Acts 15 Outline
– The Judean believers preached to the Gentile believers in Antioch that circumcision is necessary (Acts 15:1)
– Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem church to consult with the apostles and elders (Acts 15:2)
– Paul and Barnabas passed through Phoenicia and Samaria and reported their gospel ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 15:3)
– Paul and Barnabas arrived in Jerusalem (Acts 15:4)
– Some believers from the Pharisees group in Jerusalem confronted Paul and Barnabas about the issue (Acts 15:5)
– The apostles and elders in Jerusalem held a discussion over the circumcision issue (Acts 15:6)
– Peter stood up to point out circumcision is not necessary because salvation is God’s grace (Acts 15:7-21)
– Letter to the Gentiles to abstain from food offered to idols, sexual immorality, meat of strangled animals, and blood (Acts 15:22-29)
– Paul, Barnabas and some brethren deliver the letter to the church in Antioch (Acts 15:30-34)
– Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch for some time to preach and teach God’s work (Acts 15:35)
– Paul and Barnabas got into a sharp dispute and parted ways (Acts 15:36-41)
Acts 15 Summary
Some Judean believers came to Antioch and preached to the brothers there that it is necessary to get circumcised as required by the Law of Moses in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement with them. Eventually, they sent Paul, Barnabas and some believers to Jerusalem to consult the apostles and elders about the issue.
On the journey to Jerusalem, they passed by Phoenicia and Samaria, where they reported to the people all about God had done through them and how the Gentiles came to the faith in Jesus Christ. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they reported to the brothers about all that God had done through them.
A number of believers from the Pharisees group confronted them, saying the Gentiles must be circumcised and obey Moses Law in order to be saved. The apostles and elders got into much discussion about the issue.
Finally, Peter stood up and addressed the people that it is unnecessary for the Gentiles to get circumcised. Peter explained that God showed his acceptance of the Gentiles as his people by pouring out his Holy Spirit on them. Therefore, it is by grace of faith in Jesus Christ that one is saved, not through the observance of the Law of Moses.
Peter said that they should just write to the Gentile brothers to abstain from food offered to idols, sexual immorality, meat of strangled animals and blood. Paul, Barnabas and some of the men from their own church were appointed to deliver the letter to the brothers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia.
After the church in Jerusalem sent off Paul, Barnabas and other brethren, they came to Antioch. The people were encouraged after reading the letter. Judas and Silas, were prophets and they said a lot to encouraged the brethren. Judas and Silas were sent off by the brothers with blessings of peace to return to those who sent them. Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch to preach and teach the people about God’s work.
After a period of time, Paul suggested to Barnabas to go through all the towns they used to preach in the past. Barnabas wanted to take John, also known as Mark, but Paul disagreed because he left them in Perga and did not continue to do the work with them. They quarreled a lot over it and eventually they parted ways. Barnabas brought John with him and sailed to Cyprus while Paul brought Silas with him and sailed to Syria and Cilicia to strengthen the churches there.
Acts 15 Bible Study
1. We are saved through grace, not through works of the law
Circumcision is not necessary for salvation because under the new covenant, we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8; Galatians 2:16). To be saved by grace means anyone who has faith in Jesus Christ can be saved (Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 7:19). However, it does not mean that we don’t need to observe the Old Testament laws. We don’t have to observe the ritual, festival, and other complicated Old Testament laws. But we must observe the Ten Commandments and some other commandments, for example, don’t tattoo or pierce your skin (Leviticus 19:28; Matthew 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Corinthians 3:17).
2. Don’t be a stumbling block to other Christians
The Judean Jews preached that it is necessary to get circumcised in order to be saved. They are trying to convince the Gentiles that they cannot saved if they don’t observe the Law. This put a stumbling block to the gentile Christians in Antioch. In 1 Corinthians 8:9, we should not be a stumbling block to a weak. If you know doing something will make a weak Christian fall, you should not do it. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We should edify and encourage, and live in peace with one another (Romans 14:13-18).
3. Don’t quarrel but live in peace with one another
Paul and Barnabas got into a sharp dispute because Paul refused to take John but Barnabas want to take him on the missionary trip. As a result, they parted ways. Paul took Silas with him to Syria and Cilicia while Barnabas took John with him to Cyprus. The quarreling causes their relationship to be strained. Christians should avoid quarreling and arguing with one another. In Colossians 3:13, we should forbear one another and forgive one another. If anyone quarrel against you, you should forgive him so that Jesus Christ will forgive you. In 2 Timothy 2:24, the servant of God must not quarrel but must be gentle towards all, able to teach and patient. In Proverbs 20:3, it is an honor for a man to keep away from strife but every fool will be quarreling. In proverbs 26:17, one who meddles in a quarrel not his own is like someone who grabs a dog’s ears. In Proverbs 26:20, when there is a lack of wood the fire goes out. Without gossip, a quarrel will dies down. In Proverbs 17:14, the beginning of strife is like breaching a dam, therefore stop contention before quarreling breaks out. In 2 Corinthians 13:11, we must aim for perfection, be of one mind and live in peace and the God of love and peace will be with you.
4. Be dedicated to your job
Paul refused to bring John, also known as Mark with him on the missionary trip because he left them while in Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13). Paul did not trust John because he wasn’t committed to his work. In Luke 16:10, whoever that can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much and whoever is dishonest with very little can also be dishonest with much.