Acts 15:9
And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
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(9) And put no difference between us and them.—It is obvious that this implies the most entire acceptance of the teaching which St. Paul had privately communicated to the three who were as the pillars of the Church (Galatians 2:9). In Romans 10:12 we have almost the very words of St. Peter reproduced.

Purifying their hearts by faith.—The addition of these words is very suggestive. It was not only in the “gifts” of the Spirit, the tongues and prophecy, that the Apostle saw the witness which God had borne to the acceptance of the Gentiles, but even more than this, in the new purity growing out of a new faith in God and a new hope. Underlying the words we trace the assertion of a higher ideal of purity than that on which the Pharisees were insisting. They looked on the Gentiles as impure because they did not observe the ceremonial law and the traditions of the elders as to purity. He had learnt to call no man common or unclean (Acts 10:28) and to see that it was in the heart, and not in the flesh, that the work of purifying was to be accomplished. Comp. in connection with the thought suggested in the Note on Acts 15:5, the teaching as to purity in Titus 1:15.

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.And put no difference ... - Though they had not been circumcised, and though they did not conform to the Law of Moses. Thus, God showed that the observance of these rites was not necessary in order to the true conversion of people, and to acceptance with him. He did not give us, who are Jews, any advantage over them, but justified and purified all in the same manner.

Purifying their hearts - Thus, giving the best evidence that he had renewed them, and admitted them to favor with him.

By faith - By believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. This demonstrated that the plan on which God was now about to show favor to people was not by external rites and ceremonies, but by a scheme which required faith as the only condition of acceptance. It is further implied here that there is no true faith which does not purify the heart.

9. put no difference between us and them: purifying their hearts by faith—"Purification" here refers to "sprinkling (of the conscience by the blood of Jesus) from dead works to serve the living God." (See on [2020]1Co 6:11). How rich is this brief description of the inward revolution wrought upon the genuine disciples of the Lord Jesus! God had now broken down the middle wall of partition betwixt Jew and Gentile, Ephesians 2:14, and distributed his graces to these also, which was signified by the rending of the veil from the top to the bottom, Matthew 27:51, whereby such as were formerly without, might see and enjoy the benefit of those great things which had been hidden under those shadows and types.

Purifying their hearts, from idolatry, and other impieties in which they had lived; which is the inward circumcision of the heart; and, whosoever is thus cleansed, ought not to be reputed amongst the unclean.

By faith; faith is the instrument, God is the efficient cause, of our justification and renovation. And put no difference between us and them,.... Neither in the extraordinary gifts, nor special grace, of the Spirit; giving them the same graces of faith, hope, and love, admitting to the same privileges and immunities of the house of God, and giving them a right and title to the same inheritance of the saints in light, though the one were circumcised, and the other were not. God puts no difference as to matters of religion under the Gospel dispensation between Jews and Gentiles, neither on account of Abraham's seed, or of circumcision, or of the ceremonial law, or of national adoption; nor would he have any made with respect to conversation, civil or religious; all which Peter knew full well: nor has he made any difference in his eternal choice of persons to eternal salvation, on any of the above accounts, having ordained Gentiles to eternal life as Jews, who in consequence of it believe in Christ; nor in redemption, Christ having redeemed by his blood men out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation; nor in the effectual calling, for they that were called in the first times of the Gospel, were not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also, to whom the Gospel was alike sent, and made effectual to saving purposes: these shared in the same blessings of pardon, justification, and adoption; their sins were forgiven through the same blood, their persons were justified by the same righteousness, and they were taken into the same family, and were no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens of the saints, and of the household of God; having the same access to God, being built on the same foundation, enjoying the same privileges, and having the same hope of eternal glory.

Purifying their hearts by faith; which was done by implanting faith in them, and leading that faith to the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, original and actual, with which men are defiled; for faith has not this efficacy in itself, but as it has to do with the blood of Jesus: and this spiritual purification being what answered to circumcision, made that unnecessary; for this is the circumcision of the heart, of which the other was only typical. The hearts of men are filthy, and need purifying; they are originally polluted with sin; this is the case of all men; and this defilement reaches to all the members of the body, and the faculties of the soul; and especially the heart is the seat of this impurity, which God only can cleanse: he promises to do it, and does do it; and he only can do it, men cannot; for though, they are exhorted to it, in order to make them sensible of their pollution, and their need of cleansing, that they may apply where it is to be had, yet it is not in their power to effect it; to make a clean heart is a creation work, which is peculiar to God: the heart cannot be purified, neither by ceremonial ablutions, nor by works of moral righteousness, nor by humiliations and tears, nor by submission to Gospel ordinances, as water baptism, but only by the grace of God, and the blood of Christ; which the Spirit of God sprinkles upon the heart, and which faith looks to and deals with, and so it is freed from an evil conscience; and this blessing the believing Gentiles enjoyed in common with the believing Jews.

And put no {d} difference between us and them, purifying their hearts {e} by faith.

(d) He put no difference between us and them, with regard to the benefit of his free favour.

(e) Christ proclaims those blessed who are pure of heart: and here we are plainly taught that men are made pure of heart by faith.

Acts 15:9. τῇ πίστει καθαρίσας τ. κ.: the thought is described by Zöckler as equally Petrine, Pauline, and Johannine; cf. Acts 3:16; Acts 3:19, 1 Peter 1:18-21; Romans 2:24, 1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:2, Revelation 7:14; here it stands in contrast to the outward purification of circumcision upon which the Judaisers insisted, cf. also Acts 10:15, and for the phrase καθαρ. τὴν κ., Sir 38:10. Rendall renders τῇ πίστει, the faith, i.e., the Christian faith, and he is no doubt right in this, in so far as the faith is faith in Jesus Christ (Schmid, Bibl. Theol. des N. T., pp. 424, 425), cf. St. Peter’s language in 1 Peter 1:18-22.9. And put no difference] i.e. made no distinction. The Apostle looks on God’s testimony to the Gentiles in two lights. What was given to the new converts was the same which had been given at the first outpouring of the Spirit. And God made no mark of distinction to sever Jews from Gentiles. Faith had purified the hearts of Cornelius and his house, and the outward observances of the law of Moses were of no account when the heart was clean before Him who alone could judge of the purity thereof. In these words of his St Peter clearly agrees to all that St Paul had taught about the admission of the Gentiles.

purifying their hearts, &c.] The verb is the same which is used in the account of the vision (Acts 10:15) “what God hath cleansed, &c.,” and St Peter is clearly referring to that narrative.Acts 15:9. Τῇ πίστει, by faith) derived from the hearing of the Gospel [not by the law], Acts 15:7; Acts 15:5 at the end: and this without circumcision, without the law.—καθαρίσας, having purified) The heart is the seat of purity. This verb is repeated from the vision, ch. Acts 10:15.—αὐτῶν, their) He who hath the Holy Spirit and faith (a thing which is apprehended by the spiritual sense itself), hath liberty and purity, and is no longer subject to the law.Verse 9. - He made no distinction for put no difference, A.V. (comp. Acts 10:20, note); cleansing for purifying, A.V. This is exactly the doctrine of Galatians 2:16 and Romans 3:30, with which compare also ver. 11.
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