Acts 15:29
That you abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if you keep yourselves, you shall do well. Fare you well.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) From meats offered to idols.—The specific term takes the place of the more general word which St. James had used. The change, if the two words were not used, as is possible, as altogether equivalent, may be thought of as favouring the Gentiles by narrowing the prohibition to a single point.

Fare ye well.—The closing salutation was, like the opening, a Greek and not a Hebrew one. It meets us again in Acts 23:30. Both were naturally used in a letter addressed to Greeks, and intended to be read by them and by Hellenistic Jews. It does not occur, however, in any of the Epistles of the New Testament.

It is natural to ask, at the close of the great encyclical letter, in what relation it really stood to the life of the Apostolic Church. As a concordat between the contending parties it was framed, as has been said, with a sagacity that may well be looked on as inspired. But obviously it was not, and from the nature of the case could not be, more than that. The time had not come for proclaiming to the Church of Jerusalem the full width of St. Paul’s teaching (Galatians 2:2), and accordingly, though something may be read between the lines, the decree seems to treat the precepts of Noah as perpetually binding, places moral and positive obligations on the same footing, and leaves the ground on which they are “necessary” an open question. St. Paul, who had accepted it as a satisfactory settlement of the matter in debate, never refers to it, even when he is discussing the chief point with which the decree dealt (1 Corinthians 8-10). In his narrative of what passed on this occasion (Galatians 2:1-10) there is no mention of it. The private conference with the three great “pillars” of the Church was for him more than the decree of the synod, and he felt himself able to discuss the whole question again on different grounds, and with a more distinct reference to spiritual and ethical principles. It was wrong to eat things sacrificed to idols, not because the act of so eating in itself brought defilement, but because it might involve a participation in the sin of idolatry in the consciousness of the eater, or wound the conscience of the weaker brother who saw him eat. It was natural that those who lacked his largeness of view should become slaves to the letter of the rules long after the grounds on which they rested had ceased to exist, and so we find that the prohibition of blood was re-enforced in the so-called Apostolic Canons (c. 62), and in the fourth century by the Council of Gangra (c. 2), and in the seventh by that at Constantinople, known as in Trullo (c. 67), and continues to be the binding rule of the Greek Church still. In Africa and in Europe, however, truer views prevailed (August, cont. Faust. xxxii. 13), and not even the most devout believer in the inspiration of the Apostles, or in the authority of primitive antiquity. would venture to urge that the two last precepts of the four here enjoined were in any degree binding. Hooker (Eccl. Pol. iv., xi., § 5) rightly refers to this decree as a crucial instance proving that commands might be divine and yet given only for a season, binding as long as the conditions to which they applied continued, but no longer. It would almost seem, indeed, as if St. Paul felt that the terms of the decree had the effect of placing the sin of impurity on the same level with that of eating things sacrificed to idols, and things strangled, and blood, and so tended to keep men from seeing it in its true hatefulness. Those who claimed a right, which in the abstract St. Paul could not deny, to eat of things strangled or offered to idols, thought themselves free to fall back into the old license of the heathen world, and he needed far stronger motives than the canons of the council to restrain them (1Corinthians 5:9-10; 1Corinthians 6:15-20, and found those motives in the truths that they had been bought with a price, that the will of God was their sanctification, and that their bodies were His temple.

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.From meats offered to idols - This explains what is meant by "pollutions of idols," Acts 15:20.

Ye shall do well - You will do what ought to be done in regard to the subjects of dispute.

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.

Of these see more largely, Acts 15:20.

From meats offered to idols; they were wont to carry home and feast upon part of the sacrifices they had offered unto their false gods; nay, they did not, without reproach, eat of any greater beasts, (as oxen and sheep), but they always first offered some of them unto their idols. And it was accounted no small impiety to eat ayuta iera, part of any beasts which they had not first offered up to some or other of their gods.

From blood; for this reason they might not eat of any thing that died of itself, as Deu 14:21, because the blood was not gone out of it.

