Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 15:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

After this I will return, and will build again, etc. - These two verses, 16th and 17th, are quoted from Amos 9:11, Amos 9:12, nearly as they now stand in the best editions of the Septuagint, and evidently taken from that version, which differs considerably from the Hebrew text. As St. James quoted them as a prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles into the Church of God, it is evident the Jews must have understood them in that sense, otherwise they would have immediately disputed his application of them to the subject in question, and have rejected his conclusion by denying the premises. But that the words were thus understood by the ancient Jews, we have their own testimony. In Sanhedr. fol. 69, we have these remarkable words: "Rabbi Nachman said to Rabbi Isaac, 'Whence art thou taught when Bar Naphli will come?' He saith unto him, 'Who is this Bar Naphli?' The other replied, 'He is the Messiah.' 'Dost thou then call the Messiah Bar Naphli?' 'Yes,' said he, 'for it is written, In that day I will build again the tabernacle of David, הנפלת Hanopheleth, which is falling down.'" This is evidently a quotation from Amos 9:11, and a proof that the Jews understood it to be a prophecy concerning the Messiah. See Lightfoot.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

After this - This quotation is not made literally either from the Hebrew or the Septuagint, which differs also from the Hebrew. The 17th verse is quoted literally from the Septuagint, but in the 16th the general sense only of the passage is retained. The main point of the quotation, as made by James, was to show that, according to the prophets, it was contemplated that the Gentiles should be introduced to the privileges of the children of God; and on this point the passage has a direct bearing. The prophet Amos Amos 9:8-10 had described the calamities which would come upon the nation of the Jews by their being scattered and driven away. This implied that the city of Jerusalem, the temple, and the walls of the city would be destroyed. But after that (Heb: “on that day,” Amos 9:11, that is, the day when he should revisit them and recover them) he would restore them to their former privileges - would rebuild their temple, their city, and their walls, Amos 9:11. And not only so, not only would the blessing descend on the Jews, but it would also be extended to others. The “remnant of Edom,” “the pagan upon whom” his “name would be called” Amos 9:12, would also partake of the mercy of God, and be subject to the Jewish people, and a time of general prosperity and of permanent blessings would follow, Amos 9:13-15. James understands this as referring to the times of the Messiah, and to the introduction of the gospel to the Gentiles. And so the passage Amos 9:12 is rendered in the Septuagint. See ver. 17.

I will return - When the people of God are subjected to calamities and trials, it is often represented as if God had departed from them. His returning, therefore, is an image of their restoration to his favor and to prosperity. This is not, however, in the Hebrew, in Amos 9:11.

I will build again - In the calamities that would come upon the nation Amos 9:8, it is implied that the temple and the city would be destroyed. To build them again would be a proof of his returning favor.

The tabernacle of David - The tent of David. Here it means the house or royal residence of David and the kings of Israel. That is, he would restore them to their former glory and splendor as his people. The reference here is not to the temple, which was the work of Solomon, but to the magnificence and splendor of the dwelling-place of David; that is, to the full enjoyment of their former high privileges and blessings.

Which is fallen down - Which would be destroyed by the King of Babylon, and by the long neglect and decay resulting from their being carried to a distant land,

The ruins thereof - Heb. “close up the breaches thereof.” That is, it would be restored to its former prosperity and magnificence; an emblem of the favor of God, and of the spiritual blessings that would in future times descend on the Jewish people.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 96

“God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33. He requires that order and system be observed in the conduct of church affairs today no less than in the days of old. He desires His work to be carried forward with thoroughness and exactness so that He may place upon it the seal of His approval. Christian is to be united with Christian, church with church, the human instrumentality co-operating with the divine, every agency subordinate to the Holy Spirit, and all combined in giving to the world the good tidings of the grace of God. AA 96.1

This chapter is based on Acts 6:5-15; 7.

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 190-7

Before his conversion Paul had regarded himself as blameless “touching the righteousness which is in the law.” Philippians 3:6. But since his change of heart he had gained a clear conception of the mission of the Saviour as the Redeemer of the entire race, Gentile as well as Jew, and had learned the difference between a living faith and a dead formalism. In the light of the gospel the ancient rites and ceremonies committed to Israel had gained a new and deeper significance. That which they shadowed forth had come to pass, and those who were living under the gospel dispensation had been freed from their observance. God's unchangeable law of Ten Commandments, however, Paul still kept in spirit as well as in letter. AA 190.1

In the church at Antioch the consideration of the question of circumcision resulted in much discussion and contention. Finally, the members of the church, fearing that a division among them would be the outcome of continued discussion, decided to send Paul and Barnabas, with some responsible men from the church, to Jerusalem to lay the matter before the apostles and elders. There they were to meet delegates from the different churches and those who had come to Jerusalem to attend the approaching festivals. Meanwhile all controversy was to cease until a final decision should be given in general council. This decision was then to be universally accepted by the different churches throughout the country. AA 190.2

On the way to Jerusalem the apostles visited the believers in the cities through which they passed, and encouraged them by relating their experience in the work of God and the conversion of the Gentiles. AA 190.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 383

This chapter is based on the Epistle to the Galatians.

While tarrying at Corinth, Paul had cause for serious apprehension concerning some of the churches already established. Through the influence of false teachers who had arisen among the believers in Jerusalem, division, heresy, and sensualism were rapidly gaining ground among the believers in Galatia. These false teachers were mingling Jewish traditions with the truths of the gospel. Ignoring the decision of the general council at Jerusalem, they urged upon the Gentile converts the observance of the ceremonial law. AA 383.1

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 387

To substitute external forms of religion for holiness of heart and life is still as pleasing to the unrenewed nature as it was in the days of these Jewish teachers. Today, as then, there are false spiritual guides, to whose doctrines many listen eagerly. It is Satan's studied effort to divert minds from the hope of salvation through faith in Christ and obedience to the law of God. In every age the archenemy adapts his temptations to the prejudices or inclinations of those whom he is seeking to deceive. In apostolic times he led the Jews to exalt the ceremonial law and reject Christ; at the present time he induces many professing Christians, under pretense of honoring Christ, to cast contempt on the moral law and to teach that its precepts may be transgressed with impunity. It is the duty of every servant of God to withstand firmly and decidedly these perverters of the faith and by the word of truth fearlessly to expose their errors. AA 387.1

In his effort to regain the confidence of his brethren in Galatia, Paul ably vindicated his position as an apostle of Christ. He declared himself to be an apostle, “not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead.” Not from men, but from the highest Authority in heaven, had he received his commission. And his position had been acknowledged by a general council at Jerusalem, with the decisions of which Paul had complied in all his labors among the Gentiles. AA 387.2

It was not to exalt self, but to magnify the grace of God, that Paul thus presented to those who were denying his apostleship, proof that he was “not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.” 2 Corinthians 11:5. Those who sought to belittle his calling and his work were fighting against Christ, whose grace and power were manifested through Paul. The apostle was forced, by the opposition of his enemies, to take a decided stand in maintaining his position and authority. AA 388.1

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