3. The gospel moves out from Antioch, 13:1-15:41

vi] The Jerusalem conference


While Paul is ministering in the church at Syrian Antioch, a number of believers from the Jerusalem church visit, arguing that Gentile believers should submit to the law of Moses. Debate ensures, with the church deciding to send Paul and Barnabas, along with some of the elders, to the Jerusalem church to resolve the matter. This involves a journey of some 250 miles, with numerous visits to local churches, along with reports given of the success of the Gentile mission beyond Antioch.

At the assembled conference in Jerusalem, some believing Pharisees (members of the circumcision party, judaizers) argue strongly for submission to the Mosaic law for all believers, including Gentiles. Peter, the first of the apostles to reach out to the Gentiles, speaks to the assembly, making the point that all believers are saved "through the grace of the Lord Jesus." Paul and Barnabas support Peter's argument by given an account of how the gospel is gathering Gentiles into the kingdom, and then James, referring to Amos 9:11-12, decides that, other than matters affecting fellowship between Jews and Gentiles (meats tainted by idolatry, blood, or strangled, and sexual unions outside marriage), Gentiles should not be burdened by the Mosaic Law.


We are saved by grace through faith, and this apart from works of the law.


i] Context: See 13:1-12.


ii] Background:

iRighteousness before God apart from the Law, 10:17-33.


iii] Structure: The Jerusalem conference:

Unwelcome visitors from the Jerusalem church, v1;

A delegation is sent to resolve the matter, v2-3;

The conference at Jerusalem:

The delegation presents their credentials, v4;

The bone of contention is detailed, v5;

Peter addresses the issue, v6-11;

Barnabas and Paul address the issue, v12;

James addresses the issue, v13-18;

James proposes a resolution, v19-21.

Practical implementation, v22-30.


iv] Interpretation:

Luke's placement (in the centre of his book), and his attention to detail, indicates the importance of the Jerusalem conference in the development of the Christian church, and particularly for the authority it provides for the Pauline gospel - the proclamation that salvation is by grace through faith apart from the Law.

The conference is prompted by the activities of converted Pharisees in the Jerusalem church (members of the circumcision party, judaizers). The visitors to Antioch are likely representatives from this group, and their mission entails making sure that Gentile believers are giving themselves to the requirements of the Mosaic Law, specifically with regard to circumcision. They make a clear link between obedience and salvation, and in so doing, prompt a conflict with Paul and his followers. The issue is not resolved, prompting the need for the conference. Longenecker is of the view that the visitors are not relaying the official teachings of the Jerusalem church, but it seems very likely that their nomistic understanding of the Mosaic Law has some sway in the Jerusalem church (Marshall argues that it is marginal).

The link made between law-obedience and salvation by the visitors, suggests that they think that the Gentile converts are not true believers, ie., the visitors are legalists, arguing that a person's justification is dependent on both faith and works (obedience to the law). This is probably not the case. It is far more likely that they are nomists who believe that a justified person, by grace through faith, must go on in the Christian life through a faithful submission to God's law, otherwise, by their disobedience, they will undermine their salvation. They are arguing for sanctification by obedience, not justification by obedience; See Righteousness before God apart from the Law, 10:17-33.

Luke's account of the conference serves to authenticate the Pauline gospel of grace through faith apart from law. This is confirmed, after the initial deliberations, in a speech by the leading apostle, Peter. Peter can testify, in his dealings with Gentiles under the direction of the Spirit, that God has brought deliverance to them by the grace of Christ through the instrument of faith, the self-same means of deliverance that God has used to save his own people, Israel. To burden Gentiles with the crushing "yoke" of the law, is to "put God to the test", ie., to challenge the means of salvation he has divined.

Paul and Barnabas then give their account of how the Gentiles are responding to the gospel, and James goes on to confirm that the incoming of the Gentiles is in line with prophetic expectations concerning the coming kingdom / reign of God, namely, that the covenanted people of God includes Gentiles, the stranger within the gates - "all nations upon whom my name is called"

For Luke, this is the end of the matter. The Gentile mission of the apostle Paul, along with his gospel, is now fully authorised and will move forward as the Jerusalem church, and its leading apostle, Peter, fade into history.

As far as Luke is concerned, the conference establishes that the verb swzw, "to save", used by the visitors to Antioch, is something more comprehensive than forgiven at the point of conversion. The issue at hand is what Wesley called "full justification" - "to receive in full the benefits provided by God for his people", Barrett. It seems likely that the judaizers accept that getting saved is by grace through faith (justification by faith), but that staying saved, and moving forward in the Christian life, holy and acceptable to God, requires a faithful attention to God's law (sanctification by works). For Luke, and his record of the Acts of the Apostles, the conference establishes the holiness of the Gentiles, apart from Mosaic eqoV, "custom = law", and this by faith - issue resolved! Yet, of course, given the Pauline epistles, the issue is anything but resolved.

