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

vii] Conference resolutions and actions


Following the speeches, the conference resolves to send a circular letter to the churches under the authority of the Jerusalem church, detailing the resolutions of the conference, along with two delegates to confirm the details of the letter to the church at Antioch. Paul and Barnabas, along with the delegates, return to Antioch where they are warmly received. After a short stay, the delegates return to Jerusalem, while Paul and Barnabas continue to minister to the believers in Antioch.


Biblical law has no place in the business of salvation


i] Context: See 13:1-12.


ii] Background:

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

iProphecy in the New Testament, 11:19-30;

iThe baptism / filling of the Spirit - See Excursus.


iii] Structure: The Jerusalem Conference:

Practical Implementation, v22-29:

Conference resolution, v22;

The circular letter, v23-29:

Greetings, v23;

The appointed delegation, v24-27;

The regulations, v28-29.

The church at Antioch receives the delegation, v30-34;

Conclusion, v35.


iv] Interpretation:

Luke continues his account of the Jerusalem conference, providing the details of the resolution of the conference in a record of the circular letter sent by the church to the churches "among the Gentiles throughout Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia." By providing a second account of the limited requirements expected of Gentile believers, Luke again reveals that the resolutions of the conference are nothing more than matters pertaining to table fellowship designed to cater for Jewish cultural distinctives - see 15:1-21. By this means, Luke provides further evidence that Paul's Gentile mission, and its gospel of grace apart from the law, was fully endorsed at the Jerusalem conference by the apostles and elders of the church. In the years to come, the judaizers will continue to promote the idea that the Mosaic law plays an important part in salvation (cf., 15:1), a heresy addressed by Paul in his circular letter to the Romans, but by his full account of the Jerusalem conference, Luke has made sure that the judaizers will never be able to use the conference to support their heresy. Biblical law has no place in the business of salvation.

"There is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less", Philip Yancey, What's Amazing about Grace.

Not only do the judaizers / members of the circumcision party lose their argument, Luke seems to imply that they concede the point when he notes that oJlh/ th/ ekklhsia/, "the whole church", is behind the resolution. The judaizers are mistaken, and certainly have no right to disturb the church with their false teaching; the truth is that circumcision plays no part in the business of salvation. Given that it was members from the Jerusalem church who promoted the heresy at Antioch, the church appoints two members to verify the truth of the matter for the Antiochian members. Little is known of Judas Barsabbas, but Silas may well be the same person who later became a member of Paul's ministry team, 15:40, 1Thes.1:1, .....

Luke's record of the preamble to the regulations is interesting - "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us", v28. This is not the language used of a revelation, but rather, of a resolution. So, what authority does the resolution have? Arguments abound, but it does seem that the actual regulations are little more than advisory, certainly that would be the opinion of both Luke and Paul. As to the Spirit's guidance in the whole process, we may say that "the Spirit's work in leading the Jerusalem Council was to provide a solution consistent with the truth of the gospel, enabling Jewish and Gentile Christian to live together in love", Peterson D.


v] Homiletics: The Bus

[Map] It seemed like a good idea at the time! The youth club I was running at the Anglican Church at Helensburgh, south of Sydney, was too large to transport in vans and cars, and so I decided that what we needed was a bus, not just any bus, but a double decker bus. I could then fit the whole mob in without any trouble.

Now of course, those in the know, know that the brakes on these things are vacuum brakes, not so good for stopping. They would also know that it doesn't have a back door, just an open back platform - a health-and-safety nightmare. They would also know that due to its height, these monsters have issues with low hanging telephone and power lines - this I proved to be the case. And last of all, those in the know, know that the maximum speed produced by these beasts is 30mph, or faster in angel gear if you are in a hurry to meet with them - it takes a month to get anywhere. So yes, it wasn't a very good idea. All I can say is, once upon a time I owned a double decker bus.

Some of the members of the Jerusalem church once had what seemed like a good idea at the time. They came up with the idea that God's offer of salvation through faith in Jesus requires a little extra; it's not just trust Jesus, but "trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." The idea caused terrible ructions in the church at Antioch, but as we saw in our reading today, the letter they received from the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church assured them that what may have seemed like a good idea, was anything but; obedience to God's laws has no place in the business of salvation.

