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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Acts 15

 

 

Verse 1-2

Acts 15:1-2. The Jewish-Christian opinion, that the Gentiles could only in the way of circumcision and observance of the law—that is, in the way of Jewish Christianity—obtain the salvation of the Messianic kingdom, was by no means set aside by the diffusion of Christianity among the Gentiles, which had so successfully taken place since the conversion of Cornelius. On the contrary, it was too closely bound up with the whole training and habit of mind of the Jews, especially of those who were adherents of the Pharisees (comp. Ewald, p. 464 f.), not to have presented, as the conversions of the Gentiles increased, an open resistance to the freedom of the Gentile brethren from the law,—a freedom which exhibited itself in their whole demeanour to the scandal of the strict legalists,—and to have made the question on which it hinged the most burning question of the time. This opposition—the most fundamental and most dangerous in the apostolic church, for the overcoming of which the whole further labour of a Paul was requisite—emerged in the very central seat of Gentile Christianity itself at Antioch; whither some(23) from Judaea ( τῶν πεπιστευκότων ἀπὸ τῆς αἱρέσεως τῶν φαρισαίων, as Syr. p. has on the margin, and codd. 8. 137 in the text, as a certainly correct gloss, see Acts 15:5) came down with this doctrine: If ye shall not have been circumcised ( περιτμηθ., see the critical remarks) according to the custom, ordered by Moses (and so have taken upon you the obligation of obedience to the whole law, comp. Galatians 5:3), ye cannot obtain the salvation in Christ!

στάσεως (Acts 23:7; Acts 23:10; Soph. O. R. 634) κ. ζητήσεως (Acts 25:20; John 3:25); division and disputation.

ἔταξαν] namely, the ἀδελφοί, Acts 15:1, the Christians of Antioch, comp. Acts 15:3.

Jerusalem was the mother-church of all Christianity; here the apostles had their abode, who, along with the presbyters of the church, occupied for the Christian theocracy a position similar to that of the Sanhedrim. Comp. Grotius. The recognition of this on the part of Paul is implied in Galatians 2:1-2.

καί τινας ἄλλους ἐξ αὐτῶν] among whom, according to Galatians 2:1, was Titus, not named at all in the Acts, unless Paul voluntarily took him as companion, which is more suitable to the expression in Galatians 2:1.

We may add that the commission of the church, under which Paul made the journey, is by no means excluded by the statement: κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν, Galatians 2:2; see on Gal. l.c. Subtleties directed against our narrative may be seen in Zeller, p. 224 f.

ζήτημα, quaestio, i.e. question in dispute, in the N.T. only in the Book of Acts; often in Greek writers.


Verse 3

Acts 15:3. προπεμφθέντες] after they were sent forth, deducti, i.e. escorted for a part of the way. Comp. 3 John 1:6; Herod. i. 111, viii. 124, 126; Plat. Menex. p. 236 D Soph. O. C. 1663. Morus and Heinrichs: “rebus ad iter suscipiendum necessariis instructi.” That, however, must have been suggested by the context, as in Titus 3:13. The provision with necessaries for the journey is understood of itself,(24) but is not contained in the words.

τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς] They caused joy by their visit and by their narratives, not only to the Jewish-Christians (Heinrichs), but to all.


Verse 4-5

Acts 15:4-5. παρεδέχθησαν (see the critical remarks) denotes, in keeping with the delegation in Acts 15:2 f., the reception, i.e. the formal receiving of the delegates as such. Comp. 2 Maccabees 4:22. Observe the prefixing of ἐκκλησία; comp. Philippians 1:1.

μετʼ αὐτῶν] see on Acts 14:27; comp. διʼ αὐτῶν, Acts 15:12.

Acts 15:5 belongs to the narrative of Luke, who here records as worthy of remark, that at the very first meeting of the delegates with the church receiving them, the very same thing was maintained by some who rose up in the assembly ( ἐξανέστησ.), and was opposed ( δέ) to the narration of Paul and Barnabas ὅσα θεὸς ἐποίησε μετʼ αὐτῶν, as had been brought forward by Jews at Antioch and had occasioned this mission. Those mentioned in Acts 15:1, and those who here came forward, belonged to one and the same party (the Pharisee-Christians), and therefore Acts 15:5 is unjustly objected to by Schwanbeck. Beza, Piscator, Wakefield, and Heinrichs put Acts 15:5 into the mouth of the delegates; holding that there is a rapid transition from the oblique to the direct form, and that ἔλεγον is to be supplied after ἐξανέστ. δέ. A harsh and arbitrary view, as the change in form of the discourse must naturally and necessarily have been suggested by the words, as in Acts 1:4 and Acts 17:3. That the deputation had already stated the object of their mission, was indeed self-evident from ἀπεδέχθησαν, and hence it was not requisite that Luke should particularly mention it.

αὐτούς] namely, the Gentile-Christians, as those to whom the narrative ὅσα θεὸς ἐπ. μ. αὐτ. had chiefly reference; not the τινας ἄλλους, Acts 15:2 (Lekebusch), which is erroneously inferred from Galatians 2

They must be circumcised, etc., has a dictatorial and hierarchical tone.


Verse 6

Acts 15:6. The consultation of the apostles and presbyters concerning this assertion ( περὶ τοῦ λόγου τούτου, see Acts 15:5) thus put forward here afresh, was not confined to themselves (Schwanbeck, who here assumes a confusion of sources), but took place in presence, and with the assistance, of the whole church assembled together, as is evident from Acts 15:12, comp. with Acts 15:22, and most clearly from Acts 15:25, where the ἀπόστολοι καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί (Acts 15:23) write of themselves: ἔδοξεν ἡμῖν γενομένοις ὁμοθυμαδόν. Against this it has been objected that no place would have sufficed to hold them, and therefore it is maintained that only deputies of the church took part (Mosheim, de reb. Christ. ante Const. M. p. 117, Kuinoel, Neander); but this is entirely arbitrary, as the text indicates nothing of such a limitation, and the locality is entirely unknown to us.

This assembly and its transactions are not at variance with Galatians 2:1 ff. (in opposition to Baur, Zeller, Hilgenfeld, Hausrath), where, indeed, they are presupposed as known to the readers by αὐτοῖς in Acts 15:2, as well as by Acts 15:3 and Acts 15:5. Hofmann, N.T. I. p. 126, judges otherwise, but by a misinterpretation of Galatians 2:4 ff. The words κατʼ ἰδίαν δὲ τοῖς δοκοῦσι, Galatians 2:2, betoken a separate discussion, different from these public discussions. See on Gal. l.c.; comp. also Lekebusch, p. 294 ff.; Lechler, p. 398 ff.; Ritschl, altkath. K. p. 150; Trip, Paulus nach d. Apostelgesch. p. 86 ff.; Oertel, p. 232 ff.


