THE CONTROVERSY ACTS 15
THE DISPUTE (1-6)
THE DEFENSE (6-18)
THE DECISION (19-35)
THE DISPUTE (36-41)
DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
CHAPTER 14 ENDED...
Open door of faith to the gentiles (27)
Some Jews believed (1)
Gentiles believed (1,21)
Congregations were established (20,21,23)
Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.
One writer has noted:
the same people
the same time
the same place
the same object
the same interference
the same agitators
the same results
v. 1“unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
v. 2 great dissension & debate - no small discussion or disagreement
Paul defending His apostleship was nothing new (2 Cor. 10-13)
But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
V.3 Paul swallowed his pride and went to Jerusalem (he was qualified to speak on the subject Gal. 1:17; 2:6 contributed nothing)
why go? Paul said it was by revelation (Gal. 2:2) (for the sake of unity)
Paul Barnabas & some others? Who could it possibly be Titus Gal. 2:3
v. 4 They kept describing in detail the conversion of the gentiles (3,4,12)
Paul probably convert3ed Titus (Tit. 1:4)
coworker on 3rd missionary journey (2 Cor. 2:13; 7:13,14; 8:6,16,23; 12:18)
coworker after release from 1st imprisonment (Tit. 1:5)
with Paul in 2nd imprisonment (2 Tim. 4:10)
THE FALSE TEACHERS (v. 5)
must be circumcised to be saved (1,5)
must observe the law of Moses (5)
False Brethren (Gal. 2:4)
secretly brought in (decietful)
spies to take away their liberty
bring us under bondage
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
ORDER OF THE MEETING
first meeting (v. 4)
private meeting (v.5 & Gal. 2:2,9)
given right hand of fellowship (Gal. 2:6-9)
Peter & James speak to the church
Peter’s speech (past)
By my mouth gentiles heard the word of the gospel and believed (v.7)
God gave them the H.S. just like us (v.8)
God made no distinction between us and them (v. 9 cf. Rom. 3:22; Acts 10:34)
Putting God to the test (questioning God’s judgment)
placing a yoke upon them that they (keeping the law perfectly
SAVED THROUGH THE GRACE OF OUR LORD IN THE SAME WAY AS THEY ALSO ARE (v. 11)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Paul & Barnabas (present) - signs and wonders God had done through them
half brother of Jesus (Mt. 13:55; Acts 12:17; 21:18; 1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19; James 1:1)
pillar of the church (Gal. 2:9)(probably why the Judaizers came claiming to be from James)
confirmed Peter speech and the purpose was for God to “take out of them a people for His name”
O.T. Proof (Amos 9:11-12)
rebuild the ruins of David’s Tabernacle
so that the gentiles could seek the Lord
called by God’s Name
God predicted this not man (“says the Lord)
13:23,24 Jesus was the descendant of David, whom God promised to raise up as the Savior.
b. 2:30-36 Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior Whom the Father:
(1) Raised up from the dead, as prophesied by David.
(2) Exalted to His own right hand, as predicted by David.
(3) Placed on David’s throne in heaven to rule as the King over His kingdom,
(4) Made both Lord and Christ.
c. 10:1-4 Cornelius was a religious-minded Gentile who was truly seeking the
Lord, but still needed to hear words from God to be commanded
what to do to be saved.
d. 10:9-16 God showed Peter a vision to teach him that the Gentiles should
receive the message of salvation.
e. 10:44-46 God poured out His Spirit on the Gentiles just like the Jews, as a
sign that He wanted them to receive the message of salvation.
f. 10:47,48 After that, Peter commanded Cornelius and his household to be
baptized in water to be saved.
g. 11:17,18 Thus, the Gentiles had been allowed to repent and receive new
h. Rom 6:3,4; Gal 3:26,27 Indeed, they were baptized to walk in newness of life,
as children of God, members of His spiritual family!
i. 11:26 As a result, those Gentile disciples were called by God’s name,
Christian, first in Antioch!
j. Eph 2:11-22 Indeed, those of Gentile background were made one with those
of Jewish background through the blood of Jesus’ cross!
(1) And this took place in the one body, the church of our Lord Jesus Christ!
k. 1 Cor 3:16,17 That church is the temple of God!
Words of the prophets
Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the Lord Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.
He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the house of the Lord Will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between many peoples And render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine And under his fig tree, With no one to make them afraid, For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
Conclusion of the matter at hand
v.19 “do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the gentiles”
4 THINGS TO AVOID
Things contaminated by idols
eating things that were strangled
Why These Four?
common among gentiles
large barrier to unity
predate the law of Moses(gen. 9:3-4) (marriage Gen. 2)
idolatry is forbidden Gal. 5:20
can eat meat sacrificed to idols as long as it doesn’t offend 1 Cor. 8
fornication Gal. 5:19-21
(1) Paul made it clear that there was nothing sinful in eating meat which had
been offered to idols (1 Cor 8).
(2) However, some Christians with Jewish backgrounds at the time thought it
was sinful to eat such meat (1 Cor 8:7).
(3) Thus, this was a barrier endangering fellowship between these two groups
in this infant stage of the church.
(4) Therefore, the Christian thing to do was to avoid eating such meat if it
would cause a brother to stumble (1 Cor 8:9-13).
(5) Thus, James was saying that Christian love on the part of those Gentile
converts should motivate them to avoid such things associated with the
worship of idols.
(6) Indeed, it was “necessary”
LETTER & LEADERS
Judas & Silas (v.22)
Did not send the men who disturbed them (v.24)
beloved Paul & Barnabas who risked their live for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
Judas & Silas there to verify the letter
rejoiced because of encouragement
Judas & Silas (prophets) encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message
sent in peace
Paul & Barnabas stayed in Antioch teaching & preaching with many others also, the word of the Lord.
THE DISPUTE OVER DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
Paul and Barnabas did not disagree about matters of doctrine.
it is possible for good to come from sharp disagreements
brethren should still love each other and be willing to work together for the Lord in the future.
(1) In this case, Paul later referred to Barnabas in an approving way (1 Cor 9:6).
(2) And he did the same in referring to John Mark as a fellow worker, a comfort
to Paul and useful for ministry (Col 4:10,11; 2 Tim 4:11; Phile 24)