15:23 They sent this letter with them: 1
From the apostles 2 and elders, your brothers, 3 to the Gentile brothers and sisters 4 in Antioch, 5 Syria, 6 and Cilicia, greetings! 15:24 Since we have heard that some have gone out from among us with no orders from us and have confused 7 you, upsetting 8 your minds 9 by what they said, 10 15:25 we have unanimously 11 decided 12 to choose men to send to you along with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul, 15:26 who 13 have risked their lives 14 for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 15:27 Therefore we are sending 16 Judas and Silas 17 who will tell you these things themselves in person. 18 15:28 For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us 19 not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: 20 15:29 that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols 21 and from blood and from what has been strangled 22 and from sexual immorality. 23 If you keep yourselves from doing these things, 24 you will do well. Farewell. 25
1 tn Grk “writing by their hand” (an idiom for sending a letter).
2 tn Grk “The apostles.” The word “from” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter.
3 tn Grk “brothers,” but “your” is supplied to specify the relationship, since without it “brothers” could be understood as vocative in English.
4 tn Grk “to the brothers who are from the Gentiles.”
5 sn Antioch was a city in Syria (not Antioch in Pisidia).
6 tn Grk “and Syria,” 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.
8 tn BDAG 71 s.v. ἀνασκευάζω describes this verb with a figurative meaning: “to cause inward distress, upset, unsettle.”
9 tn Grk “souls.”
10 tn Grk “by words”; L&N 25.231 translates the phrase “they troubled and upset you by what they said.”
11 tn Grk “having become of one mind, we have decided.” This has been translated “we have unanimously decided” to reduce the awkwardness in English.
12 tn BDAG 255 s.v. δοκέω 2.b.β lists this verse under the meaning “it seems best to me, I decide, I resolve.”
13 tn Grk “men who”; but this can be misleading because in English the referent could be understood to be the men sent along with Barnabas and Paul rather than Barnabas and Paul themselves. This option does not exist in the Greek original, however, since ἀνθρώποις (anqrwpoi") is dative and must agree with “Barnabas and Paul,” while ἄνδρας (andra") is accusative. By omitting the word “men” from the translation here, it is clear in English that the phrase refers to the immediately preceding nouns “Barnabas and Paul.”
14 tn Grk “who have risked their souls”; the equivalent English idiom is “risk one’s life.” The descriptions commend Barnabas and Paul as thoroughly trustworthy.
15 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”
16 tn This verb has been translated as an epistolary aorist.
17 sn Judas and Silas were the “two witnesses” who would vouch for the truth of the recommendation.
18 tn Grk “by means of word” (an idiom for a verbal report).
19 tn This is the same expression translated “decided” in Acts 15:22, 25. BDAG 255 s.v. δοκέω 2.b.β lists “decide” as a possible gloss for this verse, and this translation would be consistent with the translation of the same expression in Acts 15:22, 25. However, the unusually awkward “the Holy Spirit and we have decided” would result. Given this approach, it would be more natural in English to say “We and the Holy Spirit have decided,” but changing the order removes the emphasis the Greek text gives to the Holy Spirit. Thus, although the similarity to the phrases in 15:22, 25 is obscured, it is better to use the alternate translation “it seems best to me” (also given by BDAG): “it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us.” Again the scope of agreement is highlighted.
20 tn L&N 71.39 translates “indispensable (rules)” while BDAG 358 s.v. ἐπάναγκες has “the necessary things.”
21 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.
22 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).
23 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.
24 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.
25 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).