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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Acts 15

Verse 1

Acts 15:1 . Κατελθόντες , who came down ) as if about to supply what Paul and Barnabas had omitted. ἐδίδασκον , began teaching ) deliberately. [ τῷ ἔθει Μωϋσέως , after the manner of Moses ) As it is written in the law of Moses. V. g.]

Verse 2

Acts 15:2 . Στάσεως ) A term of a middle character between bad and good. πρὸς ) against . ἔταξαν , they arranged, determined ) i.e. the brethren determined . ἀναβαίνειν , should go up ) Comp. as to the time and causes of this journey, Galatians 2:1 , etc. Παῦλον καὶ Βαρναβαν , Paul and Barnabas ) These had it in their power to have maintained their own authority, and to have denied that a decision should be obtained from Jerusalem: for that they themselves have the Holy Spirit. The rest might have contended that those two ought not to be the deputies to Jerusalem, but that others, whose judgment was more unbiassed, should be deputed. But on both sides all things are done in a moderate and candid spirit. It was an easier thing to make a Christian of a Gentile, than to overcome Pharisaic false teaching. καί τινας , and certain persons ) It is a joyful thing to have associates both in the faith and in one’s journeying. τοὺς ἀποστόλους καὶ πρεσβυτέρους , the apostles and presbyters [ elders ]) The order of apostles therefore was distinct from that of the presbyters or elders. Hebr. זקנים , elders.

Verse 3

Acts 15:3 . Προπεμφθέντες , being brought on their way ) A frequent and sacred office of kindness. διήρχοντο , they passed through ) propagating the kingdom of GOD on their way. ἀδελφοῖς , unto the brethren ) who were in Phenice and Samaria.

Verse 4

Acts 15:4 . Ἀπεδέχθησαν , they were received ) in due form. ἐκκλησίας , the Church ) The Church is placed before Peter and the rest of the apostles themselves. ἀνήγγειλαν , they reported ) Jerusalem, whilst the apostles remained there, was the metropolis of the churches, and to it all questions were to be referred: Acts 15:33 . By this very expounding (setting forth) of the facts, the way was prepared for the decision. μετʼ αὐτῶν ) δἰ αὐτῶν , Acts 15:12 , with them and by them . The apostles were as ministers and as instruments. [What hath God done with thee, O man; what with thee, O minister of the word? Canst thou mention anything at all? V. g.]

Verse 5

Acts 15:5 . Ἐξανέοτησαν , rose up ) before the rest, at Jerusalem. Φαρισαίων , of the Pharisees ) Even converted persons have from time to time accompanying them their former state of the understanding, of the will, and of the affections. πεπιστευκότες , who had believed ) who had passed from Judaism to Christianity. [ δεῖ , it is needful ) They were not waiting for the decision of the apostles. V. g.] τὸν νόμον Μωϋσέως , the law of Moses ) Comp. Acts 15:24 . They are speaking of the whole law: ch. Acts 13:39 , note. [The division of the law into the moral and ceremonial was not as familiar to the Jews as it is to us; for both alike were then in force.] And yet in this passage a more express mention of the moral law is not to be thought requisite: for Paul, although he denied that righteousness (justification) is to be obtained by it, yet “established the law:” Romans 3:31 . And therefore the Pharisees who believed, in saving that salvation could not be obtained without circumcision, had no occasion to say more expressly, that salvation could not be obtained without the moral law; although they were not far removed from this very sentiment, which therefore Peter refutes, Acts 15:10-11 .

Verse 6

Acts 15:6 . Συνήχθησαν , met together ) by express arrangement (professedly). A specimen of a good council.

