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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Acts 15

 

 

Verse 1

1. τινες] Called in Galatians 2:4, παρείσακτοι ψευδάδελφοι, οἵτινες παρεισῆλθον κατασκοπῆσαι τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ἡμῶν ἣν ἔχομεν ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ.

See the addition in var. readd. probably from Acts 15:5. Doubtless it represents the fact. In spite of the special revelations which had accompanied the reception of the first Gentiles into the church, the strong Judaizing party adhered to their old prejudices respecting the necessity of conformity to the law of Moses. With this party Paul was in conflict all his life; and even long after, we find it raising its head again in the sects of the Ebionites and the Nazarenes.

Neander (Pfl. u. L. p. 185, note) notices the account in Josephus (Antt. xx. 2.4), where Izates, king of Adiabene, is converted to Judaism by a certain Ananias, who, for fear of a commotion among his people, allows him to remain uncircumcised—when a certain Eleazar, πάνυ περὶ τὰ πάτρια δοκῶν ἀκριβὴς εἶναι, prevails on him to perform the rite, for that without it he could not be a Jew. On the idea that Cerinthus and Ebion were the τινές here spoken of, see the patristic reff. in Wordsw.’s note.


Verses 1-35

1–35.] DIFFERENCES RESPECTING THE NECESSITY OF CIRCUMCISION FOR THE GENTILE CONVERTS. COUNCIL OF THE APOSTLES AND ELDERS AT JERUSALEM.


Verse 2

2.] Compare Galatians 2:5.

ἔταξαν ἀναβ.] I assume here what seems to me to be almost beyond the possibility of question (see note to chronological table in Prolegg., where I have given the reasons), that this journey was the same as that mentioned Galatians 2:1-10. In that case, Paul there (Acts 15:2) says that he went up κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν. In this expression I cannot see it necessarily implied that the revelation was made to himself, but that there was some intimation of the Holy Ghost, similar perhaps to that in ch. Acts 13:2, in accordance with which the church at Antioch sent him and Barnabas;—there being προφῆται there, by whom the Spirit spoke His will.

τινας ἄλλους] Titus was one, Galatians 2:1; Galatians 2:3, and that, in all probability, in order to give an example of a Gentile convert of the uncircumcision endowed with gifts of the Holy Spirit, Titus is not mentioned in the Acts: but only in 2 Cor., Gal., 2 Tim., and the epistle addressed to him.


Verse 3

3. προπεμφ.] This seems to have been something of an official escorting of them on the way, and perhaps parting from them with solemn commendation to God: not, as Morus and Heinrichs, ‘rebus ad iter suscipiendum instructis,’ which would hardly be thus specified, being a matter of course. At all events, it shews that the mind of the church was with them, not with the Judaizers. This was also the case in Phœnicia and Samaria, as is shewn by πᾶσιν below.


Verse 4

4.] On their arrival at Jerusalem, there seems to have taken place an official reception of them and their message, in public. There they related—as a most important datum for the determination of the question—God’s dealings with them (see on ch. Acts 14:27), and recounted the places where churches of believing Gentiles had been founded. This having taken place, a protest was entered on the part of the Pharisee believers,—in no way doubting the truth of these conversions, nor in any way disparaging the ministry of Paul and Barnabas,—that it was necessary to circumcise αὐτούς, those of whom they had spoken, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

It may be objected, that this view would not be consistent with Paul’s statement, Galatians 2:2, ἀνεθέμην αὐτοῖς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ὃ κηρύσσω ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, κατʼ ἰδίαν δὲ τοῖς δοκοῦσιν, μήπως εἰς κενὸν τρεχω ἢ ἔδραμον. But I cannot see any inconsistency, if the words used in both cases be accurately weighed. To the ἐκκλησία, ἀπόστολοι, and πρεσβύτεροι Paul and Barnabas gave a simple recital of how God had dealt with them among the Gentiles: but Paul did not lay before the whole assembly the Gospel which he preached among the Gentiles, viz. the indifference of the Mosaic law to their salvation (Galatians 1:7-9), for fear of its being hastily disparaged or repudiated, and so his work being hindered ( μήπως κ. τ. λ.). But, in private interviews with the chief Apostles, James, Peter, and John (Galatians 2:9), he did unfold the whole freeness of this Gospel, and so effectually, as to prepare the way for their full and public accordance with him at the council.


