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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Acts 15



Verse 1


Rather the imperfect, were teaching. They had not merely broached the error, but were inculcating it.

Manner ( ἔθει )

Better, custom, as Rev.

Verse 2

Question ( ζητήματος )

Found only in the Acts, and always of a question in dispute.

Verse 3

Being brought on their way ( προπεμφθέντες )

Lit.,having been sent forth; under escort as a mark of honor.


See on Acts 13:41. In the various towns along their route.

Verse 4

Were received ( ἀπεδέχθησαν )

The word implies a cordial welcome, which they were not altogether sure of receiving.

Verse 5


In the assembly.


See on heresies, 2 Peter 2:1.

Verse 7

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).

Verse 8

Which knoweth the heart ( καρδιογνώστης )

Only here and Acts 1:24.

Verse 10

Were able ( ἰσχύσαμεν )

See on Luke 14:30; and Luke 16:3.

Verse 12


The imperfect ( ἤκουον ) denotes attention to a continued narrative.

Declaring ( ἐξηγουμένων )

Better, as Rev., rehearsing. See on Luke 24:35.

What miracles, etc

Lit., how many ( ὅσα )i1.

Verse 13


See Introduction to Catholic Epistles.

Verse 18

Known unto God, etc

The best texts join these words with the preceding verse, from which they omit all; rendering, The Lord, who maketh these things known from the beginning of the world.

Verse 19

Trouble ( παρενοχλεῖν )

Only here in New Testament. See on vexed, Luke 6:18.

Verse 20

Write ( ἐπιστεῖλαι )

Originally, to send to, as a message; hence, by letter. The kindred noun ἐπιστολή , whence our epistle, means, originally, anything sent by a messenger. Letter is a secondary meaning.

Pollutions ( ἀλισγημάτων )

A word not found in classical Greek, and only here in the New Testament. The kindred verb ἀλισγεῖν , to pollute, occurs in the Septuagint, Malachi 1:7, and both times in the sense of defiling by food. Here the word is defined by things sacrificed to idols (Acts href="/desk/?q=ac+15:29&sr=1">Acts 15:29); the flesh of idol sacrifices, of which whatever was not eaten by the worshippers at the feasts in the temples, or given to the priests, was sold in the markets and eaten at home. See 1 Corinthians 10:25-28; and Exodus 34:15.


In its literal sense. “The association of fornication with three things in themselves indifferent is to be explained from the then moral corruption of heathenism, by which fornication, regarded from of old with indulgence, and even with favor, nay, practised without shame even by philosophers, and surrounded by poets with all the tinsel of lasciviousness, had become in public opinion a thing really indifferent” (Meyer). See Döllinger, “The Gentile and the Jew,” ii., 237 sq.


The flesh of animals killed in snares, and whose blood was not poured forth, was forbidden to the Israelites.

Verse 23

Greeting ( χαίρειν )

The usual Greek form of salutation. It occurs nowhere else in the salutation of a New Testament epistle save in the Epistle of James (James 1:1). See note there. It appears in the letter of Claudius Lysias (Acts 23:26).

Verse 24

Subverting ( ἀνασκευάζοντες )

Only here in New Testament, and not found either in the Septuagint or in the Apocrypha. Originally, it means to pack up baggage, and so to carry away; hence, to dismantle or disfurnish. So Thucydides (iv., 116) relates that Brasidas captured Lecythus, and then pulled it down and dismantled it ( ἀνασκευάσας )From this comes the more general meaning to lay waste, or ravage. The idea here is that of turning the minds of the Gentile converts upside down; throwing them into confusion like a dismantled house.

We gave no commandment ( οὐ διεστειλάμεθα )

The word originally means to put asunder; hence, to distinguish, and so of a commandment or injunction, to distinguish and emphasize it. Therefore implying express orders, and so always in the New Testament, where it is almost uniformly rendered charge. The idea here is, then, “we gave no express injunction on the points which these Judaizers have raised.”

Verse 25

Barnabas and Paul

Here, as in Acts 15:12, Barnabas is named first, contrary to the practice of Luke since Acts 13:9. Barnabas was the elder and better known, and in the church at Jerusalem his name would naturally precede Paul's. The use of the Greek salutation, and this order of the names, are two undesigned coincidences going to attest the genuineness of this first document preserved to us from the Acts of the primitive church.

Verse 29


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).

Verse 31


See on Acts 9:31.

Verse 32

Many words

Or, lit., much discourse; adding the spoken to the written consolation.


Or comforted. See on Acts 15:31. The latter agrees better with consolation there.


See on Acts 14:22.

Verse 36

Let us go again and visit ( ἐπιστρέψαντες δὴ ἐπισκεψῶμεθα )

Lit., Having returned, let us now visit. The A. V. omits now. See on Acts 13:2.

In every city ( κατὰ πᾶσαν πόλιν )

Κατά has the force ofcity by city.

Verse 38

Him ( τοῦτον )

Lit., that one. It marks him very strongly, and is an emphatic position at the end of the sentence.

Departed ( ἀποστάντα )

Rev., withdrew. It furnishes the derivation of our word apostatize.

Verse 39

The contention was so sharp ( ἐγένετο παροξυσμὸς )

More correctly, there arose a sharp contention. Only here and Hebrews 10:24. Our word paroxysm is a transcription of παροξυσμὸς . An angry dispute is indicated.


The last mention of him in the Acts.

Verse 40


Which was not the case with Barnabas, leading to the inference that the church at Antioch took Paul's side in the dispute.


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The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Acts 15:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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