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Acts 15:1-35 – The Council of Jerusalem

The threat to the Church was caused by some who argued that Gentile Christians needed to become Jews and obey the Law of Moses to become God’s people rather than simply have faith in Christ. The danger was that the Church would be split when the Jewish believers cast off the Gentile believers.

What ended up happening was the elders and representatives of the churches were able to discern God’s will. God clearly accepted the Gentiles by faith in Jesus. This had been evident in the conversion of Cornelius where the Spirit had been poured out and the Gentiles spoke in tongues as had the Jews in Jerusalem at Pentecost. It was evident also on the way that Barnabas and Paul had performed the same signs and wonders amongst the Gentiles that had been done among the Jews.

James, the brother of Jesus, quoted from the book of Amos about how the son of David would restore the kingdom of God by calling Gentiles to himself. This ended all argument.

The decision was that Gentile believers were justified by faith in Jesus and that they were not obligated to obey the law of Moses. There were some non-negotiables though. The nations had previous sold themselves to idolatry. Anything to do with idolatrous practices in idol temples had to be forsaken. The Gentile believers would know this from the presence of Jewish synagogues in their cities. This Gentile believers were forbidden to go to idol temples and participate in idol sacrifices or engage in idolatrous rituals or engage in the sexual immorality in idol temples which worshiped the idol. Idolatry is out for believers in Jesus. Wasn’t this why Isaiah’s servant of the Lord proclaims? To turn the nations from idolatry to the true and living God.

Thus, the Church was saved from division between believers but also from becoming syncretic with idolatry. Apostolic delegates were sent with a letter to the believers in Antioch who read it and rejoiced because of its encouragement.