Daily Word

Let’s settle this | Acts 15:1-5

1 While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers[a]: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted.

4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders. They reported everything God had done through them. 5 But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”

Acts 15:1-5 (NLT) 中文

1st Missionary Journey complete

Paul and Barnabas have concluded the first missionary journey of the church, sent out by the church at Antioch and now are back there. When they entered a city, they usually went to the synagogue of the city to preach to Jews, were kicked out, then went to the Gentiles, then were kicked out of the city completely. Now they return to Antioch and share their story.

Trouble from within

Just when things were “settling down” in Antioch, trouble comes down from Judea. These Jews who had converted to following Christ had their own thoughts about how Gentiles can come to Christ. For them, “It was one thing to accept the occasional God-fearer into the church, someone already in sympathy with Jewish ways; it was quite another to welcome large numbers of Gentiles who had no regard for the law and no intention of keeping it.” (Williams in enduringword.com)

Agree to disagree?

Paul and Barnabas argued “vehemently” with them on this topic. Why? It was a serious doctrinal issue fundamental to the faith. They couldn’t just agree to disagree. Paul will later write much about the law and faith / works and faith. The whole book of Galatians is pretty much about that topic – and circumcision in particular.

What’s the issue? Basically, if you have to keep the law of circumcision to be saved, it is no longer Christ’s sacrifice alone that saves you. Your own good works are also required. And our own good works can never be enough to make us righteous, perfect, before a holy God. So we are without hope; our faith is in vain. 

Let’s settle this

So the Antioch church wisely decides to send to Jerusalem, to the apostles, to settle this matter. On the way, Paul and Barnabas share about God’s work among the Gentiles with different churches. In Jerusalem, the apostles receive Paul and Barnabas warmley. But some Jews who had accepted Christ state their claim and the argument resumes. These Jews were Pharisees, the same group that Jesus had reprimanded so often (cf Luke 11:37-54).


  • If you read the Gospels, you see how often Jesus clashed with the religious leaders, like the Pharisees. In Matthew 23:27-28 He lambasted them – even calling them white-washed tombs. Yet Jesus loved them and did it to wake them up. The offer of salvation was to them as well. And, some did indeed believe.  Doesn’t that give you hope and courage to share the Gospel with those most opposed? 
  • There are certain issues of doctrine that are non-negotiable. Salvation by faith alone is one of them. Others, like end times details, can allow for differences of opinion. We need to be humble and discern which is which. 
Settle out of court. Image from cartoonstock.com *

🤞 May I notify you of new posts?

They'll be sent out as soon as new POSTs are created, which has been daily (hence the name) for over 15 years.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content