Acts Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. But some men came down from Y’hudah to Antioch and began teaching the brothers, “You can’t be saved unless you undergo b’rit-milah in the manner prescribed by Moshe.”
Some men... from Y'hudah (Judea). Verse 24 tells us they were from the Messianic community in Yerushalayim but had not been authorized to be teaching the brothers. Unauthorized teachers are also discussed at Galatians 2:1 Iff.: it may have been the same situation, or earlier, or later (scholarly opinions differ), but in any case it was at least similar.
Came down. See Mt 20:17-19N on "going up to Yerushalayim."
You. The "you" are Gentiles who have come to faith in God and his Messiah Yeshua without becoming proselytes to Judaism. The question of whether Jewish believers should have their sons circumcised is not raised here at all, but it is raised at 21:21&N.
Unless you undergo /' 'rit-milah in the manner prescribed by Moshe. The condition named for salvation is actually shorthand for something far more comprehensive. These men from Y'hudah are insisting that Gentiles must become in every sense Jews. At v. 5 they make this clearer by adding explicitly that the Gentile believers should be directed "to observe the Torah of Moshe," by which they mean both the Written and Oral Torah.
This condition goes beyond the requirements for individual salvation set forth in the Tanakh. in Judaism or by the emissaries. The Tanakh says, and Kefa quotes it at 2:21, "Everyone who calls on the name of Adonai will be saved." Judaism teaches that to be saved Gentiles need only obey the seven Noachide laws (see V.20N). The New Testament books of Romans, Galatians and Ephesians have as a central issue the equality of Jews and Gentiles before God, insofar as salvation is concerned; they make it clear that observance of the Torah, as it applies to Jews, is not a condition for the salvation of a Gentile.
Thus the requirement that Gentiles convert to Judaism and the teaching behind this requirement constitute a serious threat to the Gospel. For if individuals not born into Jewish culture and society are each required to become Jews before God will recognize their faith in him, far fewer Gentiles will trouble themselves to accept the Gospel. The real issue is: can faith in God and his Messiah transcend Jewish culture? Can a Gentile become a Christian without also becoming a Jew?
It is one of the supreme ironies of life on this planet that the issue today has become precisely the opposite: can a Jew become a follower of Yeshua the Messiah without becoming a Goy? Much of the opposition within the Jewish Community to Jews' coming to trust in Yeshua takes it for granted that the answer is No. It is assumed that when a Jew accepts Yeshua he abandons his people, adopts a Gentile lifestyle and is lost to the Jewish community. While some Jews who became Christians have done exactly that, the very existence of the early Messianic Jewish communities proclaimed from the beginning that it did not have to be so. These communities lasted, some of them, at least until the fourth and fifth centuries of the Common Era, when Epiphanius wrote about them.
Why, in the past, did many Jewish believers, in practice, leave their people? Because in the fourth century, when Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and the Gentile-dominated Church gained political power, it began to require Jews who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah to give up all ties with Judaism, Jewish practices, Jewish friends and anything Jewish. During most of the last 1,500 years a Jewish believer in Yeshua had to take on Gentile religious and cultural ways, first, because the Jewish community excluded him, and second, because of Christendom's social pressure and distaste for Jewish ways. Concerning the latter, it is as if "men from Rome came down and began teaching the Jewish brothers, 'Unless you totally ignore your circumcision in the manner prescribed by Moshe, you cannot be saved!'"Much of the Church continues to insist on this view, unscriptural though it is, basing their opinion on isolated passages misinterpreted, particularly Ep 2:11-15, 1С 10:31 and Ga 3:28; see notes to these passages and the rest of Acts for further discussion. The correct conclusion is: a Jew who becomes Messianic remains a Jew, and a Gentile who becomes a Christian remains a Gentile.