Verse 7

Acts 15:7 . Πολλῆς , much, great ) For the most part, (often) after human party-discussion has preceded, the Divine decision follows. See Job. ἀναστὰς , having risen up ) to make a speech. Πέτρος , Peter ) This is the last mention of Peter in the Acts. ἀρχαίων , ancient [“a good while ago”]) ch. 10. ἐν .…) A most similar construction occurs, 1 Chronicles 28:4-5 , ἐξελέξατο ἐν ἐμοὶ εἶναι βασιλέα καὶ ἐν τοῖς υἱοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου ἐν ἐμοὶ ἠθέλησε τοῦ γένεσθαί με εἰς βασιλέα καὶ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν υἱῶν μου ἐξελέξατο ἐν Σολομῶντι τῷ υἱῷ μου καθίσαι ( αὐτὸν ) ἐπὶ θρόνου , κ . τ . λ .: “hath chosen in my case (in respect of me) that I should be king etc.; and in the case of Solomon , He hath chosen to set ( him ) on the throne.” The sentiment of Peter is; GOD, through the Israelites, and expressly through me (through me of the Israelites in particular), hath called the Gentiles: and he adds, in the case of us , that he may not ascribe the whole matter to himself alone. [84] So too the verb ΣΠΟΥΔΆΖΩ has the Accusative with the Infinitive, 2 Peter 1:15 , ΣΠΟΥΔΆΣΩ ἜΧΕΙΝ ὙΜᾶς ΠΟΙΕῖΣΘΑΙ . ἈΚΟῦΣΑΙ , should hear ) A true Christian is one of whom there may be said what is said in this passage to the end of Acts 15:9 . τοῦ εὐαγγελίου , of the Gospel ) In this passage, and ch. Acts 20:24 , that is, only twice, the term Gospel is employed in this book; the expression more often used is, the way, the word, the doctrine of the Lord . For the appellation Gospel more accords with the first commencements.

[84] E e Vulg. have ἐν ἡμὶν . But ABC Iren. 199, the oldest authorities, ἐν ὑμῖν . E. and T.

Verse 8

Acts 15:8 . Ὁ καρδιογνώστης , who knoweth the hearts ) who looks to the heart , not to the flesh. ἐμαρτύρησεν αὐτοῖς , bare them witness ) Two verbs, each with a participle: ἐμαρτύρησε , δούς · καὶ οὐδὲν διέκρινε , καθαρίσας . Αὐτοῖς , the Dative, as ch. Acts 10:43 . αὐτοῖς , to them ) He testified, by giving them the Holy Spirit, that they are pleasing to Him: Galatians 3:5 .

Verse 9

Acts 15:9 . Τῇ πίστει , by faith ) derived from the hearing of the Gospel [not by the law ], Acts 15:7 ; Act 15:5 at the end: and this without circumcision, without the law. καθαρίσας , having purified ) The heart is the seat of purity. This verb is repeated from the vision, ch. Acts 10:15 . αὐτῶν , their ) He who hath the Holy Spirit and faith (a thing which is apprehended by the spiritual sense itself), hath liberty and purity, and is no longer subject to the law.

Verse 10

Acts 15:10 . Νῦν ) now in particular (now at last), as if τὰ ἀρχαῖα , those ancient things [that good while ago , when God made choice that the Gentiles by me should hear the Gospel], Acts 15:7 , saith Peter, are of no weight. An apostrophe to the Pharisees, and a severe reproof. τί πειράζετε ἐπιθεῖσαι ζυγὸν , κ . τ . λ ., why do ye try to impose a yoke? ) After πειράζετε most editions insert τὸν Θεὸν , according to the very frequent phraseology of Scripture. But the shorter reading, τί πειράζετε ἐπιθεῖναι ζυγὸν ; gives a mode of expression and a sense very free from difficulty. Comp. App. Crit., Ed. ii., on this passage. [85] ζυγὸν , a yoke ) Comp. Isaiah 10:27 , “His (the Assyrian’s) burden ( βάρος ) shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck:” see Acts 15:28 , below. Peter does not call circumcision in itself a yoke, but the whole law, of which circumcision formed a leading feature; and when the latter was abrogated, the Pharisees were apprehensive for the whole law. Therefore he connects the consequence (which is expressed in the form of a Metonymy of the consequent for the antecedent, as in ch. Acts 5:9 ; Galatians 2:14 , at the end) in this way: Whilst ye establish the principle, that salvation cannot be obtained without circumcision, ye impose the yoke of the whole law on the necks of the disciples. Comp. Galatians 5:1 , note. [Circumcision was regarded by the Jews more as a part of the law of Moses, than as a sign of the promise given to Abraham. In itself it was not a yoke; but the law, of which it is used as the sign, was the yoke, to which Christ and grace are opposed.] And since they were not averse from this imposition of the whole yoke (which afterwards was the very root of the Galatian error), Peter cut off this also, and opposes to circumcision, and still more to the yoke of the whole law, the saving grace of Christ, which was not altogether perceived by them: premising also the example of the Cæsareans, who obtained justification both without circumcision and without the law. τῶν μαθητῶν , of the disciples ) They are already disciples; they need not now at last (by the receiving of circumcision) to become so. ὃν οὔτε , which neither ) The cause of the abrogation of the law. οὔτε οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν , nor our fathers ) upon whom notwithstanding the law was imposed; the reason for which Paul everywhere shows. Unless it had been imposed at some time or other, no one would have been sensible that it is a yoke which cannot be borne. He does not mean in this place Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom circumcision was the seal of the promise, not a yoke; but the Israelites under Moses. οὔτε ἡμεῖς , neither we ) especially after having once tasted liberty.

