Acts 15:28
For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(28) It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us . . .—The measure was, the Apostles were persuaded, one of wisdom and charity, and they could not ascribe those gifts to any other source than the Spirit who gives a right judgment in all things. The words have since become almost a formula for the decrees of councils and synods, often used most recklessly when those decrees bore most clearly the marks of human policy and passion. Here we may well admit that the claim was founded on a real inspiration, remembering, however, as we do so, that an inspired commandment does not necessarily involve a permanent obligation. (See Note on next verse.)

To lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.—The words throw light upon the message addressed to the Church of Thyatira, “I will put upon you no other burden” (Revelation 2:24). Looking to the prominence in the Epistles to the Seven Churches of the two points of fornication and eating things sacrificed to idols, there can scarcely be the shadow of a doubt that we have in those words a distinct reference to the decree of the Council of Jerusalem. The letter does not say why these things were necessary, and the term was probably chosen as covering alike the views of those who held, like the Pharisee Christians, that they were binding on the Church for ever, and those who, like St. Paul, held that they were necessary only for the time, and as a measure of wise expediency.

Acts 15:28-29. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and, consequently, to us — This may include the decision which the Holy Spirit had given by his descent on Cornelius and his friends, but seems more directly to express the consciousness which this assembly had of being guided by his influences on their minds in the present determination. It cannot, however, be extended to any ecclesiastical councils that have not inspired apostles to preside, as this here had. To lay upon you no greater burden — They allude to the yoke spoken of Acts 15:10. So far were they from delighting to impose on the churches any mere human and unnecessary institutions, that they dreaded enjoining any thing which God had not required, and was not calculated to promote the faith and holiness of the new converts; than these necessary things — Some of the things here mentioned are of perpetual obligation upon Christians of all nations and ages, and they were all necessary for the peace of the church at that time, namely, to avoid giving offence to the converted Jews, and to promote brotherly love between them and the converted Gentiles. The first of them, however, was not necessary long, and the direction concerning it was therefore afterward repealed by the same Spirit, as we read in the former epistle to the Corinthians. With regard to abstaining from blood, concerning which there has been much controversy among divines, we may further observe here, that the eating of it was never permitted the children of God, from the beginning of the world. For, 1st, From Adam to Noah no man ate flesh at all; consequently, no man then ate blood. 2d, When God allowed Noah and his posterity to eat flesh, he absolutely forbade them to eat blood; and accordingly this, with the other six precepts of Noah, was delivered down from Noah to Moses. 3d, God renewed this prohibition by Moses, which was not repealed from the time of Moses till Christ came. 4th, Neither after his coming did any presume to repeal this decree of the Holy Ghost, till it seemed good to the bishop of Rome so to do, about the middle of the eighth century. 5th, From that time, those churches which acknowledged his authority held the eating of blood to be an indifferent thing. But, 6th, In all those churches which never did acknowledge the bishop of Rome’s authority, it never was allowed to eat blood, nor is it allowed at this day. This is the plain fact; let men reason as plausibly as they please, on one side or the other. From which keeping yourselves, ye will do well — That is, ye will find a blessing. This gentle manner of concluding was worthy the apostolical wisdom and goodness. But how soon did succeeding counsels, of inferior authority, change it into the style of anathemas! Forms which have proved an occasion of consecrating some of the most devilish passions under the most sacred names; and, like some ill-adjusted weapons of war, are most likely to hurt the hand from which they are thrown. The reader that wishes for further information on the subject of the prohibition of eating blood will find ample satisfaction in an excellent work of Dr. Delaney, entitled, Revelation examined with Candour; a work of great merit, although but little known. See vol. 2. p. 18, &c.

15:22-35 Being warranted to declare themselves directed by the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost, the apostles and disciples were assured that it seemed good unto God the Holy Spirit, as well as to them, to lay upon the converts no other burden than the things before mentioned, which were necessary, either on their own account, or from present circumstances. It was a comfort to hear that carnal ordinances were no longer imposed on them, which perplexed the conscience, but could not purify or pacify it; and that those who troubled their minds were silenced, so that the peace of the church was restored, and that which threatened division was removed. All this was consolation for which they blessed God. Many others were at Antioch. Where many labour in the word and doctrine, yet there may be opportunity for us: the zeal and usefulness of others should stir us up, not lay us asleep.For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost - This is a strong and undoubted claim to inspiration. It was with special reference to the organization of the church that the Holy Spirit had been promised to them by the Lord Jesus, Matthew 18:18-20; John 14:26.

