Acts 15:14
Simeon has declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
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(14) Simeon hath declared . . .—The Greek form is Symeon, as in 2Peter 1:1. The use of the old Hebrew form of the Apostle’s name, instead of the more familiar Simon, was natural in the Galilean speaker, and is presumptive evidence in favour of our having a report from notes made at the time.

Did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people.—The two words present an emphatic contrast. The Jews claimed for themselves the exclusive right to the latter term. They alone were the “people,” the rest of mankind were the “nations”—the “heathen.” St. James proclaims that out of those heathen nations a people had been taken who were as truly God’s people as Israel had ever been. He, too, recognises the change as fully as St. Paul does, when in Romans 9:26 he quotes the memorable prophecy of Hosea 1:10. St. James as well as St. Peter had, it is clear, profited by the private teaching referred to in Galatians 2:2.

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.Simeon - This is a Hebrew name. The Greek mode of writing it commonly was Simon. It was one of the names of Peter, Matthew 4:18.

To take out of them a people - To choose from among the Gentries those who should be his friends.

14-17. Simeon—a Hebrew variation of Simon, as in 2Pe 1:1; (Greek), the Jewish and family name of Peter.

hath declared how God at the first—answering to Peter's own expression "a good while ago" (Ac 15:7).

did visit the Gentiles to take out of them—in the exercise of His adorable sovereignty.

a people for his name—the honor of his name, or for His glory.

Simeon, or Simon, the name of Peter; but St. Luke, being himself a Hebrew, writes it according as they pronounced it, and not so contracted as the Greeks wrote it.

A people; there were some at all times probably amongst the Gentiles who did fear God, as Job and his three friends; but they did not make a people, or such a number as is here spoken of.

For his name: God takes out of the world a people for his name, that is,

1. For himself; as, Proverbs 18:10, the name of the Lord is put for the Lord himself.

2. For to call upon his name, as also for to be called by his name.

3. For his glory and honour, and to magnify his name. Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles,.... James begins with taking notice of Peter's speech, and agrees to it, and confirms it; for by Simeon is not meant, as some have thought, the Simeon that took Christ in his arms, Luke 2:25 who had been dead long ago; but Simon Peter, who had spoken before. Simon and Simeon are one and the same name; the former is only a contraction of the latter in the Syriac language; Simeon was his pure Hebrew name, and James speaking to an assembly of Hebrews, uses it; and observes, that he had given a very clear and distinct narrative, how God at the first preaching of the Gospel, quickly after the day of Pentecost, was pleased to look upon the Gentiles, and show favour to them, and visit them in a way of grace and mercy, by sending the Gospel to them, and his Spirit to make it effectual: this was a gracious visit; he came and looked upon them, quickened them, and spoke comfortably to them, and bestowed special favours upon them; the set time for such a visit being come: the Arabic version renders it, "how God first promised"; referring to the promises concerning the calling of the Gentiles, which James afterwards confirms by citing a passage out of the prophets to the same purpose: the Syriac version, "how God began to choose out of the Gentiles": that is, by calling them by his grace; and the Ethiopic version, "how God first had mercy on the Gentiles"; who before had not obtained mercy:

to take out of them a people for his name; for himself, for his own glory, to call upon his name, and to be called by his name, to bear his name, and support his Gospel, cause and interest: the distinguishing grace of God may be seen herein; it was grace to visit them, to look upon them, when for many hundreds of years he had overlooked them, he had taken no notice of them; and it was distinguishing grace to take some out of them, to be a special and peculiar people to himself; to separate them from the rest by his powerful and efficacious grace, and form them into a church state, that they might show forth his praise and glorify him.

{7} 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.

Acts 15:14-17. Συμεών] formed after the Hebrew שִׁמְעוֹן (2 Peter 1:1; LXX. Genesis 29:33; Luke 2:25; Luke 3:30; Acts 13:1; Revelation 7:7), while the more usual Σίμων (1 Chronicles 4:20) corresponds to the Rabbinical סימון. In the Talmud also both forms of the name are used side by side. Moreover, the original name of Peter was still the current one in the church of Jerusalem. Comp. on Luke 24:34. We are not to think of any intentional use of it in this passage (that Peter was not here to be regarded according to his apostolic dignity, Baumgarten).

