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The Book of ACTS
THEME: The council at Jerusalem
The first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas has been completed and the churches which they established in the Galatian country are all Gentile. It now faces its first great crisis.
In Judea many of the Hebrew converts are Pharisees who have no intention of giving up the Mosaic system. They demand that the Gentiles must also come into the church through the Mosaic system. And they believe that Gentiles are not saved unless they are circumcised. Sounds like the FALSE Baptismal Regeneration doctrine taught today. http://www.lastdaysprophecy.org/L_D_f_d%20_baptismal_regeneration.htm
The news of this conflict reaches the church in Jerusalem. The apostles must face the argument. What will the church do? So in Jerusalem the first church council convenes to resolve the matter.
Down through history you will find that there have been other church councils that have decided other great issues, such as the validity and the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Another council decided upon the deity of Christ and the fact that He is both God and man. And there have been other important councils when differences arose in the church.
Some people think that we need a council in our day. We certainly do. But, I fear there could never been an agreement because too many churches are too far removed from the Person of Jesus Christ. A council that cannot meet around the Person of Christ is NOT actually a church council in God's eyes, because the Lord Jesus Christ is the very HEART of the church. The issue is NOT one of ritual, membership or ceremony . . . . it is that of one's personal relationship to Jesus Christ. But, sad to say, people who are moved far away from Christ Jesus and who do not experience fellowship with Him want to argue about ritual. They may carry a big Bible under their arm, go to church on Sunday and sing the hymns with gusto, but on Monday the Lord Jesus is NO where to be found.
The Lord Jesus MUST occupy the every part of our lives. We should always think of Him from the time we crawl out of bed until we go to sleep at night! He should be with us in our daily living, in ALL situations, our tensions and our anxieties.
Now let's turn our attention to this council at Jerusalem. An outstanding group has come together here. These men have convened in order to consider this great issue: law versus grace, or law versus liberty.
The Question Of Circumcision (Acts 15:1-6)
Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. (KJV)
Here is the root of the issue. This is not simply a question of whether one should be circumcised or not, whether one should eat meat or not. The question is . . . Must a person do ANY of these things in order to be saved? This problem exists today as well . . . SO many churches insisting that certain "things" be done in order to be saved. According to the Bible, they are WRONG!!!
Acts 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. (KJV)
Again, Luke uses the diminutive. "No small dissension" and that means there really was a huge heated debate.
We must realize that it really is the Gospel that is under question at this council. The letter to the Galatians gives us a full explanation of the council.
The Gospel is used in two ways in the New Testament.
- #1. There are the facts of the Gospel, and these are absolutely basic and essential. Paul gives those facts: 1 Cor.15:1-6 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. (KJV) . . . It is the death, the burial and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the facts of the Gospel, and they concern the person of Christ. Let's go down to: 1 Cor. 15:15-17 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (KJV) . . .
Face it, my friend; IF Christ is not raised from the dead, then there is NO Gospel at all. But thanks be to God, "...Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1Cor. 15:20). The FACTS of the gospel are the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
- #2. The second way the Gospel is used in the N.T. is the interpretation of the facts. It is this interpretation which is the basic Truth in the Epistle to the Galatians. That is the root of the whole matter at this first council at Jerusalem. SO the Gospel also hinges on this fact which Paul states in: Gal. 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (KJV) . . . What must we do to be saved? BELIEVE!!! Again in: Gal. 2:15-16 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (KJV) . . . Very important to understand this!
The Judaizers of that day were different from the liberals of today. Today's liberal will actually DENY the facts of the Gospel. They DENY the physical resurrection of Christ. Some go so far as to say that Jesus Christ is just a myth, that He never lived or died. They DENY that Jesus died for our sins. If a person is wise, they will NOT deny the Lord Jesus in any way: (Pro. 30:9; Mat.10:33; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 12:9; John 18:17; Acts 3:14; 2 Tim. 2:12; Tit. 1:16; 2 Pet.2:1; 1 John 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7; Jude 1:4).
Back then, the Judaizers did not deny the facts of the Gospel . . . there simply were far too many witnesses. Paul says that over five hundred people saw the risen Christ at one time (1 Cor.15:6). If you get 500 witnesses into any court, you will win your case! And too, the apostles were witnesses to the risen Christ. They were there to testify to it. The facts of the Gospel were NOT under question by the Judaizers.
The argument arose over the interpretation of those facts. What did Christ do for YOU on the Cross? Is the Work of Christ adequate to save YOU? . . . OR . . . do you need to go through some ritual or something else in order to be saved? Must you go through the Law? These are the questions they were asking.