The conference does make some demands of the Gentiles. The point of the requirements has long been debated, but it seems likely that, as far as Luke is concerned, they are limited, serving only to address Jewish cultural distinctives that could impede fellowship. Luke repeats the regulations three times to underline their limitations, and so remove any notion that the Jerusalem conference authorised submission to the Mosaic law for progress in the Christian life.

The regulations are designed to promote fellowship between Jews and Gentiles, rather than serve as important requirements in their own right (that's not to say that they are not important in their own right, eg., fornication is a moral issue of importance, no less so than any moral issue). It would not be easy for a kosher Jew to sit at a fellowship meal with a Gentile and his wife and male and female concubines, eating Barbecued strangled pork spare-ribs, with slices of black pudding, recently offered to an idol. So, these particular regulations are designed to promote fellowship.

Having resolved the issue, a circular letter is crafted and sent off to the many new congregations outside of Jerusalem. In Paul's letter to the Galatians, Paul tells of the arrival of tina, "certain things" = "instructions [from James]" (variant reading, rather than "certain men") at Antioch. Peter is present at the time, and in line with the instructions, he withdraws from the Gentile members, given their eating habits, etc. This causes a major confrontation between Paul and Peter. The regulations are designed to promote fellowship, not destroy it. Paul treats the regulations as a guide, not as a law to be done. Paul goes on in Galatians to explain how the law functions this way, namely, as a guide to the Christian life. Submission to God's law does not make a person holy, either for justification, or sanctification. By grace through faith in the faithfulness of Christ, a person is already holy and acceptable to God (and by extension, should be acceptable to one another).

The clash between Peter and Paul, recorded by Paul in Galatians, indicates that the law/grace issue was probably far from resolved at the conference.


v] Homiletics: A sermon for an old friend

We're here today to say farewell to Rohan, and some time back he put it on me to speak on an idea that has carried him through his Christian life, carried him on those many occasions when it would have been all too easy just to walk away, abandon the business of following Jesus.

The first time I twigged to this idea was at a Bible Study. It was the regular Deanery meeting. This would be foreign to all you Baptists, but Anglicans, and there are one or two here today, would know that the Deanery meeting is when the Dean gets to check up on the clergy under his authority - remind them of the rules ... things like, "Have you filled in the annual report", things like that. Actually, I always kept last year's report and just twigged numbers a bit for the new one. I did make a mistake one year on the attendance numbers and I was commended for the revival taking place at the old Elephant house at Cronulla.

Anyway, leading the introductory Bible Study on this occasion was my old mate Raymond Heselhurst. There would be some people here today who know Ray, he's that type of bloke - he gets around a bit. The study came from Paul's letter to the Galatians, and touched on the place of God's Law in the Christian life - is it:

Trust and obey,

For there's no other way,

To be happy in Jesus,

But to trust and obey?

Or is it just:

Jesus loves me, yes I know,

For the Bible tells me so?

Anyway, it prompted a bit of theological brawl, but apart from that, Ray had sown an idea into my mind that would change me forever.

The idea bugged me so much that some years later I took a sabbatical to write a paper on it. I spent the year writing in a tranquil little cottage in Braidwood, and then, a year later, I published the paper. A copy is on my web page, if you want to read it, but let me warn you, after you've read it, you won't be any wiser. The more you read and write about this idea the more confused you get. Count Zinzendorf, a Moravian, way back when, said that English people find the idea difficult to understand because it's not "artful" enough - it's just too simple.

Rohan has reached the end of his journey, a journey buttressed by an idea he would remind us about, and I have to say, I'm not far behind him, buttressed by the same idea.


My latest sun is sinking fast

My race is nearly run

My strongest trials now are past

My triumph has begun


Oh come, angel band

Come and around me stand

And, bear me away on your snow-white wings

To my immortal home.

[Angel Band]

As Roh stands in the throne room of the Ancient of Days, how will he make out - standing there before the Almighty God, with all pretence removed? I mean, what's God going to say to him? Well! I know what He's going to say to me; "Who are you? How did you get in here?" - And I say, fair call! You see, at this point I do have a problem, because I know who I am. My first wife is here today and she can tell you who I am, if you really want to know - and you really don't want to know! And of course, I should remind you, He's going to ask you that question too. And when he does, what are you going to say?

Well, I know what I'm going to say, I've got it all prepared. I'm, going to say, "I'm with him; I'm with this bloke next to me, the bloke with the curly black hear, big nose and long white robe, I'm with him." Is that what's you're going to say?

And what's the Almighty going to say? Well! I can tell you exactly what He's going to say; He's going to say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord."

What an idea, what an amazing idea, what amazing GRACE.

