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Lesson 8 - The Jerusalem Council

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Overall Question: Why was this decision of the Jerusalem Council so important?

Memory Text: Acts 15:11 New Living Translation We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.


Sunday – The Point at Issue

Acts 15:1-5 New English Translation Now some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 When Paul and Barnabas had a major argument and debate with them, the church appointed Paul and Barnabas and some others from among them to go up to meet with the apostles and elders in Jerusalem about this point of disagreement. 3 So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they were relating at length the conversion of the Gentiles and bringing great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all the things God had done with them. 5 But some from religious party of the Pharisees who had believed stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law of Moses.”

Acts 15:2 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY Paul and Barnabas. These apostles were at the center of the dispute, for the demands of the Judaizers presented a direct condemnation of the work that these two missionaries had done in Cilicia, in Antioch itself, and on their First Missionary Journey.  Such work they could not but interpret as a triumph of God’s grace. They had proclaimed salvation through faith in Christ. Now they could not stand by silently while their converts were told that the acceptance of God’s grace through faith was not sufficient, but that external rites must be performed in order to obtain salvation.


Monday – Circumcision

Exodus 12:43-49 New Century Version 43 The Lord told Moses and Aaron, “Here are the rules for Passover: No foreigner is to eat the Passover. 44 If someone buys a slave and circumcises him, the slave may eat the Passover. 45 But neither a person who lives for a short time in your country nor a hired worker may eat it. 46 “The meal must be eaten inside a house; take none of the meat outside the house. Don’t break any of the bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must take part in this feast. 48 A foreigner who lives with you may share in the Lord’s Passover if all the males in his house become circumcised. Then, since he will be like a citizen of Israel, he may share in the meal. But a man who is not circumcised may not eat the Passover meal. 49 The same rules apply to an Israelite born in the country or to a foreigner living there.”

Romans 3:30 Good News Translation God is one, and he will put the Jews right with himself on the basis of their faith, and will put the Gentiles right through their faith.

1 Corinthians 7:18 Common English Bible If someone was circumcised when called, he shouldn’t try to reverse it. If someone wasn’t circumcised when he was called, he shouldn’t be circumcised.

Galatians 3:28 Christian Standard Bible There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 5:6 Contemporary English Version If you are a follower of Christ Jesus, it makes no difference whether you are circumcised or not. All that matters is your faith that makes you love others.


Tuesday – The Debate

Acts 15:7-11 Easy-to-Read Version 7 After a long debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, I am sure you remember what happened in the early days. God chose me from among you to tell the Good News to those who are not Jewish. It was from me that they heard the Good News and believed. 8 God knows everyone, even their thoughts, and he accepted these non-Jewish people. He showed this to us by giving them the Holy Spirit the same as he did to us. 9 To God, those people are not different from us. When they believed, God made their hearts pure. 10 So now, why are you putting a heavy burden [the Jewish law] around the necks of the non-Jewish followers of Jesus? Are you trying to make God angry? We and our fathers were not able to carry that burden. 11 No, we believe that we and these people will be saved the same way—by the grace of the Lord Jesus.”

Acts 15:9 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY God had given to the new Gentile converts, without circumcision, the same outpouring of the Spirit as He had first given at Pentecost, making so distinction between Jews and Gentiles.  This obviously meant the complete acceptance of Gentiles into the church.

Acts 15:13-21 English Standard Version 3 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 judgment 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.”


Wednesday – The Apostolic Decree

Acts 15:28-29 New Living Translation 28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: 29 You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”

Acts 15:28 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY Jesus had promised that the Spirit of truth would guide His disciples into all truth (John 16:13), Luke often speaks of them as filled with the Spirit. Hence the men of the council unhesitatingly claimed that their Guide was the Spirit of God. Under the direction of the Spirit the Jewish Christians were laying aside their prejudice of long standing against fellowship with Gentiles. How much better it would have been for the church had it always been honestly able to say that it was under the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit.


Thursday – The Letter From Jerusalem

Acts 15:22-29 Modern English Version 22 Then it pleased the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men from among them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas called Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers. 23 They wrote this letter by their hand: The apostles and the elders and the brothers, To the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some of us, whom we did not commission, have gone out and have troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law,” 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled in unity, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who will also speak to you, saying the same things. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to put on you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 Abstain from food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from strangled animals, and from blood. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

Acts 15:30-33 God’s Word Translation 30 So the men were sent on their way and arrived in the city of Antioch. They gathered the congregation together and delivered the letter. 31 When the people read the letter, they were pleased with the encouragement it brought them. 32 Judas and Silas, who were also prophets, spoke a long time to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After Judas and Silas had stayed in Antioch for some time, the congregation sent them back to Jerusalem with friendly greetings to those who had sent them.

Acts 15:30 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY There must have been eager excitement as the letter was solemnly opened and read aloud, with perhaps murmuring on the one side, and applause on the other, as sentence after sentence repudiated the teachings of the Judaizers and confirmed the stand taken by Paul and Barnabas. To the Gentile believers at Antioch this epistle was a charter of freedom, won after a long struggle.

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