E Q 15:1-41. Dissension within. R 16:1-11. Lystra, and extended tour in Asia Minor. S 16:12-40. Philippi. T 17:1-14. Thessalonica and Berea. S 17:15-18:18-. Athens and Corinth. R 18:-18-19:12. Ephesus, and ext. tour in Asia Minor. Q 19:13-20. Opposition without.
Q U¹ 1-35. Dissension about Circumcision. U² 36-41. Dissension about Mark.
U¹ e 1,2. Antioch. Judaizers. f 3-5. Appeal to Jerusalem. g 6-11. Council. Peter. h 12. Paul nd Barnabus. g 13-21. Council. James. f 22-29. Answer from Jerusalem. e 30-35. Antiock. Progress.
1: And certain men (these were disavowed by the Apostles [v.24]. Cp. Gal.2:12) which came down from Judaea (as though from head-quarters. Perhaps some of the priest of 6:7) were teaching the brethren (see 11:26), and said, “If not you all be circumcised in the custom (see 6:14) of Moses (see 3:24. Matt.8:4, and cp. John 7:22), you all cannot (lit. are not able to) be saved” (There was nothing in Christ's teachings that would indicate this. He taught circumcision of the heart [i.e. mind]. Circumcision to cut the old nature out and bring in the new, even though that impossible to accomplish it totally while in the flesh. Cp. v.11, and 16:30.).
2: When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small disagreement and disputation towards them (lit. Now no small disagreement and disputation having taken place by Paul, &c. [Gr. suzêtšis. Text reads zêtêsis, questioning. Cp. 25:20]. Nothing new under the sun. When a church grows there will always be dissension. Nip problems in the bud!), they appointed (same as "ordained" [13:48]) that Paul and Barnabas, and certain others of them, should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question (Gr. zêtêma. Cp. "disputation" above. Get it worked out for one and all times. Know the difference between Law, statutes, and ordinances).
3: They indeed therefore being brought on their way by the church, they were through Phenice (i.e. Phenicia = land of palm trees. This shows they went by the coast road as far as Cæsarea) and Samaria (= watch mountain), declaring the conversion of the nations (Gr. ethnos): and they caused great joy to all the brethren. (This was good news)
4: And when they were come to Jerusalem (this was Paul's 3rd visit. Not by revelation. No Divine action), they were received by the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they related all things that God (see 14:15) had done with them (i.e. as His instruments. God's Word changes things within WILLING servants).
5: But there rose up certain of those from the sect (= a choosing, hence "heresy". See 5:17) of the Pharisees which believed (i.e. in Jerusalem. The word Pharisee is the Hebrew for one who was separated by special beliefs and practices, which were very strict as to tithing and eating, &c. [see Matt.23:23. Luke 18:12]. It was for this reason that the Lord was upbraided by the Pharisees [Matt.9:9-11; 11:19. Mark 2:16. Luke 5:30; 7:34]. Doctrinally, they held that the oral law was necessary to complete and explain the written law; hence, the strong denunciations of the Lord. Moreover, they held the natural immortality of man; and, Josephus says, the transmigration of souls. The Essenes cultivated an intensified form of Pharisaism), saying, That it is needful to circumcise them, and to command them to observe the law of Moses.
6: And the apostles and elders were gathered together to see concerning this matter (Gr. logos. At least they were talking)
7: And when there had been much disputing (or questioning. See v.2. Much feeling would be exhibited), Peter rose up, and said to them, “Men and brethren (see 1:16), you all know how that a good while ago (lit. from early days, i.e. about 13 years before) God choose out (see 1:2) among us, that the nations through my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. (Father working with the people)
8: And God, Which knows the hearts (= the Heart-searcher. See 1:24. "Heart" would be better translated "Mind"), bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit (both articles are present here, but used grammatically, referring back to 2:4 [the same gift]), as He did to us; (Cp. 2:6-8. The elect of the nations)
9: And discriminating in nothing between us and them, having cleansed their minds by the faith (cp. 10:15; 11:9. The Heart-searcher, i.e. the Mind-searcher is the Mind-cleanser. Letting you understand His truth).
10: Now therefore why tempt you all God (Gr. peira õ, try, put to the test. Always trans. "tempt" up to this verse, except John 6:6 [prove]. Cp. 5:9), to lay a yoke upon the neck of the disciples (Not circumcision only, but obligation to keep the whole law), which neither our fathers nor we had strength to carry? (We couldn't live by the Law. Except for blood sacrifice [i.e. blood ordinances] which Christ fulfilled, Law is still in effect)
11: But we believe that through the grace of Jesus the Christ we shall be saved, according to the manner in which they also will be.” (These are the last words of Peter recorded in the Acts. See his own argument turned against himself in Gal.2:14-21. We have racial problems because people do not respect others rights and customs with dignity)
12: Then all the multitude kept silence (see 2:6), and were listening to Barnabas and Paul, declaring how many (or how great) signs and wonders (the word "miracles" should be confined to this word Gr. teras) God had wrought among the nations by them.
13: And after they had held their peace (same as kept silent in v.12), James (the less. See 12:17) answered, saying, “Men and brethren, hear me:
14: Simon (Gr. Sumeõn. Cp. 2 Peter 1:1) has declared how God first visited the nations, to take out of them (read, to receive out from among the nations) a people for His name.
