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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Acts 11

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 11

Acts 11:8. κοινόν] Elz. has πᾶν κοινόν, against A B D E א, min. VSS. and Fathers. From Acts 10:14.

Acts 11:9. μοι] is wanting in A B א. min. Copt. Sahid. Arm. Vulg. Epiph. Deleted by Lachm. Tisch. It is an addition, in accordance with Acts 11:7.

Acts 11:10. The order ἀνεσπ. πάλιν is, according to preponderant evidence, to be adopted.

Acts 11:11. ἤμην] Lachm. Born. read ἦμεν, after A B D א, 40. Without attestation, doubtless, from the VSS.; but on account of its apparent irrelevancy, and on account of Acts 11:5, to be considered as the original.

Acts 11:12. μηδὲν διακρινόμενον] is, as already Mill saw, very suspicious (as an interpolation from Acts 10:20), for it is wholly wanting in D, Syr. p. Cant.; in A B א, loti. it is exchanged for μηδὲν διακρίνοντα or μ. διακρίναντα (so Lachm.), and in 33, 46, for μ. διακρινὁμενος. Tisch. and Born. have rejected it; de Wette declares himself for the reading of Lachm.

Acts 11:13. δέ is to be read instead of τέ, with Lachm. and Born., in accordance with preponderant authority.

After ἰόππην, Elz. has ἄνδρας, an addition from Acts 10:5, which has against it A B D א, min. and most VSS.

Acts 11:17. δέ] is wanting in A B D א, min. VSS. and several Fathers. Deleted by Lachm. It was omitted as disturbing the construction.

Acts 11:18. ἐδόξαζον] The considerably attested ἐδοξασαν (Lachm.) has arisen from the preceding aorist.

Instead of ἄραγε, Lachm. has ἄρα, after A B D א, min. A neglect of the strengthening γε, which to the transcribers was less familiar with ἄρα in the N. T. (Matthew 7:20; Matthew 17:26; Acts 17:27).

Acts 11:19. στεφάνῳ] Lachm. reads στεφάνου, after A E, min. Theophyl., but this has been evidently introduced into the text as an emendatory gloss from erroneously taking ἐπί as denoting time.

Acts 11:20. ἐλθόντες] Elz. reads εἰσελθόντες, against decisive testimony.

ἕλληνας] So A D* א** VSS. and Fathers. Already preferred by Grotius and Witsius, adopted by Griesb. Lachm. Tisch. Scholz. Born. But Elz. Matth. have ἑλληνιστάς, which, in particular, Ammon (de Hellenistis Antioch. Erl. 1810, krit. Journ. I. 3, p. 213 ff.; Magaz. f. christl. Pred. III. 1, p. 222 f.) has defended, assuming two classes of Antiochene Jews, namely, Hebrew-speaking, who used the original text of the O. T., and Greek-speaking, who used the LXX. But see Schulthess, de Charism. Sp. St. p. 73 ff.; Rinck, Lucubr. crit. p. 65 f. The reading ἕλληνας is necessary, since the announcement of the gospel to Hellenists, particularly at Antioch, could no longer now be anything surprising, and only ἕλληνας exhausts the contrast to ἰουδαίοις, Acts 11:20 (not ἑβραίοις, as in Acts 6:1). ἑλληνιστ. might easily arise from comparison with Acts 9:29, for which Cod. 40 testifies, when after ἐλάλουν it inserts καὶ συνεζήτουν.

Acts 11:22. διελθεῖν] is wanting in A B א, loti. Syr. and other VSS., and is deleted by Lachm. Omitted as superfluous.

Acts 11:25.(264) βαρνάβας and the twice-repeated αὐτόν are to be deleted, with Lachm. and Tisch., after A B א, al.; the former as the subject written on the margin (seeing that another subject immediately precedes), and the latter as a very usual (unnecessary) definition of the object.

Acts 11:26. αὐτούς] read with Lachm. Tisch. Born. αὐτοῖς, after A B E א, min. The accusative with the infinitive after ἐγένετο was most familiar to the transcribers (Acts 9:3; Acts 9:32; Acts 9:37).

Lachm. and Tisch. have καί after αὐτ., following A C א, Cant. Syr. p. Ath. Vig. Rightly; apparently occasioning confusion, it was omitted.

Acts 11:28. ΄έγαν ὅστις] ΄εγάλην τις is supported by the predominant testimony of A B D E א (E has ΄έγαν ἥτις), min. Fathers, so that it is to be adopted, with Lachm. Tisch. Born., as in Luke 15:14 (see on that passage), and the masculine is to be considered as an emendation of ignorant transcribers.

After κλαυδίου, Elz. has καίσαρος, an inserted gloss, to be rejected in conformity with A B D א, loti. 40, Copt. Aeth. Sahid. Arm. Vulg. Cant.


Verses 1-18

Acts 11:1-18. The fellowship into which Peter entered with the Gentiles (chap. 10) offends the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem, but their objection is allayed by the apostle through a simple representation of the facts as a whole, and is converted into the praise of God.

κατὰ τὴν ἰουδαίαν is not = ἐν τῇ ἰουδ. (Kuinoel, de Wette), but throughout Judaea, v. 15, and see Nägelsb. on the Iliad, p. 12, ed. 3.

Acts 11:2. διεκρίνοντο] they strove against him. Jude 1:9; Dem. 163. 15; Polyb. 2:22. 11; Athen. 12 :p. 544 C.

οἱ ἐκ περιτομ.] the circumcised Christians, as in Acts 10:45, opposed to the Gentiles ( ἀκροβυστ. ἔχοντας) whose conversion is reported.

ὅτι is most simply taken as recitative, neither quare, Vulg. (comp. on Mark 9:11), nor because (Grotius supplying: hoc querimur).

πρὸς ἄνδρας κ. τ. λ.] Thus it was not the baptism of these men that they called in question, but the fellowship entered into by Peter with them, especially the fellowship at table (comp. Galatians 2:12). This was the stone of stumbling: for they had not come to Peter to be baptized, as a Gentile might present himself to become a proselyte; but Peter had gone in to them. Without ground (see, in opposition, Oertel, p. 211), Gfrörer and Zeller employ this passage against the historical character of the whole narrative of the baptism of Cornelius.

ἀκροβ. ἔχ.] An expression of indignation. Ephesians 2:11.

Acts 11:4. ἀρξάμ. ἐξετιθ.] he began and expounded, so that ἀρξάμ. is a graphic trait, corresponding to the conception of the importance of the speech in contradistinction to the complaint;(265) comp. Acts 2:4.

Acts 11:6. εἰς ἣν ἀτενίσας κατενόουν κ. εἶδον] on which I, having fixed my glance, observed (Acts 7:31) and saw, etc. This εἶδον τὰ τετράποδα κ. τ. λ. is the result of the κατενόουν.

κ. τὰ θηρία] and the beasts; specially to make mention of these from among the quadrupeds. In Acts 10:12 the wild beasts were not specially mentioned; but there πάντα stood before τὰ τετραπ.

Acts 11:11. ἦ΄εν] (see the critical remarks) is to be explained from the fact, that Peter already thinks of the ἀδελφοί, Acts 11:12, as included.

Acts 11:12. οὔτοι] the men of Joppa, who had gone with Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:23), had thus accompanied him also to Jerusalem. They were now present in this important matter as his witnesses.

Acts 11:13. τὸν ἄγγελον] the angel already known from chap. 10,—a mode of expression, no doubt, put into the mouth of Peter by Luke from his own standpoint.

Acts 11:14. ἐν οἷς] by means of which.

Acts 11:15. ἐν δὲ τῷ ἄρξασθαί με λαλεῖν] This proves that Peter, after Acts 10:43, had intended to speak still considerably longer.

καὶ ἐφ ̓ ἡ΄ᾶς and καὶ ἡ΄ῖν, Acts 11:17 (it is otherwise with ὑ΄εῖς, Acts 11:16), are to be taken as in Acts 10:47.

ἐν ἀρχῇ] namely, at Pentecost. The period of the apostolic church was then at its beginning.

Acts 11:16. Comp. Acts 1:5.

ὡς ἔλεγεν] A frequent circumstantiality. Luke 22:61; Thuc. i. 1. 1, and Krüger in loc.; also Bornemann, ad Cyrop. i. 2, 5. Peter had recollected this saying of Christ, because he had seen realized in the Gentiles filled with the Spirit what Jesus, Acts 1:5, had promised to the apostles for their own persons. Herein, as respects the divine bestowal of the Spirit, he had recognised a placing of the Gentiles concerned on the same level with the apostles. And from this baptisma flaminis he could not but infer it as willed by God, that the baptisma fluminis also was not to be refused.

Acts 11:17. πιστεύσασιν] refers not to αὐτοῖς, as is assumed by Beza, Heinrichs, and Kuinoel against the order of the words, but to ἡ΄ῖν: “as also to us as having become believers,” etc., that is, as He has given it also to us, because we had become believers, so that thus the same gift of God indicated as its basis the same faith in them as in us.

ἐγὼ δὲ τίς ἤμην δυνατὸς κ. τ. λ.] Two interrogative sentences are here blended into one (Winer, p. 583 [E. T. 784]): Who was I on the other hand? was I able to hinder God, namely, by refusal of baptism? Concerning δέ, in the apodosis, following after a hypothetical protasis, see Nägelsb. on the Iliad, p. 66, ed. 3; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 92 f.

Acts 11:18. ἡσύχασαν] they were silent, Luke 14:4, often in classical writers. Comp. Locella, ad Xen. Eph. p. 280. The following ἐδόξαζον (imperfect) thereupon denotes the continuous praising. Previously contention against Peter (Acts 11:2-3), now silence, followed by praise of God.

ἄραγε] thus, as results from this event. By τὴν μετάνοιαν, however, is meant the Christian change of disposition; comp. Acts 5:31.

εἰς ζωήν] unto (eternal Messianic) life; this is the aim of τὴν μετάνοιαν ἔδωκεν. Comp. σωθήσῃ, Acts 11:14.


Verse 19-20

Acts 11:19-20. οἱ μὲν οὖν διασπαρέντες] A resumption of Acts 8:4, in order now to narrate a still further advance, which Christianity had made in consequence of that dispersion,—namely, to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, for the most part, indeed, among the Jews, yet also (Acts 11:20) among the Gentiles, the latter at Antioch.(266)

ἀπὸ τ. θλίψ.] on account of (on occasion of) the tribulation. Comp. Herm. ad Soph. El. 65.

ἐπὶ στεφάνῳ] Luther rightly renders: over Stephen, i.e. on account of Stephen. Comp. Erasmus, Beza, Bengel, and others, including de Wette. See Winer, p. 367 [E. T. 489 f.]; Ellendt, Lex Soph. I. p. 649. Others (Alberti, Wolf, Heumann, Palairet, Kypke, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Olshausen) render: post Stephanum. Linguistically admissible (Bernhardy, p. 249), but less simple, as post Stephanum would have again to be explained as e medio sublato Stephano.

ἦσαν δέ τινες ἐξ αὐτῶν] does not apply to ἰουδαίοις (Heinrichs, Kuinoel), as the δέ, corresponding to the ΄έν, Acts 11:19, requires for αὐτῶν the reference to the subject of Acts 11:19 (the διασπαρέντες), and as οἵτινες ἐλθόντες εἰς ἀντιόχειαν, Acts 11:20, so corresponds to the διῆλθον ἕως ἀντιοχείας of Acts 11:19, that a diversity of the persons spoken of could not but of necessity be indicated. The correct interpretation is: “The dispersed travelled through (the countries, comp. Acts 8:4, Acts 9:38) as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, delivering the gospel ( τὸν λόγον, κατʼ ἐξοχήν, as in Acts 8:4, Acts 6:4, and frequently) to the Jews only (Acts 11:19); but some of them (of the dispersed), Cyprians and Cyrenians by birth, proceeded otherwise; having come to Antioch, they preached the word to the Gentiles there.” Comp. de Wette and Lekebusch, p. 105.

