VERSES 1-3 "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. 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. 3And 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."
SOME INTRODUCTORY THOUGHTS.
1. This was not a "Church Council" as some incorrectly believe. It did not take their meeting to determine truth. God had already made the truth known to Paul and Barnabas. The meeting was to make sure all recognized that truth.
2. The Jerusalem church had no authority over the elders of the various Gentile churches. Letters were sent out due to the fact that the Jerusalem was a well respected church, being the the first congregation of the Lord's body. It was also that the troubling false teaching came forth from Jerusalem, hence it was necessary to correct the notion that the Judaizing teachers would continue to have their blessing.
3. After this meeting the die seems to be cast between Paul and these zealous Jews. They would be his adversaries from now on. There was no middle ground between them.
A. "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren..."1. Circumcision was the great burning issue of the first century. It cut to the heart of the Gentile's relationship to God and to Jewish brethren. It also was at the heart of what kind of relationship Jewish brethren should have with God.B. "When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them..."
VERSES 4-6 "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. 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. 6) And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter."3. Because the brethren in Antioch were so troubled over these matter, it was determined to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to determine if these men were actually sent forth by the church and the apostles. Paul further states that his mission was also by appointment of God. See Galatians 2:2.C. "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."
A. "And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church..."VERSES 7-11 "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. 8) And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9) And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 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? 11) But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they."1. It was natural for the church in Jerusalem to receive this group of well known Christian brethren from Antioch. Antioch was, second to Jerusalem, the most active and influential congregation of the Lord's church.B. "But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed..."
A. "And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up..."VERSES 12-17 "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. 13) And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 14) Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit 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 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: 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. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world."1. Peter first states that his authority to speak on this matter was the fact (which all of them knew) that God had chosen him to preach to the first Gentile convert.B. Peter says that our hearts are purified by faith.a. Peter was an excellent choice to speak first. His credentials were beyond question. He was a leader among the apostles from the first. He took the lead in preaching the first gospel sermon. He also preached the gospel to the first Gentile convert, Cornelius.2. He then declares that God put no special qualifications on the Gentiles. Thus, to claim such would be to tempt God (disbelieve Him).
A. "Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul..."1. What Peter had said silence the brethren who favored circumcision, at least temporarily. Next up was Paul and Barnabas.B. "And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:.."
VERSES 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. 21) For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day."1. It now fell to James to conclude by summing up what was now clear to most brethren, that the Gentiles should not be required to keep the Law of Moses in any way.a. This was James, the brother of the Lord, who had a place of prominence among the brethren at Jerusalem. It is quite possible that he was one of the Elders of the church at Jerusalem.2. He starts by again reiterating what Peter had said. This is an excellent way of convincing a person. He was reviewing what has been taught, keeping it fresh in their minds.
A. "Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God"1. James says that his judgment is that they should not bind circumcision upon the Gentiles. That this was the will of the Holy Spirit is self-evident and also from verses 28.B. "But that we write unto them..."1. Four prohibitions.a. Pollutions of Idols - Going to idol feast, participating in idol worship, etc.2. James goes on to say that the keeping of theses prohibitions would allow Jew and Gentile to be in fellowship together as brethren in the same city.
VERSES 22-29 "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: 25) It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26) Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27) We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. 28) For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 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."d. While it would seem that the blood provisions in this passage are temporary in nature it would be wise to keep them.
A. "Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church..."VERSES 30-35 "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. 32) 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. 35) Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also."1. Paul and Barnabas' view, which was the Scriptural one, had triumphed completely. We see that the "whole church" was in accord with the conclusions that were reached.B. "And they wrote letters by them after this manner..."a. This does not mean that all the "troublemakers" were convinced but that the brethren as a whole understood and supported the truth on the matters.b. The Gentiles brethren were to be troubled by false teachers on the subject throughout the rest of the New Testament period.2. The brethren chose two of their own to travel with Paul and Barnabas as witnesses to the proceedings.a. Silas would go with Paul on the Second Missionary Journey after Paul and Barnabas had their dispute over John Mark.
A. "So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch..."1. The delegation that the Apostles had chosen to take the message back to Antioch, the center for evangelism to the Gentiles and the church which had been troubled with the Judaizers, went back to the brethren and called the Antioch church together.
B. "And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them."Acts 15:36-41 "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. 37) And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 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. 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; 40) 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."1. Judas and Silas were the brethren whom were appointed by the apostles and elders of the church of Jerusalem to confirm that the message presented by Paul and Barnabas was the valid message that the apostles had given.C. "Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also."a. They also sought to encourage them to remain faithful to the Lord.2. Judas and Silas were also prophets.a. The prophetic office was one of the offices of the church that are given in Ephesians 4:11-12.3. Judas and Silas continued for some time with the brethren at Antioch. After a time the Antioch church gave them permission to return to Jerusalem.
A. "And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas..."1. Some time went by where Paul and Barnabas fruitfully labored at Antioch.B. "And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark."
1. It is likely that Paul was right (Barnes says) It is true that Paul and Silas had the blessing of the church, while Barnabas seems to not.E. "And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches."