15:1 And 1a 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 Cerinthus.
15:22 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
(2) Meetings of congregations were instituted to suppress
heresies, to which certain were sent by common consent on
behalf of all.
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
15:63 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,
(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
15:9 And put no d difference between us and them, purifying
their hearts e by faith.
(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 faith.
15:105 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 to bear?
(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 apostle.
(f) Why do you tempt God, as though he could not save by
15:126 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
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 Lord's
15:147 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.
15:18h Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of
(h) And therefore nothing comes to pass by chance, but
only by God's appointment.
15:198 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
15:229 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.
15:2410 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".
15:2811 For it seemed good to the n Holy Ghost, and o to
us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these p
(11) That is a lawful council, which the Holy Spirit rules.
(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
(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
15:2912 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
(12) Charity is required even in indifferent matters.
15:3013 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 few.
15:33 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."
15:3614 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.
15:3715 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
15:3916 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.