Chapter Fifteen — Part Two: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 03/27/2022Foundation Scriptures:
1. Jerusalem Council.
a. Acts 15:5 NKJV — But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
b. Some of the Pharisees, who had become believers, were still hanging on to their old prejudices—they disliked the Gentiles and were jealous over the ceremonial Law.
c. They were loathe to admit these new Christians into fellowship unless they entered in through the process of the Law and circumcision.
d. Acts 15:6 NKJV — Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.
e. This was the first general conference or council of the Church, and the third time Paul visited Jerusalem.
f. Acts 15:7 NKJV — And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
g. Peter rose up to address the council.
h. The Lord had made it abundantly clear a good while ago—about 10-12 years before—that the Gentiles were to be fully accepted into the Body of Christ, by faith.
i. There was really nothing more that needed to be decided or done, but Peter and the elders were willing to have the discussion anyway.
j. Acts 15:8 NKJV — So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us…
k. God bore witness—acknowledged them—by sealing the Gentiles with the Holy Spirit.
l. Acts 15:9 NKJV — …and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
m. God made no difference between Jews and Gentiles in Christ—without the Gentiles being circumcised or keeping the Law and sabbath (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11).
n. The moment a person receives Jesus by faith, they are born again, and their heart purified.
o. Acts 15:10 NKJV — Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.
p. The Law was a yoke of bondage that no man was ever able to bear.
q. If the Gentiles could be saved without circumcision when Peter preached to them, then why would they now need it when they received salvation through the ministry of Paul.
r. Galatians 5:1 AMPC — In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].
s. The Jews were delivered from the yoke, the bondage, of the Law, and happy to be delivered—but now they inexplicably were trying to impose it onto the Gentiles.
t. Galatians 2:4-5 AMPC — [My precaution was] because of false brethren who had been secretly smuggled in [to the Christian brotherhood]; they had slipped in to spy on our liberty and the freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might again bring us into bondage [under the Law of Moses]. 5 To them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the Gospel might continue to be [preserved] for you [in its purity].
2. Salvation Through Faith for ALL.
a. Acts 15:11 NKJV — But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
b. Both Jews and Gentiles are saved the same way—by grace, through faith (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:8-9).
c. Galatians 2:16 NKJV — knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
d. Acts 15:12 NKJV — Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.
e. The gathering silently and attentively listened to Paul and Barnabas as they presented their testimony of the miraculous conversion of the Gentiles under their ministry.
f. Surely, they could not perform such signs and wonders, without God’s blessing and favor, and without the operation of His power!
3. Salvation of the Gentiles Predicted.
a. Acts 15:13-14 NKJV — And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.
b. James is referring to the salvation of Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:34-48; 11:14).
c. Acts 15:15 NKJV — And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
d. The prophets predicted the salvation of the Gentiles therefore it must be God’s will to also redeem them by faith (Isa. 11:10; 42:1, 6; 49:6,22; 60:3; 66:19; Rom. 9:25-33; Mal. 1:11; Amos 9:10-11).
e. Acts 15:16 NKJV — ‘After! this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up;
f. This prophecy was not referring to a physical temple being rebuilt or set up, but to the Body of Christ and the Church age—and the rebuilding of the Nation of Israel, as they are prepared for the return of Jesus Christ, their Messiah.
g. Acts 15:17 KJV — That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
h. The doctrine of the remnant always refers to Judah and the other tribes of Israel, never to Gentiles or the Church.
i. God obligated Himself to save a remnant of all Israel, to preserve their line and to fulfill His covenant promises to their fathers.
j. According to Isaiah 1:9, a small remnant would be saved in the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem; otherwise, Israel would have been obliterated, like Sodom and Gomorrah.