|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:7-21 We see from the words purifying their hearts by faith, and the address of St. Peter, that justification by faith, and sanctification by the Holy Ghost, cannot be separated; and that both are the gift of God. We have great cause to bless God that we have heard the gospel. May we have that faith which the great Searcher of hearts approves, and attests by the seal of the Holy Spirit. Then our hearts and consciences will be purified from the guilt of sin, and we shall be freed from the burdens some try to lay upon the disciples of Christ. Paul and Barnabas showed by plain matters of fact, that God owned the preaching of the pure gospel to the Gentiles without the law of Moses; therefore to press that law upon them, was to undo what God had done. The opinion of James was, that the Gentile converts ought not to be troubled about Jewish rites, but that they should abstain from meats offered to idols, so that they might show their hatred of idolatry. Also, that they should be cautioned against fornication, which was not abhorred by the Gentiles as it should be, and even formed a part of some of their rites. They were counselled to abstain from things strangled, and from eating blood; this was forbidden by the law of Moses, and also here, from reverence to the blood of the sacrifices, which being then still offered, it would needlessly grieve the Jewish converts, and further prejudice the unconverted Jews. But as the reason has long ceased, we are left free in this, as in the like matters. Let converts be warned to avoid all appearances of the evils which they formerly practised, or are likely to be tempted to; and caution them to use Christian liberty with moderation and prudence.
Verse 12. - And for then, A.V.; they hearkened for gave audience, A.V.; rehearsing what signs for declaring what miracles, A.V. Kept silence; marking the contrast between the noisy questionings and disputings which had preceded Peter's speech, and the quiet orderly attention with which they now listened to Paul and Barnabas, telling them of the conversion of the Gentiles. It recalls Virgil's description of the effect of the presence of a man of grave piety upon an excited crowd -
"Tum, pielate gravem ac meritis si forte virum quem
Aspexere, silent, arrectisque auribus adslant."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then all the multitude kept silence,.... Upon this oration of Peter's, there was a profound silence in the whole assembly, among all the brethren of the church, who were come together on this occasion; they were all satisfied with, and by their silence acquiesced in, what Peter said; and waited to hear what might be further said about this matter, by other persons in the assembly; and even those who were on the other side of the question, were confounded and nonplussed, and knew not what to say, and the more so, when they perceived that the rest of the apostles and elders were of the same mind; for Beza's most ancient copy introduces this clause thus; "then the elders agreeing to the things that were said by Peter, the whole multitude was silent": and this gave Paul and Barnabas an opportunity of being heard; who, perhaps, could not so well be heard before, for the clamour of the people against them, who might not have so good an opinion of them, and of their practices:
and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul; Barnabas is mentioned first, he being most known to the Jews, and of whom they might have the better opinion; and who probably gave the account of their proceedings and success among the Gentiles:
declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them; what wonders of grace were wrought in the conversion of multitudes of them, wherever they came; and what miracles in nature were wrought for the confirmation of the Gospel, such as the striking blind Elymas the sorcerer, at Paphos in Cyprus, and curing the cripple at Lystra; and which they ascribe not to themselves but to God, whose instruments they only were.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. Then all … gave audience to Barnabas and Paul—On this order of the names here, see on Ac 15:25.
declaring what miracles and signs God wrought among the Gentiles by them—This detail of facts, immediately following up those which Peter had recalled to mind, would lead all who waited only for divine teaching to see that God had Himself pronounced the Gentile converts to be disciples in as full standing as the Jews, without circumcision; and the attesting miracles to which Paul here refers would tend, in such an assembly to silence opposition.
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