Acts 15:6
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
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(6) And the apostles and elders came together.—The meeting rightly takes its place as the first in the long series of councils, or synods, which mark the course of the Church’s history. It bore its witness that the government of the Christian society was not to rest in the autocracy of a single will, but in the deliberative decision of those who, directly or indirectly, having been appointed by the choice, or with the approval, of the people, represented the whole community. Presbyters had an equal voice with the Apostles, whose position was analogous to that of the later bishops. Those whom we should call the laity were present at the deliberations, and, though we have no absolute proof that they took part in them, gave their vote. (Comp. Note on Acts 15:23.) Strictly speaking, it was, in the later ecclesiastical language, a provincial and not an œcumenical synod, called to decide what seemed a question of discipline rather than of doctrine; but the ground on which the question had been argued made it one of world-wide dogmatic importance. If circumcision was necessary, then faith in Christ was insufficient. St. Paul saw and felt this in all its fulness, and therefore would not “give way by subjection, no, not for an hour” (Galatians 2:5). We have no data for estimating the number of the presbyters who were present. Probably they included those of the neighbouring towns and villages of Judæa as well as of Jerusalem, and if so, we may fairly think of some number between fifty and a hundred.

Acts 15:6-11. And the apostles, &c., came together to consider of this matter — As the apostles commonly resided at Jerusalem, the greater part of them may have come together on this occasion; and the elders likewise, men most respectable for their grace and gifts, having been chosen to the office of elders from among those on whom the Holy Ghost descended on the day of pentecost. Many of the brethren, too, of the church of Jerusalem were present in this assembly. For the decree, which was passed on the question, runs in the name of the whole church. And when there had been much disputing — Occasioned by those of the sect of the Pharisees, who maintained the necessity of circumcision. It does not appear that this debate was among the apostles themselves; but if it was, if they themselves really debated the matter first, yet might their final decision be from an unerring direction. For how really soever they were inspired, we need not suppose their inspiration was always so instantaneous and express, as to supersede any deliberation in their own minds, or any consultation with each other. Peter rose up — And put the assembly in mind, how he had been ordered by God to preach the gospel to Cornelius and the other Gentiles who were with him; and how God, who knoweth the hearts of men, bare them witness — That he accepted them without circumcision, having given them the Holy Ghost, even as to the Jews, and put no difference between them — And the Jews; purifying their hearts — Not by the rites and ceremonies of the law, but by faith. Now therefore — Said he, why do ye not acquiesce in such a determination? Why tempt ye God to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples — So grievous and burdensome, that neither our fathers nor we were able to bear it? — Why provoke ye God by making circumcision necessary to the salvation of the Gentiles, contrary to his declared will in this matter, and contrary to your own conviction. For we — Who have been educated in the Jewish religion, and especially we who are apostles, believe, that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ — And not through obedience to the law of Moses, we — Jews, shall be saved even as they — The Gentiles, are to be saved; in one and the same way, namely, through the grace of Christ alone.

15:1-6 Some from Judea taught the Gentile converts at Antioch, that they could not be saved, unless they observed the whole ceremonial law as given by Moses; and thus they sought to destroy Christian liberty. There is a strange proneness in us to think that all do wrong who do not just as we do. Their doctrine was very discouraging. Wise and good men desire to avoid contests and disputes as far as they can; yet when false teachers oppose the main truths of the gospel, or bring in hurtful doctrines, we must not decline to oppose them.And the apostles and elders ... - They came together in accordance with the authority in Matthew 18:19-20. It would seem, also, that the whole church was convened on this occasion, and that the church concurred, at least, in the judgment expressed in this case. See Acts 15:12, Acts 15:22-23.

For to consider of this matter - Not to decide it arbitrarily, or even by authority, without deliberation; but to compare their views, and to express the result of the whole to the church at Antioch. It was a grave and difficult question, deeply affecting the entire constitution of the Christian church, and they therefore solemnly engaged in deliberation on the subject.