[85] ABCDE de Vulg. Rec. Text and Iren. all have τὸν Θεόν : Hilary, Dominum . Jerome, and a few MSS. of the Vulg., are the only good authorities for omitting these words. E. and T.

Verse 11

Acts 15:11 . Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ , the Lord Jesus ) There is not added, ἡμῶν , our : because in this solemn place there is signified THE Lord of all . πιστεύομεν , we believe ) we believe that we are saved; or rather, we believe, in order that we may be saved; by faith we strive to attain salvation. σωθῆναι , to be saved) Salvation was the question at issue: Acts 15:1 . κἀκεῖνοι , even they ) viz. those of whom Act 15:7 speaks. For the antecedent is in Acts 15:7-9 , the consequent in Acts 15:10-11 . And ἐκεῖνοι , they , is used on account of the time being somewhat far back (remote, ἀρχαίων ἀφʼ ἡμερῶν ), Acts 15:7 . The fathers, who were not even themselves able to bear the yoke, by parity of reasoning are comprehended under the verb πιστεὐομεν , we believe , as they were under the verb ἰσχύσαμεν , “Neither our fathers nor we were able ,” Acts 15:10 ; and therefore their case is brought under the same category of grace , as opposed to the yoke. Peter thus reasons: The disciples now present are saved in the same way as the Gentiles were formerly saved at Cæsarea. The argument formerly proceeded (was inferred consequentially) from the Jews to the Gentiles; ch. Acts 10:47 , Acts 11:15 ; Acts 11:17 ; Galatians 2:15-16 ; and now the same argument (inference) is brought forward (deduced) from the Gentiles, who were first converted, to the rest of the Gentiles. James, in Acts 15:14 , repeats this, which is the sum of Peter’s sentiment.

Verse 12

Acts 15:12 . Ἐξηγουμένων , narrating ) By which very narration the sentiment of Peter was confirmed.

Verse 13

Acts 15:13 . Μετὰ , after that ) All things were done in order.

Verse 14

Acts 15:14 . Συμεὼν ) The Latin Vulg. has Simon [So Amiat. MS.: other MSS. Simeon ]. James, the apostle of the Hebrews, calls Peter by his Hebrew name. [86] ἐξ ἐθνῶν λαὸν , a people from the Gentiles ) A remarkable paradox. [87] And because they retain their former name, ἐθνῶν , the Gentiles or nations , from this James infers, that they would be the people of GOD, even though they are not by circumcision joined (gathered in to) to the Jewish people. ἐπὶ ) for . The same particle occurs, ch. Acts 2:38 , Acts 4:17-18 , “ In the name.” [88] [ τῷ ὀνόματι , the name ) This is demonstrated in Acts 15:17 . V. g.]

[86] Could the reference be to Simeon , Luke 2:25 ; Luk 2:31-32 ? E. and T.

[87] λαὸς being the term always peculiar to the Jews, as opposed to τὰ ἔθνη . E. and T.

[88] The margin of the larger Ed. and Exodus 2:0 , however, prefer the omission of ἐπί . E. B.

It is omitted by ACDE de Iren. Vulg. both Syr. Versions, Theb. It is retained by B (judging from the silence of the collators. But Lachm. in opposition to Tisch. makes B favour the omission) and Memph. E. and T.

