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that the whole matter should be referred to the brethren. See Note, Rom. xv. 24. It was cusapostles at Jerusalem. The reason for this may | tomary for the Christians to attend the apostles have been, (1.) That Jerusalem would be regard- | in their travels. Comp. I Cor. xvi. 6, 11. 3 John ed by them as the source of authority in the Chris- | 6. Through Phenice.-Note, chap. xi. 19. And
tian church, as it had been among the Jews. (2.) Samaria.- These places were directly on their | Vost of the apostles and the most experienced | route to Jerusalem. Declaring the conversion,
Christians were there. They had listened to the &c.-Of the Gentiles in Antioch, and in the instructions of Christ himself; had been long in regions in Asia Minor, through which they had "he church ; and were supposed to be better ac- | travelled. These remarkable events they would quainted with its design and its laws. (3.) Those naturally communicate with joy to the Chriswho came from Judea would not be likely to tians, with whom they would have intercourse acknowledge the authority of Paul as an apostle: / in their journey. Caused great joy.-- At the the authority of those at Jerusalem they would news of the extensive spread of the gospel. It recognise. (4.) They might have had a very was an indication of their deep feeling in the inconfident expectation that the decision there terests of religion, that they thus rejoiced. Where
would be in their favour. The question had not | Christians are themselves awake, and engaged I been agitated there. They had all been Jews. | in the service of Christ, they rejoice at the news . And it is certain that they continued as yet to 1 of the conversion of sinners. Where they are
attend in the temple service, and to conform to cold, they hear such news with indifference, or I the Jewish customs. They might bave expected with the utmost unconcern. One way of testing
therefore, with great confidence, that the decision our feelings on the subject of religion is, by the would be in their favour, and they were willing | emotions which we have when we hear of extento refer it to those at Jerusalem. Certain other sive and glorious revivals of religion. Comp. of them. — Of the brethren; probably of each party. Note, Acts viii. 8. They did not go to debate; or to give their opinion; or to vote in the case themselves; but to lay the question fairly before the apostles and
VER. 4. And when they were come to Jerusaeiders. Unto the apostles. The authority of the lem, they were received of the church, and apostles in such a case would be acknowledged of the apostles and elders; and they * declared by all. They had been immediately instructed
all things that God had done with them. by the Saviour, and had the promise of infallible guidance in the organization of the church.
h Chap. xxi. 19. Notes, Matt. xvi. 19; xvüi. 18. And elders.Note, chap. xi. 30. Greek, Presbyters. See They were received of the church. - By the Note, chap. xiv. 23. Who these were, or what church, in a hospitable and friendly manner. was their office and authority, it is not easy now They were acknowledged as Christian brethren, to determine. It may refer to the aged men in and received with Christian kindness. See Gal. the church at Jerusalem, or to those who were ii. 9. And they declared.-Paul and Barnabas, appointed to rule and to preach in connexion and those with them. That is, they stated the with the apostles. As in the synagogue it was case; the remarkable conversion of the Gentiles, customary to determine questions by the advice the evidence of their piety, and the origin of the of a bench of elders, there is no improbability in present dispute. the supposition that the apostles would imitate that custom, and appoint a similar arrangement
VER. 5. But i there rose up certain of the sect of in the Christian church. Grotius. It is generaily agreed that this is the journey to which
the Pharisees which believed, saying, i That Paul refers in Gal. ii. 1-10. If so, it happened it was needful to circumcise them, and to comourteen years after his conversion. (Gal. ii. 1.) mand them to keep the law of Moses. It was done in accordance with the divine command, “ by revelation.” (Gal. ii. 2.) And among i or, rose up, said they, certain. j Ver. 1. those who went with him was Titus, who was afterwards so much distinguished as his com But there rose up, &c.- It has been doubted
panion. (Gal. ii. 3.) About this question.— The whether these are the words of Paul and Barnai question whether the ceremonial laws of Moses bas, relating what occurred at Antioch; or whe
tere binding on Christian converts. In regard ther they are the words of Luke, recording what to the nature and design of this council at Jeru- | took place at Jerusalem. The correct exposition salem, see Note on ver, 30, 31.
is probably that which refers it to the latter.
