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Certain Jews maintain] THE ACTS.
[the necessity of
6 And the apostles and elders came CHAP. XV.
together for to consider of this matter.
7 And when there had been much AND certain men which came down disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto
from Judea taught the brethren, them, Men and brethren, ye know and said, Except ye be circumcised how that a good while ago God made after the manner of Moses, ye cannot choice among us, that the Gentiles by be saved.
my mouth should hear the word of 2 When therefore Paul and Bar- the Gospel, and believe. nabas had no small dissension and dis- 8 And God, which knoweth the putation with them, they determined hearts, bare them witness, giving that Paul and Barnabas, and certain them the Holy Ghost, even as he did other of them, should go up to Jeru- unto us ; salem unto the apostles and elders 9 And put no difference between us about this question.
and them, purifying their hearts by 3 And being brought on their way
faith. by the church, they passed through 10 Now therefore, why tempt ye Phenice and Samaria, declaring the God, to put a yoke upon the neck of conversion of the Gentiles : and they the disciples, which neither our fathers caused great joy unto all the bre- nor we were able to bear? thren.
11 But we believe that through the 4 And when they were come to Je- grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall rusalem, they were received of the be saved, even as they. church, and of the apostles and elders, 12 Then all the multitude kept and they declared all things that God silence, and gave audience to Barnahad done with them.
bas and Paul, declaring what miracles 5 But there rose up certain of the and wonders God had wrought among sect of the Pharisees which believed, the Gentiles by them. saying, That it was needful to circum- 13 And after they had held their cise them, and to command them to peace, James answered, saying, Men keep the law of Moses.
and brethren, hearken unto me:
EXPOSITION—Chap. XIV. Continued. all opposition.” And when they had or- through several countries which they had dained (or appointed) them elders (or before visited, they now pass by sea to presbyters) to instruct and preside among Antioch, from whence they first set out on them, they affectionately commended them this missionary tour; and there, having by prayer" to the Lord, on whom they collected the church of that city, where had believed"-namely, the Lord Jesus, they had received their commission (chap; whom they doubtless considered as well xiii. 1–3), “ they rehearsed all that God able to preserve those whom they so so- had done with (or rather by) them, and lemnly committed to his care: notwith- how he had opened the door of faith among standing, they are reminded, they must the Gentiles:" that is, an opportunity for expect to pass through much tribulation" the preaching and establishment of the in their way to the New Jerusalem.
gospel among the heathen nations, as bad Proceeding in their return, after passing been long foretold.
NOTES. CHAP. XV. Ver. 3. And being brought on their Ver. 7. After much disputiny-Not among the way.-See chap. xx. 38; xxi. 5, &c.
apostles, but between them and the advocates of the Ver. 5. But there rose up. - Marg. “ rose up necessity of circumcision.A good while ago.-1! (said they)"--making these the words of Paul and was about ten years before that Peter had preached Barnabas, in reference to those who troubled them to Cornelius and his company, according to the at Antioch : but we consider them as the words of vulgar chronology; but some refer this expressioa the historian (Luke), as stated in our Exposition. to the divine decrees. See ver. 18.
circumcising] CHAP. XV.
(the Gentiles; 14 Simeon bath declared how God 18 Known unto God are all his at the first did visit the Gentiles, to works from the beginuing of the take out of them a people for his name. world.
