Acts 15:27

Hay bails our for a summer stroll.

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. Acts 15:27

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Note, the Greek more appropriately reads, “We have sent, therefore, Judas and Silas, and they through word are telling the same things” (CG). This will be used for the commentary.

The previous verses have referred to the selection of men to accompany Barnabas and Paul, noting that Barnabas and Paul had risked their lives for the name of Jesus Christ. With that, the note continues with, “We have sent, therefore, Judas and Silas.”

These are the “chosen men” just referred to in verse 15:25. Designating them by name is certainly to ensure that nobody else could later claim they were also sent. The council is already aware of the cunning tricks of the devil and they are being precise and careful, ensuring that the intent of the council is properly conveyed by people who have been duly recognized to convey it. That is attested to in the next words, saying, “and they through word are telling the same things.”

The point of this is that there is both a written testimony and a verbal confirmation of it by those who are specifically named in their communique. The use of the present participle, “are telling,” means that they can be trusted to continue to repeat the same message at any time they are asked to. It is as if their words are being spoken by the council at the moment they come off the lips of Judas and Silas.

Life application: The process of conveying the words of the council is comprehensive in nature. By handling the matter as they are, they are leaving nothing open to misunderstanding. Barnabas and Paul have presented their stand concerning law observance no longer being necessary.

They have shown how it is by grace through faith that a person is saved. That message has been conveyed to the leadership in Jerusalem. The council has heard the matter thoroughly and unanimously agreed with the stand of Barnabas and Paul. They have written down their resolution which is to be conveyed to the church in various locations. They have sent men along to confirm what has been written down and to provide continued testimony and instruction concerning the matter.

Along with that, Luke – under inspiration from the Holy Spirit – has made a detailed and exacting record of these events, a record that could have been challenged the moment he published it if it were not correct. All of this has been done to put the matter once and forever to rest. And yet, two thousand years later, people are still arguing against the plain, obvious, and precise decision rendered by the council.

They reinsert the law, demand adherence to it in various ways, including circumcision, and completely ignore what is written for us as guidance from God concerning the matter. How important is it to know the word of God? The evidence is right in front of each of us. A rejection of what has been determined and recorded is a rejection of the word of God. And a rejection of the word of God is a rejection of God who has given us His word.

Pay attention to what is said and taught. Check what you are instructed. Verify what has come to your ears. The devil is hard at work in the church today, directing his false doctrines and robbing people of either being saved or of being productive in their salvation. Pay heed to the word!

Lord God, help us to be wise concerning Your word. May we not trust anyone until we have verified what is presented. Convincing-sounding arguments are only convincing if they are checked against the source and match what it says. Great oratory skills cannot replace adherence to Your word. Give us wisdom in this, O God. Amen.




Acts 15:26

A once great state many fought and died in and for. Now, gone over to the woke.

Monday, 27 March 2023

men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 15:26

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, the council explained that they were sending along chosen men to accompany Barnabas and Paul. With that, it next refers to these men, saying, “men who have risked their lives.”

The Greek states more clearly what is almost unclear in some English translations. This is not referring to the chosen men accompanying Barnabas and Paul, but to Barnabas and Paul. It is they who went forth carrying the gospel to both belligerent Jews and to areas where Gentiles were hostile to strangers. They faithfully carried the message even to the point of being chased out of cities (such as in Acts 13:50-52), being stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19, 20), etc.

The council had been apprised of these things and the distrust of Paul that once existed had been turned into a wholehearted appreciation for his tireless efforts. Barnabas was already known as a faithful believer, but his status was certainly elevated greatly because of the hardships he was willing to endure. For both of them, the council notes that these things occurred “for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

They had gone forth according to the calling of the Spirit upon them, they had continued steadfastly in faith, and they had returned to Antioch and continued to work tirelessly as servants of Jesus Christ. The council recognized this and acknowledged it openly to any and all who were to receive their letter.

Life application: If we really have a deep-seated faith in the hope set before us in Jesus Christ, then why would we shy away from proclaiming it? A life of daily work, a good meal, annual vacations, relative ease and security, etc. is almost an intoxicant. It can keep us from striving to do more than we may otherwise be willing to do for the name of Jesus Christ.

This doesn’t necessarily mean our faith is lacking, but it sure can affect how we exercise our faith. This is why the author of Hebrews wrote out his strong exhortation –

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1, 2

Sin can ensnare us, ease can dull our senses, fear of the future can misdirect us, etc. If we fix our eyes on Jesus and lay such weights aside, we will be more purposely fixed to do what we should be doing. This has to be a constant mental state of life. It isn’t easy because of everything that comes at us in our daily walk, but if we just keep tuning our minds back to the prize at the end, we will do well.

Focus on Jesus! Don’t be fearful, distracted, or misdirected. Instead, have faith that what lies ahead will replace everything that we give up right now. And what it is replaced with will be so far above what we may lose now that we will never consider the temporary losses we may face. Be assured of this! Eyes on Jesus!

Glorious God, help us to fix our eyes on Jesus at all times. May we have unbroken concentration as we press ahead in our hope of what He has set before us. This temporary world has many enticements and distractions, but these things will all fade into obscurity someday. Help us to think clearly about the sure and reliable promises we possess in Christ. Amen.








Acts 15:25

Old Barn. Virginia countryside.

Sunday, 26 March 2023

it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Acts 15:25

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

After explaining the main purpose of the letter in the first sentence, which was the issue of refuting the Judaizers concerning circumcision and adherence to the Law of Moses, the letter now continues, saying, “it seemed good to us.”

In other words, it means that the decision was made and was mutually agreed upon to take the appropriate action necessary to rectify the situation. That occurred, as it next says, “being assembled.”

Rather, this is more of a paraphrase. The Greek is an aorist participle, more simply reading, “having come.” This state of having come was “with one accord.” It is a single word, an adverb, now seen for the eighth time, all in Acts. It literally signifies “unanimously.” The entire council consisting of the apostles, elders, and then with the agreement of the church, were united in thought concerning the resolution of the matter.

And it could be no other way. If they were being led by the Spirit to effect the purposes of God for the church, then what was decided had to be in this unanimous fashion. God is superintending over the process of what will be the standard for the rest of redemptive history concerning the Gentile-led church age. This is because the events are now recorded and included in His word.

If the decision was not unanimous, then that would have been stated and explained. But because this was not the case, it is fully apparent that what is recorded here is exactly what God wanted. Though this is a descriptive account of the events that took place, it is a fully explanatory record of what God intends concerning the matter. The only deviation from it is to be taken by subsequent words found in the epistles that may clarify or set aside whatever is decided upon now. For the time being, the church was given its instructions and they were to be what was taught concerning circumcision and law observance.

As for the contents of their unanimous decision, that continues with the words, “to send chosen men to you.” Again, an aorist participle is used, “having chosen men to send to you.”

The decision was rendered, and it will be explained in the verses to come. However, to demonstrate to all who would hear the decision that it was from the council and no longer a point of debate, there would be men sent from the council itself to confirm the source and the content. These were being sent, as it next says, “with our beloved Barnabas and Paul.”

Again, as seen on several occasions, Barnabas is noted before Paul. It is true that Barnabas had a closer and more longstanding affiliation with the church in Jerusalem than Paul, but more, it is certainly Paul with whom the Judaizers had the biggest beef. He was the spokesman for the missionary journeys. He was also out in the front in matters dealing with the Gentiles, having been selected by the Lord to be the apostle to the Gentiles, etc.

Therefore, to place Barnabas first in the letter from the church is another implicit confirmation of the rightness of what Paul has been conveying. The order then is from the council, in a written letter, and confirming the letter’s authenticity by men chosen by the council concerning what has been conveyed, meaning acceptance of the stand presented to the council by Barnabas and Paul.

Calling these two men “beloved” is a note that not only are they teaching what is proper, but they are doing so with the full blessing and spirit of fellowship by the council itself.

Life application: Later councils in church history may or may not have been led by the Spirit of God in rendering decisions. And there may or may not have been a unanimous agreement to what was ordained out of those councils. But that is because the canon of Scripture was eventually decided upon and settled. It is to the Bible, meaning the word penned by men chosen by God to write it down through His Spirit, that such matters were (and still are) to be decided.

If the decisions rendered at such councils are in accord with the word, that becomes evident by an evaluation of the word. If they are contrary to the word, the same is true. The word would reveal it.

Even today, councils are held in many denominations, usually called synods, conferences, or something similar. The surest way to tell if they are being led by God is to see if they are being held in accord with the word of God. If the Spirit of God breathed out the contents of the Bible, and if a matter is being debated that is contrary to the word of God, then that council – by default – cannot be led by the Spirit of God.

It may be that a faction or an individual is rightly standing on the words of Scripture concerning a matter at the gathering, and that is fine, but if the debate is, for example, over the matter of ordaining homosexuals, then God’s Spirit cannot be guiding the matter. He has already spoken concerning the issue.

Think this through when you see members of your church or denomination conducting affairs in a manner contrary to the word. God’s position in such deliberations is already stated in the Bible. It is fixed and it is unchanging. To debate contrary to the word is to invite His wrath and condemnation, nothing else.

Lord God, Your word is written. Help us to get that through our heads and to accept what it says as the authoritative word to conduct our affairs in all things. May we never be so presumptuous as to make decisions contrary to what You have laid out before us in this sacred and precious treasure. Help us to think clearly on this matter. Amen.


Acts 15:24

Virginia countryside.

Saturday, 25 March 2023

Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— Acts 15:24

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse cited the introduction to the letter to the Gentile brethren in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. The main content of the letter begins with this verse. Of note is that some manuscripts (and thus some versions) drop out the highly important words of this verse concerning law observance and circumcision –

“Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions.” ESV et al

“Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law’—to whom we gave no such commandment.” NKJV et al

Although the words are missing here, anyone who reads the full content of the chapter will know exactly what is intended. Whether the words were added by one text for clarity or dropped out of the other for some unknown reason, the intent of the overall passage remains unchanged. Having noted that, the verse begins with, “Since we have heard.”

The council immediately distances itself from any connection to those who had brought the false message of circumcision and law observance presented in Acts 15:1 –

“And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’”

The council heard about this but had not directed it. That will be explained more fully as the verse unfolds. For now, the words continue, saying, “that some who went out from us.”

Those in the council openly acknowledge that the source of the trouble was “from us,” but no further explanation is given. In other words, because the letter is addressed to Gentiles within the church, it could simply mean “from Jews.” That is probably the way it should be taken, meaning in a general sense and not from either the apostles or elders in Jerusalem. Next, it notes that these unsanctioned people, “have troubled you with words.”

These men, whoever they were, did not come with either a letter of authority or with a demonstration of signs and wonders that may have substantiated the message of true apostles. They spoke as if they possessed authority within the church but their words were not on behalf of the church. Instead, they brought forth doctrines that had no basis or standing within the doctrines set forth for Gentile converts.

In fact, to this point, the matter had not even been established by the apostles and elders. As such, their message was without any basis at all. Because of this, the letter continues, saying that their words were “unsettling your souls.”

Here is a word found nowhere else in Scripture, anaskeuazó, translated as “unsettling.” Of this word, Vincent’s Word Studies says –

“Only here in New Testament, and not found either in the Septuagint or in the Apocrypha. Originally, it means to pack up baggage, and so to carry away; hence, to dismantle or disfurnish. … From this comes the more general meaning to lay waste, or ravage. The idea here is that of turning the minds of the Gentile converts upside down; throwing them into confusion like a dismantled house.”

Where there was order and harmony at the teaching of Paul and Barnabas, there was suddenly upheaval and turmoil because of the false message of these men. This is perfectly evident from the words of Acts 15:2, “Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them.”

The Gentile converts probably stood there watching as the two sides sparred over the issue, which, according to these false teachers, was that “You must be circumcised and keep the law.”

This is the message the false teachers had carried as was previously cited from Acts 15:1. If their teaching was true, it would mean that salvation was conditional and up to the works of each person. There would be no security in trusting in the works of Jesus. Hence, it would relegate the cross of Christ to a door that He might have opened, but which would need to be kept open by the power of the individual.

And more, if the door was shut again, it would then be up to the individual, not Christ, to reopen it. The utterly ridiculous thought presented by these heretics would mean that “Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21).

Of these aberrant heretics who carried their false doctrine to the Gentiles, the letter next says, “to whom we gave no such commandment.” Again, Vincent’s Word Studies provides the intent of the statement –

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

These Jews went forward without any such authority or charge. They had appointed themselves as the arbiter of what God was doing and then they sent themselves out to express their self-appointed authority to others. The council has, through their concise words, completely removed themselves from these false teachers and their doctrine. Their letter, which is now included in Scripture, testifies to the matter as much today as it did when it was written.

Life application: The world is filled with exactly the type of people that are described in the letter from the council. They have a certain genealogy or heritage that allows them to appear as if they are specialists in their field, not because of proper training and endowed authority, but because of who they are in relation to some unimportant aspect of their existence.

