Acts 15:7
And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said to them, Men and brothers, you know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) When there had been much disputing.—This implies a full discussion, in which the Judaising teachers, probably, though not certainly, presbyters, on the one side, and the advocates of freedom, on the other, took part. Light is thrown on the character of the debate by St. Paul’s account of the matter in Galatians 2:2-10. He did not even then bring out what he held and taught, in its fulness. He shrank from startling and offending the prejudices of his countrymen, and was content to argue that circumcision and the Law were not binding upon the Gentiles, to press the precedent of the case of Cornelius and the analogy of the proselytes of the gate. Privately, in interviews with Peter, James, and John, he had gone further, and had declared his convictions that for Jew and Gentile alike circumcision and the Law were hindrances, and not helps, to the spiritual life, and that faith working by love was everything. And they, as the history of the Council and yet more their Epistles show, accepted his teaching. Of all doctrines as to the development of the Christian Church that which sees in Peter, James, and John the leaders of a Judaising anti-Pauline party is, perhaps, the most baseless and fantastic. The fact that their names were unscrupulously used by that party, both in their lifetime and, as the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitions show, after their death, cannot outweigh their own deliberate words and acts.

Peter rose up, and said unto them.—The position of the Apostle is one of authority, but not of primacy. He does not preside, nor even propose, as we should say, a definite canon or resolution. His authority is that of personal and moral influence, that of a vir pietate gravis, but nothing more.

Men and brethren.—Better, as before, Brethren only, and so again in Acts 15:13.

Ye know how that a good while ago . . .—Literally, of ancient days. Ten or twelve years had passed since the conversion of Cornelius. Where Peter had been in the meantime, and what he had done, we have no record. We can hardly believe, as the Romish theory implies, that he came from the imperial city to attend the Council. It will be noted, as has been said before (see Note on Acts 11:20), that the Apostle speaks of this as having been the first admission of the Gentiles.

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.Much disputing - Or rather, much inquiry or deliberation. With our word disputing we commonly connect the idea of heat and anger. This is not necessarily implied in the word used here. It might have been calm, solemn, deliberate inquiry; and there is no evidence that it was conducted with undue warmth or anger.

Peter rose up and said - Peter was probably the most aged, and was most accustomed to speak, Acts 2:14, etc.; Acts 3:6, Acts 3:12. Besides, there was a particular reason for his speaking here, as he had been engaged in similar scenes, and understood the case, and had had evidence that God had converted sinners without the Mosaic rites, and knew that it would have been inexpedient to have imposed these rites on those who had thus been converted.

A good while ago - See Acts 10:Some time since. So long since that there had been opportunity to ascertain whether it was necessary to observe the laws of Moses in order to the edification of the church.

God made choice ... - That is, of all the apostles, he designated me to engage in this work. Compare the notes on Matthew 16:18, with Acts 10.

That the Gentiles - Cornelius, and those who were assembled with him at Caesarea. This was the first case that had occurred, and therefore it was important to appeal to it.

7. Peter, &c.—This is the last mention of him in the Acts, and one worthy of his standing, as formally pronouncing, from the divine decision of the matter already in his own case, in favor of the views which all of Paul's labors were devoted to establishing.

a good while ago—probably about fifteen years before this.

made choice … that the Gentiles by my mouth—(See on [2019]Ac 11:21).

Much disputing; they argued on both sides, and considered what might be said for either opinion: some of them that met here seem at first to have been for the retaining of circumcision; for we know but in part, and from the collision of adverse parties such sparks fly out, that many a man hath lighted his candle at them.

A good while ago; from the beginning of our having received our commission to preach, as Matthew 28:19; or more particularly, from the time of Cornelius’s conversion, Acts 10:22 11:12, which is thought to have been about fourteen or fifteen years before, that Peter preached Christ, by the command of God, unto the Gentiles. And when there had been much disputing,.... Pro and con upon this subject; many had spoken; and much had been said, and a great deal of time had been taken up about the thing in controversy:

Peter rose up; not only out of respect to this venerable assembly, but to signify that he had something to say; and he stood up that he might be the better heard. Beza's ancient copy reads, "rose up in spirit";

and said unto them, men and brethren: an usual form of address with the Jews; Acts 7:2

ye know how that a good while ago; or "from ancient days"; or "from the beginning", as the Ethiopic version renders it; from the beginning of the preaching of the Gospel, after the ascension of Christ; quickly after the effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost: it is thought, by some, to be ten or eleven, and, by others, to be twenty years ago, or thereabout:

God made choice among us; the apostles; the Alexandrian copy reads, "among you"; the sense is the same, for Peter must be supposed as directing his discourse chiefly to the apostles:

that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel, and believe; referring to the case of Cornelius, and his family: and his sense is, that some years ago it pleased God, in his providence, to single him out from the rest of the apostles, and in a very extraordinary manner to call him to go to Caesarea, and preach the gospel to Cornelius, and those that were in his house, that hearing they might believe in Christ.

