New English Translation
17 Therefore if God[a] gave them the same gift[b] as he also gave us after believing[c] in the Lord Jesus Christ,[d] who was I to hinder[e] God?” 18 When they heard this,[f] they ceased their objections[g] and praised[h] God, saying, “So then, God has granted the repentance[i] that leads to life even to the Gentiles.”[j]
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- Acts 11:17 tc Codex Bezae (D) and a few other Western witnesses here lack ὁ θεός (ho theos, “God”), perhaps because these scribes considered the Holy Spirit to be the gift of Christ rather than the gift of God; thus leaving the subject implicit would naturally draw the reader back to v. 16 to see the Lord Jesus as the bestower of the Spirit.
- Acts 11:17 sn That is, the same gift of the Holy Spirit.
- Acts 11:17 tn Or “gave us when we believed”; or “gave us after we believed”; or “gave us who believed”; or “gave them when they believed the same gift as he also gave us.” The aorist dative plural participle πιστεύσασιν (pisteusasin) can be understood in several different ways: (1) It could modify ἡμῖν (hēmin, “us”) or αὐτοῖς (autois, “them”). Proximity (it immediately follows ἡμῖν) would suggest that it belongs with ἡμῖν, so the last option (“gave them when they believed the same gift he also gave us”) is less likely. (2) The participle could be either adverbial or adjectival, modifying ἡμῖν. This decision is primarily a contextual one. The point Peter made is not whether or not the Gentiles believed, since both groups (“us” and “they”) had believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The point was whether or not the Gentiles received the Spirit when they believed, just as Jewish Christians had received the Spirit on the day of Pentecost when they believed. Translated as an adjectival participle, πιστεύσασιν only affirms the fact of belief, however, and raises somewhat of a theological problem if one realizes, “Would God have given the Gentiles the Spirit if they had not believed?” (In other words, belief in itself is a theological prerequisite for receiving the Spirit. As such, in the case of the Gentiles, it is assumed.) Thus in context it makes more sense to understand the participle πιστεύσασιν as adverbial, related to the time of belief in connection with the giving of the Spirit. (3) The participle πιστεύσασιν as a temporal participle can refer to action antecedent to the action of the main verb ἔδωκεν (edōken) or contemporaneous with it. Logically, at least, the gift of the Spirit followed belief in the case of the original Christians, who had believed before the day of Pentecost. In the case of Cornelius and his household, belief and the reception of the Spirit were virtually simultaneous. One can argue that Peter is “summarizing” the experience of Jewish Christians, and therefore the actions of belief and reception of the Spirit, while historically separate, have been “telescoped” into one (“gave them the same gift as he gave us when we believed”), but to be technically accurate the participle πιστεύσασιν should be translated “gave them the same gift as he also gave us after we believed.” A number of these problems can be avoided, however, by using a translation in English that maintains some of the ambiguity of the Greek original. Thus “if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing” is used, where the phrase “after believing” can refer either to “them” or to “us,” or both.
- Acts 11:17 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”
- Acts 11:17 tn Or “prevent,” “forbid” (BDAG 580 s.v. κωλύω 1.a). Peter’s point is that he will not stand in the way of God.
- Acts 11:18 tn Grk “these things.”
- Acts 11:18 tn Or “became silent,” but this would create an apparent contradiction with the subsequent action of praising God. The point, in context, is that they ceased objecting to what Peter had done.
- Acts 11:18 tn Or “glorified.”
- Acts 11:18 sn Here the summary phrase for responding to the gospel is the repentance that leads to life. Note how the presence of life is tied to the presence of the Spirit (cf. John 4:7-42; 7:37-39).
- Acts 11:18 sn In the Greek text the phrase even to the Gentiles is in an emphatic position.
- Acts 11:19 sn The phrase over Stephen means in connection with Stephen’s death. See Acts 8:1b-3.
- Acts 11:19 tn Or “finally reached.” The translations “went as far as” and “finally reached” for διῆλθον (diēlthon) in this verse are given in L&N 15.17.
- Acts 11:19 sn Phoenicia was an area along the Mediterranean coast north of Palestine.
- Acts 11:19 tn Grk “and Cyprus,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.sn Cyprus was a large island in the Mediterranean off the south coast of Asia Minor.
- Acts 11:19 sn Antioch was a city in Syria (not Antioch in Pisidia). This was probably the third largest city in the Greco-Roman world (Alexandria in Egypt was the second largest, and Rome the largest) and was the seat of government in Syria. Five miles away was a major temple to Artemis, Apollo, and Astarte, major pagan deities.
- Acts 11:19 tn Grk “word.”