Acts 15:22
Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
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(22) The apostles and elders, with the whole church.—The latter words are important, as showing the position occupied by the laity. If they concurred in the letter, it must have been submitted to their approval, and the right to approve involves the power to reject and, probably, to modify. It is probable enough, as in the analogous constitution of Greek republics above referred to (see Note on Acts 15:4), that the Ecclesia, or popular assembly, did not possess the power of initiating measures; but their right to vote appears, from this instance, to have been indisputable. (See, however, Note on the next verse.) It does not follow, of course, that what was thus the polity of the apostolic age was necessarily adapted for the Church of all subsequent ages; but the exclusion of the laity from all share in Church synods, though it may be defended as a safeguard against the violence of a barbarous or faithless age, must, at any rate, be admitted to be at variance with primitive and apostolic practice.

To send chosen men.—Literally, the participle being active in meaning, to choose and send men. This was obviously necessary, to guard against suspicion. Had Paul and Barnabas alone been the bearers of such a letter, it might have been said that they had forged it.

Judas surnamed Barsabas.—The same patronymic meets us, it will be remembered, in Acts 1:23, as belonging to “Joseph, called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus.” It is a natural inference that the two were brothers, and therefore that the disciple now mentioned had been among those who were personally followers of our Lord. This would naturally clothe him with a high authority. The fact that he is spoken of in Acts 15:32 as a prophet, makes it probable that he was of the number of the Seventy. (See Note on Luke 10:1.)

Silas.—This may have been either a contracted form of Silvanus, as Antipas was of Antipatros, or an Aramaic name, for which Silvanus was adopted as the nearest Greek equivalent. It is probable that he, too, fulfilled the same conditions as his companion. He also was a prophet (Acts 15:32). His later history will be noticed as it comes before us. As the name is connected with the Hebrew for “three,” he has by some been identified with the Tertius of Romans 16:22; but it is hardly probable that one who had been known at Corinth as Silvanus (2Corinthians 1:19), should afterwards have changed his name.

Chief men among the brethren.—The title thus given is the same as “those that bear rule over you,” in Hebrews 13:17, and implies that they had a position of greater authority than the other elders, as at least primi inter pares. This also falls in with the view that they had been disciples of Christ, who, as the number of witnesses diminished, came more and more into prominence.

Acts 15:22-23. Then pleased it the apostles, &c. — This advice was very acceptable to the apostles and elders, who unanimously declared their approbation of it; with the whole church — Who therefore had a part in this business; to send chosen men — Who might attest that this was the judgment of the apostles and all the brethren. And wrote letters by them — The whole conduct of this affair plainly shows that the church, in those days, had no conception of St. Peter’s primacy, or of his being the chief judge in controversies. For the decree is drawn up, not according to his, but the Apostle James’s proposal and direction: and that in the name, not of St. Peter, but of all the apostles and elders, and of the whole church. Nay, St. Peter’s name is not mentioned at all, either in the order for sending to Jerusalem on the question, (Acts 15:2,) or in the address of the messengers concerning it, (Acts 15:4,) or in the letter which was written in answer. The apostles, elders, and brethren — These brethren, being neither apostles nor elders, were undoubtedly private Christians, whom the apostles, in their great condescension, joined with themselves on this occasion, as well knowing that their declared concurrence would strengthen the obligation upon the church at Antioch, not only to acquiesce in this decree, but to support it; and it was the more prudent to do it, as the liberty this gave to the Gentile Christians would somewhat affect the secular interests of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

15:22-35 Being warranted to declare themselves directed by the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost, the apostles and disciples were assured that it seemed good unto God the Holy Spirit, as well as to them, to lay upon the converts no other burden than the things before mentioned, which were necessary, either on their own account, or from present circumstances. It was a comfort to hear that carnal ordinances were no longer imposed on them, which perplexed the conscience, but could not purify or pacify it; and that those who troubled their minds were silenced, so that the peace of the church was restored, and that which threatened division was removed. All this was consolation for which they blessed God. Many others were at Antioch. Where many labour in the word and doctrine, yet there may be opportunity for us: the zeal and usefulness of others should stir us up, not lay us asleep.Then pleased it - It seemed fit and proper to them.

