What does Acts 15:33 mean?
ESV: And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them.
NIV: After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them.
NASB: After they had spent time there, they were sent away from the brothers and sisters in peace to those who had sent them out.
CSB: After spending some time there, they were sent back in peace by the brothers and sisters to those who had sent them.
NLT: They stayed for a while, and then the believers sent them back to the church in Jerusalem with a blessing of peace.
KJV: And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.
Verse Commentary:
The work of the messengers from the church in Jerusalem is complete. They have delivered the letter which affirms Gentiles do not have to convert to Judaism. That is, no one needs to be circumcised and follow the Mosaic law to receive salvation from the Messiah. They have found fellowship with this Jewish-Gentile church, encouraging and strengthening them through their own gifts of prophecy (Acts 15:22–32). Now, the elders from the church in Syrian Antioch send them back to Jerusalem.

There is some confusion about who came from Jerusalem and who stayed. Only Judas Barsabbas and Silas are identified as representatives from Jerusalem (Acts 15:22), and more than one person returns to Jerusalem. Soon after, however, Silas leaves with Paul to take the letter to the other churches in Syria as well as the church plants in Galatia (Acts 15:40).

Acts 15:34 in the King James Version reads, "Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still." But the verse is not found in the earlier, more accurate sources. For this reason, the words are not included in versions such as the English Standard Version or the New American Standard Bible. Likely, Judas and Silas had assistants who returned to Jerusalem with Judas.

Regardless, the extended presence of the messengers serves its purpose. The church in Syrian Antioch is relieved to find their salvation is affirmed by the original apostles and they are encouraged by their renewed relations with the elders in Jerusalem. Their church remains a vitally important part of the early church and the development of theology in the following centuries.
Verse Context:
Acts 15:30–35 depicts the delivery of a resolution about Gentiles in the church. Jewish Christians from Judea had come to Syrian Antioch and insisted Gentile believers must first convert to Judaism. The Antiochenes took their objections to the leadership in Jerusalem. The church in Jerusalem sided with the Antiochenes, but required they make cultural concessions so Jews felt free to worship and live with them in unity (Acts 15:1–29). Now, the church in Antioch rejoices. Not only are they officially free from the Mosaic law, they are warmly unified with the apostles and the first church in Jerusalem.
Chapter Summary:
Paul and Barnabas are in Syrian Antioch, home from their first missionary journey. Legalistic Christians from Jerusalem arrive and insist Gentiles must convert to Judaism. When negotiations fail, a delegation travels to Jerusalem to request clarification from Jesus' closest students. The leadership in Jerusalem agree with Paul and Barnabas. They write a letter that Gentiles should only make concessions, mostly dietary, which will ensure unity with the Jews in their congregation. After delivering the letter to Antioch, Paul takes Silas and Barnabas takes John Mark to share the letter to other churches they have planted.
Chapter Context:
Acts chapter 15 resembles Acts 11:1–18, where Peter testified before the leadership of the church in Jerusalem. His subject was how the Holy Spirit had fallen on uncircumcised and unbaptized Gentiles. Here Paul and Barnabas also testify that Gentiles are coming to faith in Jesus without being circumcised. The issue the leadership must decide is the extent Gentiles must be responsible to follow the Mosaic law. Their decision is that the Law is in no way required to be saved, but Gentiles should graciously make concessions so their Jewish brothers and sisters feel free to live in community. This forms a partial background to the rest of Paul's missionary journeys as explained in Acts.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 3/1/2024 3:41:53 AM
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