Pharisees Sect

Who were the Pharisees?

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Who were the Pharisees?
ACTS 15 COMMENTARY

Acts 15:5-12 Pharisees Sect

Acts 15:13 James
ACTS 15:5  5 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.”

Who were "the sect of the Pharisees" (Acts 15:5)?
See Pharisees.

Why would they rise up in protest?
Given the similarity in the message of the "certain men" (Acts 15:1) who went to Antioch from Judea but apparently had not been sent by the apostles (see below) and the Pharisees' protest above (compare Acts 15:1 with Acts 15:5 above), these Pharisees may well have been the ones who had sent those "certain men" to Antioch.

Were these Pharisees Christians?
Since they are described as having "believed" (Acts 15:5), they probably did believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior but evidently retained flawed element(s) from their tradition.

What was the result of that retention?
They ended up trying, hopefully unintentionally, to inject heresy into the church, confusing the young believers in Antioch and causing strife within the body of Christ.

Are any elements of your theology based on extra-biblical tradition(s)?
 

ACTS 15:6-7  6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 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.

What did they "dispute" (Acts 15:7) about so "much" (Acts 15:7)?
What they thought and felt, probably.

What did Peter tell them?
What God did.

When did God choose the gentiles to hear the Gospel through Peter's "mouth" (Acts 15:7)?
When He had Peter preach to the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household in Caesarea (see Peter and Cornelius).

ACTS 15:8-11  8 “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 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? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

When did God give "the Holy Spirit" (Acts 15:8) to the gentiles?
While Peter was speaking to Cornelius and his household: "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word" (Acts 10:44).

What is Peter saying?
This dispute about the gentiles is nothing new. It was settled "a good while ago" (Acts 15:7). Purification of the heart is achieved not by circumcision but "by faith" (Acts 15:9) and God makes "no distinction between us and them" (Acts 15:9).

What "yoke" (Acts 15:10) is Peter referring to?
Salvation through works - obeying a set of rules, "which neither our father nor we were able to bear" (Acts 15:10).

What does Peter remind them about salvation?
It is by grace, not only for the gentile Christians, but also for them, the Jewish Christians: "through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they" (Acts 15:11).

Does Peter seek a compromise between the disputing factions to maintain harmony and let both factions save face?
No, he unequivocally stands by the teachings of Jesus, even rebuking the faction in error: "why do you test God ...?" (Acts 15:10)

ACTS 15:12  12 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.

What did God do by having Peter take a stand?
He settled the dispute and silenced the heresies - "Then all the multitude kept silent" (Acts 15:12) - and gave the floor back to Barnabas and Paul to testify about His works.

How does your church deal with intra-church disputes?
 

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