Chrysostom on Acts 3200
ACTS XV. 1.—“And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”
Mark1 how at every step of the right progress in respect of the Gentiles, the beginning is brought in as matter of necessity. Before this (Peter) being found fault with, justified himself, and said all that he said in the’ tone of apology, which was what made his words acceptable: then, the Jews having turned away, upon this (Paul) came to the Gentiles. Here again, seeing another extravagance coming in, upon this (the apostle) enacts the law. For as it is likely that they, as being taught of God, discoursed to all indifferently, this moved to jealousy them of the Jews (who had believed). And they did not merely speak of circumcision, but they said, Ye cannot even be saved. Whereas the very opposite to this was the case, that receiving circumcision they could not be saved. Do you mark how closely the trials succeed each other, from within, from without? It is well ordered too, that this happens when Paul is present, that he may answer them. “When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” (v. 2). And Paul does not say, What? Have I not a right to be believed after so many signs? but he complied for their sakes. “And being brought on their way by the Church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.” (v. 3). And observe, the consequence is that all the Samaritans also, learn what has come to the Gentiles: and they rejoiced. “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the Church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.” (v. 4). See what a providence is here! “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that of old days God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel, and believe.” (v. 5–7). Observe Peter from the first standing aloof (kecwrismenon) from the affair, and even to this time judaizing. And yet (says he) “ye know.” (ch. 10,45; xi, 2). Perhaps those were present who of old found fault with him in the matter of Cornelius, and went in with him (on that occasion): for this reason he brings them forward as witnesses. “From old days,” he says, “did choose among you.” What means, “Among you?” Either, in Palestine, or, you being present. “By my mouth.” Observe how he shows that it was God speaking by him, and no human utterance. “And God, that knoweth the hearts, gave testimony unto them:” he refers them to the spiritual testimony: “by giving them the Holy Ghost even as unto us.” (v. 8). Everywhere he puts the Gentiles upon a thorough equality. “And put no difference between us and them, having purified their hearts by faith.” (v. 9). From faith alone, he says, they obtained the same gifts. This is also meant as a lesson to those (objectors); this is able to teach even them that faith only is needed, not works nor circumcision. For indeed they do not say all this only by way of apology for the Gentiles, but to teach (the Jewish believers) also to abandon the Law. However, at present this is not said. “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples?” (v. 10). What means, “Tempt ye God?” As if He had not power to save by faith. Consequently, it proceeds from a want of faith, this bringing in the Law. Then he shows that they themselves were nothing benefited by it, and he turns the whole (stress of his speech) against the Law, not against them, and (so) cuts short the accusation of them: “which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved, even as they.” (v. 11). How full of power these words! The same that Paul says at large in the Epistle to the Romans, the same says Peter here. “For if Abraham,” says (Paul), “was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God.” (Rm 4,2). Do you perceive that all this is more a lesson for them than apology for the Gentiles? However, if he had spoken this without a plea for speaking, he2 would have been suspected: an occasion having offered, he lays hold of it, and speaks out fearlessly. See on all occasions how the designs of their foes are made to work with them. If those had not stirred the question, these things would not have been spoken, nor what follows.3
(Recapitulation). (b) But4 let us look more closely at what has been said. “And certain men,” etc. In Jerusalem, then, there were not any believers from among the Gentiles: but in Antioch of course there were. Therefore5 there came down certain yet laboring under this disease of the love of rule, and wishing to have those of the Gentiles attached to them. And yet Paul, though he too was learned in the Law, was not thus affected. “When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small disputation with them,” etc. (v. 2). But when he returned from thence, the doctrine also became more exact. For if they at Jerusalem enjoin no such thing, much more these (have no right to do so). “And being brought on their way,” etc, “they caused no small joy to the brethren.” (v. 3). Do you mark, as many as are not enamoured of rule, rejoiced in their believing? It was no ambitious feeling that prompted their recitals, neither was it for display, but in justification of the preaching to the Gentiles. (v. 4). Thus they say nothing of what had happened in the matter of the Jews.6 “But there arose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed,” etc. (v. 5). (a) But even if they would needs bring over the Gentiles to their side, they learn that neither must the Apostles overlook it.7 “And the Apostles and eiders,” etc. (v. 6). “Among us,” he says, “God chose:” and “from old days:” long ago, he says, not now. And8 this too is no small point—at a time when Jews believed, not turned away (from the Gospel). “Among us;” an argument from the place: “of old days,” from the time. And that expression, “Chose:” just as in their own case9 he says not, (so) willed it, but, “Chose that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel and believe.” Whence is this proved? From the Spirit. Then he shows that the testimony given them is not of grace merely, but of their virtue. “And God which knoweth the hearts bare them witness” (v. 8); having afforded to them nothing less (than to us), for, he says, “Put no difference between us and them.” (v. 9). Why then, hearts are what one must everywhere look to.10 And it is very appositely said, “God that knoweth the hearts bare them witness:” as in the former instance, “Thou, Lord, that knowest the hearts of all men.” (ch. 1,24). For to show that this is the meaning, observe what he adds, “Put no difference between us and them.” When he has mentioned the testimony borne to them, then he utters that great word, the same which Paul speaks, “Neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision.” (1Co 7,19). “That he may make the twain one in Himself.” (Ep 2,5). Of all these the seeds lie in Peter’s discourse. And he does not say (between) them of the circumcision, but “Between us,” that is the Apostles, “and them.” Then, that the expression, “no difference” may not seem an outrage, After faith, he says—“Having purified their hearts by faith” (v. 10)—He thoroughly cleansed them first.11 Then he shows, not that the Law was evil, but themselves weak.—“But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved even as they.” (v. 11). Mc how he ends with a fearful consideration. He12 does not discourse to them from the Prophets, but from things present, of which themselves were witnesses. Of course13 (the Prophets) also themselves anon add their testimony (infra v. 15), and make the reason stronger by what has now come to pass. And observe, he first permits the question to be moved in the Church, and then speaks. “And put no difference between”—he said not, them of the circumcision, but “us and them,” i.e. the Gentiles: for14 this (gradual advance) little by little is stronger. “Why therefore tempt ye God?” who is become (the) God of the Gentiles: far this was tempting:15 * * * whether He is able to save even after the Law. See what he does. He shows that they are in danger. For if, what the Law could not do, faith had power to do, “we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved even as they” (comp. Ga 2,16): but faith falling off, behold, themselves (are) in destruction. And he did not say, Why do ye disbelieve? which was more harsh, but, “Tempt God,” and that when the fact is demonstrated.
(c) Great effrontery this, of the Pharisees, that even after faith they set up the Law, and will not obey the Apostles. But see these, how mildly they speak, and not in the tone of authority: such words are amiable, and more apt to fix themselves in the mind. Observe, it is nowhere a display of words, but demonstration by facts, by the Spirit. And yet, though they have such proofs, they still speak gently. And observe they16 do not come accusing those at Antioch, but “declaring all things that God had done with them:” (v. 4) but thence again these men lay hold upon the occasion (to compass their own objects), “but there rose up,” etc. (v. 1). Such were the pains they took in their love of power: and it was not with the knowledge of the Apostles that they Paul and Barnabas were blamed. But still they brought forward none of these charges: but when they have proved the matter, then (the Apostles) write in stronger terms.