For example, a person may be related to a famous preacher or teacher who rightly handled the word of God. Along comes his son, we’ll call him Dandy Andy. He does not rightly handle the word and he has never established himself in the manner expected of a proper handler of the word. And yet, because of who he is in relation to his dad, he is given an ear and becomes a famous and yet unsound teacher of the word.

Another example would be someone who is Jewish. For no other reason than that, he is given an ear. He knows just enough of the word to be able to make illogical connections about what is going on in the world. However, he is a skilled writer and so he writes books about world events, tying them in with his unsound understanding of the Bible. Because the books are tingling to the ear, supposedly based on Scripture, and because he is Jewish, he becomes famous and is sought out as a renowned “scholar” of the Bible.

Why do these things happen? The answer is, “Because those who listen to these people are 1) not willing to learn Scripture and find out if what they are being sold is sound or not; 2) starstruck by the figure, joining in to be a part of what is exciting and novel; or 3) find the message pleasing to the ears, sensational, and exciting.”

For these, and certainly other reasons, countless people are pulled away from what is sound. Entire denominations of people have followed false teachers, and their false messages have continued on for generations, simply because the word is ignored.

Read the word! Meditate on the word! Be prepared to evaluate the message of those you encounter against the word! In this, you will keep yourself from harm.

Lord God, we are so very thankful to You because of Your wonderful word. It is a guide for our lives, a light for our path, the illumination of Your intent for us, and a solid rock we can stand on against the wiles of false teachers. Help us to treat this word with care. It is what reveals Your heart in the giving of Jesus. That is what we need to pursue. And so, help us to do so all the days of our lives. Amen.





Acts 15:23

Building. Downtown, Virginia – close to capitol.

Friday, 24 March 2023

They wrote this letter by them:
The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,
To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
Acts 15:23

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Note: The NKJV clears up a lot of the errors of the KJV, but it still doesn’t reflect the Greek as well as it should. The original reads:

“Having written through their hand these things:
‘The apostles, and the elders, and the brethren.
To those in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia –
Brethren, those from the Gentiles,
Greetings!’” (CG)

This will be used for the commentary.

The previous verse noted the choosing of men who were then to be sent to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The men were Judas, who was also named Barsabas, and Silas. With that having been stated, it next says, “Having written through their hand these things.”

The meaning is not that those carrying the letter also wrote it, but that it was written with the consent of those who will next be named and then transmitted through the hands of those who were selected to carry it, namely Judas and Silas. What likely happened is that one person was chosen to write it, probably James, who did so with the full approval of those named. Whatever is the case, it is the oldest such letter within the church. Luke probably copied directly from the original or a copy of the original.

At this point, it would be good to note that there are differences in this opening address in some manuscripts. Going to the more modern versions which often use these variations and comparing the two side by side, one can spot the differences. With this understood, the contents of the letter begin with, “The apostles, and the elders, and the brethren.”

It is an acknowledgment that the letter has come from the council in Jerusalem where the apostles were based and that it has the concurrence of the elders of the churches there as well as the understanding and agreement of those within the overall church. This would be perfectly in accord with the words of the previous verse that said, “Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church.”

There is complete harmony among all of the believers, at least for the sake of the letter, concerning the contents of what will be stated. Remembering that Jerusalem is the very heart of where temple worship was still being conducted, the letter’s contents will be an ironclad argument against the requirement for law worship by any Gentile, ever. This will be seen as the letter continues. For now, it next says, “To those in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia.”

Of these words, Cambridge appears to be correct in saying, “As we have no mention of this decree of the synod of Jerusalem in St Paul’s Epistles, we may suppose that the agitation on the subject, begun at Antioch, had spread only into Syria and Cilicia, and that the authoritative decision of the mother church quieted the controversy there, while it did not arise in the same form in other places.”

Equally insightful, Albert Barnes notes that by including Syria and Cilicia, which have not been noted before, it is “showing that churches then existed in Cilicia as well as Syria, which owed their existence, in all likelihood, to Paul’s labors during the interval between his return to Tarsus (Ac 9:30) and his departure in company with Barnabas for Antioch.”

These reasonable inferences can be derived from just a few short words in the opening of this most important letter. The address next continues with, “Brethren.”