ἐπεσκέψ. λαβ. ἐξ ἐθν. λαὸν τῷ ὀν. αὑτοῦ] he looked to (took care for) the receiving from the Gentiles a people for His name, i.e. a people of God, a people that bore the name of God as their ruler and proprietor. “Egregium paradoxon,” Bengel. Comp. Acts 18:10; Romans 9:24-26.

Acts 15:15. τούτῳ] neuter: and with this, namely, with this fact expressed by λαβεῖν ἐξ ἐθνῶν κ.τ.λ., agree, etc.

καθὼς γέγραπται] He singles out from the λογοί τῶν προφ. a passage (comp. Acts 20:35), in conformity with which that agreement takes place, namely, Amos 9:11-12, quoted freely by Luke after the LXX. Amos predicts the blessed Messianic era, in which not only the Davidic theocracy, fallen into decay (by the division of the kingdom), will be again raised up (Acts 15:16), but also foreign nations will join themselves to it and be converted to the worship of Jehovah. According to the theocratic character of this prophecy, it has found its Messianic historical fulfilment in the reception of the Gentiles into Christianity, after that thereby the Davidic dominion, in the higher and antitypical sense of the Son of David (Luke 1:32), was re-established.

μετὰ ταῦτα] Hebrew and LXX.: ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ. The meaning is the same: after the pre-Messianic penal judgments, in the day of the Messianic restoration.

ἀναστρέψω καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω] Jehovah had withdrawn from His people; but now He promises by the prophet: I will return and build again the fallen (by desolation) tabernacle of David. Many assume the well-known Hebraism: iterum (אשׁוב) aedificabo. This would only be correct were אשׁוב in the original; but there stands only אָקִים, and in the LXX. only ἀναστήσω; and the idea of iterum is very earnestly and emphatically presented by the repetition of ἀνοικοδ. and by ἀνορθ.

τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυΐδ] The residence of David (the image of the theocracy) is represented as a (torn down and decayed) tabernacle, “quia ad magnam tenuitatem res ejus redactae erant,” Bengel.

ὅπως] not the result, but the design, with which what is promised in Acts 15:16 is to take place.

οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρ.] i.e. the Gentiles. The LXX., who certainly had before them another reading (לְמַעַן יִדְרְשׁוּ שְׁאֵרִית אָדָם אֶת יְהֹוָה), deviate considerably from the original text, which runs: לְמַעַן יִירְשׁוּ אֶת־שְׁאֵרִית אֱדוֹם, that they may possess the remainder of Edom; the remainder, for Amaziah had again subdued only a part of it, 2 Kings 14:7. As καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη κ.τ.λ. follows, James might have used even these words, as they are in the original, for his object,[27] and therefore no set purpose is to be assumed for his having given them according to the reading of the LXX. Perhaps they were only known to him and remembered in that reading; but possibly also they are only rendered in this form by Luke (or the Greek document used by him) without being so uttered by James, who spoke in Hebrew.

καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη κ.τ.λ.] καί after οἱ κατάλ. τ. ἀνθρ. is necessarily explicative (and indeed), and the emphasis of this more precise definition lies on πάντα; but the following ἐφʼ οὕς has an argumentative purpose: they upon whom, i.e. seeing that, indeed, upon all the Gentiles, etc.

ἐφʼ οὓς ἐπικέκλ. τ. ὄν. μου] quite a Hebrew expression (Gesenius, Thes. III. p. 1232): upon whom (אֲשֶׁר … עֲלֵיהֶם) is named (is uttered as naming them) my name, namely, as the name of their Lord, after whom they are designated, so that they are called “God’s people.”[28] Comp. Jam 2:7; Deuteronomy 28:10; Isaiah 63:19; Jeremiah 14:9; Daniel 9:19; Bar 2:15; 2Ma 8:15. They have the name already, inasmuch as the predicted future (comp. Romans 9:25 f.) is conceived as having already taken place, and as existing, in the counsel of God; a praeteritum propheticum, as in Jam 5:2-3. The view, in itself inadmissible, of Hitzig and others: “over whom my name (as that of their conqueror) has been formerly named,” was certainly not that of James.

