JERUASLEM: FACING CONFLICT
Acts 15:1-35 July 27 2008
Jewish Christians from Judea came to Antioch and taught
salvation by the law (Acts 15:1). Paul and Barnabas disagreed
and with other Antioch believers journeyed to Jerusalem to
settle the matter (Acts 15:2-3).
The Jerusalem church welcomed the delegation from
Antioch and received Paul and Barnabas’s report. The
circumcision party, how ever ,Insisted Gentiles become Jewish
convert to be Christians (Acts 15:4-5).
The Antioch Christians received the letter joyfully. Judas
and Silas encouraged and strengthened them and then returned
to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch
1. Agree to Resolve the Problem (Acts 15:1-2)
Acts 15:1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and
were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised,
according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”
15:2 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.
Some men . Probably from “the party of the Pharisees”
(Acts 15:5). These were believers who insisted that before a
person could become a true Christian he must keep the law of
Moses, and the test of such compliance was circumcision. From
Juda . Meant that these Judaizers (or legalists) were given a
hearing, not that they correctly represented the apostles and
elders of Jerusalem (Acts 15: 24).
Go up to Jerusalem . (Acts12:1; Gal 2:1). Those who hold
that (Gal 2:1-10) refers to the famine visit of (Acts11:27-30;
12:25) argue that since (Gal 2:2) says that the visit mentioned
there was occasioned by a revelation, it must refer to Agabus’s
prediction of the coming famine (Acts 11:27-28). Those who
believe that (Gal 2:1-10) refers to the Jerusalem council visit
of (Acts 15:1-22) assert that the famine visit occurred at the
time of Herod Aprippa’s death in A.D. 44 (Acts 11:27-30; 12:25).
Thus Saul’s conversion, which was 14 years earlier (Gal 2:1),
would have occurred in 30, the probable year of Christ’s
crucifixion —which obviously seems too early.
2. Discuss the Issues (Acts 15:6-12)
Acts 15:6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question.
15:7 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. 15:8 God, who knows the heart, showed
that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he
did to us. 15:9 He made no distinction between us and them, for
he purified their hearts by faith. 15:10 Now then, why do you try
to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that
neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 15:11 No! We
believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved,
just as they are.” 15:12 The whole assembly became silent as
they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous
signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.
Peter got up . After a period of considerable discussion by the
apostles and elders, Peter addressed them. Gentiles might hear .
Peter’s argument was his own experience: God had sent him to
preach to the Gentiles (Acts 10:28-29). Giving the Holy Spirit
to them . The irrefutable proof of God’s acceptance (Acts 10:44,47;
11:17-18). Purified their hearts by Faith . Peter’s way of saying
what Paul affirmed (Rom 5:1; Gal 2:15-16). A Yoke . The law
(Gal 5:1; Matt 11:28-29). Through the grace of our . No
circumcision was required. We are saved, just as they are . (Rom 3:9).
Assembly became silent. (Acts 4-22). Apparently the people had
remained in place while the apostles and elders met. The assembly
had not remained quiet during that time, but now they became silent
to listen to the leaders. Barnabas and Paul . The order here puts
Barnabas first (perhaps reflecting his importance in Jerusalem),
whereas in the account of the missionary journey the order was
“Paul and Barnabas” after the events on the island of Cyprus (Acts
13:7,9,13,42). Miraculous signs and wonders . (Acts 8:19-20; 14:3).
3. Look to the Scriptures (Acts 15:13-15)
Acts 15:13 When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen
to me. 15:14 Simon has described to us how God at first showed
his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. 15:15
The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is
James . The brother of the Lord. His argument added proof from
Scripture. Simon . Peter (Acts 15: 7). James uses Peter’s Hebrew
name in its Hebrew form . A People for himself . A new community
largely made up of Gentiles but including Jews as well (John 10:16;
1Peter 2:9-10). Prophets . Specifically (Amos 9:11-12 ; 9:12).
4. Reach a Consensus (Acts 15:22-23a,27-28)
Acts 15:22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church,
decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch
with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and
Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. 15:23a
With them they sent the following letter: 15:27 Therefore we are
sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are
writing. 15:28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to
burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:
Apostles and elders . with the whole church . Apparently there
was unanimous agreement with the choice of messengers and with
the contents of the letter (Acts 15:23-29). Judas
(Called Barsabbas ). The same surname as that of Joseph Barsabbas
(Acts .1:23 ). The two may have been brothers. Silas . A leader in
the Jerusalem church, a prophet (Acts 15:32) and a Roman citizen
(Acts 16:37). In Antioch , Syria and Cilicia . Antioch was the
leading city of the combined provinces of Syria and Cilicia. Seemed
good to the Holy Spirit and to us . Prior authority is given to the
Spirit (whose working in the assembly is thus claimed), but there
was also agreement among the apostles, elders and brothers
(Acts 15: 22-23).
The church Jesus said He would build (Matt. 16:18)
received power when the Spirit came on about 120 believers in
Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). In response to Peter’s
sermon, about 3,00 people were added to the church. After Stephen’s
death, only the apostles remained in Jerusalem (Acts 15:8-2). When
persecution waned , the church was able to function effectively.
Even when the Christian movement’s center shifted from
Jerusalem to Syrian Antioch, the Jerusalem church remained the
mother church with some degree of authority. The church sent
Barnabas to assess the situation in Antioch. When a dispute arose
concerning Gentile conversion, the matter was taken to the
Jerusalem church. The opinions of this church’s leaders were in
some sense authoritative because of their early relationship with
Jesus. Whether they made binding decisions or advised on doctrinal
matters, the Jerusalem church’s leaders retained a prominent role.
Following Paul’s second and third missionary journeys,
he visited the Jerusalem church. After his third journey, he met
with James and the elders to report and to deliver a collection for
needy Jerusalem believers. Jerusalem and the church there retained
a high degree of influence in early Christianity.