It is an acknowledgment that those being addressed are in full and right standing within the church. They are equals in Christ, meaning without distinction, even if differences exist. The obvious difference is that it is Jews who are writing, and their message is to “those from the Gentiles.”

The reason it is understood that no distinction exists between the two is found later in Paul’s letter to the Galatians –

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29

However, this is implied in these opening words of the letter with the use of the term “brethren.” With that, the opening salutation ends with the word, “Greetings!”

It is the Greek word chairó. It signifies “to rejoice.” However, it is a salutation common in Greek. As such, the word in this context is variously translated as “Greetings,” “Hail,” “Rejoice,” “God Speed,” etc. The word sets the welcoming tone for the main contents to follow. There is an obvious state of brotherly fellowship that is communicated in the letter’s opening statement.

Life application: As noted above, translations do vary in this verse. Putting translations side by side, the differences become evident. Note that in the original, the letters were all drawn together with little or no capitalization, punctuation, line change, and so forth. The form of the first translation is to suit a modern reading of such a letter. The second would actually be closer to the way it was originally laid out, despite any textual differences –

“Having written through their hand these things:
‘The apostles, and the elders, and the brethren.
To those in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia –
Brethren, those from the Gentiles,
Greetings!’” (CG)

“…and they sent this letter by them, ‘The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings.’” (NASB)

Which is actually closer to the original is debated, but the differences do not substantially change anything doctrinally.

As for the offsetting of each clause through a line change, some translators find this type of change appalling. Even if the translation is 100% correct, they feel that the form of the original must be maintained. An example of this is that the psalms were originally written in a continuous line and block format familiar to the Hebrew writings.

For example, the preface to the LSV says, “The LSV may be the only English translation of The Holy Bible entirely formatted with justified typographic alignment throughout. This same format is maintained in poetic literature. While some readers may prefer paragraph breaks in narrative and line breaks in poetic portions for the purpose of readability, it was the decision of the translators to mimic the style of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek autographs in presenting God’s word as a continuous text block. This decision wasn’t arbitrary. In formatting the text this way, the LSV sets itself against the modern push for more and more formatting within the text, in favor of simplicity. Furthermore, the modern trend even extended to differentiating the words of Christ in red letters, as if God’s word should be divided in such a way. The LSV is the polar opposite, regarding the entirety of Scripture as God-breathed, with its different genres of literature resting on a level playing field.”

The ridiculously stupid nature of this type of thinking is highlighted in several ways. First, just three paragraphs later in the same preface, it says –

“For ease of readability, the LSV includes the double pipe (“||”) caesura mark to separate phrases within poetic portions of Scripture. The caesura mark was extensively used this way in ancient Greek, Latin, and English poetry. Verse numbers, periods, colons, semicolons, question marks, exclamation marks, and em dashes generally stand in for caesura marks in these passages if they are followed by a capital letter.”

The translators admit that there are purposeful markers within the text that naturally break the flow of the reading for the mind of the reader. Why shouldn’t such marks be variously employed for the modern reader in his own language?

But more poignantly, as noted above, there is almost no punctuation or capitalization in the original manuscripts. To use the logic of the LSV stated in the first cited paragraph, they should do exactly the same thing and have everything follow a simple block format with no other markings, including capitalization or punctuation. It would be insane for an English reader to even bother reading such a translation, and so these changes are made.

A third hint of the ridiculous nature of their commentary is that between the Old and New Testament in their version, a painting is included in the hard copy translation. Where is that found in the original manuscripts? As nice as the painting is, was that painted by God as breathed out through His Spirit? Obviously not. It is a hypocritical thing to say one thing and do another.

As for the text itself with the various formatting differences, at what point does it become “wrong” to make a translation more understandable for the reader? This is the fallacy of the beard and the LSV translators entered into it just when the beard was enough to tickle the faces of baby readers who first pick it up. Others have the beard a bit longer and can tickle even toddlers. While others choose for the beard to be fully grown and mature.

Don’t get legalistic! Get into the word! How it is formatted is something each reader will find suitable to his own needs. So, look through the next Bible you want to read, see if it will help you in your reading, and buy that one.

O God! Hallelujah for Your word! You have allowed us to translate it, format it for clarity, add red letters to honor the words of Christ Jesus, use colors to differentiate various parts of the text, and so on. We can offset, use block formats, use different fonts, and more, just to make Your word come alive in a way that we can appreciate. Thank You, O God, for this latitude You have granted to us. Thank You for Your precious word. Amen.