τοὺς ἕλληνας] is the national contrast to ἰουδαίοις, Acts 11:19, and therefore embraces as well the Gentiles proper as the proselytes who had not become incorporated into Judaism by circumcision. To understand only the proselytes (Rinck), would be a limitation not founded here in the text, as in Acts 14:1.


Verses 21-26

Acts 11:21-26. χεὶρ κυρίου] See on Luke 1:66; Acts 4:30. Bengel well remarks: “potentia spirituals per evangelium se exserens.”

αὐτῶν] these preachers to the Gentiles.

Acts 11:22. εἰς τὰ ὦτα] Comp. on Luke 4:21.

λόγος] the word, i.e. the narrative of it; see on Mark 1:45.

Acts 11:23. χάριν τ. θεοῦ] as it was manifested in the converted Gentiles.

τῇ προθέσει τῆς καρδ. προσμέν. τῷ κυρίῳ] with the purpose of their heart to abide by the Lord, i.e. not again to abandon Christ, to whom their hearts had resolved to belong, but to be faithful to Him with this resolution. Comp. 2 Timothy 3:10.

Acts 11:24. ὅτι ἦνπίστεως] contains the reason, not why Barnabas had been sent to Antioch (Kuinoel), but of the immediately preceding ἐχάρηκυρίῳ.

ἀνὴρ ἀγαθός] quite generally: an excellent man, a man of worth, whose noble character, and, moreover, whose fulness of the Spirit and of faith completely qualified him to gain and to follow the right point of view, in accordance with the divine counsel, as to the conversion of the Gentiles here beheld. Most arbitrarily Heinrichs holds that it denotes gentleness and mildness, which Baumgarten has also assumed, although such a meaning must have arisen, as in Matthew 20:5, from the context (comp. on Romans 5:7), into which Baumgarten imports the idea, that Barnabas had not allowed himself to be stirred to censure by the strangeness of the new phenomenon.

Acts 11:25. εἰς ταρσόν] See Acts 9:30.

Acts 11:26. According to the corrected reading ἐγένετο δὲ αὐτοῖς καὶ ἐνιαυτὸν κ. τ. λ. (see the critical remarks), it is to be explained: it happened to them (comp. Acts 20:16; Galatians 6:14), to be associated even yet ( καί) a whole year in the church, and to instruct a considerable multitude of people, and that the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. With χρηματίσαι the construction passes into the accusative with the infinitive, because the subject becomes different ( τοὺς μαθητ.). But it is logically correct that χρηματίσαι κ. τ. λ. should still be dependent on ἐγένετο αὐτοῖς, just because the reported appellation, which was first given to the disciples at Antioch, was causally connected with the lengthened and successful labours of the two men in that city. It was their merit, that here the name of Christians first arose.

On the climactic καί, etiam, in the sense of yet, or yet further, comp. Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 133 f.

συναχθῆναι] to be brought together, i.e. to join themselves for common work. They had been since Acts 9:26 ff. separated from each other.

χρηματίσαι to bear the name; see on Romans 7:3.

χριστιανούς] This name decidedly originated not in, but outside of, the church, seeing that the Christians in the N. T. never use it of themselves, but designate themselves by μαθηταί, ἀδελφοί, believers, etc.; and seeing that, in the two other passages where χριστιανοί occurs, this appellation distinctly appears as extrinsic to the church, Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16. But it certainly did not proceed from the Jews, because χριστός was known to them as the interpretation of מָשִׁיחַ, and they would not therefore have transferred so sacred a name to the hated apostates. Hence the origin of the name must be derived from the Gentiles in Antioch.(267) By these the name of the Head of the new religious society, “Christ,” was not regarded as an official name, which it already was among the Christians themselves ever more and more becoming; and hence they formed according to the wonted mode the party-name: Christiani (Tac. Ann. xv. 44: “auctor nominis ejus Christus Tiberio imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat”). At Antioch, the seat of the mother-church of Gentile Christianity, this took place at that time (for this follows from the reading ἐγέν. δὲ αὐτοῖς), because in that year the joint labours of Paul and Barnabas occasioned so considerable an enlargement of the church, and therewith naturally its increase in social and public consideration. And it was at Antioch that this name was borne first, earlier than anywhere else ( πρῶτον, or, according to B א, πρώτως, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 311 f.), because here the Christians, in consequence of the predominant Gentile-Christian element, asserted themselves for the first time not as a sect of Judaism, but as an independent community. There is nothing to support the view that the name was at first a title of ridicule (de Wette, Baumgarten, after Wetstein and older interpreters). The conjecture of Baur, that the origin of the name was referred to Antioch, because that was the first Gentile city in which there were Christians (Zeller also mistrusts the account before us), cannot be justified by the Latin form of the word (see “Wetstein, ad Matthew 22:17).


Verse 27-28

Acts 11:27-28. κατῆλθον] whether of their own impulse, or as sent by the church in Jerusalem, or as refugees from Jerusalem (Ewald), is not evident.

προφῆται] inspired teachers, who delivered their discourses, not, indeed, in the ecstatic state, yet in exalted language, on the basis of an ἀποκάλυψις received. Their working was entirely analogous to that of the O. T. prophets. Revelation, incitement, and inspiration on the part of God gave them their qualification; the unveiling of what was hidden in respect of the divine counsel for the exercise of a psychological and moral influence on given circumstances, but always in reference to Christ and His work, was the tenor of what these interpreters of God spoke. The prediction of what was future was, as with the old, so also with the new prophets, no permanent characteristic feature; but naturally and necessarily the divinely-illuminated glance ranged very often into the future development of the divine counsel and kingdom, and saw what was to come. In respect to the degree of the inspired seizure, the προφῆται are related to the γλώσσις λαλοῦντες (see on Acts 10:46) in such a way that the intellectual consciousness was not thrown into the background with the former as with the latter, and so the mental excitement was not raised to the extent of its becoming ecstatic, nor did their speaking stand in need of interpretation. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

ἀναστάς] he came forward in the church-assembly.

ἄγαβος] Whether the name (comp. Ezra 2:46) is to be derived from חָגָב, a locust (with Drasius), or from עגב, to love (with Grotius, Witsius, Drusius, Wolf), remains undecided. The same prophet as in Acts 21:10.

διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος] This characterizes the announcement ( ἐσήμανε) of the famine as something imparted to the prophet by the Holy Spirit; hence Eichhorn’s opinion (comp. Heinrichs), that the famine was already present in its beginnings, does great violence to the representation of the text, which, moreover, by ὅστιςκλαυδίου states the fulfillment as having occurred afterwards, and consequently makes the event to appear at that time still as future, which also μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι definitely affirms.

λιμὸνοἰκουμένην] that a great famine was appointed (by God) to set in over the whole inhabited earth. Thus generally is τὴν οἰκουμ. to be understood in the original sense of the prophet, who sees no local limits drawn for the famine beheld in prophetic vision, and therefore represents it not as a partial, but as an unrestricted one. Just because the utterance is a prediction, according to its genuine prophetic character, there is no ground for giving to the general and usual meaning of τὴν οἰκουμ.—which is, moreover, designedly brought into relief by ὅλην—any geographical limitation at all (to the land of Judaea or the Roman empire; see on Luke 2:1). This very unlimited character of the vision, on the one hand, warranted the hyperbolical form of the expression, as given by Agabus, while yet, on the other hand, the famine extending itself far and wide, but yet limited, which afterwards historically occurred, might be regarded as the event corresponding to the entirely general prophetic vision, and be described by Luke as its fulfilment. History pointed out the limits, within which what was seen and predicted without limitation found its fulfilment, inasmuch, namely, as this famine, which set in in the fourth year of the reign of Claudius (A.D. 44), extended only to Judaea and the neighbouring countries, and particularly fell on Jerusalem itself, which was supported by the Syrian queen Helena of Adiabene with corn and figs. See Joseph. Antt. xx. 2. 6, xx. 5. 2; Eus. H. E. ii. 11. The view which includes as part of the fulfilment a yet later famine (Baumgarten), which occurred in the eleventh year of Claudius, especially at Rome (Suet. Claud. 18; Tacit. Ann. xii. 43), offends against the words ( λιμὸνἣτις) as well as against the connection of the history (Acts 11:29-30). It is altogether inadmissible to bring in here the different famines, which successively occurred under Claudius in different parts of the empire (Ewald), since, by the famine here meant, according to Acts 11:29-30, Judaea was affected, and the others were not synchronous with this. Lastly, very arbitrary is the assertion of Baumgarten, that the famine was predicted as a sign and herald of the Parousia, and that the fulfilment under Claudius was therefore merely a preliminary one, which pointed to a future and final fulfilment.

On λιμός as feminine (Doric), as in Luke 15:14, see on Luke 4:26, and Bornemann on our passage.


Verse 29-30

Acts 11:29-30. That, as Neander conjectures and Baumgarten assumes, the Christians of Antioch had already sent their money-contributions to Judaea before the commencement of the famine, is incorrect, because it was not through the entirely general expression of Agabus, but only through the result ( ὅστις καὶ ἐγένετο ἐπὶ κλαυδ.), that they could learn the definite time for sending, and also be directed to the local destination of their benevolence; hence Acts 11:29 attaches itself, with strict historical definiteness, to the directly preceding ὅστιςκλαυδίου. Comp. Wieseler, p. 149. The benevolent activity on behalf of Judaea, which Paul at a later period unweariedly and successfully strove to promote, is to be explained from the dutiful affection toward the mother-land of Christianity, with its sacred metropolis, to which the Gentile church felt itself laid under such deep obligations in spiritual matters, Romans 15:27.

The construction of Acts 11:29 depends on attraction, in such a way, namely, that τῶν δὲ μαθητῶν is attracted by the parenthesis καθὼς ηὐπορεῖτό τις (according as every one was able, see Kypke, II. p. 56; comp. also 1 Corinthians 16:2), and accordingly the sentence as resolved is: οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ, καθὼς ηὐπορεῖτό τις αὐτῶν, ὥρισαν. The subsequent ἕκαστος αὐτῶν is a more precise definition of the subject of ὥρισαν, appended by way of apposition. Comp. Acts 2:3.

πέμψαι] sc. τι.

The Christian presbyters, here for the first time mentioned in the N. T., instituted after the manner of the synagogue ( זקנים),(268) were the appointed overseers and guides of the individual churches, in which the pastoral service of teaching, Acts 20:28, also devolved on them (see on Ephesians 4:11; Huther on 1 Timothy 3:2). They are throughout the N. T. identical with the ἐπισκοποί, who do not come into prominence as possessors of the chief superintendence with a subordination of the presbyters till the sub-apostolic age—in the first instance, and already very distinctly, in the Ignatian epistles. That identity, although the assumption of it is anathematized by the Council of Trent, is clear from Acts 20:17 (comp. Acts 11:28; Titus 1:5; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:1 f.; Philippians 1:1). See Gabler, de episcopis primae eccl., Jen. 1805; Münter in the Stud. u. Krit. 1833, p. 769 ff.; Rothe, Anfänge d. chr. K. I. p. 173 ff.; Ritschl, altkath. K. p. 399 ff.; Jacobson in Herzog’s Encykl. II. p. 241 ff. Shifts are resorted to by the Catholics, such as Döllinger, Christenth. u. K. p. 303, and Sepp, p. 353 f.

The moneys were to be given over to the presbyters, in order to be distributed by them among the different overseers of the poor for due application.

According to Galatians 2:1, Paul cannot have come with them as far as Jerusalem;(269) see on Galatians 2:1. In the view of Zeller, that circumstance renders it probable that our whole narrative lacks a historical character—which is a very hasty conclusion.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 11:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/acts-11.html. 1832.

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