Verse 6

6.] The Apostles and elders only are mentioned as having assembled: in which case πᾶν τὸ πλῆθος (Acts 15:12) must mean τῶν πρεσβυτέρων, and the decision of Acts 15:22 must have been arrived at in a larger assembly. But most probably the deliberation of the Apostles and elders implied the presence of the brethren also, who are intended by πᾶν τὸ πλ.,—and there was but one assembly. The objection, that no one place could have held them, is nugatory: the official presence of all is assumed continually in such cases, where the assembly is open to all.

λόγου] matter (in this case) of dispute: see reff.


Verse 7

7.] A promiscuous debate, not perhaps without some angry feeling, ensued on their first coming together,—and among the multitude, as is implied in Acts 15:12,—man disputing with man.

πέτρος] Partly on account of the universal deference paid to him, but principally because of his peculiar fitness to open the apostolic decisions on the subject, from having been made the instrument of the first public and approved reception of the Gentiles.

ὑμεῖς ἐπίστ.] In Peter’s speeches in ch. 10, this phrase occurs at the beginning of a sentence, Acts 15:28, and ὑμεῖς οἴδατε, Acts 15:37; and we have traces of the same way of expressing the personal pronoun in his speeches, ch. Acts 2:15; Acts 3:14; Acts 3:25. Such notices are important, as shewing that these reports are not only according to the sense of what was said, but the words spoken, verbatim.

ἀφʼ ἡμ. ἀρχ.] In regard to the whole time of the Gospel up to that day (about 20 years), the date of the conversion of Cornelius, at least fifteen years before this (cf. Galatians 2:1, and notes to chron. table in Prolegg.), would very properly be so specified. The length of time elapsed is placed by Peter in the strongest light, to shew that the question had in fact been settled by divine interference long since. Notice (in reff.) the idioms, &c., peculiar to Peter:— ἐξελέξ. with inf.,— διὰ τ. στόμ.,— καρδιογν. (most probably);—or characteristic of him, πειράζ. τ. θεόν,—( καθ) ὼς καὶ ἡμῖν (ch. Acts 10:47; so ὥσπερ καί, ch. Acts 3:17; Acts 11:15),— ἀρχαίων now, compared with ἐν ἀρχῇ ch. Acts 11:15. Compare also with πειράζ τ. θεόν,— κωλῦσαι τ. θεόν, ch. Acts 11:17.

ἐν ὑμῖν] among you. If ἡμῖν be read, then ‘among us (Apostles):’ see var. read.

There is no ellipsis of ‘me’ after ἐξελ.: the E. V. expresses the construction rightly.


Verse 8-9

8, 9.] The allusion is throughout to spiritual circumcision, as the purification of the heart. God, who saw deeper than the mere fleshly distinction between Jew and Gentile, who knows that the hearts of all are unclean, and that the same all-sufficient sacrifice can cleanse them all, if applied by faith (compare the remarkable parallel, 1 Peter 1:18-22 incl.), put no difference between us and them, but has been pleased to render them spiritually clean.

τῇ πίστει, not simply ‘by faith:’ but by their faith, or by the faith in Christ.


Verse 10

10.] πειρ. (as κωλῦσαι, ch. Acts 11:17), tempt, by putting obstacles in the way of His evidently determined course.

ἐπιθεῖναι, infin., marking the intended result of πειράζετε: cf. βῆ δὲ θέειν, βῆ δʼ ἰέναι, μάστιξεν δʼ ἐλάαν, &c. See Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 365.