Verse 7

Acts 15:7. πολλῆς δὲ συζητήσεως γενομένης] These were the preliminary debates in the assembly, before Peter (to whom the first word belonged, partly by reason of his apostolic precedence, partly and especially because he was the first to convert the Gentiles) rose up and delivered a connected address.(25) In this previous πολλὴ συζήτησις may have occurred the demand for the circumcision of Titus, indirectly mentioned in Galatians 2:3. See on Gal. l.c.

ἀφʼ ἡμερῶν ἀρχαίων] does not point to the conversion of Cornelius as to something long since antiquated and forgotten (Baur, I. p. 91, ed. 2). But certainly that selection of Peter as the first converter of the Gentiles, viewed in relation to the entire period, during which Christianity had now existed, dated from ancient days, Acts 10:11.

ἐν ἡμῖν ἐξελέξατο κ. τ. λ.] He made choice for Himself among us, that by my mouth, etc. Hence ἐμέ is not to be supplied, as Olshausen, following older commentators, holds. Others (Grotius, Wolf, Bengel, Heinrichs, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, and many others) unnecessarily take ἐν ἡμῖν for ἡμᾶς as a Hebraism in accordance with בָּחַר בְ (1 Samuel 16:9-10; 1 Kings 8:16; 1 Chronicles 28:4-5; Nehemiah 9:7, and the LXX. at those places). So also Ewald. Beza aptly says: “habito inter nos delectu voluisse.”

Luke has the word εὐαγγέλιον only here and in Acts 20:24, not at all in the Gospel. John also has it not.


Verses 8-10

Acts 15:8-10. God who knows the heart, who thus could not be deceived in the matter (comp. Acts 1:24), has, in reference to this their admission effected by my instrumentality into the fellowship of the gospel and of faith (Acts 15:7), done two things. He has (a) positively borne matter-of-fact witness for them (to their qualification for admission) by His giving to them the Holy Spirit, as to us (comp. Acts 10:44, Acts 11:15 ff.); and (b) negatively, He made in no way distinction between us and them, after He by faith, of which He made them partakers through the gospel, had purified their hearts. God would have made such a distinction, if, after this ethical(26) purification of the heart effected by faith, He had now required of them, for their Christian standing, something else, namely, circumcision and other works of the law; but faith, by which He had morally purified their inner life, was to Him the sole requisite for their Christian standing without distinction, as also with us. Observe on (a), that δοὺς αὐτοῖς κ. τ. λ. is contemporaneous with ἐμαρτύρησεν, expressing, namely, the mode of it; and on (b), that τ. π. καθαρίσας is previous to the οὐδὲν διέκρινε. This is evident from the course of the speech, as the faith must have been already present before the communication of the Spirit (comp. Acts 11:17).

Acts 15:10. Accordingly as the matter now stands ( νῦν οὖν).

τί πειράζετε τὸν θεόν;] i.e. why do ye put it to the test, whether God will abandon His attestation of non-observance already given to the Gentiles, or assert His punitive power against human resistance? “Apostrophe ad Pharisäos et severus elenchus,” Bengel.

ἐπιθεῖναι] with the design to impose, etc.

ζυγόν] comp. Galatians 5:1, and Chrysostom in loc.: τῷ τοῦ ζυγοῦ ὀνόματι τὸ βαρὺ τοῦ πράγματος (of the complete observance of the law) αὐτοῖς ἐνδείκνυται. Contrast to this yoke: Matthew 11:29-30.

οἱ πατέρες ἡμ.] since the time of Moses.


Verse 11

Acts 15:11. ʼαλλά] A triumphant contrast to the immediately preceding ὃν οὔτε οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν οὔτε ἡμεῖς ἰσχύσ. βαστ.

διὰ τῆς χάρ. τ. κυρ. .] Comp. Romans 5:15; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:2. Not elsewhere used by Peter. In triumphant contrast to the yoke of the law, it is here placed first.

καθʼ ὃν τρόπον κἀκεῖνοι] sc. πιστεύουσι σωθῆναι διὰ τῆς χάριτος τοῦ κυρ. ἰησοῦ. The ἐκεῖνοι are the Gentile-Christians, to whom the whole debate relates. Others (Calvin, Calovius, Wolf, and many older commentators, following Augustine, against Pelagius) make it apply to πατέρες ἡμῶν. Incorrectly, as the salvation of the Jewish fathers (servati fuerunt is supplied) is quite alien from the question concerning the σωτηρία of the Gentile-Christians here. But the complete equalization of both parties is most fitly brought out at the close; after its having been previously said, they as well as we, it is now said, we as well as they. Thus the equalizing is formally complete.

That Peter in the doctrine of the righteousness of faith was actually as accordant with Paul as he here expresses himself, is (in opposition to Baur, Schwegler, Hilgenfeld, and Zeller) to be inferred even from Galatians 2:15 ff., where Paul acknowledges his and Peter’s common conviction, after he had upbraided the latter (Acts 15:14) for the inconsistency of his conduct at Antioch. Comp. on Gal. l.c.; also Baumgarten, p. 430 f.; Lekebusch, p. 300 ff.


Verse 12

Acts 15:12. The result of this speech was that the whole assembled multitude ( πᾶν τὸ πλῆθος) was silent, so that thus a new συζήτησις did not begin, and the agitation of the opponents was set at rest. A happy beginning for the happy issue. Now Barnabas and Paul could without contradiction confirm the view of Peter by the communication of their own apostolic experiences among the Gentiles,

Barnabas first, on account of his older and closer relation to the church. Comp. on Acts 15:25.

σημεῖα κ. τέρατα] Comp. generally also Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12, hence so much the less improbable (Zeller).


Verse 13

Acts 15:13. When these had finished speaking ( σιγῆσαι), James, not the son of Alphaeus, but the brother of the Lord (Acts 12:17), a strict legalist, and highly esteemed in Jerusalem as chief leader of the church, delivered his address having reference to these matters ( ἀπεκρίθη). He first confirmed, by a prophetic testimony, the divine call of the Gentiles brought into prominence by Peter (Acts 15:13-17), and then made his conciliatory proposal for the satisfaction of both parties—in concise, but all the more weighty language.


Verses 14-17

Acts 15:14-17. συμεών] formed after the Hebrew שִׁמְעוֹן (2 Peter 1:1; LXX. Genesis 29:33; Luke 2:25; Luke 3:30; Acts 13:1; Revelation 7:7), while the more usual σίμων (1 Chronicles 4:20) corresponds to the Rabbinical סימון. In the Talmud also both forms of the name are used side by side. Moreover, the original name of Peter was still the current one in the church of Jerusalem. Comp. on Luke 24:34. We are not to think of any intentional use of it in this passage (that Peter was not here to be regarded according to his apostolic dignity, Baumgarten).

ἐπεσκέψ. λαβ. ἐξ ἐθν. λαὸν τῷ ὀν. αὑτοῦ] he looked to (took care for) the receiving from the Gentiles a people for His name, i.e. a people of God, a people that bore the name of God as their ruler and proprietor. “Egregium paradoxon,” Bengel. Comp. Acts 18:10; Romans 9:24-26.

