Memory verses for this week: 1 Th 5:24 Faithful is he
that calleth you, who also will do it.
In Chapter 14, we saw
Paul and Barnabas complete the work that they set out to do on their
missionary journey. At
the end of the chapter, they returned to their home church and
reported what God had accomplished in their efforts.
This week we see some men coming in from Judea and attempting
to teach false doctrine concerning salvation.
from Judea come to church in Antioch
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
We see certain men coming down
from Judea with the intention of teaching the church in Antioch that
circumcision was necessary for salvation.
Anyone who adds to the pure gospel of salvation by grace is
an enemy to the gospel that God has given to us.
These men wanted to add to the simplicity of the gospel of
grace that Jesus provided when He died on the cross for our sins.
Jesus is the one who brings salvation, and no man has to help
God to save us. Jesus’
death on the cross provided the perfect gift of salvation to all who
come and accept Him as their Lord and Savior.
These men claimed that one had to be circumcised after the
manner of Moses.
And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be
Barnabas, and others come to Jerusalem
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
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.
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
Paul and Barnabas took their
stand on what they had preached at Antioch.
They had never preached that it was a requirement to keep the
law of Moses in order to be saved.
What they explained was how that God had opened the door or
salvation to all men (including the Gentiles), and that it was all
by grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We see in verse 3 that the brethren had great joy in what the
apostles had to say.
We see that they were readily accepted by the church and the
apostles and elders of the church, and they declared unto them all
the things God had done for them.
The Question at Issue
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.
Acts 15:6 And the
apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
Some of the Pharisees which
believed said it was needful to be circumcised and to keep the law
of Moses. This was the
question that they were to discuss with all the apostles and elders.
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.
Acts 15:8 And God, which
knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost,
even as he did unto us;
Acts 15:9 And put no
difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
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?
Acts 15:11 But we
believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be
saved, even as they.
Peter declares that this case
has already been settled.
He brings to mind the circumstances and what God did at the
house of Cornelius. (Acts
11:1-18) Peter tells them that if they would investigate the facts
they would find that God had already settled this matter. When you look at what God had done, there was no doubt that
salvation was wholly of grace and that the law was impossible to
keep in order to obtain salvation.
The law is our school master to bring us guilty before God
concerning our sins. If
some law had been given that we could be saved, then Jesus would not
have had to come and die for our sins.
Peter declares several truths in these verses.
God knows the hearts of all men. Jer
17:9 The heart is
deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jer 17:10 I the LORD
search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according
to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
God bare them witness at the house of Cornelius.
God gave the Holy Ghost unto the Gentiles as He had
He no longer put a difference between the Jews and
All men are purified by faith in the Lord Jesus
Since neither their fathers (the Jews) were able to
keep the law, why should they try to put this yoke of bondage upon
All men, both in Old Testament times and New
Testament times, were saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ by
Paul and Barnabas Testify
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.
Acts 15:13 And after
they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren,
hearken unto me:
The multitude listen as
Paul and Barnabas told about the miracles that God had wrought among
the Gentiles by them. James
backs up Peter’s statement concerning the Gentiles.
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.
Acts 15:15 And to this
agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
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:
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.
Acts 15:18 Known unto
God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
We know that James was the
half brother of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he was the pastor of the
church in Jerusalem. He
was one of the more influential men among the Hebrew Christians in
all the world. In
J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on Acts, he states: “ 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.
The Word of God is to go out into the world. There will be
opposition to it and there will be apostasy, but the Word of God is
to go out to all the world because God is calling out a people for
James explains that what Simon
Peter had said was backed up and confirmed by prophecy. That prophecy stated that God would visit the Gentiles to
take out a people for His name.
Verse 15, James declares that the prophets were all in
agreement with this. At
the first of verse 16, James states “after this.”
After what you might ask… After the time of the Gentiles,
God will return and build again the tabernacle of David.
He is going to reestablish the throne of David and Christ
will come and reign on that throne.
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be
led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden
down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the
Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of
his kingdom there shall be no end.
God knew exactly what He
was going to do from the very beginning of time.. even in eternity.
Letters to be sent unto the Gentiles
Acts 15:19 Wherefore my
sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles
are turned to God:
Acts 15:20 But that we
write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and
from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
Acts 15:21 For Moses of
old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the
synagogues every sabbath day.
Acts 15:22 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:
The council agrees that the issue concerning circumcision in regards
to salvation had been settled, and that they would not burden the
Gentiles with this old testament rule.
The send letters and representatives to Antioch to declare
the decision on the matter. Silas
and Barsabas were chosen to testify the truth of
the letters with Paul and Barnabas.
Acts 15:23 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:
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:
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,
Acts 15:26 Men that have
hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 15:27 We have sent
therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things
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;
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.
Acts 15:30 So when they
were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the
multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
Acts 15:31 Which when
they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
Acts 15:32 And Judas and
Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with
many words, and confirmed them.
Acts 15:33 And after
they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the
brethren unto the apostles.
Acts 15:34 Notwithstanding
it pleased Silas to abide there still.
Acts 15:35 Paul also and
Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of
the Lord, with many others also.
The apostles declare that they
gave no such commandment as the brethren from Judea had claimed.
You notice that the church was in one accord concerning this
issue. The decision was
reached by letting the Holy Spirit guide and direct them.
They were encouraged to abstain form meats offered to idols
and from blood and things strangled. They were to also avoid fornication. When the epistles were received, the disciples rejoiced in
the truth. We see Judas
returns to Jerusalem while Silas remained in Antioch.
Paul and Barnabas continued to teach and preach in Antioch.
Paul’s Second Missionary Journey
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.
Acts 15:37 And Barnabas
determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
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.
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;
Acts 15:40 And Paul
chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto
the grace of God.
Acts 15:41 And he went
through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.
You notice that it was
Paul’s desire to return to the churches that they had established
on their first missionary journey to see how they were doing.
When Paul refused to take Mark it caused contention between
he and Barnabas. We see
that God worked this out by allowing both men to go, with Paul going
with Silas and Barnabas going with John Mark.
They went throughout the land recommending the grace of God
to the brethren. This built up and confirmed the churches.
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