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Acts 15:1-5

Context
The Jerusalem Council

15:1 Now some men came down from Judea 1  and began to teach the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised 2  according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 15:2 When Paul and Barnabas had a major argument and debate 3  with them, the church 4  appointed Paul and Barnabas and some others from among them to go up to meet with 5  the apostles and elders in Jerusalem 6  about this point of disagreement. 7  15:3 So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia 8  and Samaria, they were relating at length 9  the conversion of the Gentiles and bringing great joy 10  to all the brothers. 15:4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were received 11  by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported 12  all the things God had done with them. 13  15:5 But some from the religious party of the Pharisees 14  who had believed stood up and said, “It is necessary 15  to circumcise the Gentiles 16  and to order them to observe 17  the law of Moses.”

1 sn That is, they came down from Judea to Antioch in Syria.

2 tc Codex Bezae (D) and a few other witnesses have “and walk” here (i.e., instead of τῷ ἔθει τῷ Μωϋσέως [tw eqei tw Mwu>sew"] they read καὶ τῷ ἔθει τῷ Μωϋσέως περιπατῆτε [kai tw eqei tw Mwu>sew" peripathte]). This is a decidedly stronger focus on obedience to the Law. As well, D expands vv. 1-5 in various places with the overall effect of being “more sympathetic to the local tradition of the church at Jerusalem” while the Alexandrian witnesses are more sympathetic to Paul (TCGNT 377). Codex D is well known for having a significantly longer text in Acts, but modern scholarship is generally of the opinion that the text of D expands on the original wording of Acts, with a theological viewpoint that especially puts Peter in a more authoritarian light. The expansion in these five verses is in keeping with that motif even though Peter is not explicitly in view.

sn Unless you are circumcised. These teachers from Judea were teaching that Gentiles could not be saved unless they kept the law of Moses in regard to circumcision. Thus according to them a Gentile had first to become a proselyte to Judaism, including circumcision, before one could become a Christian. This party is sometimes known (collectively) as Judaizers. They did not question that Gentiles could come into the community, but disagreed with Paul and Barnabas on what basis they could do so.

3 tn Grk “no little argument and debate” (an idiom).

4 tn Grk “they”; the referent (the church, or the rest of the believers at Antioch) has been specified to avoid confusion with the Judaizers mentioned in the preceding clause.

5 tn Grk “go up to,” but in this context a meeting is implied.

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

7 tn Or “point of controversy.” It is unclear whether this event parallels Gal 2:1-10 or that Gal 2 fits with Acts 11:30. More than likely Gal 2:1-10 is to be related to Acts 11:30.

8 sn Phoenicia was an area along the Mediterranean coast north of Palestine in ancient Syria.

9 tn L&N 33.201 indicates that ἐκδιηγέομαι (ekdihgeomai) means to provide detailed information in a systematic manner, “to inform, to relate, to tell fully.” “Relating at length” conveys this effectively in the present context.

10 tn For ἐποίουν (epoioun) in this verse BDAG 839 s.v. ποιέω 2.c has “they brought joy to the members.”

11 tn BDAG 761 s.v. παραδέχομαι 2 has “receive, accept” for the meaning here.

12 tn Or “announced.”

13 tn “They reported all the things God had done with them” – an identical phrase occurs in Acts 14:27. God is always the agent.

14 sn See the note on Pharisee in 5:34.

15 sn The Greek word used here (δεῖ, dei) is a strong term that expresses divine necessity. The claim is that God commanded the circumcision of Gentiles.

16 tn Grk “them”; the referent (the Gentiles) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

17 tn Or “keep.”



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