|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:1-18 The imperfect state of human nature strongly appears, when godly persons are displeased even to hear that the word of God has been received, because their own system has not been attended to. And we are too apt to despair of doing good to those who yet, when tried, prove very teachable. It is the bane and damage of the church, to shut out those from it, and from the benefit of the means of grace, who are not in every thing as we are. Peter stated the whole affair. We should at all times bear with the infirmities of our brethren; and instead of taking offence, or answering with warmth, we should explain our motives, and show the nature of our proceedings. That preaching is certainly right, with which the Holy Ghost is given. While men are very zealous for their own regulations, they should take care that they do not withstand God; and those who love the Lord will glorify him, when made sure that he has given repentance to life to any fellow-sinners. Repentance is God's gift; not only his free grace accepts it, but his mighty grace works it in us, grace takes away the heart of stone, and gives us a heart of flesh. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit.
Verse 2. - They that were of the circumcision. At first sight this phrase, which was natural enough in Acts 10:45, seems an unnatural one in the then condition of the Church, when all the members of it were "of the circumcision," and there were no Gentile converts at all. But the explanation of it is to be found in the circumstance of St. Luke himself being a Gentile; perhaps also, as Alford suggests, in his use of language suited to the time when he wrote. It is an indication, too, of the purpose of St. Luke in writing his history, viz. to chronicle the progress of Gentile Christianity. Peter, having completed his rounds (Acts 9:32), returned to Jerusalem, which was still the abode of the apostles. He was, no doubt, anxious to commune with his brother apostles upon the momentous matter of the Gentile converts; but he was at once attacked by the bigotry of the zealous Jews.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem,.... From Caesarea, after he had stayed some certain days in Cornelius's house; so a journey from Caesarea to Jerusalem is called an ascending from the one to the other, Acts 25:1 because Jerusalem stood on higher ground, as well as was the metropolis of the country; and this was a journey of six hundred furlongs, or seventy five miles, for so far, according to Josephus (t), was Caesarea distant from Jerusalem:
they that were of the circumcision, which phrase designs not only the circumcised Jews that believed in Christ, for such were all they of the church at Jerusalem, or at least proselytes that had been circumcised, for as yet there were no uncircumcised Gentiles among them; but those of them, who were most strenuous for circumcision, and made it not only a bar of church communion, but even of civil conversation:
these contended with him; litigated the point, disputed the matter with him, complained against him, and quarrelled with him. Epiphanius says (u), that Cerinthus, that arch-heretic, was at the head of this contention.
(t) De Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 3. sect. 5. (u) Contr. Haeres. l. 1. Haeres. 28.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. they … of the circumcision—not the Jewish Christians generally, for here there were no other, but such as, from their jealousy for "the middle wall of partition" which circumcision raised between Jew and Gentile, were afterwards known as "they of the circumcision." They doubtless embraced apostles as well as others.
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