The apostles and elders - To whom the business had been particularly referred, Acts 15:2. Compare Acts 16:4.

With the whole church - All the Christians who were there assembled together. They concurred in the sentiment, and expressed their approbation in the letter that was sent, Acts 15:23. Whether they were consulted does not particularly appear. But as it is not probable that they would volunteer an opinion unless they were consulted, it seems most reasonable to suppose that the apostles and elders submitted the case to them for their approbation. It would seem that the apostles and elders deliberated on it, and decided it; but still, for the sake of peace and unity, they also took measures to ascertain that their decision agreed with the sentiment of the church.

Chosen men - Men chosen for this purpose.

Of their own company - From among themselves. Greater weight and authority would thus be attached to their message.

Judas surnamed Barsabas - Possibly the same who was nominated to the vacant place in the apostleship, Acts 1:23. But Grotius supposes that it was his brother.

And Silas - He was afterward the traveling companion of Paul, Acts 15:40; Acts 16:25, Acts 16:29; Acts 17:4, Acts 17:10, Acts 17:15. He is also the same person, probably, who is mentioned by the name of Silvanus, 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:12.

Chief men among the brethren - Greek: leaders. Compare Luke 22:26. Men of influence, experience, and authority in the church. Judas and Silas are said to have been prophets, Acts 15:32. They had, therefore, been engaged as preachers and rulers in the church at Jerusalem.

22, 23. Judas surnamed Barsabas—therefore not the apostle "Judas the brother of James" (Ac 1:13), surnamed "Thaddeus" (Mt 10:3); nor can it be shown that he was a brother of "Joseph called Barsabas" (Ac 1:23). But nothing is known of him beyond what is here said.

and Silas—the same as "Silvanus" in the Epistles. He became Paul's companion on his second missionary journey (Ac 15:40).

chief men among the brethren—selected purposely as such, to express the honor in which they held the church at Antioch, and the deputies they had sent to the council, and, as the matter affected all Gentile converts, to give weight to the written decision of this important assembly. They were "prophets," Ac 15:32 (and see on [2024]Ac 11:27), and as such doubtless their eminence in the church at Jerusalem had been obtained.

The apostles and elders, with the whole church; a happy concord, all agreeing as one man, by one Spirit.

To send chosen men of their own company; that Paul and Barnabas might be the better credited, and that by such as had been of a contrary judgment: so hard it is to remove suspicions, and to root out preconceived opinions.

Judas surnamed Barsabas; the brother of that Joseph mentioned Acts 1:23.

Silas, called Silvanus also.

Chief men among the brethren; noted for their holy living, or great knowledge, or office in the church.

Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church,.... The opinion, judgment, and advice of James, being approved of by the whole body of the apostles, ministers, and brethren of the church assembled together on this occasion; they unanimously agreed,

to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch, with Paul and Barnabas; that is, they thought fit to choose some persons from among themselves, out of that assembly, or who were members of the church at Jerusalem; and send them to Antioch, where the difference began, along with Paul and Barnabas, to give an account of the sense of the apostles, elders, and brethren, about the affair in controversy, and what was their advice upon the whole: and the rather they took this step, to prevent all suspicion of Paul and Barnabas giving a partial account, or putting a wrong turn upon the sentiments of this assembly, they being parties concerned on one side, wherefore they thought fit to send some indifferent persons along with them, to confirm their narrative, and to compose differences among them, and to bring back an account of the state of the church:

namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas; See Gill on Acts 1:23.

and Silas, the same with Sylvanus:

chief men among the brethren, leading men among them, who went before them, were guides to them, in doctrine and discipline; for these were prophets or preachers, as appears from Acts 15:32 and these they pitched upon, partly out of respect to Paul and Barnabas, as being suitable companions for them, and partly out of respect to the church at Antioch, and chiefly because of their ability, and capacity, for such service they were sent upon.

{9} Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:

(9) In a lawful synod, neither those who are appointed and chosen judges, appoint and determine anything tyrannously or upon a lordly superiority, neither do the common multitude stir up disorder against those who sit as judges by the word of God: and the like manner of doing things is also used in proclaiming and ratifying those things which have been so determined and agreed upon.

