Read for This Week’s Study: Acts 15; Gal. 2:11-13; Exod. 12:43-49; Rom. 3:30; Lev. 18:30; Rev. 2:14, 20.
Memory Text: “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are“ (Acts 15:11, NIV).
After more than two years, Paul and Barnabas returned to Syrian Antioch. Because the whole church there had been involved in sending them out as missionaries, it was natural that they would give a report to the church. The report’s emphasis, however, was not what they had accomplished but on what God Himself had done through them.
The object of the report, of course, was the success of the mission among the Gentiles, though many Jews had also come to faith. Since the episode of Cornelius, however, the conversion of uncircumcised Gentiles had become an issue (Acts 11:1-18), but now that large numbers of them were being admitted to church membership, things became particularly complicated. Many believers in Jerusalem were not happy. For them, Gentiles would need first to be circumcised, that is, to become Jewish proselytes in order to become part of God’s people and have fellowship with them.
Acts 15 is all about the Gentile problem’s reaching a critical level and about the church’s working together to find a solution. The Jerusalem Council was a turning point in the history of the apostolic church in relation to its worldwide mission.