From fornication; mentioned here, because so commonly practised amongst the Gentiles, and yet not esteemed a sin. Hence also, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, the apostle lays a very great charge against it.

Fare ye well; the ordinary apprecation wherewith their letters were concluded, in which they wished health and strength to the party they wrote unto: instead of which word, some ancient copies read, feromenoi en pneumati Agiw; which is rendered, Walk in the Holy Ghost; or, the Holy Ghost carrying, or enabling of you: a wish or prayer becoming these holy men that made it. They who have found the necessity of the Spirit’s assistance, desire it above all things for such as they wish well unto. That ye abstain from meats offered to idols,.... Which explains what is meant by pollutions of idols, Acts 15:20

and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication. See Gill on Acts 15:20.

In Beza's most ancient copy, and in three other manuscripts, and in the Complutensian edition, it follows, "and whatsoever ye would not have done to yourselves, that do ye not to another"; in like manner the Ethiopic version also reads, as in Acts 15:20 "from which if ye keep yourselves ye shall do well"; it will be doing a good thing, and make for the peace of the churches; in Beza's most ancient copy it is added, "born", or "moved by the Holy Ghost": being influenced and assisted by him in this, and every good work:

fare ye well; the Syriac version adds, "in our Lord".

{12} That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

(12) Charity is required even in indifferent matters.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 15:29. The points mentioned in Acts 15:20 are here arranged more accurately, so that the three which refer to food are placed together.

ἀπέχεσθαι] is in Acts 15:20, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Sir 28:8, and frequently in the LXX., joined with ἀπό; but here, as usually among Greek writers, only with the genitive. The two differ “non quoad rem ipsam, sed modo cogitandi, ita ut in priori formula sejunctionis cogitatio ad rem, in posteriori autem ad nos ipsos referatur.” Tittmann, Synon. N.T. p. 225.

ἐξ ὧν διατηροῦντες ἑαυτούς] from which (i.e. at a distance from, without fellowship with them) ye carefully keeping yourselves. Comp. John 17:5; Proverbs 21:23 : διατηρεῖ ἐκ θλίψεως τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ; also the corresponding connection with ἀπό, Psalm 12:8; Jam 1:27.

εὖ πράξετε] not: ye shall do well (so usually; also de Wette, comp. Acts 10:33), but, as also Hofmann interprets it according to the usus loquendi (see especially Plat. Alc. i. p. 116 B: ὅστις καλῶς πράττει, οὐχὶ καὶ εὖ πράττει, Prot. p. 333 D: εἰ εὖ πράττουσιν ἀδικοῦντες, Dem. 469. 14 : εἴ τις ἄλλος εὖ μὲν ἐποίησεν ὑμᾶς εὖ πράττων, Plat. Ephesians 3, p. 315 B; the opposite, κακῶς πράσσειν, comp. Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 629, and Grimm, s.v. εὖ), ye shall fare well, namely, by peace and unity in Christian fellowship. Quite incorrectly, Elsner, Wolf, Krebs, Kuinoel have understood the meaning as equivalent to σωθήσεσθε, which egregiously and injuriously mistakes the apostolic spirit, that had nothing in common with the οὐ δύνασθε σωθῆναι of the strict legalists.

