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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Acts: Chapter 15)

15:1 {And certain men came down from Judea} (\kai tines
katelthontes apo tēs Ioudaias\)
. Evidently the party of the
circumcision in the church in Jerusalem (11:2) had heard of the
spread of the gospel among the Gentiles in Cyprus, Pamphylia, and
South Galatia (Phrygia, Pisidia, Lycaonia). Possibly John Mark
after his desertion at Perga (13:13) told of this as one of his
reasons for coming home. At any rate echoes of the jubilation in
Antioch in Syria would be certain to reach Jerusalem. The
Judaizers in Jerusalem, who insisted that all the Gentile
Christians must become Jews also, had acquiesced in the case of
Cornelius and his group (11:1-18) after plain proof by Peter
that it was the Lord's doing. But they had not agreed to a formal
campaign to turn the exception into the rule and to make
Christianity mainly Gentile with a few Jews instead of mainly
Jewish with a few Gentiles. Since Paul and Barnabas did not come
up to Jerusalem, the leaders among the Judaizers decided to go
down to Antioch and attack Paul and Barnabas there. They had
volunteered to go without church action in Jerusalem for their
activity is disclaimed by the conference (Ac 15:24). In Ga
2:4 Paul with some heat describes these Judaizers as "false
brethren, secretly introduced who sneaked in to spy out our
liberty." It is reasonably certain that this visit to Jerusalem
described in Ga 2:1-10 is the same one as the Jerusalem
Conference in Acts 15:5-29 in spite of the effort of Ramsay to
identify it with that in 11:29f. Paul in Galatians is not
giving a list of his visits to Jerusalem. He is showing his
independence of the twelve apostles and his equality with them.
He did not see them in 11:29f., but only "the elders." In Ac
15 Luke gives the outward narrative of events, in Ga 2:1-10
Paul shows us the private interview with the apostles when they
agreed on their line of conduct toward the Judaizers. In Ga 2:2
by the use of "them" (\autois\) Paul seems to refer to the first
public meeting in Acts before the private interview that came in
between verses 15:5-6. If we recall the difficulty that Peter
had on the subject of preaching the gospel to the heathen
(10:1-11:18), we can the better understand the attitude of the
Judaizers. They were men of sincere convictions without a doubt,
but they were obscurantists and unable and unwilling to receive
new light from the Lord on a matter that involved their racial
and social prejudices. They recalled that Jesus himself had been
circumcised and that he had said to the Syro-Phoenician woman
that he had come only save to the lost sheep of the house of
Israel (Mt 15:24ff.). They argued that Christ had not repealed
circumcision. So one of the great religious controversies of all
time was begun, that between spiritual religion and ritualistic
or ceremonial religion. It is with us yet with baptism taking the
place of circumcision. These self-appointed champions of
circumcision for Gentile Christians were deeply in earnest.
{Taught the brethren} (\edidaskon tous adelphous\). Inchoative
imperfect active, began to teach and kept it up. Their attitude
was one of supercilious superiority. They probably resented the
conduct of Barnabas, who, when sent by the Church in Jerusalem to
investigate the conversion of the Greeks in Antioch (11:20-26),
did not return and report till a strong church had been
established there with the help of Saul and only then with a big
collection to confuse the issue. Paul and Barnabas were on hand,
but the Judaizers persisted in their efforts to force their views
on the church in Antioch. It was a crisis. {Except ye be
circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved}
me peritmēthēte tōi ethei Mōuseōs, ou dunasthe sōthēnai\)
. There
was the dictum of the Judaizers to the Gentiles. Paul and
Barnabas had been circumcised. This is probably the precise
language employed, for they spoke in Greek to these Greeks. It is
a condition of the third class (undetermined, but with prospect
of being determined, \ean\ plus the first aorist passive
subjunctive of \peritemnō\)
. There was thus hope held out for
them, but only on condition that they be circumcised. The issue
was sharply drawn. The associative instrumental case (\tōi
is customary. "Saved" (\sōthēnai\) here is the Messianic
salvation. This doctrine denied the efficacy of the work of

