exclusive. On the whole question see Wendt’s 1899 edition, p. 255 ff., and Expositor, 1896 (February, March, April, July) for its full discussion by Dr. Sanday and Professor Ramsay.

A further question arises as to the position to be assigned to the incident in Galatians 2:11-14. Professor Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 157 ff., supposes that it took place before the Apostolic Conference, and finds a description of the occasion of the incident in Acts 15:1, Acts 15:24, Galatians 2:12, i.e., in the words of three authorities, St. Luke, the Apostles at Jerusalem, and St. Paul himself; the actual conflict between St. Peter and St. Paul took place after the latter’s second visit to Jerusalem, but before his third visit. The issue of the conflict is not described by Paul, but it is implied in the events of the Jerusalem Conference, Acts 15:2; Acts 15:7. Barnabas had wavered, but had afterwards joined Paul; Peter had been rebuked, but had received the rebuke in such a way as to become a champion of freedom in the ensuing Conference, employing to others the argument which had convinced himself, cf. Acts 15:10, Galatians 2:14. Mr. Turner, “Chronology of the N.T.,” Hastings’ B.D., i., 424, is inclined to adopt this view, which identifies the two Judaising missions from Jerusalem to Antioch, Galatians 2:12 and Acts 15:1, while he still maintains the ordinary view that Galatians 2:1-10 = Acts 15. This, as he points out, we may easily do, whilst Galatians 2:11-14 may be allowed to precede Galatians 2:1-10 in order of time, and in the absence of the ἔπειτα in Galatians 1:18; Galatians 1:21; Galatians 2:1 there is nothing to suggest that the chronological series is continued. It may be noted that Paley, Horæ Paulinæ, v., 9, had remarked that there is nothing to hinder us from supposing that the dispute at Antioch was prior to the Conference at Jerusalem. Moreover it may be fairly urged that this view puts a more favourable construction on the conduct of St. James and St. Peter in relation to the compact which they had made with Paul at the Jerusalem Conference. But on the attitude of St. James and the expression ἐλθεῖν τινὰς ἀπὸ ἰακώβου, see Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 79; Lightfoot on Galatians 2:12; Drummond, Galatians, p. 85; and with regard to the conduct of St. Peter, see Hort, u. s., p. 76; Lightfoot on the collision at Antioch, Galatians, p. 125 ff.; and Salmon, “Galatians,” B.D.2, p. 1114; Drummond, u. s., p. 78.

On Zahn’s position that the dispute between Peter and Paul took place before the Apostolic Conference, when the former betook himself to Antioch after his liberation, Acts 12:5 ff, a view put forward also by Schneckenburger, Zweck der Apostelgeschichte, p. 109 ff., see Neue Kirchl. Zeitschr., p. 435 ff., 1894, and Belser’s criticism, Die Selbstvertheidigung des h. Paulus im Galaterbriefe, p. 127 ff., 1896 (Biblische Studien).

Wendt, pp. 211, 212 (1899), while declining to attempt any explanation either psychological or moral of St. Peter’s action in Galatians 2:11-14, points out with justice how perverse it is to argue that Peter could not have previously conducted himself with reference to Cornelius as Acts describes when we remember that in the incident before us Barnabas, who had been the constant companion of St. Paul in the Gentile mission, shared nevertheless in St. Peter’s weakness.

Additional note (2), cf. Acts 15:29.

A further question arises as to why the particular prohibitions of the Decree are mentioned. According to a very common view they represented the Seven Precepts of Noah, six of which were said to have been given by God to Adam, while the seventh was given as an addition to Noah. The Seven Precepts were as follows: (1) against profanation of God’s name; (2) against idolatry; (3) against fornication; (4) against murder; (5) against theft; (6) to obey those in authority; (7) against eating living flesh, i.e., flesh with the blood in it, see Schürer Jewish People, div. ii., vol. ii., p. 318, E.T.; Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 69. No doubt there are points of contact between these Precepts and the four Prohibitions of the Decree, but at the same time it would seem that there are certainly four of the Precepts to which there is nothing corresponding in the Decree. The Precepts were binding on every Gêr Toshav, a stranger sojourning in the land of Israel, but it has been erroneously supposed that the Gêr Toshav = σεβόμενος, and thus the conclusion is drawn that the idea of the four prohibitions was to place Gentiles on the footing of σεβόμενοι in the Christian community. Against this identification of the Gêr Toshav and the σεβόμενος Schürer’s words are decisive, u. s., pp. 318, 319. But if this view was valid historically, the position of the Gentile Christians under such conditions would have been far from satisfactory, and we cannot suppose that Paul would have regarded any such result as a success; still circumcision and the keeping of the law would have been necessary to entitle a man to the full privilege of the Christian Church and name. Ritschl, who takes practically the same view as Wendt below, admits that in a certain degree the Gentile Christians would be regarded as in an inferior position to the Jewish Christians, Altkatholische Kirche, pp. 131, 133, second edition.