For gentleness17 is everywhere a great good: gentleness, I say, not stupid indifference; gentleness, not adulation: for between these there is a vast difference. Nothing ruffled Paul, nothing discomposed Peter. When thou hast convincing proofs, why lose thy temper, to render these of none effect? It is impossible for one who is out of temper ever to persuade. Yesterday also we discoursed about anger; but there is no reason why we should not to-day also; perchance a second exhortation coming directly after the first will effect somewhat. For indeed a medicine though of virtue to heal a wound, unless it be constantly renewed, mars all. And think not that our continual discoursing about the same things is a condemning of you: for if we condemned you, we should not discourse; but now, hoping that you will gain much, we speak these things. Would indeed that we did speak constantly of the same things: would that there were no other subject of our discourses, than how we might overcome our passions. For is it not contrary to allreason, that while emperors, living in luxury and so great honor, have no subject of discourse either while sitting at table, or at any other time, save only how to overcome their enemies18 —and therefore it is that they hold their assemblies each day, and appoint generals and soldiers, and demand taxes and tributes; and that of all state affairs, the moving causes are these two, the overcoming of those who make war upon them, and the establishing of their subjects in peace—we have no mind for such themes as this, nor ever even dream of conversing upon them: but how we may buy land, or purchase slaves, and make our property greater, these are subjects we can talk about every day, and never be tired of them: while concerning things in ourselves and really our own, we neither wish to speak ourselves, nor so much as dream of tolerating advice, nor of enduring to hear others speaking about them? But answer me, what do you talk about? About dinner? Why that is a subject for cooks. Of money? Nay, that is a theme for hucksters and merchants. Of buildings? That belongs to carpenters and builders. Of land? That talk is for husbandmen. But for us, there is no other proper business, save this, how we may make wealth for the soul. Then let not the discourse be wearisome to you. Why is it that none finds fault with the physician for always discoursing of the healing art, nor with people of other crafts for talking about their peculiar arts? If indeed the mastery over our passions were really achieved, so that there were no need of putting us in mind, we might reasonably be taxed with ambition and display: or rather, not then either. For even if it were gained, for all that, there would be need of discoursing, that one might not relapse and remain uncorrected: as in fact physicians discourse not only to the sick, but also to the whole, and they have books on this subject, on the one part how to free from disease, on the other how to preserve health. So that even if we are well, still we must not give over, but must do all in order to the preserving of our health. And when we are sick there is a twofold necessity for advice: first, that we may be freed from the disease; secondly, that having been freed, we may not fall into it again. Well then, we are discoursing now by the method of treating the sick, not by the rules for the treatment of the healthy.
How then may one root out this evil passion? how subdue (uposkeliseie) this violent fever? Let us see whence it had its birth, and let us remove the cause. Whence is it wont to arise? From arrogance and much haughtiness. This cause then let us remove, and the disease is removed together with it. But what is arrogance? whence does it arise? for perhaps we are likely to have to go back to a still higher origin. But whatever course the reason of the thing may point out, that let us take, that we may go to the bottom of the mischief, and pluck it up by the roots. Whence then comes arrogance? From our not looking into our own concerns, but instead of that, busying ourselves about the nature of land, though we are not husbandmen, and the nature of gold, though we are not merchants, and concerning clothing, and everything else: while to ourselves and our own nature we never look at all. And who, you will say, is ignorant of his own nature? Many: perhaps all, save a few: and if ye will, I will show the proof of it. For, tell me, what is man? If one were asked, will he be able to answer outright to the questions, In what he differs from the brutes, in what he is akin to the heavenly inhabitants, what can be made of man? For as in the case of any other material, so also in this case: man is the subject-matter, but of this can be made either an angel or a beast. Does not this seem a strange saying? And yet ye have often heard it in the Scriptures. For of certain human beings it was said, “he is the angel of the Lord” (Ml 2,7): and “from his lips,” saith it, “they shall seek judgment” (Ml 3,1): and again, “I send My angel before Thy face:” but of some, “Serpents, generation of vipers.” (Mt 12,34). So then, it all depends upon the use. Why do I say, an angel? the man can become God, and a child of God. For we read, “I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.” (Ps 82,6). And what is greater, the power to become both God and angel and child of God is put into his own hands. Yea, so it is, man can be the maker of an angel. Perchance this saying has startled you? Hear however Christ saying: “In the Resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like unto the angels.” (Mt 22,30). And again, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (Mt 19,12). In a word, it is virtue which makes angels: but this is in our power: therefore we are able to make angels, though not in nature, certainly in will. For indeed if virtue be absent, it is no advantage to be an angel by nature; and the Devil is a proof of this, who was an angel once: but if virtue be present, it is no loss to be a man by nature; and John is a proof of this, who was a man, and Elias who went up into heaven, and all those who are about to depart thither. For these indeed, though with bodies, were not prevented from dwelling in heaven: while those others, though without bodies, could not remain in heaven. Let no one then grieve or be vexed with his nature as if it were a hindrance to him, but with his will. He (the Devil) from being incorporeal became a lion: for lo! it saith, "Our adversary, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1P 5,8): we from being corporeal, become angels. For just as if a person, having found some precious material, should despise it, as not being an artificer, it will be a great loss to him, whether it be pearls, or a pearl shell, or any other such thing that he has seen; so we likewise, if we are ignorant of our own nature, shall despise it much: but if we know what it is, we shall exhibit much zeal, and reap the greatest profits. For from this nature is wrought a king’s robe, from this a king’s house, from this nature are fashioned a king’s members: all are kingly. Let us not then misuse our own nature to our hurt. He has made us “a little lower than the angels,” (Ps 8,5), I mean, by reason of death: but even that little we have now recovered. There is nothing therefore to hinder us from becoming nigh to the angels, if we will. Let us then will it, let us will it, and having exercised ourselves thoroughly, let us return honor to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, world without end, Amen.
1 (Ora pantacou th" ei" ta eqnh diorqwsew" (the putting things right, the introduction of the right and proper course: mod. text metabasew") anagkaian thn archn eisagomenhn. Mod. text apAE autwn eisag. which Ben. renders, vide ubique transitum ad Gentes necessario a Judaeis inductum. But the meaning is: “Throughout, it is so ordered by the Providence of God, that the Apostles do not seem to act spontaneously in this matter, but to be led by the force of circumstances.” The persons (Peter, Paul, James) are not specified, the sense being: First, upon fault being found, there is apologizing and self-justifying: then, upon the Jews’ open aversion, the preaching comes to the Gentiles: now, upon a new emergency, a law is enacted.—In the next sentence, b.c. diaforw": A. and mod. text adiaforw", which we retain).