15:2 {When Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and
questioning with them}
(\Genomenēs staseōs kai zētēseōs ouk
oligēs tōi Paulōi kai Barnabāi pros autous\)
. Genitive absolute
of second aorist middle participle of \ginomai\, genitive
singular agreeing with first substantive \staseōs\. Literally,
"No little (litotes for much) strife and questioning coming to
Paul and Barnabas (dative case) with them " (\pros autous\, face
to face with them)
. Paul and Barnabas were not willing to see
this Gentile church brow-beaten and treated as heretics by these
self-appointed regulators of Christian orthodoxy from Jerusalem.
The work had developed under the leadership of Paul and Barnabas
and they accepted full responsibility for it and stoutly resisted
these Judaizers to the point of sedition (riot, outbreak in Lu
23:25; Ac 19:40)
as in 23:7. There is no evidence that the
Judaizers had any supporters in the Antioch church so that they
failed utterly to make any impression. Probably these Judaizers
compelled Paul to think through afresh his whole gospel of grace
and so they did Paul and the world a real service. If the Jews
like Paul had to believe, it was plain that there was no virtue
in circumcision (Ga 2:15-21). It is not true that the early
Christians had no disagreements. They had selfish avarice with
Ananias and Sapphira, murmuring over the gifts to the widows,
simony in the case of Simon Magus, violent objection to work in
Caesarea, and now open strife over a great doctrine (grace vs.
. {The brethren appointed} (\etaxan\). "The brethren"
can be supplied from verse 1 and means the church in Antioch.
The church clearly saw that the way to remove this deadlock
between the Judaizers and Paul and Barnabas was to consult the
church in Jerusalem to which the Judaizers belonged. Paul and
Barnabas had won in Antioch. If they can win in Jerusalem, that
will settle the matter. The Judaizers will be answered in their
own church for which they are presuming to speak. The verb
\etaxan\ (\tassō\, to arrange) suggests a formal appointment by
the church in regular assembly. Paul (Ga 2:2) says that he went
up by revelation (\kat' apokalupsin\), but surely that is not
contradictory to the action of the church. {Certain others of
(\tinas allous\). Certainly Titus (Ga 2:1,3), a Greek and
probably a brother of Luke who is not mentioned in Acts. Rackham
thinks that Luke was in the number. {The apostles and elders}
(\tous apostolous kai presbuterous\). Note one article for both
(cf. "the apostles and the brethren" in 11:1). "Elders" now
(11:30) in full force. The apostles have evidently returned now
to the city after the death of Herod Agrippa I stopped the

15:3 {They therefore} (\hoi men oun\). Luke's favourite method of
resumptive narrative as we have seen (11:19, etc.),
demonstrative \hoi\ with \men\ (indeed) and \oun\ (therefore).
{Being brought on their way by the church} (\propemphthentes hupo
tēs ekklēsias\)
. First aorist passive participle of \propempō\,
old verb, to send forward under escort as a mark of honour as in
20:38; 21:5; 3Jo 1:6. They were given a grand send-off by the
church in Antioch. {Passed through} (\diērchonto\). Imperfect
middle describing the triumphal procession through both (\te
Phoenicia and Samaria. {The conversion} (\tēn
. The turning. {They caused great joy} (\epoioun
charan megalēn\)
. Imperfect active. They were raising a constant
paean of praise as they proceeded toward Jerusalem. Probably the
Judaizers had gone on or kept still.

15:4 {Were received} (\paredechthēsan\). First aorist passive
indicative of \paradechomai\, old verb, to receive, to welcome.
Here it was a public reception for Paul and Barnabas provided by
the whole church including the apostles and elders, at which an
opportunity was given to hear the story of Paul and Barnabas
about God's dealings with them among the Gentiles. This first
public meeting is referred to by Paul in Ga 2:2 "I set before
them (\autois\) the gospel, etc."

15:5 {But there rose up} (\exanestēsan de\). Second aorist active
indicative (intransitive). Note both \ex\ and \an\. These men
rose up out of the crowd at a critical moment. They were
believers in Christ (\pepisteukotes\, having believed), but were
still members of "the sect of the Pharisees" (\tēs haireseōs tōn
. Evidently they still held to the Pharisaic
narrowness shown in the attack on Peter (11:2f.). Note the
dogmatism of their "must" (\dei\) after the opposition of Paul
and Barnabas to their "except" (\ean me\) at Antioch (15:1).
They are unconvinced and expected to carry the elders with them.
Codex Bezae says that they had appealed to the elders (15:2,5).
At any rate they have made the issue in open meeting at the
height of the jubilation. It is plain from verse 6 that this
meeting was adjourned, for another gathering came together then.
It is here that the private conference of which Paul speaks in
Ga 2:1-10 took place. It was Paul's chance to see the leaders
in Jerusalem (Peter, James, and John) and he won them over to his
view of Gentile liberty from the Mosaic law so that the next
public conference (Ac 15:6-29) ratified heartily the views of
Paul, Barnabas, Peter, James, and John. It was a diplomatic
triumph of the first order and saved Christianity from the
bondage of Jewish ceremonial sacramentalism. So far as we know
this is the only time that Paul and John met face to face, the
great spirits in Christian history after Jesus our Lord. It is a
bit curious to see men saying today that Paul surrendered about
Titus and had him circumcised for the sake of peace, the very
opposite of what he says in Galatians, "to whom I yielded, no not
for an hour." Titus as a Greek was a red flag to the Judaizers
and to the compromisers, but Paul stood his ground.

15:6 {Were gathered together} (\sunēchthēsan\). First aorist
(effective) passive indicative. The church is not named here as
in verse 4, but we know from verses 12-22 that the whole
church came together this time also along with the apostles and
elders. {Of this matter} (\peri tou logou toutou\). Same idiom in
8:21; 19:38. They realized the importance of the issue.

15:7 {When there had been much questioning} (\pollēs zētēseōs
. Genitive absolute with second aorist middle
participle of \ginomai\. Evidently the Judaizers were given full
opportunity to air all their grievances and objections. They were
allowed plenty of time and there was no effort to shut off debate
or to rush anything through the meeting. {Peter rose up}
(\anastas Petros\). The wonder was that he had waited so long.
Probably Paul asked him to do so. He was the usual spokesman for
the apostles and his activities in Jerusalem were well-known. In
particular his experience at Caesarea (Ac 10) had caused
trouble here in Jerusalem from this very same party of the
circumcism (Ac 11:1-18). It was fitting that Peter should
speak. This is the last time that Peter appears in the Acts. {A
good while ago}
(\aph' hēmerōn archaiōn\). From ancient days. The
adjective \archaios\ is from \archē\, beginning, and its actual
age is a matter of relativity. So Mnason (Ac 21:16) is termed
"an ancient disciple." It was probably a dozen years since God
"made choice" (\exelexato\) to speak by Peter's mouth to
Cornelius and the other Gentiles in Caesarea. His point is that
what Paul and Barnabas have reported is nothing new. The
Judaizers made objection then as they are doing now.

