Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 15:1-20
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 15:1
v1 (continued): These men from Judea were self-appointed, neither the apostles nor the elders of the Jerusalem church had sent them (Ac 15:23, 24). Over the years the gospel had made significant inroads among priests (Ac 6:7) and Pharisees (Ac 15:5) and they were probably from one of those two groups. Their arguments focused on the interpretation of Bible passages, but zeal for the Scriptures may not have been their only motive. Jews who believed in Jesus were being persecuted by Jews who didn’t, particularly when it was discovered that they, or others like them, were fellowshipping with Gentiles. It was thought that if a Jew touched a Gentile or something in their home, or ate their food, he or she would become ceremonially unclean. Then, in turn, anyone they touched, if they hadn’t gone through a cleansing ceremony first, became unclean. To the observant Jew this kind of carelessness toward the Law of Moses was a serious matter.

Monday: Acts 15:1
v1 (continued): This is why there had been such resistance, years earlier, when Peter entered Cornelius’ home (Ac 11:1-3). And the issue hadn’t gone away because the Jewish community still might persecute a Jew who dared to fellowship with a Gentile, or even someone who belonged to a group which approved such behavior (Ga 5:11; 6:12, 13). So those who came to Antioch wanted to ensure that all Gentiles who were accepted into this fellowship of the church were circumcised, so they could claim that neither they, nor any Jews they knew, were fellowshipping with Gentiles. They only fellowshipped with Gentiles who had been converted to Judaism. Hopefully, this would calm some of the persecution they were facing at home from family, neighbors or synagogue leaders. In other words, their motivation may have had as much to do with protecting themselves from persecution as it did with theological correctness.

Tuesday: Acts 15:2-3
vs2-3: When these men confronted the Antioch church, demanding that the Gentile believers be circumcised, an angry argument took place. It appears, from the way Luke words this passage, they took on a very authoritarian tone toward Paul and Barnabas and put them on the spot by aggressively questioning them. When the church didn’t submit to them, they “ordered” Paul and Barnabas, along with some others, to appear before the apostles and elders in Jerusalem so they could render a final judgment concerning this question. The Antioch church agreed, and sent out a delegation which walked over 300 miles, passing through Phoenicia and Samaria. As they went, they stopped along the way to meet with “brothers” and gave them a detailed description of the conversions that were taking place among the Gentiles. Their report produced great joy in them all.

Wednesday: Acts 15:4-7
vs4-6: When they arrived in Jerusalem they were warmly received by the church, the apostles and the elders, and “they reported what things God had done with them.” But at some point, while they were still talking, a group of believers who had formerly been Pharisees rose up to challenge them saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and command them to observe the Law of Moses.” A special meeting, which included both the apostles and the elders, was assembled to look into this matter. v7: After much questioning had taken place Peter stood up and said to those gathered, “Men, brothers, you know well that from olden days God chose from among you that it would be through my mouth that the nations would hear the word of the gospel and believe.”

Thursday: Acts 15:8-12
vs8-11: “And the heart-knower God (literal) bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as He also gave to us, making no distinction between us and them, cleaning their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why do you test God, to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to lift? But through the grace of the Lord Jesus we believe in order to be saved, according to that same way.” v12: Then the whole crowd was silent, and heard Barnabas and Paul describe the signs and wonders God did through them among the nations.

Friday: Acts 15:13-14
vs13-14: With these words the apostle Peter came down solidly on the side of Barnabas and Paul. He reminded the gathering that God had baptized with the Holy Spirit the household of Cornelius (Ac 10:1-11:18) and, in as forthright a way as Paul himself might have said it, he declared that Jews as well as Gentiles must be saved by grace, not by keeping the works of the Law. Then James, the Lord’s brother, who had become a leader among the culturally-conservative portion of the Jerusalem church gave his opinion. He waited until Barnabas and Paul were finished speaking, and then said, “Men, brothers, hear me. Simeon described how God first visited the nations to take out a people for His name.”

Saturday: Acts 15:15-20
vs15-18: “And the words of the prophets agree with this, even as it has been written: ‘After these things I will return and I will rebuild the tent of David which had fallen, and the things belonging to it which have been overturned (ruined) I will rebuild, and I will set it upright again so that the rest of men may seek the Lord even all the nations upon whom my name has been called (who have called upon My name),’ says the Lord who makes these things known from ages past.’” (literal). vs19-20: In this way, James offered scriptural support for the declaration Peter had just made. He quoted from Amos 9:11, 12 using the wording from the Greek Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament). In these verses we hear God say that when Messiah, the Son of David, comes to set up His kingdom, Gentiles will call on the name of the Lord.

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