2 Mod. text isw" oudamw" upopto" hn, “perhaps he would not have been any way suspected.”
3 With Luke’s narrative of the Apostolic council at Jerusalem should be compared Paul’s (Ga 2). which gives additional particulars. The conference marked an epoch in the history of the church. Here came into decisive conflict two opposing tendencies—the Pharisaic tendency which insisted that the Gentiles must enter the Kingdom through the door of the law, and the catholic spirit which, following the principles of Stephen’s apology and appreciating the revelations made to Peter, insisted that adherence to the Mosaic law was not only unnecessary, but was positively inconsistent with the freedom and completeness of Christ’s salvation. The decree of the council was, no doubt, of great service in checking the Judaizing tendencies of the early church. It was in the line of this decree that the work of Paul was done, as the champion of catholic Christianity. The chief points to be noted in 5,1–12 are: (1) The representatives of the narrower Jewish view came to Antioch on purpose to antagonize the work of Paul and Barnabas among the Gentiles (v. 1). (2) They took the extreme position that salvation depended on circumcision and caused great anxiety and debate among the Gentile Christians regarding their relations to the Mosaic law (v. 2). (3) The Apostles and messengers who were sent to appeal the question to the leaders of the mother church at Jerusalem answered their objections by the fact of the Gentiles’ conversion (v. 3–5). (4) Peter’s position was now clear and pronounced. This is implied even in his subsequent conduct at Antioch whence he withdrew from the Gentiles (Ga 2,11 sq). which Paul represents as an inconsistency. (5) Peter’s view is first given both on account of his prominence among the Apostles and because he had been the first to bear the gospel to the Gentiles.—G. B. S.
4 In the mss. and Edd. the part marked (b) is transposed to the beginning (c)of the remarks introductory to the morale, so that the Recapitulation (announced by mod. text at the end of the first sentence of (a) is split into two halves and the latter given first. In the old text the two parts (b)(c) make the entire Recapitulation, so that it is by no means akribesteron.
5 Mod. text “Therefore they depart (thither) and stay no short time there (ch. 14,28). ’But there arose certain of the Pharisees (v. 5) yet laboring under the disease,” etc.
6 twn ei" tou" AEIoudaiou" sumbebhkotwn: i.e. of the dispute about circumcision, see below p. 203, note 7. The first sentence of (c) “Great effrontery (this) of the Pharisees,” etc., would come in suitably here, but it is required for introduction of the sentence which follows it, “But see the Apostles,” etc.
7 Here mod. text has the formula, AEAllAE idwmen anwqen ta eirhmena.
8 Kai touto de ou mikron, AEIoudaiwn pisteuontwn kai toutwn ouk apostrafentwn, apo rou topou, apo tou kairou. Mod. text substitutes the sense of the latter words: duo toutoi" o legei pistoutai, tw kairw kai tw topw: but for the former, ou mikron de to kai AEIoudaiwn pisteuontwn touto apostrafhnai, quod etiam Judaeis credentibus hoc avertatur. Ben. We reject toutwn, which disturbs the sense. He says: “Long ago—therefore why raise this question now, which was settled in those early days, when Jews received the faith, not rejected it with aversion? which aversion of theirs is now the occasion of the preachers’ turning to the Gentiles. Yet even then the will of God was plainly declared. Thus the Apostle argues strongly both from the place—here in the midst of the Jews—and from the time.”
9 wsper epAE autwn: referring to 1,24. as below on kardiognwsth". He means, “It was a purpose of the Lord, and a high distinction: therefore he does not say, He would, or was willing that the Gentiles should hear, but He elected me for this work, as He elected us to the Apostleship.”
10 (Ara kardia" dei pantacou zhtein. 1,e. “He implies that God, as knowing the hearts of all men saw the fitness of these Gentiles, therefore chose them, and made no distinction between us and them in point of fitness. Consequently, the heart, not circumcision, is what we must everywhere look to. Nay, he adds, this same expression, kardiognwsth" was used by the Apostles on the occasion above referred to: so that Peter, by using it here also, declares the Gentiles to be upon a par with the Apostles themselves: no difference between us the Apostles, and them.”
11 mss. AEExekaqare proteron ton logon, kai tote k. t. l. Either ton logon has come in from another place (perhaps after ei" foberon katelhxe below), or some words are lost, e. g). pistei th ei" ton logon.
12 The foberon is in the kaqAE on tropon kakeinoi. “Our danger, through the Law, is greater than theirs. Not only are they put upon a par with us. but we may be thankful to be put upon a par with them.” To bring out this point, he reviews the tenor and drift of St. Peter’s speech.
13 Eikotw" kai autoi loipon epimarturousi: that autoi means the Prophets (cited by St. James), seems to be shown by toi" hdh genomenoi", “what they long ago foretold, which is even now come to pass.”
14 to gar katamikron touto iscuroteron genomenon twn eqnwn: touto gar peirazonto" hn k. t. l. Mod. text touto gar kata mikpon epagomenon egineto iscuroteron: ekeino de peir. hn.—The meaning is: “He does not come at once to the point, but advances to it gradually: first, ‘Put no difference—though, as he afterwards shows, if there be a difference it is in their favor: we are not to think it much that they are to be saved as we, but that we may trust to be saved even as they.’”
15 Above, it was “disbelieving God, as not able to save by faith.” Here, “You are tempting God by your unbelief: whereas the question is not so much whether He can save without the Law, as ei dunatai kai meta nomon (B). tou nomou) swsai.”
16 ouk apercontai diaballonte" tou" en AEAnt. This also shows the epiekeia of Paul and Barnabas, that when they come to Jerusalem, we do not find them complaining of the Jews who had come to Antioch, but they confine themselves to the recital of “all that God had done with them,” 5,4: as he had said above, ouden legousi peri twn ei" tou" AEIoudaiou" sumbebhkotwn. The next clause, AEAllAE ekeiqen palin lambanousin aformhn may be referred to the Apostles, “they again take advantage of this opportunity, viz. of the Judaizing opposition, to establish the freedom of the Gentiles.” We have referred it to the Pharisaic brethren, 5,5, for the sake of connection with the following outw" emeletwn to filarcein.—In the next clause, kai (mod. text oi kai), ouk eidotwn twn apostolwn ememfqhsan, Sav. marg. has AEpemfqhsan, “these Judaizers were not sent with knowledge of the Apostles.”
17 AEEpieikeia, gentleness, in the sense of moderation and forbearance, keeping one’s temper: here distinguished from the temper of the yucro", which is unruffled only because he does not feel, and that of the flatterer, who puts up with everything for the sake of pleasing).
18 He means, that to basilei", when there is an enemy in the field against them, the engrossing theme of discourse, even at table, is how to overcome their enemies. Such was probably the state of things when this Homily was preached: for the note of time in Hom. xliv. implies that it was delivered either at the close of 400 or the beginning of 401 a.d.: now the former of these years was signalized by the revolt and defeat of Gainas. Hence the following passage might be rendered, “they are holding assemblies each day, appointing generals and demanding taxes,” etc. The war ended Dec). 400, in the defeat of Gainas).
ACTS XV. 13, 15.—“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Symeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets.”
