15:20 but that we should write them a letter 1 telling them to abstain 2 from things defiled 3 by idols and from sexual immorality and from what has been strangled 4 and from blood. 15:21 For Moses has had those who proclaim him in every town from ancient times, 5 because he is read aloud 6 in the synagogues 7 every Sabbath.”
1 tn The translation “to write a letter, to send a letter to” for ἐπιστέλλω (epistellw) is given in L&N 33.49.
2 tn Three of the four prohibitions deal with food (the first, third and fourth) while one prohibition deals with behavior (the second, refraining from sexual immorality). Since these occur in the order they do, the translation “abstain from” is used to cover both sorts of activity (eating food items, immoral behavior).
sn Telling them to abstain. These restrictions are not on matters of salvation, but are given as acts of sensitivity to their Jewish brethren, as v. 21 makes clear. Another example of such sensitivity is seen in 1 Cor 10:14-11:1.
3 tn Or “polluted.”
4 sn What has been strangled. That is, to refrain from eating animals that had been killed without having the blood drained from them. According to the Mosaic law (Lev 17:13-14), Jews were forbidden to eat flesh with the blood still in it (note the following provision in Acts 15:20, and from blood).
5 tn Grk “from generations of old”; the translation “fr. ancient times” is given by BDAG 192 s.v. γενεά 3.b.
6 tn The translation “read aloud” is used to indicate the actual practice; translating as “read” could be misunderstood to mean private, silent reading.