By revelation (kata apokalupsin). In Acts 15:2 the church sent them. But surely there is no inconsistency here. I laid before them (aneqemhn autoi). Second aorist middle indicative of old word anatiqhmi, to put up, to place before, with the dative case. But who were the "them" (autoi)? Evidently not the private conference for he distinguishes this address from that, "but privately" (kat idian). Just place Acts 15:4 beside the first clause and it is clear: "I laid before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles," precisely as Luke has recorded. Then came the private conference after the uproar caused by the Judaizers ( Acts 15:5 ). Before them who were of repute (toi dokousin). He names three of them (Cephas, James, and John). James the Lord's brother, for the other James is now dead ( Acts 12:1 ). But there were others also, a select group of real leaders. The decision reached by this group would shape the decision of the public conference in the adjourned meeting. So far as we know Paul had not met John before, though he had met Peter and James at the other visit. Lightfoot has much to say about the Big Four (St. Paul and the Three) who here discuss the problems of mission work among Jews and Gentiles. It was of the utmost importance that they should see eye to eye. The Judaizers were assuming that the twelve apostles and James the Lord's brother would side with them against Paul and Barnabas. Peter had already been before the Jerusalem Church for his work in Caesarea ( Acts 11:1-18 ). James was considered a very loyal Jew. Lest by any means I should be running or had run in vain (mh pw ei kenon trecw h edramon). Negative purpose with the present subjunctive (trecw) and then by a sudden change the aorist indicative (edramon), as a sort of afterthought or retrospect (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 201; Robertson, Grammar, p. 988). There are plenty of classical parallels. See also 1 Thessalonians 3:5 for both together again.