Circumcision (Hebrew milah) antedates Moshe by more than 400 years. It is the sign of the covenant (b'rit) God unilaterally made with Avraham (Genesis 12:1-3, 13:14-17, 15:1-7, 17:1-19, 22:16-18, 26:2-5, 28:13-15, 31:13. 35:9-12). The instruction to Avraham to circumcise everyone in his household, and all male descendants when one week old ("on the eighth day") is found at Genesis 17:9-14 and confirmed to Moses at Leviticus 12:2-3. Circumcision has always been considered indispensable by virtually all Jews. When a male Gentile becomes a Jewish proselyte he must be circumcised.
It is not only that these believers from Judea wanted the Gentile believers circumcised, but they wanted it done in accordance with the Oral Law, in accordance with Jewish tradition. Three points support this understanding:
(1) Circumcision by itself is not enough for them; they want it done in this specific way, in the manner prescribed by Moshe.
(2) The written Torah, the Pentateuch, specifies hardly anything about the "manner" in which Jewish circumcision is to be done.
(3) The Oral Torah was also understood to have been given by God to Moshe on Mount Sinai at the same time as the Written Torah (see 6:I3N); and it does specify the "manner" in which Jewish circumcision is to be done.
Many Near Eastern peoples practiced circumcision; that is not the point. Within Judaism circumcision is done in a certain way, with a certain ceremony; only then is it a b'rit-milah ("covenant of circumcision"). Even a Jew who has been circumcised in some other way — for example, as is common today, in a hospital by a doctor before the eighth day — is required by halakhah to undergo symbolic circumcision in which a drop of blood must be drawn. The manner prescribed by Moshe was codified in the Mishna some 170 years later than the events described here and is contained largely in these sections: Shabbat9:3,18:3,19:l-6;Pesachim 3:7; Megillah 2:4; N'darim3:l 1; Arakhin2:2; K'ritot 1:1 and N'ga'im 7:5. See also Yn 7:22-23&N and Ac 16M-3&NN.
One final point: these men from Y'hudah seem to have been unaware that Cornelius and his friends had been received into the Messianic Community without being circumcised (10:1-11:18); or they were aware of it but opposed (see 10:45N), and unwilling to accept this fait accompli, so that they decided on their own to do something to limit the influx of Gentiles.
2. This brought them into no small measure of discord and dispute with Sha’ul and Bar-Nabba. So the congregation assigned Sha’ul, Bar-Nabba and some of themselves to go and put this sh’eilah before the emissaries and the elders up in Yerushalayim.
Discord and dispute with Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba arose because their mission in life was to bring the Gospel to as many Gentiles as possible, and they were altogether unwilling to have needless barriers put in their way.
Some non-Messianic Jews side with the "men from Y'hudah" in this matter. They take the view that Christianity has been made an "easy" religion that requires "mere faith," whereas Judaism is a meaty and tough religion that demands action. But the objection misses the point altogether. The point is, what has God required? God has required Jews to be Jews, and he has made Gentiles Gentiles, but he has required both Jews and Gentiles to trust him, obey him and follow him through his Messiah Yeshua. Such obedience and trust and day-by-day following are not easy; such faith is not "mere." It too demands action (Mt 3:8, Ep 2:10, Ya 2:19-20). Gentiles entering the New Covenant have plenty to do without also having to convert to Judaism. Sh'eilah. See Mt22:23N.
The emissaries and the elders up in Yerushalayint. Jerusalem was not only the source of Messianic faith but its center, for the emissaries were still there (8:1&N). and other experienced elders were there too. Since Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba had come from there (4:36, 9:26-30, 12:25), they would be subject to Jerusalem's jurisdiction and would accept their verdict.
3. After being sent off by the congregation, they made their way through Phoenicia and Shomron, recounting in detail how the Gentiles had turned to God; and this news brought great joy to all the brothers.
4. On arrival in Yerushalayim, they were welcomed by the Messianic community, including the emissaries and the elders; and they reported what God had done through them.