15:8 {Which knoweth the heart} (\kardiognōstēs\). Late word from
\kardia\ (heart) and \gnōstēs\ (known, \ginōskō\). In the N.T.
only here and 1:24 which see. {Giving them the Holy Spirit}
(\dous to pneuma to hagion\). And before their baptism. This was
the Lord's doing. They had accepted (11:18) this witness of God
then and it was true now of these other Gentile converts.

15:9 {He made no distinction between us and them} (\outhen
diekrinen metaxu hēmōn te kai autōn\)
. He distinguished nothing
(first aorist active ind.) between (both \dia\ and \metaxu\) both
(\te kai\) us and them. In the matter of faith and conversion God
treated us Jews as heathen and the heathen as Jews. {Cleansing
their hearts by faith}
(\tēi pistei katharisas tas kardias
. Not by works nor by ceremonies. Peter here has a
thoroughly Pauline and Johannine idea of salvation for all both
Jew and Greek. Cf. 10:15.

15:10 {Why tempt ye God?} (\ti peirazete ton theon;\). By
implying that God had made a mistake this time, though right
about Cornelius. It is a home-thrust. They were refusing to
follow the guidance of God like the Israelites at Massah and
Meribah (Ex 17:7; De 6:16; 1Co 10:9). {That ye should put}
(\epitheinai\). Second aorist active infinitive of \epitithēmi\,
epexegetic, explaining the tempting. {A yoke upon the neck}
(\zugon epi ton trachēlon\). Familiar image of oxen with yokes
upon the necks. Paul's very image for the yoke of bondage of the
Mosaic law in Ga 5:1. It had probably been used in the private
interview. Cf. the words of Jesus about the Pharisees (Mt 23:4)
and how easy and light his own yoke is (Mt 11:30). {Were able
to bear}
(\ischusamen bastasai\). Neither our fathers nor we had
strength (\ischuō\) to carry this yoke which the Judaizers wish
to put on the necks of the Gentiles. Peter speaks as the
spiritual emancipator. He had been slow to see the meaning of
God's dealings with him at Joppa and Caesarea, but he has seen
clearly by now. He takes his stand boldly with Paul and Barnabas
for Gentile freedom.

15:11 {That we shall be saved} (\sōthēnai\). First aorist passive
infinitive in indirect discourse after \pisteuomen\. More
exactly, "We believe that we are saved through the grace of the
Lord Jesus in like manner as they also." This thoroughly Pauline
note shows that whatever hopes the Judaizers had about Peter were
false. His doctrine of grace is as clear as a bell. He has lifted
his voice against salvation by ceremony and ritualism. It was a
great deliverance.

15:12 {Kept silence} (\esigēsen\). Ingressive first aorist active
of \sigaō\, old verb, to hold one's peace. All the multitude
became silent after Peter's speech and because of it. {Hearkened}
(\ēkouon\). Imperfect active of \akouō\, descriptive of the rapt
attention, were listening. {Unto Barnabas and Paul} (\Barnaba kai
. Note placing Barnabas before Paul as in verse 25,
possibly because in Jerusalem Barnabas was still better known
than Paul. {Rehearsing} (\exēgoumenōn\). Present middle
participle of \exēgeomai\, old verb, to go through or lead out a
narrative of events as in Lu 24:35; Ac 10:8 which see. Three
times (14:27; 15:4,12) Paul is described as telling the facts
about their mission work, facts more eloquent than argument
(Page). One of the crying needs in the churches is fuller
knowledge of the facts of mission work and progress with enough
detail to give life and interest. The signs and wonders which God
had wrought among the Gentiles set the seal of approval on the
work done through (\dia\) Barnabas and Paul. This had been
Peter's argument about Cornelius (11:17). This same verb
(\exēgēsato\) is used by James in verse 14 referring to Peter's

15:13 {After they had held their peace} (\meta to sigēsai
. Literally, "after the becoming silent (ingressive
aorist active of the articular infinitive)
as to them (Barnabas
and Paul, accusative of general reference)
." {James answered}
(\apekrithē Iakōbos\). First aorist passive (deponent)
indicative. It was expected that James, as President of the
Conference, would speak last. But he wisely waited to give every
one an opportunity to speak. The challenge of the Judaizers
called for an opinion from James. Furneaux thinks that he may
have been elected one of the twelve to take the place of James
the brother of John since Paul (Ga 1:19) calls him apostle.
More likely he was asked to preside because of his great gifts
and character as chief of the elders.

