Acts 15:20

But that we write unto them (alla episteilai autoi). By way of contrast (alla). First aorist active infinitive of epistellw, old verb to send to one (message, letter, etc.). Our word epistle (epistolh as in verse Hebrews 30 ) comes from this verb. In the N.T. only here, 13:22 , and possibly Acts 21:25 . That they abstain from (tou apecesqai). The genitive of the articular infinitive of purpose, present middle (direct) of apecw, old verb, to hold oneself back from. The best old MSS. do not have apo, but the ablative is clear enough in what follows. James agrees with Peter in his support of Paul and Barnabas in their contention for Gentile freedom from the Mosaic ceremonial law. The restrictions named by James affect the moral code that applies to all (idolatry, fornication, murder). Idolatry, fornication and murder were the outstanding sins of paganism then and now ( Revelation 22:15 ). Harnack argues ably against the genuineness of the word pniktou (strangled) which is absent from D Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian. It is a nice point, though the best MSS. have it in accord with Leviticus 17:10-16 . The problem is whether the words were added because "blood" was understood as not "murder," but a reference to the Mosaic regulation or whether it was omitted to remove the ceremonial aspect and make it all moral and ethical. The Western text omits the word also in verse Leviticus 29 . But with the word retained here and in verse Leviticus 29 the solution of James is not a compromise, though there is a wise concession to Jewish feeling. Pollutions of idols (alisghmatwn). From alisgew only in the LXX and this substantive nowhere else. The word refers to idolatrous practices (pollutions) and things sacrificed to idols (eidwluqwn) in verse Leviticus 29 , not to sacrificial meat sold in the market ( 1 Corinthians 10:27 ), a matter not referred to here. Cf. Leviticus 17:1-9 . All the four items in the position of James (accepting pniktou) are mentioned in Leviticus 17:1-18:30 .