This (James) was bishop, as they say, and therefore he speaks last, and herein is fulfilled that saying, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (Dt 17,6 Mt 18,16). But observe the discretion shown by him also, in making his argument good from the prophets, both new and old.1 For he had no acts of his own to declare, as Peter had and Paul. And indeed it is wisely ordered that this (the active) part is assigned to those, as not intended. to be locally fixed in Jerusalem, whereas (James) here, who performs the part of teacher, is no way responsible for what has been done, while however he is not divided from them in opinion.2 (b) “Men and brethren,” he says, “hearken unto me.” Great is the moderation of the man. His also is a more complete oration, as indeed it puts the completion to the matter under discussion. (a) “Symeon,” he says, “declared:” (namely,) in Luke, in that he prophesied, “Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all nations, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.”3 (c) “How God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name.” (Lc 2,25). Then, since that (witness), though4 from the time indeed he was manifest, yet had not authority by reason of his not being ancient, therefore he produces ancient prophecy also, saying, “And to this agree the words of the Prophets, as it is written: After this I wilt 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.” (v. 16). What? was Jerusalem raised up? Was it not rather thrown down? What5 sort of raising up does he call that which took place after the return from Babylon? “That the residue of men,” he says, “may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles upon whom My Name is called.” (v. 17). Then, what makes his word authoritative—“Saith the Lord, which doeth all these things:” and, for that this is no new thing, but all was planned from the beginning, “Known unto God are all His works from everlasting.”6 (v. 18). And then again his authority (kai to axiwma palin) (as Bishop): “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollution of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” (v. 19–21). Since7 then they had heard of the Law, with good reason he enjoins these things from the Law, that he may not seem to make it of no authority. And (yet) observe how he does not let them be told these things from the Law, but from himself, saying, It is not that I heard these things from the Law, but how? “We have judged.” Then the decree is made in common. “Then pleased it the Apostles and elders, together with the whole Church, to choose men of their own company”—do you observe they do not merely enact these matters, and nothing more?—“and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas:namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: and they wrote letters by them after this manner.” (v. 22). And observe, the more to authenticate the decree, they send men of their own, that there may be no room for regarding Paul and his company with suspicion. “The Apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.” (v. 23). And mark8 with what forbearance of all harsh vituperation of those (brethren) they indite their epistle. “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the Law: to whom we gave no such commandment.” (v. 24). Sufficient was this charge against the temerity of those men, and worthy of the Apostles’ moderation, that they said nothing beyond this. Then to show that they do not act despotically, that all are agreed in this, that with deliberation they write this—“It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send men of ours whom we have chosen” (v. 25)—then, that it may not look like disparagement of Paul and Barnabas, that those men are sent, observe the encomium passed upon them—“together with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas; who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us”—it is not man’s doing, it says—“to lay upon you no greater burden”—again it calls the Law a burden: then apologizing even for these injunctions—“save these necessary things” (v. 26–28): "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. (v. 29). For these things the New Testament did not enjoin: we nowhere find that Christ discoursed about these matters; but these things they take from the Law. “From things strangled,” it says, “and from blood.” here it prohibits murder. (Comp. Gn 9,5). “So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.” (v. 30, 31). Then those (brethren) also exhorted them: and having established them, for towards Paul they were contentiously disposed, so departed from them in peace. “And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the Apostles.” (v. 32, 33). No more factions and fightings, but thenceforth Paul taught.9
(Recapitulation). “Then all the multitude kept silence,” etc. (v. 12). There was no arrogance in the Church. After Peter Paul speaks, and none silences him: James waits patiently, not starts up10 (for the next word). Great the orderliness (of the proceedings). No word speaks Jn here, no word the other Apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule, and think it no hardship. So clean was their soul from love of glory. “And after that they had held their peace, James answered,” etc. (v. 13). (b) Peter indeed spoke more strongly, but James here more mildly: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part. (a) But what means it, “How God first (prwton) did visit?” (v. 14). (It means) from the beginning (ex arch").11 (c) Moreover he well says, “Symeon expounded” (exhghsato) (or, interpreted), implying that he too spake the mind of others. “And to this agree,” etc. Observe how he shows that this is a doctrine of old time. “To take out of the Gentiles,” he says, “a people for His Name.” (v. 15). Not simply, Chose, but, “for His Name,” that is for His glory. His Name is not shamed by the taking (prolhyei) the Gentiles first, but it is even a greater glory.—Here some even great thing is hinted at: that these are chosen before all.12 “After this I will return, and rebuild the tabernacle of David which is fallen down.” (v. 16). But if one would look into the matter closely, the kingdom of David does in fact now stand, his Offspring reigning everywhere. For what is the good of the buildings and the city, with none obeying there? And what is the harm arising from the destruction of the city, when all are willing to give their very souls? There is that come which is more illustrious than David: in all parts of the world is he now sung. This has come to pass: if so, then must this also come to pass, “And I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:” to what end? “that the residue of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called.” (v. 17). If then it was to this end that the city rose again (namely) because of Him (that was to come) of them, it shows that of the building of the city the cause is, the calling of the Gentiles. Who are “the residue?” those who are then left.13 “And all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called:” but observe, how he keeps the due order, and brings them in second. “Saith the Lord, which doeth these things.” Not “saith” (only), but “doeth.” Why then, it was God’s work.—“But the question is other than this (namely), what Peter spoke more plainly, whether they must be circumcised. Then why dost thou harangue about these matters?” For what the objectors asserted, was not that they must not be received upon believing, but that it must be with the Law. And upon this Peter well pleaded: but then, as this very thing above all others troubled the hearers, therefore he sets this to rights again (qerapeuei). And observe, that which was needful to be enacted as a rule, that it is not necessary to keep the Law, this Peter introduced: but the milder part,14 the truth which was received of old, this James saith, and dwells upon that concerning which nothing is15 written, in order that having soothed their minds by that which is acknowledged, he may opportunely introduce this likewise. “Wherefore,” saith he, “my sentence is, not to trouble them which from among the Gentiles do turn unto God” (v. 19), that is, not to subvert: for, if God called them, and these observances subvert, we fight against God. And16 again, “them which from the Gentiles,” he saith, “do turn.” And he says well, with authority, the “my sentence is. But that we write unto them that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication”—(b)and yet they often insisted upon these points in discoursing to them17 —but, that he may seem also to honor the Law (he mentions), these also, speaking (however) not as from Moses but from the Apostles, and to make the commandments many, he has divided the one into two (saying), “and from things strangled, and from blood.” (v. 20). For these, although relating to the body, were necessary to be observed, because (these things) caused great evils, “For Moses hath of old times in every city,” etc. (v. 21). This above all quieted