Now let's return to Acts 15 and go with Paul and Barnabas up to Jerusalem.
Acts 15:3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. (KJV)
Brought on their way by the church . . . the believers of Antioch, out of respect, went part of the way with them; this shows that Paul and Barnabas did not go upon their own business or mind only, and that there was no trouble between them and the church there.
The conversion of the Gentiles . . . conversion is turning from error to truth, from impurity to holiness; that is, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto the ever living God. Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (KJV)
They caused great joy unto all the brethren . . . the believing Jews in those parts, those who were truly believers in Christ, rejoiced at the spread of His Gospel, and the increase of His interest, even among the Gentiles . . . for IF angels in Heaven (Mat.18:10) rejoice, much more should saints rejoice at the conversion of sinners.
Acts 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. (KJV)
They were received of the church . . . they were received with respect and thankfulness, for their great work and labor in the Lord's vineyard.
All things that God had done with them . . . opening the door to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27).
Paul and Barnabas give a report to the church in Jerusalem just as they had done to the church in Antioch. They just tell them, "We have preached the Gospel, and men and women over in Galatia have trusted and accepted Christ. They know nothing about Mosaic Law. They trusted Christ Jesus and were saved."
Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. (KJV)
But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees . . . they were the strictest sect of religion among the Jews. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and professed their faith in Him, and were members of the church, BUT they still held fast to many of their pharisaical beliefs. These are the ones that rose up in opposition to Paul and Barnabas, when they told of their success among the Gentiles.
Saying, that it was needful to circumcise them . . . meaning the Gentiles that believed should be circumcised.
And to command them to keep the law of Moses . . . both moral and ceremonial. They believed that this was absolutely necessary to salvation. So much like some of today's 'churches'.
The Judaizers wanted to ADD something to the Gospel, just like SO many cults today! My friend, IF you add anything to the Gospel, you NO longer have the TRUE Gospel . . . you have a religion and "another gospel" (2 Cor.11:4) and THAT gospel will NEVER save you! You NO longer have the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The only WAY that you can take is Jesus . . . and that is by faith. We all must come to Him by faith. God will NOT let us come any other way. Jesus said, "...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
There is only one question God asks the lost world: "What do you do with My Son who died for you?" God does NOT give us some little Sunday school lesson by saying, "I want you to be a good boy. I want you to join a church. I want you go to through this or that ritual." That kind of teaching comes only from some stupid religion. It does NOT come from God. God is saying, "My Son died for you. What are you going to do with Him?" The answer to that question will determine your eternal destination! That was the issue being discussed at the council in Jerusalem.
Acts 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. (KJV)
The apostles and elders . . . unto whom Paul and Barnabas were sent about the decision of this question (verse 2), came together for to consider of this matter; they had been informed of it, and now they met to deliberate about it. According to Acts 15:22, it seems the whole church was present. Whether all the apostles were present, is not certain; Peter, James, and John were; but who else, cannot be said.
For to consider of this matter . . . to hear what was to be said on both sides and then to judge what advice was proper to be given to the Gentiles.
The Decision Of The Council (Acts 15:7-21)
The apostles and elders had come together to argue this thing out. The disputes were hot and heavy. A decision must be made, and Simon Peter is the first one to express his opinion.
Acts 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. (KJV)
I am certain that this is not the first time Peter spoke. If he had been quiet through all that time of disputing, it would not have been consistent with his impulsive character. He had surely put in his two bits worth long before this. But now he is going to try to bring an end to this thing. This is not something new for Peter. He had already stated this same thing at the time of the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10:34-43).
Remember that Peter himself had been shocked by the truth of it. He was told to go into the home of a Gentile and preach the Gospel without the Law. The people were uncircumcised, they didn't follow the Mosaic system, they ate pork . . . and yet they were saved!
The council would listen to Simon Peter because he was narrow-minded . . . I don't say this in an ugly way . . . I mean that he was a Jew of the Jews. He himself said he had never eaten anything unclean, and he wouldn't have thought of entering the home of a Gentile. He stuck as close to the Mosaic system as any man could. So if Peter spoke up, they would listen.
So, now Peter testifies that the Gentiles had heard the Gospel from his mouth and had believed. Were they actually saved? YES! They were saved by grace. Peter himself had to learn that salvation is not decided by whether one eats meat or doesn't eat meat, whether one eats pork or doesn't eat pork. Salvation does not depend on our observation of the Sabbath, or Sunday, or any other day. Salvation does not depend on being baptism. Salvation is by grace through faith. It is a FREE Gift from God! (Rom.5:15-18; 6:23; 2 Cor.9:15; Eph.2:8-9). We are free to choose what we wish to do about these other things.