For, (1.) This seems to be the most obvious inVER. 3. And being e brought on their way by
terpretation. (2.) The use of the words " rose
| up" implies that. Those who disturbed the the church, they passed through Phenice and
church at Antioch are said to have come down Samaria, declaring the conversion of the
from Judea, (rer, 1 ;) and if this place referred Gentiles : and they caused great joy 8 unto to that occurrence, the same words would have all the brethren.
been retained. (3.) The particular specification
here of “the sect of the Pharisees," looks as if e Rom. xv. 24. 1 Cor. xvi. 6, 11. 3 John 6.
this was an occurrence taking place at JerusaI Chap. xiv. 27. 9 Luke xv. 7, 10.
Ilem. No such specification exists respecting And being brought on their way by the church. those who came down to Antioch; but it would Being attended and condacted by the Christian seem here, as if this party in Jerusalem resolved still to abide by the law, and to impose those And God, which knoweth the hearts.-(Chap. i. rites on the Christian converts. However, this | 24.) God thus knew whether they were true interpretation is by no means certain. Which | converts or not, and gave a demonstration that believed.-Who maintained or taught. That it he acknowledged them as bis. Giving the thi was needful, &c.— Note, ver. 1.
Holy Ghost, &c.—Chap. X. 45, 46.
VER. 6. And the apostles and elders came toge- | VER. 9. And put no difference between us and ther for to consider of this matter.
them, purifying " their hearts by faith. k Matt. xviii. 20.
» Heb. ix. 13, 14. 1 Pet. i. 22. And the apostles and elders, &c.—They came And put no difference, &c.-- Though they had together in accordance with the authority in not been circumcised, and though they did not Matt. xviii. 19, 20. It would seem, also, that conform to the law of Moses. Thus God showed the whole church was convened on this occasion ; that the observance of these rites was not necesand that they concurred, at least, in the judg sary in order to the true conversion of men, and ment expressed in this case. See ver. 12, 22, 23. to acceptance with him. He did not give us, who For to consider of this matter.-Not to decide it ar are Jews, any advantage over them, but justified bitrarily, or even by authority, without delibera and purified all in the same manner. Purifying
on; but to compare their views, and to express their hearts.-Thus giving the best evidence that the result of the whole to the church at Antioch. he had renewed them, and admitted them to fa. It was a grave and difficult question, deeply vour with him. By faith.—By believing on the affecting the entire constitution of the Christian Lord Jesus Christ. This showed that the plan church, and they therefore solemnly engaged in
on which God was now about to show favour to :
on which God was now deliberation on the subject.
men, was not by external rites and ceremonies,
but by a scheme which required faith as the only VER. 7. And when there had been much disput
condition of acceptance. It is further implied
here, that there is no true faith which does not ing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men
purify the heart. and brethren, ye know ' how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gen Ver. 10. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to tiles by my mouth should hear the word of the put a yoke o upon the neck of the disciples, gospel, and believe.
which neither our fathers nor we were able to I Matt. xvi.:18, 19; chap. x. 20.
