ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Bible: What Does Acts 15 Teach Us About the Jerusalem Council?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Apostle Paul

Bartolomeo_Montagna_-_Saint_Paul_-_Go...
Bartolomeo_Montagna_-_Saint_Paul_-_Go...

Barnabas

220PX-~1.JPG
220PX-~1.JPG

The Apostle Peter

220px-Pope-peter_pprubens.jpg
220px-Pope-peter_pprubens.jpg

Acts 15: The Jerusalem Council

Paul and Barnabas Travel to Jerusalem

A pivotal episode in the search for spiritual unity in the early Church, chapter fifteen encompasses a discussion of one particular aspect in Jewish-Gentile relations regarding the requirements for salvation: specifically, whether Gentiles must submit to circumcision in order for God to accept them (v. 1).

After Paul and Barnabas dispute with the Judean nationalists about this question but resolve nothing, the missionaries travel from Antioch to Jerusalem to consult with the apostles and elders there (v. 2).

On the way, they bring joy to the churches in Phoenicia and Samaria, sharing with them the conversion of the Gentiles (v. 3).

[Paul reserved no doubt that the Gentiles were not truly saved; he knew that personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross was all God required.

Nevertheless, he traveled to Jerusalem at the behest of the church].

The Church at Jerusalem

When Paul and Barnabas arrive in Jerusalem, the “church and the apostles and the elders” receive them; the missionaries report how the Lord worked in and through them (v. 4).

[Interestingly, Luke (in his choice of words) seems to keep the leadership separate from the church proper.

Does he arrange the groups in terms of governing authority?]

As in Antioch, so in Jerusalem, ultra-Judaistic “brethren”—this faction belongs to the Pharisees—contend for the necessity of Gentile circumcision and their obedience toTorah (v. 5).

Thus, the table is set for vigorous debate about the substance of the gospel.

After both sides engage in “much dispute” before “the apostles and the elders” (vv. 6-7a), Peter addresses the assembly and relates how God chose him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles who, having believed in Christ, subsequently received the Holy Spirit (vv. 7b-8).

The apostle asserts that God purifies the hearts of both Jews and Gentiles when they exercise faith in the Lord (v. 9).

Turning to the Pharisees, he chides them for seeking to require Gentiles to keep theTorah—“a yoke . . . which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear”—, calling such a practice a testing of God (v. 10).

Peter acknowledges that the grace of Christ alone will save both Jews and Gentiles (v. 11).

[He mentions here the future aspect of salvation. Sola gratia.]

The Ten Commandments: Obedience Necessary for Salvation?

Do we need to keep the Ten Commandments in order to be saved?

See results

James Speaks

Now, as the assembly remains quiet and thoughtful, Paul and Barnabas reiterate their testimony about how wonderfully God ministered to the Gentiles through them (v. 12).

Following closely upon their words, James—the “leader” of the Church at Jerusalem as well as the half-brother of Jesus—stands and addresses the “men and brethren” present with a message crucial to the resolution of the issue (vv. 13-21).

He relates that God first planned to save Gentiles (“visited . . . to take out of them a people for His name”) [v. 14].

Citing Amos 9:11-12 (LXX)—a passage representing other “words of the prophets” that proclaim the same idea—, James explains God’s management of current and future events.

The phrase “After this” means "after this period of worldwide Gentile conversion."

The Lord will then restore the Davidic dynasty to its former glory in the millennial reign of Christ, and cause it to "possess the remnant of Edom" and all the saved Gentiles of that time (vv. 15-18).

[The NKJV editors make verse seventeen longer than those who worked with the NASB; the latter combine the concluding part of verse seventeen with verse eighteen.]

Recommendations for Gentile Believers

After making this point, he issues his decision; namely, that the Jerusalem Church should draft a letter to Gentile churches, asking them to abstain from four practices: associating with things polluted by idols (cf. 1 Cor. 8: 4); marrying a too-close relative (Ryrie, New Testament Study Bible, 236); consuming strangled things (cf. Lev. 3:17); and eating blood.

Engaging in these activities would cause Jewish Christians to discontinue having fellowship with them (vv. 19-20).

Centuries have deeply ingrained these Mosaic customs in the Jewish lifestyle, so they should not have to erase them; Jerusalem asks the Gentiles to respect their ways (v. 21).

Again, all three strata of believers in Jerusalem—“the apostles and elders, with the whole church/the brethren” (vv. 22a, 23a)—jointly decide to send an appropriate correspondence to the Gentile churches in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia (v. 23b).

Two of their own members—Judas Barsabbas (possibly a relative of the man who had been in the running to become the new twelfth apostle [cf. 1:23]) and Silas—would accompany Paul and Barnabas (v. 22).

The letter aims to correct the troubling, unofficial, and therefore non-authoritative message about circumcision and Law-keeping that ultra-Judaistic “believers” in Jerusalem demanded the Asian Gentile churches obey (v. 24).

Sent with the aforementioned couriers (vv. 25-27), it suggests—actually, the writer appends the name of the Holy Spirit to his own to give the recommendation the force of a divine commandment (which it had)—that they (the Gentile churches) should abstain from the four recently mentioned cultural taboos in order that they might prosper (vv. 28-29).

The apostles and “leading men among the brethren” (v. 22) travel to Antioch and deliver the letter to regional church leaders (v. 30).

After the Gentiles graciously receive this encouragement, Judas and Silas (whom Luke designates as prophets) give long-winded speeches, seeking to strengthen the new churches (vv. 31-32).

Shortly thereafter, the two brethren return to Jerusalem, while Paul and Barnabas engage in what looks like a Bible conference in that city (v. 35).

[For obvious reasons, verse 34 does not appear in either the NU or the M.

How could the church send Judas and Silas back to Jerusalem, and yet allow Silas to remain behind?]

John-Mark: Why Did He Desert?

Why do you think John-Mark deserted Paul and Barnabas?

See results

Paul and Barnabas Separate

While in Antioch, Paul decides to visit all of the churches that he had planted in Asia to check on their progress; the “son of encouragement” (Barnabas) responds, in essence, “That is a good idea—as long as we take John-Mark with us” (vv. 36-37).


The apostle, considerably less enthusiastic about the young “deserter,” sharply disagrees with his friend and fellow apostle, causing a major rift between them (vv. 38-39).


The latter, therefore, travels with his young relative to Cyprus (cf. 2 Tim. 4:11), and Paul returns to Syria and Cilicia with a new companion, Silas, being sent by the brethren (vv. 40-41).


[See Ryrie’s insightful note detailing proper reasons for separation as well as how God brought good out of the Paul-Barnabas schism (New Testament Study Bible 237).]

© 2013 glynch1

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)