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.
15:29 that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols 5 and from blood and from what has been strangled 6 and from sexual immorality. 7 If you keep yourselves from doing these things, 8 you will do well. Farewell. 9
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 There is no specific semantic component in the Greek word εἰδωλόθυτος that means “meat” (see BDAG 280 s.v. εἰδωλόθυτος; L&N 5.15). The stem –θυτος means “sacrifice” (referring to an animal sacrificially killed) and thereby implies meat.
6 tc Codex Bezae (D) and a few other witnesses lack the restriction “and from what has been strangled” (καὶ πνικτῶν, kai pniktwn), though the words are supported by a wide variety of early and important witnesses otherwise and should be considered authentic.
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 preceding provision in this verse, and from blood).
7 tc Codex Bezae (D) as well as 323 614 945 1739 1891 sa and other witnesses have after “sexual immorality” the following statement: “And whatever you do not want to happen to yourselves, do not do to another/others.” By adding this negative form of the Golden Rule, these witnesses effectively change the Apostolic Decree from what might be regarded as ceremonial restrictions into more ethical demands. The issues here are quite complicated, and beyond the scope of this brief note. Suffice it to say that D and its allies here are almost surely an expansion and alteration of the original text of Acts. For an excellent discussion of the exegetical and textual issues, see TCGNT 379-83.
8 tn Grk “from which things keeping yourselves.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the relative pronoun (ὧν, |wn) has been replaced by a pronoun (“these things”) and a new English sentence begun. The participle διατηροῦντες (diathrounte") has been translated as a conditional adverbial participle (“if you keep yourselves”). See further L&N 13.153.
9 tn The phrase ἔρρωσθε (errwsqe) may be understood as a stock device indicating a letter is complete (“good-bye,” L&N 33.24) or as a sincere wish that the persons involved may fare well (“may you fare well,” L&N 23.133).