Text - 15:22

Conference resolutions and actions, 10:17-33: i] Practical implementation - The conference resolution, v22. EklexamenouV, "after choosing, selecting = electing" two representatives (following Biblical precedence), the church, as a whole, guided by the Spirit, edoxe, "decides, resolves", pemyai, "to send", them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

The Greek sentence is technically complex, made more difficult by what is virtually a parenthesis (often handled as a new sentence, as NIV). The sentence is controlled by an impersonal use of the verb edexe, "to think, suppose = decide, resolve", giving the sense "it seemed appropriate ......", which has as its subject the infinitival nominal construction formed by the "infinitive pemyai, "to send." "For them / the church having chosen = to choose men from them and to send them (Judas, the one being called Barsabbas, and Silas, both being respected men in = among the brotherhood) to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, seemed best to the apostles and the elders, along with the entire church."

tote adv. "then" - then. Temporal adverb used here for a transitional purpose, indicating the next step in the narrative.

eklexaqmenouV (eklegomai) aor. part. "to choose" - having chosen [men]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the infinitive "to send"; "To choose men from the congregation and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas ......" The participle is accusative in agreement with the assumed subject of the infinitive "they / the church."

ex (ek) + gen. "-" - from [them]. Expressing source / origin.

ton kaloumenon (kalew) pres. mid. part. "called [Barsabbas]" - [judas] the one being called [barsabbas, and silas]. The participle is best treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting "Judas". It is accusative in agreement with "Judas", which stands in apposition to "men", the direct object of the participle "having chosen." The specification of "the men" is best treated as a parenthesis.

hgoumenouV (hgeomai) pres. part. "men who were leaders" - being regarded [in = among the brothers]. The participle is best treated as adjectival; "who are leading men among the brotherhood."

pemyai (pempw) aor. inf. "send" - to send [into antioch]. The infinitive forms a nominal construction which serves as the subject of the impersonal use of the verb "to seem."

sun + dat. "with" - with [paul and barnabas]. Expressing association / accompaniment.

toiV apostoloiV (oV) dat. "the apostles" - [seemed appropriate] to the apostles [and the elders, with the whole church]. Dative of direct object after the verb "to seem, think", which takes a dative of persons.


a) Introduction - the greeting. We have here a typical letter-form used in the first century: from whom, to whom, with greeting. The letter is from the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church. A variant kai includes the congregation, "and the brothers"; without kai, the noun "brothers" serves an adjectival function, limiting "apostles and elders", as NIV. The letter is not just to the church at Antioch, but to all those mission church under the authority of the Jerusalem church.

dia gen. "with [them they sent]" - through [them]. Instrumental, expressing means; "through them they sent this letter." The antecedent of autwn, "them", is usually taken to be the appointed delegates (those who carry the letter), but it may refer to the apostles and elders (those who composed the letter).

grayanteV (grafw) aor. part. "the following letter" - writing. We may have expected an accusative participle here, attendant on the infinitive "to send" in v22, along with the participle "having chosen" = "to choose", so serving as an additional phrase to the complex subject of the impersonal use of the verb "it seemed appropriate", giving the sense "For the church to choose ........., and to send ........, and to write ....... seemed appropriate ........" Being nominative, the participle may be adverbial. Kellum suggests that it is temporal, "After writing this letter they sent it through their hands." Although anarthrous, it is usually treated as a substantive, "writing" - "the letter", as NIV. "The letter proposed by the apostles and the elders of the Jerusalem church is as follows."

adelfoi (oV) "your brothers" - [the apostles and the elders] brothers. Standing in apposition to "the apostles and the elders", nominative absolute in agreement. "We the apostles and leaders of the Jerusalem church send our warm regards to all the Gentile believers in Antioch and throughout the provinces."

toiV .... adelfoiV (oV) dat. "to the [Gentile] believers" - to the brothers. Dative of interest / advantage / recipient.

toiV dat. art. "Gentile [believers]" - the ones [from the gentiles]. The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase "from the Gentiles" into an attributive modifier of "believers", as NIV; "believers who are from the Gentiles" = "believers who are Gentiles" = "Gentile believers."

kata + acc. "in" - according to [antioch and syria and cilicia]. Distributive use of the preposition; "Throughout the regions of Antioch, ......"

cairein (cairw) pres. inf. "Greetings" - be joyful. An idiomatic epistolary use of the imperatival infinitive, as NIV. "G'Day!" (strine for "May God be with you this day."), or "LO" ("Hail" = "Hello"), etc.


