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city them that preach him, being y read in Leaders. Comp. Luke xxii. 26. Men of inflathe synagogues every sabbath day.
ence, experience, and authority in the church.
Judas and Silas are said to have been prophets. y Chap. xiii. 15, 27.
(Ver. 32.) They had, therefore, been engaged
as preachers and rulers in the church at Jeru- ' For Moses.—The meaning of this verse is, that the law of Moses, prohibiting these things, was read in the synagogues constantly. As these Ver. 23. And they wrote letters by them after commands were constantly read, and as the Jew
this manner: The apostles, and elders, and breish converts would not soon learn that their ceremonial law had ceased to be binding, it was
thren, send greeting unto the brethren which :' deemed to be a matter of expediency that no are of the Gentiles in Antioch, and Syria, and I needless offence should be given to them. For Cilicia. the sake of peace, it was better that they should abstain from meat offered to idols than to give And wrote letters.-Greek, “having written." offence to the Jewish converts. Comp. I Cor. It does not mean that they wrote more than one !! viii. 10-13. Of old time.—Greek, From ancient |
epistle. By them.-Greek, By their hand. After generations. It is an established custom ; and
| this manner.-Greek, These things. Send greettherefore his laws are well known, and have, in ing.--A word of salutation, expressing their des their view, not only the authority of revelation, sire of the happiness (xalotiv) of the person but the venerableness of antiquity. In every city. addressed. Comp. Matt. xxvi. 49; xxvii. 29. Where there were Jews. This was the case
Luke i. 28. John xix. 3. In Antioch.- Where il in all the cities to which the discussion here had the difficulty first arose. And Syria.—Antioch reference. Them that preach him.-- That is, by was the capital of Syria, and it is probable that ! reading the law of Moses. But in addition to
the dispute was not confined to the capital. And reading the law, it was customary also to offer
Cilicia.-Note, Acts vi. 9. Cilicia was adjacent an explanation of its meaning. See Notes on to Syria. Paul and Barnabas had travelled Luke iv. 16-22.
through it; and it is probable that the same dif
ficulty would exist there which had disturbed the VER. 22. Then pleased it the apostles and elders,
les and elders. | churches in Syria. with the whole church, to send chosen men of
VER. 24. Forasmuch as we have heard that certheir own company to Antioch with Paul and
tain a which went out from us have troubled 5 Barnabas, namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas,
you with words, o subverting your souls, sav. - and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
ing, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the Chap. i. 23.
law; to whom d we gave no such command- il
ment: Then it pleased. It seemed fit and proper to them. The apostles and elders.-To whom the a Ver. 1. 6 Gal. v. 12. c Gal. v. 4. d Gal. ii. 4.!! business had been particularly referred. (Ver. 2. Comp. chap. xvi. 4.) With the whole church.-All Forasmuch.-Since we have heard. That cer. the Christians who were there assembled toge tain.— That some. (Ver. 1.) Have troubled ou ther. They concurred in the sentiment, and ex- with words.— With doctrines. They have dis. pressed their approbation in the letter that was turbed your minds, and produced contentions. sent. (Ver. 23.) Whether they were consulted, Subverting your souls.—The word here used ocdoes not particularly appear. But as it is not curs nowhere else in the New Testament (araprobable that they would volunteer an opinion GREVÉ OVTES). It properly means to collect togeunless they were consulted, it seems most rea ther the vessels used in a house-the household sonable to suppose that the apostles and elders furniture--for the purpose of removing it. It is submitted the case to them for their approbation.! applied to marauders, robbers, and enemies, who It would seem that the apostles and elders deli- remove and bear off property; thus producing berated on it, and decided it; but still, for the distress, confusion, and disorder. It is thus used sake of peace and unity, they also took measures in the sense of disturbing, or destroying; and to ascertain that their decision agreed with the here denotes that they unsettled their minds; unanimous sentiment of the church. Chosen that they produced anxiety, disturbance, and dis. men.- Men chosen for this purpose. Of their tress, by these doctrines about Moses. To uchom our company.-From among themselves. Greater we gave no such commandment. They went, there. weight and authority would thus be attached to fore without authority. Self-constituted and selftheir message. Judas surnamed Barsabas,- sent teachers not upfrequently produce disturbPossibly the same who was nominated to the va- | ance and distress. Had the apostles been concant place in the apostleship. (Chap. i. 23.) But sulted on this subject, the difficulty would have Grotius supposes that it was his brother. And been avoided. By thus saying that they had not Silas.-He was afterwards the travelling compa- | given them a command to teach these things, nion of Paul. (Ver. 40. chap. xvi. 25, 29 ; xvii. they practically assured the Gentile conreris 4, 10, 15.) He is also the same person, probably, that they did not approve of the course which who is mentioned by the name of Silvan's. (2 those who went from Judea had taken. Cor. i. 19. i Thess. i. 1. 2 Thess. i. 1. 1 Pet. v. 12.) Chief men among the brethren.-Greck, VER. 25. It seemed good unto us, being assem
bled with one accord, to send chosen men ! VER. 31. Which when they had read, they reunto you, with our beloved Barnabas and joiced for the i consolation. Paul;
j or, exhortation. 26. Men that have hazarded - their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
They rejoiced for the consolation. They ac
quiesced in the decision of the apostles and e Chap. xiii. 50; xiv. 19.
elders, and rejoiced that they were not to be
subjected to the burdensome rites and ceremonies Men that hare hazarder their lives, &c.—See of the Jewish religion. This closes the account chap. xiv. This was a noble testimony to the of the first Christian council. It was conducted character of Barnabas and Paul. It was a com- | throughout on Christian principles, in a mild, mendation of them to the confidence of the kind, conciliatory spirit; and is a model for all churches, and an implied expression that they similar assemblages. It came together, not to wished their authority to be regarded in the esta
promote, but to silence disputation ; not to perblishment and organization of the church. For
secute the people of God, but to promote their the name. - In the cause of the Lord Jesus. peace; not to be a scene of harsh and angry re
crimination, but to be an example of all that was VER. 27. We have sent therefore Judas and
mild, and tender, and kind. Those who comSilas, who shall also tell you the same things posed it came together, not to carry a point, not to by mouth.
overreach their adversaries, not to be party men;
but to mingle their sober counsels, to inquire f word.
what was right, and to express, in a Christian
manner, that which was proper to be done. The same things. The same things that we
Great and important principles were to be estawrote to you. They shall confirm all by their
blished, in regard to the Christian church; and own statements.
they engaged in their work evidently with a deep
sense of their responsibility, and with a just view VER. 28. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost,
of their dependence on the aid of the Holy and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden Spirit. How happy would it have been if this 8 than these necessary things ;
spirit had been possessed by all professedly
Christian councils! How happy, if all had really g Rev. ii. 24.
sought the peace and harmony of the churches;
and if none had ever been convened to kindle For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost.-- This
1s the fires of persecution, to evince the spirit of is a strong and undoubted claim to inspiration.
1 party, or to reud and destroy the church of It was with special reference to the organization
God! of the church, that the Holy Spirit had been pro
This council has been usually appealed to as mised to them by the Lord Jesus. (Matt. xviii.
the authority for councils in the church, as a 18-20. John xiv. 26.) No greater burden.
permanent arrangement; and especially as an To impose no greater restraints; io enjoin. no authority for courts of appeal and control. But other observances. See Note, ver. 10. Thanit
han it establishes neither, and should be brought as these necessary things.- Necessary, (1.) In order
an authority for neither. For, (1.) It was not a to preserve the peace of the church. (2.) To
court of appeal in any intelligible sense. It was conciliate the minds of the Jewish converts.
an assembly convened for a special purpose; de(Ver. 21.) (3.) Necessary in their circumstances,
signed to settle an inquiry which arose in a parparticularly, because the crime which is specified
ticular part of the church, and which required licentiousness-was one to which all early con- !
