BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 8, Day 4: Acts 15:13-35

Summary of passage:  James tells the Jerusalem Council that Peter’s words are in accordance with God’s word found in Amos 9:11-12 that he quotes.  James agrees they should not make it hard for the Gentiles (whom God has accepted) to turn to God and they should suggest they follow some of Moses’ laws such as abstaining from food polluted by idols, sexual immorality, and from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.

The Council chooses some of their own men (Judas and Silas) to accompany Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch to give this agreement.  They send a letter with them and the people were glad to read its encouraging message.  Judas and Silas encouraged them and after a time they returned to Jerusalem.  Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch to preach the Good News.

Questions:

9a)  James suggests that circumcision not be made a requirement but instead make certain suggestions to live by:  abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood.  They chose some of their own men (Jews), Judas and Silas, to accompany Paul and Barnabas to verify this is a decree from both sides.

b)  On the words of the prophets found in Amos 9:11-12

10a)  Judas and Silas

b)  It gave credibility to Paul and Barnabas that all were in agreement on what the letter said.  It encouraged the church people in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia and strengthened them.

11a)  It avoided a potential rift in the new faith which very well might have caused separate religions (which happened anyways as in all the denominations and faiths we see today) but it provided some stability and harmonized beliefs so that the early church could continue to grow.  It confirmed that we are saved by grace and faith in Jesus alone and not by conformance to any laws.

However, some scholars argue this may have been the beginning of where Jewish Christians began to separate from the new Christians and retain their old beliefs.

Whatever the case, this compromise allowed the gospel to spread without major defects and all out condemnation on either side.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Fear of rejection and criticism.

Conclusions:  Great history lesson for us history buffs in terms of the new faith.  Also, great lesson on compromise and coming to terms that both sides can agree on.  Both sides came to the table, brought their major concerns in an amenable way, and produced results.  Wish we’d see more of that in today’s political arena.

End Note:  Great site that explains the Jerusalem Council along with references to the Judaizers point of view:

http://bible.org/seriespage/jerusalem-council-gospel-defined-and-defended-acts-151-35