Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 15:19-33
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 15:19, 20
vs19-20 (continued): Even though he wholeheartedly acknowledged that righteousness is by faith and Gentiles should be welcomed into the Lord’s church, James knew a difficult cultural barrier still remained between the two groups. For real fellowship to take place, there would need to be some restraint on the part of Gentiles as well as Jews. To ask a Jew to go into a Gentile home and ignore gross violations of God’s order for marriage, or eat dishes made with animal blood, was simply asking too much. They would gladly affirm that Gentiles were clean through faith. They would turn their back on age-old barriers, and undoubtedly be persecuted for doing so, but their Gentile brothers and sisters needed to bring their lives into submission to some basic biblical values, and be respectful toward their Jewish brothers and sisters.

Monday: Acts 15:19, 20
vs19-20 (continued): So James gave this pastoral advice. He said he had decided not to trouble those who were turning to God from the nations, but to write to them to keep away from food that had become ritually unclean because it had been used in the worship of idols (Da 1:8; Mal 1:7, 12); from fornication, meaning the breaking of Old Testament laws which prohibit certain types of sexual relations (Lev 18:6-23); from things strangled, meaning meat that had been slaughtered without draining the blood; and from blood, meaning dishes made with blood as one of the ingredients (Ge 9:4; Lev 17:10-14; 19:26). God had taught His people that “life is in the blood” and because of that fact, He allowed them to eat the flesh of animals, but not consume its “life.”

Tuesday: Acts 15:19-21
vs19-20 (continued): Life is sacred and belongs to God alone, and they considered this truth to be an overruling principle, not a meaningless ritual. v21: James went on to say, “For Moses, from earliest generations has those who proclaim him in every city, being read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” He was warning the Gentile churches that tensions over these issues wouldn’t go away with the passing of time. If they wanted to evangelize Jews and draw them into a common church gathering, they would need to observe these standards. For thousands of years Jews had been taught to avoid these things by the Law of Moses and on every Sabbath, in every synagogue that same teaching continued.

Wednesday: Acts 15:21, 22
v21 (continued): In other words, Jews would never be comfortable fellowshipping with people who practiced such violations of the Bible. In order to reach Gentiles, Jews would need to acknowledge that salvation is by faith in Christ alone, and not require them to become Jews. But to reach Jews, Gentiles would need to conform to some basic commandments of God. Otherwise, a stumbling block to conversion would be placed in front of Jews, just as Jews had place a stumbling block in front of Gentiles. v22: After Peter and James finished speaking, the apostles and elders (Ac 15:2, 6) indicated that they all agreed with James’ proposal. It’s possible they did this by taking a vote, but it seems more likely that people were asked to voice their opinions, and as they did, consensus became apparent. Throughout the process, all would have earnestly sought the leading of the Holy Spirit and tested everything to see if it were confirmed by Scripture.

Thursday: Acts 15:22, 23
v22 (continued): It’s possible the whole church was included in the discussion, but it’s also possible the apostles and elders met privately at first, and then once consensus had been reached, presented their conclusions to the whole assembly. Regardless of how this matter was handled, the whole church signaled their support for these decisions, and also for a proposal that two representatives from the Jerusalem church accompany Paul and Barnabus back to Antioch. v23: These two men would carry with them a formal letter which summarized the decisions the apostles and elders had made, so there would be no question in anyone’s mind what had been decided. The entire assembly was troubled by the fact that self-appointed men had gone up to Antioch, pretending to represent the Jerusalem church, and had created a controversy and tried to undermine the authority of Paul and Barnabus.

Friday: Acts 15:23-26
v23 (continued): They felt responsible to help repair the damage so they appointed two of their leading men, Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas, to carry the letter. It read: “The apostles and the elder brothers, to the brothers who are from the Gentiles (nations) in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia, greetings!” vs24-26: “When we heard that some from among us, whom we did not send, troubled you with words that tore down (the sound doctrine) in your minds, it seemed good to us, having become of one mind (complete agreement), to send chosen men to you along with our beloved Barnabus and Paul, men who have given over their lives on behalf of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Saturday: Acts 15:27-33
vs27-29: “Therefore, we have sent Judas and Silas, and when they speak to you they will report the same things. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us, to place upon you no other weight beside these necessary things: to keep yourselves away from idol sacrifices (food which has been sacrificed to idols), and blood and things strangled, and fornication (v20). By keeping yourselves away from such things you will do well. Be strong!” (literal). vs30-33: Luke described what happened next. He said, “Some, therefore, being released, went down to Antioch and after bringing together the multitude (of the church), they formally presented the letter. And after reading it, they rejoiced at the exhortation (call to obedience). And being prophets themselves, both Judas and Silas exhorted and strengthened the brothers with many words. And after they spent some time there, the ‘brothers released them with a blessing of peace, so they could return to the ones who sent them.” (literal).

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