1. The false teachers from Judea. Paul and Barnabas sent to Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-5).
2. The Council in Jerusalem (Acts 15:6-21).
3. The Result made known (Acts 15:22-29).
4. The Consolation brought to Antioch (Acts 15:30-35).
5. Paul and Barnabas separate (Acts 15:36-41).
A very critical time had now arrived for the church. An important question had to be settled. That Gentiles can be saved and salvation must be extended to the Gentiles had been fully demonstrated. The Apostle of the circumcision, Peter, had been used to preach the Gospel to a company of God-fearing Gentiles. Evangelists had gone to Antioch and the great Gentile center had there been founded. Paul and Barnabas had completed their great missionary journey and numerous assemblies of Gentiles, saved by Grace, were formed. The question of the salvation of Gentiles could no longer be raised. But we remember from the eleventh chapter of this book, that when Peter returned to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him. They objected to Peter going to men uncircumcised and eating with them. But those of the circumcision had not been fully satisfied with the status of the believing Gentiles. What about circumcision in their case? Should they not also keep the Law? In other words, the question of the relation of the believing Gentile to the Law and to circumcision had to be determined.
These teachers which taught that Gentiles, in order to be saved, had to be circumcised after the manner of Moses, disturbed greatly the church in Antioch. Paul and Barnabas with others were therefore delegated to go with this question to Jerusalem. Galatians 2:1-10 must be carefully read for interesting and additional information. The question was settled in favor of the Gospel Paul had preached. James declared: “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God.” They were to abstain from pollution of idols, from fornication, from things strangled and from blood. Of great importance are the words which James uttered by inspiration at this occasion. It was the first church-council, and here the Holy Spirit revealed God’s gracious purposes concerning the age that is and the age to come.
Note in Acts 15:14-18 the four important steps: 1. God visits the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name. This is the purpose of the present age. The called people constitute the church, the body of Christ. 2. After this I will return. This means the second Coming of Christ. When the Church is completed and all the members added to that body, Christ comes again, first, as subsequently revealed, for His saints and then with them. 3. The Restoration of Israel follows after His Return. The Tabernacle of David will be built again and will be set up. 4. Then all the Gentiles will seek after the Lord. This is the world-conversion. How strange that this divinely revealed program should be entirely ignored by all church-councils at the present time.
Then after the results of the council and the decision concerning the Gentiles had been made known by a letter, Antioch received consolation.
The beginning of the second missionary journey of Paul is described in the closing paragraph of this chapter. We read nothing of prayer or waiting on God for guidance. Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go again.” He wanted to go over the same territory. This was not the plan of the Spirit. Failure follows on account of self-will and self-choosing. Paul and Barnabas separate on account of John Mark. Barnabas took Mark and Paul chose Silas.
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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Acts 15". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany