Acts 11:30
Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
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(30) And sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.—The elders of the Church are here named for the first time, and appear henceforth as a permanent element of its organisation, which in this respect followed the arrangements of the Synagogue. Officers filling like functions were known in the Gentile churches as Episcopi = Bishops, or Superintendents, and where Jews and Gentiles were mingled, the two names were interchangeable, as in Acts 20:17-18; Titus 1:5; Titus 1:7. See also Notes on Philippians 1:1; 1Peter 5:1-2. In St. James’s Epistle (James 5:14), written probably about this time, the “elders” are mentioned as visiting the sick, and anointing them with oil as a means of healing.

It may be noted that this visit to Jerusalem has been identified by some writers with that of which the Apostle speaks in Galatians 2:1. It will be shown, however, in the Notes on Acts 15 that it is far more likely that he speaks of the journey there narrated. St. Luke would hardly have passed over the facts to which St. Paul refers, had they occurred on this occasion; nor are there any signs that the Pharisaic party had at this time felt strong enough to insist on the circumcision of the Gentile converts. It is probable that the journey would be timed so as to coincide with one of the Jewish festivals, and judging by the analogy of St. Paul’s other visits, we may think of this as coinciding with that of Pentecost. (See Notes on Acts 18:21; Acts 20:16.)

11:25-30 Hitherto the followers of Christ were called disciples, that is, learners, scholars; but from that time they were called Christians. The proper meaning of this name is, a follower of Christ; it denotes one who, from serious thought, embraces the religion of Christ, believes his promises, and makes it his chief care to shape his life by Christ's precepts and example. Hence it is plain that multitudes take the name of Christian to whom it does not rightly belong. But the name without the reality will only add to our guilt. While the bare profession will bestow neither profit nor delight, the possession of it will give both the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Grant, Lord, that Christians may forget other names and distinctions, and love one another as the followers of Christ ought to do. True Christians will feel for their brethren under afflictions. Thus will fruit be brought forth to the praise and glory of God. If all mankind were true Christians, how cheerfully would they help one another! The whole earth would be like one large family, every member of which would strive to be dutiful and kind.Sent it to the elders - Greek: to the presbyters. This is the first mention which we have in the New Testament of elders, or presbyters, in the Christian church. The word literally denotes "aged men," but in the Jewish synagogue it was merely a name of office. It is clear, however, I think, that the elders of the Jewish synagogue here are not included, for the relief Was intended for the "brethren" (Acts 11:29); that is, the Christians who were at Jerusalem, and it is not probable that a charity like. this would have been entrusted to the hands of Jewish elders. The connection here does not enable us to determine anything about the sense in which the word was used. I think it probable that it does not refer to officers in the church, but that it means simply that the charity was entrusted to the aged, prudent, and experienced men in the church, for distribution among the members. Calvin supposes that the apostles were particularly intended. But this is not probable. It is possible that the deacons, who were probably aged men, may be here particularly referred to, but it seems more probable that the charity was sent to the aged members of the church without respect to their office, to be distributed according to their discretion. 30. sent it to the elders—an office well known to be borrowed from the synagogue; after the model of which, and not at all of the temple, the Christian Churches were constituted by the apostles.

by the hands of Barnabas and Saul—This was Saul's Second Visit to Jerusalem after his conversion.

To the elders; to the apostles; or if they (as it is probable) were gone out of Jerusalem, to the governors or chief of the churches; for the famine being to come over all Judea, it is most probable that the other churches, besides that in Jerusalem, did partake of this bounty.

Which they also did,.... They not only determined, but they put their resolutions into execution, and acted according to a rule which the apostle recommends, 2 Corinthians 8:11

and sent it to the elders; to the apostles; for though there were deacons there, yet they chose to send it to them, that they might put it into proper hands to distribute to the necessitous: and this collection they sent

by the hands of Saul and Barnabas; of this journey to Jerusalem, Paul makes no mention in Galatians 1:17.

Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Acts 11:30. ὃ καὶ ἐποίησαν κ.τ.λ.: a question arises as to whether this took place during, or at a later date than, Herod’s persecution in 44 A.D.—the year of his death. Bishop Lightfoot (with whom Dr. Sanday and Dr. Hort substantially agree) maintains that Barnabas and Saul went up to Jerusalem in the early months of 44, during Herod’s persecution, deposited their διακονία with the elders, and returned without delay. If we ask why “elders” are mentioned, and not Apostles, the probability is suggested that the Apostles had fled from Jerusalem and were in hiding. Against this view Ramsay strongly protests, not only on account of the part assigned to the leading Apostles, but also because of the meaning which he attaches to the διακονία of Barnabas and Saul (see on Acts 12:25). The elders, not Apostles, are mentioned because the embassy was of a purely business kind, and it was not fit that the Apostles should serve tables. Moreover, Ramsay places the visit of Barnabas and Saul to Jerusalem in 45, or preferably in 46, at the commencement of the great famine in Judæa—not in 44, but in 45. Still, as Dr. Sanday urges, the entire omission of any reference to the Apostles is strange (cf. Blass on Acts 11:30, Acts 12:17, who holds that the Apostles had fled), especially as elsewhere Apostles and elders are constantly bracketed together as a single body (Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22-23, Acts 16:4, cf. Acts 21:18). Nor does it follow that because James, presumably “the brother of the Lord,” is mentioned as remaining in Jerusalem during the persecution (but see Lightfoot, Gal., p. 127, note), which his reputation for sanctity amongst his countrymen might have enabled him to do, that the other Apostles could have done so with equal safety. But Ramsay at all events relieves us from the difficulty involved in the entrance of Paul into Jerusalem at a time of persecution, and the more so in view of the previous plots against his life, a difficulty which is quite unsatisfactorily met by supposing that Paul did not enter the city at all for some unknown reasons, or more unsatisfactorily still by attributing to the author of Acts a mistake in asserting that any visit of Paul to Jerusalem was made at this time. On the chronological order involved in accordance with the two views mentioned, see Ramsay, St. Paul, pp. 48 ff., 68, 69; Lightfoot, Gal., p. 124, note; and, as space forbids more, for the whole question Expositor for February and March, 1896; Lightfoot, Gal., p. 123 ff.; Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 61, and Ecclesia, p. 62; Wendt, p. 265 (1888) and p. 218 (1899).—τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους, see previous verse. It is also noticeable that St. Luke gives no account of the appointment of the elders; he takes it for granted. These Christian elders are therefore in all probability no new kind of officers, but a continuation in the Christian Church of the office of the זְקֵנִים, πρεσβύτεροι, to whom probably the government of the Synagogue was assigned—hence we may account for St. Luke’s silence (Moberly, Ministerial Priesthood, p. 141; Hort, Ecclesia, p. 62; Lightfoot, Phil., pp. 191–193; “Bishop” (Gwatkin), Hastings’ B.D.). In the Christian συναγωγή (Jam 2:2) there would naturally be elders occupying a position of trust and authority. There is certainly no reason to regard them as the Seven under another name (so Zeller, Ritschl), although it is quite conceivable that if the Seven represented the Hellenists, the elders may have been already in existence as representing the Hebrew part of the Church. But there is need to guard against the exaggeration of the Jewish nature of the office in question. In the N.T. we find mention of elders, not merely so on account of age, not merely as administrative and disciplinary officers (Hatch, Bampton Lectures, pp. 58, 61), as in a Jewish synagogue, but as officers of the Christian Church with spiritual functions, cf. Jam 5:14, 1 Peter 5:2, Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5, and also 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14, Hebrews 13:7 (see Mayor, St. James, p. cxxviii; Gore, Church and the Ministry, pp. 253, 263, and note ). At the same time there is nothing to surprise us in the fact that the administration of alms should be connected in loco with the office of elders. If they were representing the Apostles at the time in Jerusalem, it is what we should expect, since the organisation of almsgiving remained part of the Apostolic office, Galatians 2:10, 2 Corinthians 8, etc.; and if in a passage from Polycarp (quoted by Dr. Hatch) we find the two connected—the presbyterate and what looks like the administration of alms, Polycarp, Phil., vi., xi.—this again need not surprise us, since not only in the N.T., but from the passage referred to in Polycarp, it is evident that the elders, whilst they exercised judicial and administrative functions, exercised also spiritual gifts, and discharged the office of teachers, functions to which there was nothing analogous in the Jewish presbyters (see Gore, u. s., note , and Gwatkin, u. s., p. 302). To turn back the sheep that are gone astray (ἐπιστρέφοντες τὰ ἀποπεπλανημένα) is one of the first commands laid by Polycarp in his Epistle upon the Christian Presbyters (vi., quoted by Hatch), and from this alone it would appear that a familiar title in the Jewish Church passed into the Church of Christ, gaining therein a new and spiritual power. See further on Acts 20:17, and for the use of the word in inscriptions, Deissmann, Bibelstudien, p. 153, and Neue Bibelstudien, p. 160.

30. to the elders] The Greek word = presbyters. This is the first time we come upon the term in the Christian history. In Acts 20:17 they are again mentioned and there called “presbyters,” though in the same narrative (Acts 11:28) they are termed “overseers,” episcopoi, i.e. bishops. No doubt at first the office of elder or presbyter comprised, beside the work of teaching, the general oversight of one, or it may be more, Churches. As the Church increased in numbers these duties were separated and the general superintendence and control assigned to one who was called overseer or bishop.

by the hands of Barnabas and Saul] The character and labours of these had marked them out as the most fit men to be bearers of this help, and it was from Jerusalem that Barnabas had been sent at first to Antioch.

Acts 11:30. Πρὸς τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους, to the elders) [through whose agency it should be distributed to the brethren.—V. g.] Therefore the office of the seven deacons, and the community of goods, no longer now were on the same footing as at the beginning: but they were not, however, on the same footing as in our day.—Βαρνάβα καὶ Σαύλου, of Barnabas and Saul) “Here thou seest how they regard as a weighty and serious business this collection for the poor saints: otherwise they would not employ so great personages, and these moreover leaders in the ministry of the word, Paul and Barnabas. So above, in ch. 6, we heard of most influential and spiritual men having been appointed Deacons. So, in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul says that he did not employ in this business any persons except such as were of approved faith. And yet we in our day think it sufficient to commit this so great a business to any persons whatever, from whatever quarter they may present themselves to us.”—Justus Jonas.

Verse 30. - Sending for and sent, A.V.; hand for hands, A.V. Sending (ἀποστείλαντες᾿. Those by whom they sent were ἀπόστολοι (2 Corinthians 8:23), messengers, or apostles, To the elders. This is the first mention of presbyters, or elders, in the Church at Jerusalem, which was now fully organized. James the Less was the resident apostle (?) and bishop; with him were the presbyters (Acts 21:18); and under them again the seven deacons (Acts 6:5, 6). The presbyters of the Church of Jerusalem are mentioned again in Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; Acts 16:4; Acts 21:18; James 5:13, where, however, the elders of other Churches in Judaea may possibly be included. A difficulty arises with regard to Saul's mission to Jerusalem with Barnabas, as to how to reconcile it with Galatians 2:1, which speaks of St. Paul's second visit to Jerusalem as taking place fourteen years after his first, whereas this visit could not be above four or five years after. But there are three hypotheses about the visit to Jerusalem referred to in Galatians 2.

1. The first identifies it with the visit here recorded.

2. The second identifies it with that related in Acts 15:2, etc., which is supported by most of the best authorities ancient and modern (see note on Acts 15.).

3. The third, which is advocated by Lewin ('Life of St. Paul,' vol. 1:302, etc.), identifies it with the visit recorded in Acts 18:22. As regards the first, with which we are now concerned, though at first sight you would have ex-peered St. Paul's next visit to Jerusalem after his conversion to be the one alluded to in Galatians it., yet the following circumstances make this impossible.

(1) The date of the visit named in Galatians it, which is distinctly stated to be fourteen years after that recorded in Acts 9:26 (ἔπειτα διὰ δεκατεσσάρων ἐτῶν πάλιν ἀνέβην κ.τ.λ.).

(2) When St. Paul went to Jerusalem on the occasion adverted to in Galatians it.," he laid before them the gospel which he preached among the Gentiles." But at the time of this visit he had not yet begun his labors among the Gentiles (ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσι), to which he was only called after his return (Acts 13:2).

(3) On the occasion spoken of in Galatians it, Paul and Barnabas were received by the chief apostles, and must have passed a considerable time at Jerusalem, with many consultations and meetings, public and private. But on this occasion, as far as appears, their visit was a very hasty one, and they saw no one but the presbyters, and returned as soon as they had handed over the collection to them (Acts 12:25). The conclusion, therefore, seems quite certain that this is not the visit referred to in Galatians it. And the hasty nature of this visit explains at once why St. Paul made no count of it in his statement to the Galatians. It had no bearing upon the course of his argument. It was not a visit to Jerusalem in the sense in which he was speaking, and he saw none of the apostles. The state of the Church at the time, James the son of Zebedee killed, Peter in prison or lately escaped "to another place" (Acts 12:17), the other apostles very likely dispersed, made it impossible. He therefore took no count of it in his statement to the Galatians. This seems quite a sufficient explanation (see the note of Bishop Ellicott on Galatians 2:1, and Bishop Lightfoot's convincing remarks at p. 113 of his 'Epistle to the Galatians'). There is no occasion to resort to the violent expedient of Renan, and say that Saul did not go with Barnabas at this time.

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