15:14 {Hearken unto me} (\akousate mou\). Usual appeal for
attention. James was termed James the Just and was considered a
representative of the Hebraic as opposed to the Hellenistic wing
of the Jewish Christians (Ac 6:1). The Judaizers had doubtless
counted on him as a champion of their view and did later
wrongfully make use of his name against Peter at Antioch (Ga
. There was instant attention when James began to speak.
{Symeon} (\Sumeōn\). The Aramaic form of Simon as in 2Pe 2:1.
This little touch would show his affinities with the Jewish
Christians (not the Judaizers). This Aramaic form is used also in
Lu 2:25,34 of the old prophet in the temple. Possibly both
forms (Symeon, Aramaic, and Simon, Greek) were current in
Jerusalem. {How} (\kathōs\). Strictly, "according as," here like
\hos\ in indirect discourse somewhat like the epexegetic or
explanatory use in 3Jo 1:3. {First} (\prōton\). Told by Peter
in verse 7. James notes, as Peter did, that this experience of
Barnabas and Paul is not the beginning of work among the
Gentiles. {Did visit} (\epeskepsato\). First aorist middle
indicative of \episkeptomai\, old verb to look upon, to look
after, provide for. This same verb occurs in Jas 1:27 and is
one of various points of similarity between this speech of James
in Acts and the Epistle of James as shown by Mayor in his
_Commentary on James_. Somehow Luke may have obtained notes of
these various addresses. {To take from the Gentiles a people for
his name}
(\labein ex ethnōn laon tōi onomati autou\). Bengel
calls this _egregium paradoxon_, a chosen people (\laon\) out of
the Gentiles (\ethnōn\). This is what is really involved in what
took place at Caesarea at the hands of Peter and the campaign of
Barnabas and Paul from Antioch. But such a claim of God's purpose
called for proof from Scripture to convince Jews and this is
precisely what James undertakes to give. This new Israel from
among the Gentiles is one of Paul's great doctrines as set forth
in Ga 3; Ro 9-11. Note the use of God's "name" here for "the
Israel of God" (Ga 6:16).

15:15 {To this agree} (\toutōi sumphōnousin\). Associative
instrumental case (\toutōi\) after \sumphōnousin\ (voice together
with, symphony with, harmonize with)
, from \sumphōneō\, old verb
seen already in Mt 18:19; Lu 5:36; Ac 5:9 which see. James
cites only Am 9:11,12 from the LXX as an example of "the words
of the prophets" (\hoi logoi tōn prophētōn\) to which he refers
on this point. The somewhat free quotation runs here through
verses 16-18 of Ac 15 and is exceedingly pertinent. The
Jewish rabbis often failed to understand the prophets as Jesus
showed. The passage in Amos refers primarily to the restoration
of the Davidic empire, but also the Messiah's Kingdom (the throne
of David his father," Lu 1:32)

15:16 {I will build again} (\anoikodomēsō\). Here LXX has
\anastēsō\. Compound (\ana\, up or again) of \oikodomeō\, the
verb used by Jesus in Mt 16:18 of the general church or kingdom
as here which see. {The tabernacle of David} (\tēn skēnēn
, a poetical figure of the throne of David (2Sa 7:12)
now "the fallen tent" (\tēn peptōkuian\), perfect active
participle of \piptō\, state of completion. {The ruins thereof}
(\ta katestrammena autēs\). Literally, "the ruined portions of
it." Perfect passive participle of \katastrephō\, to turn down.
It is a desolate picture of the fallen, torn down tent of David.
{I will let it up} (\anorthōsō\). Old verb from \anorthoō\ (\ana,
, to set upright. See on Lu 3:13 of the old woman whose
crooked back was set straight.

15:17 {That the residue of men may seek after the Lord} (\hopōs
an ekzētēsōsin hoi kataloipoi tōn anthrōpōn ton kurion\)
. The use
of \hopōs\ with the subjunctive (effective aorist active) to
express purpose is common enough and note \an\ for an additional
tone of uncertainty. On the rarity of \an\ with \hopōs\ in the
_Koinē_ see Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 986. Here the Gentiles are
referred to. The Hebrew text is quite different, "that they may
possess the remnant of Edom." Certainly the LXX suits best the
point that James is making. But the closing words of this verse
point definitely to the Gentiles both in the Hebrew and the LXX,
"all the Gentiles" (\panta ta ethnē\). Another item of similarity
between this speech and the Epistle of James is in the phrase "my
name is called" (\epikeklētai to onoma mou\) and Jas 2:7. The
purpose of God, though future, is expressed by this perfect
passive indicative \epikeklētai\ from \epi-kaleō\, to call on. It
is a Jewish way of speaking of those who worship God.

15:18 {From the beginning of the world} (\ap' aiōnos\). Or, "from
of old." James adds these words, perhaps with a reminiscence of
Isa 45:21. His point is that this purpose of God, as set forth
in Amos, is an old one. God has an Israel outside of and beyond
the Jewish race, whom he will make his true "Israel" and so there
is no occasion for surprise in the story of God's dealings with
the Gentiles as told by Barnabas and Paul. God's eternal purpose
of grace includes all who call upon his name in every land and
people (Isa 2:1; Mic 4:1). This larger and richer purpose and
plan of God was one of the mysteries which Paul will unfold in
the future (Ro 16:25; Eph 3:9). James sees it clearly now. God
is making it known (\poiōn tauta gnōsta\), if they will only be
willing to see and understand. It was a great deliverance that
James had made and it exerted a profound influence on the

15:19 {Wherefore} (\dio\). "Because of which," this plain purpose
of God as shown by Amos and Isaiah. {My judgment is} (\egō
. Note expression of \egō\. {I give my judgment}. (\Ego
. James sums up the case as President of the Conference
in a masterly fashion and with that consummate wisdom for which
he is noted. It amounts to a resolution for the adoption by the
assembly as happened (verse 33). {That we trouble not} (\mē
. Present active infinitive with \mē\ in an
indirect command (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1046) of
\parenochleō\, a common late verb, occurring here alone in the
N.T. This double compound (\para, en\) is from the old compound
\enochleō\ (\en\ and \ochlos\, crowd, annoyance) seen in Lu
6:18; Heb 12:15, and means to cause trouble beside (\para\) one
or in a matter. This is the general point of James which he
explains further concerning "those who are turning from the
Gentiles unto God," the very kind of people referred to in Amos.

15:20 {But that we write unto them} (\alla episteilai autois\).
By way of contrast (\alla\). First aorist active infinitive of
\epistellō\, old verb to send to one (message, letter, etc.). Our
word \epistle\ (\epistolē\ as in verse 30) comes from this
verb. In the N.T. only here, He 13:22, and possibly Ac 21:25.
{That they abstain from} (\tou apechesthai\). The genitive of the
articular infinitive of purpose, present middle (direct) of
\apechō\, old verb, to hold oneself back from. The best old MSS.
do not have \apo\, but the ablative is clear enough in what
follows. James agrees with Peter in his support of Paul and
Barnabas in their contention for Gentile freedom from the Mosaic
ceremonial law. The restrictions named by James affect the moral
code that applies to all (idolatry, fornication, murder).
Idolatry, fornication and murder were the outstanding sins of
paganism then and now (Re 22:15). Harnack argues ably against
the genuineness of the word \pniktou\ (strangled) which is absent
from D Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian. It is a nice point, though
the best MSS. have it in accord with Le 17:10-16. The problem
is whether the words were added because "blood" was understood as
not "murder," but a reference to the Mosaic regulation or whether
it was omitted to remove the ceremonial aspect and make it all
moral and ethical. The Western text omits the word also in verse
29. But with the word retained here and in verse 29 the
solution of James is not a compromise, though there is a wise
concession to Jewish feeling. {Pollutions of idols}
(\alisgēmatōn\). From \alisgeō\ only in the LXX and this
substantive nowhere else. The word refers to idolatrous practices
(pollutions) and things sacrificed to idols (\eidōluthōn\) in
verse 29, not to sacrificial meat sold in the market (1Co
, a matter not referred to here. Cf. Le 17:1-9. All the
four items in the position of James (accepting \pniktou\) are
mentioned in Le 17,18.

15:21 {For Moses} (\Mōusēs gar\). A reason why these four
necessary things (verse 28) are named. In every city are
synagogues where rabbis proclaim (\kērussontas\) these matters.
Hence the Gentile Christians would be giving constant offence to
neglect them. The only point where modern Christian sentiment
would object would be about "things strangled" and "blood" in the
sense of any blood left in the animals, though most Christians
probably agree with the feeling of James in objecting to blood in
the food. If "blood" is taken to be "murder," that difficulty
vanishes. Moses will suffer no loss for these Gentile Christians
are not adherents of Judaism.

15:22 {Then it seemed good} (\Tote edoxen\). First aorist active
indicative of \dokeō\. A regular idiom at the beginning of
decrees. This Eirenicon of James commended itself to the whole
assembly. Apparently a vote was taken which was unanimous, the
Judaizers probably not voting. The apostles and the elders (\tois
apostolois kai tois presbuterois\, article with each, dative
probably all vocally expressed their position. {With the
whole church}
(\sun holei tēi ekklēsiāi\). Probably by
acclamation. It was a great victory. But James was a practical
leader and he did not stop with speeches and a vote. {To choose
men out of their company}
(\eklezamenous andras ex autōn\).
Accusative case, though dative just before (\tois apostolois\,
, of first aorist middle participle of \eklegō\, to select.
This loose case agreement appears also in \grapsantes\ in verse
23 and in MSS. in verse 25. It is a common thing in all Greek
writers (Paul, for instance), especially in the papyri and in the
Apocalypse of John. {Judas called Barsabbas} (\Ioudan ton
kaloumenon Barsabban\)
. Not otherwise known unless he is a
brother of Joseph Barsabbas of 1:23, an early follower of
Jesus. The other, Silas, is probably a shortened form of Silvanus
(\Silouanos\, 1Pe 5:12), the companion of Paul in his second
mission tour (Ac 15:32,41; 16:25). {Chief men} (\hēgoumenous\).
Leaders, leading men (participle from \hēgeomai\, to lead).

