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Acts 15:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

That the residue of men might seek - Instead of this, the Hebrew has, That they may possess the remnant of Edom. Now it is evident that, in the copy from which the Seventy translated, they found ידרשו yidreshu, they might seek, instead of יירשו yireshu, they may possess, where the whole difference between the two words is the change of the י yod for a ד daleth, which might be easily done; and they found אדם adam, man, or men, instead of אדום Edom, the Idumeans, which differs from the other only by the insertion of ו vau between the two last letters. None of the MSS. collated by Kennicott and De Rossi confirm these readings, in which the Septuagint, Arabic, and St. James agree. It shows, however, that even in Jerusalem, and in the early part of the apostolic age, the Septuagint version was quoted in preference to the Hebrew text; or, what is tantamount, was quoted in cases where we would have thought the Hebrew text should have been preferred, because better understood. But God was evidently preparing the way of the Gospel by bringing this venerable version into general credit and use; which was to be the means of conveying the truths of Christianity to the whole Gentile world. How precious should this august and most important version be to every Christian, and especially to every Christian minister! A version, without which no man ever did or ever can critically understand the New Testament. And I may add that, without the assistance afforded by this version, there never could have been a correct translation of the Hebrew text, since that language ceased to be vernacular, into any language. Without it, even St. Jerome could have done little in translating the Old Testament into Latin; and how much all the modern versions owe to St. Jerome's Vulgate, which owes so much to the Septuagint, most Biblical scholars know.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

That the residue of men - This verse is quoted literally from the Septuagint, and differs in some respects from the Hebrew. The phrase, “the residue of men,” here is evidently understood, both by the Septuagint and by James, as referring to others than Jews, to the Gentiles the rest of the world - implying that many of them would be admitted to the friendship and favor of God. The Hebrew is, “that they may possess the remnant of Edom.” This change is made in the Septuagint by a slight difference in the reading of two Hebrew words. The Septuagint, instead of the Hebrew וירשׁו w-y-r-sh-wshall inherit, read ודרשׁו w-d-r-sh-wshall seek of thee; and instead of אדום 'd-w-mEdom, they read אדם -mman, or mankind; that is, people. Why this variation occurred cannot be explained; but the sense is not materially different. In the Hebrew the word “Edom” has undoubted reference to another nation than the Jewish nation; and the expression means that, in the great prosperity of the Jews after their return, they would extend the influence of their religion to other nations; that is, as James applies it, the Gentiles might be brought to the privileges of the children of God.

And all the Gentiles - Heb. all the pagan; that is, all who were not Jews. This was a clear prediction that other nations were to be favored with the true religion, and that without any mention of their conforming to the rites of the Jewish people.

Upon whom my name is called - Who are called by my name, or who are regarded as my people.

Who doeth all these things - That is, who will certainly accomplish this in its time.

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

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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

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

The situation was critical. The evils that had been introduced threatened speedily to destroy the Galatian churches. AA 383.2

Paul was cut to the heart, and his soul was stirred by this open apostasy on the part of those to whom he had faithfully taught the principles of the gospel. He immediately wrote to the deluded believers, exposing the false theories that they had accepted and with great severity rebuking those who were departing from the faith. After saluting the Galatians in the words, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,” he addressed to them these words of sharp reproof: AA 383.3

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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

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 404

The brethren hoped that Paul, by following the course suggested, might give a decisive contradiction to the false reports concerning him. They assured him that the decision of the former council concerning the Gentile converts and the ceremonial law, still held good. But the advice now given was not consistent with that decision. The Spirit of God did not prompt this instruction; it was the fruit of cowardice. The leaders of the church in Jerusalem knew that by non-conformity to the ceremonial law, Christians would bring upon themselves the hatred of the Jews and expose themselves to persecution. The Sanhedrin was doing its utmost to hinder the progress of the gospel. Men were chosen by this body to follow up the apostles, especially Paul, and in every possible way to oppose their work. Should the believers in Christ be condemned before the Sanhedrin as breakers of the law, they would suffer swift and severe punishment as apostates from the Jewish faith. AA 404.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1108

6, 7. Trouble in Galatia—In almost every church there were some members who were Jews by birth. To these converts the Jewish teachers found ready access, and through them gained a foothold in the churches. It was impossible, by scriptural arguments, to overthrow the doctrines taught by Paul; hence they resorted to the most unscrupulous measures to counteract his influence and weaken his authority. They declared that he had not been a disciple of Jesus, and had received no commission from Him; yet he had presumed to teach doctrines directly opposed to those held by Peter, James, and the other apostles. Thus the emissaries of Judaism succeeded in alienating many of the Christian converts from their teacher in the gospel. Having gained this point, they induced them to return to the observance of the ceremonial law as essential to salvation. Faith in Christ, and obedience to the law of ten commandments, were regarded as of minor importance. Division, heresy, and sensualism were rapidly gaining ground among the believers in Galatia. 6BC 1108.1

Paul's soul was stirred as he saw the evils that threatened speedily to destroy these churches. He immediately wrote to the Galatians, exposing their false theories, and with great severity rebuking those who had departed from the faith (Sketches from the Life of Paul, 188, 189). 6BC 1108.2

17, 18. See EGW on Acts 9:25-27. 6BC 1108.3

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Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 304-9

The apostles, in this, their special work, were to be exposed to suspicion, prejudice, and jealousy. As a natural consequence of their departure from the exclusiveness of the Jews, their doctrine and views would be subject to the charge of heresy; and their credentials as ministers of the gospel would be questioned by many zealous, believing Jews. God foresaw all these difficulties which His servants would undergo, and, in His wise providence, caused them to be invested with unquestionable authority from the established church of God, that their work should be above challenge. SR 304.1

The ordination by the laying on of hands was, at a later date, greatly abused; unwarrantable importance was attached to the act, as though a power came at once upon those who received such ordination, which immediately qualified them for any and all ministerial work, as though virtue lay in the act of laying on of hands. We have, in the history of these two apostles, only a simple record of the laying on of hands, and its bearing upon their work. Both Paul and Barnabas had already received their commission from God Himself; and the ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification. It was merely setting the seal of the church upon the work of God—an acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office. SR 304.2

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