ἐπʼ αὐτούς] is here to be explained not from the Greek use of the repetition of the pronoun (Fritzsche, Quaest. Luc. p. 109 f.; Göttling, ad Callim. p. 19 f.), but as an imitation of the Hebrew (Buttmann, neutest. Gramm. p. 240 f. [E. T. 280]).

ὁ ποιῶν ταῦτα γνωστὰ ἀπʼ αἰῶνος] Such is to be considered as the original text; the other words, Acts 15:18, are to be deleted. See the critical remarks. The Lord who does these things (the rebuilding of the theocracy and the conversion of all Gentiles designed by it)—known from the beginning. The γνωστὰ ἀπʼ αἰῶνος added to the prophetic words are not to be considered as the speaker’s own significant gloss accompanying the prophetic saying, for such a gloss would not have been so directly or so curtly added; but as part of the scriptural passage itself. The words must at that time either have belonged to the original text, as it presented itself to James, or to the text of the LXX., as Luke gives it, or to both, as a reading which is now no longer extant;[29] whereas there is now at the conclusion of Acts 15:11, כִּימֵי עוֹלָם (LXX.: καθὼς αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ αἰῶνος).

γνωστά] equivalent to γνωστὰ ὄντα, and therefore without an article. By whom they were known from the beginning, is evident from the context, namely, by God who accomplishes them (ποιῶν) in the fulness of time. He accordingly carries into effect nothing, which has not been from the beginning evident to Him in His consciousness and counsel; how important and sacred must they consequently appear! As Bengel well remarks: “ab aeterno scivit; quare non debemus id tanquam novum et mirum fugere.” Erroneously de Wette renders: what was known of old (through the prophets). Opposed to this is ἈΠʼ ΑἸῶΝΟς, which also means from the very beginning in Acts 3:21 and Luke 1:70; and how unimportant and superfluous would the thought itself be!

[27] Comp. Hengstenberg, Christol. I. p. 456.

[28] The Greek would say: οἳ κέκληνται (or ἐπικέκληνται) τὸ ὄνομά μου, or οἷς κέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου, or even ἐφʼ οἷς κέκληται τ. . μ. On ἐπικαλεῖν, to be distinguished from the simple καλεῖν as denoting an accessory naming, comp. especially Herod. viii. 44 (οὐνομαζόμενοιἐπεκλήθησαν).

[29] Comp. Ewald, p. 472, who would, however, read γνωστὸν ἀπ ̓ αἰῶνος τὸ ἔργον αὐτοῦ.Acts 15:14. Συμεὼν: Peter so named only here and in 2 Peter 2:1. The use of the word here in its old Hebrew form by James is exactly what we should expect, cf. Luke 2:25; Luke 2:34, W.H[284]; probably therefore the form current in Jerusalem, a form which reappears in the list of the successors of St. James in the bishopric of the Holy City, Eusebius, H. E., iv., 5, cf. Luke 24:34, from which also it would appear that the Hebrew name of Peter, in the contracted or uncontracted form, was current in Jerusalem.—πρῶτον like ἀπʼ ἀρ. ἡμ. in Acts 15:7.—ἐπεσκέψατο, cf. Jam 1:27, and above on Acts 7:23, Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 105.—λαβεῖν: infinitive of purpose, ἐξ ἐθνῶν λαὸν, ex gentibus populum, “egregium paradoxon” Bengel; the converts from among the Gentiles were no less than Israel the people of God. On ἔθνος and λαός see Acts 3:25.—τῷ ὀνόματι, i.e., who should bear His Name as a people of God, or may mean simply “for Himself,” God’s name being often so used. On the “pregnant use” of the word cf. Jam 2:7; Jam 5:10; Jam 5:14. St. James thus in his address agrees with St. Peter.

