Acts 15:31


King James Version (KJV)

Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.

American King James Version (AKJV)

Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.

American Standard Version (ASV)

And when they had read it, they rejoiced for the consolation.

Basic English Translation (BBE)

And after reading it, they were glad of its comfort.

Webster's Revision

Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.

World English Bible

When they had read it, they rejoiced over the encouragement.

English Revised Version (ERV)

And when they had read it, they rejoiced for the consolation.

Clarke's Acts 15:31 Bible Commentary

They rejoiced for the consolation - It was not a matter of small moment to have a question on which such stress was laid decided by an apostolic council, over which the Spirit of God presided.

Barnes's Acts 15:31 Bible Commentary

They rejoiced for the consolation - They acquiesced in the decision of the apostles and elders, and rejoiced that they were not to be subjected to the burdensome rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion. This closes the account of the first Christian council. It was conducted throughout on Christian principles; in a mild, kind, conciliatory spirit, and is a model for all similar assemblages. It came together, not to promote, but to silence disputation; not to persecute the people of God, but to promote their peace; not to be a scene of harsh and angry recrimination, but to be an example of all that was mild, and tender, and kind. Those who composed it came together, not to carry a point, not to overreach their adversaries, not to be party people, but to mingle their sober counsels, to inquire what was right, and to express, in a Christian manner, what was proper to be done. Great and important principles were to be established in regard to the Christian church, and they engaged in their work evidently with a deep sense of their responsibility, and with a just view of their dependence on the aid of the Holy Spirit. How happy Would it have been if this spirit had been possessed by all professedly Christian councils; if all had really sought the peace and harmony of the churches; if none had ever been convened to kindle the fires of persecution, or to rend and destroy the church of God!

This council has been usually appealed to as the authority for councils in the church as a permanent arrangement, and especially as an authority for courts of appeal and control. But it establishes neither, and should be brought as authority for neither. For:

(1) It was not a court of appeal in any intelligible sense. It was an assembly convened for a special purpose; designed to settle an inquiry which arose in a particular part of the church, and which required the collected wisdom of the apostles and elders.

(2) it had none of the marks or appendages of a court. The term "court," or judicature, is nowhere applied to it, nor to any assembly of Christian people in the New Testament. Nor should these terms be used now in the churches. courts of judicature imply a degree of authority which cannot be proved from the New Testament to have been conceded to any ecclesiastical body of people.

(3) there is not the slightest intimation that anything like permanency was to be attached to this council, or that it would be periodically or regularly repeated. It proves, indeed, that, when cases of difficulty occur - when Christians are perplexed and embarrassed, or when contentions arise - it is proper to refer to Christian people for advice and direction. Such was the case here, and such a course is obviously proper. If it should be maintained that it is well that Christian ministers and laymen should assemble periodically, at stated intervals, on the supposition that such cases may arise, this is conceded; but the example of the apostles and elders should not be pleaded as making such assemblies of divine right and authority, or as being essential to the existence of a church of God. Such an arrangement has been deemed to be so desirable by Christians, that it has been adopted by Episcopalians in their regular annual and triennial Conventions; by Methodists in their conferences; by Presbyterians in their General Assembly; by Friends in their Yearly Meetings; by Baptists and congregationalists in their Associations, etc.; but the example of the council summoned on a special emergency at Jerusalem should not be pleaded as giving divine authority to these periodical assemblages. They are wise and prudent arrangements, contributing to the peace of the church, and the example of the council at Jerusalem can be adduced as furnishing as reach divine authority for one as for another; that is, it does not make all or either of them of divine authority, or obligatory on the church of God.

(4) it should be added that a degree of authority (compare Acts 16:4) would, of course, be attached to the decision of the apostles and elders at that time which cannot be to any body of ministers and laymen now. Besides, it should never be forgotten - what, alas! it seems to have been the pleasure and the interest of ecclesiastics to forget that neither the apostles nor elders asserted any jurisdiction over the churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia; that they did not claim a right to have these cases referred to them; that they did not attempt to "lord it" over their faith or their consciences. The case was a single, specific, definite question referred to them, and they decided it as such. They asserted no abstract right of such jurisdiction; they sought not to intermeddle With the case; they enjoined no future reference of such cases to them, to their successors, or to any ecclesiastical tribunal. They evidently regarded the churches as blessed with the most ample freedom, and contemplated no arrangement of a permanent character asserting a right to legislate on articles of faith, or to make laws for the direction of the Lord's freemen.

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