Acts 15:22. Ἐκλεξαμένους] is not to be taken, with Beza, Er. Schmid, Kuinoel, and others, for ἐκλεχθέντας, as the middle aorist never has a passive signification; on the contrary (comp. Acts 15:40), the correct explanation is (accusative with the infinitive): after they should have (not had) chosen men from among them, to send them, i.e. to choose and to send men. Comp. Vulg., and see Kypke, II. p. 73; Winer, p. 239 [E. T. 319 f.].

Nothing further is known of Judas Barsabas (whom Grotius and Wolf consider as a brother of Joseph Barsabas, Acts 1:23). Ewald considers him as identical with the person named in Acts 10:23. Concerning Silas, i.e. Silvanus (see on 2 Corinthians 1:19), the apostolic companion of Paul on his journeys in Asia Minor and Greece (Acts 17:4, Acts 10:14 f., Acts 18:5, also 1 Peter 5:12), see Cellar. de Sila viro apost., Jena, 1773; Leyrer in Herzog’s Encykl. XIV. p. 369. These two men, who were of the first rank and influence (ἡγουμ., comp. Luke 22:26) among the Christians, were sent to Antioch to give further oral explanation (Acts 15:27).

Acts 15:22. ἔδοξε: the word is often found in public resolutions and official decrees, Herod., i., 3; Thuc., iv., 118 L) and .).—τοῖς ἀποσ.… ἐκλεξ.… γράψ.: on the irregular construction see Page and Rendall, and instances in Alford and Lumby; and further, Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 173.—σὺν ὅλῃ τῇ ἐκκλ., cf. Acts 15:12, πᾶν τὸ πλῆθος, cf. Iren., Hær. iii., 12.—ἐκλεξ. ἄνδρας πέμψαι: “to choose men out of their company, and send,” R.V. In A.V. we lose sight of the fact that the choice was thus made in the rendering “chosen men,” a rendering which takes ἐκλεξ. middle as if passive (see Wendt’s just criticism, and cf. Acts 15:40 ἐπιλεξ.).—Ἰούδαν τὸν ἐπικ. Β., see critical note, sometimes regarded as a brother of Joseph Barsabbas in Acts 1:23. Ewald thinks that he was actually identical with him. Nothing further is known of him, but if he was a brother of Joseph Barsabbas, he too may have been amongst the personal followers of the Lord; hence his leading position, see also B.D.2 “Judas,” p. 1830.—Σίλαν, cf. Acts 15:40, Acts 16:19; Acts 16:25; Acts 16:29, Acts 17:4; Acts 17:10; Acts 17:14, Acts 18:5, 2 Corinthians 1:19, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:1, 1 Peter 5:12. The name may have been contracted for Silvanus, but it may also have been a Greek equivalent for a Hebrew name שֶׁלֶשׁ = Tertius, or שֶׁלַח, Genesis 10:24, see especially Winer-Schmiedel, p. 143, note, and Zahn, Einleitung, i., p. 23, who prefers שׁאל, “bitten, erfragen”. Paul always used the form Σιλουανός (so 1 Peter 5:12), Blass, Gram., pp. 70, 71, Winer-Schmiedel, u. s., and also pp. 74, 75. On the supposed identity of Silas with Titus, who is never mentioned in Acts, see above; and Wendt, in loco. If the two passages, 2 Corinthians 1:19; 2 Corinthians 8:23, on which the advocates of this view rely make the identity possible, the description of Titus, Galatians 2:3, is completely at variance with the description of Silas in this chapter (“perversa, ne quid durius dicam, conjectura” Blass, in commenting on the supposed identity).—ἡγουμένους, cf. Acts 15:32, προφῆται ὄντες: the word is also used in Hebrews 13 three times, once of those who had passed away, Acts 15:7, and in Acts 15:17; Acts 15:24 of actual authorities to be obeyed. The word is applied in the LXX to various forms of authority and leadership (see also references to the word in classical Greek, Grimm-Thayer), and cf. Clem. Rom., Cor[288], i. 3 (Acts 21:6), with Acts 15:7, xxxvii. 2, Leviticus 1, lx. 4. It is quite possible that it may have essentially = διδάσκαλοι, Acts 13:1 (cf. Acts 14:12, ἡγούμ. τοῦ λόγου), cf. Heb. u. s., with Didaché, iv.1, and see Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, p. 249; Harnack, Proleg. to Didaché, p. 95; or the mere fact that Judas and Silas may both have been personal followers of Jesus would have conferred upon them a high degree of authority (Plumptre); or the term ἡγου. may be used as a general one, and we cannot say to what particular office or qualification it may have extended besides that involved in Acts 15:32. For use of the word in sub-apostolic times see Gore, Church and the Ministry, p. 322, etc., Moberly, Ministerial Priesthood, pp. 166, 186. The word may be called characteristic of St. Luke (Friedrich, p. 22, cf. Luke 22:26, Acts 7:10 (of civil rule), Acts 14:12).

