Acts 15 Commentary

Acts chapter 15 commentary Bible study

Acts Chapter 15 Commentary Bible Study


Acts 15:5-12 Pharisees Sect
Acts 15:13 James
Acts 15:14-19 Gentiles
Acts 15:20 Sexual Immorality
Acts 15:20-21 Food Sacrificed to Idols
Acts 15:22-36 Silas
Acts 15:37-41 John Mark
Acts 15 Bible Study Questions (Handout)
ACTS 15:1  1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Why are they said to have come "down" (Acts 15:1) from Judea when Judea is 300 miles (480 kilometers) south of Antioch in Syria?
They came down from the higher elevation of Judea to Antioch, which is located near the Mediterranean coast (sea level).

ACTS 15:2  2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

Who were these "certain men" (Acts 15:1) from Judea?
Had they been unbelieving Jews, Paul and Barnabas most likely would have kept them out of the church. The fact that they had heated dispute(s) - "no small dissension and dispute" (Acts 15:2) - with them indicates that they most likely were Jews who professed faith in Jesus but taught flawed theology.

What was the flaw?
Becoming a circumcised gentile - i.e., a 'Proselyte' - "circumcised according to the custom of Moses" (Acts 15:1) - is a prerequisite to salvation.

Why didn't the church in Antioch simply reject their flawed message?
The church in Antioch wasn't founded by Paul and Barnabas: "Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord" (Acts 11:19-21). Barnabas, who recruited Paul, was a missionary to the young church in Antioch from the established church in Jerusalem: "Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:22-26). Since another group of self-declared Christians from Judea was preaching a different message, at least some of the hearers in the Antioch church would have been unsure which side to believe.

How did they decide to settle the dispute?
"They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question." (Acts 15:2)

ACTS 15:3-4  3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. 4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.

Why did they pass through "Phoenicia and Samaria" (Acts 15:3)?
Travelling south from Antioch of Syria, they had to pass through Phoenicia (Lebanon today) and Samaria (central Israel today) to get to Jerusalem.

What did they do en route?
They told the churches en route about the conversion of the gentiles, causing "great joy to all the brethren" (Acts 15:3).

Upon arrival, did they report all that they had done to "the apostles and the elders" (Acts 15:4)?
No, they reported "all things that God had done with them" (Acts 15:4). Scalpels should never take credit for the Surgeon's work.

Who gets the credit at your church?