ζυγόν] See ref. Gal. Peter could not be so much referring to the mere outward observance of ceremonies, which he himself and the Jewish converts thought it expedient to retain,—but to the imposition of the law, as a condition of salvation, on the consciences of the disciples. So Neander (Pfl. u. L. p. 214). This being so, οὔτεβαστάσαι will refer, not to the burdensomeness of ceremonies, but to the far more grievous burden of legal death, of which Paul cries out so bitterly in Romans 7:24,—and says, Galatians 5:3, μαρτύρομαιπαντὶ ἀνθρώπῳ περιτεμνομένῳ, ὅτι ὀφειλέτης ἐστὶν ὅλον τὸν νόμον ποιῆσαι.


Verse 11

11. Seeing that we all in common believe that the grace of Christ is the sufficient, and only cause of our salvation, it can neither be reasonable nor according to God’s will, to fetter that grace with superfluous and vexatious conditions. See nearly the same argument retorted on Peter himself, Galatians 2:14 ff.

κἀκεῖνοι are the Gentile Christians, not our fathers;—their ground of trust is the same as ours: ours, no more than theirs.


Verse 12

12.] The multitude (see above) then,—and not before, on account of their mutual disputes,—being tranquillized by Peter’s speech, quietly received from Paul and Barnabas an account of the seals of signs and wonders by which God had stamped the approval of their ministry among the Gentiles. The miracles at Paphos and Lystra would be among the principal of these.


Verse 13

13.] αὐτούς, viz. Paul and Barnabas. Both had spoken: doubtless wonders, unrecorded, had been wrought by the hand of Barnabas, which he had recounted.

ἰάκωβος] See note, ch. Acts 12:17, and the prolegg. to the epistle of James. I assume here, that this is James the Just, the brother of the Lord, the author of the Epistle: and though an απόστολος (Galatians 1:19; see also note on ch. Acts 14:4), not one of the twelve. If we may presume to judge from the character of his Epistle, to say nothing of the particulars which tradition has handed down concerning him, his decision would come with remarkable weight on this occasion. For he is, among all the sacred writers of the N. T., the representative of the strictest adherence to and loftiest appreciation of the pure standard of legal morality. All that the law was, from its intrinsic holiness, justice, and goodness (Romans 7:12), capable of being to Christians, he would be sure to attribute to it. And therefore when his judgment, as well as that of Peter, is given in favour of the freedom of the Gentiles, the disputers, even of the Pharisaic party, are silenced. There does not seem to be in the following speech any decision ex cathedra, either in the ἀκούσατέ μου, or in the ἐγὼ κρίνω (Acts 15:19): the decision lay in the weightiness, partly no doubt of the person speaking, but principally of the matter spoken by him.


Verse 14

14. συμεών] James characteristically uses this Jewish form of the name: so also Peter himself, 2 Peter 1:1. The name occurs Genesis 29:33, LXX Luke 2:25; Luke 3:30; ch Acts 13:1; Revelation 7:7; the name Simon, elsewhere used in the N. T. for Peter, is found in 1 Chronicles 4:20 (Heb. σεμών, LXX-ed.-vat., but σεμιών (77) (Mai), σεμειών, A).

τῷ ὀν.] for His name: dat. commodi [for the service, or the making known, of His name]. On ἐπεσκ. λαβ., see reff.: the infin., as ἐπιθεῖναι, Acts 15:10, note.

λαόν, answering to the λαός, so well known as His by covenant before.


Verse 15

15. τούτῳ] Neuter, to this: not, ‘to Him,’ in which case we should expect not οἱ λόγοι τῶν πρ., but οἱ προφῆται (Meyer).


Verses 16-18

16–18.] The citation from Amos is made freely from the LXX: differing widely in the latter part from our present Hebrew text, which see in loc. E. V. In all probability the LXX had another reading before them, substituting perhaps יִדְרִשׁוּ אֹתי for יִירְשׁוּ אֶת־ and אָדָם for אֱדוֹם. The existing Hebrew MSS. contain several minor variations, for which see Kennicott and De Rossi in loc. Of this we may at least be sure, that James, even if (as I believe) he spoke in Greek, and quoted as here given, would not himself (nor would the Pharisees present have allowed it) have quoted any rendering, especially where the stress of his argument lay in it, at variance with the original Hebrew.