Text - 15:1

The Jerusalem conference, v1-30. i] Unwelcome visitors to Antioch from Jerusalem, v1. The visitors are likely representatives of the pharisaic / circumcision party in the Jerusalem church, and are identified as such by the Western text. Luke specifies the issue that will dominate this chapter, namely, salvation by faith, apart from works (the visitors stress the work of circumcision - the Mosaic requirement of religious commitment - the Western texts widens this requirement). As indicated above, the intent of the verb swzw, "to save", used by the visitors, is something more comprehensive than forgiven at the point of conversion.

katelqonteV (katercomai) aor. part. "came down" - [and certain ones] having come down. Being anarthrous (without an article), the participle is probably adverbial, best treated as temporal; "At this stage certain men came down from Judea", Cassirer.

apo + gen. "from [Judea to Antioch]" - from [judea, and were teaching the brothers (believers)]. Expressing source / origin.

ean + subj. "if" - if, as may be the case, [you are not circumcised ..... then you are not able to be saved]. Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true.

tw/ eqei (oV) dat. "according to the custom" - by the custom (practices prescribed by God and codified by Moses). The dative is possibly instrumental, rule / relation, "according to / in accordance with", or cause, "because of", "by reason of", Zerwick. "According to the custom laid down by Moses", TNT / "In conformity with the tradition deriving from Moses", Cassirer. Bock, so also Barrett, makes the point that the word "tradition / custom" is used here to identify something more than just Jewish cultural tradition. Circumcision is a requirement of the Mosaic law, not just a local custom; keeping the law as a whole is the issue at hand. "A person cannot be saved from sins without undergoing the Mosaic ritual of circumcision, as commanded in the Law", Junkins.

tw/ MwusewV (hV ewV) gen. "taught by Moses" - the [of moses]. The NIV reads the variant dative article tw/ as an adjectivizer, turning the genitive "Moses" into an attributive modifier limiting tw/ eqei, "the custom", "the custom which is of Moses." The genitive "of Moses" is best treated as adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / source, "from Moses."

swqhnai (swzw) aor. pas. inf. "be saved" - [you are not able] to be saved. The infinitive is complementary, completing the negated verb "to be able."


ii] A delegation is sent to Jerusalem to resolve the matter, v2-4. "Paul and Barnabas were on their feet at once in fierce protest", Peterson. The proposition posed by the visitors struck at the heart of Paul's gospel of grace.

genomenhV (ginomai) gen. aor. part. "brought" - [but/and, a no little dispute and debate in paul and barnabas toward them] having become. The genitive participle and its genitive subject "a no little = major dispute and debate concerning Paul and Barnabas with them", forms a genitive absolute construction, temporal, "And after Paul and Barnabas had ...", ESV, or possibly causal, "because ...." The construction ouk olighV, "no little", is a litotes, a deliberate understatement used for emphasis; "Paul and Barnabas strongly differed from them and hotly debated with them", Barclay.

tw/ Paulw (oV) dat. "Paul [and Barnabas]" - in paul [and barnabas]. The dative is adverbial, reference / respect; "with respect to / concerning Paul and Barnabas."

proV + acc. "with [them]" - toward [them]. Spatial, possibly expressing association / relational, "with them", but Culy suggests opposition, "against".

anabainein (anabainw) pres. inf. "to go up" - [they caused to be paul and barnabas and certain others from them] to go up. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of cause expressing what they, the congregation, caused to be, namely "to go up to meet the apostles and elders in Jerusalem to discuss the whole question with them", Barclay. The accusative subject of the infinitive is "Paul and Barnabas and certain others from them." The preposition ex, "from [them]", probably stands in for a partitive genitive, "certain others of the congregation."

peri + gen. "about [this question]" - [toward the apostles and elders into jerusalem] about [this dispute = question]. Expressing reference / respect, "concerning this matter."


"As the churches of Phoenicia and Samaria were themselves the fruit of the Hellenistic mission which followed the death of Stephen, their outlook was naturally more liberal than that which prevailed at Jerusalem and they rejoiced at what they heard", Bruce.

men oun "-" - and therefore. Transitional construction; See men oun 1:6.

oiJ ..... propemfqenteV (propempw) aor. pas. part. "[the church] sent them on their way" - the ones having been sent on the way [by the church]. The participle may be treated as a substantive, subject of the imperfect verb "to pass through", so Culy and Kellum. Some translators treat it as adverbial, temporal, and the article oiJ as either a personal pronoun, "When they", so Barclay, or a substantive, These men, after they had been given their send-off by the church", Cassirer. The preposition uJpo, "by [the church]", is instrumental, expressing agency.

te .... kai "and" - [they were passing through] both [phoenicia] and [samaria]. Coordinative construction.

ekdihgoumenoi (ekdihgeomai) aor. part. "they told" - communicating in detail. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperfect verb "to pass through", but often treated as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of their passing through; "they went through Phoenicia and Samaria, telling the story of the conversion of the Gentiles", Barrett.

twn eqnwn (oV) gen. "how the Gentiles had been converted" - [the turning = conversion] of the gentiles. The genitive is adjectival, probably epexegetic, specifying what they communicated, as NIV; "informing the brothers, to the great joy of all, that the Gentiles were turning to God", Moffatt. Culy suggests verbal, subjective.