Verse 15

Acts 15:15 . Τούτῳ ) to this fact . συμφωνοῦσιν , agree, [harmonise with this]) Peter brought forward the argument of experience, and that, too, what had been vouchsafed to himself, which was trustworthy in itself ( αὐτόπιστον ) and valid, no less than, for instance, in the time of Abraham. James superadds the prophetic Scripture. Beautiful harmony! οἱ λόγοι , the words ) many; one of which, viz. Amos, is forthwith explicitly quoted.

Verse 16

Acts 15:16 . Μετὰ ταῦτα ἀναστρέψω καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυὶδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν , καὶ τὰ κατεσκαμμένα αὐτῆς ἀνοικοδομήσω καὶ ἀνορθώσω αὐτήν · ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὸν Κύριον , καὶ τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς ταῦτα ) Amos 9:11-12 , LXX., ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνἀναστήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυὶδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν , καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὰ πεπτωκότα αὐτῆς καὶ τὰ κατεσκαμμένα αὐτῆς ἀναστήσω · καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω αὐτὴν , καθὼς αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ αἰῶνος · ὅπως ἐκζητήσωσί με οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ τὸ ὄνομά μου , λέγει ταῦτα . μετὰ ταῦτα , after these things ) In the Hebrew, in that day . Both expressions are to be referred to the New Testament. ἀναστρέψω ) אשוב , I will return: the verb for the adverb, “I will again build up.” τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυὶδ , the tabernacle of David) It is otherwise (elsewhere) called the house of David, the throne of David; but here the tent of David, because his concerns had been reduced to great lowness of condition. Often the Church of the New Testament, which was to be built up even of Gentiles, is described under the allegory of architecture: Psalms 102:14-16 ; Ephesians 2:20 . The tabernacle of David, that is, of Christ. [The Church, in which Christ, the antitype of David, dwells and reigns. V. g.]

Verse 17

Acts 15:17 . Ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὸν Κύριον , that the rest of men may seek after the Lord ) The Hebrew has it thus: That they may possess the remnant of Edom and of all the heathen . James and the rest in the council seem to have spoken in Hebrew. The sentiment of James is established by both modes of reading the passage: for Edom stands on the same footing as all the heathen or Gentiles . Comp. the learned observation of Ludovicus de Dieu on this passage. In the case of both οἱ κατάλοιποι are the remnant , who are left remaining after great calamities: Romans 9:27 ; Zechariah 14:16 , etc. And in Acts 15:14 (to take out for His name ) James most relies on those words, ἐφʼ οὓς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου , upon whom My name is called ; which clause, according to the Hebrew accents, comprises both the Edomites and all the nations (“all the heathen”). Nor is it without good cause that the LXX. translators adopted such words as, by their more comprehensive significance, would serve to declare the comprehensiveness of grace. πάντα , all ) “without respect of persons and of works.” Jonas. ἐπικέκληται , has been called ) James delighted in this phrase: Ep. ch. Acts 2:7 . ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς , upon them ) that they may be Mine. ποιῶν , who doeth ) The present time, with emphasis. Comp. the following verse. This among the German Jews is the Haphtara (Lesson) that is wont to be read (in the synagogue) in the spring-time.

Verse 18

Acts 15:18 . Γνωστὸν ἀπʼ αἰῶνος , known from the beginning of the world ) James infers this from the prediction itself, and from the words of the same prophet, which appeal to the days of eternity [LXX., αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ αἰῶνος : Engl. Vers. Amos 9:11 , “I will build it as in the days of old ”]; and to these words the apostle, returning back again to the same prophecy, alludes. We have commented on the words in our notes above. GOD predicted ἀπʼ αἰῶνος , “As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began ” (from eternity, “a seculo”), Luke 1:70 : therefore He knew from eternity. Wherefore we ought not to shrink from this (the admission of the Gentiles) as something strange and marvellous. GOD did not give circumcision in such a way as that it was always to last: for at the same time He predicted the conversion of the Gentiles. An admirable Axiom; as Sir 23:20 , πρινὴ (= πρὶν ἢ , Lat. prius-quam ) κτισθῆναι , τὰ πάντα ἔγνωσται αὐτῷ , all things were known to Him before that they were founded , or created . And from this the Divine prescience of all things is demonstrated; for all the works of GOD, especially rewards and punishments, presuppose all the motions (even including the free motions of will and deed) of His creatures. τὸ ἔργον αὐτοῦ , His work [89] ) The singular number has peculiar emphasis. It is to be referred to the words, ΠΟΙῶΝ ΤΑῦΤΑ , who doeth these things , Acts 15:17 .