15: And to this agree (see 5;9) the words of the prophets (only one prophet is quoted [Amos 9:11,12], but there are many similar predictions in Isaiah and others); as it has been written,
16: ‘After these things I will return (a Hebraism for "I will build again. Cp. Gen.26:18. Num.11:4. Return, Gr. anastrephê. Cp. 5:22. But elsewhere refers to passing one's life, except John 2:15 [overthrow]. Cp. the noun anastrophê. Always trans. "conversion", i.e. manner of life, of behavior), and will build up the tent of David (Gr. skênê, as in 7:43,44. Not the house or throne. Significant of the lowliness of its condition when He comes to rise it up), which is fallen down; and I will build up the ruins thereof (Lit. things dug down. The text reads "things overturned"), and I will make upright. (or straight. When Christ returns. See Gen.3:15):
17: That the residue (Gr. kataloipos. It is the faithful remnant) of mankind (Gr. anthrôpos. The Hebrew would be ãdãm, while the A.V. text of Amos 9:12,13 is Edom, but the consonants are the same, and the only difference is in the pointing. That âdâm, not Edom, is right can hardly be questioned, or James would not have used it) might earnestly seek Yehovah, and all the nations (The nations take the second place. Zech.8:32), upon whom My name is called’ (cp. Jas.2:7. Deut.28:10. Jer.14:9), says the Lord, ‘Who does all these things.’ (It was in the plan of God from the very beginning)
18: Known to God are all His works (most texts read, "Who makes these things known from the beginning of the world", and omit "to God are all His works") from the beginning of the world (= from an [the] age. Gr. ap’ aiônos. See Ezek 28).
19: Wherefore I judge (or decide), not to trouble (or harass, i.e. with the Mosaic law. See Col:2) them, which from among the nations are turning to God:
20: But that we write to them, that they abstain from pollutions (Gr. alisgêma. Pollution would be caused by eating unclean [forbidden] food. Cp. v.29. 1 Cor.), and from fornication (in many cases the rites of heathenism involved uncleanness as an act of worship. Cp. Num.25:1-15. Probably the worship of the Golden calf was of that character [Ex.32:6,25]. Worship God only!), and from things strangled (in this case the blood remained in the carcass, contrary to Lev.17:10-14), and from blood (This does NOT mean transfusions. Blood will putrefy/cause sickness. If you are going to serve God you need to be healthy).
21: For Moses of old time (lit. ancient generations) has in every city (i.e. city by city) them that preach him (the question was whether Gentile [nations] converts, entering by the door of faith [14:27], could be saved by faith alone without the seal of faith [Rom.4:11]. In other words, whether they could belong to the family of believers [up to this time and later held as a strictly Jewish policy] without formal admission as "strangers" in accordance with Ex.12:43,44. The Epistle to the Hebrews was probably written to make the position clear to Hebrews and converts alike), being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day” (i.e. Sabbath by Sabbath).
22: Then it seemed good to the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send men chosen out of themselves to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabbas (perhaps a brother of Joseph of 1:23. See v.32), and Silas (so called in Acts. In the Epistles Silvanus. This was a Latin name, and he was a Roman citizen [16:37]), leading men among the brethren:
23: Having written (in v. 30 it is called "a letter": An edict) letters by them after this manner (the text omits); “The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting (Gr. chairen. Lit. to rejoice. Fig., I bid you to rejoice. Cp. French adieu, [I commend you] to God. Cp. 23:26. Jas.1:1) to the brethren which are of the nations throughout Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
24: Forasmuch as we heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words (i.e. men's words), unsettling your souls (= you [emp.]), saying, ‘You all must be circumcised, and keep the law’ (the text omits): to whom we commanded it not:
25: It seemed good to us, having come to be with one accord (see 1:14), to send men chosen out to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26: Men that have hazarded (lit. having given up. Gr. paradidõmi. Often trans. "deliver up", or "betray". In v.40 and 14:26 "recommend") their lives in behalf of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (It was more difficult to be a Christian then. Today if you are a real good/true Christian, you have to be careful)
27: We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell (lit. themselves also telling.) you the same things by word of mouth.
28: For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us (i.e. the whole church), to lay upon you no greater burden except these compulsory things (Using common sense. Circumcision therefore was not compulsory);
29: That you all abstain from meats offered to idols (this explains what the pollutions were [v.20]. You know its an idol, so its ok for you to eat the food, BUT do not offend by doing in front of someone who believes otherwise), and from blood (Nothing new under the sun. Would you eat beef today if it was not bled?), and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which keeping carefully yourselves, you all shall do well. Fare you all well.” (Lit. be strong. The usual way of ending a letter. Good-bye.)
30: So having then been dismissed (i.e. let go), they came to Antioch: and having gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
31: And having read it, they rejoiced for the consolation (see 4:36; 13:15. Common sense will always wear or be received well).
32: And Judas and Silas, being themselves also prophets, exhorted the brethren by means of many words, and strengthened them. (Once you open a mind)
33: And having continued some time (lit. made time), they were let go with peace from the brethren to the apostles. (Problem solved.)
34: Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. (The Word is fulfilling. This verse is omitted by all the text. The R.V. puts it in the margin)
35: But Paul and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
36: And after certain days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city in which we preached the word of the Lord, and see how they fare.” (The beating he received didn't bother him)
37: And Barnabas purposed to take with them John (see 12:12), whose was called Mark.
38: But Paul thought not good (to reckon worthy, or right. He thought of him as a Johnny-come-lately) to take him with them, who fell away from them from Pamphylia (cp Luke 8:13), and went not with them to the work. (He took off)
39: And the contention was so sharp between them (But there arose such a sharp contention), so that they separated from one another (Could it be that God split them up to double the coverage of the Word?): so Barnabas having taken Mark (he here disappears from the history), and sailed away to Cyprus;
40: And Paul having chosen Silas (= woody), departed, being recommended by the brethren to the grace of God (the text reads "the Lord", i.e. Yehovah).
41: And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.