15 And to this agree the words of 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that the prophets; as it is written,
we trouble not them, which from among 16 After this I will return, and will the Gentiles are turned to God : build again the tabernacle of David, 20 But that we write unto them, which is fallen down; and I will build that they abstain from pollutions of again the ruins thereof, and I will set idols, and from fornication, and from
things strangled, and from blood. 17 That the residue of men might 21 For Moses of old time hath in seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, every city them that preach him, being upon whom my name is called, saith read in the synagogues every sabbath the Lord, who doeth all these things. day. (F)
it up :
same, or even superior, talents exerted in (F) Ver. 1—21. A dissension in the church the common cause of Christianity. This respecting circumcision.-Men whose hearts remark is not meant to discourage freeare not deeply engaged in spiritual religion, dom of inquiry into the truths of Scripture; are the first to spend their zeal on its ex- but only to check the affectation of novelty ternal services. The persons here spoken and sectarian zeal, by which the peace of of were “ certain men which came down the church has been so often unhappily from Judea” to Antioch; and they are af- disturbed. terwards mentioned (ver. 5) as being of the These Christian Pharisees ventured to sect of the Pharisees; and, of course, more dispute even with Paul and Barnabas; the zealous for the ritual than for the moral church at Antioch therefore deputed those law. These men not only taught the per- apostles to go and consult the apostles and petuity of circumcision, but its absolute elders at Jerusalem. On the way thither, necessity to salvation: they insisted, there through Phenicia and Samaria, these defore, that the Gentile converts should be puties from Antioch related the success circumcised to be received into the Christ. with which God had favoured them in ian Church: or, in other words, that the preaching among the heathen, which oce Gentiles must become Jews, before they casioned great joy to all the brethren who could be Christians. “ It is good always heard it: but when they came to Jerusato be zealously affected in a good cause;" lem, they found there certain Christian but it is much to be regretted, when men Pharisees, maintaining the same opinions not only confine their zeal to external re- with those wbo had excited these disputes, ligion, but spend it in promoting schisms. and who had probably been deputed froin It is moreover to be feared, that this zeal them. has its foundation generally in the ambi- The apostles and elders being assembled, tion of personal distinction; at least, this Peter, who had returned to Jerusalem after was certainly the case with the heresiarchs Herod Agrippa's death, “ opened the deof the first centuries. While they remained bate by observing, that a considerable in the church, many of them had veither time ago God had selected him to preach character por talents to raise them above to the Gentiles, and had blessed his laothers; but the propagation of a new doc- bours with unequivocal success, in puritrine excited popular attention, and the fying their hearts by faith, and in disability called forth in its defence often ex- pensing the Holy Ghost among them, no cited much greater admiration than the less than on the Jews. After Gud himself
NOTES. Ver. 14. Simeon, i.e. Simon Peter.
Upon whom my name is called-i. e. who are conVer. 15. The words of the prophels-Especially verted to the true God. Amos ix. 11, 12. See Notes there.
Ver. 18. All his works-i.e. all his doings or de Ver. 17. The residue of men-In Amos ix. 12, signs; not confining it to the works of Nature. our translation reads, “ The remnant of Edom ; 13 From the beginning of the world-Or “from eterbut the lxx. and Arabic read Adam (or men) for nity.” Doddr. and Wesley. "Edom :" and this is generally considered as the Ver. 19. My sentence is.- Doddr.“ I determine,» true reading. See Kennicott and Newcome.- Are turned Duddr." are converted."
But are silenced by the] THE ACTS. [Council at Jerusalem.
22 Then pleased it the apostles Barnabas and Paul, and elders, with the whole church, to 26 Men that have hazarded their send chosen men of their own company lives for the name of our Lord Jesus to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas ; Christ. namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, 27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, chief men among the bre- and Silas, who shall also tell you
the thren :
same things by mouth. 23 And they wrote letters by them 28 For it seemed good to the Holy after this manner; The apostles and Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no elders and brethren send greeting unto greater burden than these necessary the brethren which are of the Gentiles things; in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia : 29 That ye abstain from meats of
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, fered to idols, and from blood, and that certain which went out from us from things strangled, and from fornihave troubled you with words, sub- cation: from which if ye keep yourverting your souls, saying, Ye must be selves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. circumcised, and keep the law: to 30 S, when they were dismissed, whom we gave no such command- they came to Antioch: and when they ment:
had gathered the multitude together, 25 It seemed good unto us, being they delivered the epistle : assembled with one accord, tu send 31 Which when they had read, they chosen men unto you with our beloved rejoiced for the consolation.