toiV adelqoiV (oV) dat. "[all] the believers" - [and they were making great joy] to [all] the brothers. Dative of indirect object after the verb "to make, do"; "and thus made all the brothers very happy", Berkeley.


iii] The conference at Jerusalem: a) The delegation presents their credentials, v4. Confirming the authority of the Pauline mission and its gospel, Luke makes the point that the delegation is paredecqhsan, "received = welcomed", by the apostles, elders, and the Jerusalem church as a whole.

paragenomenoi (paraginomai) aor. part. "when they came [to Jerusalem]" - [but/and] having come [into jerusalem]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

apo "by [the church]" - [they were received = welcomed] by [the church, and the apostles, and the elders]. The preposition is used instead of uJpo to express agency, a rare, but developing usage.

met (meta) + gen. "[God had done] through [them]" - [and they reported as much as god did] with [them]. Expressing association / accompaniment.


b) The bone of contention, v5. Presumably, "the certain believers of the party / sect of the Pharisees" aligns with "those of the circumcision", Act.11:2, Gal.2:12, those who are law-bound, nomist believers. As indicated above, their concern is not with cultural distinctives, but matters of covenant law necessary for salvation. It is likely they believe that the benefits of faith in Jesus can be eroded by a neglect of covenant compliance, whereas Paul believes that covenant compliance is itself realised through faith in the faithfulness of Christ, apart from the law. In recent times, New Perspective commentators have tended to the view that the Jerusalem Conference (and more particularly Paul's letters to the Romans and Galatians) is about addressing a sociological issue, rather than a theological one. N.T. Wright in The Climax of the Covenant, Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology, 1991, argues that Paul is not concerned with how a person gets saved, but rather how a Gentile can properly be included with Jews in the people of God, and this namely by the removal of Jewish distinctives. For a short study on this issue see The New Perspective on Paul.

pepisteukonteV (pisteuw) perf. part. "believers" - [but/and certain ones] ......... having believed. Although anarthrous, the participle is probably adjectival, attributive, limiting the pronoun tineV, "certain ones"; "However, certain men who had come to embrace the faith", Cassirer.

twn gen. "-" - of the ones. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepsoitional phrase "from the sect of the Pharisees" into a genitive modifier of tineV, "certain ones." The genitive, being adjectival, is partitive, "the certain ones of the ones ....." "Who were also Pharisees."

apo "who belonged to" - from. Expressing source / origin.

twn farisaiwn (oV) "of the Pharisees" - [the sect] of the pharisees. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / identification; "the sect known as the Pharisees."

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "[stood up] and said" - [rose up] saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing actin accompanying the verb "to rise up", as NIV.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of direct speech expressing what they said.

peritemnein (peritemnw) pres. inf. "circumcised" - to circumcise [them and to command them to keep the law of moses is necessary]. This infinitive, along with "to keep", forms an infinitival construction serving as the subject of the impersonal verb "is necessary." For a complementary classification see plhrwqhnai, 1:16.

MwusewV (hV ewV) gen. "[the law] of Moses" - [the law] of moses. The genitive if adjectival, descriptive, possibly source, "which came from Moses", or verbal, subjective, "which Moses delivered." Culy suggests identification, "the law that Moses wrote."


c) Peter addresses the issue, v6-11. At this point, Luke seems to limit the conference to the apostles and elders, although a variant exists "with the congregation", and v4 and v15 indicates a wider group in attendance.

idein (oJraw) aor. inf. "to consider" - [and the apostles and the elders came together] to see. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to see."

peri + gen. "-" - about [this word = matter]. Expressing reference / respect; "with respect to, about, concerning this matter."


James is now the leader of the Jerusalem church, Peter having "gone to another place", 12:17, but Peter is present for the conference and is able to testify that from the arch, "beginning" (presumably referring to God's direct intervention in authorising Peter's outreach to the Gentiles, Acts 10) God has determined (exelexato, "chose") that the Gentiles should hear the gospel and have the opportunity to believe. The link between hearing and believing is Pauline, cf., Rom.10:17

genomenhV (ginomai) aor. part. "after [much discussion]" - [but/and much debated] having become = taken place. The genitive participle, and its genitive subject "much discussion", forms a genitive absolute construction, as NIV.

anastaV (anisthmi) aor. part. "[Peter] got up [and addressed them]" - [peter] having arisen [said toward them]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to say", as NIV.

adelfoi (oV) voc. "brothers" - [men] brothers. The vocative noun "brothers" stands in apposition to "men".

oJti "that" - [men, brothers, you know] that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they know.

af (apo) + gen. "[some time ago]" - from [beginning days]. A temporal use of the preposition, indicating the time from when God determined that the Gentiles should hear the gospel.