5. But some of those who had come to trust were from the party of the P’rushim; and they stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Torah of Moshe.”
Some of those who had come to trust were from the party of the P'rushim (on which see Mt 3:7&N). Many Jews are offended at the commonly held Christian view of the Pharisees as invariably stubborn and prideful hypocrites who substituted legalism and outward appearances for true worship and service to the living God. But there were in fact some Pharisees who believed in Yeshua. They were not "former Pharisees" but Messianic Jewish Pharisees, just like Sha'ul (23:6, Pp 3:5).
"But," some may object, "these P'rushim were wrong. Their Judaizing view was roundly defeated." Yes, but they were still believers; not every believer is right about everything! Further, the text does not tell us that all the Pharisees who were believers took this position; but, on the contrary, it does tell us that Sha'ul, who was a Pharisee, took the opposite stand.
6. The emissaries and the elders met to look into this matter.
7. After lengthy debate, Kefa got up and said to them, “Brothers, you yourselves know that a good while back, God chose me from among you to be the one by whose mouth the Goyim should hear the message of the Good News and come to trust.
Kefa recalls ihe incidents of 10:1-11:18. Though Sha'ul is known as the emissary to the Gentiles (22:21, Ro 11:13, Ga 2:8), it was through Kefa that the Gentiles — Cornelius and his household — first heard the Gospel and received the Holy Spirit.
8. And God, who knows the heart, bore them witness by giving the Ruach HaKodesh to them, just as he did to us;
God, who knows the heart (like Yeshua at Yn 2:25). Kefa emphasizes that heart-religion (meaning not merely outward show but genuine inner turning to God) is true religion. The Tartakh too puts more emphasis on "circumcised hearts" than on literal circumcision (see references in 7:51N).
9. that is, he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their heart by trust.
Kefa's version of the Gospel is the same as Sha'ul's: cleansing of the heart by trust is the one and only condition for salvation.
10. So why are you putting God to the test now by placing a yoke on the neck of the talmidim which neither our fathers nor we have had the strength to bear?
A yoke... which neither our fathers nor we have had the strength to bear. Much Christian teaching contrasts the supposedly onerous and oppressive "yoke of the Law" with the words of Yeshua, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Mt 1 l:30&N). This is a mistake, on two counts. First, observant and knowledgable Jews do not consider the Torah a burden but a joy. If a person regards something as pleasant, you will not be able to convince him that it is unpleasant! (An entirely different question: how many observant and knowledgeable non-Messianic Jews actually experience and exhibit God's joy?) Second, and much more importantly here, such teaching mis-identifies the yoke which Kefa says has proved so unbearable.
The term "yoke" in this context is certainly Jewish enough. For example, the Mishna explains with these words why Deuteronomy 6:4-9 precedes Deuteronomy 11:13-21 in the Sh 'ma Israel portion of the synagogue liturgy:
"For what reason does the [paragraph beginning with the word] 'Sh ma precede the [paragraph beginning with] 'V'hayah im shamoa'l So that one should first accept upon oneself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, and [only] after that accept upon oneself the yoke of the mitzvot'' (B'rakhot 2:2; the phrase "yoke of the mitzvot" also occurs in Sifra 57b).
In this mishna the term "yoke" does not imply an oppressive burden any more than Yeshua's yoke does. Accepting the "yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven" means acknowledging God's sovereignty and his right to direct our lives. Once one acknowledges his right to direct our lives, it is obvious that if he has given commandments we should obey them. The same is true of Yeshua, who put it this way (Yn 14:15): "If you love me" (compare the first paragraph of the Sh 'ma), "you will keep my commands" (compare the second).
