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Acts 11

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Peter Defends His Actions to the Jerusalem Church

11:1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted 1  the word of God. 2  11:2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, 3  the circumcised believers 4  took issue with 5  him, 11:3 saying, “You went to 6  uncircumcised men and shared a meal with 7  them.” 11:4 But Peter began and explained it to them point by point, 8  saying, 11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, 9  an object something like a large sheet descending, 10  being let down from heaven 11  by its four corners, and it came to me. 11:6 As I stared 12  I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, 13  and wild birds. 14  11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; slaughter 15  and eat!’ 11:8 But I said, ‘Certainly not, Lord, for nothing defiled or ritually unclean 16  has ever entered my mouth!’ 11:9 But the voice replied a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not consider 17  ritually unclean!’ 11:10 This happened three times, and then everything was pulled up to heaven again. 11:11 At that very moment, 18  three men sent to me from Caesarea 19  approached 20  the house where we were staying. 21  11:12 The Spirit told me to accompany them without hesitation. These six brothers 22  also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 11:13 He informed us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, 11:14 who will speak a message 23  to you by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 11:15 Then as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on 24  them just as he did 25  on us at the beginning. 26  11:16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, 27  as he used to say, 28  ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 29  11:17 Therefore if God 30  gave them the same gift 31  as he also gave us after believing 32  in the Lord Jesus Christ, 33  who was I to hinder 34  God?” 11:18 When they heard this, 35  they ceased their objections 36  and praised 37  God, saying, “So then, God has granted the repentance 38  that leads to life even to the Gentiles.” 39 

Activity in the Church at Antioch

11:19 Now those who had been scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen 40  went as far as 41  Phoenicia, 42  Cyprus, 43  and Antioch, 44  speaking the message 45  to no one but Jews. 11:20 But there were some men from Cyprus 46  and Cyrene 47  among them who came 48  to Antioch 49  and began to speak to the Greeks 50  too, proclaiming the good news of the Lord Jesus. 11:21 The 51  hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed 52  turned 53  to the Lord. 11:22 A report 54  about them came to the attention 55  of the church in Jerusalem, 56  and they sent Barnabas 57  to Antioch. 58  11:23 When 59  he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain true 60  to the Lord with devoted hearts, 61  11:24 because he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and a significant number of people 62  were brought to the Lord. 11:25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to look for Saul, 11:26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. 63  So 64  for a whole year Barnabas and Saul 65  met with the church and taught a significant number of people. 66  Now it was in Antioch 67  that the disciples were first called Christians. 68 

Famine Relief for Judea

11:27 At that time 69  some 70  prophets 71  came down 72  from Jerusalem 73  to Antioch. 74  11:28 One of them, named Agabus, got up 75  and predicted 76  by the Spirit that a severe 77  famine 78  was about to come over the whole inhabited world. 79  (This 80  took place during the reign of Claudius.) 81  11:29 So the disciples, each in accordance with his financial ability, 82  decided 83  to send relief 84  to the brothers living in Judea. 11:30 They did so, 85  sending their financial aid 86  to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

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1 tn See BDAG 221 s.v. δέχομαι 5 for this translation of ἐδέξαντο (edexanto) here.

2 tn Here the phrase “word of God” is another way to describe the gospel (note the preceding verb ἐδέξαντο, edexanto, “accepted”). The phrase could also be translated “the word [message] from God.”

3 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

4 tn Or “the Jewish Christians”; Grk “those of the circumcision.” Within the larger group of Christians were some whose loyalties ran along ethnic-religious lines.

5 tn Or “believers disputed with,” “believers criticized” (BDAG 231 s.v. διακρίνω 5.b).

6 tn Or “You were a guest in the home of” (according to L&N 23.12).

7 tn Or “and ate with.” It was table fellowship and the possibility of eating unclean food that disturbed them.

8 tn Or “to them in logical sequence,” “to them in order.” BDAG 490 s.v. καθεξῆς has “explain to someone point by point” for this phrase. This is the same term used in Luke 1:3.

9 tn This term describes a supernatural vision and reflects a clear distinction from something imagined (BDAG 718 s.v. ὅραμα 1). Peter repeated the story virtually word for word through v. 13. The repetition with this degree of detail shows the event’s importance.

10 tn Or “coming down.”