en + dat. "among [you]" - in [you]. This prepositional phrase serves to modify "days", specifying the "beginning days" in mind, namely, the days when God acted "among you" to include the Gentile Cornelius and his family with Jewish believers. The preposition itself is local, "in = among", but the phrase is adjectival, temporal; "in the very early days of our faith", Barclay. The phrase serves as an example of semantic density (short-talk).

akousai (akouw) aor. inf. "might hear" - [god chose the gentiles] to hear. This infinitive forms a nominal phrase, object of the verb "to choose"; "God chose the gentiles to hear through my mouth the word of the important news, and to believe." The infinitive pisteusai, "to believe", also functions as the object of the verb "to choose." The accusative subject of the infinitive is "the Gentiles."

dia + gen. "from [my lips]" - through [the mouth of me]. Instrumental, expressing means.

tou euaggeliou (on) gen. "[the message] of the gospel" - [the word] of the important news [and to believe]. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / identification; "the message known as the gospel." Luke normally uses the verb euaggelizomai, "to communicate important news", but here and 20:24 he uses the noun as an identifier of the message; "important / good news."


The gift of the Holy Spirit to Gentiles, "just as he did to us", indicates that, when it comes to God, ancestry has no bearing on salvation, v9. The reference that God chooses not to discriminate because he is a kardiognwsthV, "heart-knower", likely refers to the divine knowledge of our common humanity, both Jew and Gentile alike, rather than to an individual person's attitude toward God, or their preparedness to meet with him.

kardiognwsthV (hV ou) "[God,] who knows the heart" - [and the] heart knowing [god]. Luke uses this noun here as an attributive adjective, limiting "God", as NIV.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - [bore witness] to them. Dative of indirect object.

douV (didwmi) aor. part. "by giving" - having given [the holy spirit]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as instrumental, expressing means, as NIV.

kaqwV "just as" - as [and = also he gave the Holy Spirit to us]. The comparative conjunction serves to introduce an adverbial phrase expressing the manner of the giving of the Holy Spirit, namely, "in like manner to his gift of the Spirit to us." The pronoun hJmin, "to us", serves as the dative of indirect object of the assumed verb "to give."


Against the nomists (believers of the sect of the Pharisees, the judaizers, members of the circumcision party) who see a faithful attention to the Mosaic law as an essential element in the Christian life for the cleansing of the heart / purity / holiness, so enabling the full appropriation of the promised blessings of the covenant, Luke / Peter, in a classic Pauline theological statement, declares that God cleanses the heart / purifies / makes holy by faith (in the faithfulness of Christ apart from the law) - th/ pistei kaqarisaV taV kardiaV, "by faith God cleanses the heart." By his determined will, God chose ouqen diekrinen, "to not be double minded with, discriminate, diferentiate", between Jew and Gentile. Therefore tiv peirazete ton qeon, "why do you put God to the test?" = "why do you challenge God's revealed will in this matter?", v10. This the nomists do by attempting to lay the zugon, "yoke [of law]", around the neck of new believers when, throughout Israel's history, the law has never served to purify the people, but only burden them with its curse.

kai "-" - and. Coordinating, or possibly epexegetic, "that is, ......", or consecutive, "and so ..."

te kai "and" - [he was not double minded between] both [us] and [them]. A correlative construction.

kaqarisaV (kaqarizw) aor. part. "he purified" - having cleansed [the hearts of them]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to be double minded." Given that the verb is negated, the construction of the sentence is counterpoint, so "he did not discriminate between Jew and Gentile, but rather, he purified their hearts by faith."

th/ pistei (iV ewV) dat. "by faith" - in faith. The dative is adverbial, and as Kellum notes, it may express reference / respect, "he made no distinction between them and us regarding our faith, so Keener, or instrumental, means, "having cleansed their hearts by faith", so Barrett, Bock, Haenchen, ....


nun oun "now then" - now therefore [why are you putting on = testing god]. Inferential construction, drawing a logical conclusion expressed in a rhetorical question introduced by tiV, "why".

epiqeinai (epitiqhmi) aor. inf. "by putting [on the necks]" - to lay [a yoke upon the neck of the disciples]. Both Kellum and Culy classify the infinitive as epexegetic, but if, as seems likely, it modifies the verb "to test", then it is adverbial, possibly final, expressing purpose, but usually treated as instrumental, expressing means, as NIV; "Why are you setting out to provoke God by putting a yoke upon the necks of these converts, .....?", Cassirer.

bastasai (bastazw) aor. inf. "[have been able] to bear" - [which neither the fathers of us, nor we, were able] to bear. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be able."