o Gal. v. 1. Much disputing.–Or, rather, much inquiry, or deliberation. With our word “disputing" we Why tempt ye God ?— Why provoke him to commonly connect the idea of heat and anger. | displeasure? Why, since he has shown his de This is not necessarily implied in the word used termination to accept them without such rites here. It might have been calm, solemn, deliberate do you provoke him by attempting to impose on inquiry, and there is no evidence that it was his own people rites without his authority, and conducted with undue warmth or anger. Peter against his manifest will? The argument is, rose up, and said. — Peter was probably the that God had already accepted them. To attempt most aged, and was most accustomed to speak. to impose these rites would be to provoke him to (Chap. ii. 14, &c.; ii. 6, 12.) Besides, there was anger; to introduce observances which he had a particular reason for his speaking here, as he shown it was his purpose should now be abolished. had been engaged in similar scenes, and under To put a yoke.—That which would be burden. stood the case, and had had evidence that God | some and oppressive, or which would infringe on had converted sinners without the Mosaic rites, their just freedom, as the children of God. It is and knew that it would have been inexpedient to called in Gal. v. 1, "a yoke of bondage." Note, have imposed these rites on those who had thus Matt. xxiii. 4. A yoke is an emblem of slarery been converted. A good while ago.--See chap. x. | or bondage, (1 Tim. vi. 1 ;) or of affliction, (Lar.. Some time since. So long since, that there had iii. 27 ;) or of punishment, (Lam. i. 14;) or of been opportunity to ascertain whether it was ne- oppressive and burdensome ceremonies, as in this cessary to observe the laws of Moses in order to place; or of the restraints of Christianity. (Matt. the edification of the church. God made choice, xi. 29, 30.) In this place they are called “3 &c.- That is, of all the apostles, he designated yoke," because, (1.) They were burdensome and me to engage in this work. Comp. Note, Matt. xvi. | oppressive; and, (2.) Because they would be an 18, with Acts x. That the Gentiles.--Cornelius, | infringement of Christian freedom. One design and those who were assembled with him at Casa of the gospel was to set men free from such rites rea. This was the first case that had occurred, and ceremonies. The yoke here referred to is and therefore it was important to appeal to it. not the moral law, and the just restraints of reli
gion, but the ceremonial laws and customs of the VER. 8. And God, which on knoweth the hearts, Jews. Which neither our fathers, &c.- Which bare them witness, giving them the Holy
have been found burdensome at all times. They
were expensive, and painful, and oppressire: and Ghost, even as he did unto us :
as they had been found to be so, it was not prom Chap. i. 24.
per to impose them on the Gentile converts, but
should rather rejoice at any evidence that the (comp. 1 Cor. xv. 7;) and it seems morally cerpeople of God might be delivered from them. | tain that he remained for a considerable part of Were able to bear.- Which are found to be op- | his life in Jerusalem. (Acts xii. 17; xxi. 18. Gal. pressire and burdensome.
e. They were attended
They were attended i. 19; ii. 9, 12.) with great inconvenience, and many transgressions, as the consequence.
VER, 14. Simeon bath declared "how God at Ver. 11. But we believe that through the
the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be
them a people for his name. saved, even as they.
y Luke ii. 31, 32. p Rom. ii. 34. Eph. ii. 8. Tit. iii. 4,5.
Simeon. - This is a Hebrew name. The But we believe. We apostles, who have been Greek mode of writing it commonly was “ Sii vith them, and have seen the evidences of their
have seen the evidences of their | mon.” It was one of the names of Peter. (Matt. acceptance with God. Through the grace, &c.—
iv. 18.) To take out of them a people.—To choose By the grace or mercy of Christ alone, without
from among the Gentiles those who should be his any of the rites and ceremonies of the Jews.
friends. We shall be saved, even as they. In the same manner, by the mere grace of Christ. So far Ver. 15. And to this agree the words of the | from being necessary to their salvation, they are
prophets ; as it is written, | really of no use in ours. We are to be saved, not by these ceremonies, but by the mere mercy
s Amos ix. 11, 12. of God in the Redeemer. They should not,
The words of the prophets.—(Amos ix. 11, 12.) therefore, be imposed on others.
It was a very material point with them, as Jews, VER. 12. Then all the multitude kept silence,
to inquire whether this was in accordance with
tbe predictions of the Scriptures. The most powand gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, de
erful revivals of religion, and the most striking claring what miracles and wonders God had demonstrations of the divine presence, will be in wrought among the Gentiles by them.
accordance with the Bible; and should be tested
by it. This habit was always manifested by 9 Chap. xiv. 27.
the apostles and early Christians, and should be
followed by Christians at all times. Unless a Then all the multitude.-Evidently the multi
supposed work of grace accords with the Bible, tude of private Christians who were assembled
and can be defended by it, it must be false, and on this occasion. That it does not refer to a
should be opposed. Comp. Isa. viii. 20. synod of ministers and elders merely, is apparent, (1.) Because the church, the brethren, are represented as having been present, and concur
VER. 16. After this I will return, and will build ring in the final opinion, (ver. 22, 23 ;) and, (2.) again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen Because the word “multitude" (TÒ 77305) down; and I will build again the ruins thereFould not have been used in describing the col
of, and I will set it up: lection of apostles and elders merely.-Comp. ! Lake i. 10, 11, 13; v. 6; vi. 17; xix. 37. John
After this.—This quotation is not made liter1.3; xxi. 6. Acts iv. 32; vi. 2. Matt. iii. 7.