[89] Not works , as Engl. Vers. with Ee and later Syr. BC Memph. and Theb. omit all but γνωστὰ ἀπʼ αἰῶνος : so Tisch. But AD d Vulg. and Iren. read τὸ ἴργον αὐτοῦ , as Beng. and Lachm. E. and T.

Verse 19

Acts 15:19 . Παρενοχλεῖν ) παρά , besides, over and above what is necessary, unnecessarily . Quiet faith ought not to be disturbed.

Verse 20

Acts 15:20 . Ἐπιστεῖλαι , that we send) an epistle . This forms the beginning of the Scriptures of the New Testament. τῶν ἀλισγημάτων αἵματος , from contaminations blood ) These were things which might have especially offended the partisans of Moses. Ἀλίσγημα is properly said of unclean meats (articles of food). τῶν εἰδώλων , of idols) images : 1 Corinthians 8:0 τῆς πορνείας , from fornication ) which was esteemed no disgrace among the Gentiles. Wherefore also Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, conjointly both exhorts against eating things sacrificed to idols, and forbids fornication; 1 Corinthians 8:1 ; 1 Corinthians 6:13 . Fornication in Acts 15:29 , and ch. Acts 21:25 , is put in the last place, so as not to make a break in the words which refer to the subject of food: but here it is joined with things sacrificed to idols , because it was frequently an accompaniment of the worship of idols. Observe also, that the article in this place is very often employed, in order that the language may be the more express: in Acts 15:29 , on the other hand, it is never employed, in order that the language may be the milder. In chap. Act 21:25 it is twice employed (according to Rec. Text, τὸ εἰδωλόθυτον καὶ τὸ αἷμα ). τοῦ πνικτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος , from what is strangled and from blood ) These are interdicted, not because they were forbidden by Noah, but inasmuch as they were forbidden by Moses: see foll. ver. [And in their ordinary diet it was a great scandal in the eyes of the Jews to partake of what was strangled and of blood , of which many feel even a natural horror. V. g.] Πνικτὸν , what is strangled , is an expression applied to whatever has been sacrificed or killed, without the blood having been duly let out.

Verse 21

Acts 15:21 . Μωσῆς γὰρ , for Moses ) The words not merely of the prophets, Acts 15:15 , but of Moses also, correspond to the sentiment of Peter; but Moses is too well known to need his testimony being quoted. Often the γὰρ has the effect of an Ætiology (reason assigned) for what has been said, that the sense may be this, I have quoted the prophets , not Moses , whose agreement (with Peter’s sentiment) is more open. See Deuteronomy 32:21 . James seems to have had in his mind this declaration of the Lord by Moses; but, to avoid giving offence (Euphemy, Append.), he did not wish to quote it in this passage: also Genesis 12:3 , etc. Moses, in mentioning the recency of circumcision as compared with the promise, very much proves the fact (the point at issue). ἀρχαίων , ancient ) The same word as in Acts 15:7 . Everything that is most ancient in ecclesiastical, and still more in divine institutions, ought to be had respect to. κηρύσσοντας , who preach him) regularly and periodically.

Verse 22

Acts 15:22 . Ἔδοξε , it pleased ) A weighty word, Acts 15:25 ; Acts 15:28 ; Acts 15:34 . The synonym is, κρίνω , I judge, my sentence is , Acts 15:19 ; whence τὰ δόγματα τὰ κεκριμένα , the decrees that were ordained , ch. Acts 16:4 . ἐκκλησίᾳ , the Church ) This too had its part to act (its share) in the decision. ἐκλεξαμένους ) Resolve the words thus, ἵνα ἐκλεξάμενοι ἄνδρας πέμψωσι . ἐξ αὐτῶν , from among themselves ) in whom they could repose confidence. In all ways precaution was taken that Paul should not seem to be reporting (delivering) the decision of the council, as if it were his own. καὶ Σίλαν , and Silas ) Silvanus is put before Timothy, as the companion of Paul, in 2 Corinthians 1:19 , and both Epp. to the Thess.: from it is formed the diminutive, Silas : ch. Acts 17:10 .

