ACTS LESSON 15
Distributed by: KJV Bible Studies
Memory verses for this week: 1 Th 5:24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
Introduction: In Chapter 14, we saw Paul and Barnabas complete the work that they set out to do on their missionary journey. At the end of the chapter, they returned to their home church and reported what God had accomplished in their efforts. This week we see some men coming in from Judea and attempting to teach false doctrine concerning salvation.
The first portion of Acts chapter 15 presents a major crisis which was coming to a head in the early church. The question at hand was whether Judaism, its rituals, rites, and ceremonial-ism should have any part in the early church and if so to what extent. A church council was convened in Jerusalem to deal with these matters. The leaders of the local New Testament Churches met to discuss the controversy.
The latter portion of the chapter deals with the council at Jerusalem. It concludes with the churches, by acclamation, agreeing to send a delegation out with a letter clarifying the controversy. At the end of the chapter is the historic parting of the ways between Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Silas begin the second missionary journey.
I. Men from Judea come to church in Antioch
Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Word reached the church at Jerusalem how the gospel had not only flourished among the gentiles at Antioch, but also continued through the missionary work of Paul and Barnabas. It is noteworthy that Paul and Barnabas did not report to the church at Jerusalem upon their return from their missionary journey. Though the church at Antioch likely had no pretense of becoming the leader of the churches, perhaps some in the Jerusalem church were nervous seeing that it might.
It would seem that a question was looming, particularly for those in Judaea. Was Christianity to become primarily a gentile movement with some Jewish believers? Or would it remain as it originally had been constituted as a Jewish movement with a few gentile believers? It is clear there was a distinct party within the Jerusalem church who thought the latter. Recall the suspicion and reluctance of many in the Jerusalem church to accept the preaching of the gospel to the gentiles at Cornelius’ household at Caesarea.
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