[284] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.14. Simeon (Symeon)] This more Jewish form of the name of the Apostle Peter is found also at the commencement of St Peter’s second Epistle. The Jews after they came to have much intercourse with Gentiles had frequently two forms of name, one of which was employed on religious and solemn occasions, the other in intercourse with non-Jews and in the ordinary transactions of life. Thus in the Apocrypha (1Ma 5:17, &c.) the name of the Maccabean prince is written Simon, though on his coins it stands Symeon (see Gesenius, s.v.).

how God at the first] Better, how God did first visit, &c. It was not at the first, but some time after the mission of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles that Cornelius was converted. What St Peter had narrated was the first acceptance of a Gentile into the church.

visit the Gentiles] In the old sense of “look upon,” and generally with the accompanying notion of kindness. (Cp. Luke 1:68; Luke 1:78; Luke 7:16; Hebrews 2:6.)

a people for his name] Thus “the chosen people” were no longer to be Jews only, and so those ceremonial ordinances which had hitherto marked out Jews from Gentiles might be seen to be unnecessary.Acts 15:14. Συμεὼν) The Latin Vulg. has Simon [So Amiat. MS.: other MSS. Simeon]. James, the apostle of the Hebrews, calls Peter by his Hebrew name.[86]—ἐξ ἐθνῶν λαὸν, a people from the Gentiles) A remarkable paradox.[87] And because they retain their former name, ἐθνῶν, the Gentiles or nations, from this James infers, that they would be the people of GOD, even though they are not by circumcision joined (gathered in to) to the Jewish people.—ἐπὶ) for. The same particle occurs, ch. Acts 2:38, Acts 4:17-18, “In the name.”[88]—[τῷ ὀνόματι, the name) This is demonstrated in Acts 15:17.—V. g.]

[86] Could the reference be to Simeon, Luke 2:25; Luke 2:31-32?—E. and T.

[87] λαὸς being the term always peculiar to the Jews, as opposed to τὰ ἔθνη.—E. and T.

[88] The margin of the larger Ed. and Ed. 2, however, prefer the omission of ἐπί.—E. B.

It is omitted by ACDEde Iren. Vulg. both Syr. Versions, Theb. It is retained by B (judging from the silence of the collators. But Lachm. in opposition to Tisch. makes B favour the omission) and Memph.—E. and T.Verse 14. - Symeon for Simeon, A.V.; rehearsed for declared, A.V.; first God for God at the first, A.V. Symeon. This is the only place (unless Symeon is the right reading in 2 Peter 1:1) in which Simon Peter's name is given in this Hebrew form, which is most proper in the month of James speaking to Palestine Jews. Singularly enough, Chrysostom was misled by it, and thought the prophecy of Simeon in Luke 1:31 was meant, How first; corresponding to the" good while ago" of ver. 7. Did visit, etc. The construction ἐπεσκέψατο λαβεῖν is very unusual, and indeed stands alone. The verb always has an accusative case after it (Acts 6:3; Acts 7:23; Acts 15:36), unless Luke 1:68 is an exception, which, however, it hardly is. There are two ways of construing the phrase. One is to consider it as elliptical, and to supply, as the A.V. and R.V. do, τὰ ἐθνή. So Alford, who compares the construction in Luke 1:25, where ἐπ ἐμέ must be supplied. But this is a harsh construction. The other and better way is to take ἐπεσκεψατο, not in the sense of" visiting," but of" looking out," or "endeavoring to find something." The sense of the infinitive after the verb is nearly equivalent to" look out for and took," literally, looked out how he might take. With a slight modification of meaning, Irenaeus (in 'Speaker's Commentary') renders it" Excogitavit accipere," "planned" or "contrived to take." A people for his Name; 1.e. to be called by his Name. Λαός was the peculiar designation of "the people" of God, answering to the Hebrew עַם (comp. 1 Peter 2:10, Οἱ ποτὲ οὐ λαὸς νῦν δὲ λαὸς Θεοῦ).
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