Verse 23

Acts 15:23 . Γράψαντες , having written ) Who dictated the Epistle, or wrote it, and in what language, is not expressed. There could be no suspicion as to its genuineness. No other epistle given by the primitive Church is extant at the present day, although there were many given: ch. Acts 18:27 ; 1Co 7:1 ; 2 Corinthians 3:1 . Γράψαντες , in the nominative case, coheres with πέμψαι . Comp. 2Co 10:2 ; 2 Corinthians 8:23 , εἴτε ὑπὲρ Τίτου , κοινωνὸς ἐμός , etc., note. διὰ , by ) An abbreviated expression for, they wrote , and by their hand ( διὰ χειρὸς αὐτῶν ) sent . τάδε , these things ) Many things are put down in this letter out of the speeches of Peter and James. Συρίαν , Syria ) It is not to be wondered at, that the books of the New Testament were soon (early) translated into the Syriac language. χαίρειν ) wish joy (‘greeting’), in truth: see Acts 15:31 . Believers do not always use very warm forms of compliment, but sometimes employ every-day forms in a more elevated sense. So Acts 15:29 , ἔῤῥωσθε , farewell . So James 1:1 , χαίρειν , greeting (bids salutation). Peter employs other words. From this we may infer, that this epistle was composed by James in the Council, as being especially in consonance with the speech of James; for instance, παρενοχλεῖν , to trouble unnecessarily , Acts 15:19 , and ταράττειν , to trouble , Acts 15:24 , ἀπέχεσθαι , to abstain , Acts 15:20 ; Acts 15:29 .

Verse 24

Acts 15:24 . Ἐτάραξαν , have troubled ) They do not spare those who had introduced the doubts. The same verb occurs, Galatians 5:10 , “He that troubleth you,” and concerning the same subject. We ought to observe the simplicity, gravity, and brevity of the epistle. ἀνασκευάζοντες ) A verb never occurring in the LXX., and in the New Testament employed in this passage alone. The Glossary in Pricæus explains it, destroys , καταλύει , ἀνασκευάζει . Hesychius explains ἀνασκευάζειν , as μετατιθέναι . Comp. therefore μετατίθεσθε , ye are removed , Galatians 1:6 . [This is a thing which causes immense mischiefs. V. g.]

Verse 25

Acts 15:25 . Ἡμῖν , unto us ) In Act 15:28 the expression used is a more forcible one, to the Holy Ghost and to us . γενομένοις ὁμοθυμαδὸν , having come to one unanimous decision [being assembled with one accord]) As to the verb γίνομαι with the adverb, see on John 1:15 [The adverb assumes the signification of a noun], ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγοιεν . ἄιδρας , men ) teachers, who are men of weight; not merely one, but two at the least.

Verse 26

Acts 15:26 . Παραδεδώκοσι , who have delivered up [hazarded]) and who are therefore most highly approved of men [altogether tried men].

Verse 27

Acts 15:27 . Διὰ λόγου , by word of mouth) In antithesis to the letter . τὰ αὐτὰ ) the same things as are presently after written. This proposition is followed by the discussion of it in the foll. ver., γὰρ , for .

Verse 28

Acts 15:28 . Τῷ Ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι , to the Holy Ghost ) It was He who revealed what should be their decision in that case. ἐπιτίθεσθαι ) that no greater burden should be laid upon you, by any teachers whatever. Peter had used this verb in Acts 15:10 . τῶν ἐπάναγκες ) These things, which are almost necessary things [these somewhat necessary observances], according to the hypothesis [ Act 15:24 ], and suited to the existing time, partly also always [of lasting obligation]. Ἐπὶ in composition sometimes diminishes, as ἐπίξανθον , almost yellow .

