And when they had appointed for them elders in every church (cheirotonēsantes de autois kat' ekklēsian presbuterous). They needed also some form of organization, though already churches. Note distributive use of kata with ekklēsian (Act 2:46; Act 5:42; Tit 1:5). Cheirotoneō (from cheirotonos, extending the hand, cheir, hand, and teinō, to stretch) is an old verb that originally meant to vote by show of the hands, finally to appoint with the approval of an assembly that chooses as in 2Co 8:19, and then to appoint without regard to choice as in Josephus (Ant. XIII. 2, 2) of the appointment of Jonathan as high priest by Alexander. So in Act 10:41 the compound procheiratoneō is used of witnesses appointed by God. But the seven (deacons) were first selected by the Jerusalem church and then appointed (katastēsōmen) by the apostles. That is probably the plan contemplated by Paul in his directions to Titus (Tit 1:5) about the choice of elders. It is most likely that this plan was the one pursued by Paul and Barnabas with these churches. They selected the elders in each instance and Paul and Barnabas “ordained” them as we say, though the word cheirotoneō does not mean that. “Elders” were mentioned first in Act 11:30. Later Paul will give the requirements expected in these “elders” or “bishops” (Phi 1:1) as in 1Ti 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9. It is fairly certain that these elders were chosen to correspond in a general way with the elders in the Jewish synagogue after which the local church was largely copied as to organization and worship. Paul, like Jesus, constantly worshipped and spoke in the synagogues. Already it is plain, as at Antioch in Syria (Act 11:26), that the Christians can no longer count on the use of the Jewish synagogue. They must have an organization of their own. The use of the plural here implies what was true at Philippi (Phi 1:1) and Ephesus (Act 20:17, Act 20:28) that each church (one in each city) “had its college of elders” (Hackett) as in Jerusalem (Act 21:18). Elder (presbuteros) was the Jewish name and bishop (episkopos) the Greek name for the same office. “Those who are called elders in speaking of Jewish communities are called bishops in speaking of Gentile communities” (Hackett). Hovey rightly holds against Hackett that teaching was a normal function of these elders, pastors or bishops as they were variously called (1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:9; 1Co 12:28, 1Co 12:30; Eph 4:11).
Had prayed with fasting (proseuxamenoi meta nēsteiōn). It was a serious matter, this formal setting apart of these “elders” in the churches. So it was done in a public meeting with prayer and fasting as when Paul and Barnabas were sent forth from Antioch in Syria (Act 13:3) on this mission tour.
They commended them to the Lord (parethento autous tōi kuriōi). Second aorist middle indicative of paratithēmi. Old and solemn word, to entrust, to deposit as in a bank (1Ti 1:18; 2Ti 2:2). Cf. parathēkē in 1Ti 6:20; 2Ti 1:12, 2Ti 1:14. It was all that they could now do, to commit them to the Lord Jesus. Jesus used this word on the cross (Luk 22:32).
On whom they had believed (eis hon pepisteukeisan). Past perfect indicative (without augment) of pisteuō. They had “trusted” in Jesus (2Ti 1:12) and Paul now “entrusts” them to him with confidence. It was a solemn and serious occasion in each instance as it always is to set apart men for the ministry. These men may not have been ideal men for this service, but they were the only ones available and they were chosen from the actual membership in each instance, men who knew local conditions and problems.