15:23 {And they wrote} (\grapsantes\). First aorist active
participle of \graphō\ and the nominative as if a principal verb
\epempsan\ had been used instead of \pempsai\, the first aorist
active infinitive (anacoluthon). This committee of four (Judas,
Silas, Barnabas, Paul)
carried the letter which embodied the
decision of the Conference. This letter is the writing out of the
judgment of James and apparently written by him as the President.
{The apostles and the elders, brethren} (\hoi apostoloi kai hoi
presbuteroi, adelphoi\)
. So the oldest and best MSS. without
\kai\ (and) before "brethren." This punctuation is probably
correct and not "elder brethren." The inquiry had been sent to
the apostles and elders (verse 2) though the whole church
joined in the welcome (verse 4) and in the decision (verse
. The apostles and elders send the epistle, but call
themselves "brothers to brothers," _Fratres Fratibus Salutem_.
"The brothers" (\tois adelphois\) addressed (dative case) are of
the Gentiles (\ex ethnōn\) and those in Antioch, Syria, and
Cilicia, because they were immediately involved. But the decision
of this Conference was meant for Gentile Christians everywhere
(16:4). {Greeting} (\Chairein\). The customary formula in the
beginning of letters, the absolute infinitive (usually
with the nominative absolute also as in Jas 1:1; Ac
23:26 and innumerable papyri (Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 1902f.).

15:24 {Certain which went from us} (\tines ex hēmōn\, Aleph B
omit \exelthontes\)
. A direct blow at the Judaizers, put in
delicate language (we heard \ēkousamen\) as if only at Antioch
(15:1), and not also in Jerusalem in open meeting (15:5).
{Have troubled you with words} (\etaraxan humas logois\). What a
picture of turmoil in the church in Antioch, words, words, words.
Aorist tense of the common verb \tarassō\, to agitate, to make
the heart palpitate (Joh 14:1,27) and instrumental case of
\logois\. {Subverting your souls} (\anaskeuazontes tas psuchas
. Present active participle of \anaskeuazō\, old verb
(\ana\ and \skeuos\, baggage) to pack up baggage, to plunder, to
ravage. Powerful picture of the havoc wrought by the Judaizers
among the simple-minded Greek Christians in Antioch. {To whom we
gave no commandment}
(\hois ou diesteilametha\). First aorist
middle indicative of \diastellō\, old verb to draw asunder, to
distinguish, to set forth distinctly, to command. This is a flat
disclaimer of the whole conduct of the Judaizers in Antioch and
in Jerusalem, a complete repudiation of their effort to impose
the Mosaic ceremonial law upon the Gentile Christians.

15:25 {It seemed good unto us} (\edoxen hēmin\). See statement by
Luke in verse 22, and now this definite decision is in the
epistle itself. It is repeated in verse 28. {Having come to one
(\genomenois homothumadon\). On this adverb, common in
Acts, see on ¯1:14. But \genomenois\ clearly means that the
final unity was the result of the Conference (private and public
. The Judaizers are here brushed to one side as the
defeated disturbers that they really were who had lacked the
courage to vote against the majority. {To choose out men and send
(\eklexamenois andras pempsai\ A B L, though Aleph C D read
\eklexamenous\ as in verse 22)
. Precisely the same idiom as in
verse 22, "having chosen out to send." {With our beloved
Barnabas and Paul}
(\sun tois agapētois hēmōn Barnabāi kai
. The verbal adjective \agapētois\ (common in the N.T.)
definitely sets the seal of warm approval on Barnabas and Paul.
Paul (Ga 2:9) confirms this by his statement concerning the
right hand of fellowship given.

15:26 {Have hazarded their lives} (\paradedōkosi tas psuchas
. Perfect active participle dative plural of \paradidōmi\,
old word, to hand over to another, and with \psuchas\, to hand
over to another their lives. The sufferings of Paul and Barnabas
in Pisidia and Lycaonia were plainly well-known just as the story
of Judson in Burmah is today. On the use of "name" here see on

15:27 {Who themselves also shall tell you the same things by word
of mouth}
(\kai autous dia logou apaggellontas ta auta\).
Literally, "they themselves also by speech announcing the same
things." The present participle, as here, sometimes is used like
the future to express purpose as in 3:26 \eulogounta\ after
\apesteilen\ and so here \apaggellontas\ after \apestalkamen\
(Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 1128). Judas and Silas are specifically
endorsed (perfect active indicative of \apostellō\) as bearers of
the epistle who will also verbally confirm the contents of the

15:28 {To the Holy Spirit and to us} (\tōi pneumati tōi hagiōi
kai hēmin\)
. Dative case after \edoxen\ (third example, verses
. Definite claim that the church in this action had
the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That fact was plain to the
church from what had taken place in Caesarea and in this campaign
of Paul and Barnabas (verse 8). Jesus had promised that the
Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (Joh 16:13). Even
so the church deliberated carefully before deciding. What a
blessing it would be if this were always true! But even so the
Judaizers are only silenced for the present, not convinced and
only waiting for a better day to start over again. {No greater
(\mēden pleon baros\). The restrictions named did
constitute some burden (cf. Mt 20:12), for the old word \baros\
means weight or heaviness. Morality itself is a restraint upon
one's impulses as is all law a prohibition against license.