them. (anepausen) (a) For this cause I affirm that it is good (so “to write to them.”) Then why do we not write the same injunctions to Jews also? Moses discourses unto them. See what condescension (to their weakness)! Where it did no harm, he set him up as teacher, and indulged them with a gratification which hindered nothing, by permitting Jews to hear him in regard of these matters, even while leading away from him them of the Gentiles. See what wisdom! He seems to honor him, and to set him up as the authority for his own people, and by this very thing he leads away the Gentiles from him!18 “Being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” Then why do they not learn (what is to be learnt) out of him, for instance * *?19 Through the perversity of these men. He shows that even these (the Jews) need observe no more (than these necessary thing’s). And if we do not write to them, it is not that they are bound to observe anything more, but only that they have one to tell them. And he does not say, Not to offend, nor to turn them back,20 which is what Paul said to the Galatians, but, “not to trouble them:” he shows that the point (katorqwma) if carried is nothing but a mere troubling. Thus he made an end of the whole matter;21 and while he seems to preserve the Law by adopting these rules from it, he unbinds it by taking only these. (c)22 There was a design of Providence in the disputation also, that after the disputation the doctrine might be more firm. “Then pleased it the Apostles to send chosen men of their own company,” etc., no ordinary persons, but the “leading men; having written” (letters) “by them after this manner. To those in Antioch,” it says, “and Syria and Cilicia.” (v. 22, 23) where the disease had its birth.Observe how they say nothing harsher (fortikwteron) against those men, but look to one thing only, namely, to undo (the mischief) which has been done. For this would make even the movers of the faction there to confess (that they were wrong). They do not say, The seducers, the pestilent fellows, or suchlike: though where need is, Paul does this, as when he says, “O full of all guile” (ch. 13,10): but here, the point being carried, there was no need. And observe, they do not put it, That certain from us ordered you to keep the Law, but, “Troubled you with words, subverting your souls,”—nothing could be more proper (kuriwteron) than that word: none (of the other speakers) has so spoken of the things done by those men. “The souls,” he says, already strongly established, these persons are anasceuazonte" as in speaking of a building, “taking them down again:” displacing them (metatiqente") from the foundation).23 “To whom,” he says, “we gave no such commandment. It seemed good therefore to us being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you together with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 25, 26). If “beloved,” they will not despise them, if they “have hazarded their lives,” they have themselves a right to be believed. “We have sent,” it saith, “Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by word of mouth.” (v. 27). For it was necessary that there should be not merely the Epistle there by itself, lest they should say that Paul and Barnabas had suppressed24 (the real purport), that they said one thing instead of another. The encomium passed upon Paul stopped their mouths. For this is the reason why neither Paul comes alone nor Barnabas (with him), but others also from the Church; that he may not be suspected, seeing it was he that advocated that doctrine: nor yet those from Jerusalem alone. It shows that they have a right to be believed. “For it seemed good,” say they, “to the Holy Ghost and to us” (v. 28): not making themselves equal (to Him25 )—they are not so mad. But why does it put this (so)? Why did they add, “And to us,” and yet it had sufficed to say, “To the Holy Ghost?” The one, “To the Holy Ghost,” that they may not deem it to be of man; the other, “To us,” that they may be taught that they also themselves admit (the Gentiles), although themselves being in circumcision. They have to speak to men who are still weak and afraid of them: this is the reason why this also is added. And it shows that it is not by way of condescension that they speak, neither because they spared them, nor as considering them weak, but the contrary; for great was the reverence of the teachers also.26 “To lay upon you no greater burden”—they27 are ever calling it a burden—and again, “save these necessary things:” for that was a superfluous burden. See here a brief Epistle, with nothing more in it (than was needed), neither arts of persuasion (kataskeua") nor reasonings, but simply a command: for it was the Spirit’s legislating. “So when they were dismissed they came to Antioch, and having gathered the multitude together, they delivered to them the epistle.” (v. 30). After the epistle, then (Judas and Silas) also themselves exhort them by word (v. 31): for this also was needful, that (Paul and Barnabas) might be quit of all suspicion. “Being prophets also themselves,” it says, exhorted the brethren “with many words.” It shows here the right that Paul and Barnabas have to be believed. For Paul also might have done this, but it behooved to be done by by these.28 "And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace. (v. 33).
No29 more faction. On this occasion, I suppose, it was that they received the right hand, as he says himself, “They gave to me and Barnabas right hands of fellowship.” (Ga 2,9). There he says, “They added nothing to me.”30 (Ga 2,6). For they confirmed his view: they praised and admired it.—It shows that even from human reasonings it is possible to see this, not to say from the Holy Ghost only, that they sinned a sin not easy to be corrected. For such things need not the Spirit.—It shows that the rest are not necessary, but superfluous. seeing these things are necessary. “From which if ye keep yourselves,” it saith, “ye shall do well.” It shows that nothing is lacking to them, but this is sufficient. For it might have been done also without letters, but that there may be a law in writing (they send this Epistle): again, that they may obey the law (the Apostles), also told those men (the same things), and they did this, “and confirmed them, and having tarried a space were let go in peace.”
Let us not then be offended on account of the heretics. For look, here at the very outset of the preaching, how many offences there were: I speak not of those which arose from them that were without; for these were nothing: but of the offences which were within. For instance, first Ananias, then the “murmuring,” then Simon the sorcerer; afterwards they that accused Peter on account of Cornelius, next the famine,31 lastly this very thing, the chief of the evils. For indeed it is impossible when any good thing has taken place, that some evil should not also subsist along with it. Let us not then be disturbed, if certain are offended, but let us thank God even for this, because it makes us more approved. For not tribulations only, but even temptations also render us more illustrious. A man is no such great lover of the truth, only for holding to it when there is none to lead him astray from it: to hold fast to the truth when many are drawing him away, this makes the proved man. What then? Is this why offences come? I am not speaking as if God were the author of them: God forbid! but I mean, that even out of their wickedness He works good to us: it was never His wish that they should arise: “Grant to them,” He saith, “that they may be one” (Jn 17,21): but since offences do come, they are no hurt, to these, but even a benefit: just as the persecutors unwillingly benefit the Martyrs by dragging them to martyrdom, and yet they are not driven to this by God; just so is it here. Let us not look (only at this), that men are offended: this very thing is itself a proof of the excellence of the doctrine—that many stimulate and counterfeit it: for it would not be so, if it were not good. And this I will now show, and make on all hands plain to you. Of perfumes, the fragrant spices are they which people adulterate and counterfeit; as, for instance, the amomum leaf. For because these are rare and of necessary use, therefore there come to be spurious imitations likewise. Nobody would care to counterfeit any common article. The pure life gets many a false pretender to it: no man would care to counterfeit the man of vicious life; no, but the man of monastic life.