The Meaning of Acts 11:18 Explained

Acts 11:18

KJV: When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

YLT: And they, having heard these things, were silent, and were glorifying God, saying, 'Then, indeed, also to the nations did God give the reformation to life.'

Darby: And when they heard these things they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then indeed God has to the nations also granted repentance to life.

ASV: And when they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life.

What does Acts 11:18 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Peter"s explanation was satisfactory to his critics. His Jewish brethren agreed that God was saving Gentiles simply by faith in Jesus Christ just as He was saving Jews and that they should no longer regard Gentiles as "unclean." They recognized and yielded to God"s initiative in this event.
"The word "repentance" summarizes Cornelius" conversion in Acts. "Repentance" can be a summary term for conversion stressing that a change of orientation has taken place when one believes. Faith stresses what the object of belief is. Faith is directed toward a Person, namely, Jesus. Repentance stresses what belief involves in that it is a change of mind or of orientation from oneself and his own works to a reliance on Jesus to save him. The repentant man of faith recognizes that, as the hymnwriter puts it, his "hope is built on nothing less than Jesus" blood and righteousness" and that he is to "wholly lean on Jesus" name." Metanoeo ("to repent") is used in Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19 to call Jewish audiences to come to Jesus, and it is used in the same way in Acts 17:30; Acts 26:20 to describe the call to or response of Gentiles. Metanoia ("repentance") is the summary term of the Great Commission in Luke 24:47. It is also used in salvation contexts in Acts 5:31 (to Jews); Acts 11:18 (of Cornelius); Acts 20:21 (of Jews and Gentiles who believe on the Lord Jesus); and Acts 26:20 (in Paul"s message to Jews and Gentiles)." [1]
It is clear, however, that not all of those who accepted Peter"s explanation also understood the larger issue. Probably few of them did. The larger issue was that God had created a new entity, the church, and that He was dealing with humankind on a different basis than He had for centuries. Those whom God accepted by faith in Christ were now under a new covenant, not the old Mosaic Covenant, so they did not need to continue to observe the Mosaic Law. It was no longer necessary for Gentiles to come to God through Judaism or to live within the constraints of Judaism. Opposition to this larger issue, the implications of what happened in Cornelius" home, cropped up later ( Acts 15:1; cf. Gal.). Even today many Christians do not understand the implications of this change and their application in daily life.
"It is clear that Christianity was accepted [2] as a reformed Judaism, not as Judaism"s successor." [3]
Whereas the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem did come to agree with Peter, non-Christian Jews did not. They still regarded Gentiles as outside the pale of God"s favor. The Christian Jews" new attitude toward Gentiles on the one hand had opened them to the Gentiles. However it also resulted in non-Christian Jews excluding Christian Jews increasingly from the life of Judaism.
"Even though Peter does not convert the first Gentile [4], the Cornelius episode is a breakthrough for the Gentile mission. The conversion of the Ethiopian was a private and isolated event that had no effect. The conversion of Cornelius has consequences in the following narrative, as the reference back to it in Acts 15 makes clear. It is a breakthrough not simply because Peter and the Jerusalem church now accept Gentiles for baptism but also because they recognize the right of Jewish Christians to freely associate with Gentiles in the course of their mission." [2]

Context Summary

Acts 11:1-18 - Following A Plain Course
It is very interesting here to find Peter on the defensive. We have always thought of him as masterful and strong, the born leader of men, whose authority was absolutely indisputable. But here we see him taken seriously to task by the mother Church, and compelled to show the grounds of his unprecedented action. Here also appears the first clear indication of the rift which was, in due course, to develop in the Church, between the converted Jews, who insisted that Gentiles must become Jews before becoming Christians, and those of more liberal views, who began to understand that in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availed anything, but a new creature, Galatians 6:15, and faith working by love, Galatians 5:6. This division was the cause of Paul's embittered and life-long persecution.
But the first decision of those in the church in Jerusalem was a perfectly just one, Acts 11:18. The facts compelled a favorable verdict upon Peter's action. They tacitly confessed that the seal of God's approval had been unmistakably affixed to his action, and that he had no alternative. When a man lives in union with the Spirit of God, crooked things become straight and rough places plain, Isaiah 40:4. [source]

Chapter Summary: Acts 11

1  Peter, being accused for preaching to the Gentiles,
5  makes his defense;
18  which is accepted
19  The gospel being spread in Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch,
22  Barnabas is sent to confirm them
26  The disciples are first called Christians at Antioch
27  They send relief to the brothers in Judea in time of famine

Greek Commentary for Acts 11:18

Held their peace [ησυχασαν]
Ingressive aorist active indicative of ησυχαζω — hēsuchazō old verb to be quiet, to keep quiet. The wrangling (Acts 11:2) ceased. The critics even “glorified God” (εδοχασαν — edoxasan ingressive aorist again). [source]
Then to the Gentiles also [Αρα και τοις ετνεσιν]
Εργο — Ergo as in Luke 11:20, Luke 11:48 and like αρα ουν — ara oun in Romans 5:18. In ancient Greek inferential αρα — ara cannot come at the beginning of a clause as here. It was reluctant acquiescence in the undoubted fact that God had “granted repentance unto life” to these Gentiles in Caesarea, but the circumcision party undoubtedly looked on it as an exceptional case and not to be regarded as a precedent to follow with other Gentiles. Peter will see in this incident (Acts 15:8) the same principle for which Paul contends at the Jerusalem Conference. Furneaux suggests that this conduct of Peter in Caesarea, though grudgingly acquiesced in after his skilful defence, decreased his influence in Jerusalem where he had been leader and helped open the way for the leadership of James the Lord‘s brother. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Acts 11:18