the collected wisdom of the apostles and elders verts were particularly exposed. Note, ver. 20.
to settle. (2.) It had none of the marks or ap
pendages of a court. The term court, or judiVER. 29. That ye abstain ” from meats offered cature, is nowhere applied to it; nor to any to idols, and from blood, and from things assembly of Christian men, in the New Testa
ment. Nor should these terms be used now in strangled, and from fornication : from which
the churches. Courts of judicature imply a deif ye keep ' yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare
gree of authority, which cannot be proved from ye well.
the New Testament to have been conceded to h Ver. 20.
any ecclesiastical body of men. (3.) There is i 2 Cor. xi. 9. James i. 27. 1 John v. 21. Jude 20, 21. not the slightest intimation that any thing like
permanency was to be attached to this council; From meats offered to idols. This explains or that it would be periodically or regularly rewhat is meant by “pollutions of idols.” (Ver. peated. It will prove, indeed, that when cases of 20.) Ye shall do well.-You will do what ought difficulty occur; when Christians are perplexed to be done in regard to the subjects of dispute. and embarrassed; or when contentions arise, it
will be proper to refer to Christian men for adVer. 30. So when they were dismissed, they
vice and direction. Such was the case here; and
such a course is obviously proper. If it should came to Antioch ; and when they had gather
be maintained that it is well that Christian mined the multitude together, they delivered the isters and laymen should assemble periodically, epistle :
at stated intervals, on the supposition that such
cases may arise, this is conceded; but the exam-] A space.-- For some time. They were let go in ple of the apostles and elders should not be peace.-- An expression implying that they de pleaded as making such assemblies of divine parted with the affectionate regard of the Chrisright and authority, or as being essential to the tians to whom they had ministered, and with existence of a church of God. Such an arrange their highest wishes for their prosperity. (1 Cor. ment has been deemed to be so desirable by | xvi. ll. 2 John 10.) Silas, however, it seems Christians, that it has been adopted by Episco- chose to remain. Unto the apostles.- At Jerusa. palians in their regular annual and triennial con- lem. Many MSS. however, instead of “ unto ventions; by Methodists in their conferences; the apostles," read, “unto those who had sent by Presbyterians in their general assembly; them.” The sense is not materially different. by Friends in their yearly meetings; by Baptists and Congregationalists in their associa
| Ver. 34. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to tions, &c. But the example of the council sum
abide there still. moned on a special emergency at Jerusalem, should not be pleaded as giving divine authority
Notwithstanding, &c.- This whole verse is to all, or to any of these periodical assemblages.
• wanting in many MSS. in the Syriac, Arabic, They are wise and prudent arrangements, con
and Coptic versions; and is regarded as spurious tributing to the peace of the church; and the
by Mill, Griesbach, and by other critics. It was example of the council at Jerusalem can be ad- |
probably introduced by some early transcriber, duced as furnishing as much divine authority for
who judged it necessary to complete the Larra. one as for another; that is, it does not make all
tive. The Latin Vulgate reads, “It seemed or either of them of divine authority, or as obli
good to Silas to remain, but Judas went alone to gatory on the church of God. (4.) It should be
Jerusalem." added, that a degree of authority (comp. chap. xvi. 4,) would, of course, be attached to the de
Ver. 35. Paul also and Barnabas continued in cision of the apostles and elders at that time, which cannot be to any body of ministers and Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of laymen now. Besides it should never be forgot the Lord, with many others also. ten-what, alas! it seems to have been the pleasure and the interest of ecclesiastics to forget Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch. that neither the apostles nor the elders asserted -How long a time is unknown. It is probable any jurisdiction over the churches of Antioch, / that at this time the unhadov
that at this time the unhappy incident occurred i Syria, and Cilicia ; that they did not claim a right between Paul and Peter, which is recorded in 1 to have these cases referred to them; that they Gal. ii. 11-14. did not attempt “to lord it” over their faith or their consciences. The case was a single, speci VER. 36. And some days after, Paul said unto fic, definite question, referred to them; and they
Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our decided it as such. They asserted no abstract
brethren in mevery city where we have right of such jurisdiction ; they sought not to intermeddle with it; they enjoined no future re
preached the word of the Lord, and see hoy ference to them, to their successors, or to any they do. ecclesiastical tribunal. They evidently regarded
m Chap. xiii. 4, &c. the churches as blessed with the most ample freedom; and evidently contemplated no arrange
Let us go again and visit our brethren.-That is, ment of a permanent character, asserting a right in the churches which they had established in Asia to legislate on articles of faith, or to make laws
( Chap. xiii. xiv.) This was a natural for the direction of the Lord's freemen.