—What then shall we say to the heathen? There comes a heathen and says, “I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose?” How shall we answer him? “Each of you” (says he) “asserts, ‘I speak the truth.’” (b) No32 doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule. (a) “But which am I to believe, knowing as I do nothing at all of the Scriptures? The others also allege the same thing for themselves. What then (c)if the other come, and say that the Scripture has this, and you that it has something different, and ye interpret the Scriptures diversely, dragging their sense (each his own way)?” And you then, I ask, have you no understanding, no judgment? “And how should I be able (to decide),” says he, “I who do not even know how to judge of your doctrines? I wish to become a learner, and you are making me forthwith a teacher.” If he say this, what, say you, are we to answer him? How shall we persuade him? Let us ask whether all this be not mere pretence and subterfuge. Let us ask whether he has decided (kategnwke) against the heathen (that they are wrong). The fact33 he will assuredly affirm, for of course, if he had not so decided, he would not have come to (enquire about) our matters let us ask the grounds on which he has decided, for to be sure he has not settled the matter out of hand. Clearly he will say, “Because (their gods) are creatures, and are not the uncreated God.” Good. If then he find this in the other parties (airesei"), but among us the contrary, what argument need we? We all confess that Christ is God. But let us see who fight (against this truth), and who not. Now we, affirming Him to be God speak of Him things worthy of God, that He hath power, that He is not a slave, that He is free, that He doeth of Himself: whereas the other says the reverse. Again I ask: if you would learn (to be) a physician,34 * * *? And yet among them are many (different) doctrines. For if you accept without more ado just what you are told, this is not acting like a man: but if you have judgment and sense, you shall assuredly know what is good. We affirm the Son to be God, we verify (epalhqeuomen) what we affirm: but they affirm indeed, but (in fact) confess not.—But35 to mention (something) even plainer: those have certain persons from whom they are called, openly showing the name of the heresiarch himself, and each heresy in like manner: with us, no man has given us a name, but the faith itself. However, this (talk of yours) is mere pretence and subterfuge. For answer me: how is it that if you would buy a cloak, though ignorant of the art of weaving, you do not speak such words as these—“I do not know how to buy; they cheat me”—but do all you can to learn, and so whatever else it be that you would buy: but here you speak these words? For at this rate, you will accept nothing at all. For let there be one that has no (religious) doctrine whatever: if he should say what you say about the Christians—“There is inch a multitude of men, and they have different doctrines; this a heathen, that a Jew, the other a Christian: no need to accept any doctrine whatever, for they are at variance one with another; but I am a learner, and do not wish to be a judge”36 —but if you have yielded (so far as) to pronounce against (kataginwskein) one doctrine, this pretext no longer has place for you. For just as you were able to reject the spurious, so here also, having come, you shall be able to prove what is profitable. For he that has not pronounced against any doctrine at all, may easily say this: but he that has pronounced against any, though he have chosen none, by going on in the same way, will be able to see what he ought to do. Then let us not make pretexts and excuses, and all will be easy. For, to show you that all this is mere excuse, answer me this: Do you know what you ought to do, and what to leave undone? Then why do you not what you ought? Do that, and by right reason seek of God, and He will assuredly reveal it to thee. “God,” it saith, “is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.” (ch. 10,34, 35). It cannot be that he who hears without prejudice should not be persuaded. For just as, if there were a rule, by which everything behooved to be put straight, it would not need much consideration, but it would be easy to detect the person who measures falsely (ton parametrounta labein), So is it here. “Then how is it they do not see it at a glance?” Many things are the cause of this: both preconceived opinion, and human causes: (aitiai). The others, say you, say the same thing about us. How? For are we separated from the Church? have we our heresiarchs? Are we called after men—as one of them has Marcion,37 another Manichaeus, a third Arius, for the author and leader (of his sect)? Whereas if we likewise do receive an appellation from any man, we do not take them that have been the authors of some heresy, but men that presided over us, and governed the Church. We have no “masters upon the earth”—God forbid—we have “One Master that is in heaven.” (Mt 23,9-10). “And those also,” says he, “say the same.” But there stands the name set over them, accusing them, and stopping their mouths.—How38 is it, there have been many heathen, and none of them asked these questions: and among the philosophers there were these (differences), and yet none of those holding the right party (airesin) was hindered (thereby)?—Why did not (those believers) say, when (the others) raised these questions, “Both these and those are Jews: which must we believe?” But they believed as they ought. Then let us also obey the laws of God, and do all things according to His good pleasure,39 that having virtuously passed this life present, we may be enabled to attain unto the good things promised to them that love Him, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
1 All our mss. and the Cat). apo te newn apo te palaiwn bebaioumenou twn profhtwn ton logon, which must be rendered, “Confirming the word of the prophets:” so Ed. Par. Ben. 2, where the other Edd. have pal. prof. beb., which is in fact what the sense requires: “from the prophets, new (as Symeon) and old.”
2 This was James, the Lord’s brother (Ga 1,19), who, according to the uniform tradition of the early church, was the Bishop of Jerusalem. He evidently was the chief pastor, as he presides at this conference, and when Judaizing teachers afterwards went down to Antioch from Jerusalem they are spoken of as coming “from James” (Ga 2,12). From this it has been inferred that he was the leader of a Judaistic party, but this view is inconsistent with his address here and also with Paul’s testimony who says that the “pillar” apostles “imparted nothing” to him, that is, did not correct or supplement his teaching. He was no doubt of a conservative tendency respecting the questions in dispute and may not have been always self-consistent, as Peter certainly was not, but there can be no doubt of his substantial agreement with Paul. His doctrine of justification by works as well as by faith in his epistle is not against this view, since he uses both the words “faith” and “works” in a different sense from Paul, meaning by the former “belief” and by the latter the deeds which are the fruit of the Christian life, instead of meritorious obedience to the Mosaic law.—G. B. S.
3 Edd). epicwriazein, Cat). egcronizein, substituted for the less usual egcwriazein of A). b.c. Sav.—Below, Sumewn, fhsin, exhghsato en tw Louka profhteusa". Cat. “He who in Lc prophesied, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart.”—It is remarkable that it does not occur to Chrys. that Symeon is Simon Peter, though 2P 1,1 has Sumewn Petro" in the Cod. Alexandr., and many other mss. In the Mod. text Chrys. is made to say: “Some say that this is he who is mentioned by Luke: others, that he is some other person of the same name. (Ac 13,1) But whether it be the one or the other is a point about which there is no need to be particular; but only. to receive as necessary the things which the person declared.”
4 apo men tou cronou dhlo" hn, to de axiopiston ouk eice: the former clause seems to be corrupt. The sense in general is, He was manifestly (a prophet), but had not the same authority as the old prophets. Probably the form of opposition was this: epeidh ekeino" apo men * * dhlo" hn, apo de tou cronou to axiopiston ouk eice dia to mh palaio" einai. “Since Symeon, though from * * he was manifestly (a prophet), yet from time had not the like authority because he was not ancient.”
5 Mod. text, “But it is not of these things that he speaks. And what raising up, you will say, does he mean? That after Babylon.” We point it, poian legei egersin thn meta Babulwna; “Was it raised up? was it not rather razed to the ground (by the Romans)? True it was rebuilt after the return from Babylon, but what sort of raising up does he call that?” For the answer to these questions, not given here, see the Recapitulation (note 4, p. 207).
6 Most modern texts omit panta at the end of 5,17 and then join directly to it gnwsta apAE aiwno" only, dropping out the words of the T. R.: esti tw qewpanta ta erga autou. This reading yields the following translation: “the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from the beginning of the world.” (So Tischendorf, Alford, Meyer, Westcott and Hort, Gloag. R. V).. This reading encounters the difficulty that the words gnwsta apAE aiwno" are considered as a part of the quotation which, in reality, they are not. It is probable that this fact may have led to their expansion into an independent sentence.—G. B. S.