It seems even more difficult to trace the prohibitions of the Decree to the Levitical prohibitions, Leviticus 17, 18, which were binding on strangers or sojourners in Israel (LXX προσήλυτοι), since, if the written law was to be the source of the Jerusalem prohibitions, it is inexplicable that the variations from it both in matter and number should be so observable (Hort, u. s., p. 70); and although Wendt (so Ritschl, Overbeck, Lipsius, Zöckler, Holtzmann, and others; see on the other hand, Weiss, Biblische Theol., p. 145; Felten, Apostelgeschichte, p. 297; Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 306; Hilgenfeld, Zeitschrift für wissenschaft. Theol., i., 72, 73, 1896) adopts the view that in the four prohibitions of the Jerusalem Decree we have the form in which prohibitions binding upon proselytes in the wider sense, i.e., upon the uncircumcised φοβούμ. or σεβ. τὸν θεόν, existed in the Apostolic days, he can only say that this is “very probable”: of direct historical evidence, as Zöckler admits, there is none. The difficulty is so great in supposing that Paul and Barnabas could have submitted to the distinction drawn between the Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians that it has led to doubts as to the historical character of the decree. Weizsäcker and McGiffert maintain that the decree was formulated after Paul’s departure, when James had reconsidered the matter, and had determined that some restriction should be put upon the complete Gentile liberty which had been previously granted. But this view can only be maintained by the sacrifice of Acts 16:4, where Paul is distinctly said to have given the decrees to the Churches to keep.

Ramsay, agreeing with Lightfoot, calls the Decree a compromise, and although, as he points out, it seems impossible to suppose that St. Paul would have endorsed a decree which thus made mere points of ritual compulsory, it is probable, he thinks, that after the exordium in which the Jewish party had been so emphatically condemned, the concluding part of the Decree would be regarded as a strong recommendation that the four points should be observed in the interests of peace and amity (St. Paul, p. 172). In a previous passage, p. 167, he seems to take a very similar view to Wendt, who answers the question as to how the Precepts of the Decree were to be observed by the Gentile converts by maintaining that they were an attempt to make intercourse more feasible between the Jewish Christians and their Gentile brethren, p. 265 (1899).

We naturally ask why the Decree apparently fell so quickly into abeyance, and why it did not hold good over a wider area, since in writing to Corinth and Rome St. Paul never refers to it. But, to say nothing of the principle laid down in the reading of Codex (292) (see above on p. 323), St. Paul’s language in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, Romans 14, may be fairly said to possess the spirit of the Decree, and to mark the discriminating wisdom of one eager to lead his disciples behind the rule to the principle; and there is no more reason to doubt the historical truth of the compact made in the Jerusalem Decree, because St. Paul never expressly refers to it, than there is to throw doubt upon his statement in Galatians 2:10, because he does not expressly refer to it as an additional motive for urging the Corinthians to join in the collection for the poor saints, 2 Corinthians 8:9. But further, there is a sufficient answer to the above question in the fact that the Decree was ordained for the Churches which are specifically mentioned, viz., those of Antioch (placed first as the centre of importance, not only as the local capital of Syria, but as the mother of the Gentile Churches, the Church from which the deputation had come), Syria and Cilicia. In these Churches Jewish prejudice had made itself felt, and in these Churches with their constant communication with Jerusalem the Decree would be maintained. The language of St. James in Acts 21:25 proves that some years later reference was naturally made to the Decree as a standard still regulating the intercourse between Jewish and Gentile Christians, at least in Jerusalem, and we may presume in the Churches neighbouring. St Paul’s attitude towards the Decree is marked by loyal acceptance on the one hand, and on the other by a deepening recognition of his own special sphere among the Gentiles as the Apostle of the Gentiles, Galatians 2:9. Thus we find him delivering the Decrees to the Churches of his first missionary journey, Acts 16:4, although those Churches were not mentioned in the address of the Decree (no mention is made of the same action on his part towards the Churches in Syria and Cilicia, Acts 15:41, doubtless because they were already aware of the enactments prescribed). It may well be that St. Paul regarded himself as the missionary-Apostle of the Church at Antioch, sent forth from that Church for a special work, and that he would recognise that if the Antiochian Christians were to be loyal to the compact of Jerusalem, he as their representative and emissary must enforce the requirements of that compact in revisiting those regions in which the converts had been so instrumental in causing the Decree to be enacted.