No greater burden - To impose no greater restraints to enjoin no other observances. See the notes on Acts 15:10.

Than these necessary things - Necessary:

(1) In order to preserve the peace of the church.

(2) to conciliate the minds of the Jewish converts, Acts 15:21.

(3) in their circumstances particularly, because the crime which is specified - licentiousness was one to which all early converts were especially exposed. See the notes on Acts 15:20.

28, 29. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, &c.—The One, inwardly guiding to and setting His seal on the decision come to: the other, the external ecclesiastical authority devoutly embracing, expressing, and conveying to the churches that decision:—a great principle this for the Church in all time.

to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things … from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well—The whole language of these prohibitions, and of Ac 15:20, 21, implies that they were designed as concessions to Jewish feelings on the part of the Gentile converts, and not as things which were all of unchanging obligation. The only cause for hesitation arises from "fornication" being mixed up with the other three things; which has led many to regard the whole as permanently prohibited. But the remarks on Ac 15:20 may clear this (see on [2026]Ac 15:20). The then state of heathen society in respect of all the four things seems the reason for so mixing them up.

To the Holy Ghost, and to us; that is, unto us, assisted by the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is deservedly first mentioned, that the apostles might testify that they desired to say, write, or do nothing in which they had not the Spirit of God directing of them: and they mention the Spirit, that the Antiochians, unto whom they wrote, might be assured they were not human inventions which they recommended, but that they had the authority of God for them. Unto us; as ministers, or God’s stewards, who acquainted them with these things, in discharge of their duty, and that they might appear themselves to be faithful.

Burden; the yoke spoken of, Acts 15:10.

Necessary things: to be sure, several of the things here spoken of are not absolutely necessary unto salvation, or simply, and in their own nature, necessary, as to abstain from blood, &c.; but though they are not necessary always and at all times, yet in this place, and at this time, they were necessary for the peace of the church, and to avoid giving of offence to the converted Jews, and to nourish brotherly love between them and the Gentiles.

For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us,.... By various things they had reason doubtless to conclude, that they were under the influence and direction of the Holy Ghost in this affair; as by the spirit of prayer that was among them; by that power and energy with which many of them spoke on this occasion, and that so agreeable to the word of God; and by that unanimity with which they came into the advice given. With respect to the form here used, compare 1 Chronicles 13:2 and the Targum on it, which renders the words thus;

"if it be beautiful before you, and acceptable before the Lord, let us send, &c.''

It follows here,

to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; not that they were necessary to salvation, but necessary to secure the peace of the churches, and at least were necessary, at that present time; and therefore since it appeared to be necessary to enjoin them for the present, they hoped they would not refuse to bear them; and especially, since, though they must own they were burdens, and a part of the yoke of bondage, yet they were not many, nor very heavy, and for the future they should lay no other, nor more upon them; and what they did, was to prevent any other or greater burden to be laid; and so the Syriac version renders it, "lest any more, or greater burden should be laid upon you."

{11} For it seemed good to the {n} Holy Ghost, and {o} to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these {p} necessary things;

(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 and labour.

(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 to quarrel.

Acts 15:28. ἔδοξε γὰρ τῷ Ἁ. Π. καὶ ἡμῖν: “causa principalis” and “causa ministerialis” of the decree. The words of Hooker exactly describe the meaning and purpose of the words, E. P., iii., 10, 2, cf. Acts 8:6-7, and cf. St. Chrysostom’s words, Hom., xxxiii., “not making themselves equal to Him [i.e., the Holy Ghost]—they are not so mad—the one to the Holy Ghost, that they may not deem it to be of man; the other to us, that they may be taught that they also themselves admit the Gentiles, although themselves being in circumcision”. On other suggested but improbable meanings see Alford’s and Wendt’s notes. The words became a kind of general formula in the decrees of Councils and Synods, cf. the phrase commonly prefixed to Councils: Sancto Spiritu suggerente (Dict. Chr. Ant., i., 483). On this classical construction of ἔδοξε τῷ with the infinitive see Nestle’s note, Expository Times, December, 1898. Moreover it would seem that this ἔδοξε is quite in accordance with the manner in which Jewish Rabbis would formulate their decisions.—μηδὲν πλέονβάρος: the words indicate authority on the part of the speakers, although in Acts 15:20 we read only of “enjoining”. St. Peter had used the cognate verb in Acts 15:10, cf. Revelation 2:24, where the same noun occurs with a possible reference to the decree, see Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 309, and Plumptre, in loco.—ἐπάναγκες, i.e., for mutual intercourse, that Jewish and Gentile Christians might live as brethren in the One Lord. There is nothing said to imply that these four abstinences were to be imposed as necessary to salvation; the receivers of the letter are only told that it should be well with them if they observed the decree, and we cannot interpret εὖ πράξετε as = σωθήσεσθε. At the same time the word was a very emphatic one, and might be easily interpreted, as it speedily was, in a narrower sense, Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 172; Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 310. Rendall compares the use of ἀναγκαῖος in Thuc., i., 90.

28. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us] A third time in this clause of the narrative from 22–29 does this official word occur, from which is derived the noun dogma. It had been promised that to the Apostles there should be given the Spirit of truth, who should guide them into all truth (John 16:13) and the historian of the Acts often speaks of them as “filled with the Spirit.” They put forward therefore this unerring guide as the warrant for their decree. And as they at the suggestion of the Spirit were laying aside their longstanding prejudices against intercourse with Gentiles, they claim that the Gentiles in their turn should deal tenderly with the scruples of Jews.

no greater burden] The Jews themselves could speak thus of the load of legal observances (cp. supra Acts 15:11). They had chosen out but a small part thereof, which the circumstances of the time made necessary to be observed.

Acts 15:28. Τῷ Ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι, to the Holy Ghost) It was He who revealed what should be their decision in that case.—ἐπιτίθεσθαι) that no greater burden should be laid upon you, by any teachers whatever. Peter had used this verb in Acts 15:10.—τῶν ἐπάναγκες) These things, which are almost necessary things [these somewhat necessary observances], according to the hypothesis [Acts 15:24], and suited to the existing time, partly also always [of lasting obligation]. Ἐπὶ in composition sometimes diminishes, as ἐπίξανθον, almost yellow.

Verse 28. - It seemed good, etc. The formula is remarkable. It implies the consciousness on the part of the council that they had "the mind of the Spirit;" but how this mind of the Spirit was communicated we are not expressly told. There may have been some "revelation," similar to that recorded in Acts 13:2; Acts 10:19; Galatians 2:1, etc. It is, however, generally understood as resting upon Christ's promise to be with his Church always. Hefele ('Hist. of Christian Councils,' pp. 1,2, English translation) quotes Cyprian as writing to Pope Cornelius in the name of the Council of A.D. : "Placuit nobis, Sancto Spiritu suggerente;" and the Synod of Aries as saying, "Placuit, praesenti Spiritu Sancto." And this is the general language of the synods. Constantine claimed for the decrees of the three hundred bishops at Nicaea the same authority as if they had been "solius Filii Dei sententia." But, as Bishop Wordsworth on Acts 15:28 wisely says, "It cannot be held that councils of the Church now are entitled to adopt the words of the text in the framing of canons." Acts 15:28
Acts 15:28 Interlinear
Acts 15:28 Parallel Texts

Acts 15:28 NIV
Acts 15:28 NLT
Acts 15:28 ESV
Acts 15:28 NASB
Acts 15:28 KJV

Acts 15:28 Bible Apps
Acts 15:28 Parallel
Acts 15:28 Biblia Paralela
Acts 15:28 Chinese Bible
Acts 15:28 French Bible
Acts 15:28 German Bible

Bible Hub

Acts 15:27
Top of Page
Top of Page