Acts 15:15. τούτῳ] neuter: and with this, namely, with this fact expressed by λαβεῖν ἐξ ἐθνῶν κ. τ. λ., agree, etc.

καθὼς γέγραπται] He singles out from the λογοί τῶν προφ. a passage (comp. Acts 20:35), in conformity with which that agreement takes place, namely, Amos 9:11-12, quoted freely by Luke after the LXX. Amos predicts the blessed Messianic era, in which not only the Davidic theocracy, fallen into decay (by the division of the kingdom), will be again raised up (Acts 15:16), but also foreign nations will join themselves to it and be converted to the worship of Jehovah. According to the theocratic character of this prophecy, it has found its Messianic historical fulfilment in the reception of the Gentiles into Christianity, after that thereby the Davidic dominion, in the higher and antitypical sense of the Son of David (Luke 1:32), was re-established.

μετὰ ταῦτα] Hebrew and LXX.: ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ. The meaning is the same: after the pre-Messianic penal judgments, in the day of the Messianic restoration.

ἀναστρέψω καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω] Jehovah had withdrawn from His people; but now He promises by the prophet: I will return and build again the fallen (by desolation) tabernacle of David. Many assume the well-known Hebraism: iterum ( אשׁוב) aedificabo. This would only be correct were אשׁוב in the original; but there stands only אָקִים, and in the LXX. only ἀναστήσω; and the idea of iterum is very earnestly and emphatically presented by the repetition of ἀνοικοδ. and by ἀνορθ.

τὴν σκηνὴν δαυΐδ] The residence of David (the image of the theocracy) is represented as a (torn down and decayed) tabernacle, “quia ad magnam tenuitatem res ejus redactae erant,” Bengel.

ὅπως] not the result, but the design, with which what is promised in Acts 15:16 is to take place.

οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρ.] i.e. the Gentiles. The LXX., who certainly had before them another reading ( לְמַעַן יִדְרְשׁוּ שְׁאֵרִית אָדָם אֶת יְהֹוָה), deviate considerably from the original text, which runs: לְמַעַן יִירְשׁוּ אֶת־שְׁאֵרִית אֱדוֹם, that they may possess the remainder of Edom; the remainder, for Amaziah had again subdued only a part of it, 2 Kings 14:7. As καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη κ. τ. λ. follows, James might have used even these words, as they are in the original, for his object,(27) and therefore no set purpose is to be assumed for his having given them according to the reading of the LXX. Perhaps they were only known to him and remembered in that reading; but possibly also they are only rendered in this form by Luke (or the Greek document used by him) without being so uttered by James, who spoke in Hebrew.

καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη κ. τ. λ.] καί after οἱ κατάλ. τ. ἀνθρ. is necessarily explicative (and indeed), and the emphasis of this more precise definition lies on πάντα; but the following ἐφʼ οὕς has an argumentative purpose: they upon whom, i.e. seeing that, indeed, upon all the Gentiles, etc.

ἐφʼ οὓς ἐπικέκλ. τ. ὄν. μου] quite a Hebrew expression (Gesenius, Thes. III. p. 1232): upon whom ( אֲשֶׁר עֲלֵיהֶם) is named (is uttered as naming them) my name, namely, as the name of their Lord, after whom they are designated, so that they are called “God’s people.” κέκληνται (or ἐπικέκληνται) τὸ ὄνομά μου, or οἷς κέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου, or even ἐφʼ οἷς κέκληται τ. . μ. On ἐπικαλεῖν, to be distinguished from the simple καλεῖν as denoting an accessory naming, comp. especially Herod. viii. 44 ( οὐνομαζόμενοιἐπεκλήθησαν).">(28) Comp. James 2:7; Deuteronomy 28:10; Isaiah 63:19; Jeremiah 14:9; Daniel 9:19; Baruch 2:15; 2 Maccabees 8:15. They have the name already, inasmuch as the predicted future (comp. Romans 9:25 f.) is conceived as having already taken place, and as existing, in the counsel of God; a praeteritum propheticum, as in James 5:2-3. The view, in itself inadmissible, of Hitzig and others: “over whom my name (as that of their conqueror) has been formerly named,” was certainly not that of James.

ἐπʼ αὐτούς] is here to be explained not from the Greek use of the repetition of the pronoun (Fritzsche, Quaest. Luc. p. 109 f.; Göttling, ad Callim. p. 19 f.), but as an imitation of the Hebrew (Buttmann, neutest. Gramm. p. 240 f. [E. T. 280]).

ποιῶν ταῦτα γνωστὰ ἀπʼ αἰῶνος] Such is to be considered as the original text; the other words, Acts 15:18, are to be deleted. See the critical remarks. The Lord who does these things (the rebuilding of the theocracy and the conversion of all Gentiles designed by it)—known from the beginning. The γνωστὰ ἀπʼ αἰῶνος added to the prophetic words are not to be considered as the speaker’s own significant gloss accompanying the prophetic saying, for such a gloss would not have been so directly or so curtly added; but as part of the scriptural passage itself. The words must at that time either have belonged to the original text, as it presented itself to James, or to the text of the LXX., as Luke gives it, or to both, as a reading which is now no longer extant;(29) whereas there is now at the conclusion of Acts 15:11, כִּימֵי עוֹלָם (LXX.: καθὼς αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ αἰῶνος).

γνωστά] equivalent to γνωστὰ ὄντα, and therefore without an article. By whom they were known from the beginning, is evident from the context, namely, by God who accomplishes them ( ποιῶν) in the fulness of time. He accordingly carries into effect nothing, which has not been from the beginning evident to Him in His consciousness and counsel; how important and sacred must they consequently appear! As Bengel well remarks: “ab aeterno scivit; quare non debemus id tanquam novum et mirum fugere.” Erroneously de Wette renders: what was known of old (through the prophets). Opposed to this is ἀπʼ αἰῶνος, which also means from the very beginning in Acts 3:21 and Luke 1:70; and how unimportant and superfluous would the thought itself be!


Verse 19-20

Acts 15:19-20 (29). ἐγώ] For my part I vote.

παρενοχλεῖν] to trouble them withal (at their conversion). Dem. 242. 16; Polyb. i. 8. 1, iii. 53. 6; Plut. Timol. 3; frequently also in the LXX., both with the dative and the accusative.

ἐπιστεῖλαι αὐτοῖς τοῦ ἀπέχεσθαι] to despatch a writing to them (Hebrews 13:22; often with Greek writers, see Loesner, p. 207) that they should abstain (aim of the ἐπιστεῖλαι).

ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλισγημάτων] may be referred either to τῶν εἰδώλων only, or to all the following particulars. The latter, as ἀπό is not repeated with τῆς πορνείας, is the more natural: therefore: from the pollutions, which are contracted through idols and through fornication, etc. ἀλίσγημα, from the Alexandrian ἀλισγεῖν, polluere (LXX. Daniel 1:8; Malachi 1:7; Malachi 1:12; Sirach 40:29; Sturz, de Dial. Al. p. 145; Korai on Isocr. p. 299), is a word entirely foreign to the other Greek; therefore Hesychius explains it merely in reference to its present connection with τῶν εἰδώλων: ἀλισγημάτων· τῆς μεταλήψεως τῶν μιαρῶν θυσιῶν.

τῶν εἰδώλων] What James meant by the general expression, “pollutions of idols,” was known to his hearers, and is evident from Acts 15:29, where the formally composed decree required as unambiguous a designation as possible, and therefore εἰδωλοθύτων is chosen; hence: pollutions occasioned by partaking of the flesh of heathen sacrifices (Exodus 34:15). The Gentiles were accustomed to consume so much of the sacrificed animals as was not used for the sacrifice itself and did not belong to the priests, in feasts (in the temple or in their houses), or even to sell it in the shambles. See on 1 Corinthians 8:1; also Hermann, gottesd. Alterth. § xxviii. 22–24. Both modes of partaking of flesh offered in sacrifice, for which the Gentile Christians had opportunity enough either by invitations on the part of their heathen friends or by the usual practice of purchase, were to be avoided by them as fellowship with idolatry, and thus as polluting Christian sanctity.

καὶ τῆς πορνείας] As in the decree, Acts 15:29, the same expression is repeated without any more precise definition, and a regulative ordinance, particularly in such an important matter, proceeding from general collegiate deliberation, presupposes nothing but unambiguous and well-known designations of the chief points in question; no other explanation is admissible than that of fornication generally,(30) and accordingly all explanations are to be discarded, which assume either a metaphorical meaning or merely a single form of πορνεία; namely: (1) that it denotes figuratively idolatry, and that merely the indirect idolatry, which consists in the partaking of εἰδωλοθύτων, so that τῶν εἰδώλ. and τῆς πορν. form only one point (so, entirely opposed to the order in Acts 15:29, Beza, Selden, Schleusner); (2) that it is the fornication practised at the heathen festivals (so Morus, Dindorf, Stolz, Heinrichs); (3) that the πορνικὴ θυσία is meant, the gains of prostitution offered in sacrifice (Heinsius and Ittig); or (4) the “actus professionis meretriciae, in fornice stantis viri vel mulieris mercede pacta prostitutae et omnium libidini patentis” (Salmasius); or (5) the concubinage common among the Gentiles (Calvin); or (6) the nuptiae intra gradus prohibitos (Lightfoot, comp. Hammond), incest (Gieseler in Staeudlin and Tzschirner’s Archiv. IV. p. 312; Baur, I. p. 162, ed. 2; Ritschl, altkath. Kirche, p. 129; Zeller, p. 246; Sepp, and others; also Wieseler, who, however, on Gal. p. 149, takes it generally, and only treats incest as included); or (7) marriage with a heathen husband (Hering in the Bibl. nov. Brem. IV. p. 289 ff.; Teller); or (8) deuterogamy (Schwegler, nachapost. Zeitalt. I. p. 127). Bentley has even recourse to conjectural emendation, namely, χοιρείας or πορκείας (swine’s flesh). Such expedients are only resorted to, because all the other particulars are not immoral in themselves, but ἀδιάφορα, which only become immoral through the existing circumstances. But the association of πορνεία with three adiaphora is to be explained from the then moral corruption of heathenism, by which fornication, regarded from of old with indulgence and even with favour, nay, practised without shame even by philosophers, and surrounded by poets with all the tinsel of lasciviousness, had become in public opinion a thing really indifferent;(31) Grotius in loc., Hermann, Privatalterth. § 29, 13 ff. Compare the system of Hetaerae in Corinth, Rome, etc., and the many forms of the worship of Aphrodite in the Greek world. See also on 1 Corinthians 6:12. Baumgarten, Ewald, Bleek, Weiss have with reason retained the proper and in the N.T. prevailing literal sense of πορνεία.

καὶ τοῦ πνικτοῦ] i.e. the flesh of such beasts as are killed by strangling (strangulation by snares, and the like), and from which the blood is not let out.(32) This is based on Leviticus 17:13-14, Deuteronomy 12:16; Deuteronomy 12:23, according to which the blood was to be let out from every hunted animal strangled, and without this letting out of blood the flesh was not to be eaten. Comp. Schoettgen in loc. That the prohibition here refers to Roman epicurism (e.g. to the eating of fowls suffocated in Falerian wine), is very inappropriately assumed by Schneckenburger, especially considering the humble position of most of the Gentile-Christians. καὶ τοῦ αἵματος] denotes generally any partaking of blood, in whatever form it might be found. Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:16; Deuteronomy 12:23 ff., Deuteronomy 15:23. The prohibition of eating blood, even yet strictly observed by the Jews (Saalschütz, Mos. R. p. 262 f.), is not to be derived from the design of the lawgiver to keep the people at a distance from all idolatry (as is well known, the sacrificing Gentiles ate blood and drank it mingled with wine, Michaelis, Mos. R. IV. § 206), or from sanitary considerations, but from the conception expressly set forth in Genesis 9:6, Leviticus 17:11; Leviticus 13:14, Deuteronomy 12:23-24, that the blood is that which contains “the soul of all flesh.” On this also depended the prohibition of things strangled, because the blood was still in them, which, as the vehicle of life, was not to be touched as food, but was to be poured out (Leviticus 17:13; Deuteronomy 12:15 ff.), and not to be profaned by eating. See Ewald, Alterth. pp. 51, 197; Delitzsch, bibl. Psych. p. 242 ff. The very juxtaposition of the two points proves that Cyprian, Tertullian, and others (see Wolf in loc.), erroneously explain αἷμα of homicidium. With the deep reverence of the Hebrews for the sanctity of blood was essentially connected the idea of blood-sacrifice; and therefore the prohibition of partaking of blood, in respect of its origin and importance (it was accompanied with severe penalties), was very different from the prohibition of unclean animals. Comp. also Bähr, Symbol. II. p. 240.