The prophecy regards that glorious restitution of the kingdom to (the Son of) David, which should be begun by the incarnation of the Lord, and perfected by His reign over all nations. During the process of this restitution those nations, as the effect of the rebuilding, should seek the Lord,—to whomsoever the gospel should be preached. There is here neither assertion nor negation of the national restoration of the Jews. Be this as it may (and I firmly believe in the literal accomplishment of all the prophecies respecting them as a nation), it is obvious, on any deep view of prophetic interpretation, that the glorious things which shall have a fulfilment in the literal Israel, must have their complete and more worthy fulfilment in the spiritual theocracy, of which the Son of David is the Head.


Verse 17

17. ἐφʼ οὓς ἐπικέκλ.] Notice the same expression in the Epistle of James (ref.).


Verse 18

18.] The variation of reading here is remarkable. The text which I have given is in all probability the original, and the words inserted in the rec. have been intended as a help out of their difficulty. Not only are they wanting in several ancient MSS., but they bear the sure mark of spuriousness,—manifold variations in the MSS. where they do occur. The sense, and account of the text seem to be this: the Apostle paraphrases the ὁ ποιῶν ( πάντα) ταῦτα of the LXX, adding γνωστὰ ἀπʼ αἰῶνος, and intending to express ‘saith the Lord, who from the beginning revealed these things,’ viz. by the prophet (of old, see reff.) just cited. The addition in the rec. has been made to fill up the apparently elliptical γνωστὰ ἀπʼ αἰῶνος, which not being found in the passage of Amos, was regarded as a sentence by itself. These last words, κύρ. ὁ ποι. ταῦ. γν. ἀπʼ αἰ., may perhaps be an allusion to the mystery of the admission of the Gentiles into the, church, which was now being revealed practically, and had been from of old announced by the prophets: cf. Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:5-6, &c.


Verse 19

19.] ἐπιστρέφουσιν, not as E. V. ‘are turned.’ but are turning:—the converts daily gathered into the church. In παρενοχλ. there is no meaning of ‘præter, … insuper, molestiam creare:’ but simply ‘molestiam creare:’ see reff.


Verse 20

20.] ἐπιστεῖλαι, to send an ἐπιστολή: then τοῦ ἀπ., of the purpose of such epistle,—to the end that they may abstain, &c.

ἀλισγ. belongs to εἰδώλων only. Meyer understands it to refer to the four genitives, the pollutions of (1) idols, (2) fornication, (3) things strangled, (4) blood. This he rests on the non-repetition of ἀπό before τῆς πορν. But in this case the members do not correspond. The Gentile converts needed no command to abstain from the pollution of idolatry: and the use of the Alexandrine verb ἀλισγεῖν in reff. shews it to apply most naturally to pollution by eating. The ἀλ. τ. εἰδ. are the things polluted by being offered to idols, about which there was much doubt and contention in the early church:—see Exodus 34:15, and 1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10:19.

τῆς πορνείας] It may seem strange that a positive sin should be made the subject of these enactments which mostly regard things in themselves indifferent, but rendered otherwise by expediency and charity to others. In consequence we have the following attempts to evade the simple rendering of the word: (1) Beza, Selden, Schleusner, explain it of spiritual fornication in eating things offered to idols: (2) Morus and Heinrichs, of the committal of actual fornication at the rites in idol temples: (3) Salmasius, of the sin of the whore-master: (4) Calovius, of concubinage: (5) Lightfoot, of marriage within the forbidden degrees: (6) Teller, of marriage with heathens: (7) Bentley would read χοιρείας, ‘swine’s flesh:’ (8) πορκείας has also been conjectured (probably not by Bentley, as stated in Meyer, De W., and this work, edn. 1):—see other renderings in Meyer and De Wette. But the solution will best be found in the fact, that πορνεία was universally in the Gentile world regarded on the same footing with the other things mentioned, as an ἀδιάφορον, and is classed here as Gentiles would be accustomed to hear of it, among those things which they allowed themselves, but which the Jews regarded as forbidden. The moral abomination of the practice is not here in question, but is abundantly set forth by our Lord and his Apostles in other places.

πνικτοῦ] as containing the blood,—see Leviticus 17:13-14.

αἵματος] blood, in any shape: see Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:13-14; Deuteronomy 12:23-24. Cypr(78), Tertull., and others interpret the word of homicide, which is refuted by the context.


Verse 21

21.] Living as the Gentile converts would be in the presence of Jewish Christians, who heard these Mosaic prohibitions read, as they had been from generations past, in their synagogues, it would be well for them to avoid all such conduct and habits as would give unnecessary offence. Other meanings have been proposed: as ‘that it was superfluous to command these things to the Jews, for they would hear them in the synagogues’ (so an ancient Schol., Lyra, and Neander),—whereas no question whatever was raised about Jewish converts:—‘neque est metuendum, ut Moses propterea antiquetur,’ Erasmus, al.: ‘Pudori vobis foret et ignominiæ, si vos, homines Christiani … hac in re inferiores a Judæis deprehenderemini, quod vos communione cum epulis sacrificialibus polytheismo favere videremini, quum illi Judæi … monotheismo adhæreant tenacissime, eumque quavis septimana sibi inculcatum audiant,’ Heinrichs.

‘Nam quod ad Mosen attinet, non possunt, qui ex Judæsis sunt, queri, eum sperni ab alienigenis nostri gregis, quando in nostris (?) non minus quam in Judaicis conventibus Moses, ita ut ab antiquo factum est, legitur, et quidem sabbatis,’ Grot., Hammond. On the reading of the law, &c., in the synagogues, see ch. Acts 13:15, note.


Verse 22

22.] ἐκλεξαμένους must not (with Kuin., al.) be taken for ἐκλεχθέντας; the 1 aor. middle can never have a passive signification: see Lobeck’s note on Phrynichus, p. 319: where he gives a collection of seeming instances of such usage and explains them.

Such irregularities of case in words in apposition as we have here ( ἀποστόλοις.… ἐκλεξαμένους.… γράψαντες.…) will not surprise any one versed in Hellenistic Greek. See e.g. Luke 1:73-74; ch. Acts 25:27; Hebrews 2:10; also ch. Acts 22:17, ἐγένετο δέ μοι ὑπο στρέψαντικ. προσευχομένου μου.… γενέσθαι με ἐν ἐκστάσει.… and ref. (h).

βαρσαββᾶν] Of this Judas nothing further is known than that (Acts 15:32) he was a ‘prophet’ (see ch. Acts 13:1). Wolf and Grotius hold him to have been the brother of Joseph Barsabas, ch. Acts 1:23.

σίλαν] otherwise Silvanus ( σιλουανός): the former name [is found] in the Acts, the latter in the Epistles of Paul. He also was a ‘prophet’ (Acts 15:32). He accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey through Asia Minor and Macedonia (Acts 15:40—ch. Acts 17:10),—remained behind in Berœa (Acts 17:14), and joined Paul again in Corinth (Acts 18:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1), where he preached with Paul and Timotheus (2 Corinthians 1:19). The Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12), by whom the first Epistle of Peter was carried to the churches of Asia Minor, seems to be the same person. Tradition however distinguishes Silas from Silvanus, making the former bishop of Corinth, the latter of Thessalonica. On the hypothesis which identifies Silas with Luke and makes him the author of the Acts, see Prolegg. to Acts, § i. 11. β, γ. I may repeat here, that in my mind the description of Silas here as one of the ἡγούμενοι ἐν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς, of itself, especially when contrasted with the preface to Luke’s gospel, would suffice to refute the notion. It has been also supposed (by Burmann) that Silas ( שְׁלִישׁי) [third] is the same name with Tertius, who wrote the Epistle to the Romans, Romans 16:22; but without reason: see Winer, Realw., “Tertius,” and Michaelis, Introd. vol. iv. p. 89, Marsh’s transl.


Verse 23

23.] The omission of καὶ οὶ before ἀδελφοί, found (see var. read.) in all the first MSS., can (as Neander observes against De Wette) hardly have been occasioned by hierarchical considerations, seeing that it occurs as early as Irenæus, and that it would be equally against the strong hierarchical view to call the presbyters πρεσβ. ἀδελφοί, writing, as they were, to the ἀδελφοῖς. It seems very much more probable to me that the words καὶ οἱ were inserted to bring the decree into exact harmony with the beginning of Acts 15:22. In this, the first official mention of πρεσβυτεροι, it is very natural that the import of the term should be thus given by attaching ἀδελφοί to it. See, on the whole, Bp. Wordsw.’s note.

κιλικίαν] This mention of churches in Cilicia, coupled with the fact of Paul’s stay at Tarsus (ch. Acts 9:30 to Acts 11:25; see also Galatians 1:21), makes it probable that Paul preached the gospel there, and to Gentiles, in accordance with the vision which he had in the temple (ch. Acts 22:21).

χαίρειν] Not a rendering by Luke of the Hebrew שלום, as Grotius; for the Epistle was certainly written in Greek, as intended for Gentiles. The only other place where this Greek form of salutation occurs in an apostolic document (we have it in the letter of the chief captain Lysias, ch. Acts 23:26) is in James 1:1, which Bleek has remarked as a coincidence serving to shew his hand in the drawing up of this Epistle.


Verse 24

24.] Neander remarks (Pfl. u. L. p. 223, note) that έξ ἡμῶν ἐξ. is a presumption in favour of the reading καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί above: for that these men could hardly have gone out from among the Apostles and elders. But such a supposition is not necessary: ἡμῶν implies the church, the ἀδελφοί of whom they were the πρεσβύτεροι, whether καὶ οἱ be inserted or not.

ἀνασκ.] See ref. Thucyd., where it will be seen that it implies turning up the foundations:—for Brasidas cleared the ground and consecrated it. Cf. Passow, sub voc.

The words λέγοντες περιτέμνεσθαι κ. τηρεῖν τὸν νόμον, inserted in rec. after ὑμῶν, are manifestly, in my view, an interpolation, from the desire to specify in what particulars these persons had sought to unsettle the souls of the Gentile brethren. The defence of the clause set up by Meyer and De Wette,—that if interpolated it must be from Acts 15:5, not from Acts 15:1, and that this is improbable,—is best answered by observing that in E, one of the principal authorities for the insertion, the δεῖ after περιτέμνεσθαι betrays in very fact that the interpolation was from Acts 15:5, as also, but in a less degree, does the λέγοντες. The reasons given by Meyer and De W. why the words should have been omitted,—the similarity of ending in - ΄ων and νό- ΄ον,—or to square it with Acts 15:1, seem to me nugatory. The former is very improbable,—and the latter would have required the preservation of λέγ. περιτέμνεσθαι. The variations also in the clause are strong presumptions against it. The persons to whom the epistle was addressed would very well know what it was that had disturbed their minds, and the omission of formal mention of it would be natural, to avoid prominent cause of offence to the Jewish converts by an apparent depreciation of circumcision and the observance of the law.


Verse 25

25.] γεν. ὁμοθυμ. may mean either ‘assembled with one accord,’ as (perhaps) ch. Acts 1:14; or ‘having agreed with one consent’ as Meyer. I prefer the former meaning. So we have adverbs as predicates after verbs substantive, e.g., εἶναι διαφερόντως, Plato Legg. x. p. 892 c, κατύπερθε γίνεσθαι, Herod., &c See Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 337.

βαρν. κ. παύλ.] Paul has generally been mentioned first since ch. Acts 13:43. (The exception, ch. Acts 14:14, appears to arise from the people calling Barnabas Jupiter, and thus giving him the precedence in Acts 15:12, after which the next mention of them follows the same order.) But here, as at Acts 15:12, we have naturally the old order of precedence in the Jerusalem congregation preserved.


Verse 26

26. παραδ. τ. ψ.] See reff. The sacrifice of their lives was made by them: they were martyrs in will, though their lives had not as yet been laid down in point of fact.

This is mentioned to shew that Paul and Barnabas could have no other motive than that of serving the Lord Jesus Christ, and to awaken trust in the minds of the churches. But, although this was so, the Apostles and Elders did not think proper to send only Paul and Barnabas, who were already so deeply committed by their acts to the same side of the question as the letter which they bore,—but as direct authorities from themselves, Judas and Silas also, who might by word confirm the contents of the Epistle. On the present part. ( ἀπαγγ.) see reff. and Winer, edn. 6, § 45. 1. One account of it is, that during the mission implied in ἀπεστάλκαμεν they would be ἀπαγγέλλοντες. But a far more probable one, that the pres. part. here, as so often, designates merely, carrying rather a logical than a chronological force: “as announcers of.”


Verse 27

27.] τὰ αὐτά, as above, the contents of the Epistle (and any explanation required): not, as Neander, ‘the same things as P. and B. have preached:’ διὰ λόγου, by word of mouth, as opposed to ‘by letter,’decides against this interpretation.


Verse 28

28. τῷ ἁγ. πν. καὶ ἡμ.] Not = τῷ ἁγ. πν. ἐν ἡμ. (as Olsh.),—but as, in ch. Acts 5:32, the Holy Spirit, given to the Apostles and testifying by His divine power, is coupled with their own human testimony,—so here the decision of the Holy Spirit, given them as leaders of the Church, is laid down as the primary and decisive determination on the matter,—and their own formal ecclesiastical decision follows, as giving utterance and scope to His will and command. The other interpretation weakens this accuracy of expression, and destroys the propriety of the sentence. Neander, in his last edn. of the Pfl. u. L. (p. 224, note), has given up the rendering of his former ones, ἔδοξεν γὰρ ( τῷ ἁγίῳ πνεύματι) καὶ ἡμῖν,’ It seemed good (by the Holy Ghost) to us also,’ i.e. as well as to Paul and Barnabas. It was plausible, but quite untenable. Such ambiguity, in such a document, would surely be out of the question.

The judgment as to what things were ἐπάναγκες is implied in ἔδοξεν, &c.

ἐπιτίθ. had been used by Peter, Acts 15:10.


Verse 29

29.] On the construction of ἀπέχεσθαι with ἀπό in Acts 15:20, and with a simple gen. here, Tittm., de Syn. N. T. p. 225, says well that the difference arises ‘non quoad rem ipsam, sed modo cogitandi, ita ut in priori formula sejunctionis cogitatio ad rem, in posteriori vero ad nos ipsos referatur.’ His following remarks are worth reading.

ἐξ ὧν, from which things; not, as Meyer, ‘according to which precepts;’ see John 17:15.

εὖ πράξ.] Not, ‘ye shall prosper:’ but as καλῶς ἐποίησας, ch. Acts 10:33; 3 John 1:6,—ye shall do well.

See the curious additions in var. readd.

ἔῤῥωσθε] The customary ‘valete’ of the conclusion of epistles.


Verse 31

31. παρακλήσει] It does not appear, because παρεκάλεσαν follows in the sense of ‘exhorted,’ that this word need mean ‘exhortation.’ There was (De W.) very little exhortation in the letter: and it is much more natural to render it consolation here: it was the matter of their joy, which surely could not be said of the orders to abstain given in the letter. It has been observed by Mr. Pusey that syr. renders παρεκάλεσαν, Acts 5:32, by comforted.


Verse 32

32.] προφ. ὄντ. gives the reason for their superadding to the appointed business of their mission the work of exhorting and edifying.

On προφ., see ch. Acts 11:27; Acts 13:1; Ephesians 2:20, and notes.


Verse 33

33.] ποι. χρ., having continued some time: see reff.

[34.] On every account it is probable that the words forming this verse in rec. (see var. readd.) are an interpolation. For, (1) manuscript evidence against them is weighty, especially as D, in the case of insertions in the Acts, is of very low authority. (2) The αὐτοῦ is αὐ τούς in C and D, and αὐτοῖς and αὐτόθι in some cursives; and D and the Vulg. add μόνος δὲ ἰούδ. ἐπορεύθη; the former shewing the copying of an indistinct marginal gloss which was not understood, and the latter betraying the secret of the whole, viz. that the notice was interpolated to account for Silas being found again at Antioch in Acts 15:40. (3) Internally considered, the insertion is very improbable: coming after ἀπελύθησαν unexplained (which from its voice and tense implies that the dismissal actually took place and they departed) and followed by παῦλος δέ after ἔδοξε δὲ τῷ σίλᾳ. On Silas’s subsequent presence at Antioch, see note, Acts 15:40.

We learn from Galatians 2:10, that a condition was attached to the cordiality with which the Gentile mission of Paul and Barnabas was recognized by the chief Apostles: that they should remember the poor, i.e. the poor at Jerusalem:—that the wants of the mother church should not be forgotten by those converts, whose Judaical bond to her was thus cast loose. This was an object which Paul was ever most anxious to subserve. See Gal. l. c. and note.]


Verse 35

35.] διδάσκοντες, to those who had received it,— εὐαγγελιζόμενοι, to those who had not.

36—CH. Acts 18:22.] PAUL’S SECOND MISSIONARY JOURNEY (unaccompanied by Barnabas, on account of a difference between them) THROUGH ASIA MINOR TO MACEDONIA AND GREECE, AND THENCE BY SEA, TOUCHING AT EPHESUS, TO JERUSALEM AND BACK TO ANTIOCH.


Verse 36

36. μετὰ δέ τινας ἡμ.] How long, we are not informed: but perhaps (?) during this time took place that visit of Peter to Antioch mentioned Galatians 2:11 ff. when he sacrificed his Christian consistency and better persuasions to please some Judaizers, and even Barnabas was led away with the dissimulation. On this occasion Paul boldly rebuked him. See, on the whole occurrence, notes to Gal. l. c.

δή, see above, ch. Acts 13:2.

ἐν αἷς, because πᾶσαν πόλιν involves a plurality: so Xen. Mem. i. 2. 62, ἐάν τις φανερὸς γένηταιτούτοις θάνατός ἐστιν ἡ ζημία: cf. Herm. ad Viger. p. 40.


Verse 38

38. ἠξίον] Not as Vulg. ‘rogabat:’ but ‘æquum censebat,’ as Beza. It gives Paul’s refusal in the strongest manner. The position of the accusatives also forcibly expresses his decided rejection of one who had not dared to face the dangers of the untried country before. But Paul thought proper (as to) one who had fallen off from them from Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work, not to take with them that man. We may well believe that Paul’s own mouth gave originally the character to the sentence.

τὸν ἀποστ.] See ch. Acts 13:13. It hence is evident that his departure was not by the authority of the Apostles (as Benson).


Verse 39

39.] ὁ παῦλος ἐζήτει τὸ δίκαιον, ὁ βαρνάβας τὸ φιλάνθρωπον, Chrysostom: who also remarks on their separate journeys,— ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ καὶ κατὰ σύνεσιν γεγενῆσθαι τὸν χωρισμόν, καὶ πρὸς ἀλλήλους εἰπεῖν ὅτι ἐπειδὴ ἐγὼ οὐ βούλομαι, σὺ δὲ βούλει, ἵνα μὴ μαχώμεθα, διανειμώμεθα τοὺς τόπους. ὥστε πάνυ εἴκοντες ἀλλήλοις τοῦτο ἐποίουν. Hom. xxxiv., p. 262. Yet it seems as if there were a considerable difference in the character of their setting out. Barnabas appears to have gone with his cousin [see Colossians 4:10, note] without any special sympathy or approval; whereas Paul was commended to the grace of God by the assembled church.

We find Mark afterwards received into favour by Paul, see Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; and in the former of those places it would seem as if he was dependent for his reception on Paul’s special commendation.


Verse 40

40. σίλαν] He may perhaps have come down again to Antioch (see Acts 15:33) in Peter’s company. We find (see above on Acts 15:22) a Silvanus in 1 Peter 5:12, the bearer of that epistle to the congregations of Asia Minor.


Verse 41

41. συρίαν κ. κιλικ.] See note, Acts 15:23. Here we finally lose sight of Barnabas in the sacred record.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Acts 15:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/acts-15.html. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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