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Acts 11:1-18

Context
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 

Galatians 2:11-16

Context
Paul Rebukes Peter

2:11 But when Cephas 40  came to Antioch, 41  I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong. 42  2:12 Until 43  certain people came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he stopped doing this 44  and separated himself 45  because he was afraid of those who were pro-circumcision. 46  2:13 And the rest of the Jews also joined with him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray with them 47  by their hypocrisy. 2:14 But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas 48  in front of them all, “If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force 49  the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Jews and Gentiles are Justified by Faith

2:15 We are Jews by birth 50  and not Gentile sinners, 51  2:16 yet we know 52  that no one 53  is justified by the works of the law 54  but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. 55  And 56  we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ 57  and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one 58  will be justified.

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 Cephas. This individual is generally identified with the Apostle Peter (L&N 93.211).

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

42 tn Grk “because he stood condemned.”

43 tn The conjunction γάρ has not been translated here.

44 tn Grk “he drew back.” If ἑαυτόν (Jeauton) goes with both ὑπέστελλεν (Jupestellen) and ἀφώριζεν (afwrizen) rather than only the latter, the meaning would be “he drew himself back” (see BDAG 1041 s.v. ὑποστέλλω 1.a).

45 tn Or “and held himself aloof.”

46 tn Grk “the [ones] of the circumcision,” that is, the group of Jewish Christians who insisted on circumcision of Gentiles before they could become Christians.

47 tn The words “with them” are a reflection of the σύν- (sun-) prefix on the verb συναπήχθη (sunaphcqh; see L&N 31.76).

48 sn Cephas. This individual is generally identified with the Apostle Peter (L&N 93.211).

49 tn Here ἀναγκάζεις (anankazei") has been translated as a conative present (see ExSyn 534).

50 tn Grk “by nature.”

51 tn Grk “and not sinners from among the Gentiles.”

52 tn Grk “yet knowing”; the participle εἰδότες (eidotes) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

53 tn Grk “no man,” but ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo") is used here in a generic sense, referring to both men and women.

54 sn The law is a reference to the law of Moses.

55 tn Or “faith in Jesus Christ.” A decision is difficult here. Though traditionally translated “faith in Jesus Christ,” an increasing number of NT scholars are arguing that πίστις Χριστοῦ (pisti" Cristou) and similar phrases in Paul (here and in v. 20; Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 3:22; Eph 3:12; Phil 3:9) involve a subjective genitive and mean “Christ’s faith” or “Christ’s faithfulness” (cf., e.g., G. Howard, “The ‘Faith of Christ’,” ExpTim 85 [1974]: 212-15; R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ [SBLDS]; Morna D. Hooker, “Πίστις Χριστοῦ,” NTS 35 [1989]: 321-42). Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when πίστις takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt 9:2, 22, 29; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19; 18:42; 22:32; Rom 1:8; 12; 3:3; 4:5, 12, 16; 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Cor 10:15; Phil 2:17; Col 1:4; 2:5; 1 Thess 1:8; 3:2, 5, 10; 2 Thess 1:3; Titus 1:1; Phlm 6; 1 Pet 1:9, 21; 2 Pet 1:5). On the other hand, the objective genitive view has its adherents: A. Hultgren, “The Pistis Christou Formulations in Paul,” NovT 22 (1980): 248-63; J. D. G. Dunn, “Once More, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ,” SBL Seminar Papers, 1991, 730-44. Most commentaries on Romans and Galatians usually side with the objective view.

sn On the phrase translated the faithfulness of Christ, ExSyn 116, which notes that the grammar is not decisive, nevertheless suggests that “the faith/faithfulness of Christ is not a denial of faith in Christ as a Pauline concept (for the idea is expressed in many of the same contexts, only with the verb πιστεύω rather than the noun), but implies that the object of faith is a worthy object, for he himself is faithful.” Though Paul elsewhere teaches justification by faith, this presupposes that the object of our faith is reliable and worthy of such faith.

56 tn In Greek this is a continuation of the preceding sentence, but the construction is too long and complex for contemporary English style, so a new sentence was started here in the translation.

57 tn Or “by faith in Christ.” See comment above on “the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.”

58 tn Or “no human being”; Grk “flesh.”



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