b) The appointed delegation, v24-27. The reason for the letter is provided (epeidh, "because"). The origin of the troublemakers is recognised, but any authorisation is denied. A variant exists specifying the logoiV, "words", of the troublemakers, namely, "saying that it is necessary to be circumcised and keep the Law."

epeidh "-" - because [we heard]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the delegation was dispatched with this letter, v25.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they heard; "We heard that some men from our church went to you and said things that confused and upset you", Peterson.

exelqonteV (exercomai) aor. part. "[some] went out" - [certain] having gone out from. This variant is generally accepted by translators. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to trouble"; "some persons have gone out from us and troubled you", ESV.

ex (ek) + gen. "from [us]" - from [us]. This preposition, in a construction like "certain from us", would usually be treated as partitive, but the presence of the ex prefix participle "having gone out" implies that it is nothing more than an idiomatic repetition of the prefix, reinforcing source / origin.

oi|V dat. pro. "[without our authorisation]" - [we did not give instructions to] whom. Dative of direct object after the dia prefix verb "to give instructions to" / dative of persons.

anaskeuazonteV (anaskeuazw) pres. part. "disturbed [you]" - [troubled you with words] distressing, upsetting, unsettling [the souls of you]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as consecutive, expressing the result of the false teachings promoted by the judaizers. The dative logoiV, "words", is probably instrumental, expressing means. "They troubled you by means of their teachings, with the result that they unsettled your minds."


Seeing that the letter is going out to Greek churches, Paul is given his Greek name, not his Semitic name, Saul. The two delegates will accompany Barnabas and Paul, toiV agaphtoiV, "the beloved", a word used in the gospels of Jesus.

hJmin dat. pro. "-" - [it seemed appropriate] to us. Dative of direct object of the verb "to think, suppose."

genomenoiV (ginomai) dat. aor. part. "we all agreed" - having become [of one mind]. Kellum suggests that it is adverbial, temporal, "after coming together ...", but, although it is anarthrous, we are best to follow Culy who classifies it as adjectival, attributive, limiting the dative pronoun "us", "it seemed good to us who have arrived at a unanimous agreement."

eklexamenoiV (eklegomai) dat. aor. part. "to choose" - having chosen [men]. The textual evidence for either a dative or an accusative is equally weighted. If we classify the participle as attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the infinitive pemyai, "to send", then accusative is likely, in that it agrees with the assumed accusative subject of the infinitive.

pemyai (pemyw) aor. inf. "and send" - to send [toward you with the beloved of us, barnabas and paul]. Technically, the infinitive forms a nominal construction serving as the subject of the impersonal use of the verb "to think, suppose"; for a complementary classification see plhrwqhnai, 1:16. The nominal construction consists of the rest of v25, as well as v26; "For us to select men and to send them to you with the beloved of us, Barnabas and Paul, men who ............, seemed appropriate to us who are agreed on this matter." Given that the impersonal subject of the verb "to think, suppose" expresses what is supposed, translations treat the infinitival construction as a dependent statement expressing what is thought / supposed = resolved by the Jerusalem church. "We have resolved unanimously to elect certain persons and send them to you in the company of Barnabas and Paul, those dearly-loved men who have dedicated their lives to defending the cause which bears the name of our Lord Jesus Christ", Cassirer.


The personal qualities of Paul and Barnabas are specified by the attributive participle paradedwkosi, "having delivered over [the lives of them]." The sense is unclear which is why the Western text adds "to every trial", a sense taken up by many translations: NIV, ESV, NRSV, CEV, Phillips, Barclay, ..... Of course, the intended sense could be "who have dedicated their lives", Cassirer; "laid their lives on the line", Junkins; "who have given up their lives to the cause of Jesus Christ", REB, ....

paradedwkosi (paradidwmi) perf. part. "[men] who have risked" - [men] delivered over, having handed over [the lives of them]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the noun "men".

uJper + gen. "for" - for [the name]. Expressing either representation, "on behalf of", or advantage, "for the benefit of."

hJmwn gen. pro. "our [Lord]" - [of the lord] of us [jesus christ]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, "our Lord", or idiomatic / subordination, "the Lord over us." The genitive, "Jesus Christ", stands in apposition to the genitive "Lord."