ally either from the Hebrew, or the Septuagint, Gave audience.-Heard, listened attentively to. which differs also from the Hebrew. The 17th Barnabas and Paul.—They were deeply inte verse is quoted literally from the Septuagint; but rested in it; and they were qualified to give a fair in the 16th the general sense only of the passage statement of the facts as they had occurred. De | is retained. The main point of the quotation, cturing what miracles and wonders, &c.—The ar- | as made by James, was, to show that, according gument here evidently is, that God had approved
to the prophets, it was contemplated that the their work by miracles; that he gave evidence Gentiles should be introduced to the privileges of that what they did had his approbation ; and that the children of God; and on this point the pasas all this was done without imposing on them sage has a direct bearing. The prophet Amos the rites of the Jews, so it would follow that (ix. 8—10) had described the calamities that those were not now to be commanded.
should come upon the nation of the Jews, by
their being scattered and driven away. This Ver. 13. And after they had held their peace, | implied that the city of Jerusalem, and the tem
James answered, saying, Men and brethren, ple, and the walls of the city, should be destroyed. bearken unto me :
But “after that,” (Heb. "on that day,” ver. 11,
that is, the day when he should revisit them, and James answered.James the Less, son of Al- | recover them,) he would restore them to their pheus. See Note, chap. xi. 1. Hearken unto former privileges, would rebuild their temple, RE. - This whole transaction shows that Peter their city, and their walls. (Ver. 11.) And not had no such authority in the church as the Pa- only so, not only should the blessing descend on pists pretend, for otherwise his opinion would the Jews, but it should also be extended to others. have been followed without debate. James had The “remnant of Edom," “ the heathen upon an authority not less than that of Peter. It is whom” his “ name would be called,” (Amos ix. possible that he might have been next in age, 12,) should also partake of the mercy of God, and
be subject to the Jewish people ; and a time of) were not Jews. This was a clear prediction that general prosperity and of permanent blessings other nations were to be favoured with the light should follow. (Amos ix. 13-15.) James un- 1 of the true religion, and that without any menderstands this as referring to the times of the tion of their conforming to the rites of the JevMessiah, and to the introduction of the gospel to | ish people. Upon whom my name is called.--Wibo the Gentiles. And so the passage (Amos ix. 12) | are called by my name, or who are regarded by is rendered in the Septuagint. See ver. 17. I will me as iny people. Who doeth all these things. return.- When the people of God are subjected | That is, who will certainly accomplish this in its to calamities and trials, it is often represented as time. if God had departed from them. This “ returning." therefore, is an image of their restoration VER. 18. Known' unto God are all his works to his favour, and to prosperity. This is not, from the beginning of the world. however, in the Hebrew, in Amos ix. 11. I will build again.-In the calamities that should come
4Num. xxiii. 19. Isa. xlvi. 10. upon the nation, (Amos ix. 8,) it is implied that
Knoun unto God, &c.-Note, chap. i. 24. The ! the temple and the city should be destroyed. To build them again would be a proof of his return
| meaning of this verse, in this connexion, is this. ing favour. The tabernacle of David. The tent
God sees every thing future; he knows what he of David. Here it means the house, or royal re
will accomplish; he has a plan; and all his works sidence of David, and the kings of Israel. That
are so arranged in his mind, that he sees all' is, he would restore them to their former glory
things distinctly and clearly. As he foretold
these, it was a part of his plan ; and as it was a and splendour, as his people. The reference here is not to the temple, which was the work of So
part of his plan long since foretold, it should not lomon, but to the magnificence and splendour of
be opposed and resisted by us. the dwelling place of David ; that is, to the full
VER. 19. Wherefore my sentence is, that we enjoyment of their former high privileges and blessings. Which is fullen down.- Which would
trouble not them, which from among the Genbe destroyed by the captivity under the king of tiles are turned u to God: Babylon, and by the long neglect and decay resulting from their being carried to a distant land.
u 1 Thess, i. 9. The ruins thereof.- Heb. “ close up the breaches thereof." That is, it should be restored to its
My sentence.- Greek, I judge (koivw;) that is,
| I give my opinion. It is the usual language in former prosperity and magnificence; an emblem
which a judge delivers his opinion ; but it does of the favour of God, and of the spiritual blessings that should in future times descend on the
not imply here that James assumed authority to Jewish people.
settle the case, but merely that he gave his opinion, or counsel. That we trouble not them.
