Acts 15:1-21 The Council at Jerusalem

Around A.D. 51, after Paul and Barnabas concluded their first missionary journey throughout the cities of Asia Minor, they returned to Antioch where they shared with their peers, the fruit of their works.

“Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1)

Early in the Christian church, many believers remained true to Jewish traditions. Since circumcision was part of the Mosaic law, it was common for Christians of Jewish origin to enforce and promote circumcision as an essential part of salvation.

“2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.” (Acts 15:2-4)

Paul and Barnabas disagreed with the Jewish Christians, claiming that salvation stemmed from faith in the risen Christ and by God’s grace. They argued that through Christ, God made a new covenant with His creation, one that no longer required believers to abide by laws, that no one had been able to keep up with.

However, because these Jewish Christians were from Jerusalem, and spoke with authority, Paul and Barnabas were led to investigate this further with the apostles.

“5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:5-11)

Paul himself was a former Pharisee who once abided strictly by the Mosaic law. Here, he find himself in the presence of like minded individuals, perhaps misguided believers who continued to argue about the need for Gentile believers to follow the law of Moses, in spite of the clear evidence of the new covenant brought on by Christ.

To support Paul’s exhortation, Peter stood and spoke to those present sharing how, a decade earlier the Holy Spirit led him, and others to place no difference on their audiences involving the flesh. Instead, the new covenant empowered preachers to preach the truth about the new covenant to both Jews and Gentiles, that salvation comes by faith, not by works.

“12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’— 18 things known from long ago. 19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:12-21)

Paul and Barnabas shared the tremendous success of their missionary journey, and how many who heard the gospel believed and were born again of faith in the risen Christ and Savior.

Following the missionaries’ testimony, James, the leader of the church in Jerusalem rejoiced in the way God had restored David’s lineage, through the Gentile world, whom should be inspired to follow in Jesus’ footsteps rather than weighed down by laws no one could keep. Let’s pray!

Father God;
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Luke,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.

Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.

God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.

May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.

We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.

Praise God,
Amen!

This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre
Email: danielstpierre@thrivethroughchrist.com

Posted in Bible Studies.

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