7 All our mss. epeidh ouk hsan akhkoote" tou nomou, which contradicts 5,21. We restore epeidh oun. In b.c. 5,21, with the words epeidh ouk hsan ak. tou nomou is repeated after, “We have judged.”
8 mss. and Edd). Kai ora pw" fortikw" ekeinou" diaballonte" epistellousin. The sense absolutely requires pw" ou fort. It would be strange if Chrys. made to fortikon and to diaballein matter of commendation: moreover in his very next remark he says just the contrary, and below, p. 209).
9 Paulo" de loipon edidasken. Perhaps this may belong to the Recapitulation, 5,12.—In the mod. text the matter is a good deal transposed, without any necessity, and the Recapitulation is made to begin after the sentence ending, “love of glory.”—This seems to be the proper place for the first of the sentences following the Recapitulation, p. 210, note 3, viz. “No more faction. On this occasion I suppose it was that they received the right hand, as he says himself, ‘They gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship.’ On this (same) occasion he says, ‘They added nothing to me.’ For they confirmed his view: they praised and admired it.”
10 epiphda N. Cat. (ephpida sic A). b.c.) mod. text apophda, “recoils” from hearing Paul.
11 The scribes did not perceive that ex arch" is the answer to the question, Ti estin, kaqw" prwton k. t. l. therefore transposed this sentence and gave ez arch" to the sentence (a) (Cat. omits them). Mod. text, the question being thus left unanswered, substitutes “Symeon hath declared”—kaqw" pr. k. t. 50,AEEx apch" afodroteron men.
12 oti pro pantwn outoi. Here also, and in th prolhyei twn eqnwn, there seems to be a reference to prwton, as if the meaning were, God “looked upon the Gentiles first to take from them,” before the Jews, etc.—After the text, the questions left unanswered above (see (note 2P 206) might be advantageously introduced. “How could that restoration (after Babylon) be called an egersi", especially as the city was eventually razed to the ground by the Romans? True: but the kingdom of David is in fact more gloriously raised up, in the reign of David’s offspring throughout the world. As for the buildings and city, what loss is that? Nay, David himself is more glorious now than he was before, sung as be is in all parts of the world. If then this which the Prophet foretold is come to pass—this is put as St. James’s arguments—namely that the city was raised from its ruins (and the subsequent overthrow, when the end of that restoration was attained, does not invalidate the fulfilment), then must the dia ti of this restoration also come to pass, namely, that the residue shall seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom that Name is called. The city, was raised up for the sake of Christ, to come of them, and to reign over all nations. Consequently, the Prophet shows that the aition (i. e. the dia ti, or final clause) of the building of the city is—the calling of the Gentiles, to ta eqnh klhqhnai.”
13 oi upoleipomenoi tote, the Jews whom that (the Babylonian) judgment leaves).
14 mss. and Edd). to de hmetepon. We must read to de hmerwtepon, as above: in the preceding clause something is wanted for antithesis, probably kai ora, to men fortikwteron, oper k. t. l.
15 uper ou ouden gegraptai. This also requires emendation. The sense demands, “About which there is no dispute.” The gegraptai may have come in from the text referred to: “to wit, Kaqw" gegraptai,” etc.
16 The report seems to be defective here; and in fact N. (Say. marg). inserts after the text, “showing both God’s care towards them and mercy, and their ready mind and piety in obeying: and he says well,” etc. But this addition is unknown to A). b.c. Cat., and N. frequently adds to or otherwise alters the original text, where the sense or connection is obscure.—Perhaps however these two sentences may be better transposed to follow the part (b), so that the connection would be, “And again, observe he has been speaking concerning the Gentile converts, not openly of the Jewish believers, and yet in fact what he says is no less for them.”—Mod. text with partial transposition, “And he well says, To them, etc. declaring both the purpose of God from the beginning with respect to them, and their obedience and readiness for the calling. What means it? I judge? Instead of, With authority I say that this is so. ‘But that we write to them,’ he says, ‘to abstain from’ etc. For these, though bodily, etc. (as below). And that none may object, why then do we not enjoin the same thing to the Jews? He adds, ‘For Moses,’ etc.: i.e. Moses discourses to them continually: for this is the meaning of, ‘Being read every Sabbath day.’ See what condescension!”
17 kaitoi ge pollaki" autoi" uper (not peri as Ben. renders, de his) dielecqhsan mod. text dielecqh, referred perhaps to Moses or the Law, as in the trajection this sentence follows the last of (a). The clause seems to refer to “pollutions of idols and fornication.” q. d. “Why mention these in the decree? The Apostles, especially Paul, often discoursed to them on behalf of these points of Christian duty, i.e. the abstaining from all approach to idolatry, as in the matter of eidwloquta, and from fornication.” The answer is: “He mentions them, for the purpose of seeming to maintain the Law, (though at the same time he does not rest them on the authority of the Law, but on that of the Apostles: still the Jewish believers would be gratified by this apparent acknowledgment of the Law), and (with the same view) to make a greater number of entolai, for which reason also he divides the one legal prohibition of blood into the two, apo twn pniktwn kai apo tou aimato". The latter, he says, though swmatikai, are necessary to be observed because the non-observance of this law on which the Jews laid so much stress led to great evils—especially made it impossible for Jewish and Gentile believers to eat at the same table. For in every city Moses is preached to Jews and proselytes. Therefore I say it is good that we charge them by letter to abstain from these things,” Then, giving a different turn to the reason, “for Moses of old times,” etc. he adds. “this is for them which from the Gentiles,” etc., as for the Jewish believers, they have Moses to teach them. Thus again seeming to uphold Moses, while in fact he shows, what they might learn from Moses himself, that the Law is come to an end for the Jews also.
18 The prohibitions imposed by the council upon the Gentiles were chiefly concessions to Jewish prejudice and opinion. Abstinence from meat which had been offered in idols’ temples and from things strangled and from blood was forbidden in the Mosaic law (Ex 34,15 Lv 17,10–14). Failure to abstain from these would expose the Gentile converts needlessly to the suspicions of the Jewish Christians. The prohibition of fornication must rest upon another ground. is a warning against the custom among Gentiles, which had become so prevalent as to provoke little rebuke or comment. The ground assigned for requiring these abstinences is that Moses is read every Sabbath in the synagogues of the Jews and therefore these very points are kept prominently before the people and therefore unless these indulgences were abandoned, the synagogue preaching would constantly stimulate in the Jews and Judeo-Christians a dislike of the Gentile believers. There is less ground for the view of Chrys. that 5,21. means that the Jewish Christians have no need of instruction on these points because they hear the law read every Sabbath, an explanation, however, which is adopted by such modern scholars as Wordsworth and Neander.—G. B. S.