The following general observations are to be made on Acts 15:20 compared with Acts 15:29 :—1. The opinion of James and the resolution of the assembly is purely negative; the Gentile brethren were not to be subjected to παρενοχλεῖν, but they were expected merely ἀπέχεσθαι, and that from four matters, which according to the common Gentile opinion were regarded as indifferent, but were deeply offensive to the rigidly legal Jewish-Christians. The moral element of these points is here accordingly left entirely out of account; the design of the prohibition refers only to the legal strictness of the Jewish-Christians, between whom and the Gentile-Christians the existing dispute was to be settled, and the fellowship of brotherly intercourse was to be provisionally restored. The Gentile-Christian, for the avoidance of offence towards his Jewish brother, was to abstain as well from that which exhibited the fundamental character of heathenism (pollutions of idols and fornication; comp. on the latter, Romans 1:21 ff.), as from those things by which, in the intercourse of Christian fellowship, the most important points of the restrictions on food appointed by God for Israel might be prematurely overthrown, to the offence of the Jewish-Christians.—2. That precisely these four points are adduced, and neither more nor other, is simply to be explained from the fact, that historically, and according to the experience of that time, next to circumcision these were the stumbling-blocks in ordinary intercourse between the two sections of Christians; and not, as Olshausen and Ebrard, following many older commentators, suppose (comp. also Ritschl, altkath. K. p. 129; Wieseler, p. 185; Holtzmann, Judenth. u. Christenth. p. 571 f.), from the fact that they were accustomed to be imposed on the proselytes of the gate in the so-called seven precepts of Noah (see the same in Sanh. 56 a b; Maimonides, Tr. Melach. 9. 1), and that the meaning of the injunction is, that the Gentile-Christians had no need to become proselytes of righteousness by circumcision, but were only obliged to live as proselytes of the gate, or at least were to regard themselves as placed in a closer relation and fellowship to the Jewish people (Baumgarten). Were this the case, we cannot see why the decree should not have attached itself more precisely and fully to the Noachic precepts,(33) to which not a single one of the four points expressly belonged; and therefore the matter has nothing at all in common with the proselytism of the gate. Comp. also Oertel, p. 249; Hofmann, h. Schr. d. N.T. I. p. 128 ff.—3. That the proposal of James, and the decree drawn up in accordance with it, were to have no permanent force as a rule of conduct, is clear from the entire connection in which it arose. It was called forth by the circumstances of the times; it was to be a compromise as long as these circumstances lasted; but its value as such was extinguished of itself by the cessation of the circumstances—namely, as soon as the strengthening of the Christian spirit, and of the Christian moral freedom of both parties, rendered the provisional regulation superfluous. Comp. Ritschl, altkath. K. p. 138 f. Therefore Augustine strikingly remarks (c. Manich. 32. 13): “Elegisse mihi videntur pro tempore rem facilem et nequaquam observantibus onerosam, in qua cum Israelitis etiam gentes propter angularem illum lapidem duos in se condentem aliquid communiter observarent. Transacto vero illo tempore, quo illi duo parietes, unus de circumcisione, alter de praeputio venientes, quamvis in angulari lapide concordarent, tamen suis quibusdam proprietatibus distinctius eminebant, ac ubi ecclesia gentium talis effecta est, ut in ea nullus Israelita carnalis appareat: quis jam hoc Christianus observat, ut turdas vel minutiores aviculas non attingat, nisi quarum sanguis effusus est, aut leporem non edat, si manu a cervice percussus nullo cruento vulnere occisus est? Et qui forte pauci tangere ista formidant, a caeteris irridentur, ita omnium animos in hac re tenuit sententia veritatis.” In contrast to this correct view stand the Canon, apost. 63 ( εἰ τις ἐπίσκοπος πρεσβύτερος διάκονος ὅλως τοῦ καταλόγου τοῦ ἱερατικοῦ φάγῃ κρέα ἐν αἵματι ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ, θηριάλωτον θνησιμαῖον, καθαιρείσθω· τοῦτο γὰρ νόμος ἀπεῖπεν. εἰ δὲ λαϊκὸς εἴη, ἀφοριζέσθω), and not less the Clementine Homilies, vii. 4, and many Fathers in Suicer, Thes. I. p. 113, as also the Concil. Trull. II. Can. 67, and exegetical writers cited in Wolf.(34) It is self-evident withal, that not only the prohibition of πορνεία, but also the general moral tenor and fundamental thought of the whole decree (the idea of Christian freedom, to the use of which merely relative limits given in the circumstances, and not an absolute ethical limitation, must be assigned), have permanent validity, such as Paul exhibited in his conduct and teaching.—4. The Tübingen criticism, finding in Galatians 2 the Archimedean point for its lever, has sought to relegate the whole narrative of the apostolic council and its decree to the unhistorical sphere (see besides, Baur, I. 119 ff. ed. 2, Schwegler, Zeller, Holsten, especially Hilgenfeld in Comm. z. Br. an d. Gal., and in his Zeitschr. f. wiss. Theol. 1858, p. 317 ff., 1860, p. 118 ff., Kanon u. Krit. d. N.T. p. 188 ff.); because the comparison with Galatians 2 exhibits contradictions, which cause the narrative of the Acts to be recognised as an irenic fiction. It is alleged, namely, that by its incorrect representation the deeply seated difference between the Jewish-Christianity of the original apostles and Paulinism free from the law was to be as much as possible concealed, with a view to promote union. Holtzmann, Judenth. und Christenth. p. 568 ff., more cautiously weighs the matter, but still expresses doubt. For a defence of its historical character, see Wieseler, Chronol. p. 189 ff., and in his Comm. z. Br. an d. Gal.;(35) Ebrard, § 125; Baumgarten, p. 401 ff.; Schaff, Gesch. d. apost. K. p. 252 ff., ed. 2; Schneckenburger in the Stud. u. Krit. 1855, p. 551 ff.; Lechler, apost. u. nachapost. Zeitalt. p. 396 ff. (also in the Stud. d. Würtemb. Geistl. 1847, 2, p. 94 ff.); Lange, apost. Zeitalt. I. p. 103 ff.; Thiersch, p. 127 ff.; Lekebusch, p. 296 ff.; Ewald, p. 469 ff.; Ritschl, altkath. K. p. 148 ff.; Hofmann, heil. Schr. N.T. I. p. 127 ff., who, however, calls to his aid many incorrect interpretations of passages in the Epistle to the Galatians; Trip, l.c. p. 92 ff.; Oertel, Paul, in d. Apostelgesch. p. 226 ff. The contradictions, which serve as premisses for the attack upon our narrative, are not really present in Galatians 2:1 ff. For—and these are the most essential points in the question—in Galatians 2. Paul narrates the matter not in a purely historical interest, but in personal defence of his apostolic authority, and therefore adduces incidents and aspects of what happened at Jerusalem, which do not make it at all necessary historically to exclude our narrative. Moreover, even in Galatians 2 the original apostles are not in principle at variance, but at one, with Paul (comp. Bleek, Beitr. p. 253 f.); as follows from Acts 15:6, from the reproach of hypocrisy made against Peter, Acts 15:12-13 (which supposes an agreement in conviction between him and Paul), from the ἐθνικῶς ζῇς, Acts 15:14, and from the speech in common, Acts 15:16 ff. (see evasions, on account of ὑπόκρισις, in Schwegler and Baur). Further, in Galatians 2. Paul is not contrasted with the original apostles in respect of doctrine (for the circumcision of Titus was not demanded by them), but as regards the field of their operations in reference to the same gospel, Acts 15:9. By κατʼ ἰδίαν, again, Galatians 2:2, is meant a private conference (comp. on Acts 15:6), which had nothing to do with the transactions of our narrative; nor is the care for the poor determined on, Galatians 2:10, a matter excluding the definitions of our decree, particularly as Paul only describes an agreement which had been made, not in any sort of public assembly, but merely between him and the three original apostles; the observance of the decree was an independent matter, and was understood of itself. In fine, the absence of any mention of the council and decree in the Pauline Epistles, particularly in the Epistle to the Galatians (and even in the discussion on meats offered in sacrifice, 1 Corinthians 8:10; 1 Corinthians 8:13 ff.), is completely intelligible from the merely interim nature and purpose of the statute; as well as, on the other hand, from the independence of his apostleship and the freedom of believers from the law, which Paul had to assert more and more after the time of the council in his special apostolic labours, and always to lay greater stress on, in opposition to the Judaism which ever raised itself anew (see on Gal., Introd. § 3). Indeed, the very circumstance that the proposals for the decree proceed from James, is in keeping with his position as the highly respected head of the Jewish-Christians, and is a testimony of his wise moderation, without making him answerable (comp. James 1:25; James 2:12) for the Judaistic narrowness and strictness of his followers (Galatians 2:12). And there could be the less scruple to consent on the part of Paul, as, in fact, by this henoticon the non-circumcision of the Gentiles had completely conquered, and he thereby saw the freedom and the truth of the gospel securely established (Galatians 2:3 ff.), while at the same time the chief vice of heathenism, πορνεία, was rejected, and the right application of the other three prohibitions, in accordance with the γνῶσις and ἀγάπη which his Gospel promoted, was more and more to be expected in confidence on the Lord and His Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 8:15). See, in addition, on Galatians 2.