6. the apostles and elders came together to consider of this—but in presence, as would seem, of the people (Ac 15:12, 22, 23). The apostles and elders, unto whom Paul and Barnabas were sent about the decision of this question, Acts 15:2,

came together for to consider of this matter; they had been informed of it, and now they met to deliberate about it.

And the apostles and elders came together,.... And also the brethren, or private members of the church, even the whole church, as appears from Acts 15:22. Whether all the apostles were here present, is not certain; Peter, James, and John were; but who else, cannot be said: these met together

for to consider of this matter; to hear what was to be said on both sides of the question, and then to judge what advice was proper to be given to the Gentiles.

{3} And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

(3) The matter is first handled, both parts being heard, in the assembly of the apostles and elders, and after is communicated to the people.

Acts 15:6. The consultation of the apostles and presbyters concerning this assertion (περὶ τοῦ λόγου τούτου, see Acts 15:5) thus put forward here afresh, was not confined to themselves (Schwanbeck, who here assumes a confusion of sources), but took place in presence, and with the assistance, of the whole church assembled together, as is evident from Acts 15:12, comp. with Acts 15:22, and most clearly from Acts 15:25, where the ἀπόστολοι καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί (Acts 15:23) write of themselves: ἔδοξεν ἡμῖν γενομένοις ὁμοθυμαδόν. Against this it has been objected that no place would have sufficed to hold them, and therefore it is maintained that only deputies of the church took part (Mosheim, de reb. Christ. ante Const. M. p. 117, Kuinoel, Neander); but this is entirely arbitrary, as the text indicates nothing of such a limitation, and the locality is entirely unknown to us.

This assembly and its transactions are not at variance with Galatians 2:1 ff. (in opposition to Baur, Zeller, Hilgenfeld, Hausrath), where, indeed, they are presupposed as known to the readers by αὐτοῖς in Acts 15:2, as well as by Acts 15:3 and Acts 15:5. Hofmann, N.T. I. p. 126, judges otherwise, but by a misinterpretation of Galatians 2:4 ff. The words κατʼ ἰδίαν δὲ τοῖς δοκοῦσι, Galatians 2:2, betoken a separate discussion, different from these public discussions. See on Gal. l.c.; comp. also Lekebusch, p. 294 ff.; Lechler, p. 398 ff.; Ritschl, altkath. K. p. 150; Trip, Paulus nach d. Apostelgesch. p. 86 ff.; Oertel, p. 232 ff.

Acts 15:6. λόγου: “de causâ quæ in disceptationem venit” (Blass), cf. Acts 8:21, Acts 19:38. The Ecclesia at large was in some manner also present at this final assembly, cf. Acts 15:12; Acts 15:22, although the chief responsibility would rest with the Apostles and Elders, cf. Iren., Hær., iii., chap. Acts 12:14, “cum universa ecclesia convenisset in unum,” Zöckler, in loco, p. 246, and cf. p. 254; Hort, Ecclesia, pp. 66, 70, and see critical notes above.

6–12. The Council at Jerusalem; the debate and the speech of Peter. Narration of the work of Barnabas and Paul

6. And the apostles and elders came (were gathered) together] These words refer to a formal summoning to discuss the difficult question which had been brought forward. That there was a space between the first welcome of the Apostles by the church and the assembly of the synod suits St Paul’s words (Galatians 2:2) that he explained his position “privately to them which were of reputation.” This private conference was a necessary preparation for the more public discussion which alone is noticed by the history.

Acts 15:6. Συνήχθησαν, met together) by express arrangement (professedly). A specimen of a good council.

Verse 6. - The elders for elders, A.V.; were gathered for came, A.V.; to for for to, A.V. The question was too important, and, perhaps, the persons who advanced the objections too considerable, to allow of a decision to be taken on the spot. A special meeting of the Church was called to consider the matter. Acts 15:6
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