11 tn Or “the sky” (the same Greek word means both “heaven” and “sky”).

12 tn Grk “Staring I looked into it.” The participle ἀτενίσας (atenisa") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

13 tn Or “snakes.” Grk “creeping things.” According to L&N 4.51, in most biblical contexts the term (due to the influence of Hebrew classifications such as Gen 1:25-26, 30) included small four-footed animals like rats, mice, frogs, toads, salamanders, and lizards. In this context, however, where “creeping things” are contrasted with “four-footed animals,” the English word “reptiles,” which primarily but not exclusively designates snakes, is probably more appropriate.

14 tn Grk “the birds of the sky” or “the birds of the heaven”; the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated either “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context. The idiomatic expression “birds of the sky” refers to wild birds as opposed to domesticated fowl (cf. BDAG 809 s.v. πετεινόν).

15 tn Or “kill.” Traditionally θῦσον (quson) is translated “kill,” but in the case of animals intended for food, “slaughter” is more appropriate.

16 tn Possibly there is a subtle distinction in meaning between κοινός (koinos) and ἀκάθαρτος (akaqartos) here, but according to L&N 53.39 it is difficult to determine precise differences in meaning based on existing contexts. The sentiment Peter expressed is like Ezek 4:14.

17 tn Or “declare.” The wording matches Acts 10:15.

18 tn Grk “And behold.”

19 sn Caesarea was a city on the coast of Palestine south of Mount Carmel (not Caesarea Philippi). See the note on Caesarea in Acts 10:1.

map For location see Map2-C1; Map4-B3; Map5-F2; Map7-A1; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4.

20 tn See BDAG 418 s.v. ἐφίστημι 1 for this meaning for ἐπέστησαν (epesthsan) here.

21 tn The word “staying” is not in the Greek text but is implied.

22 sn Six witnesses is three times more than what would normally be required. They could confirm the events were not misrepresented by Peter.

23 tn Grk “words” (ῥήματα, rJhmata), but in this context the overall message is meant rather than the individual words.

24 tn Or “came down on.”

25 tn The words “he did” are not in the Greek text but are implied. They form an ellipsis which must be supplied for the modern English reader. Some modern translations supply “it” rather than “he” because the gender of πνεῦμα (pneuma) in Greek is neuter, but there are sufficient NT contexts that use masculine pronouns to refer to the Spirit to justify the use of a masculine pronoun here in the translation.

26 sn At the beginning is an allusion to Acts 2 and Pentecost. The beginning is a way to refer to the start of the period of the realization of Jesus’ promise in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8. Peter was arguing that God gave Gentiles the same benefits he gave the Jews at the start of their mission.

27 sn The word of the Lord is a technical expression in OT literature, often referring to a divine prophetic utterance (e.g., Gen 15:1, Isa 1:10, Jonah 1:1). In the NT it occurs 15 times: 3 times as ῥῆμα τοῦ κυρίου (rJhma tou kuriou; here and in Luke 22:61, 1 Pet 1:25) and 12 times as λόγος τοῦ κυρίου (logo" tou kuriou; Acts 8:25; 13:44, 48, 49; 15:35, 36; 16:32; 19:10, 20; 1 Thess 1:8, 4:15; 2 Thess 3:1). As in the OT, this phrase focuses on the prophetic nature and divine origin of what has been said.

28 tn The imperfect verb ἔλεγεν (elegen) is taken as a customary imperfect.

29 sn John…Spirit. This remark repeats Acts 1:5.

30 tc Codex Bezae (D) and {a few other Western witnesses} here lack ὁ θεός (Jo qeo", “God”), perhaps because these scribes considered the Holy Spirit to be the gift of Christ rather than the gift of God; thus leaving the subject implicit would naturally draw the reader back to v. 16 to see the Lord Jesus as the bestower of the Spirit.

31 sn That is, the same gift of the Holy Spirit.