Verse 29

Acts 15:29 . Πορνείας , from fornication ) Some MSS., and so also Irenæu [90] , Cypria [91] , and the Æthiopian version, add, ΚΑῚ ὍΣΑ ΜῊ ΘΈΛΕΤΕ ἙΑΥΤΟῖς ΓΊΝΕΣΘΑΙ , ἙΤΈΡΟΙς ΜῊ ΠΟΙΕῖΤΕ , “Whatsoever things ye wish that men should do to you, do ye also so to them: this is the law and the prophets:” Matthew 7:12 . See App. Crit., ed. ii., on this passage. [92] Therefore some formerly must have thought that this synodical letter could not be without this clause [viz. on account of the words just quoted from Matt.] They no doubt knew that the question also in the Synod was one concerning the moral law. At least the believers who were of the Pharisees upheld the false use of the moral law, as though righteousness and salvation were to be attained by it. The Synod removes this same false use of it, not the moral law itself, but the ceremonial law itself. Wherefore there was no need, that to abstinence from things sacrificed to idols, etc., there should be added the words, “Whatsoever things ye would not wish to be done to you, be unwilling to do to others.” εὖ πράξετε , ye shall do well [ prosper ]) Nothing shall be wanting, no obstacle shall be in the way of your doing well ( πρὸς τὸ εὖ πράττειν ); as regards your Christian felicity, nothing will “trouble” you: Acts 15:24 . This too is intended for consolation : Acts 15:31 .

[90] renæus (of Lyons, in Gaul: born about 130 A.D., and died about the end of the second century). The Editio Renati Massueti, Parisinæ, a. 1710.

[91] yprian (in the beginning and middle of the third century: a Latin father). Ed. Steph. Baluzii, Paris. 1726.

[92] D d supports the addition. But ABCE e Vulg. reject it. E. and T.

Verse 30

Acts 15:30 . Ἀπολυθέντες , having been dismissed ) solemnly: Acts 15:33 . [ τὴν ἐπιστολὴν , the epistle ) By this epistle the Scripture of the New Testament was begun. V. g.]

Verse 31

Acts 15:31 . Ἀναγνόντες , when they had read ) in public. παρακλήσει , at the consolation ) To this refer παρεκάλεσαν , consoled (Engl. Vers., exhorted ), Acts 15:32 .

Verse 32

Acts 15:32 . Καὶ αὐτοὶ , also themselves ) Just as both the letter was written in the prophetic spirit, and Barnabas and Paul were endued with it. προφῆται , prophets ) ch. Acts 13:1 , note. It is the function of a prophet παρακαλεῖν καὶ ἐπιστηρίζειν , to console and confirm . Comp. 1 Corinthians 14:3 .

Verse 33

Acts 15:33 . Ἀπελύθησαν , they were dismissed [let go]) after having executed their instructions.

Verse 34

Acts 15:34 . Ἔδοξε δὲ τῷ Σίλᾳ ἐπιμεῖναι αὐτοῦ ) All the editors have this little verse: nor has Mill removed it from the text of Robert Stephens, though he thinks it to be a gloss. The question is left in doubt by the Greek MSS., and by the arguments derived from the context: whence we have marked it in the Apparatus, pp. 625, 626, as equally balanced on both sides, although in the same place, and in the margin, we have prefixed an obelus. [But the case is otherwise in the margin of ed. ii., which is followed by the Vers. Germ. And now it will be of use to compare App. Crit., ed. ii., on this passage. [93] ] But now we embrace the opinion derived from the Greek MSS. which contain the verse, especially since the versions, the Æthiopic and Arabic, quoted in Ludov. de Dieu, contain it, and the Coptic (Memphitic) in the excerpta sent by La Crozius is not opposed to it. [94] In the other authorities, when Luke, who is different both in name and in the derivation of his name, and in reality, from Silas (see Ord. Temp. , p. 278; ed. ii., p. 239), had written, ἀπελύθησαν πρὸς τοὺς ἀποστείλαντας αὐτοὺς · ἔδοξε δὲ τῷ Σίλᾳ ἐπιμεῖναι αὐτοῦ , the leap was made from αὐτοὺς to αὐτῦ , which caused the hiatus in the Codex Alexandrinus and others, and in the Greek commentators, concerning whom in this passage the Anti-Millius of Whitby is silent, and also in the Syriac version. I feel grateful to my very great friend, D. Hauber, who was the cause of my weighing the present passage more carefully. But the same friend thinks that Silas went to Jerusalem with the intention of returning, and that thence there is ascribed to him an abiding at Antioch.

