As touching the Gentiles - See the notes on Acts 15:1-21 (note), and the additional observations at the end of that chapter.
As touching the Gentiles - In regard to the Gentile converts. It might be expedient for Paul to do what could not be enjoined on the Gentiles. They could not command the Gentile converts to observe those ceremonies, while yet it might be proper, for the sake of peace, that the converts to Christianity from among the Jews should regard them. The conduct of the Christians at Jerusalem in giving this advice, and of Paul in following it, may be easily vindicated. If it be objected, as it has been by infidels, that it looks like double-dealing; that it was designed to deceive the Jews in Jerusalem, and to make them believe that Paul actually conformed to the ceremonial law, when his conduct among the Gentiles showed that he did not, we may reply:
(1)That the observance of that law was not necessary in order to salvation;
(2)That it would have been improper to have enjoined its observance on the Gentile converts as necessary, and therefore it was never done;
(3)That when the Jews urged its observance as necessary to justification and salvation, Paul strenuously opposed this view of it everywhere;
(4)Yet that, as a matter of expediency, he did not oppose its being observed either by the Jews, or by the converts made among the Jews.
In fact, there is other evidence besides the case before us that Paul himself continued to observe some, at least, of the Jewish rites, and his conduct in public at Jerusalem was in strict accordance with his conduct in other places. See Acts 18:18. The sum of the whole matter is this, that when the observance of the Jewish ceremonial law was urged as necessary to justification and acceptance with God, Paul resisted it; when it was demanded that its observance should be enjoined on the Gentiles, he opposed it; in all other cases he made no opposition to it, and was ready himself to comply with it, and willing that others should also.
At Jerusalem the delegates from Antioch met the brethren of the various churches, who had gathered for a general meeting, and to them they related the success that had attended their ministry among the Gentiles. They then gave a clear outline of the confusion that had resulted because certain converted Pharisees had gone to Antioch declaring that, in order to be saved, the Gentile converts must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. AA 191.1
This question was warmly discussed in the assembly. Intimately connected with the question of circumcision were several others demanding careful study. One was the problem as to what attitude should be taken toward the use of meats offered to idols. Many of the Gentile converts were living among ignorant and superstitious people who made frequent sacrifices and offerings to idols. The priests of this heathen worship carried on an extensive merchandise with the offerings brought to them, and the Jews feared that the Gentile converts would bring Christianity into disrepute by purchasing that which had been offered to idols, thereby sanctioning, in some measure, idolatrous customs. AA 191.2
Again, the Gentiles were accustomed to eat the flesh of animals that had been strangled, while the Jews had been divinely instructed that when beasts were killed for food, particular care was to be taken that the blood should flow from the body; otherwise the meat would not be regarded as wholesome. God had given these injunctions to the Jews for the purpose of preserving their health. The Jews regarded it as sinful to use blood as an article of diet. They held that the blood was the life, and that the shedding of blood was in consequence of sin. AA 191.3Read in context »
“And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.” AA 396.1
From Miletus the travelers sailed in “a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara,” on the southwest shore of Asia Minor, where, “finding a ship sailing over unto Phoenicia,” they “went aboard, and set forth.” At Tyre, where the ship was unloaded, they found a few disciples, with whom they were permitted to tarry seven days. Through the Holy Spirit these disciples were warned of the perils awaiting Paul at Jerusalem, and they urged him “that he should not go up to Jerusalem.” But the apostle allowed not the fear of affliction and imprisonment to turn him from his purpose. AA 396.2
At the close of the week spent in Tyre, all the brethren, with their wives and children, went with Paul to the ship, and before he stepped on board, they knelt upon the shore and prayed, he for them, and they for him. AA 396.3Read in context »