32 tn Or “gave us when we believed”; or “gave us after we believed”; or “gave us who believed”; or “gave them when they believed the same gift as he also gave us.” The aorist dative plural participle πιστεύσασιν (pisteusasin) can be understood in several different ways: (1) It could modify ἡμῖν (Jhmin, “us”) or αὐτοῖς (autois, “them”). Proximity (it immediately follows ἡμῖν) would suggest that it belongs with ἡμῖν, so the last option (“gave them when they believed the same gift he also gave us”) is less likely. (2) The participle could be either adverbial or adjectival, modifying ἡμῖν. This decision is primarily a contextual one. The point Peter made is not whether or not the Gentiles believed, since both groups (“us” and “they”) had believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The point was whether or not the Gentiles received the Spirit when they believed, just as Jewish Christians had received the Spirit on the day of Pentecost when they believed. Translated as an adjectival participle, πιστεύσασιν only affirms the fact of belief, however, and raises somewhat of a theological problem if one realizes, “Would God have given the Gentiles the Spirit if they had not believed?” (In other words, belief in itself is a theological prerequisite for receiving the Spirit. As such, in the case of the Gentiles, it is assumed.) Thus in context it makes more sense to understand the participle πιστεύσασιν as adverbial, related to the time of belief in connection with the giving of the Spirit. (3) The participle πιστεύσασιν as a temporal participle can refer to action antecedent to the action of the main verb ἔδωκεν (edwken) or contemporaneous with it. Logically, at least, the gift of the Spirit followed belief in the case of the original Christians, who had believed before the day of Pentecost. In the case of Cornelius and his household, belief and the reception of the Spirit were virtually simultaneous. One can argue that Peter is “summarizing” the experience of Jewish Christians, and therefore the actions of belief and reception of the Spirit, while historically separate, have been “telescoped” into one (“gave them the same gift as he gave us when we believed”), but to be technically accurate the participle πιστεύσασιν should be translated “gave them the same gift as he also gave us after we believed.” A number of these problems can be avoided, however, by using a translation in English that maintains some of the ambiguity of the Greek original. Thus “if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing” is used, where the phrase “after believing” can refer either to “them” or to “us,” or both.

33 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”

34 tn Or “prevent,” “forbid” (BDAG 580 s.v. κωλύω 1.a). Peter’s point is that he will not stand in the way of God.

35 tn Grk “these things.”

36 tn Or “became silent,” but this would create an apparent contradiction with the subsequent action of praising God. The point, in context, is that they ceased objecting to what Peter had done.

37 tn Or “glorified.”

38 sn Here the summary phrase for responding to the gospel is the repentance that leads to life. Note how the presence of life is tied to the presence of the Spirit (cf. John 4:7-42; 7:37-39).

39 sn In the Greek text the phrase even to the Gentiles is in an emphatic position.

40 sn The phrase over Stephen means in connection with Stephen’s death. See Acts 8:1b-3.

41 tn Or “finally reached.” The translations “went as far as” and “finally reached” for διῆλθον (dihlqon) in this verse are given in L&N 15.17.

42 sn Phoenicia was an area along the Mediterranean coast north of Palestine.

43 tn Grk “and Cyprus,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

sn Cyprus was a large island in the Mediterranean off the south coast of Asia Minor.

44 sn Antioch was a city in Syria (not Antioch in Pisidia). This was probably the third largest city in the Greco-Roman world (Alexandria in Egypt was the second largest, and Rome the largest) and was the seat of government in Syria. Five miles away was a major temple to Artemis, Apollo, and Astarte, major pagan deities.

map For location see JP1-F2; JP2-F2; JP3-F2; JP4-F2.

45 tn Grk “word.”

46 sn Cyprus was a large island in the Mediterranean off the south coast of Asia Minor.

47 sn Cyrene was a city on the northern African coast west of Egypt.

48 tn Grk “among them, coming to Antioch began to speak.” The participle ἐλθόντες (elqonte") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

49 sn Antioch was a city in Syria (not Antioch in Pisidia). See the note in 11:19.

50 sn The statement that some men from Cyprus and Cyrene…began to speak to the Greeks shows that Peter’s experience of reaching out to the Gentiles was not unique.

51 tn Grk “And the.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

52 tn The participle πιστεύσας (pisteusa") is articular and thus cannot be adverbial. It is adjectival, modifying ἀριθμός (ariqmo"), but has been translated into English as a relative clause (“who believed”).

53 sn Again, the expression turned is a summary term for responding to the gospel.

54 tn Grk “Word.”

