15 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”
6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,
16 “‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will restore it,
17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’
19 Therefore my judgement is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”
POINTS OF INTEREST
- v1-6: Some men from Judea taught the Gentile converts at Antioch that they could not be saved unless they followed the customs of the law given by Moses: to be circumcised. Many times we too are prone to think others are wrong and we are right, if what they do is not the same. There was much “sharp dispute and debate” over this matter, and there continues to be sharp dispute and debate over things within the Christian faith today.
- v8-9: “God, knows the heart”—God knows everything single detail about us, even the things in our hearts. Peter explains that justification by faith and sanctification by the Holy Spirit cannot be seperated and that both are gifts from God. (“Justification” means as our sins have been forgiven, just as if I never sinned) (“Sanctification” means being made perfect like Christ).
- v11: “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that [they] are saved, just as they are.” Regardless of us being circumcised or uncircumcised, Christ still saved us, a free gift of grace, just as we are.
- v19: “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” That we should make it easier and not oppress people with unnecessary rituals and requirements to turn to God, after all, Christ’s gift of grace is free for all.
submitted by Ansy Wong
PRAYING IN FAITH
Pray that we will not judge our fellow brothers/sisters when they do things a different way, but instead to view them as Christ views them: with love.
For your five
Ask God to show them that Christ loves them and they are saved, just as they are.
For our church
Pray for our church to have peace and not to dispute and debate over trivial matters, but to glorify God through unity as a body of Christ.