Chapter Fifteen — Part Four: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 04/10/2022Foundation Scriptures:
1. Consensus Reached.
a. Acts 15:22 NKJV — Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.
b. The whole church—meaning that, after reaching a conclusion, they all agreed with what was decided.
c. Silas was also known as Silvanus—one of those in leadership in the church at Jerusalem. (2 Cor. 1:19; 1 Th. 1:1; 2 Th. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:12).
d. He became Paul’s travelling companion (Acts 15:40-41; 16:19-29; 17:4-15; 18:5).
e. He was a prophet (Acts 15:27, 32-34).
f. He carried Peter’s letter to Asia Minor (1 Pet. 5:12).
2. The Letter.
a. Acts 15:23 NKJV — They wrote this, letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings.
b. They greeted them as brethren, an acknowledgment that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs with the Jews, that they have one Father in common, and are members of the same Body.
c. Acts 15:24 NKJV — Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law” — to whom we gave no such commandment —
d. This is a rebuke to the Judaizing teachers—false teachers, with false doctrine, and a false commission.
e. They were not sent by the Church at Jerusalem and did not speak for God or the Church.
f. The devil cannot stop you from receiving Jesus once you make up your mind to do so.
g. But he tries to sow seeds of doubt and confusion in your mind to rob you of your faith, peace, and liberty.
h. And there are those, who have no better sense than to be used as an instrument of the devil to peddle his lies.
i. The Judaizers brought accusations against Barnabas and Paul, and their legitimacy to speak for God and the Church.
j. Acts 15:25-26 NKJV — …it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
k. In the letter, the Church at Jerusalem expressed their esteem for Barnabas and Paul as an encouragement to them, and to weaken the hands of those who opposed them.
l. Paul and Barnabas were faithful soldiers and messengers, having risked their lives for the Gospel.
m. Therefore, not only were they worthy of double honor, but they could not be suspected of ulterior motives.
n. Those who preached circumcision, were doing it to try to avoid persecution.
o. But Paul and Barnabas were prepared to endure persecution to stand up for the Truth.
p. Acts 15:27 NKJV — We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth.
q. Not only did they write the letter to confirm what was required of the Gentiles, but they sent witnesses to back it up, so that there could be no further arguments or doubts about it.
3. Necessary Things.
a. Acts 15:28a NKJV — For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us…
b. They expressed themselves here with a measure of authority.
c. As they were guided by the Holy Spirit, they were permitted to speak for Him and represent His will.
d. Acts 15:28b NKJV — …to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:
e. It was pleasing to the Holy Ghost, and to themselves—the Church—to liberate the Gentiles from bondage to the Law.
f. They were unwilling to discourage the Gentiles by laying too heavy a burden on them, so they imposed on them no more than what was necessary.
g. Acts 15:29 NKJV — …that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.
h. The necessary things apply to all Christians—Jew and Gentile alike.
a. Acts 15:30-31 NKJV — So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.
b. They were consoled and encouraged by the message.
c. The Truth always sets us free!
d. In all circumstances and situations, the Truth brings light and liberty and peace and joy.
e. The Judaizers were silenced, and the burden of the carnal ordinances they tried to lay on the people was lifted.
f. They rejoiced because the cause of the division was removed, and their peace was restored.
g. By this, the Gentiles were encouraged to receive the Gospel, and also to adhere to it.
h. Acts 15:32 NKJV — Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.
i. Even though Paul and Barnabas had spent much time teaching them, there was still more for them to receive through the ministry of Judas and Silas.
j. Each of us must open our heart to continue to receive the Word of God and continue to grow thereby.
k. Isaiah 28:10 KJV — For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
l. The diversity of gifts of ministers is useful and valuable to the Church.
m. Ephesians 4:11-12 KJV — And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
n. Romans 12:6a KJV — Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us…
o. Acts 15:33 NKJV — And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles.
p. Judas and some of the brethren, who had accompanied Paul and Barnabas, now returned to Jerusalem, but Silas chose to remain there with Paul and Barnabas.
q. Acts 15:34 NKJV — However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there.