Summary of Acts 15:12-21:
Barnabas and Paul tells about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles. 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.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 12, Day 3: Acts 15:12-21
6) Part personal question. My answer: Paul blinded Elymus (Acts 13:11-12). Paul performed miracles in Iconium (Acts 14:3,4). At Lystra, Paul healed a crippled man (Acts 14:8-18). My life is evolving as we speak. My job may be changing. I may be headed in a new direction. I’m re-dedicating myself to a passion of mine. Lots of good things — albeit changes — are happening.
7a) Instead, 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.
c) He’s trying to come up with a compromise to appease both sides. 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.
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.
8 ) Personal Question. My answer: Compromise is usually the way to conflict resolution.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 12, Day 3: Acts 15:12-21
Compromise should always be sought for the greater good. And it was important that all were willing to compromise.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 12, Day 3: Acts 15:12-21
This James was not the apostle James, whose martyrdom is recorded in Acts 12:2. This was the one traditionally known as James the Just – the half-brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:155), the brother of Jude (Jude 1), and the author of the book of James (James 1:1). James was the chairman of the council, not Peter.
The ancient Greek word for Gentiles (it could also be translated nations) is ethne. The ancient Greek word for people in this passage is laos. The Jews considered themselves a laos of God, and never among the ethne. For them ethne and laos were contrasting words. So, it was a challenge for them to hear that God at the first visited the Gentiles (ethne) to take out of them a people (laos).
James judged this new work of God by the way any work of God should be judged: James looked to what is written, to the Bible.
In the passage James quoted (Amos 9:11-12), it actually says that salvation will come to the Gentiles. This demonstrates that what God did among the Gentiles had a Biblical foundation.
James essentially said, “Let them alone. They are turning to God, and we should not trouble them.” James decided that Peter, Barnabas, and Paul were correct, and that those of the sect of the Pharisees who believed were wrong.
“The Protestant Reformers wisely and insistently pointed out that councils have erred and do err. They have erred throughout history, and they continue to err today…But God blessed it nevertheless, and he has often done with the formal meetings of sinful human beings who nevertheless gather to seek God’s will in a matter.” (Boice)
James told these Gentiles to observe the specific marriage regulations required by Leviticus 18, which prohibited marriages between most family relations
Gentile Christians had the “right” to eat meat sacrificed to idols, to continue their marriage practices, and to eat food without a kosher bleeding, because these were aspects of the Mosaic Law they definitely were not under. However, they were encouraged to lay down their rights in these matters as a display of love to their Jewish brethren.
Thus, James was saying what Paul would later state in 1 Corinthians 8:9, that the Gentiles should not be a stumbling block to the Jews. The Jews may continue to observe Mosaic law, but they did not have to.