19 A. B). aphg. ta eqnh ex autou. Dia ti oun mh par autou manq.; C). aphg. ta ex autou panta, oion ta eqnh. Dia ti k. t. l. Cat). aphg ta ex autou manq. Hence we read, aphgage ta eqnh. Dia ti oun mh ta ex autou manqanousin, oion (ta eqnh") * * *;
20 katastrefein, mss. Perhaps, metastreyai from Ga 1,7.
21 exeluse to pan, “untied the whole knot,” or perhaps “took out of the Law all its strength,” as below luei.
22 Perhaps the sentence, touto malista autou" anepausen, retained above as the end of (b), may belong here, in the sense, “This was conclusive; this made the Judaizers desist, if anything could.”
23 kaqaper epi oikodomh" ta upAE ekeinwn gegenhmena metatiqente". Mod. text from E). tiqente", “putting, as in respect of a building, the things done by those (Judaizers).” We have transposed ta upAE ek geg. to its proper place. He interprets anask. with reference to Ga 1,6). metatiqesqe.
24 sunhrpasan Ben). ipsos extorsisse: but the word is used in the Greek of Chrysostom’s time, in the sense “conceal,” for which Schneider s. 5,refers to Valesius on Harpocrat. p. 145. Gronov. in which sense we have rendered it above. Or perhaps, “had wrested it” to make it speak in their favor). To zhtoumenon sunarpazein is a logical phrase, used of one who commits a petitio principii. St. Chrys. however can hardly be correctly reported here: for the letter itself would show, if it were believed to be genuine. that Paul and Barnabas neither sunhrpasan nor alla antAE allwn eipan. He may rather be supposed to have said in substance as follows: “Had Paul and Barnabas returned alone as the bearers of an oral communication, it might be suspected that they gave their own account of the matter: had they come alone, bearing the Epistle, its genuineness might have been called in question: but by sending the Epistle by the hands of men of their own and of high consideration, they left no room for doubt as to the fact of their decision. On the other hand, to have sent these men alone, would have looked like putting a slight upon Barnabas and Paul: but by sending the messengers with them, they showed oti axiopistoi eisin, and by the eulogy expressed in the Epistle itself they stopped the mouths of the gainsayers.”
25 The innovator completely mistakes the meaning of this clause: not having the text to guide him, he supposes it to refer to Silas and Judas, and alters thus: “It shows how worthy of credit they are: not making themselves equal, ’it says: they are not so mad. In fact, this is why it adds that expression, Which have hazarded their lives, etc. And why does it say, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us,” and yet it had sufficed.” etc.—Below, he has “‘To lay upon you no greater burden.’ This they say, because they have to speak,” etc. But all this belongs to edoxen hmin q. d. "You need not fear us, neither is it of condescension that we speak, or to spare you as being weak—quite the contrary—it seems good to the Holy Ghost “and to us.”
26 pollh gar kai twn didaskalwn aidw" hn. It is not clear whether this means, Great was the reverence shown by the teachers also towards them—as in St. Peter’s wsper kakeinoi—and therefore they did not treat them as “weak;” or, great was their reverence towards their teachers, so that bad they laid upon them a greater burden, they would have borne it).
27 mss. and Edd. have this clause, anw katw baro" kalousi after Pneumato" gar hn nomoqesia, and give the kai palin to sunagagonte". After the clause “For that was a superfluous burden” seems to be the proper place for these sentences from below, see note 3, infra. “It shows that the rest are not necessary but superfluous, seeing these things are necessary. “From which if ye keep yourselves ye shall do well.” It shows that nothing is lacking to them, but this is sufficient.”
28 Here insert from below: “For it might have been done also without letters—they did this.”
29 What follows consists of notes which the redactor did not bring to their proper places. “No more faction—admired it,” see note 1 p. 207. “It shows—the Spirit,” may belong either to the comment on krinw egw, or to that on “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.”—“It shows that the rest—sufficient,” see note 1. These parts being removed, the remainder forms the continuation of the sentence, “it behooved to be done by these,” note 2. The concluding words kai metAEeirhnh" are the reporter’s abridgment of the text "kai [emesthrixan, moihsante" de cronon apeluqhsan] metAE eirhnh".
30 The author here assumes the identity of the two visits of Paul to Jerusalem contained in Ac 15,and Gal 1,and Gal ii. This has always been the prevailing view. For a full discussion of this and other views, see Gloat, Com. on the Acts 2,80–84.—G. B. S.
31 The famine is mentioned among the offences within, perhaps because it may have led some to question the Providence of God: see above, p. 159).
32 mss. and Edd. transpose the parts marked a and b. The old text, however, by retaining ti oun at the end of a, as well as at the beginning of c, enables us to restore the order, so that then the clause mhden olw" eidw" en tai" Grafai", no longer disturbs the sense.
33 Edd). pantw" ti erei. A). b.c. pantw" oti erei. “In any wise he will affirm the oti, therefore let us ask the aitia" di a".”
34 ei iatro" melloi" manqanein. Mod. text adds, “Say, Do you accept out of hand and as it chances, whatever you are told?” The connection is: “Apply your mind to what you hear, whether from us or from them, and see whether of us is consistent. Just as you would if you wished to learn medicine: there also you would find conflicting opinions and you would exercise your judgment upon them, not accept all without examination. Do so here; and in the instance which has been taken, you will see that we, affirming the Son to be God, carry out our affirmation consistently; whereas they (the Arians) say indeed that He is God but in fact deny Him the essential properties of Deity.”—Edd. and all our mss. Uion legomen hmei" epalhqeuomen k. t. l. We must read either Qeon or Uion Qeon.
35 Connection: I have mentioned one simple criterion: here is another palpable and visible mark. Heretics take their names from men, the founders of their sects, tou airesiarcou dhlounto" A. B). kalounto" C., to onoma Sav. marg). dhlounte", which we adopt. But indeed the reasons you allege are mere pretence, etc.
36 The sentence is left unfinished: “it would be no wonder,” “this would be at least consistent,” or the like: then ei de eixw b.c. hxw (sic) A., hxw D. Mod. text oude exw. all corrupt. The sense seems to require, “If you have thought fit,” or “gone so far as.”
37 Sav. marg. adds “another, Paul of Samosata.”
38 Dia ti polloi gegonasin Ellhne", kai oudei" k. t. l. Mod. text omits dia ti. The first clause seems to be corrupt, or misplaced: for to say that “there have been many heathen, and none of them has asked these questions” (about Christian doctrines), would contradict all that precedes: and if it means There were many Greeks, and diverse schools of philosophy among them, and yet none was deterred from the study of philosophy by those differences, this would not be true. But if this be transposed to the following sentence, which relates to the (Ellhne" at Antioch, then Chrys. says: “Among philosophers also there were these differences, and yet) etc. How is it that (at Antioch) many Greeks became (Christians) and yet none of them asked these questions? Why did they not say,” etc.
39 Edd. have a longer peroration from F, partly followed by D. “And live according to His will while we are yet in this life present, that with virtue having accomplished the remaining time of our life, we may be able, etc., and together with them which have pleased Him be found worthy of honor, by the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son, and the All-holy and Life-giving Spirit, the One true Godhead, now and ever, world without end.” Amen.
Chrysostom on Acts 3200