Verse 21

Acts 15:21. See Düsterdieck in the Götting. Monatschr. 1849, p. 282 ff. γάρ] gives the reason why it was indispensable to enjoin this fourfold ἀπέχεσθαι—namely, because the preaching of the Mosaic law, taking place from ancient generations in every city every Sabbath day by its being read in the synagogues, would only tend to keep alive the offence which the Jewish-Christians (who still adhered to the synagogue(36)) took to their uncircumcised brethren, in view of the complete freedom of the latter from the law, including even these four points.(37) These words thus assign a ground for the proposal on the score of necessity (corresponding to the ἐπάναγκες in the decree, Acts 15:28), and, indeed, of the necessity that there must be, at least so far, accommodation to the Mosaic law. Others: περιττὸν τοῖς ἰουδαίοις ταῦτα ἐπιστέλλειν· ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου ταῦτα μανθάνουσιν κ. τ. λ., scholion in Matthaei, Chrysostom, Lyra, and many others, and recently Neander. Out of place, as there was no question at all about an instruction for the Jewish-Christians. Erasmus, Wetstein, Thiersch, and others still more arbitrarily import the idea: “Neque est metuendum, ut Moses propterea antiquetur;” or (so Grotius and Ewald, p. 472): it is not to be feared that the Mosaic law generally will be neglected and despised.(38) Still more freely Gieseler(39) reads between the lines what is supposed to be meant: “The Mosaic law already has been so long preached, and yet there are few who submit to embrace it. Now, when the service of the true God is preached without the yoke of the law, many are turning to Him, and it is indisputable that the ceremonial law is the only obstacle to the universal diffusion of true religion.” Lange, II. p. 183, likewise imports: “We have nothing further to do. To assert the statutes of Moses, is not our office; there are already preachers for that.” Similarly Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 41, who, however, discovers under the words of James the presupposition as self-evident, that Gentiles, if they pleased, might along with the faith embrace also the law of Moses; to those, who wished to become Mosaic, nothing need be said about the law, because they would always have an opportunity to become acquainted with it. As if one could read-in such a very important presupposition as self-evident! And as if Paul and Barnabas could have been silent at a proposition so entirely anti-Pauline! Further, we cannot see how what Brenske (Stud. u. Krit. 1859, p. 711 ff.) finds as the meaning, considering the proselytes of the gate as those to whom the κηρύσσειν took place, is contained in the words: the κηρύσσειν has the notion of publicity and solemnity, but not of novelty (Brenske), which even passages such as Galatians 5:11, Romans 2:21, should have prevented him from assuming. Lastly, Wieseler (on Galatians 2:11 ff., p. 148) finds in the words the designed inference: consequently these statutes have for long been not a thing unheard of and burdensome for these Gentiles, because there are among them many proselytes. But even thus the chief points are mentally supplied.


Verse 22

Acts 15:22. ἐκλεξαμένους] is not to be taken, with Beza, Er. Schmid, Kuinoel, and others, for ἐκλεχθέντας, as the middle aorist never has a passive signification; on the contrary (comp. Acts 15:40), the correct explanation is (accusative with the infinitive): after they should have (not had) chosen men from among them, to send them, i.e. to choose and to send men. Comp. Vulg., and see Kypke, II. p. 73; Winer, p. 239 [E. T. 319 f.].

Nothing further is known of Judas Barsabas (whom Grotius and Wolf consider as a brother of Joseph Barsabas, Acts 1:23). Ewald considers him as identical with the person named in Acts 10:23. Concerning Silas, i.e. Silvanus (see on 2 Corinthians 1:19), the apostolic companion of Paul on his journeys in Asia Minor and Greece (Acts 17:4, Acts 10:14 f., Acts 18:5, also 1 Peter 5:12), see Cellar. de Sila viro apost., Jena, 1773; Leyrer in Herzog’s Encykl. XIV. p. 369. These two men, who were of the first rank and influence ( ἡγουμ., comp. Luke 22:26) among the Christians, were sent to Antioch to give further oral explanation (Acts 15:27).


Verse 23-24

Acts 15:23-24. γράψαντες] while they wrote, should properly agree in case with ἐκλεξαμένους. Anacoluthia in carrying out the construction by participles is frequent; here it conforms to the logical subject of ἔδοξε τοῖς κ. τ. λ. See Bernhardy, p. 463; Winer, p. 527 [E. T. 709]; also Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 970.

διὰ χειρὸς αὐτῶν] so that they were to be the bearers of the letter.

As the letter was directed not only to Antioch and to Syria (whose capital and chief church was Antioch), but also to Cilicia, we are to infer that in this province also similar dissensions between Jewish and Gentile Christians had taken place, and had come to the knowledge of the apostolic assembly.

The genuineness of the letter is supported as well by its whole form—which, with all distinctness as to the things forbidden (the designation of which is repeated exactly in Acts 21:25), yet has otherwise so little official circumstantiality, that it evidently appears intended to be orally supplemented as regards the particulars—as also by the natural supposition that this important piece of writing would soon be circulated in many copies (Acts 21:25), and therefore might easily, in an authentic form, pass into the collection of Luke’s sources.(40)

καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί] i.e. the whole church, Acts 15:22.

