30. Therefore, when they were let go, they came to Antioch: and when they had assembled the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 31. Which, when they had read, they rejoiced over the consolation.32. And Judas and Silas, seeing they were also prophets, did with many words exhort [or they did comfort] the brethren, and strengthened them.33. And they tarried there for a time, and then they were let go by the brethren in peace unto the apostles.34. But it seemed good to Silas to stay there.35. And Paul and Barnabas stayed at Antioch, teaching and preaching with many more the word of the Lord.
30. When the multitude was gathered. This was the most lawful kind of dealing to admit the whole multitude unto the reading of the epistle. For if there fall out any controversy in the doctrine of faith, it is meet that the judgment be referred over unto the learned and godly, and to such as are exercised in the Scripture; and, chiefly, to the pastors rightly ordained. Notwithstanding, because it belongeth to all alike to know for a surety what they must hold, the godly and learned teachers must make known to the whole Church what they have set down out of the word of God. For there is nothing more unfitting for holy and Christian order than to drive away the body of the people from common doctrine, as if it were a herd of swine, as they use to do under the tyranny of Popery. For because the Pope and the horned bishops did think that the people would never be obedient enough until they were brought into gross ignorance, they imagined that this was the best summary of faith, to know nothing, but to depend wholly upon their decrees. But, on the contrary, there must be a mean observed, that lawful governments may continue; and that, on the other side, the people may have that liberty which unto them belongeth, lest they be oppressed like slaves.
31. They rejoiced over the consolation. Seeing that the epistle is so short, and containeth nothing but a bare narration, what consolation could they have by it? But we must note, that there was no small matter of consolation therein, because, when they knew the consent of the apostles, they were all pacified, and also whereas before there was variance among them, they are now reconciled one to another. Seeing there went a false report about, that all the apostles were against Paul and Barnabas, this same had shaken some who were too light of belief, many did stand in doubt; the wicked abused this occasion to speak evil; others some were pricked forward with love of novelty and with curiosity, and one was set against another. But now, after that they see that the judgment of the first Church doth agree with the doctrine of Paul and Barnabas, they obtain that for which the children of God ought most to wish, that being established in the right faith, and being of one mind among themselves, they may with quiet minds have peace one with another.
32. Judas and Silas. These two brethren were sent for this cause, that they might also testify the same thing by word which was contained in the letters, and more also; otherwise the apostles would not have sent such short letters concerning so great and weighty a matter; and they would have also spoken somewhat touching the mysteries of faith, and would have made some long exhortation, wherein they would have persuaded them unto the study of godliness. Now, Luke showeth some farther things by them done; to wit, that being furnished with the gift of prophecy, they edify the Church in general, as if he should say, they did not only do their duty faithfully in the cause which was now in hand, but they did also take good and profitable pains in teaching and exhorting the Church And we must note that he saith that they exhorted the Church, because they were prophets; for it is not a thing common to all men to enter such an excellent function. Therefore, we must beware, lest any man pass his bounds; as Paul teacheth, 1 Corinthians 7:20; and Ephesians 4:1, that every one keep himself within the measure of grace received. Wherefore, it is not in vain that Luke saith that the office of teaching is peculiar; lest any man, through ambition, being void of ability, or through rash zeal, or through any other foolish desire, coveting to put out his head, trouble the order of the Church.
They were prophets. Whereas the word hath diverse significations, it is not taken in this place for those prophets to whom it was granted to foretell things to come; because this title should come in out of season when he intreateth of another matter; but Luke's meaning is, that Judas and Silas were endued with excellent knowledge and understanding of the mysteries of God, that they might be good interpreters of God; as Paul, in the fourteenth of the First to the Corinthians, (1 Corinthians 14:3,) when he intreateth of the prophecy, and preferreth it before all other gifts, speaketh not of foretelling of things to come; but he commandeth it for this fruit, because it doth edify the Church by doctrine, exhortation, and consolation. After this manner doth Luke assign exhortation to the prophets, as being the principal point of their office.
33. They were let go in peace. That is, when they departed, the brethren, in taking their leave of them, did wish them well, as friends use to do. And there is synecdoche in this member; because the one of the two did only return to Jerusalem. And in the text there is a correction added immediately, that it seemed good to Silas to tarry there; but when Luke joineth them both together, his meaning is only to declare that the Church was quiet before they thought upon any returning. At length he addeth that Paul and Barnabas, so long as they were at Antioch, gave themselves to teaching, and did continue in this work, and yet did they give place to many more. Whereby it appeareth, that they had all one and the same desire without grudging, so that they joined hand in hand to do good; though it seemeth that he maketh mention of many more of set purpose, lest we should think that, after that Paul and Barnabas were departed, that Church was destitute, which did flourish in abundance of teachers. Moreover, the blessing of God, which began straightway to appear again in that Church, is now again commended and extolled, which Church Satan went about by his ministers miserably to scatter and lay waste.