15:1 And 1 a 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.
(1) The Church is at length troubled with
dissension within itself, and the trouble rises from the proud and stubborn
intellects of certain evil men. The first strife was concerning the office of
Christ, whether we are saved only by his righteousness apprehended by faith,
or if we also have need to observe the Law.
(a) Epiphanius is of the opinion that this was
15:2 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.
(2) Meetings of congregations were instituted to
suppress heresies, to which certain were sent by common consent on behalf of
15:3 And b
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.
(b) Courteously and lovingly brought on their way
by the Church, that is, by certain ones appointed by the Church.
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
(3) The matter is first handled, both parts being
heard, in the assembly of the apostles and elders, and after is communicated
to the people.
15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter
rose up, and said unto them, 4 Men [and]
brethren, ye know how that a c good
while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear
the word of the gospel, and believe.
(4) God himself, in the calling of the Gentiles
who are uncircumcised, taught that our salvation consists in faith, without
the worship appointed by the Law.
(c) Literally, "of old time", that is,
even from the first time that we were commanded to preach the Gospel, and
immediately after that the Holy Spirit came down upon us.
15:9 And put no d
difference between us and them, purifying their hearts e
(d) He put no difference between us and them,
with regard to the benefit of his free favour.
(e) Christ proclaims those blessed who are pure
of heart: and here we are plainly taught that men are made pure of heart by
15:10 5 Now
therefore why f tempt ye God, to put a
yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able
(5) Peter, passing from the ceremonies to the Law
itself in general, shows that no one could be saved, if salvation were to be
sought for by the Law, and not by grace alone in Jesus Christ; and this is
because no man could ever fulfil the Law, neither the patriarch nor the
(f) Why do you tempt God, as though he could not
save by faith?
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.
(6) A true pattern of a lawful council, where
God's truth alone reigns.
15:13 And after they had held their peace, g
James answered, saying, Men [and] brethren, hearken unto me:
(g) The son of Alphaeus, who is also called the
Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of
them a people for his name.
(7) James confirms the calling of the Gentiles
out of the word of God, in this agreeing with Peter.
h Known unto God are all his works from
the beginning of the world.
(h) And therefore nothing comes to pass by
chance, but only by God's appointment.
Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the
Gentiles are turned to God:
(8) In indifferent matters, we may be patient
with the weakness of our brethren with the end in view that they may have time
to be instructed.
15:20 But that we write unto them, that they
abstain from i pollutions of idols, and
[from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood.
(i) From sacrifices, or from feasts which were
kept in idol's temples.
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:
(9) In a lawful synod, neither those who are
appointed and chosen judges, appoint and determine anything tyrannously or
upon a lordly superiority, neither do the common multitude stir up disorder
against those who sit as judges by the word of God: and the like manner of
doing things is also used in proclaiming and ratifying those things which have
been so determined and agreed upon.
Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which k
went out from us have troubled you with words, l
subverting your souls, saying, [Ye must] be circumcised, and keep the law: to
whom we gave no [such] commandment:
(10) The council of Jerusalem concludes that the
ones who trouble men's consciences are they who teach us to seek salvation
in any other means than in Christ alone, apprehended by faith, no matter where
they come from, and whoever they pretend to be the author of their calling.
(k) From our congregation.
(l) A borrowed type of speech taken of those who
pull down that which was built up: and it is a very common metaphor in the
scriptures, to say "the Church is built", for "the Church is
planted and established".
11 For it seemed good to the n
Holy Ghost, and o to us, to lay upon you
no greater burden than these p necessary
(11) That is a lawful council, which the Holy
(n) First they made mention of the Holy Spirit,
so that it may not seem to be any man's work.
(o) Not that men have any authority of
themselves, but to show the faithfulness that they used in their ministry and
(p) This was no absolute necessity, but in
respect of the state of that time, so that the Gentiles and the Jews might
live together more peaceably, with less occasion to quarrel.
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.
(12) Charity is required even in indifferent
15:30 13 So
when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the
multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
(13) It is required for all people to know
certainly what to hold in matters of faith and religion, and not that the
Church by ignorance and knowing nothing, should depend upon the pleasure of a
And after they had tarried [there] a space, they were let go in q
peace from the brethren unto the apostles.
(q) This is a Hebrew idiom, which is the same as
saying, "as the brethren wished them all prosperous success, and the
church dismissed them with good leave."
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.
(14) Congregations or churches easily degenerate
unless they are diligently watched over, and therefore these apostles went to
oversee the churches they had planted, and for this reason also synods were
instituted and appointed.
And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
(15) A lamentable example of discord between
excellent men and very great friends, yet not because of profane matters or
their own private affairs, neither yet because of doctrine.
And r the contention was so sharp
between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas
took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
(16) God uses the faults of his servants to the
profit and building of the Church: yet we have to take heed, even in the best
matters, that we do not let our anger overflow.
(r) They were in great heat: but in this we have
to consider the power of God's counsel, for by this means it came to pass
that the doctrine of the Gospel was spread into many places.