Summary: This is the study of the Jerusalem Council and the 17th study in the Bookl of Acts
The Jerusalem Council
Acts # 17
In this chapter we will see conflict within the church. We will look at what is known as the Jerusalem Council. This is the first major conflict of the church. This was a conflict about Salvation. This conflict was asking the question of how a person could be saved.
There are four things of importance in this council.
1) This is the first division of the leaders of the church.
2) There was a decision on how Gentiles were saved.
3) This was the first statement of Salvation by grace not of works.
4) This has an Apostle’s decree.
I. The problem arises. 15:1-5
A. The source of the problem. 15:1
NOTE: People came from Judea teaching that unless you were circumcised according to the Law of Moses you were not saved. Can you imagine the problems that this brought to the people? Were they were thinking they were saved but they are told they are not because they have not went through the process of circumcision. It is kind of like some one telling you are not saved because you have not spoke in tongues, or experienced something else.
B. The disagreement of Paul and Barnabas. 15:2a.
1. There was great dissension with them.
2. They debated with them.
C. The decision that was made was to send to representatives to the church in Jerusalem for a ruling.
3. And certain others.
D. The politicking that was going on along the way. 15:3
NOTE: The joy that the news brought. Every body was happy except for the group that wanted to keep the Law of Moses.
E. The report to the leaders at Jerusalem.
2. Elders (These are the early church fathers).
F. The response of the Pharisees.
1. These were a sect of the Pharisees that had come to salvation.
2. The request of the Pharisees.
a. That the gentile believers be circumcised.
b. That they be told to observe the Law of Moses.
NOTE: This is only a natural request from a group which came out of the Pharisees. This was the way a person was to become a Jew. They and to be circumcised and then they had to follow the Laws of Moses. They were thinking that for one to become a Christian they first had to become a Jew.
II. The Meeting that took place.
A. The Apostles and Elders came together.
B. There was great debate.
C. The witness of Peter. 15:7b-11
1. God made a choice for Gentiles to believe.
a. In the early days. (This could have been ten years after the conversion of Cornelius.)
b. It came from my mouth.
2. God knows the hearts.
3. God bore witness to them.
4. God gave them the Holy Spirit.
5. God made no distinction.
a. Between us
b. Between them.
6. God cleansed their hearts by faith. (not works)
7. The question of Peter.( Why test God.)
NOTE: They were testing God by placing requirements on the Gentiles that they could not keep themselves.
8. The statement of Salvation through Grace.
a. We believe that we are saved through the Grace of the Lord Jesus.
b. The gentile are saved the same way.
NOTE: No double standard for salvation in the eyes of God.
D. This brought silence to the debate.
E. The witness of Paul and Barnabas. 15:12
III. The decision that was made. 15:13-21
NOTE: the Spokesman for the church was not Peter since we was one that was talking for the decision. The spokesman was James. If you notice James the Apostle was put to death by Herod in chapter 12. Who is this James? Most commentators agree it is the half Brother of Jesus. This is one that also wrote the Book of James. He was the pastor of the Church of Jerusalem. He was the leading Church Elder. He had risen to a high position of Leadership in the Church.
A. James points out that Peter has conferred about he first Gentile that was saved.
B. Then he points out the prophecy of Amos. (Amos 9:110
NOTE: this prophecy tells us that not only Jews will be part of God’s kingdom but also Gentiles that believe. These things have to happen in order for the return of Christ to take place.
C. The decision that he makes.
1. Do not trouble them. (This means do not lay the burdens of the Law on them.)
2. But ask them to do these things.
a. Do not eat food sacrificed to Idols.
b. Do not be involved in fornication.
c. Do not eat meat that was strangled.
d. Stay away from blood of Dead animals or do not drink blood.
NOTE: These things were very sacred and very ritualistic to the Jews that kept the Law. These were things that were very offensive to all Jews.