55 tn Grk “was heard in the ears,” an idiom. L&N 24.67 states that the idiom means “to hear in secret” (which it certainly does in Matt 10:27), but secrecy does not seem to be part of the context here, and there is no particular reason to suggest the report was made in secret.

56 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

57 tc ‡ Most mss read the infinitive “to travel” after “Barnabas.” διελθεῖν (dielqein) is found before ἕως (Jews) in D E Ψ 33 Ï and some versional mss. It is lacking in Ì74 א A B 81 1739 pc and some versional mss. Although the infinitive with ἕως fits Lukan style, it has the appearance of a scribal clarification. The infinitive has the earmarks of a Western expansion on the text and thus is unlikely to be original. NA27 has the infinitive in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.

58 sn Antioch was a city in Syria (not Antioch in Pisidia). See the note in 11:19. Again the Jerusalem church exercised an oversight role.

59 tn Grk “Antioch, who when.” The relative pronoun was omitted and a new sentence was begun in the translation at this point to improve the English style, due to the length of the sentence in Greek.

60 tn BDAG 883 s.v. προσμένω 1.a.β has “remain true to the Lord” for προσμένειν (prosmenein) in this verse.

sn He…encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord. The call to faithfulness is frequent in Acts (2:40; 14:22; 15:32; 16:39; 20:1-2).

61 tn Grk “with purpose of heart”; BDAG 869 s.v. πρόθεσις 2.a translates this phrase “purpose of heart, i.e. devotion” here.

62 tn Grk “a significant crowd.”

63 sn Antioch was a city in Syria (not Antioch in Pisidia). See the note in 11:19.

64 tn Grk “So it happened that” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

65 tn Grk “year they”; the referents (Barnabas and Saul) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

66 tn Grk “a significant crowd.”

67 sn Antioch was a city in Syria (not Antioch in Pisidia). See the note in 11:19.

68 sn The term Christians appears only here, in Acts 26:28, and 1 Pet 4:16 in the NT.

69 tn Grk “In these days,” but the dative generally indicates a specific time.

70 tn The word “some” is not in the Greek text, but is usually used in English when an unspecified number is mentioned.

71 sn Prophets are mentioned only here and in 13:1 and 21:10 in Acts.

72 sn Came down from Jerusalem. Antioch in Syria lies due north of Jerusalem. In Western languages it is common to speak of north as “up” and south as “down,” but the NT maintains the Hebrew idiom which speaks of any direction away from Jerusalem as down (since Mount Zion was thought of in terms of altitude).

73 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

74 sn Antioch was a city in Syria (not Antioch in Pisidia). See the note in 11:19.

map For location see JP1-F2; JP2-F2; JP3-F2; JP4-F2

75 tn Grk “getting up, predicted.” The participle ἀναστάς (anasta") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

76 tn Or “made clear”; Grk “indicated beforehand” (BDAG 920 s.v. σημαίνω 2).

77 tn Grk “great.”

78 sn This famine is one of the firmly fixed dates in Acts. It took place from a.d. 45-48. The events described in chap. 11 of Acts occurred during the early part of that period.

79 tn Or “whole Roman Empire.” While the word οἰκουμένη (oikoumenh) does occasionally refer specifically to the Roman Empire, BDAG 699 s.v. οἰκουνένη 2 does not list this passage (only Acts 24:5 and 17:6).

80 tn Grk “world, which.” The relative pronoun (“which”) was replaced by the demonstrative pronoun “this” and a new sentence was begun in the translation at this point to improve the English style, due to the length of the sentence in Greek.

81 sn This is best taken as a parenthetical note by the author. Claudius was the Roman emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus, known as Claudius, who ruled from a.d. 41-54.

82 tn So BDAG 410 s.v. εὐπορέω.

83 tn Or “determined,” “resolved.”

84 tn Grk “to send [something] for a ministry,” but today it is common to speak of sending relief for victims of natural disasters.

sn The financial relief reflects the oneness of the church, meeting the needs of another (even racially distinct) community. Jerusalem, having ministered to them, now received ministry back. A later collection from Greece is noted in Rom 15:25-27, but it reflects the same spirit as this gift.

85 tn Grk “Judea, which they did.” The relative pronoun was omitted and a new sentence was begun in the translation at this point to improve the English style, due to the length of the sentence in Greek.

86 tn The words “their financial aid” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader.



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