The two delegates are appointed to confirm (dia logou, "through word" = "by word of mouth / verbally") the contents of the letter

oun "therefore" - therefore [we have sent judas and silas]. Inferential, here serving to establish a logical connection, "accordingly, ...."

kai autouV "-" - and [they]. A strange construction which Barrett says reflects Semitic idiom. Kellum suggests that kai is ascensive, "also" and that autouV is reflective, "themselves"; "who also will themselves deliver the same report by word of mouth", Bruce Gk.

apaggellontaV (apaggelw) pres. part. "to confirm" - announcing, reporting. Culy opts for an adjectival participle, attributive, limiting autouV, "themselves who will confirm." Kellum, also Rogers Gk. suggests that the participle is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to report / confirm the letter verbally", although the participle is accusative, with the subject of the action, "we", nominative. Note that the present tense is used here to express future action.

uper + gen. "by [word of mouth]" - through [the word]. Instrumental, expressing means, "through, by means of." An idiomatic expression meaning "orally".

ta neut. pl. pro. "what we are writing" - the same things. The article serves as a nominalizer, turning the identical adjective auta, "same", into nominal phrase, object of the participle "announcing, reporting; "who will tell you in person the same things that we are writing", CEV.


c) The regulations, v28-29. The words used here describe the process of a Christian gathering prayerfully resolving an issue under God's guiding hand. Most translations opt for a literal approach, although the sense is nothing more than "We have prayerfully resolved." The Holy Spirit is specifically identified "because of the practical realisation of his presence in the early church", Bruce Gk. When it comes to the wording of the instruction, instead of a "We demand that", we have an expression which amounts to moral guidance. A bit like when Paul gives his advice on the issue of marriage. He qualifies his advice with "I, not the Lord", 1Cor.7:12, but later reminds his readers, with respect to his opinion, "I believe that I too have the Spirit of God", v40. So, the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church, after prayerful consideration, offer the following moral advice, namely that Gentiles should not be burdened with the requirements of the Mosaic law, moral and cultic, with respect to salvation, (Luke specified the issue in 15:1), apart from "respecting certain salutary restraints", Bruce Gk.

gar "-" - for. More reason than cause, explanatory, detailing the instructions which the delegates are to bear witness to.

edoxen (dokew) aor. "It seemed good" - it seemed appropriate. The indefinite use of the verb "to seem, think, suppose", repeats the construction used in v22. The infinitive epitiqesqai, "to put upon, lay upon", forms a nominal phrase which serves as the subject of this verb; "to not put upon you no more burden except the following necessary things, seemed appropriate to the Spirit and to us." Again, given that the subject of the verb expresses what seems appropriate, the sentence is best constructed as a dependent statement of perception expressing what seems appropriate, namely that .....

tw/ pneumati (a atoV) dat. "to the [Holy] Spirit" - to the spirit [the holy one, and to us]. As with the dative hJmin, "to us", dative of direct object after the verb "to seem, suppose, think."

epitiqesqai (epitiqhmi) pres. inf. "[not] to burden" - [no more burden] to lay upon, put upon. The infinitive serves as the subject of the impersonal verb "it seemed appropriate"; see v22. The accusative subject of the infinitive is the noun baroV, "burden, load."

uJmin dat. pro. "you" - you. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix infinitive "to lay upon."

plhn + gen. "beyond" - except. Introducing an exceptive clause; "except these which are necessary." "Beyond these essentials", REB, etc. "We have prayerfully concluded that you should not be burdened by the Law of Moses, other than be responsible for the following matters, essential for the maintenance of fellowship between Jews and Gentiles."

twn "-" - [these things] the ones [necessarily]. The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the adverb "necessarily" into an attributive adjective limiting the substantive pronoun toutwn, "these things; "these things which are necessary." The REB etc., "essentials", is too strong; the ESV "requirements" is better - see paraphrase above.


See v20 for notes on the list of requirements. The instruction on "sexual immorality" is moved to the end of the list, lessening its connection with idol worship and increasing the probability that it has a social function. As already noted, the Western text (specifically codex D) removes the instruction on strangled meats and replaces it with a version of "Do unto others ....." - an early example of the church's failure to properly understand the function of these instructions.

apecesqai (apecw) pres. mid. inf. "you are to abstain" - to be far off, keep away from [meat offered to idols, and blood, and strangled, and prostitution]. Epexegetic infinitive specifying toutwn twn epanagkeV, "these necessary things."

diathrounteV (diathrew) pres. part. "to avoid [these things]" - keeping [yourselves from which you will do well. be strengthened = farewell]. Given the future verb paraxete, "you will do [well]", the participle is conditional, introducing a conditional clause (most likely 3rd. class), "if, as may be the case, you keep yourselves from which (these things), then you will do well"; "If you follow these guidelines you will be fine", Junkins. "These guidelines are sufficient to keep relations congenial between us. And God be with you!", Peterson.


ii] The Church in Antioch receives the delegation, v30-34.

oiJ men oun "so the men" - the ones therefore. Transitional construction, with men oun (see 1:6) indicating a step in the narrative, and the article oiJ indicating a change in subject from the instructions to the delegates.

apoluqenteV (apoluw) aor. pas. part. "were sent off" - having been released [they went down into antioch]. Although the article oiJ may be taken with the participle to form a substantive, it is more likely that the participle is serving an adverbial function, best treated as temporal; "When the messengers were dispatched, they went down to Antioch", Moffatt.

sunagagonteV (sunagw) aor. part. "they gathered" - [and] having gathered together [the multitude, they delivered the letter]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal; "after gathering the congregation together, they handed over the letter to them", Phillips.


The church happily receives the instructions.

anagnonteV (anaginwskw) aor. part. "[the people] read it" - [but/and] having read it. The participle is adverbial, again best treated as temporal; "When they had read the letter", Barclay.

epi + dat. "[they were glad] for" - [they rejoiced] upon [the encouragement]. Here most likely with a causal sense; "they rejoiced on the basis of / because of ......" The noun paraklhsiV, "encouragement, exhortation", probably has the sense here of "earnest request, earnest appeal." The response of joy is likely related to the limited demands laid on them, so they "rejoiced with feelings of relief", Junkins.


Luke specifies that the two delegates are prophets (the Western text adds that they are "filled with the Holy Spirit"). The term is not being used here of predictive prophecy, the Agabus type, but of someone who exercises a word-ministry of exposition, exhortation and encouragement, for the perseverance of faith.

te kai "[Judas] and [Silas]" - both [judas] and [silas]. Coordinating construction.

o[nteV (eimi) pres. part. "who [themselves] were" - being [and = also themselves prophets]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Judas and Silas."

dia + gen. "-" - through [many words exhorted the brothers and strengthened them]. Instrumental, expressing means, "by means of many words"; "said much to encourage the Christian community, and to settle them more firmly in the faith", Barclay.


A variant reading has Silas remain in Antioch, given that Luke records a person named Silas joining Paul's missionary team sometime later (AV v34). In contrast to the original unofficial delegates from Jerusalem who cause endless trouble and are probably sent packing, the official delegates are warmly received and are sent back met eirhnhV, "with peace"; "in a spirit of peace", Cassirer; "with every good wish for their welfare", Barclay; "with laughter and embraces all around", Peterson.

poihsanteV (poiew) aor. part. "after spending [some time]" - [but/and] having done [time]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

apo + gen. "by [the believers]" - from [the brothers]. Expressing separation, "away from." Usually translated here to express agency.

met (meta) + gen. "with [the blessing of peace]" - [they were released] with [peace]. Adverbial use of the preposition, modal, expressing the manner in which the delegates are sent on their way.

touV aposteilanteV (apostellw) aor. part. "those who had sent [them]" - [toward] the ones having sent [them]. The participle serves as a substantive.


iii] Conclusion - background note, v35. Luke reinforces Paul's ongoing teaching ministry in the church at Antioch (didaskw, "to teach"), as well as his evangelistic ministry to the wider community, (euaggelizw, "to communicate important news", ie., the gospel). This ministry is exercised by Paul and Barnabas, along with others church members; "teaching and telling, along with many others, the Good News of the message of the Lord", Barclay.

meta + gen. "[where they] and [many others]" - [but/and paul and barnabas were staying in antioch, and = also] with [many others]. Expressing association, accompaniment; "along with many others."

didaskonteV (didaskw) pres. part. "taught [and preached]" - teaching [and communicating important news = evangelising]. As with "evangelising", the participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of their stay in Antioch; they "remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of God", ESV.

tou kuriou (ou) gen. "of the Lord" - [the word] of the lord. The genitive is adjectival, limiting "word", and may be classified as either verbal, subjective, "the word delivered by the Lord", or idiomatic / source, "the word from the Lord."


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