Acts 15: The Jerusalem Council


(41 verses, 5:30 to read)

What I am about to READ

The events of Jerusalem council.


1-2: False teachers form Judea had slipped into the church in Antioch. They were preaching another gospel than what Paul and Barnabas preached, which is really no gospel at all! They preached that circumcision was necessary for salvation. In other words, faith in Jesus Christ alone was not enough to save the Gentiles. Something more must be added: the law of Moses. This was a major issue, which prompted a church-wide meeting – the Jerusalem Council.

3-4: Paul and Barnabas (along with Titus – see Galatians 2) made their way to Jerusalem and were welcomed.

5: “Party of the Pharisees” – those promoting this false teaching apparently were former Pharisees who had come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. But, they did not understand the true implications of Jesus Christ’s work. He is the complete fulfillment of the law of Moses, thus circumcision was no longer necessary.

6-11: Peter’s speech. God chose the Gentiles to hear the word of the gospel and believe.  There ought to be no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit, just as all believers had. The former Pharisees were attempting to burden all believers with the “yoke” of the Mosaic law, which had come to an end in Christ. This speech ends beautifully with these words: “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (v. 11).

12-18: The assembly was silenced by Peter’s address. Then James broke the silence with his speech. He then adds confirmation from Scripture, Amos 9:11-12.  God is now doing the work He foretold long ago.

19-21: James appears to be “presiding” over this council.  Although there was no “ranking” of the disciples, James presides because he is the bishop/pastor of the church in Jerusalem. His resolution is that the Gentiles shouldn’t be troubled/annoyed by Jewish laws, and a fraternal letter should be delivered to the saints in Antioch.

22-35: The letter and it’s delivery to the saints in Antioch.

36-41: Beginning of Paul’s second missionary journey. John Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first journey but had deserted them (Acts 13:13). Apparently Paul was still bitter about this. Therefore he chose Silas to accompany him, while Barnabas and Mark made their way to Cyprus. NOTE: God graciously restored unity. Paul later speaks favorably of Barnabas’ work (1 Corinthians 9:6) and also comes to think very highly of John Mark (2 Timothy 4:11).


The Jerusalem Council was a HUGE moment for the church. Together they came to a consensus – not of their own opinion – but based on the word of God. Circumcision is not necessary for salvation! Either Christ alone saves (completely, totally, absolutely), or there’s something that we must do. It doesn’t matter if it’s circumcision or any other work that we do; any work deemed necessary for salvation robs Christ of His glory. If any part of our salvation depends on our work, then Jesus died for nothing. God alone saves us by grace through faith in His Son’s perfect life, death and resurrection for us. Believers are now free from the yoke/burden of the laws of Moses. Believers are free in Christ.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group:

Sub Cruce,

Pastor Kevin Zellers, Jr.


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