And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, {4} Men and brethren, ye know how that a {c} good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

(4) God himself, in the calling of the Gentiles who are uncircumcised, taught that our salvation consists in faith, without the worship appointed by the Law.

(c) Literally, of old time, that is, even from the first time that we were commanded to preach the Gospel, and immediately after that the Holy Spirit came down upon us.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 15:7. Πολλῆς δὲ συζητήσεως γενομένης] These were the preliminary debates in the assembly, before Peter (to whom the first word belonged, partly by reason of his apostolic precedence, partly and especially because he was the first to convert the Gentiles) rose up and delivered a connected address.[25] In this previous πολλὴ συζήτησις may have occurred the demand for the circumcision of Titus, indirectly mentioned in Galatians 2:3. See on Gal. l.c.

ἀφʼ ἡμερῶν ἀρχαίων] does not point to the conversion of Cornelius as to something long since antiquated and forgotten (Baur, I. p. 91, ed. 2). But certainly that selection of Peter as the first converter of the Gentiles, viewed in relation to the entire period, during which Christianity had now existed, dated from ancient days, Acts 10:11.

ἐν ἡμῖν ἐξελέξατο κ.τ.λ.] He made choice for Himself among us, that by my mouth, etc. Hence ἐμέ is not to be supplied, as Olshausen, following older commentators, holds. Others (Grotius, Wolf, Bengel, Heinrichs, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, and many others) unnecessarily take ἐν ἡμῖν for ἡμᾶς as a Hebraism in accordance with בָּחַר בְ (1 Samuel 16:9-10; 1 Kings 8:16; 1 Chronicles 28:4-5; Nehemiah 9:7, and the LXX. at those places). So also Ewald. Beza aptly says: “habito inter nos delectu voluisse.”

Luke has the word εὐαγγέλιον only here and in Acts 20:24, not at all in the Gospel. John also has it not.

[25] There is no further mention of Peter in the Book of Acts.—The reference to the conversion of Cornelius is introduced, according to Baur, simply in pursuance of the consistent plan of the author, who makes Peter thus speak after the manner of Paul.Acts 15:7. ἀναστὰς, Lucan, see Acts 5:17; the position of Peter is one of authority, not of pre-eminence—the latter belongs to James. The part which Peter had formerly taken in the conversion of Cornelius would naturally make him the most fitting person to introduce the discussion. From Galatians 2:3 we learn that the general principle was debated with reference to the individual case of Titus.—ἀφʼ ἡμερῶν ἀρχαίων: “a good while ago,” meaning probably from the beginnings of the Christian Church, cf. Acts 11:15, Acts 21:16; cf. Php 4:15 (see Lightfoot’s note, l. c.), and cf. Clem. Rom., Cor[282], xlvii., 2, and Polycarp, Phil., i. 2; or, if the words are referred to the one definite incident of the conversion of the Gentile Cornelius, some ten or twelve years (Blass, “fortasse”) may have passed since that event, possibly longer, see Zöckler, Page, Knabenbauer, in loco. Others take the words as referring to our Lord’s declaration to St. Peter as long ago as at Cæsarea Philippi, Matthew 16:13-20; see Speaker’s Commentary, so Bishop Williams of Connecticut, Studies in the Book of Acts, p. 139 (1888). Rendall connects ἐν ἡμῖν with ἀρχ. on the ground that thus the whole phrase would point to early Christian days, whereas, without qualification, confusion as to its meaning would arise, cf. Acts 15:21. But a reference to the case of Cornelius need not exhaust the meaning of the phrase, and St. Peter would naturally think of his own choice by God as going back earlier still, dating from the foundation of the Church, and receiving its confirmation and significance in the acceptance of the Gospel by Cornelius,—ἐξελέξατο, see on Acts 1:2.—τοῦ εὐαγγ.: not used by St. Luke in his Gospel, but here and in Acts 20:24; used once by St. Peter, 1 Peter 4:17; so also εὐαγγελίζομαι, three times in the same Epistle.

[282] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.7. much disputing] [R. V. questioning] For the Pharisaic element would find its warmest supporters at Jerusalem. And it is to that party that the disputing must be ascribed, for it is plain, from the summing up of St James at the close of the discussion, that the other apostles were of the same mind with Paul and Barnabas, and as is said in the Epistle to the Galatians (Acts 2:9), “they gave unto them the right hands of fellowship.”

Peter rose up] It is worth notice that Barnabas and Paul leave arguments and reasons to those who had laboured most among Jewish converts, and merely content themselves with telling their experience of what God had wrought through them.

Men and brethren] See note on Acts 1:16.

a good while ago] Lit. “from early days.” Alluding to the conversion of Cornelius (chap. 10) which probably took place some ten years before the meeting of this synod. This was at an early period of the apostolic ministry, and the great and numerous events which had intervened made the time seem long ago.

by my mouth] That he may not seem to be claiming a distinction for himself as the one chosen of God for this work, St Peter is careful to call himself no more than the mouthpiece of God.Acts 15:7. Πολλῆς, much, great) For the most part, (often) after human party-discussion has preceded, the Divine decision follows. See Job.—ἀναστὰς, having risen up) to make a speech.—Πέτρος, Peter) This is the last mention of Peter in the Acts.—ἀρχαίων, ancient [“a good while ago”]) ch. 10.—ἐν.…) A most similar construction occurs, 1 Chronicles 28:4-5, ἐξελέξατο ἐν ἐμοὶεἶναι βασιλέακαὶ ἐν τοῖς υἱοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου ἐν ἐμοὶ ἠθέλησε τοῦ γένεσθαί με εἰς βασιλέακαὶ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν υἱῶν μουἐξελέξατο ἐν Σολομῶντι τῷ υἱῷ μου καθίσαι (αὐτὸν) ἐπὶ θρόνου, κ.τ.λ.: “hath chosen in my case (in respect of me) that I should be king—etc.; and in the case of Solomon, He hath chosen to set (him) on the throne.” The sentiment of Peter is; GOD, through the Israelites, and expressly through me (through me of the Israelites in particular), hath called the Gentiles: and he adds, in the case of us, that he may not ascribe the whole matter to himself alone.[84] So too the verb ΣΠΟΥΔΆΖΩ has the Accusative with the Infinitive, 2 Peter 1:15, ΣΠΟΥΔΆΣΩἜΧΕΙΝ ὙΜᾶςΠΟΙΕῖΣΘΑΙ.—ἈΚΟῦΣΑΙ, should hear) A true Christian is one of whom there may be said what is said in this passage to the end of Acts 15:9.—τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, of the Gospel) In this passage, and ch. Acts 20:24, that is, only twice, the term Gospel is employed in this book; the expression more often used is, the way, the word, the doctrine of the Lord. For the appellation Gospel more accords with the first commencements.

[84] Ee Vulg. have ἐν ἡμὶν. But ABC Iren. 199, the oldest authorities, ἐν ὑμῖν.—E. and T.Verse 7. - Questioning for disputing, A.V., as in ver. 2; brethren for men and brethren, A.V., as in Acts 7:2, etc.; you for us, A.V. and T.R.; by my mouth the Gentiles for the Gentiles by my mouth, A.V. Questioning. It was a repetition of the same scene that took place at Antioch. Peter, etc. It seems to have been wise on Peter's part to allow the meeting to exhaust itself by fruitless disputations before he rose to speak. His rising, with all the authority of his person and position, commanded immediate attention. A good while ago; literally, from ancient days, or still more exactly, from the days of the beginning of the gospel (ἡμεραὶ ἀρχαίαι), days belonging to the beginning (ἀρχή) of the Church's existence, and dating far back in Peter's own apostolic life. Nothing can be more natural than this allusion to the conversion of Cornelius, and the gift of the Holy Ghost to the Gentile inmates of his house, as related in Acts 10:44. The word of the gospel (τὸν λόγον τοῦ εὐαγγελίου)

This phrase occurs nowhere else; and εὐαγγε.λιον, gospel, is found only once more in Acts (Acts 20:24).

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