Disagreements and the Jerusalem Council
We begin in the middle of a debate over whether the Gentiles should have to be circumcised and required to obey Mosaic law. Saul and Barnabas certainly did not think so the church in Antioch decides to send them to Jerusalem to bring it before the apostles and elders.
During the deliberation, Peter reminds the council of how God used him to preach to the Gentiles.
“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.” v.8-11
James also speaks up, quoting the prophet Amos alluding to a time when God would call the rest of humanity unto himself. The council agrees that “it seems good to the Holy Spirit” to not “burden” the Gentiles. They send Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch with two other disciples with a letter advising the church that circumcision is not required and asking only that they “abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.”
Let’s Talk About It
Relationship Over rules
God so much desired to be close to us that He filled people with His Spirit just for believing that Jesus’ life and death is our salvation. Now, through faith in Christ, He purifies our hearts, and through our relationship with Him we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Enemies Lurk Without and Within
Conflicts within the church and even within ourselves are sometimes worse than persecution by unbelievers! The chapter ended with a bitter dispute between Paul and Barnabas that took years to repair. There is a war between good and evil.
Respecting How Others Honor God
The Council’s requirements about food are still not measures by which we receive or are denied salvation. Scholars interpret this as a request for the Gentiles to respect some of the Jewish traditions.