The words “it seemed good” should not be taken as opinion, but it is language of a formal decree. This decree is significant in that:
- This decree is divinely sanctioned. Note it is not just the formal decree of men, but of God the Holy Spirit.
- That “no greater burden” be placed upon the Gentiles; meaning circumcision and the Law. The Greek is stronger than the English translation, it is a present infinitive, thus indicating now and in the future there will be no greater burden placed upon you.
- What are conveyed to the Gentiles are the essentials. These are not mere suggestions. The Greek word is epanagkes meaning necessary things and carries the idea of compulsory things. The Greek word is found in the N.T. only here. It is necessary not only in sensibility to the Jews, but to the worship of God; to prevent offending Him. It is the avoidance of idolatry and immorality, especially in reference to pagan ritual and religious practices. They are to abstain (apechesthai) from things sacrificed to idols, blood, strangled meats, and fornication. We see the fourfold repeated use of the word “from,” a genitive of separation. The prohibitions speak of sanctification, not salvation.
- These will have a unifying benefit. “The idea seems to be that keeping the prohibitions would be spiritually and relationally beneficial. By keeping the prohibitions, Gentile believers would be in harmony with the Holy Spirit, the Jerusalem church and other Jewish believers.” They would not offend God or the Jews if they keep these prohibitions, thus keeping the door of evangelism open to the unbelieving Jews.