Acts 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; (KJV)
Which knoweth the hearts . . . of all men; He being omniscient, the searcher of the hearts, and the trier of the reins of the children of men, knew with what sincerity Cornelius sent for Peter. God knew the desires of the Gentiles, that they really did want to please God, and to have this salvation. This great attribute David had (1 Chron.29:17; 28:9), and told his son Solomon to consider serving God "with a perfect heart and a willing mind." For . . .
"if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever."
Giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us . . . God Himself was a witness for these Gentiles when He gave them the gift of the Holy Ghost; by which when doing so, He testified, that they belonged to Christ. Thus the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev.19:10), and the Spirit, according to our Saviour's Promise (John 15:26), does testify of Him.
Acts 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. (KJV)
God had now broken down the middle wall of partition between the Jew and Gentile (Eph.2:14), and gave His graces to them also, which was signified by the rending of the veil from the top to the bottom (Mat.27:51), whereby those who were formerly without (1 Cor.5:12; 9:21; Eph.2:12), might see and enjoy the huge benefit of the Gospel.
Purifying their hearts . . . from idolatry, and all other impieties in which they had lived; which is the inward circumcision of the heart; and, whosoever is in this way cleansed, should not be counted as unclean.
By faith . . . faith is the instrument, the channel which brings salvation to us. God is the competent cause, of the justification and renewal of ALL people who simply believe Him!
This is always the only way of salvation. It is by faith. You do NOT have to do anything to merit your salvation. Christ Jesus did it all for you nineteen hundred years ago. All God asks you to do is to ACCEPT His Son who died for you.
Acts 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? (KJV)
Now therefore why tempt ye God . . . by hesitating, by doubting, by disputing this point, and by desiring further proof and evidence of the will of God . . . when it is so plain that it IS His will that the Gospel should be preached to Gentiles, without them being circumcised. He has given His Spirit and special grace to uncircumcised persons; and He has absolutely has bestowed faith in Christ upon them. They have been led to the Blood of Christ, symbolizing circumcision of the heart (Rom.2:26,29), and are thereby purged from all their filth and pollution, and so are the true circumcision.
To put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples . . . so the law is called (Gal.5:1,3), and was indeed a yoke indeed, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.
What an admission Simon Peter makes! He says that neither they nor their fathers ever kept the Law. God has NEVER saved anybody by their keeping the Law. There has never been a person who has kept the Law. God saves on one basis and one basis only: faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before the time of Christ, men brought a sacrifice to God. They brought that sacrifice by faith. Abel understood that the little lamb could never take away sin. He understood that lamb pointed to the One (Jesus) about whom God had told his mother. He had said that the Seed of the woman would come and would bruise the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). Abel believed that. He believed God. He was saved by faith.
So what Peter says, "To tell the truth . . . why don't we admit it . . . we can't keep the Law." There is nothing more hypocritical than to pretend that you are living life on a high spiritual plane, that you are living by the Sermon on the Mount and you are keeping God's Law. You cannot do it! No use trying to pretend you can.
Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. (KJV)
Peter puts it right! The Jews must be saved exactly the same way that the Gentiles are saved. A person is saved by the grace of God.
Acts 15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. (KJV)
Finally there was quiet and Barnabas and Paul spoke. What a story those two had to tell!
The next man to get up to speak will be James. This was not James, the brother of John, as he had already died a martyr's death (Acts 12:2). There is some question as to who this James was. We know that he became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. He has already been mentioned as a leader by Peter in Acts 12:17. This may have been James, the son of Alphaeus, one of the twelve (Mat. 10:3). But, it seems the tradition of the church from the early church fathers has identified this man as James, the half brother of our Lord (Mat.13:55; Gal.1:19), the same one who wrote the Epistle of James. I do not think anyone knows for certain who this James was.
A remark. Some say the proper way to study the Book of Acts is to study it along with the Epistles. For example, we have already mentioned the letter to the Galatians, and during the study of Acts 13 and Acts 14 would be a good time to read that letter. At this point in Acts 15 it would be appropriate to study the letter of James.
James is going to sum up the thinking of this council at Jerusalem, and He will put down God's program for the future.
We need to remember that these men stood at the opening of a new dispensation. The church had been brought into existence at Pentecost; it was still very new, still a baby. Many still do not understand that we live in the age of grace, the period of the church.
