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Acts 15


 1 Then (1) came down (a) (♣) certain from Judea, and taught the brethren, saying, (*) 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 riseth of the proud and stubborn wits of certain evil men; The first strife was concerning the office of Christ, whether we be saved by his only righteousness apprehended by faith, or we have need also to observe the Law.
(a) Epiphanius is of opinion that this was Cerinthus.

(♣) As Cerinthus and others; so writeth Epiphanius against the Corinthians; also the same of the place whence they came, did much prevail to persuade abroad.

(*) Galatians 5:1 .


  (2) And when there was great dissension, and disputation by Paul and Barnabas against them, they ordained that Paul and Barnabas, and certain others of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the Apostles and Elders about this question.


(2) Meetings of Congregations were instituted to suppress heresies, whereunto certain were sent by common consent in the name of all.


 3 Thus (b) being brought forth by the Church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles, and they brought great joy unto all the brethren.


(b) Courteously and lovingly brought on their way by the Church, that is, by certain appointed by the Church.  


 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the Church, and of the Apostles and Elders, and they declared what things God had done by them.


 5 But said they, certain of the sect of the (*) Pharisees, which did believe, rose up, saying that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses.


(*) Which were factious, and given to dissension.


  (3) Then the Apostles and Elders came together to look to this matter.


(3) The matter is first handled, both parts being heard in the assembly of the Apostles and ancients, and after is communicated with the people.


 7 And when there had been great disputation, Peter rose up, and said unto them, (*) (4) Ye men and brethren, ye know that a (c) good while ago, among us God chose out me, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel, and believe.


(*) Acts 10:20; Acts 11:13 .

(4) God himself in calling of the Gentiles which are uncircumcised, did teach that our salvation doth consist in faith without the worship appointed by the Law.
(c) Word for word, of old time, that is, even from the first time that we were commanded to preach the Gospel, and straightways after that the holy Ghost came down upon us.


 8 And God which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, in giving unto them the holy Ghost, even as he did unto us.


 9 And he put no (d) (♣) difference between us and them, after that (*) (e) by faith he (♠) had purified their hearts.


(d) He put no difference between us and them, as touching the benefit of his free favor.

(♣) As touching adoption and eternal life.

(*) Acts 10:43; 1 Corinthians 1:2 .
(e) Christ pronounceth them Blessed, which are pure of heart; and here we are plainly taught that men are made such by faith.

(♠) By faith God purifieth the heart.


 10  (5) Now therefore, why (f) (♣) tempt ye God, to (*) lay a yoke on the disciplesí necks, which neither our fathers, nor we were able to bear?


(5) Peter passing from the Ceremonies to the Law itself in general, sheweth that none could be saved, if salvation were to be sought for by the Law, and not by grace only in Jesus Christ, because that no man could ever fulfill the Law, neither Patriarch, nor Apostle.
(f) Why tempt ye God, as though he could not save by faith?

(♣) They purposely tempt God which lay greater charges on menís consciences, than they are able to bear.

(*) Matthew 23:4 .


 11 But we believe, through the (*) grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved, even as they do.


(*) And not by the Law; for it is a clog to the conscience, and we cannot be delivered thereby.


 12  (6) Then all the multitude kept silence, and heard Barnabas and Paul, which told what signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles by them.


(6) A true pattern of a lawful Council, where God's truth only reigneth.


 13 And when they held their peace, (g) James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me.


(g) The son of Alphaeus, who is called the Lord's brother.


 14  (7) Simeon hath declared, how God first did visit the Gentiles, to take of them a people unto his Name.


(7) James confirmeth the calling of the Gentiles, out of the word of God, therein agreeing to Peter.


 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 the ruins thereof will I build again, and I will set it up,


(*) Amos 9:11 .

(♣) That is, the Church whereof the Temple was a figure.


 17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the (*) Gentiles upon whom my Name is called, saith the Lord which doeth all these things.


(*) Which are gathered into one family with the Jews to the intent they should acknowledge all one God, and one Saviour Christ Jesus.


 18 From the beginning of the world, God (h) knoweth all his works.


(h) And therefore nothing cometh to pass by fortune, but by God's appointment.


 19  (8) Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them of the Gentiles that are turned to God,


(8) In matters indifferent we may so far bear with the weakness of our brethren, as they may have time to be instructed.


 20 But that we send unto them, that they abstain themselves from (i) (*) filthiness of idols, and (♠) fornication, and that which is strangled, and from blood (♦) .


(i) From sacrifices or from feasts which were kept in idol's Temples.

(*) For some thought it none offence to be present in the idolsí temples, and there to banquet; which Paul saith, is to drink the cup of the devils, 1 Corinthians 10:21 .

(♠) The heathen thought this no vice, but made it a common custom. As touching a strangled thing and blood, they were not unlawful of themselves, and therefore were observed but for a time.

(♦) And whatsoever they would not, should be done to themselves, that they should not do it to others.


 21 For (*) Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, seeing he is read in the Synagogues every Sabbath day.


(*) Therefore the ceremonies commanded by God could not so soon be abolished, till the liberty of the Gospel were better known.


 22  (9) Then it seemed good to the Apostles and Elders with the whole Church to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; to wit, Judas whose surname was Barsabas, and Silas, which were chief men among the brethren,


(9) In a lawful Synod, neither they which are appointed and chosen Judges, appoint and determine anything tyrannously or upon a Lordlives, neither doth the common multitude set themselves tumultuously against them, which sit as Judges by the word of God; as the like order also is holden in publishing and ratifying those things which have been so determined and agreed upon.


 23 And wrote letters by them after this manner, THE APOSTLES, and the Elders, and the brethren, unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch, and in Syria, and in Cilicia, send greeting.


 24  (10) Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which (k) went out from us, have troubled you with words, and (l) cumbered your minds, saying, Ye must be circumcised and keep the Law, to whom we gave no such commandment,


(10) The Council of Jerusalem concludeth, that they trouble men's consciences, which teach us to seek salvation in any other means than in Christ only, apprehended by faith, from whence soever they come, and whomsoever they pretend to be author of their vocation.
(k) From our congregation.
(l) A borrowed kind of speech taken of them which pull down that which was built up; and it is a very usual metaphor in the Scriptures; to say the Church is built, for, the Church is planted and stablished.


 25 It seemed therefore good to us, when we were come together with one accord, to send chosen men unto you, with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,


 26 Men that have (m) given up their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


(m) Have greatly hazarded their lives.


 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, which shall also tell you the same things by mouth.


 28  (11) For it seemed good to the (n) holy Ghost, and (o) (*) to us, to lay no more burden upon you, than these (p) necessary things,


(11) That is, a lawful Council, which the holy Ghost ruleth.
(n) First they make mention of the holy Ghost, that it may not seem to be any man's work.
(o) Not that men have any authority of themselves, but to shew the faithfulness that they used in their ministry and labor.

(*) Whom the holy Ghost hath moved and directed to ordain, and write these things, not as the authors of this doctrine, but as the ministers of Godís ordinance, Exodus 14:31; Judges 7:20; Haggai 1:12 .
(p) This was no precise necessity, but in respect of the state of that time, that the Gentiles and the Jews might more peaceably live together with less occasion to quarrel.


 29  (12) That is, that ye abstain from things offered to idols, and blood, and that which is strangled, and from fornication; (*) from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.


(12) Charity is requisite even in things indifferent.

(*) And whatsoever ye would not that men should do unto you, do not to others.


 30  (13) Now when they were departed, they came to Antioch, and after that they had assembled the multitude, they delivered the Epistle.


(13) It is requisite 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 few.


 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced for the consolation.


 32 And Judas and Silas being Prophets, (*) exhorted the brethren with many words, and strengthened them.


(*) Or, comforted.


 33 And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in (q) (*) peace of the brethren unto the Apostles.


(q) This is a Hebrew kind of speech, which is as much to say, as the brethren wished them all prosperous success, and the Church dismissed them with good leave.

(*) Having desired leave of the Church, the brethren prayed God to prosper their journey.


 34 Notwithstanding (*) Silas thought good to abide there still (♣) .


(*) Who for just causes, changed his mind.

(♣) And only.


 35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching with many others, the word of the Lord.


 36  ∂ (14) But after certain days, Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us return 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 do easily degenerate, unless they be diligently seem unto, and therefore went these Apostles to oversee such as they had planted, and for this cause also Synods were instituted and appointed.


 37  (15) And Barnabas (*) counseled to take with them John, called Mark.


(15) A lamentable example of discord between excellent men and very great friends, yet not for profane or their private affairs, neither yet for doctrine.

(*) Would take John.


 38 But Paul thought it not meet to take him unto their company, which departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.


 39  (16) Then were they so (r) stirred, that they (*) departed asunder one from the other, so that Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus.


(16) God useth 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 pass not measure in our heat.
(r) They were in great heat; but herein we have to consider the force of God's counsel, for by this means it came to pass, that the doctrine of the Gospel was exercised in many places.

(*) God suffereth the most perfect to fall, and yet turneth their infirmities to the setting forth of his glory, as this breach of company caused the word to be preached in more places.


 40 And Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended of the brethren unto the grace of God.


 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, stablishing the Churches.



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