ἔῤῥωσθε] the epistolary valete. Xen. Cyr. iv. 5. 33; Hipp. ep. p. 1275, 20; Artem. iii. 44; 2Ma 11:21; 2Ma 11:33; 2Ma 7:9. Comp. Dissen, ad Dem. de Cor. p. 323 f.Acts 15:29. ἀπέχ.: preposition omitted as in Acts 15:20, W.H[289]; so usually in classical Greek, but in N.T. ἀπέχ. ἀπό, 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; so in LXX, Job 1:1; Job 1:8; Job 2:3, etc. On the difference in meaning in the two constructions, see Alford and Wendt, in loco.εἰδωλοθύτων, see Acts 15:20.—πνικτοῦ: omitted in Western text; see critical notes.—διατηροῦντες ἑαυτοὺς: verb, only in Luke, cf. Luke 2:51 (in LXX with ἐκ or ἀπό, Psalm 11:7, Proverbs 21:23). In Jam 1:27 we have a somewhat striking similarity of expression (cf. also John 17:15).—εὖ πράξετε: “it shall be well with you,” R.V.; viz., through the peace and concord established in the Christian community, cf. 2Ma 9:19, so in classical Greek. The reading in A.V. is somewhat ambiguous, but the Greek signifies prosperity. For , see critical notes.—ἔῤῥωσθε, see critical notes, 2Ma 11:21; 2Ma 11:33, 3Ma 7:9, etc., and often in classics; a natural conclusion of a letter addressed to Gentile Christians, see additional note (2) at end of chapter.

[289] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.29. ye shall do well] Not “ye shall be doing what is right,” but “it shall be well with you” (R.V.), “you shall be in a good state.”

Fare ye well] This termination and the greeting at the commencement of the letter are in the style of Western epistolary language. See above on Acts 15:23.Acts 15:29. Πορνείας, from fornication) Some MSS., and so also Irenæu[90], Cypria[91], and the Æthiopian version, add, ΚΑῚ ὍΣΑ ΜῊ ΘΈΛΕΤΕ ἙΑΥΤΟῖς ΓΊΝΕΣΘΑΙ, ἙΤΈΡΟΙς ΜῊ ΠΟΙΕῖΤΕ, “Whatsoever things ye wish that men should do to you, do ye also so to them: this is the law and the prophets:” Matthew 7:12. See App. Crit., ed. ii., on this passage.[92] Therefore some formerly must have thought that this synodical letter could not be without this clause [viz. on account of the words just quoted from Matt.] They no doubt knew that the question also in the Synod was one concerning the moral law. At least the believers who were of the Pharisees upheld the false use of the moral law, as though righteousness and salvation were to be attained by it. The Synod removes this same false use of it, not the moral law itself, but the ceremonial law itself. Wherefore there was no need, that to abstinence from things sacrificed to idols, etc., there should be added the words, “Whatsoever things ye would not wish to be done to you, be unwilling to do to others.”—εὖ πράξετε, ye shall do well [prosper]) Nothing shall be wanting, no obstacle shall be in the way of your doing well (πρὸς τὸ εὖ πράττειν); as regards your Christian felicity, nothing will “trouble” you: Acts 15:24. This too is intended for consolation: Acts 15:31.

[90] renæus (of Lyons, in Gaul: born about 130 A.D., and died about the end of the second century). The Editio Renati Massueti, Parisinæ, a. 1710.

[91] yprian (in the beginning and middle of the third century: a Latin father). Ed. Steph. Baluzii, Paris. 1726.

[92] Dd supports the addition. But ABCEe Vulg. reject it.—E. and T.Verse 29. - Things sacrificed for meats offered, A.V.; it shall be well with you for ye shall do well, A.V. The phrase εῦ πράσσειν means to" prosper," to "fare well" (comp. Ephesians 6:21, "How I do"). Blood

Because in the blood was the animal's life, and it was the blood that was consecrated to make atonement. See Genesis 9:6; Leviticus 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 12:23, Deuteronomy 12:24. The Gentiles had no scruples about eating blood; on the contrary, it was a special delicacy. Thus Homer:

"At the fire

Already lie the paunches of two goats,

Preparing for our evening meal, and both

Are filled with fat and blood. Whoever shows

Himself the better man in this affray,

And conquers, he shall take the one of these

He chooses."

Odyssey, xviii., 44 sq.

The heathen were accustomed to drink blood mingled with wine at their sacrifices.

Farewell (ἔῤῥωσθε)

Lit., be strong, like the Latin valete. Compare the close of Claudius Lysias' letter to Festus (Acts 23:30).

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