EXPOSITION-Chap. XV. Continued. had thus decided, he said it appeared pre- the atonement of Christ, for salvation. Only sumptuous in any person to impose a yoke he recommended that the Couucil sbould on the Gentiles, from which the divine in- direct them to abstain from the pollutions dulgence had exempted them. He insisted of idols, and from fornication, and from that the yoke itsell, especially when laid things strangled, and from blood.” (Milon the conscience as necessary to salva- ner's Ch. Hist. vol. i. ch. 1.) tion, was intolerable: and he concluded, On this we shall only here add, that so that even they who still, for charitable far from Peter bere appearing as "the and prudential reasons, persisted in the prince of the apostles," as the Roman Caritual observances, were yet obliged to tholics consider him, he speaks with no repose for salvation only on the “ grace of authority, but as an individual apostle. the Lord Jesus Christ,” as well as these He does not even appear to bave presided Gentiles, who never had observed them at as Moderator; that oflice being filled by all. This full testimony of Peter was sup- James, who suins up the argument, and ported by Paul and Barnabas, who gave concludes with adding-“Wherefore my large proof of the divine grace vouchsafed opinion (or decision) is," &c. : which to the Gentiles. James, who seems to words, though in themselves unassuming, have been the standing pastor of Jerusa- yet had they been used by Peter (as DodJem, confirmed the same argumeut, by the dridge observes), would have been pleaded prophets of the Old Testament, agreeably as decisive of his superiority. As the case to Peter's declaration of the mercy of God stands, they are content to argue from his in visiting the Gentiles. He gave his opi- speaking first on this occasion : a clear nion, that the Gentiles should no longer proof, as we understand it, that he was not be molested with notions subversive of the even the President on this occasion, much grace of God, and tending to teach them less did he dictate the decree wbich was dependence on human works, instead of adopted. (See Rhemish Annot. in Acts sv.) was Mark.
NOTES-Chap. XV. Con. Ver. 27. Judas and Silas.-The former, surnamed Ver. 29. And from fornication. See Notes on Barsabas, is supposed to have been the brother of 1 Kings xiv. 24; xv. 13, &c. &c. For a full exa. Joseph Barsahas, one of the candidates for the va- mination of the decree, see Preb. Townsend's New cant apostleship, ch. i. 23.—By mouth.--Gr." by Test. Arr. vol, i. 176-185. word." Doddr, by word of mouth."
Paul and Barnabas]
[differ and divide. 32 And Judas and Silas, being pro- 37 And Barnabas determined to phets also themselves, exhorted the take with them John, whose surname brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
38 But Paul thought not good to 33 And after they had tarried there take him with them, who departed a space, they were let go in peace from from them from Pamphylia, and went the brethren unto the apostles.
not with them to the work. 34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas 39 And the contention was so sharp to abide there still.
between them, that they departed asun35 Paul also and Barnabas conti- der one from the other: and so Barnued in Antioch, teaching and preach- nabas tvok Mark, and sailed unto ing the word of the Lord, with many Cyprus; others also.
40 And Paul chose Silas, and de36 And some days after Paul said parted, being recommended by the untu Barnabas, Let us go again and brethren unto the grace of God. visit our brethren in every city where 41 And he went through Syria and we have preached the word of the Cilicia, confirming the churches. (G) Lord, and see how they do.
EXPOSITION. (G) Ver. 22-41. The decree of the of idolatrous feasts, in which the meats Apostles, formed on the suggestion of St. had been so offered.' To these, no doubt, James, sent to Antioch. Though James Christians were frequently invited, and claimed no superiority, it is evident that often probably with the view of ensnaring be presided ; and it is much to the honour them: we, in this age (Paganisın being of his wisdom avd prudence, that his sug. abolished), are not under the same temptagestions in the council were so unani- tions; but it deserves to be considered, mously adopted. On the decree itself, we whether the attendance of Christians at ofer the following observations. 1. The convivial feasts, where " Jolly Bacchus" introduction severely censures those who, and “ Glorious Apollo" are invoked and without a divine command, attempt to in- eulogized in song, does not involve controduce laws and regulations into the duct very similar to that here prohibited. church of God: especially when those laws Meats hung up in the shambles, or preare of a vature to subvert the faith,” and sented for food, without any notification trouble the consciences of believers, as of having been so offered, we are elsewas the case here, when these men at- where directed to eat, asking no questions. tempted to lay the yoke of the Mosaic law (1 Cor. x. 25.)-2. As to refraining “ from upon the necks of the Gentiles.-2. What blood and from things strangled,” so far relates to the question of circumcision itself, as this is merely a repetition of the preis only negatively expressed : “ It seemed cept given to Noah, we consider it binding good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay on Gentiles, as well as Jews. (See Expoupon you no greater burden than" is spe- sition and Notes on Gen. ix. 1–7.) But cified in the articles following, neither of farther than that, we consider it binding which mention circumcision; consequently only in cases wherein our liberty, as Genthat is neither enjoined nor forbidden.- tiles, might hurt the minds of conscien3. The articles named are stated to be tious Jews.- 3. “ Things strangled and necessary”-that is, things to be neces- blood," are understood to comprehend all sarily refrained from. Not, iudeed, all creatures killed for food without dischargequally so; for which reason it may be ing the blood from them; but perhaps the proper to examine them distinctly. original precept to Noah did not go so far
1. To abstain from “ meats offered to (see our Exposition above referred to), and idols,” knowing them to have been so of- farther than that went we Gentiles are nut fered ; and more especially from partaking bound, otherwise than may be necessary
NOTES. Ver. 37. Barnabas determined.-Ham. “ coun- Ver. 39. The contention was so sharp.--The Gr. selled." Doddr. " advised."