But the work upon which he had been specially sent forth from Antioch had been fulfilled, Acts 14:27; the Conference at Jerusalem had assigned a wider and a separate sphere to his labours; henceforth his Apostleship to the Gentiles εἰς τὰ ἔθνη was more definitely recognised, and more abundantly fulfilled; and in what may be called strictly Gentile Churches, in Churches not only further removed from Palestine, but in which his own Apostleship was adequate authority, he may well have felt that he was relieved from enforcing the Decree. In these Churches the stress laid upon such secondary matters as “things strangled and blood” would simply have been a cause of perplexity, a burden too heavy to bear, the source of a Christianity maimed by Jewish particularism, see Lightfoot, Galatians, pp. 127, 305; Hort, Ecclesia, pp. 88, 89; Judaistic Christianity, p. 74; Speaker’s Commentary, Acts, p. 325; Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, p. 254; “Apostelkonvent,” K. Schmidt in Real-Encyclopädie für protest. Theol. (Hauck), pp. 710, 711 (1896); Wendt, p. 269 (1899); and for the after-history of the Decree, K. Schmidt, u. s., Lightfoot, u. s., Plumptre, Felten, and cf. also Hooker’s remarks, Eccles. Pol., iv., 11, 5 ff.

On the attempt to place the Apostolic Conference at Jerusalem before chaps. 13 and 14, see Apostelgeschichte, Wendt (1899), pp. 254, 255, and McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 181. Weizsäcker adopts this view because no mention is made in Galatians 1:21 of the missionary journey in Acts 13, 14, and he therefore maintains that it could only have taken place after the Conference, but the Epistle does not require that Paul should give a complete account of all his missionary experiences outside Judæa; he is only concerned to show how far he was or was not likely to have received his Gospel from the older Apostles.

Moreover, it is very difficult to find a place for the close companionship of Paul and Barnabas, and their mutual labours in 13, 14 subsequent to the incident described in Galatians 2:13, whether that incident took place just before or just after the Jerusalem Conference; in either case a previous mutual association between Paul and Barnabas in mission work amongst the Gentiles, such as that described in Acts 13:14 accounts for the expectations Paul had evidently formed of Barnabas, Galatians 2:13, and also for the position which the latter holds in Galatians 2:1-10.

Space forbids us to make more than a very brief reference to the attempts to break up chap. 15 into various sources. Spitta, who places the whole section Acts 15:1-33 before chap. 13, refers Acts 15:1-4; Acts 15:13-33 to his inferior source , which the reviser has wrongly inserted here instead of in its proper place after Acts 12:24, and has added Acts 15:5-12. Clemen in the same section, which he regards as an interpolation, assigns Acts 15:1-4; Acts 15:13-18; Acts 15:20-22, to his Redactor Judaicus, and Acts 15:5-12; Acts 15:19; Acts 15:23-33 to Redactor Antijudaicus. Clemen, like Spitta, holds that Acts 15:34 simply takes up again Acts 14:28; further, he regards Acts 21:17-20 a as the source of Acts 15:1-4, but Jüngst cautiously remarks that there is nothing strange in the fact that an author should use similar expressions to describe similar situations (p. 146)—a piece of advice which he might himself have remembered with advantage on other occasions. Hilgenfeld’s “author to Theophilus” plays a large part in the representation of the negotiations at Jerusalem in respect to the Conference and the Decree, and this representation is based, according to Hilgenfeld, upon the narrative of the conversion of Cornelius which the same author had for merly embellished, although not without some connection with tradition (Zeitschrift für wissenschaft. Theol., p. 59 ff., 1896). Still more recently Wendt (1899) credits the author of Acts with a tolerably free revision of the tradition he had received, with a view of representing the harmony between Paul and the original Apostles in the clearest light: thus the speeches of Peter and James in 15 are essentially his composition; but Wendt concludes by asserting that it seems in his judgment impossible to separate exactly the additions made by the author of Acts from the tradition, another note of caution against hasty subjective conclusions.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Acts 15:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/acts-15.html. 1897-1910.

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