Jerusalem Council–Decisions Based on God’s Word

There is nothing more likely to start disagreement among people or countries than an agreement. (Source Unknown, Lou Nicholes - Missionary/Author).

The thoughts presented by Peter brought silence and a receptive hearing for Paul and Barnabas (v. 12).  They simply followed up with related stories from their missionary journeys, telling how God had saved Gentiles wherever they had gone, in response to the simple message of His saving grace.  Paul and Barnabas were greatly respected by the people in the Jerusalem church, and thus their testimony carried a great deal of weight.

The key idea in this passage is “agreement,” and was made when James spoke. The matter of the reception of the Gentiles hung in the balance; then James spoke (vv. 1-14). He was the leader of the Jerusalem church. His leadership was a moral leadership conceded to him because he was an outstanding man. He was the brother of Jesus. He had a special resurrection appearance all to himself (1 Corinthians 15:7). He was a pillar of the Church (Galatians 1:19). His knees were said to be as hard as a camel’s because he knelt in prayer so often and so long. He was such a good a man that he was called James the Just; he himself was a rigorous observer of the Law.

At this point James, evidently the head of the church at Jerusalem, took the floor and issued a summary statement (vv. 13-14). First he expressed his full agreement with what Peter had said concerning God saving the Gentiles by grace. To further prove that circumcision had nothing to do with Gentile salvation, James quoted Amos 9:11-12. He said that what Amos wrote agreed with the testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas (vv. 15-18).

Several theologians have a problem as to how James is using this passage, since it is prophetic.  However, he did not say that the testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas was a fulfillment of this prophecy, but that it agreed with their testimony. Amos simply presents to us the exit of the Church, the rebuilding of the temple, and the return of Christ to establish His kingdom.

Application

James uses the Word of God to prove his point to the church leaders. I need to know and use the Word of God in proving the things I stand for.

Acts 15:12-18 (English Standard Version)

And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, "Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, "'After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old."'

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