That we do not molest, disturb, or oppress them, VER. 17. That the residue of men might seek | by imposing on them unnecessary and burden. i,
after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon some rites and ceremonies. whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who
VER. 20. But that we write unto them, that doeth all these things.
they abstain from pollutions of idols, and That the residue of men.—This verse is quoted from fornication, w and from things strangled, literally from the Septuagint, and differs in some and from * blood. respects from the Hebrew. The phrase "the
v Exod. xx. 4, 5. residue of men” here, is evidently understood,
1 Cor. viii. 1, &c.; X. 28.
Rev. ii. 14, 20; ix, 20. both by the LXX. and by James, as referring to
w 1 Cor. vi. 9, 18. Col. iii. 5. 1 Thess. iv, 3. others than Jews, to the Gentiles. The rest of
* Lev. xvii. 14. Deut. xii, 16, 23. the world-implying that many of them would be admitted to the friendship and favour of God. That we write unto them. - Expressing our The Hebrew is, “ that they may possess the rem- / judgment, or our views of the case. This verse nant of Edom." This change is made in the has greatly perplexed commentators. The main Septuagint by a slight difference in the reading grounds of difficulty have been, (1.) Why forof two Hebrew words. The LXX., instead of nication-an offence against the moral law, and the Hebrew 17,“ shall inherit,” read 1997, | about which there could be no dispute-should “ shall seek of thee;" and instead of 172, have been included ; and, (2.) Whether the pro
“ Edom," they read $78, “ man,” or “ man- | hibition to abstain from blood is still bioding kind,” i, e. men. Why this variation occurred, That they abstain.-That they refrain from these cannot be explained; but the sense is not mate- | things, or wholly avoid them. Pollutions of rially different. In the Hebrew, the word “ Edom” | idols.—The word rendered pollutions means ans has undoubted reference to another nation thankind of defilement. But here it is evidently the Jewish ; and the expression means, that in used to denote the flesh of those animals that the great prosperity of the Jews, after their re-were offered in sacrifice to idols. See ver. 99. turn, they should extend the influence of their | That flesh, after being offered in sacrifice, was religion to other nations; that is, as James ap- often exposed for sale in the markets, or was plies it, the Gentiles might be brought to the served up at feasts. (1 Cor. x. 25-29.) It be privileges of the children of God. And also the came a very important question whether it was Gentiles.--Heb. “ All the heathen;" i. e. all who | right for Christians to partake of it. The Jews
would contend that it was, in fact, partaking of mote it. A mass of evidence on this subject idolatry. The Gentile converts would allege which sickens the heart—but which would be that they did not eat it as a sacrifice to idols, or too long and too indelicate to introduce hereI lend their countenance in any way to the idol may be seen in Tholuck's Nature and Moral Inatrous worship where it had been offered. See fluence of Heathenism, in the Biblical Reposithis subject discussed at length in 1 Cor. viii. 4 tory, for July, 1832, pp. 441-464. As this vice -13. As idolatry was forbidden to the Jews in was almost universal; as it was practised without every form, and as partaking even of the sacri | shame or disgrace; as there were no laws among fices to idols, in their feasts, might seem to coun the heathen to prevent it; as it was connected tenance idolatry, the Jews would be utterly op with all their views of idol worship, and of reliposed to it; and for the sake of peace, James gion ; it was important for the early Christians advised that they be recommended to abstain to frown upon and to oppose it, and to set a pefrom this. To partake of that food might not culiar guard against it in all the churches. It be morally wrong, 1 Cor. viii. 4, but it would was the sin to which, of all others, they were the give occasion for scandal and offence; and, there most exposed, and which was most likely to bring fore, as a matter of expediency, it was advised scandal on the Christian religion. It is for this that they should abstain from it. And from for cause that it is so often and so pointedly forbidnication. The word used here (opvaia) is ap den in the New Testament. (Rom. i. 29. 1 Cor. plicable to all illicit intercourse; and may refer vi. 13, 18. Gal. v. 19. Eph. v. 3. 