[288] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

22–29. Answer and deputation sent from Jerusalem. The letter of the Synod to the Christians of Antioch

22. Then pleased it] The word is one often used in the official announcements of what has been decreed by authority, or of public resolutions (cp. Herod. i. 3; Thuc. iv. 118, &c.). So the more formal rendering, “It seemed good to,” would come nearer to the force of the word.

the apostles and elders, with the whole church] So the decree was the voice of the whole church, and the deputies sent were chosen by the whole body, and it is in the name of ‘apostles, elders and brethren’ that the letter runs (Acts 15:23).

to send chosen men of their own company] More literally (with R. V.), to choose men out of their company and send them, which rendering makes it clear that the election of those sent was the work of the whole assembly.

with Paul and Barnabas] That the church of Antioch might have the confirmation of the decree from the lips of others beside these two, for they might be supposed to favour especially all that was considerate towards Gentile converts.

Judas surnamed Barsabas] The oldest texts give ‘Judas called Barsabbas.’ Of this man nothing more is known than what we learn from this chapter. But as Barsabbas is clearly a patronymic, it has been conjectured that he was the brother of Joseph called Barsabbas, mentioned in Acts 1:23, where the MSS. and editions have the same variation of spelling.

Silas] This is probably the same person who in St Paul’s Epistles (2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1) and by St Peter (1 Peter 5:12) is called Silvanus. For an account of similar contracted names cp. Winer’s Gram. (ed. Moulton), pp. 127, 128. The mention of Silas is frequent in the Acts in this and the next three chapters. He was one of St Paul’s companions in the first missionary journey into Europe.

Acts 15:22. Ἔδοξε, it pleased) A weighty word, Acts 15:25; Acts 15:28; Acts 15:34. The synonym is, κρίνω, I judge, my sentence is, Acts 15:19; whence τὰ δόγματα τὰ κεκριμένα, the decrees that were ordained, ch. Acts 16:4.—ἐκκλησίᾳ, the Church) This too had its part to act (its share) in the decision.—ἐκλεξαμένους) Resolve the words thus, ἵνα ἐκλεξάμενοι ἄνδρας πέμψωσι.—ἐξ αὐτῶν, from among themselves) in whom they could repose confidence. In all ways precaution was taken that Paul should not seem to be reporting (delivering) the decision of the council, as if it were his own.—καὶ Σίλαν, and Silas) Silvanus is put before Timothy, as the companion of Paul, in 2 Corinthians 1:19, and both Epp. to the Thess.: from it is formed the diminutive, Silas: ch. Acts 17:10.

Verse 22. - It seemed good to for pleased it, A.V.; the elders for elders, A.V.; to choose men out of their company and send them, etc., for to send chosen men of their own company, A.V.; Barsabbas for Barsabas, A.V. and T.R., as Acts 1:23. To choose men, etc. This is a necessary, change, because the middle aorist (ἐκκεξαμένους) cannot have a passive meaning (chosen); see ver. 40. Chief men (ἡγουμένους); literally, leaders. So in Luke 22:26 Ὁ ἡγούμενος is rendered, "He that is chief." In Hebrews 13:7, Οἱ ἡγούμενοι ὑμῶν is, "Them which have the rule over you;" your spiritual rulers. Silas seems to be a contraction of Silvanus, like Lucas for Lucanus. In the Acts he is always called Silas, in the Epistles of St. Paul and St. Peter, Silvanus. Going as direct emissaries from James and the Church of Jerusalem, and Judas would have great weight with the Jews in Syria and Cilicia. Acts 15:22
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