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Paul and the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 14,15)

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Need Christians Keep The Dietary Laws Of Acts 15?




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Acts 15

Controversy about circumcision
But some men came down from Judea and taught the brothers: Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved. 2 And Paul and Barnabas argued and debated with them; consequently Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders to resolve this question.
   3 Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the believers. 4 And when they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all things that God had done through them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying: It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses.
   6 And the apostles and the elders gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much debate, Peter rose up and said to them: Brothers, you know that a good while ago God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, did bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as He did to us. 9 And He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Therefore, why do you now put God to the test, putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as them.
   12 And all the crowd kept silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul relating what signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.
   13 And after they finished speaking, James replied, saying: Brothers. Listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written: 16 After these things I will return, and I will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen, and I will build again the ruins of it, and I will raise it up; 17 so that the residue of mankind may seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name, 18 said the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.
   19 Therefore my judgment is that we do not trouble those from among the Gentiles that turn to God, 20 but that we write to them, that they abstain from the pollutions of idols, from fornication, from what is strangled and from blood. 21 For Moses from generations of old has in every city those that preach him, he being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.

The compromise reached about the Gentile converts
   22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men out of their company and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas called Barsabbas and Silas, leading men among the brothers. 23 With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and the elders, brothers, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greeting. 24 Forasmuch as we have heard that some who went out from us have disturbed you with words, subverting you, to whom we gave no commandment, 25 it seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to select men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men that have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore, we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves also shall tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled and from fornication. From which if you keep yourselves, it shall be well with you. Farewell.
   30 So they, when they were sent off, went to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced for the encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, being themselves also prophets, encouraged and strengthened the believers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time there, they were sent off in peace by the brothers back to those that had sent them. 34 But it seemed good to Silas to stay there. 35 And Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Another missionary journey
36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas: Let us return now and visit the believers in every city wherein we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they fare. 37 And Barnabas wanted to take with them John also, who was called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.


15:1 There is always a desire amongst some Christians to seek justification by some form of works, often connected with obedience to the Law of Moses; the New Testament letters show how Paul strongly resisted this.

15:4 They felt they were being used by God, rather than giving the impression they had done their work in their own strength. Likewise in v. 7 Peter says that his preaching was merely being a mouthpiece for God.

15:10 The yoke we have is that of Jesus (Mt. 11:29,30). We can’t have two yokes upon us. We either accept salvation by faith in Christ, or we attempt to bring about our own salvation by obedience to the Mosaic Law. We can’t seek justification, therefore, by taking upon ourselves the yoke of Sabbath keeping and legal obedience.

15:13 Brothers- Note how many times this word occurs in this chapter. In resolving disagreements within the church, it’s important to keep reminding ourselves that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, of the same indivisible family that was brought into being by the death of our Lord and Master. Once someone is baptized into Christ, we can never say they have left Him- once someone is a brother or sister, they are for the rest of our lives. For we cannot say they have left Christ and the family of God.

15:14 By being baptized into “His Name”, we become a people for His Name.

15:20 This was a concession to the weakness of the Jewish Christians; sometimes to make peace within a church, we have to make concessions.

15:28 Holy Spirit and to us- God through His power at work confirmed the conclusions which the brothers had come to.

15:36 If we bring someone to Christ, they are our lifelong responsibility- our spiritual child in Christ.

15:39 This doesn’t justify division within the church, nor does it mean that personal disagreement is inevitable. This incident indicates that Paul wasn’t perfect; and it comforts us that we are all human, and will never find the perfect church anywhere.