January 08, 2021 – Friday
Acts 15:1-2 NIV
1 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”
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.
3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad.
Before getting to the verses above, yesterday we left with Paul and Barnabas fleeing to the cities of Lystra and Derbe. In Lystra they had much success even having to dispel the belief they were gods because Paul healed a man who had never walked. Then Jews opposed to the message they were preaching had Paul stoned and thinking he was dead, dragged him outside the city walls. However, he was not dead and the next day he and Barnabas traveled to Derbe. There they won a large number of disciples. From there they traveled back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. When they reached Antioch they stayed a long time with the disciples there.
While in Antioch we come to our verses for today where Judaizers were preaching a gospel requiring circumcision to the new believers. Of course Paul and Barnabas greatly disagreed. To resolve the dispute Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. On their way to Jerusalem, they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. Still, they had to get to Jerusalem and have the issue of circumcision resolved.
Upon arriving in Jerusalem (v4-5), they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” That may have been what they wanted, but it was a question for the apostles and the elders to decide (v6). After much discussion, it was then that Peter stood up and recounted his experience with Gentiles (Acts 10:28) and God’s direction to him. He concluded with these powerful words (v8-11), God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
Then with the assembly quiet, Paul and Barnabas told what God had done through them among the Gentiles. Next James stood up and addressed the assembly and after speaking of what Peter had described with the Gentiles he said (v15-18), The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: Amos 9:10-11 After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles [or nations] who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ — things known from long ago. Powerful words to this assembly. It was then he concluded (v19-21), It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.
His suggestion was followed and as a letter was sent to the Gentile believers in Antioch. These are the same directions we follow today as believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father – Thank You for the message of Amos that convinced the leaders of the Jewish believers that the Gentile believers did not require circumcision. – In Jesus name. Amen.