Luke 2:32 Gentiles [ἐθνῶν]
Assigned to the same root as ἔθω , to be accustomed, and hence of a people bound together by like habits or customs. According to biblical usage the term is understood of people who are not of Israel, and who therefore occupy a different position with reference to the plan of salvation. Hence the extension of the gospel salvation to them is treated as a remarkable fact. See Matthew 12:18, Matthew 12:21; Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:19; Acts 10:45; Acts 11:18; Acts 18:6. Paul is called distinctively an apostle and teacher of the Gentiles, and a chosen vessel to bear Christ's name among them. In Acts 15:9; Ephesians 2:11, Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:6, we see this difference annihilated, and the expression at last is merely historical designation of the non-Israelitish nations which, as such, were formerly without God and salvation. See Acts 15:23; Romans 16:4; Ephesians 3:1. Sometimes the word is used in a purely moral sense, to denote the heathen in opposition to Christians. See 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 10:20; 1 Peter 2:12. Light is promised here to the Gentiles and glory to Israel. The Gentiles are regarded as in darkness and ignorance. Some render the words εἰς ἀποκάλυψιν , above, for the unveiling of the Gentiles, instead of for revelation. Compare Isaiah 25:7. Israel, however, has already received light by the revelation of God through the law and the prophets, and that light will expand into glory through Christ. Through the Messiah, Israel will attain its true and highest glory. [source]
Acts 15:8 Giving them the Holy Spirit [δους το πνευμα το αγιον]
And before their baptism. This was the Lord‘s doing. They had accepted (Acts 11:18) this witness of God then and it was true now of these other Gentile converts. [source]
Acts 22:2 They were the more quiet [μαλλον παρεσχον ησυχιαν]
Literally, The more Precisely this idiom occurs in Plutarch and the lxx (Job 34:29). Knowling notes the fondness of Luke for words of silence (σιγη σιγαω ησυχαζω — sigēsigaōhēsuchazō) as in Luke 14:4; Luke 15:26; Acts 11:18; Acts 12:17; Acts 15:12; Acts 21:14, Acts 21:40. It is a vivid picture of the sudden hush that swept over the vast mob under the spell of the Aramaic. They would have understood Paul‘s Koiné{[28928]}š Greek, but they much preferred the Aramaic. It was a masterstroke. [source]
1 Thessalonians 4:11 That ye study to be quiet [πιλοτιμεισται ησυχαζειν]
First infinitive dependent on παρακαλουμεν — parakaloumen (1 Thessalonians 4:10, we exhort you), the second on πιλοτιμεισται — philotimeisthai (old verb from πιλοτιμος — philotimos fond of honour, πιλοσ τιμη — philosπρασσειν τα ιδια — timē). The notion of ambition appears in each of the three N.T. examples (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Romans 5:20), but it is ambition to do good, not evil. The word ambition is Latin (ambitio from ambo, ire), to go on both sides to accomplish one‘s aims and often evil). A preacher devoid of ambition lacks power. There was a restless spirit in Thessalonica because of the misapprehension of the second coming. So Paul urges an ambition to be quiet or calm, to lead a quiet life, including silence (Acts 11:18). [source]
2 Timothy 2:25 To the acknowledging of the truth [εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας]
More correctly, the knowledge. The formula PastoSee 1 Timothy 2:4(note); 2 Timothy 3:7. For εἰς untoafter μετάνοια repentancesee Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Luke 24:47; Acts 11:18; Acts 20:21; 2 Corinthians 7:10. [source]

What do the individual words in Acts 11:18 mean?

Having heard then these things they were silent and glorified - God saying Then indeed also to the Gentiles - God - repentance unto life has given
Ἀκούσαντες δὲ ταῦτα ἡσύχασαν καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν Θεὸν λέγοντες Ἄρα καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν Θεὸς τὴν μετάνοιαν εἰς ζωὴν ἔδωκεν

Ἀκούσαντες  Having  heard 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀκουστός 
Sense: to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf.
ταῦτα  these  things 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Accusative Neuter Plural
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
ἡσύχασαν  they  were  silent 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: ἡσυχάζω  
Sense: to keep quiet.
ἐδόξασαν  glorified 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: δοξάζω  
Sense: to think, suppose, be of opinion.
τὸν  - 
Parse: Article, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Θεὸν  God 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.
λέγοντες  saying 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: λέγω 
Sense: to say, to speak.
Ἄρα  Then  indeed 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ἄρα  
Sense: therefore, so then, wherefore.
καὶ  also 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: καί  
Sense: and, also, even, indeed, but.
τοῖς  to  the 
Parse: Article, Dative Neuter Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἔθνεσιν  Gentiles 
Parse: Noun, Dative Neuter Plural
Root: ἔθνος  
Sense: a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together.
  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Θεὸς  God 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.
τὴν  - 
Parse: Article, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
μετάνοιαν  repentance 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: μετάνοια  
Sense: a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done.
εἰς  unto 
Parse: Preposition
Root: εἰς  
Sense: into, unto, to, towards, for, among.
ζωὴν  life 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: ζωή  
Sense: life.
ἔδωκεν  has  given 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: διδῶ 
Sense: to give.