Acts 15

The council at Jerusalem and the letter to the Gentile believers
Text Comments
 1 ¶ And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
 2  When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
.3  And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
.4  And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
.5  But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
  1 - Circumcised See on ac0708.
  1 - Except ye be circumcised ... cannot be saved A bold position which indicates a problem with the concept of salvation as well as with circumcision. Paul and Barnabas had apparently not required it, perhaps seeing the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as the fulfillment of the covenant involving circumcision.
  2 - Dissension From stasis meaning status. See how the word is translated in mr1507, lu2319. Here it is a strong argument with the church.
  2 - Disputation From zetesis meaning seeking or debate.
  3 - Phenice That is, Phoneia.
  4 - Come to the Jerusalem This was Paul's third visit since his conversion. He wrote more about it. See ga0201-10.
  4 - Received of the church At their arrival.
  5 - Rose up ... sect The word "sect" is from hairesis . See ac0517.
 6 ¶ And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
.7  And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
 8  And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
 9  And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
  7 - Peter rose Although present, he was not the leader.
  9 - No difference That is, no distinction. They were accepted as equally blessed although they had not been circumcised.
.10  Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
 11  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
 12  Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
  10 - Why tempt ye God To resist what God had already condoned would be defiance. Compare he0309, 1co1009, ac0509.
  10 - Able to bear The problem resulted from losing sight of the meaning of circumcision and making it part of the Jewish system of multiplied laws.
  9 - Grace The idea that salvation was not earned by law keeping was just beginning to be understood.
.13  And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
 14  Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
 15  And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
 16  After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
 17  That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
.18  Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
  14 - Simeon Peter. Closer to the Greek than "Simon."
  14 - At the first did visit Rather, "First visited."

Texts linked to, often have more than one verse.

.19  Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
.20  But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
  20 - Pollutions of idols Clarified at v29. The Jews were very careful to avoid such food and apparently were insisting that the Gentiles do the same. Paul later refined the principle 1co08.
  20 - Fornication Participation in worship of the pagan deities often involved using the services of temple prostitutes. This form of worship brought the curse of God in the golden-calf apostasy ex3206, 1co1007 and in the apostasy at Baal-Peor nu2501. See on 1co0501.
  20 - Things strangled Such animals would not have had their blood drained and were prohibited for food le1713 although the practice is not explicitly forbidden otherwise.
  20 - Blood Blood was prohibited for human consumption from the time animal flesh was first authorized ge0904. Also le0317, le1710.
 21  For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.   Moses ... hath James did not envisage a new system only faithfulness in to the ancient path.
  From old time Literally "from ancient generations."
.22 ¶ Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
 23  And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
 24  Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
 25  It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
 26  Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  22 - Then pleased it Or "It seemed good to" NASB. This was as their vote.
  22 - Send chosen men Who would confirm the decision in case the people of Antioch felt the Paul and Barnabas were expressing their own views.
  22 - Barsabas It's possible that the the Joseph appearing in ac0123 was his brother. Also v32.
  23 - Brethren ... Gentiles This is not to be taken that the Jews were operating under a different set of rules but that some practices like circumcision which had been a required sign of the covenant were now optional. 
  23 - Apostles and elders and brethren The NIV has "apostles and elders, your brothers." The KJV text is a literal translation. While the change by the NIV favors the hierarchy of human priests which excludes the brothers from those sending greetings maybe because such a message would be considered a blessing which only church officials were supposed to pronounce.
  24 - Circumcised Not according to the assembled leaders. There was no need for the Jewish Christians to be perceived as more counter cultural than necessary. While ceremonies pointing forward to the great sacrifice of Christ were not to be continued, others still helped the Jews spiritually.
  26 - Hazarded their lives Literally "given over." This may have meant "placed themselves at physical risk" or "dedicated themselves."
.27  We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
.28  For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
.29  That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
  28 - Seemed good The Holy Spirit and those assembled considered their decision "good." It was not a pronouncement from heaven. Those committed to God would be influenced by the Holy Spirit to right decisions jn1613.
  28 - Necessary They followed principles in their decisions about what was necessary. They did not create forms of worship or times to fast as the church did later as it slipped into apostasy ac2029, da0725.
  29 - Meats offered Following the example of our Lord, we ask God to bless our food mr0641, lu2430. Knowingly eating food blessed by idols would be yielding to the demonic spirits they represented. "Meats" is an old word for "foods."
 30  So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
 31  Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
.32  And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
  32 - Prophets Those commissioned by God to speak for Him.
 33  And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.
 34  Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
 35  Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
  33 - In peace Good wishes for parting.
 36 ¶ And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.
.37  And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
.38  But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
 39  And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
.40  And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
 41  And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.
  37 - Determined Or "desired." Barnabas had confidence in the young man perhaps with better insights than Paul co0410, ac1313.
  37 - Surname Literally, "who is called."
  38 - Went not with them See ac1313.
  38 - Pamphylia See on ac1313.
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