Acts 21:25 MEANING

Acts 21:25
(25) As touching the Gentiles which believe.--See Note on Acts 15:20. St. James, it will be seen, adheres still to the terms of the concordat sanctioned at the council of Jerusalem. He has no desire to withdraw any concession that was then made, and the Judaisers who in Galatia and elsewhere were, in his name, urging the necessity of circumcision, were acting without authority. He thinks it fair to call on St. Paul to show that he too adheres to the compact, and has no wish to disparage the "customs" of the Law. St Paul, it will be seen, readily acts upon the suggestion. All promised well; but an interruption came from an unexpected quarter and overturned what seemed so wisely planned in the interests of peace.

Verse 25. - But as for as, A.V.; have believed for believe, A.V.; wrote giving judgment for have written and concluded, A.V.; the R.T. omits the clause rendered that they observe no such thing, save only, in the A.V.; should keep for keep, A.V.; sacrificed for offered, A.V.; what is strangled for strangled, A.V. As touching the Gentiles, etc. What follows is, of course, a quotation from "the decrees that had been ordained of the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem" (Acts 16:4), of which the text is given in Acts 15:19, 20, 28. Observe the use of the identical words - κρίνω, in Acts 15:19; Acts 16:4; and in this verse; and of ἐπιστέλλω, in this verse and in Acts 15:20, with its cognate διεστειλάμεθα and ἀπεστάλκαμεν, Acts 15:24, 27. This reference on the part of James to the decrees was very important as a confirmation of "the gospel which Paul preached among the Gentiles" (Galatians 2:2). It also marks distinctly the upright and honorable conduct of James, and the concord of the apostles.

21:19-26 Paul ascribed all his success to God, and to God they gave the praise. God had honoured him more than any of the apostles, yet they did not envy him; but on the contrary, glorified the Lord. They could not do more to encourage Paul to go on cheerfully in his work. James and the elders of the church at Jerusalem, asked Paul to gratify the believing Jews, by some compliance with the ceremonial law. They thought it was prudent in him to conform thus far. It was great weakness to be so fond of the shadows, when the substance was come. The religion Paul preached, tended not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. He preached Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, and repentance and faith, in which we are to make great use of the law. The weakness and evil of the human heart strongly appear, when we consider how many, even of the disciples of Christ, had not due regard to the most eminent minister that even lived. Not the excellence of his character, nor the success with which God blessed his labours, could gain their esteem and affection, seeing that he did not render the same respect as themselves to mere ceremonial observances. How watchful should we be against prejudices! The apostles were not free from blame in all they did; and it would be hard to defend Paul from the charge of giving way too much in this matter. It is vain to attempt to court the favour of zealots, or bigots to a party. This compliance of Paul did not answer, for the very thing by which he hoped to pacify the Jews, provoked them, and brought him into trouble. But the all-wise God overruled both their advice and Paul's compliance with it, to serve a better purpose than was intended. It was in vain to think of pleasing men who would be pleased with nothing but the rooting out of Christianity. Integrity and uprightness will be more likely to preserve us than insincere compliances. And it should warn us not to press men to doing what is contrary to their own judgment to oblige us.As touching the Gentiles which believe,.... This is said, to show that the Jews were not offended with Paul, for not insisting upon the circumcision of the believing Gentiles, and their conformity to the ceremonial law; and to remove an objection that Paul might make, that should he comply with this advice, and the believing Gentiles should hear of it, it might be a stumblingblock and a snare to them; who by his example, might think themselves obliged to regard the law: Beza's ancient copy adds, "they have nothing to say to thee"; for as it follows,

we have written and concluded; some years ago, at a meeting of the apostles, elders, and brethren at Jerusalem, when Paul was present; and of which he reminds him, to prevent any objection of this kind; where it was unanimously agreed on and determined,

that they observe no such things; as circumcision, and other rites and customs of the law, and particularly the vow of the Nazarite, which Gentiles are free from: hence it is said (u),

"Gentiles have no Nazariteship;''

upon which one of the commentators says (w), if a Gentile vows Nazariteship, the law of the Nazarite does not fall upon him, he is not obliged to it:

save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, &c. see Acts 15:19.

(u) Misna Nazir, c. 9. sect. 1.((w) Bartenora in Misn. Nazir, c. 9. sect. 1.

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