15:29 {Than these necessary things} (\plēn toutōn tōn
. This old adverb (from \epi\ and \anagkē\) means on
compulsion, of necessity. Here only in the N.T. For discussion of
these items see on verses 20,21. In comparison with the freedom
won this "burden" is light and not to be regarded as a compromise
in spite of the arguments of Lightfoot and Ramsay. It was such a
concession as any converted Gentile would be glad to make even if
"things strangled" be included. This "necessity" was not a matter
of salvation but only for fellowship between Jews and Gentiles.
The Judaizers made the law of Moses essential to salvation
(15:16). {It shall be well with you} (\eu praxete\). Ye shall
fare well. A classical idiom used here effectively. The peace and
concord in the fellowship of Jews and Gentiles will justify any
slight concession on the part of the Gentiles. This letter is not
laid down as a law, but it is the judgment of the Jerusalem
Christians for the guidance of the Gentiles (16:4) and it had a
fine effect at once (15:30-35). Trouble did come later from the
Judaizers who were really hostile to the agreement in Jerusalem,
but that opposition in no way discredits the worth of the work of
this Conference. No sane agreement will silence perpetual and
professional disturbers like these Judaizers who will seek to
unsettle Paul's work in Antioch, in Corinth, in Galatia, in
Jerusalem, in Rome. {Fare ye well} (\Errōsthe\). _Valete_.
Perfect passive imperative of \rhōnnumi\, to make strong. Common
at the close of letters. Be made strong, keep well, fare well.
Here alone in the N.T. though some MSS. have it in 23:30.

15:30 {So they} (\hoi men oun\). As in verse 3. {When they were
(\apoluthentes\). First aorist passive participle of
\apoluō\, common verb to loosen, to dismiss. Possibly (Hackett)
religious services were held as in verse 33 (cf. 13:3) and
perhaps an escort for part of the way as in verse 3. {The
(\to plēthos\). Public meeting of the church as in
verses 1-3. Deissmann (_Bible Studies_, p. 232) gives
illustrations from the inscriptions of the use of \plēthos\ for
official, political, and religious gatherings. The committee
formally "delivered" (\epedōkan\) the epistle to the church

15:31 {When they had read it} (\anagnontes\). Second aorist
active participle of \anaginōskō\. Public reading, of course, to
the church. {They rejoiced} (\echarēsan\). Second aorist
(ingressive) passive indicative of \chairō\. They burst into
exultant joy showing clearly that they did not consider it a weak
compromise, but a glorious victory of Gentile liberty. {For the
(\epi tēi paraklēsei\). The encouragement, the cheer
in the letter. See \parekalesan\ in verse 32. Consolation and
exhortation run into one another in this word.

15:32 {Being themselves also prophets} (\kai autoi prophētai
. As well as Paul and Barnabas and like Agabus
(11:27-30), for-speakers for Christ who justify the
commendation in the letter (verse 27) "with many words" (\dia
logou pollou\)
, "with much talk," and no doubt with kindly words
concerning the part played at the Conference by Paul and
Barnabas. {Confirmed} (\epestērixan\). See on ¯14:22. It was a
glorious time with no Judaizers to disturb their fellowship as in

15:33 {Some time} (\chronon\). Accusative after \poiēsantes\,
"having done time." How long we do not know.

15:34 {But it seemed good unto Silas to abide there} (\edoxe de
Silāi epimeinai autou\)
. This verse is not in the Revised Version
or in the text of Westcott and Hort, being absent from Aleph A B
Vulgate, etc. It is clearly an addition to help explain the fact
that Silas is back in Antioch in verse 40. But the "some days"
of verse 36 afforded abundant time for him to return from
Jerusalem. He and Judas went first to Jerusalem to make a report
of their mission.

15:35 {Tarried} (\dietribon\). Imperfect active of \diatribō\,
old verb to pass time, seen already in 12:19; 14:3,28. {With
many others also}
(\meta kai heterōn pollōn\). A time of general
revival and naturally so after the victory at Jerusalem. It is at
this point that it is probable that the sad incident took place
told by Paul in Ga 2:11-21. Peter came up to see how things
were going in Antioch after Paul's victory in Jerusalem. At first
Peter mingled freely with the Greek Christians without the
compunctions shown at Caesarea and for which he had to answer in
Jerusalem (Ac 11:1-18). Rumours of Peter's conduct reached
Jerusalem and the Judaizers saw a chance to reopen the
controversy on the line of social customs, a matter not passed on
at the Jerusalem Conference. These Judaizers threaten Peter with
a new trial and he surrenders and is followed by Barnabas and all
the Jewish brethren in Antioch to the dismay of Paul who boldly
rebuked Peter and Barnabas and won them back to his view. It was
a crisis. Some would even date the Epistle to the Galatians at
this time also, an unlikely hypothesis.

15:36 {Let us return now and visit the brethren} (\epistrepsantes
de episkepsōmetha tous adelphous\)
. Paul takes the initiative as
the leader, all the more so if the rebuke to Peter and Barnabas
in Ga 2:11-21 had already taken place. Paul is anxious, like a
true missionary, to go back to the fields where he has planted
the gospel. He uses the hortatory subjunctive (\episkepsōmetha\)
for the proposal (see on ¯15:14 for this verb). Note the
repeated \epi\ (\epi-strepsantes\ and \episkepsōmetha\). There is
special point in the use of \dē\ (shortened form of \ēdē\), now
at this juncture of affairs (cf. 13:2). {How they fare} (\pōs
. Indirect question, "how they have it." The
precariousness of the life of new converts in pagan lands is
shown in all of Paul's Epistles (Furneaux). So he wanted to go
city by city (\kata polin pāsan\).

15:37 {Was minded to take with them} (\ebouleto sunparalabein\).
Imperfect middle (\ebouleto\), not aorist middle \ebouleusato\ of
the Textus Receptus. Barnabas willed, wished and stuck to it
(imperfect tense). \Sunparalabein\ is second aorist active
infinitive of the double compound \sunparalambanō\, old verb to
take along together with, used already about John Mark in 12:25
and by Paul in Ga 2:1 about Titus. Nowhere else in the N.T.
Barnabas used the ingressive aorist in his suggestion.

15:38 {But Paul thought not good to take with them} (\Paulos de
ēxiou--mē sunparalambanein touton\)
. The Greek is far more
effective than this English rendering. It is the imperfect active
of \axioō\, old verb to think meet or right and the present
active infinitive of the same verb (\sunparalambanō\) with
negative used with this infinitive. Literally, "But Paul kept on
deeming it wise not to be taking along with them this one."
Barnabas looked on it as a simple punctiliar proposal (aorist
, but Paul felt a lively realization of the problem of
having a quitter on his hands (present infinitive). Each was
insistent in his position (two imperfects). Paul had a definite
reason for his view describing John Mark as "him who withdrew
from them from Pamphylia" (\ton apostanta ap' autōn apo
. Second aorist active articular participle of
\aphistēmi\, intransitive use, "the one who stood off from,
apostatized from" (our very word "apostasy"). And also as the one
who "went not with them to the work" (\kai mē sunelthonta autois
eis to ergon\)
. At Perga Mark had faced the same task that Paul
and Barnabas did, but he flinched and flickered and quit. Paul
declined to repeat the experiment with Mark.

15:39 {A sharp contention} (\paroxusmos\). Our very word paroxysm
in English. Old word though only twice in the N.T. (here and Heb
, from \paroxunō\, to sharpen (\para, oxus\) as of a blade
and of the spirit (Ac 17:16; 1Co 13:5). This "son of
consolation" loses his temper in a dispute over his cousin and
Paul uses sharp words towards his benefactor and friend. It is
often so that the little irritations of life give occasion to
violent explosions. If the incident in Ga 2:11-21 had already
taken place, there was a sore place already that could be easily
rubbed. And if Mark also joined with Peter and Barnabas on that
occasion, Paul had fresh ground for irritation about him. But
there is no way to settle differences about men and we can only
agree to disagree as Paul and Barnabas did. {So that they parted
asunder from one another}
(\hōste apochōristhēnai autous ap'
. Actual result here stated by \hōste\ and the first
aorist passive infinitive of \apochōrizō\, old verb to sever, to
separate, here only and Re 6:4 in the N.T. The accusative of
general reference (\autous\) is normal. For construction with
\hōste\ see Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 999f. {And Barnabas took
Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus}
(\ton te Barnaban
paralabonta ton Markon ekpleusai eis Kupron\)
. Second infinitival
clause \ekpleusai\ after \hōste\ connected by \te\. The same
participle is used here minus \sun, paralabonta\ (second aorist
. Barnabas and Mark sailed out (\ekpleusai\ from \ekpleō\)
from the harbour of Antioch. This is the last glimpse that Luke
gives us of Barnabas, one of the noblest figures in the New
Testament. Paul has a kindly reference to him in 1Co 9:6. No
one can rightly blame Barnabas for giving his cousin John Mark a
second chance nor Paul for fearing to risk him again. One's
judgment may go with Paul, but one's heart goes with Barnabas.
And Mark made good with Barnabas, with Peter (1Pe 5:13) and
finally with Paul (Col 4:10; 2Ti 4:11). See my little book on
John Mark (_Making Good in the Ministry_). Paul and Barnabas
parted in anger and both in sorrow. Paul owed more to Barnabas
than to any other man. Barnabas was leaving the greatest spirit
of the time and of all times.

15:40 {Chose} (\epilexamenos\). First aorist middle (indirect)
participle of \epilegō\, choosing for himself, as the successor
of Barnabas, not of Mark who had no place in Paul's plans at this
time. {Commended} (\paradotheis\). First aorist passive of
\paradidōmi\, the same verb employed about Paul and Barnabas
(14:26) on their return from the first tour. It is clear now
that the sympathy of the church at Antioch is with Paul rather
than with Barnabas in the cleavage that has come. The church
probably recalled how in the pinch Barnabas flickered and went to
the side of Peter and that it was Paul who for the moment stood
_Paulus contra mundum_ for Gentile liberty in Christ against the
threat of the Judaizers from Jerusalem. Silas had influence in
the church in Jerusalem (verse 22) and was apparently a Roman
citizen (16:37) also. He is the Silas or Silvanus of the
epistles (1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1; 2Co 1:19; 1Pe 5:12). It is
remarkable that Peter mentions both Mark and Silas as with him
(1Pe 5:12f.) at the same time.

15:41 {Went through} (\diērcheto\). Imperfect middle. So Paul
went forth on his second mission tour with heart-aches and high
hopes mingled together. {Syria and Cilicia} (\tēn Surian kai tēn
. He took the opposite course from the first tour,
leaving Cyprus to Barnabas and Mark. Probably Paul had
established these churches while in Tarsus after leaving
Jerusalem (Ac 9:30; Ga 1:21). Paul would go "by the Gulf of
Issus through the Syrian Gates, a narrow road between steep rocks
and the sea, and then inland, probably past Tarsus and over Mt.
Taurus by the Cilician gates" (Page). This second tour will
occupy Luke's story in Acts through 18:22.

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Acts: Chapter 15)