1 Thess. iv. to adultery, incest, and licentiousness in any 3.) And from things strangled. - That is, from form. There has been much diversity of opinion animals or birds that were killed without shedin regard to this expression. Interpreters have ding their blood. The reason why these were been greatly perplexed to understand why this considered by the Jews unlawful to be eaten was, violation of the moral law has been introduced that thus they would be under a necessity of eatamidst the violations of the ceremonial law; and | ing blood, which was positively forbidden by the the question is naturally asked, whether this was law. Hence it was commanded in the law, that a sin about which there could be any debate be | when any beast or fowl was taken in a snare, the tween the Jewish and Gentile converts? Were blood should be poured out before it was lawful there any who would practise it, or plead that to be eaten. (Lev. xvii. 13.) And from blood, it was lawful ? If not, why is it prohibited | - The eating of blood was strictly forbidden to here? Various interpretations have been pro the Jews. The reason of this was that it conposed. Some have supposed that James re. tained the life. (Lev. xvii. 11, 14.) See Note fers here to the offerings which harlots would on Rom. iii. 25. The use of blood was common make of their gains to the service of religion, | among the Gentiles. They drank it often at and that James would prohibit the reception of their sacrifices, and in making covenants or comit. Beza, Selden, and Schleusner suppose the pacts. To separate the Jews from them in this word is taken for idolatry, as it is often repre- | respect was one design of the prohibition. See sented in the Scriptures as consisting in unfaith Spencer, De Leg. Hebræ. pp. 144, 145, 169, 235, falness to God, and as it is often called adultery. | 377, 381, 594. Ed. 1732. See also this whole Heringius supposes that marriage between idol passage examined at length in Spencer, pp. 588 aters and Christians is here intended. But, after —626. The primary reason of the prohibition all, the usual interpretation of the word, as re-was, that it was thus used in the feasts and comferring to illicit intercourse of the sexes of any pacts of idolaters. That blood was thus drunk kind, is undoubtedly here to be retained. There | by the heathens, particularly by the Sabians, in is no reason for departing from the ordinary and | their sacritices, is fully proved by Spencer, De usual meaning of the word. If it be asked, | Leg. pp. 377–380. But the prohibition specifies then, why this was particularly forbidden, and a higher reason, that the life is in the blood, and was introduced in this connexion? we may reply, I that therefore it should not be eaten. On this (1.) That this vice prevailed every where among opinion see Note, Rom. iii. 25. This reason exthe Gentiles, and was that to which all were par- isted before any ceremonial law ; is founded in ticularly exposed. (2.) That it was not deemed the nature of things ; has no particular reference or the Gentiles disgraceful. It was practised to any custom of the Jews; and therefore is as without shame, and without remorse. (Terence, forcible in any other circumstances as in theirs. Adelph. 1, 2, 21.) See Grotius. It was import It was proper, therefore, to forbid it to the early ant, therefore, that the pure laws of Christianity Christian converts ; and for the same reason its on this subject should be known, and that special use should be abstained from every where. It paios should be taken to instruct the early con adds to the force of these remarks, when we reverts from paganisin in those laws. The same member that the same principle was settled bething is necessary still in heathen lands. (3.) |fore the laws of Moses were given; and that This crime was connected with religion. It was God regarded the fact that the life was in the the practice not only to introduce indecent pic- | blood as of so much importance as to make the tures and emblems into their worship, but also shedding of it worthy of death. (Gen. ix, 4-6.) for females to devote themselves to the service of It is supposed, therefore, that this law is still obparticular temples, and to devote the avails ofligatory. Perhaps also there is no food more idiscriminate prostitution to the service of the unwholesome than blood ; and it is a further cirgod, or the goddess. The vice was connected cumstance of some moment that all men natuwith no sinall part of the pagan worship ; and rally revolt from it as an article of food. the images, the emblems, and the customs of sulairy every where tended to sanction and pro- | VER. 21. For Moses of old time hath in every