So then, if the "yoke of the commandments" is not burdensome, what is Kefa talking about? He is speaking here of the detailed mechanical rule-keeping, regardless of heart attitude, that some (but not all!) P'rushim, including, apparently, the ones mentioned in v. 5, held to be the essence of Judaism. This was not the "yoke of the mitzvot" prescribed by God, but a yoke of legalism prescribed by men! The yoke of legalism is indeed unbearable, but the yoke of the mitzvot has always required, first of all (Mk 12:28-34), love of God and neighbor; and it now implies love toward Yeshua the Messiah. But love can neverbe legalistic! Sha'ul too spoke of legalism as a "yoke of slavery" (Ga 5:1&N); see his detailed exposition of the subject in Romans 1-11, and seeGa2:16bN.
11. No, it is through the love and kindness of the Lord Yeshua that we trust and are delivered — and it’s the same with them.”
Этот стих суммирует всё сказанное Кефой; евреи и язычники равны перед Богом. Возникает следующий вопрос: неужели он смог преступить свои принципы в Галатии (Гал. 2:11 и далее)? Если инцидент в Галатии произошел до Иерусалимского совета (см. ком. к ст. 1 о «некоторых людях... из Иегуды»), тогда речь Кефы отражает перемену, произошедшую в нём после обличения Шаулем. Если недоразумение в Галатии произошло после Иерусалимского совета, это в очередной раз свидетельствует о слабости Кефы в применении доктрины к собственной жизни (ср. Map. 14:27-31, 66-72).
12. Then the whole assembly kept still as they listened to Bar-Nabba and Sha’ul tell what signs and miracles God had done through them among the Gentiles.
13. Ya‘akov broke the silence to reply. “Brothers,” he said, “hear what I have to say.
14. Shim‘on has told in detail what God did when he first began to show his concern for taking from among the Goyim a people to bear his name.
15. And the words of the Prophets are in complete harmony with this for it is written,
16. '"After this, I will return; and I will rebuild the fallen tent of David. I will rebuild its ruins, I will restore it,
17. so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, that is, all the Goyim who have been called by my name",-
18. says Adonai, who is doing these things.' (Amos 9:11–12). All this has been known for ages.
This verse sums up Kefa's speech: equality of Jews and Gentiles before God. The question arises, did he fail to live up to his principles in Galatia (Ga 2:11ff.)? If the Galatian incident occurred before the Jerusalem Council (see v. IN on "some men... from Y'hudah"), then Kefa's speech here reflects his change after Sha'ul's chastening. If the confrontation in Galatia occurred after the Jerusalem Council, it illustrates once more Kefa's weakness in applying his doctrine to his own personal life (compare Mk 14:27-31, 66-72).
Ya'akov, the half-brother of Yeshua the Messiah; see 12:17N.
Ya'akov's contribution is to point out that God decided in ages past not only to have Israel as his people, but also to take from among the Goyim a people to bear his name (v. 14), that is, to be identified with him and to honor him. The Greek word "laos" ("people") refers to a people elected by God. Although at 10:2 and 10:42 it refers to the Jewish people (see notes there), here the implication is that Gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to be included in the laos, because God is now doing something new for the rest of mankind (v. 17).
Kefa has described recent events; Ya'akov ties them to received prophecy in the Tanakh. The quotation itself (vv. 16-18) is Amos 9:11-12, approximately as found in the Septuagint. The Masoretic text has, in lieu of our v. 17, "...so that they [Israeli may possess the remnant of Edom and of all the nations who are called by my name." Its Hebrew has "yireshu... 'Edom" ("possess... Edom"), while the Hebrew underlying the Septuagint Greek must be "yidreshu... 'adam" ("seek... mankind"). Concerning I will rebuild the fallen tent of David, see paragraph headed "coming on the clouds" in Mt 24:30N.
The complete fulfillment of Amos's prophecy will take place when the undivided realm of King David's time is restored. Meanwhile, this is a beginning.
19. “Therefore, my opinion is that we should not put obstacles in the way of the Goyim who are turning to God.
My opinion. As chairman Ya'akov sums up the discussion and sets forth a plan.