Again, in a classic Pauline statement, Luke / Peter provides a summary of the means for the full appropriation of the promised blessings of the covenant (full justification), namely, salvation by grace. Of course, life is never that simple, and this verse presents us with a series of technical issues that influence interpretation.

alla "-" - but. Strong adversative used in a counterpoint construction. The yoke of the law does not justify / save, rather, it curses, but grace does.

swqhnai (swzw) aor. inf. "saved" - [we believe] to be saved. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception, expressing what Christians believe; "We believe that we are saved", Berkeley. Johnson suggests that it may be adverbial, "through the gift that is the Lord Jesus, we are believing in order to be saved."

dia + gen. "through" - through, by means of. The preposition is instrumental, expressing means. The prepositional phrase, "through the grace of the Lord Jesus", may modify the verb "to believe", "we believe by means of grace ....", but it is generally accepted that the prepositional phrase is fronted for emphasis and so is intended to modify the infinitive "to save"; "We believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus", Berkeley.

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "of our Lord [Jesus]" - [the grace] of the lord [jesus]. It is not totally clear, in the present context, whether cariV, "grace", means "divine favour", or "gift". Added to this, the function of the adjectival genitive "of the Lord" is also unclear. Johnson thinks that it is epexegetic; "through the gift that is the Lord Jesus." Yet, the genitive seems more likely to express source, "from the Lord", and if this is the case, the sense of cariV is more likely "divine favour", than "gift"; "we are convinced that we shall obtain our salvation .......... through the gracious favour bestowed by the Lord Jesus", Cassirer - so Bruce, Barrett, ....

kaq (kata) "just as" - according to [what way those also]. Expressing a standard. The prepositional phrase kaq o}n tropon, "according to what way", is an idiomatic adverbial expression of manner, meaning "in the very same way as"; "He treats us in exactly the same way as he treats them." The judaizers should learn from God's treatment of the Gentiles and realise that they too are saved in the same way, namely, by grace through faith apart from the law.


d) Paul and Barnabas address the issue, v12. Peter has silenced the opposition, and the silence continues as Barnabas and Paul detail the divine confirmation of the Gentile mission in the Spirit's signs and wonders. Note that Luke records Barnabas taking the lead; Paul is an outsider and, as far as some members are concerned, his gospel of grace is theologically suspect.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

hkouon (akouw) imperf. "as they listened to" - [all the crowd was silent, and] they were hearing [barnabas and paul]. The imperfect usually expresses durative action, but as Culy notes, sometimes, when it follows an aorist, as here, it indicates the onset of subsequent action.

Barnaba (as a) gen. "Barnabas" - barnabas [and paul]. Genitive of direct object after the verb "to listen to, hear, obey."

exhgoumenwn (exhgeomai) gen. aor. part. "telling" - explaining, interpreting [what signs and wonders god did in = among the gentiles]. The participle serves as the genitive complement of the direct object "Paul and Barnabas", standing in a double genitive construction and asserting a fact about the object.

di (dia) + gen. "through" - through [them]. Instrumental, expressing agency.


e) James addresses the issue, v13-18. James, the brother of Jesus, became a believer after the resurrected Lord appeared to him (1Cor.15:7). Sometime later, he replaced Peter as the leader of the Jerusalem church. He was given the title "the Just", and was known for his faithful attention to Jewish law. He suffered martyrdom around AD61 at the hands of Ananus, the high priest. Luke now records James' full acceptance of the Gentile mission and its gospel.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

meta + inf. "When [they finished]" - after [to keep silent]. This construction introduces a temporal clause, antecedent time, as NIV; "When they had finished speaking, James said ....", Barclay.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "[James] spoke up" - [james answered] saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to answer", redundant, but it does serve to introduce direct speech. For a classification of manner, see legonteV, 1:6.

mou gen. "[listen to] me" - [men, brothers, listen to, hear] me. Genitive of direct object after to verb "to listen to."


We would expect James to address Peter as "Simon", or just "Peter", but he follows Hebraic form and addresses him as "Simeon". Luke could be creatively framing the event by imitating James' persona, but then, he may well know how James addresses Peter. James asserts that the Gentile conversions are an episkoph, "a visitation [of the Lord]", an act of divine intervention, serving to create a people for his own "name" / person, ie., a people dedicated to him (OT usage of "name" = the person of God, ie., "for himself"). Given that laon tw/ onomati autou, "a people for his name / himself", primarily refers to the people Israel, the divine act labein, "to receive", ex, "from", (as well as from among???) the Gentiles, describes the inclusion of the Gentiles in this people created for "his name."

kaqwV "how [God first intervened]" - [simeon explained, related] just as = how [god first visited ("a providential visitation", Barrett, Gk.)]. This conjunction is used to introduce an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Peter just related, although focused on the manner of the action, so "how God, in the first place, chose a people from among the nations", Phillips. "Simeon has related to you the story of the first occasion when God demonstrated his care for the Gentiles", Barclay.

labein (lambanw) aor. inf. "to choose" - to receive. Barrett Gk. suggests that the infinitive is epexegetic, but given that it seems to modify the verb "to undertake a providential visitation", we are best to follow Kellum who argues that it serves to identify the intent of the visitation, ie., adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to receive, as well as from among the Gentile, a people dedicated to him."

tw/ onomati (a atoV) dat. "for [his name]" - [a people] to [the name of him]. Dative of interest, advantage, "for himself"; "a people dedicated to him."

ex + gen. "from" - from [gentiles]. Expressing source / origin.