wish; and was an enterprise that might be at
tended with important advantages to those feeVER. 32. And Judas and Silas, being prophets | ble churches,
also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed k them.
VER. 37. And Barnabas determined to take with Chap. xiv, 22.
them John, ” whose surname was Mark. Being prophets. See Note, chap. xi. 27. This
n Chap. xii. 12, 25. Col. iv. 10. evidently implies that they had been preachers But Barnabas determined.- Greek, Willed, or before they went to Antioch. What was the was disposed to (BovAxuoato). John, &c.precise nature of the office of a “prophet" in the Note, chap. xii. 12. He had been with them Christian church, it is not easy to ascertain.
before as a travelling companion. (Chap. xii. Possibly it may imply that they were teachers
25 ; xiii. 5.) He was the son of a sister of Bar- ! of unusual or remarkable ability. Confirmed
nabas, (Col. iv. 10,) and it is probable that Bar them.-Strengthened them ; that is, by their in
nabas' affection for his nephew was the main structions and exhortations. Note, chap. xiv. 22.
reason for inducing him to wish to take him !
with him in the journey. VER. 33. And after they had tarried there a
space, they were let go’in peace from the | VER. 38. But Paul thought not good to take him brethren unto the apostles.
with them, who departed from them from 1 1 Cor. xvi. 11. 2 John 10.
o Chap. xiii. 13.
Pamphylia, and went not with them to the gospel. They went to different places, and work.
preached to different people. It often happens
that the unhappy and wicked strifes of Christians But Paul thought not good.–Did not think it are the means of exciting their zeal, and of exproper. Because he could not confide in his tending the gospel, and of establishing churches. perseverance with them in the toils and perils
But no thanks to their contention ; nor is the of their journey. Who departed from them, &c.
guilt of their anger and strife mitigated by this. ---(Chap. xii. 13.) Why he did this is not known.
I (4.) This difference was afterwards reconciled, It was evidently, however, for some cause which
and Paul and Barnabas again became travelling Paul did not consider satisfactory, and which in
companions. (1 Cor. ix. 6. Gal. ii. 9.) (5.) his view disqualified him from being their atten
There is evidence that Paul also became recondant again. "To the work.-Of preaching the
ciled to John Mark. (Col. iv. 10. Philem. 24.
2 Tim. iv. 11.) How long this separation congospel.
tinued is not known; but perhaps in this journey VER. 39. And the contention was so sharp be
with Barnabas, John gave such evidence of his
courage and zeal as induced Paul again to adtween them, that they departed asunder one
mit him to his confidence as a travelling comfrom the other : and so Barnabas took Mark, panion, and as to become a profitable fellowand sailed unto Cyprus ;
labourer. See 2 Tim. iv. 11, " Take Mark and
| bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me And the contention was so sharp.-'The word used for the ministry.” (6.) This account proves that bere (aoof vouoc) is that from which our word there was no collusion or agreement among the paroxysm is derived. It may denote any ex- apostles to impose upon mankind. Had there citement of mind, and is used in a good sense in been such an agreement, and had the books of the Heb. X. 24. It here means evidently a violent New Testament been an imposture, the apostles altercation that resulted in their separation for a would have been represented as perfectly hartime, and in their engaging in different spheres monious, and as united in all their views and of labour. And sailed unto Cyprus.—This was
efforts. What impostor would have thought of be paive place of Barnabas. Kote, chap. iv. 36. | the device of representing the early friends of
the Christian religion as divided, and contending !
and separating from each other? Such a stateVER. 40. And Paul chose Silas, and departed,
ment has an air of candour and honesty, and at being recommended p by the brethren unto the same time is apparently so much against the the grace of God.
truth of the system, that no impostor would have
thought of resorting to it. p Chap. xiv. 26; xx. 32. Being recommended.-Being commended by prayer to God. Note, chap. xiv. 26.
CHAPTER XVI. Ver. 41. And he went through Syria and Cilicia,
VER. 1. Then came he to Derbe " and Lystra : confirming the churches.
and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named 9 Chap. xvi. 5.
Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, Syria and Cilicia,- These were countries lying
which was a Jewess, and believed; but his near to each other, which Paul, in company with father was a Greek; Barnabas, had before visited. Confirming the churches.-Strengthening them by instruction
r Chap. xiv. 6. Chap. xix. 22. Rom. xvi. 21.
1 Cor. iv. 17. 12 Tim. i. 3. and exhortation. It has no reference to the rite of confirmation. See Note, Acts xiv. 22. Then came he.—That is, Paul, in company with
In regard to this unhappy contention between | Silas. Luke does not give us the history of Paul and Barnabas, and their separation from each | Barnabas, but confines his narrative to the jour-'| other, we may make the following remarks. (1.) | ney of Paul. To Derbe and Lystra.--Note : That no apology or vindication of it is offered by chap. xiv. 6. And, behold, a certain disciple named the sacred writer. It was undoubtedly improper Timotheus. It was to this disciple that Paul and evil. It was a melancholy instance in which afterwards addressed the two epistles which bear even apostles evinced an improper spirit, and his name. It is evident that he was a native of engaged in improper strife. (2.) In this conten- one of these places, but whether of Derbe or tion it is probable that Paul was, in the main, | Lystra it is impossible to determine. The son of right. Barnabas seems to have been influenced a certain woman, &c.-Her name was Eunice. by attachment to a relative; Paul sought a helper (2 Tim. i. 5.) And believed. And was a Chriswho would not shrink from duty and danger. tian. It is evident also that her mother was a It is clear that Paul had the sympathies and woman of distinguished Christian piety. (2 Tim. prayers of the church in his favour, (ver. 40,) | i. 5.) It was not lawful for a Jew to marry a and it is more than probable that Barnabas de- | woman of another nation, or to give his daughter parted without any such sympathy. (Ver. 39.) in marriage to a Gentile. (Ezra ix. 12.) But it (3.) There is reason to think that this conten- | is probable that this law was not regarded verv tion was overruled for the furtherance of the strictly by the Jews who lived in the midst of
heathen nations. It is evident that Timothy, at “ And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I, this time, was very young; for when Paul be- might gain the Jews.” Comp. Acts xxi. 23—26. sought him to abide at Ephesus, to take charge of the church there, (1 Tim. i. 3,) he addressed VER. 4. And as they went through the cities! him then as a young man. 1 Tim. iv, 12, “Let
they delivered them the decrees for to keep, no man despise thy youth.” But his father was a Greek.--Evidently a man who had not been
that were ordained * of the apostles and elders circumcised, for had he been, Timothy would which were at Jerusalem. have been also.