[93] CD Vulg. MS. Vindobonensis alone, Theb. and later Syr. read this verse: D d Vulg. Vindob. adding μόνος δὲ Ἰούδας ἐπορεύθη . But ABE e Vulg. Amiat. (the best MS.) Syr. Memph. omit the whole verse. E. and T.

[94] But the best Memph. MSS. omit the verse. E. and T.

Verse 36

Acts 15:36 . Ἐπιστρέψαντες , having returned ) A most wholesome plan: and yet Paul was then (afterwards) led even farther, and more and more towards the west. δὴ ) A particle of exciting. πῶς ἔχουσι , how they have themselves [in what state they are]) in respect to faith, love, and hope. [Paul also afterwards had the same care: 1 Thessalonians 3:5 . V. g.] The strength (what ought to be the main point) of an ecclesiastical visitation . Reader, How hast thou thyself , in what state art thou?

Verse 37

Acts 15:37 . Μάρκον , Mark ) his kinsman. Mark seems to have caught up a fresh feeling of alacrity, on the free admission of the Gentiles having been decreed in the council: but, ch. Acts 13:13 , he had neglected the opportunity which he had had of proving himself, in the cross which ensued at that time: therefore he experiences the severity of Paul, who, however, afterwards again admitted him to favour: Col 4:10 ; 2 Timothy 4:11 . One may continue in the number of believers, and that, too, in a distinguished place, and yet lose some special dignity, be acknowledged as pious, and yet be excluded from some special distinction. Comp. Ezekiel 44:10 .

Verses 37-38

Acts 15:37-38 . Συμπαραλαβεῖν , μὴ συμπαραλαβεῖν , to take with them, not to take with them) A contradiction of opinions, vividly expressed.

Verse 38

Acts 15:38 . Παῦλος δὲ , but Paul ) Barnabas had been in Christ before Paul: but Paul now in this instance walks more uprightly than Barnabas. ἠξίου , thought fit ) This has more reason in it [ ἀξιόω from ἄξιος , worthy ] than the ἐβουλεύσατο , determined , of Barnabas: Acts 15:37 . See Luke 9:62 .

Verse 39

Acts 15:39 . Παροξυσμὸς , the exasperation of their minds [contention]) Whether Barnabas sometime before looked upon the greatness of Paul, as being a colleague junior to himself, with less joyful feeling; or this present was the only source of contention between them; vehement excitement is denoted by this word. Barnabas was leaning more on the lenient view of the case, Paul, on the truth [strict justice]. There is no other sin of which there is greater danger in the case of holy and great colleagues. “How comprehensive is the grace, how powerful the faith, which, in the midst of the world, in the midst of sin, amidst so many snares of Satan, and in the case of such incredible infirmity on our parts, notwithstanding sanctifies, still sustains, and preserves!” Justus Jonas. ἀποχωρισθῆναι , that they departed asunder ) This separation also was directed (overruled) by the Lord to good. For so out of one pair, two were made: and Paul having obtained, instead of one colleague who was his equal, several subordinates, was the less restricted in his movements. Paul also afterwards made kind mention of Barnabas: 1 Corinthians 9:6 . ἐκπλεῦσαι ) sailed forth , on a different course. The infinitive depends on ὥστε . The exasperation on the part of Barnabas was more violent: for it is the sailing of Barnabas, rather than the setting out of Paul, that is deduced from it. Κύπρον , Cyprus ) His country, intending again to see it, and know “in what state it was” (how it had itself): Acts 15:36 , with which comp. ch. Acts 13:4 [Barnabas and Saul at the first had sailed to Cyprus ].

Verse 40

Acts 15:40 . Σίλαν , Silas ) instead of Barnabas: and soon after Timothy instead of Mark. παραδοθεὶς , being recommended ) The best provision for the way; one which even an inferior can impart to a superior.

Verse 41

Acts 15:41 . Διήρχετο , he went through ) Acts 15:36 .

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 15". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.