What has occurred aligns with Amos 9:11-12 / ("prophets" = Minor Prophets ????).

twn profhtwn (hV ou) gen. "of the prophets" - [the words] of the prophets. The genitive is adjectival, probably intended as verbal, subjective; "the words which are delivered by the prophets."

toutw/ dat. pro. "this" - [is in agreement with] this. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to agree with."

kaqwV "as" - as, just as [it has been written]. Adverbial use of the comparative conjunction, expressing manner; an idiomatic use serving to introduce a Biblical quote.


The quote is from the LXX, although with numerous minor differences, possibly indicating it is transcribed from memory. The use of skhnhn, "tent", "David's fallen tent", is peculiar to the LXX, and alludes to the restoration of the Davidic kingdom, obviously in the terms of the messianic kingdom of God now at hand.

meta + acc. "after [this]" - after [these thing]. Temporal use of the preposition.

thn pepwkuian (piptw) perf. part. "[David's] fallen [tent]" - [i will return and i will rebuild the tent of david] the one having fallen. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting tent, as NIV.

ta kateskammena (kataskaptw) perf. part. "[its] ruins" - [and i will rebuild] the things having been ruined, destroyed [of it, and i will restore it]. The participle serves as a substantive, object of the verb "to rebuild."


The first line of the quote presents us with one of those interesting problems related to the inspiration of scripture. It reminds us that what was originally said or written is not necessarily inspired, but rather, what we possess today in the received text is what is inspired - debatable, of course! What Luke says that Amos said is inspired, but not necessarily what Amos originally said. The MT (the Hebrew OT) has "that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the Gentiles", such that Amos prophesies that, in David's restored kingdom, Israel will hold mastery over (yirshu, "possess / inherit") the remnant of Edom and all the nations. In the LXX (the Greek OT), "possess" ends up as "seek", and "Edom" ends up as adam, "mankind". Luke himself adds, "the Lord." So, the restoration of the kingdom of God, in its final manifestation, has as its purpose / result (o{pwV a]n + subj.) the provision that the rest of humanity (those outside the family of Israel, Gentiles) may seek and know the Lord.

ou{pwV a]n + subj. "that" - in order that [the ones remaining of man may seek the lord]. This construction is adverbial, final, expressing purpose. The genitive twn anqrwpwn, "of man", is adjectival, partitive.

kai "even" - and [all the gentiles]. The NIV opts for an ascensive sense, so Bruce Gk., but both Culy and Kellum suggest that it is epexegetic; "So that the rest of humanity may seek and know the Lord; that is, all those godless people who now have a part in my plans for the new age to come."

ef (epi) + acc. "-" - upon [whom has been called upon, invoked the name of me upon them]. The preposition is local, expressing space. The second use, ep, as well as the relative pronoun autouV, "them", has the same referent and is redundant. The expression "all the Gentiles / nations upon whom my name has been called / invoked" is an idiomatic Biblical expression designating that a person belongs to God. God's people Israel includes the stranger within the gates. The stranger gets past the gates, and into the kingdom, because God's name / person has been invoked over them such that they now belong to God; they are "those Gentiles who bear my name." They get to "bear the name" by grace through faith in the faithfulness of Jesus.

I'm putting the pieces together again;

Making it look like new

So godless people who seek and find

Will have a place to come to.

All those lost souls

Now part of something new.

poiwn (poiew) pres. part. "[the Lord] who does [these things]" - [says the lord] doing [these things]. A variant article exists. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the Lord", as NIV.


The intent of this statement is unclear. It is not part of the Amos text, but it could serve as a reworked conclusion, or even as an allusion to Isaiah 45:21. It is probably best to end the quote at the redundant ep autouV, and have v17b, 18 as a statement about the text by James himself; "Thus says the Lord, who is doing this as he made known long ago", REB.

gnwsta acc. adj. "things known" - known [from the ages]. The adjective serves as the complement of the object tauta, "these things", of the participle poiwn, "doing", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object, as NIV. The preposition apo, "from", is temporal.


f) James proposes a resolution, v19-21. Presumably, James' opinion (either ratified by the church, or treated as a binding pronouncement) is based on Peter's theological reading of the events surrounding the conversion of Cornelius and his family, as well as the text from Amos / minor prophets. On this basis, Jewish believers are mh parenoclein, "to not cause difficulty / harass", Gentile believers. For Luke, a champion for Pauline theology, the imposed difficulty to be lifted is the whole Mosaic law, moral and cultic. Of course, it is very unlikely that James, at this point in the development of the Christian church, is as reformed as Paul. It's hard to imagine James holding the view that the moral law is nothing but a guide for a life of faith, so for James, the imposed difficulties may just be those elements of the Mosaic law peculiar to Jewish culture, eg., circumcision. In fact, James may well view the regulations in line with Leviticus 17:8-18:18 - requirements for resident aliens in the land of Israel. Whatever attitudes were held by James and the elders of the Jerusalem church, Luke stays silent on the matter and goes on to record limited cultural distinctives pertaining to fellowship between Jews and Gentiles.