# Chap. xv. 28, 29 VER. 2. Which was well « reported of by the And as they went through the cities. The cities brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.
of Syria, Cilicia, &c. They delivered them.--
Paul and Silas delivered to the Christians in w Chap. vi. 3. 1 Tim. v. 10. Heb. xi. 2.
those cities. The decrees, Tà coyuara.-The de
crees in regard to the four things specified in Which.—That is, Timothy. The connexion chap. xv. 20, 29. The word translated “decrees" requires us to understand this of him. Of the occurs in Luke ii. 1, “A decree from Caxar character of his father nothing is known. Was Augustus ;" in Acts xvii. 7, “The decrees of well reported of:—Was esteemed highly as a young Cæsar;" in Eph. ii. 15, and in Col. ii. 14. It man of piety and promise. Note, chap. vi. 3. properly means a law or edict of a king, or Comp. 1 Tim. v. 10. Timothy had been reli legislature. In this instance it was the decision giously educated. He was carefully trained in of the council in a case submitted to it; and im. the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and was plied an obligation on the Christians to submit therefore the better qualified for his work. (2 Tim. to that decision. The laws of the apostles would, ii. 15.)
and ought to be, in such cases, esteemed to be
binding. It is probable that a correct and atVER. 3. Him would Paul have to go forth with
tested copy of the letter, (chap. xv. 23—29.)
would be sent to the various churches of the him; and took and circumcised him because
Gentiles. To keep.-To obey, or to observe, of the Jews which were in those quarters; That were ordained.--Gr. That were adjudged! for they knew all that his father was a Greek. or determined. o Gal. ii. 3—8; v. 1-3. w 1 Cor. ix. 20. Ver. 5. And so were the churches s established
in the faith, and increased in number daily. Him would Paul have, &c.—This was an instance of Paul's selecting young men of piety for the holy
y Chap. xv. 41. ministry. It shows, (1.) That he was disposed to look up and call forth the talent that might be in Established in the faith.-Confirmed in the the church, that might be usefully employed. It is belief of the gospel. The effect of the wise quite evident that Timothy would not have thought and conciliatory measure was to increase and of this, had it not been suggested by Paul. The strengthen the churches. same thing, education societies are attempting now to accomplish. (2.) That Paul sought Ver. 6. Now when they had gone throughout proper qualifications, and valued them. Those
Phrygia and the region of - Galatia, and were were, (a) That he had a good reputation for
forbidden of a the Holy Ghost to preach the piety, &c. (ver. 2.) This he demanded as an indispensable qualification for a minister of the
word in 6 Asia, gospel. 1 Tim. iii. 7, “ Moreover he (a bishop)
x Gal. i. 2. 1 Pet. i. 1. a Amos viii. 11, 12. must have a good report of them which are
1 Cor. xii. 11. b Rev. i. 4-11. without.” Comp. Acts xxi. 12. (6) Paul esteemed him to be a young man of talents and Throughout Phrygia. This was the largest prudence. His admitting him to a partnership province of Asia Minor. It had Bithynia north; in his labours, and his intrusting to him the Pisidia and Lycia south ; Galatia and Cappadocia affairs of the church at Ephesus, prove this. east; and Lydia and Mysia west. And the region (c) He had been carefully trained in the Holy of Galatia.—This province was directly east of Scriptures. A foundation was thus laid for | Phrygia. The region was formerly conquered usefulness. And this qualification seems to by the Gauls. They settled in it, and called it, have been deemed by Paul of indispensable after their own name, Galatia. The Gauls invalue for the right discharge of his duties in vaded the country at different times, and no less this holy office. And took and circumcised him. than three tribes or bodies of Gauls had posses. This was evidently done to avoid the opposition sion of it. Many Jews were also settled there. and reproaches of the Jews. It was a measure It was from this cause that so many parties could not binding in itself, (comp. chap. xv. 1, 28, 29 ;) be formed there, and that so much controversy but the neglect of which would expose to con would arise between the Jewish and Gentile tention and opposition among the Jews, and | converts. See the epistle to the Galatians. And greatly retard or destroy his usefulness. It was were forbidden.- Probably by a direct rerelation. an act of expediency for the sake of peace, and | The reason of this was, doubtless, that it was was in accordance with Paul's uniform and the intention of God to extend the gospel farther avowed principle of conduct. 1 Cor. ix. 20, into the regions of Greece than would have been