χαίρειν] the well-known epistolary salutation of the Greeks.(41) Comp. Acts 23:26. The letter addressed to Greek Christians was certainly written in Greek. But that it was actually composed by James (Bengel, Bleek in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 1037) does not follow at least from James 1:1, although it is in itself possible, and indeed from his position in Jerusalem even probable. The similarity in the expression of the decree with Luke 1:1, does not justify us in doubting the originality of that expression (Schwegler, Zeller), as the subdivision in the protasis and apodosis was very natural, and the use of ἔδοξεν almost necessary.

ἀνασκευάζοντες] destroying, subverting, elsewhere neither in the N.T. nor in the LXX. and Apocrypha; but see Xen. Cyr. vi. 2. 25; Polyb. ix. 31. 6, ix. 32. 8; Dem. 895. 5. “Non parcunt iis, qui dubitationes invexerant,” Bengel.

λέγοντες περιτέμν.] without δεῖν, because in λέγ. the sense of commanding is implied. Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. v. 7. 34. Comp. on Acts 14:14.

The τηρεῖν τ. νόμον is the ζυγός, Acts 15:10, which was imposed with circumcision, Galatians 5:3. And the νό΄ος is the whole law, not merely the ceremonial part.

οἷς οὐ διεστειλ.] So arbitrarily had they acted.


Verses 25-28

Acts 15:25-28. γενομένοις ὁμοθυμαδόν] after we had become unanimous. Thus it was not a mere majority of voices: “non parum ponderis addit decreto concors sententia,” Grotius. On γίνεσθαι, with an adverb in the sense of a predicate, see Bernhardy, p. 337. Comp. on John 1:15.

βαρνάβ. κ. παύλῳ] This order (after chap. 13, almost always inverted) is justly regarded by Bleek as a proof of fidelity to the documentary source. The placing of Barnabas first was very natural to the apostles and to the church in Jerusalem, on the ground of the older apostolic position of the man who in fact first introduced Paul himself to the apostles. Also at Acts 14:14, Acts 15:12, this precedence has its ground in the nature of the circumstances.

ἀνθρώποις κ. τ. λ.] men who have given up (exposed to the danger of death) their soul for the name (for its glorification, Acts 5:41) of our Lord Jesus Christ. παραδ. τὴν ψυχήν (comp. Plat. Prot. p. 312 C), the opposite of θέλειν σῶσαι τ. ψυχήν, Luke 9:24, is not to be identified with τιθέναι τ. ψ., and the two are not to be explained from the Hebrew שׂוּם נֶפֶשׁ (in opposition to Grotius, Kuinoel, Olshausen). See on John 10:11. The purpose of these words of commendation is the attestation of the complete confidence of the assembly in the Christian fidelity, proved by such love to Christ, of the two men who had been sent from Antioch, and who perhaps had been slandered by the Judaistic party as egotistic falsifiers of the gospel.(42) Comp. Grotius.

καὶ αὐτούς κ. τ. λ.] who also themselves, i.e. in person, along with this our written communication, make known the same thing orally ( διὰ λόγου, see Raphel, Polyb.).

ἀπαγγέλλ.] stands not for the future (against Grotius, Hammond, Heinrichs, Kuinoel), but realizes as present the time when Judas and Silas deliver the letter and add their oral report.

τὰ αὐτά] namely, what we here inform you of by letter. Neander takes it otherwise: the same, that Barnabas and Paul have preached to you, namely, that faith in the Redeemer, even “without the observance of the law, suffices,” etc. Against this view διὰ λόγου is decisive, by which τὰ αὐτά necessarily retains its reference to what was communicated by letter.

τῷ ἁγίῳ πνεύματι καὶ ἡμῖν] The agreement of the personal activity of the advisers themselves with the illuminating and confirming influence of the Holy Spirit experienced by them when advising.(43) Comp. Acts 5:32. Well does Calovius remark: “Conjungitur causa principalis et ministerialis decreti.” Olshausen supposes that it is equivalent to τῷ ἁγ. πν. ἐν ἡμῖν. Just as arbitrarily and erroneously, Grotius, Piscator, and many others hold that there is here a ἓν διὰ δυοῖν, nobis per Sp. St. Neander: through the Holy Spirit we also (like Paul and Barnabas) have arrived at the perception. To this is opposed ἔδοξε, which, in accordance with Acts 15:22, must necessarily denote the determination of the council, and therefore forbids the reference of the καὶ ἡμῖν to Paul and Barnabas, which reference, at any rate (see before on τὰ αὐτά), is remote from the context.

ἡμῖν] includes, according to Acts 15:22-23, also the church, to which, of course, Bellarmin and other Catholics concede only the consensus tacitus. See, on the contrary, Calovius.

τὰ ἐπάναγκες] the things necessary. Bernhardy, p. 328; Kypke, II. p. 75 f. The conjectural emendations, ἐπʼ ἀνάγκης (Salmasius) and ἐν ἀγάπαις (Bentley), are wholly unnecessary. That ἐπάναγκες (Herod. i. 82; Plat. Pol. vii. p. 536 D, Conv. p. 176 E, Dem. 706. 21) is an adverb, see in Schaefer, ad Dem. App. IV. p. 540 f. The necessity here meant is not a necessity for salvation (Zeller), but a necessity conditioned by the circumstances of the time. See on Acts 15:20 f.


Verse 29

Acts 15:29. The points mentioned in Acts 15:20 are here arranged more accurately, so that the three which refer to food are placed together.

ἀπέχεσθαι] is in Acts 15:20, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Sirach 28:8, and frequently in the LXX., joined with ἀπό; but here, as usually among Greek writers, only with the genitive. The two differ “non quoad rem ipsam, sed modo cogitandi, ita ut in priori formula sejunctionis cogitatio ad rem, in posteriori autem ad nos ipsos referatur.” Tittmann, Synon. N.T. p. 225.

ἐξ ὧν διατηροῦντες ἑαυτούς] from which (i.e. at a distance from, without fellowship with them) ye carefully keeping yourselves. Comp. John 17:5; Proverbs 21:23 : διατηρεῖ ἐκ θλίψεως τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ; also the corresponding connection with ἀπό, Psalms 12:8; James 1:27.

εὖ πράξετε] not: ye shall do well (so usually; also de Wette, comp. Acts 10:33), but, as also Hofmann interprets it according to the usus loquendi (see especially Plat. Alc. i. p. 116 B: ὅστις καλῶς πράττει, οὐχὶ καὶ εὖ πράττει, Prot. p. 333 D: εἰ εὖ πράττουσιν ἀδικοῦντες, Dem. 469. 14 : εἴ τις ἄλλος εὖ μὲν ἐποίησεν ὑμᾶς εὖ πράττων, Plat. Ephesians 3, p. 315 B the opposite, κακῶς πράσσειν, comp. Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 629, and Grimm, s.v. εὖ), ye shall fare well, namely, by peace and unity in Christian fellowship. Quite incorrectly, Elsner, Wolf, Krebs, Kuinoel have understood the meaning as equivalent to σωθήσεσθε, which egregiously and injuriously mistakes the apostolic spirit, that had nothing in common with the οὐ δύνασθε σωθῆναι of the strict legalists.