dio "therefore" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

mh parenoclein (parenoclew) pres. inf. "we should not make it difficult for" - [i judge] to not harass, trouble. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what James judges / thinks is the proper response by the new Israel toward Gentile believers.

toiV ... epistrefousin (epistrefw) pres. part. "who are turning" - the ones turning [upon = to god]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the para prefix verb "to harass."

apo + gen. "-" - from = of [the gentiles]. Both Culy and Kellum suggest that the preposition serves as a partitive genitive, "we should not trouble those of the Gentiles", ESV, but with a source / origin slant, "from among the Gentiles", Moffatt.


It's hard to imagine Paul sitting easily with these requirements, even though they are limited cultural distinctives. As already noted, they inflict damage when the instructions are applied at Antioch and Peter ends up breaking fellowship. The requirements are obviously a compromise, and so Paul and Barnabas have done well to hone them down to the list provided in this verse. The list is repeated in v29, and 21:25 (with some differences) - it's as if Luke is stressing their limitations. There are numerous textual variants, the most important being the removal of what is strangled, replaced by a version of do unto others as you would have them do unto you - obviously the author missed Luke's point! From Luke's perspective, the regulations serve to identify cultural distinctives that could impede good relations between believing Jews and Gentiles, particularly at a fellowship meal / love feast: foods offered to idols, strangled, or containing blood (Lev.17:10-13).

The reason for the inclusion in the list of porneiaV, "prostitution / fornication / sexual immorality", is unclear. As an element of moral law, why include it, but not other elements of moral law? Given that it sits next to food polluted by idolatry, the instruction may relate to ritual prostitution associated with temple worship, so broadening the issue of idolatry. Given that table fellowship is likely the issue at hand, it probably relates to the imposition on the church of a person's nefarious relationships beyond that of their married partner, eg., male and/or female concubines, ie., leave them at home! Of course, a person can't leave their two-times divorced wife at home, which is why the regulations are flawed from the outset, as Paul demonstrates in Galatians. For Paul, regulations are not the way forward in the Christian life. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me", Gal.2:20. So, "live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature", Gal.5:17.

alla "instead" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; James judges that the new Israel should not harass ......, but write and tell ......

episteilai (epistellw) aor. inf. "we should write" - to write. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what James judges / thinks is the proper response by the new Israel toward Gentile believers.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - to them. Dative of indirect object.

tou apecesqai (apecw) pres. mid. inf. "telling them to abstain" - of the to be far off. This construction, a genitive articular infinitive, can be adverbial, final, expressing purpose, or adjectival, epexegetic. Here it is likely epexegetic, specifying what should be written to the Gentiles, namely that, they should not eat anything that has been offered to idols, as NIV. See Paul's take on this issue in 1 Corinthians, chapters 8-10.

twn alisghmatwn (a) gen. "from food polluted" - of the pollution. As for the genitives, "of sexual morality", "of the thing strangled", and "of blood", the genitive is ablative, expressing separation, "away from."

twn eidwlwn (on) gen. "by idols" - of idols, [and of fornication, and of the thing strangled, and of blood]. The genitive is adjectival, usually treated as verbal, subjective, limiting "pollution", as NIV; "the pollution which is caused by idols."


The sense of this verse depends on the referent for the causal gar, "for", explaining why ......... The most likely referent is v20. The new Israel needs to encourage Gentile believers "to abstain from ........., because in every city of the empire, for ever and a day, Jews have gathered at the local synagogue every Sabbath to be instructed in the law of Moses, and so, it would be very difficult for them to join in fellowship with Gentiles who ignored at least some of the cultural distinctives derived from Mosaic law."

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause.

touV khrussontaV (khrussw) pres. part. "preached" - [moses has had] the ones proclaiming [him]. The participle serves as a substantive, object of the verb "to have."

kata + acc. "in every [city]" - according to [the city]. Distributive use of the preposition, "in every city", as NIV.

ek + gen. "from [the earliest times]" - from [ancient generations]. Temporal use of the preposition; "for ever and a day."

pan adj. "every [Sabbath]" - [in the synagogues according to = on every] every [sabbath]. Emphatic use of the adjective, reinforcing the distributive use of kata, "according to" = "every". Making the point that Jewish attendance at the synagogue is not casual; it really is every Sabbath, and this from childhood, so reinforcing their commitment to Mosaic law, and thus their resistance to pagan norms.


Acts Introduction

Exegetical Commentaries


[Pumpkin Cottage]