The Goyim who are turning. Or: "the Goyim, while they are turning." Joseph Shulam expounds the second alternative thusly: Do not put obstacles in the way of the Gentiles while they are going through the process of turning from idolatry to God. Instead, let them use their spiritual energy in repentance. There will be plenty of opportunities later for them to absorb what Moses has to say (v. 21&N).
20. Instead, we should write them a letter telling them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from fornication, from what is strangled and from blood.
Abstain from things polluted by idols, defined in v. 29 as food sacrificed to false gods, especially meat (see 1С 8:4-13,10:25). Fornication, any form of sexual immorality. In the first-century pagan world (as, unfortunately, in the twentieth-century Western world) sexual unions outside of marriage were regarded very lightly, along with homosexual behavior, temple prostitution and other improper practices. 1л Judaism, on the other hand, these were abominations (Leviticus 18).
What is strangled, that is, meat from animals not slaughtered in a way that allows the blood to flow out. According to the Oral Torah, Jewish sh'ckttah (slaughtering) requires that an animal be killed with a single knife stroke across the neck. The animal dies instantly, that is, humanely, and the blood drains quickly.
And blood. This could be either literal, referring to drinking animals' blood or failing to remove it from meat, or figurative, a metaphor for murder. Here are three possible interpretations of what the Jerusalem Council required from Gentile believers:
(1) The four prohibitions are a variant of the Noachide laws, presented in the Talmud as what God has required of all mankind since the days of Noah (i.e., before "Jew" and "Gentile" were defined):
"Our rabbis taught, 'The sons of Noah were given seven commandments: practicing justice and abstaining from blasphemy, idolatry, adultery, bloodshed, robbery and eating flesh torn from a live animal.' Rabbi Chananyah ben-Gamli'el said, 'Also not to drink blood taken from a live animal.'"(Sanhedrin 56a)
There follows the scriptural basis for these laws in the form of a midrash on Genesis 2:16. Thus Judaism is not only a particularistic national religion specifying God's requirements for Jews but also a universalistic religion that states what God demands of non-Jews as well. Possibly the Jerusalem Council based its prohibitions on this tradition, although its four requirements neither state nor imply anything about practicing justice or eschewing robbery. On the other hand, the Council may have specified only minimum requirements, with the expectation that other moral attributes would be acquired later, possibly as a result of Gentiles' attending synagogue services and learning there the Jewish moral tradition (v. 21&N).
(2) Some manuscripts lack "from what is strangled." If this is the correct reading, the three remaining prohibitions correspond to the three acts a Jew must die rather than commit:
"Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shim'on ben-Y'hotzadak, 'By a majority vote it was decided in the upper chambers of the house of Nitza in Lud that in every law of the Torah, if a man is commanded, "Transgress, or you will be put to death," he may transgress in order to save his life — with these exceptions: idolatry, fornication and murder."'(Sanhedrin 74a)
In other words. Gentile believers must avoid idolatry, fornication and murder because they are such serious moral transgressions that a Jew would die 'al kiddush-HaShem (7:59-60N) rather than commit them.
(3) The requirements were only secondarily ethical; they were primarily practical social requirements for fellowship between Jewish and Gentile believers. A Gentile who did not immediately observe all four prohibitions would so offend his Jewish brothers in the faith that a spirit of community would never be able to develop.
Why don't today's Gentile Christians avoid eating blood-sausage and purchase only kosher meat?
(1) If the first interpretation is correct, then they should, because the prohibitions are understood, like the Noachide laws, as binding forever.
(2) If the second interpretation is the right one, then they needn't, since there never were food prohibitions in the New Testament, not in Acts 15 and not now.