Acts 15:13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: (KJV)
Possibly after Simon Peter spoke and after Paul and Barnabas gave their report, there was silence because no one had anything more to say. Even the Judaizers were silenced by the reports of what had taken place.
When James speaks to the crowd that day, he asks them to "hearken," meaning to really listen. What he has to say is very important. So he means that you and I should listen to him, too. Probably all of us should spend more time listening to God and less time doing the talking. So, let's listen.
Acts 15:14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (KJV)
James completely agrees with Peter. They state the plan of God for today. Is God saving the whole world? No. Is God bringing in His Kingdom? No. Then what is God doing today? He is visiting the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His Name. We learn in Revelation that standing before the throne of God there will be those of every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev.5:9; 14:6). The Word of God is to go out into the whole world. There will ALWAYS be opposition to it and there will always be apostasy, but the Word of God is to go out to all the world because God is calling out a people for His Name.
Acts 15:15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, (KJV)
James says that the words of the prophets agree to what he says.
Now James begins to quote a prophet. Amos 9:11-12 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: 12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. (KJV) . . . "in that day." What does it mean? After what? After God has called out a people for His Name. God today is calling out individuals for His Name. They become a part of the church, the body of believers. The day is coming when God will remove His church from this world . . . this we call the Rapture (1 Thes.4:13-18). It is the next event on the calendar of God. After this . . . after His church leaves the Earth.
Acts 15:16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: (KJV)
The tabernacle of David is fallen down. There is no one around from the line of David. The only One who has that claim is sitting at the right hand of God at this very moment. But God is going to build it again. He is going to send Jesus back. God says to His Son: "But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?" (Heb. 1:13). God shall bring ALL the enemies of Christ to be put under His Feet. The "Christ" rebellion will be over one of these days. But, until the day that He sends Jesus back, the Spirit of God is saying, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him" (Ps. 2:12). "Kiss" means to embrace Him, take refuge in Him (Ps 5:11). People cherish opposition to Christ in their hearts and show it in their lives. Their utter ruin, without loving trust in Jesus, is inevitable, while happiness in His favor is equally sure. Heb. 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (KJV)
The program of God is clear! He is calling a people out of the world now. He will then build again the line of David, meaning to reestablish the Davidic rule over Israel.
Acts 15:17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. (KJV)
Today God is calling a people out of the Gentiles. However, after the church has left this world, there will be a great turning to God. These are the ones who will enter the Kingdom. The "residue of men might seek after the Lord" and "all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called" will turn to the Lord. This, then, will be the third step in God's program.
Acts 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. (KJV)
James has been summing up all the details. He understands that there is a definite program which God is following. Now James is ready to hand down his decision, and it is a very important decision.
Acts 15:19-20 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. (KJV)
James' decision is that Gentiles who have turned to God are NOT to be put under the Mosaic Law. But, they are going to ask the Gentiles to do certain things out of courtesy. They will ask them to abstain from pollutions of idols (1 Cor.10:23-33).
They were also requested to abstain from fornication. Again, we need to understand the background to see why this is specifically mentioned. Adultery was so common among the Gentiles in that day that the conscience had been dulled. In fact, adultery was actually part of the religious rite. The Gentiles who had become Christians were to "abstain from fornication."
In America we are going back to paganism today. People talk about a new morality. My friend, what they call new morality is old paganism. Our ancestors came out of the forest half naked, eating raw meat, and indulging in gross immorality. There is nothing new about the "new" morality!
Also, the Jerusalem council asked the Gentile Christians to abstain from things strangled and from blood, which would be very offensive to their Jewish brothers. This again was a matter of courtesy.
Acts 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. (KJV)
Let's review what James has said. He fits the church into the program of the prophets although the church is not a subject of prophecy. God is taking out of the Gentiles a people for His Name today. Then the program of the prophets will follow.
"After this" means after the church is taken out of the world. "I will return" (Acts 15:16) is the Second Coming of Christ described in Revelation 19.
He "will build again the ruins" of the house of David that today has fallen down (Acts 15:16).
When Christ returns, there will be a way for the remainder of men to "seek after the Lord" (Acts 15:17).
Then all the saved Gentiles will be in the Kingdom "in that day" (Amos 9:11).
The important contrast is between "out of them (Gentiles)" (Acts 15:14) and "all the Gentiles" (Acts 15:17).
The Decision Of The Council Is Announced (Acts 15:22-35)
Acts 15:22-23 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: (KJV)
There are some new men mentioned here. Silas will be the partner of Paul on the next journey. Notice the love that is demonstrated in this letter. They wrote to the Gentiles who had turned to God and they called them "the brethren which are of the Gentiles."
