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Gal. ii. 8. (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me towards the Gentiles :)
9. When James (surnamed the Less), Cephas (that is, Peter), and John, who were considered to be pillars of the church, all three being then present, had recognised the peculiar trust graciously committed to my care, they cordially gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen generally, and they unto the circumcision as before.
10. Only they requested, that on our return to Antioch, and while occupied among the Gentiles, we should not forget the poor brethren at Jerusalem with their peculiar claims on our charity: the same thing also which I have since then been forward to do.
PETER REBUKED AT ANTIOCI.
The intercourse betwixt Antioch (the great city of the East) and Jerusalem appears to have been on all accounts very frequent; and as a matter therefore of no unusual occurrence, it is next mentioned by Paul, in writing to the Galatians, that Peter went down soon after this time to Antioch. Even yet the conviction of that apostle's mind was not settled with completeness and certainty as to the full and free admission of the Gentiles to the benefits of the Christian covenant. And in pursuance therefore of his argument, Paul continues the narrative thus :
GALAT. ii. 11... 14.
11. But when not long after this conference of ours at Jerusalem (where I rather declared to the apostles what I had done, than consulted even them on its being done rightly,) Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Gal. ii. 12. For on his first arrival there, and before certain persons (Jewish believers), came with some message from James (or pretence of one, as A. xv. 1. 24.) about ceremonial conformity, Peter had never scrupled to eat with the converted Gentiles : but after those persons came, he withdrew again, and separated himself, fearing to displease those of the circumcision.
13. And the other believing Jews dissembled likewise with him ; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their timidity and dissimulation.
14. But when I, the determined and authorised preacher of Gentile freedom, saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou being a Jew by birth canst yet live (as thou hast done lately) after the manner of Gentiles, in disregarding the distinction of meats, and not as do the Jews (H. P. 106.), who observe that distinction; why wouldest thou now compel the Gentile brethren to live as do the Jews, or else, to please these zealots, withdraw thyself from their company ?
PUBLIC MISSION OF PAUL AND BARNABAS TO
Acts xv. 1. And yet, after all this, certain men which came down from Judea to Antioch, assuming authority on that account (though not in any way authorised, as it afterwards appears, v. 24.), set about to teach the brethren in their stricter way, and said, Except ye
be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved by the gospel.
Acts xv. 2. When therefore Paul and Barnabas, taking just offence at this, had no small dissension and disputation with them, it was generally determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
3. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed (that route by land being purposely taken) through Phænicea, by Sidon and Tyre, and through Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles; and by those tidings now told in the full extent, they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
4. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things which God had done by his blessing on their labours.
5. But here again, on their errand being publickly known, there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying that it was needful to circumcise the Gentile converts and command them to keep the law of Moses.
6. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles (Cornelius, with his kinsmen and near friends, A. x.) by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving to them the Holy Ghost, even as he did
9. And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10. Now therefore, why would you try the forbearance of God, in putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
Acts xv. 11. But we believe, that through the free grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they ; and not otherwise.
12. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
The work had now proceeded much farther than it had done with Peter; Cornelius was a proselyte (A. x. 2.) when he was converted.
13. And after they had held their peace, James (surnamed the Less) answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14. Simeon (i. e. Simon Peter) hath declared how God at the first (i. e. beginning with Cornelius) did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his
15. And to this agree the words of the prophets ; as it is written, (Amos ix, 11, 12.)
16. “ After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down ; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up :
17. That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom (as true worshippers) my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”
18. Known unto God are all his works (and evidently so, this calling of the Gentiles) from the beginning of the world.
19. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not
with burdensome rites them which from among the Gentiles are now turned unto God:
Acts xv. 20. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, i. e. from feasting on things offered in heathen sacrifice; from fornication, as being now under the restraint of a purer morality; and from things strangled, and from blood, that so the Jewish believers may without offence or scruple eat at the same table with them.
21. In those latter points conformity must be exacted; for Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
22. Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to choose men of their own company and send them (for additional authority) to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren :
23. And they wrote letters by them after this man
The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia :
- here be it remarked, that this apostolic decree was addressed, and would be delivered, in the first instance, to the Syrian and Cilician churches alone : but whereever Paul and Silas afterwards went either to confirm other churches, as at Derbe and Lystra, xvi. 1, 2., or to the work of new conversion, as in Phrygia and Galatia, v. 6., the provisions of the decree, having been once solemnly ratified, would naturally find a place in the course of their teaching, without any reference to the original dispute, or to the authority by which it was settled.