(3) But if the third interpretation is correct, then these food laws were given only as practical guides to avoid disruption of fellowship between believing Jews and Gentiles in the social context of the first century. Today, when Messianic Jews are a small minority in the Body of the Messiah, and few if any of them take umbrage at Gentiles' eating habits, the issue is irrelevant, and there is no need for Gentile Christians to obey a command never intended as eternal. However, in Israel, Gentile believers may find it convenient to keep at least a semblance of kosher, simply to fit in with a pattern widespread in the Land, or to be able to invite tradition-keeping Jews to dinner; and there are not a few Gentile Christians who do so.
21. For from the earliest times, Moshe has had in every city those who proclaim him, with his words being read in the synagogues every Shabbat.”
This is a difficult verse. Of the following possible meanings a good case can be made for any of the first four, and I find it hard to choose between them. (1) "Since Moses has disciples everywhere, that is, since there are Jews throughout the Roman Empire, their scruples are to be respected. This is why we are setting up these general rules." This corresponds to Sha'ul's injunction not to offend Jews (1С 10:31) and in particular reflects sensitivity to the concerns of the believing P'rushim (v. 5).
(2) "In every city Gentiles are responding to public proclamation of Judaism in the synagogues by becoming proselytes and "God-fearers.' This will continue, and Judaism will lose nothing if some Gentiles, who never belonged to Moses anyway, are not required to become Jews." In other words, if the Circumcision faction is anxious that allowing Gentiles to become Christians without becoming Jews first will seriously reduce the number of Jewish proselytes — not to worry.
(3) "These Gentile Christians have been hearing the Tanakh in the synagogues but have chosen not to convert to Judaism. Why press them now and put this obstacle in their way (v. 19) precisely when they have made a heart commitment to follow the God of Israel and his Messiah Yeshua?" This is the other side of the coin of (2). The Gentile believers, who never belonged to Moses anyway, should be encouraged along the new path of faith and participation in God's people opened for them by Yeshua the Messiah.
(4) "Let Gentiles enter the Messianic Community without becoming Jews, and don't be troubled over it, because, no matter where these Gentile believers live, they will continue visiting the local synagogue and hearing what Judaism teaches about living a godly life." This acknowledges the value of non-Messianic Judaism in its ethical aspects. It is a "temporal" interpretation applicable to first-century conditions, not an "eternal" one, since Gentile Christians have long ceased to visit synagogues in significant numbers.
(5) A more extreme version of (4): "Don't worry about converting Gentile believers to Judaism, because as they keep going to the synagogues they will eventually become Jews anyway." But this contradicts other New Testament teachings.
(6) "Since Moses, that is, the Torah, is read in the synagogues every Shabbai, Gentile believers who attend synagogue will keep hearing the three or four points of v. 20 emphasized over and over and will keep being sensitized to them." I think v. 21 has a broader focus than this.
22. Then the emissaries and the elders, together with the whole Messianic community, decided to select men from among themselves to send to Antioch with Sha’ul and Bar-Nabba. They sent Y’hudah, called Bar-Sabba, and Sila, both leading men among the brothers,
Y'hudah Bar-Sabba, perhaps related to Yosef Bar-Sabba (1:23&N).
Sila, referred to in English translations as Silas and Silvanus, was a prophet (v. 32, 11:27N) and a companion of Sha'ul on his second journey (15:40-18:22). Sha'ul mentions him in three of his letters; he is also mentioned at 1 Ke 5:12.
23. with the following letter:
From: The emissaries and the elders, your brothers
To: The brothers from among the Gentiles throughout Antioch, Syria and Cilicia
To: The brothers from among the Gentiles. Again, the decision does not affect Messianic Jews, who presumably were themselves faithfully keeping the Law (see v. 1N. paragraph on "you").
Throughout Antioch, Syria and Cilicia, the areas where Sha'ul had ministered (13:4-14:27) and taught the Gentiles they need not keep the Law of Moses as Jews observe it.
24. We have heard that some people went out from among us without our authorization, and that they have upset you with their talk, unsettling your minds.
Without our authorization. See v. IN on "some men... from Y'hudah." The men did not violate orders not to teach; rather, they had not been commissioned to teach at all. However, now that the issue has been resolved, if they or anyone else teaches circumcision and Jewish law-keeping for Gentile believers, they are culpable.
Upset you with their talk, unsettling your minds, or: "unsettling your consciences." These false teachers mis-trained the Gentiles' consciences, so that they felt guilty for not having been circumcised and for not keeping the details of the Torah as it applies to Jews. These Gentiles may have been made to feel guilty, but they have committed no sin for which they need forgiveness; by understanding that they have been misled their burden of guilt will depart. There are today all kinds of sects and denominations that likewise create false guilt by nonscriptural teaching — for example, that attending a movie is a sin, or that observing one day rather than another as a day of worship is a sin, or that drinking even a small amount of alcoholic liquor is a sin for everyone. Fundamenlalist Christianity gets a bad name from misguided teachers who lay a heavier yoke on believers than our Lord Yeshua has done (see v. ION).
25. So we have decided unanimously to select men and send them to you with our dear friends Bar-Nabba and Sha’ul,
26. who have dedicated their lives to upholding the name of our Lord, Yeshua the Messiah.
27. So we have sent Y’hudah and Sila, and they will confirm in person what we are writing.
They will confirm in person what we are writing. A letter by itself could be a forgery; see 2 Th 2:2&N.
28. For it seemed good to the Ruach HaKodesh and to us not to lay any heavier burden on you than the following requirements:
29. to abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will be doing the right thing. Shalom!
Shalom! Farewell. See Mt 10:12N.
Certain New Testament chapters are uniquely important for Messianic Jews because they bear directly on the central issue of Messianic Judaism, which is: What does it mean to be at the same time both Jewish and a believer in Yeshua, and how does one go about doingjustice to both? This is one of those chapters, along with Acts 21; Romans 7,9-11; Galatians 2-4; Ephesians 2; Messianic Jews 7-10; Ya'akov 2; and others.
30. The messengers were sent off and went to Antioch, where they gathered the group together and delivered the letter.
31. After reading it, the people were delighted by its encouragement.
32. Y’hudah and Sila, who were also prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers.
33. After they had spent some time there, they were sent off with a greeting of “Shalom!” from the brothers to those who had sent them.
Some manuscripts include verse 34: But it seemed good to Sila to stay there.
35. But Sha’ul and Bar-Nabba stayed in Antioch, where they and many others taught and proclaimed the Good News of the message about the Lord.
36. After some time, Sha’ul said to Bar-Nabba, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we proclaimed the message about the Lord, and see how they’re doing.”
37. Now Bar-Nabba wanted to take with them Yochanan, the one called Mark.
38. But Sha’ul thought it would be unwise to take this man with them, since he had gone off and left them in Pamphylia to do the work by themselves.
39. There was such sharp disagreement over this that they separated from each other, with Bar-Nabba taking Mark and sailing off to Cyprus.
40. However, Sha’ul chose Sila and left, after the brothers had committed him to the love and kindness of the Lord.
After being committed to the love and kindness of the Lord by the brothers. As before (13:1-4&N), Sha'ul and his partner were sent out by the local congregation; they did not merely decide on their own what to do. There are no "loners" in the New Testament. This commences Sha'uPs second journey, which ends at 18:22 (see 13:4N).
41. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the congregations.
Sha'ul was unwilling to be burdened by a companion he considered unreliable (13:13; see I2:12N), but Bar-Nabba was willing to put up with his nephew. While unreconciled sharp disagreement is a sin, differences of opinion, calling, personality and modes of working are not. Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba could have decided amicably to go their separate ways, each doing the Lord's work. After this, however, although we hear no more of Bar-Nabba's ministry, we do hear enough to conclude that Sha'ul eventually made up with both Bar-Nabba and Mark (1С 9:6, Co 4:10, 2 Ti 4:11, Pm 24).
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