word is a medical terin-a paroxysm of anger.
Paul takes with)
apostles and elders which were at JeCHAP. XVI.
5 And so were the churches estaTHEN came he to Derbe and Lys- blished in the faith, and increased in
tra : and, behold, a certain discie number daily. ple was there, named Timotheus, the 6 Now when they had gone throughson of a certain woman, which was a out Phrygia and the region of Galatia, Jewess, and believed; but his father and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost was a Greek :
to preach the word in Asia, 2 Which was well reported of by 9 After they were come to Mysia, the brethren that were at Lystra and they assayed to go into Bithynia: but Iconium.
the Spirit suffered them not. 3 Him would Paul have to go furth 8 And they passing by Mysia came with him; and took and circumcised down to Troas. bim because of the Jews which were 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in in those quarters : for they knew all the night; There stood a man of Mathat his father was a Greek.
cedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come 4 And as they went through the over into Macedonia, and help us. cities, they delivered them the decrees 10 And after he had seen the rifor to keep, that were ordained of the siun, immediately we endeavoured to
EXPOSITION--Chap. XV. Continued. to avoid hurting the consciences of our spired persons; on which account we may weaker bretbren. (Rom. xiv. 15-20; the more admire the mild and gentle terms 1 Cor. viii. 8–13 ; x. 28.)-4. Fornication: with which the apostolic epistle conthis is, in all cases, a crime against the cludes :-Not, “ If any man dispute our moral law; but the prohibition seems to authority let him be Anathema ;" but, be here given with particular reference “ From wbich (namely, the things here to the licentious and abominable rites prohibited) if ye keep yourselves, ye shall practised in Pagan temples, where the do well." worst crimes made part of their religious A dissension, however, soon arose beservices,
tween Paul and Barnabas. They had With this definitive decree, Paul and agreed to revisit the churches they had alBarnabas were dismissed, to return back ready established among the Gentiles; but to the church at Antioch, accompanied by they differed as to the most suitable person Judas, surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, both to take with them. Barnabas determined
prophets," or inspired men, who con- to take with him his relation, John Mark; firmed the testimony of the apostles, and but Paul, offended with his conduct in deexhorted the brethren to resist the doctrine serting them before, refused; and thus of the Judaizing teachers. Thus was har- they divided, Barnabas went to his native mony restored to the church, and the com- country with his relation above named, mon cause of Christianity advanced and but Paul travelled through Syria and Ciprospered.
licia, accompanied by Silas, who had This has been usually called the first come with them from Jerusalem, Paul's Christian Council, and so it was; but it farther labours and sufferiugs form the was also unique, as consisting chiefly (if chief subject of the remaining chapters of not entirely) of the apostles and other in this book.
NOTES. CHAP. XVI. Ver. 1. Timotheus-In English Doddr. disapproves the tranposition. Timothy, to whom Paul afterwards addressed two Ver. 7. But the Spirit [of Jesus] suffered them e pistles.
not.-Doddr. says, * So many ancient versions, Ver. 3. They knew all that his father was a readings, and citations, add the words (of Jesus), Greek-And consequently that he was uncircum- that I thought myself not only authorised, but cised, which would be an insurmountable barrier obliged, at least to insert them thus, and perhaps to his usefulness among the Jews.
might well have omitted the crotchets. Even "The Ver. 4 and 6. And they went, &c.—Mr. Townsend, improved (Unitarian) version" inserts them; and on the authority of Lord Barrington and other cri. adds, " these words are introduced into the text on tics, places these verses at the end of chap. xv.; but the most approved authorities." See Griesbach.