Acts 15:1 While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Acts 15:2 Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question. Acts 15:3 The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted. Acts 15:4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. Acts 15:5 But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.” Acts 15:6 So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue. Acts 15:7 At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. Acts 15:8 God knows people’s hearts, and He confirmed that He accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us. Acts 15:9 He made no distinction between us and them, for He cleansed their hearts through faith. Acts 15:10 So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? Acts 15:11 We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 15:12 Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. Acts 15:13 When they had finished, James stood and said, “Brothers, listen to me. Acts 15:14 Peter has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people for Himself. Acts 15:15 And this conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted. As it is written: Acts 15:16 ‘Afterward I will return and restore the fallen house of David. I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, Acts 15:17 so that the rest of humanity might seek the LORD, including the Gentiles—all those I have called to be Mine. The LORD has spoken— Acts 15:18 He who made these things known so long ago.’ Acts 15:19 “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Acts 15:20 Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. Acts 15:21 For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.” Acts 15:22 Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders—Judas (also called Barsabbas) and Silas. Acts 15:23 This is the letter they took with them: “This letter is from the apostles and elders, your brothers in Jerusalem. It is written to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings! Acts 15:24 “We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! Acts 15:25 So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Acts 15:26 who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 15:27 We are sending Judas and Silas to confirm what we have decided concerning your question. Acts 15:28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: Acts 15:29 You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:30 The messengers went at once to Antioch, where they called a general meeting of the believers and delivered the letter. Acts 15:31 And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message. Acts 15:32 Then Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging and strengthening their faith. Acts 15:33 They stayed for a while, and then the believers sent them back to the church in Jerusalem with a blessing of peace. Acts 15:34 [But Silas decided to stay there.] Acts 15:35 Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord there. Acts 15:36 After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” Acts 15:37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. Acts 15:38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Acts 15:39 Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Acts 15:40 Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care. Acts 15:41 Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.Acts 15:1-41
The Gems are late this morning because I firstly attended the celebrations for Auckland Anniversary Day in the city with a performance of the Symphony Orchestra on the waterfront, synchronized with the fireworks display for Chinese New Year. Then went to watch Federer beat Nadal in the final of the Australian Open. No I didn’t fly to Melbourne but watched it with a friend from a recording and finally got to bed after 2.00 am. Yes, it may have been crazy but there are some things you just have to do. And now for the Gem.
We have moved on now to the next Chapter in the Book of Acts. I have given you the text above in the NLT version. I have left in the verse numbers from E-Sword this time because it would take me a while to take them out and it give you a reference point to each verse. Spend some time reading the block of text and seeing how you would divide it up. Then ponder on the overall purpose of why Luke wrote this section for us. Let Luke’s words trigger inspiration and questions all at the same time as you ponder why he wrote this as he did. I will say this is a very significant moment in Luke’s account of the spread of the Gospel of Christ. Soak yourself in the text. Read it through a number of times until the features in it and Luke’s purpose in writing it begin to come through. Gather your questions as you read which will help you to plumb the depths of what Luke has recorded for us. Don’t forget that Luke could have written so much more but these forty one verses are the thoughts which God inspired in him to pen for us. Therefore pay careful attention to them in true Deeper Bible style.
We will begin on Wednesday to look at the macro and micro features which stand out. In the meantime I will take some time to catch up on sleeeeeep, after other things.
If you hear a voice within you say you cannot do it, just think of Roger Federer who at 35 has just won another Grand Slam tournament against his arch nemesis Rafael Nadal.Ian Vail
Don’t give up! You can learn to understand the deep things of the Bible at 35, 65 or 95.Ian Vail
Remember Oliver Wendell Holmes who at 92 began learning New Testament Greek and when asked why said, “Well it’s now or never.”Ian Vail
Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it feels like to be young.J.K. Rowling
The way we talk to our children or our grandchildren, physical or spiritual, becomes their inner voice. Tell them they can do what they set their hearts to accomplish. Express their possibilities not their limitations.Ian Vail
Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon.Ian Vail