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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Acts 11



Verse 1

In Judaea ( κατὰ τὴν Ἰουδαίαν )

More correctly, “throughout Judaea.”

Verse 2

They of the circumcision

See on Acts 10:45.

Verse 3

Men uncircumcised ( ἄνδρας ἀκροβυστίαν ἔχοντας )

An indignant expression. See Ephesians 2:11.

Verse 4


Graphically indicating the solemn purport of the speech (compare Luke 12:1), or perhaps, in connection with expounded, his beginning with the first circumstances and going through the whole list of incidents.

Verse 6

I considered

See on Matthew 7:3; Luke 22:24, Luke 22:27.

Verse 12

Nothing doubting ( μηδὲν διακρινόμενον )

The Rev. renders making no distinction, taking the verb in its original sense, which is to separate or distinguish. The rendering seems rather strained, doubting being a common rendering in the New Testament and giving a perfectly good sense here. See Matthew 21:21; Mark 11:23, and note on James 1:6. It was natural that Peter should hesitate.

The six brethren

The men of Joppa who had gone with Peter to Cornelius, and had accompanied him also to Jerusalem, either as witnesses for him or for their own vindication, since they had committed the same offence.

Verse 13

An angel

It has the definite article: “the angel,” mentioned in ch. 10.

Verse 17

Forasmuch as ( εἰ )

Better, as Rev., if.

The like ( ἴσην )

Lit., equal; making them, equally with us, recipients of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 19

They which were scattered abroad ( οἱ διασπαρέντες )

On the technical expression, the dispersion, see on 1 Peter 1:1. Not so used here.

Verse 20

The Greeks ( Ἕλληνας )

Some, however, read Ἑλληνιστὰς , the Grecian Jews. See on Acts 6:1. The express object of the narrative has been to describe the admission of Gentiles into the church. There would have been nothing remarkable in these men preaching to Hellenists who had long before been received into the church, and formed a large part of the church at Jerusalem. It is better to follow the rendering of A. V. and Rev., though the other reading has the stronger MS. evidence. Note, also, the contrast with the statement in Acts 11:19, to the Jews only. There is no contrast between Jews and Hellenists, since Hellenists are included in the general term Jews.

Verse 23

Purpose ( προθέσει )

Originally, placing in public; setting before. Hence of the shew-bread, the loaves set forth before the Lord (see on Mark 2:26). Something set before one as an object of attainment: a purpose.

Verse 24

Good ( ἀγαθὸς )

More than strictly upright. Compare Romans 5:7, where it is distinguished from δίκαιος ,just or righteous. “His benevolence effectually prevented him censuring anything that might be new or strange in these preachers to the Gentiles, and caused him to rejoice in their success” (Gloag).

Verse 25

To seek ( ἀναζητῆσαι )

Strictly, like our “hunt up ” ( ἀνά ).

Verse 26

Were called Christians ( χρηματίσαι Χριστιανούς )

The former of these two words, rendered were called, meant, originally, to transact business, to have dealings with; thence, in the course of business, to give audience to, to answer, from which comes its use to denote the responses of an oracle; a divine advice or warning. See Acts 10:22; and compare Matthew 2:12; Hebrews 11:7. Later, it acquires the meaning to bear a name; tobe called, with the implication of a name used in the ordinary transactions and intercourse of men; the name under which one passes. This process of transition appears in the practice of naming men according to their occupations, as, in English, “John the Smith,” “Philip the Armorer;” a practice which is the origin of many familiar family names, such as Butler, Carpenter, Smith, Cooper. Compare in New Testament Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14); Matthew the publican (Matthew 10:3); Luke the physician (Colossians 4:14); Erastus the chamberlain (Romans 16:23); Rahab the harlot (Hebrews 11:31). In the same line is the use of the word calling, to denote one's business. The meaning of the word in this passage is illustrated by Romans 7:3.

The disciples were called. They did not assume the name themselves. It occurs in only three passages in the New Testament: here; Acts 26:28; and 1 Peter 4:16; and only in the last-named passage is used by a Christian of a Christian. The name was evidently not given by the Jews of Antioch, to whom Christ was the interpretation of Messiah, and who wouldn't have bestowed that name on those whom they despised as apostates. The Jews designated the Christians as Nazarenes (Acts 24:5), a term of contempt, because it was a proverb that nothing good could come out of Nazareth (John 1:47), The name was probably not assumed by the disciples themselves; for they were in the habit of styling each other believers, disciples, saints, brethren, those of the way. It, doubtless, was bestowed by the Gentiles. Some suppose that it was applied as a term of ridicule, and cite the witty and sarcastic character of the people of Antioch, and their notoriety for inventing names of derision; but this is doubtful. The name may have been given simply as a distinctive title, naturally chosen from the recognized and avowed devotion of the disciples to Christ as their leader. The Antiochenes mistook the nature of the name, not understanding its use among the disciples as an official title- the Anointed - but using it as apersonal name, which they converted into a party name.

Verse 27


See on Luke 7:26.

Verse 28

The world

See on Luke 2:1.

Verse 29

According to his ability ( καθὼς ηὐπορεῖτό τις )

Lit., according as any one of them was prospered. The verb is from εὔπορος ,easy to pass or travel through; and the idea of prosperity is therefore conveyed under the figure of an easy and favorable journey. The same idea appears in our farewell; fare meaning originally to travel. Hence, to bid one farewell is to wish him a prosperous journey. Compare God-speed. So the idea here might be rendered, as each one fared well.

To send relief ( εἰς διακονίαν πέμψαι )

Lit., to send for ministry.


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The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Acts 11:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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