Read Acts 15-16
We are smack in the middle of the book of Acts. RECAP what has happened so far? OK the HOLY SPIRIT is on the planet and filling hungry hearts, Saul has switched sides, James the apostle was killed and James the brother of Jesus, who wrote the book of James (most likely was already written in AD 45) is leading the church in Jerusalem. James stands strong as a voice of wisdom at the counsel in Acts 15. Galatians the next letter written and it is authored by Paul. When to be exact?? Not 100% clear but, in the earliest estimation AD 49, potentially from Antioch. There are many theories about when Galatians was written so I can not claim certainty here. One theory is it was written before the counsel after Paul’s first missionary journey. I leave this to your own study. Both Paul and James (1 Cor. 15:7) had visits from Jesus after the resurrection.
The first council of Jerusalem is in A.D. 50. This is the centerpiece of the Christian historical account and is doctrinally important. A swift change beginning in Acts 10 (39-40 AD) has been made. The gospel river is rushing rapidly to the sea of Gentiles. In Acts 11 Antioch becomes a hub for Christianity.
There are four years of work between AD 45 and AD 50, missions, and persecution and exploding church expansion. In this four year cycle wise men seek balance and clarification for church.
Potential and tension mounts over the integration of Gentile Christians. Following Jesus can be messy and causes questions about the customs and traditions like that of circumcision for new converts. Galatians advocates for walking in the Spirit. Why return to the Mosaic law? James vs Galatians is not the way forward. It is here, as history tends to replicate in like fashion, like in the book of Esther wisdom prevails despite the challenges as GOOD men and women seek the LORD and in the providence of God a council is called. This is not vote of choosing sides, who is right, and/or choosing preferred apostles. Paul and Barnabas traveled to the leadership and James and Paul are in the same room, with others like Peter who walk in the anointing and wisdom of God. The pillars of God’s church assemble. (Gal 2:9)
It is time to decide and put in place the definitive characteristics of salvation for the Gentiles and Jewish believers. These are wonderful problems to have!! The cities where conversion is happening at the highest rate the joy was great. (Acts 15:3)
After the counsel the efforts in God’s work in Athens doubled. Paul and Barnabas are joined by Judas and Silas.
These men greatly encourage and strengthen the church (Acts 15:32) AHHHHHH yes, there is clarity.
“God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.”
Acts 15:8-9 NIV
The gift of the Holy Spirit, is a sign of God’s acceptance. “But we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.’ Acts 15:11
We are all saved in the same way. And salvation has more, the more is not added requirements but rather the infilling of the Spirit of God.
Pray to experience the Holy Spirit.
Nora Morrison I found Paul’s response to being arrested interesting.
What stuck out to me was Paul was completely surrendered to God’s will in being arrested. He even used it to preach the Good News. However, when he is released he seems to advocate for his rights as a Roman Citizen.
Encouraging that we can first be committed to God’s will at any cost and second advocate for justice within our government.