ἔῤῥωσθε] the epistolary valete. Xen. Cyr. iv. 5. 33; Hipp. ep. p. 1275, 20; Artem. iii. 44; 2 Maccabees 11:21; 2 Maccabees 11:33; 2 Maccabees 7:9. Comp. Dissen, ad Dem. de Cor. p. 323 f.


Verse 31-32

Acts 15:31-32. ἐπὶ τῇ παρακλήσει] for the consolation, which the contents of the letter granted to them. They now saw Christian liberty protected and secured, where the abrupt demand of the Jewish-Christians had formerly excited so much anxiety. The meaning cohortatio, arousing address (Beza, Castalio, and others), is less suitable to the contents of the letter and to the threatening situation in which they had been placed.

καὶ αὐτοί] is to be explained in keeping with Acts 15:27; and so to be connected, not, as is usually done, with προφ. ὄντες (as they also, as well as Paul and Barnabas, were prophets), but with διὰ λόγου π. παρεκάλ. κ. τ. λ. Judas and Silas also personally (as the letter by writing) comforted and strengthened the brethren by much discourse, which they could the more do, since they were prophets (see on Acts 11:27). The παρεκάλεσαν must be interpreted like παρακλήσει, and so not cohortabantur (as usually). Comp. Vulgate; and see Acts 15:27, τὰ αὐτά.


Verses 33-35

Acts 15:33-35. ποιεῖν χρόνον to spend a time, Dem. 392. 18. See Wetstein and Jacobs, ad Anthol. II. 3, p. 44; also Schaefer, ad Bos. Ell. p. 413.

μετʼ εἰρήνης] i.e. so that welfare ( שָׁלוֹם) was bidden to accompany them, amidst good wishes. A reference to the formula of parting: πορεύου or ὕπαγε εἰς εἰρήνην, or ἐν εἰρήνῃ (Acts 16:36; Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50; Luke 8:48; James 2:16).

The καί between διδάσκ. and εὐαγγ.(44) is epexegetical.

τὸν λόγ. τοῦ κυρ.] see on Acts 8:25.

At this period, Acts 15:35, occurs the encounter of Paul with Peter (Galatians 2:11 ff.). The quite summary statement, Acts 15:35, makes the non-mention of this particular incident intelligible enough, and therefore there is no reason for the fiction that Luke desired, by the narrative of the strife between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:37 ff.), merely to mask the far more important difference between him and Peter (Schrader, Schneckenburger, Baur). This passing and temporary offence had its importance in the special interest of the Epistle to the Galatians, but not in the general historical interest of Luke, which was concerned, on the other hand, with the separation of Paul and Barnabas and of their working. The objections of Wieseler to the assumed coincidence of time (on Galatians 2:11) have little weight. In particular, the indefinite statements of time, Acts 15:33; Acts 15:35-36, allow space enough.

As to the spuriousness of Acts 15:34, see on Acts 15:40.


Verse 36

Acts 15:36. δή] see on Acts 13:2.

ἐν αἷς] because πᾶσαν πόλιν contains a distributive plurality. Winer, p. 134 [E. T. 177].

πῶς ἔχουσι how their state is, their internal and external Christian condition. The reference to ἐπισκεψ. τοὺς ἀδελφ. depends on well-known attraction. Moreover, Bengel well remarks that πῶς ἔχουσι is the nervus visitationis ecclesiasticae.


Verse 38-39

Acts 15:38-39. But Paul judged it not right ( ἠξίου, comp. Acts 28:22; Xen. Anab. v. 5. 9; Mem. ii. 1. 9) to take with them this one who had fallen away from them from Pamphylia, etc. (comp. Acts 13:13).(45) Observe the μὴ συμπαραλαβεῖν standing in sharp opposition to the συμπαραλαβεῖν of Acts 15:37, and the τοῦτον significantly repeated at the close. The purposely chosen ἀποστάντα, and the decisive rejection which Paul founded on this falling away, even in opposition to the highly esteemed Barnabas, who did not wish to discard his cousin (Colossians 4:10), proves that the matter was not without grave fault on the part of Mark. Fickleness in the service of Christ (Mark had been οὐ χριστὸν ἀρνησάμενος, ἀλλὰ τὸν δρόμον τὸν πολὺν καὶ βαρὺν παραιτησάμενος, Oecumenius) was to Paul’s bold and decided strength of character and firmness in his vocation the foreign element, with which he could not enter into any union either abstractly or for the sake of public example.

This separation was beneficial for the church, because Barnabas now chose a sphere of operation for himself. Acts 15:39; 1 Corinthians 9:6. And as to Mark, certainly both the severity of Paul and the kind reception given to him by Barnabas were alike beneficial for his ministerial fidelity, Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11. τὸ μὲν γὰρ παύλου φοβερὸν ἐπέστρεψεν αὐτόν· τὸ δὲ βαρνάβα χρηστὸν ἐποίει μηκέτι ἀπολειφθῆναι. ὥστε μάχονται μὲν, πρὸς ἓν δὲ τέλος ἀπαντᾷ τὸ κέρδος (Chrysostom).

παροξυσμός] an exasperation. Dem. 1105. 24; Deuteronomy 29:28; Jeremiah 32:37. The expression is purposely chosen; it was οὐκ ἔχθρα οὐδὲ φιλονεικία (Chrysostom). But the thing itself had its ground in the ἀνθρωπίνῃ διανοίᾳ according to its relation to the difference of the character confronting it ( οὐ γὰρ ἦσαν λίθοι ξύλοι, Chrysostom).


Verse 40-41

Acts 15:40-41. ἐπιλεξάμενος σίλαν] after he had chosen Silas as his apostolic companion. It is accordingly to be assumed that Silas (Acts 15:27), after he had returned to Jerusalem (Acts 15:33), and had along with Judas given an account of the result of their mission, had in the meantime returned to Antioch. But the interpolation, Acts 15:34 (see the critical remarks), is incorrect, as the return of Silas to Jerusalem was a necessary exigency of the commission which he had received. ἐπιλέγεσθαι, in the sense sibi eligere, only here in the N.T.; often in Greek writers, the LXX., and Apocr.

παραδοθ. τῇ χάρ. τ. κυρίου] committed to the grace of Christ (see the critical remarks). Comp. Acts 15:11. Not different in substance from Acts 14:26, but here expressed according to a more specifically Christian form. Moreover, the notice, compared with Acts 15:39, leads us to infer, with great probability, that the church of Antioch in the dispute before us was on the side of Paul.

τὴν συρ. κ. κιλικ.] as Barnabas (Acts 15:39), so Paul also betook himself to his native country; from their native countries the two began their new, and henceforth for ever separated, missionary labours. Barnabas is unjustly reproached (by Baumgarten) with repairing to his own country, instead of to the wide fields of heathenism; in point of fact, we know not the further course which he adopted for his labours.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 15:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/acts-15.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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