Acts 15:16 MEANING

Acts 15:16
(16) After this I will return.--It is a fact not without interest that the prophet from whom these words are taken (Amos 9:11-12) had been already quoted by Stephen (Acts 7:42). Those who then listened to him had, we may believe, been led to turn to the writings of Amos, and to find in them meanings which had hitherto been latent. The fact that the inference drawn from the passage mainly turns on a clause in which the LXX. version, which St. James quotes, differs from the Hebrew, shows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the discussion must have been conducted in Greek, and not in Hebrew. At first this may appear strange in a council held at Jerusalem, but the trial of Stephen presents a precedent (see Note on Acts 7:1); and it is obvious that in a debate which chiefly affected the interests of Greeks, and at which many of them, and of the Hellenistic Jews, were likely to be present, the use of that language, both in the debate and the decree in which it resulted, was almost a matter of necessity. Both languages were probably equally familiar to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (See Note on Acts 22:2.) The quotation suggests, perhaps implies, a fuller interpretation than is given in the summary of St. James's speech. It assumes that the "tabernacle of David," which to human eyes had been lying as in ruins, was being rebuilt by Christ, the Son of David, that He was doing the work which, in the prophecy, Jehovah claimed as His.

Verse 16. - These things for this, A.V.; I will for will, A.V.; fallen for fallen down, A.V.

15:7-21 We see from the words purifying their hearts by faith, and the address of St. Peter, that justification by faith, and sanctification by the Holy Ghost, cannot be separated; and that both are the gift of God. We have great cause to bless God that we have heard the gospel. May we have that faith which the great Searcher of hearts approves, and attests by the seal of the Holy Spirit. Then our hearts and consciences will be purified from the guilt of sin, and we shall be freed from the burdens some try to lay upon the disciples of Christ. Paul and Barnabas showed by plain matters of fact, that God owned the preaching of the pure gospel to the Gentiles without the law of Moses; therefore to press that law upon them, was to undo what God had done. The opinion of James was, that the Gentile converts ought not to be troubled about Jewish rites, but that they should abstain from meats offered to idols, so that they might show their hatred of idolatry. Also, that they should be cautioned against fornication, which was not abhorred by the Gentiles as it should be, and even formed a part of some of their rites. They were counselled to abstain from things strangled, and from eating blood; this was forbidden by the law of Moses, and also here, from reverence to the blood of the sacrifices, which being then still offered, it would needlessly grieve the Jewish converts, and further prejudice the unconverted Jews. But as the reason has long ceased, we are left free in this, as in the like matters. Let converts be warned to avoid all appearances of the evils which they formerly practised, or are likely to be tempted to; and caution them to use Christian liberty with moderation and prudence.After this I will return,.... That is, after the Lord had destroyed the sinful kingdom from off the face of the earth, and had sifted the house of Israel among all nations, and the sinners of his people were slain with the sword; after all this he promises to return and show favour to them: this is the sense of the prophet which James gives; for these words are not at length in Amos; there it is only said, "in that day"; upon which Jarchi's note is,

"after all these things shall have come upon them, that day shall come which is appointed for redemption;''

which well agrees with James here, and the manner in which he introduces this passage:

and will build again the tabernacle of David, that is fallen down: that is, as the Jewish (r) writers themselves interpret it, the kingdom of the house of David, though in a temporal sense, which was now in a most ruinous condition; the sceptre was departed from Judah; all; power and authority were falling off apace from the Jews, into the hands of the Romans; David's family were quite sunk, and almost gone, and had no share at all in the civil government; Jesus, who was descended from him, and was of the blood royal, and right heir to his throne, was born of a poor virgin; and his supposed father was a carpenter; and he himself the King of the Jews, was crucified by them; yet notwithstanding all this, David's tabernacle was to be rebuilt, and his kingdom to be restored by the Messiah, but in a spiritual way; for the tabernacle of David designs the spiritual kingdom or church of Christ, who is here called David, as in Ezekiel 34:23 and of whom David was an eminent type: and the church may be called a tabernacle, being in the present state of things, as to its place, uncertain and moveable, though ere long it will be a tabernacle that will not be taken down, Isaiah 33:20 and Christ's tabernacle, being of his building, and where he dwells and keeps his court, as King of saints; see Isaiah 16:5 and which was in a fallen ruinous condition when he came on earth, through the corrupt principles of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the bigotry and superstition of the one, and the deism of the other; and through the great decay of spiritual worship and powerful godliness, and the bad lives of professors, and the small number of truly godly persons: the Jews (s) themselves refer this prophecy to the times of the Messiah, yea, one of the names by which they call the Messiah is taken from hence (t): it is asked,

"who is Bar Naphli? it is replied, the Messiah; the Messiah is called Bar Naphli (the son fallen, or of the fallen); is it not written, "in that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen down?"''

one of their own commentators (u) on this text, has this note,

"if we interpret this of the Messiah, the matter is clear:''

but then this must be understood in a spiritual sense, for Christ's kingdom is not a worldly one; the raising up and rebuilding of this tabernacle, must design the reviving of true religion, the doctrine and practice of it, the enlargement of the church of God, by the conversion both of Jews and Gentiles:

and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; which has been done by breaking down the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, and letting in the latter into the Gospel church with the former, whereby it grows up to be an holy temple in the Lord; see Isaiah 54:2 and to this sense the Jews themselves (w) interpret it;

"the holy blessed God will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, as it is said, Amos 9:11 in that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David; for all the world shall be , "one bundle"; as it is said, Zephaniah 3:9''

(r) Targum, Jarchi & Kimchi in loc. (s) Zohar in Gen. fol. 53. 2. & in Exod. fol. 4. 2. & 96. 2.((t) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 96. 2.((u) Aben Ezra in Amos ix. 11. (w) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 88. fol. 76. 4.

Courtesy of Open Bible