Acts 15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: (KJV)
These people who had gone out were the Judaizers, who had NO authority from the church in Jerusalem. In fact, we can say that anyone who tries to put a believer under the law today is NOT doing it on the authority of the Word of God.
Acts 15:25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, (KJV)
Barnabas is named first here, and in Acts 15:12, because of his former superior position in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 9:27; 11:22).
Acts 15:26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (KJV)
Men that have hazarded . . . literally, "rendered up," as in their will they did for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wonderful testimony to those beloved men! This was no doubt prompted more by the narrative they had just listened to from their own lips (Acts 15:12).
The church sends out men who have been tested, men who have endangered their lives. My friend, how much have you suffered for Him? What has it cost you? Have you paid a price in order to get out the Word of God?
Acts 15:27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. (KJV)
If the church had sent only Barnabas and Paul the people might have said, "Well, of course, these two men would bring back that kind of a report." So they send along Judas and Silas in order to confirm the fact that this was the decision of the council.
Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; (KJV)
It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us . . . the Holy Spirit was guiding and directing them in this decision.
Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. (KJV)
That is the report. That is all they have to say to them. Gentile believers are NOT required to meet any of the demands of the Mosaic Law, but they are to exercise courtesy to those who do . . . especially in the area of meats offered to idols, and they are not to commit fornication.
Acts 15:30-31 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. (KJV)
There is comfort in the Gospel . . . but there is nothing but condemnation in the Law. The Law condemns. The Law is a mirror. When you look into it, you SEE just how you have fallen short of the glory of God. But the Gospel says, "Come to God. He wants to receive you as His child. He will save you by His grace." It is a comfort, a consolation . . . a great joy and hope. Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; (KJV) . . .
Judas and Silas, also being prophets, agreed and encouraged the brethren with many words, and confirmed all they said.
Acts 15:32-34 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. 33 And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. 34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. (KJV)
It is quite clear that Paul and Silas got along very well together. They must have enjoyed working together. So Silas stayed there at the church in Antioch. He must have been excited about working with these Gentile believers.
Acts 15:35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. (KJV)
Paul and Barnabas were actually the pastors of the church there.
Plans For A Second Missionary Journey (Acts 15:36-41)
Acts 15:36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. (KJV)
Paul was very concerned about the churches. He had a genuine concern for the believers. Knowing how fickle the Galatians were, he thought it would be a good idea to go back again and to visit those churches.
Acts 15:37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. (KJV)
John Mark had left Paul once before (Acts 13:13). Barnabas was a very generous, gracious fellow. He wanted to give John Mark another chance. But I think that when he made up his mind on something, he was hardheaded. We must remember that both these men were human. Paul and Barnabas each took a stand and neither would not budge.
Acts 15:38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. (KJV)
Paul had his convictions also. Barnabas wants to take John Mark along, and Paul said no! I think that it is good that these two brethren had this little squabble because it teaches us that these men were human and that even the saints can disagree without being disagreeable. They didn't break up anything. They did not split the church and form two different churches in Antioch. They just disagreed. It is OK to disagree with some of the brethren.
Acts 15:39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; (KJV)
We do not follow Barnabas any longer. He went to Cyprus and there he had a great ministry. Barnabas had come from Cyprus; it was his home. He wanted to take the Gospel to his own people. We know from tradition that he had a great ministry there, and from Cyprus a great ministry was carried on in North Africa.
At this point Barnabas sails off the pages of the Scriptures. The Bible does not give us information about his ministry. From here on we are going to follow Paul.
Acts 15:40-41 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. (KJV)
Because of the disagreement of Paul and Barnabas, the church now has two great mission projects where before they had only one. Barnabas goes one direction and Paul goes another. This is God's method. God will use both these men. Paul now has Silas with him, and the brethren recommended them "unto the grace of God."
Book of Acts
Ch.1 . . Ch.2 . . Ch.3 . . Ch.4 . . Ch.5 . . Ch.6 . . Ch.7 . . Ch.8 . . Ch.9 . . Ch.10 . . Ch.11 . . Ch.12 . . Ch.13 . . Ch.14 . . Ch.15 . . Ch.16 . . Ch.17 . . Ch.18 . . Ch.19 . . Ch.20 . . Ch.21 . . Ch.22 . . Ch.23 . . Ch.24 . . Ch.25 . . Ch.26 . . Ch.27 . . Ch.28