Daily Word

Righteous recommendation | Acts 15:12-21

12 Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

13 When they had finished, James stood and said, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Peter[c] has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people for himself. 15 And this conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted. As it is written:

16 ‘Afterward I will return
    and restore the fallen house[d] of David.
I will rebuild its ruins
    and restore it,
17 so that the rest of humanity might seek the Lord,
    including the Gentiles—
    all those I have called to be mine.
The Lord has spoken—
18 he who made these things known so long ago.’[e]

19 “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. 21 For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.”

Acts 15:12-21 (NLT) 中文

Church dispute

Due to some legalistic Jewish believers preaching that the Gentiles must (also) uphold the law of Moses (as they do) in order to be saved, Paul and Barnabus have taken the issue to the apostles in Jerusalem. It was discussed and Peter shared his experience with Cornelius. Now James, the half-brother of Jesus and leader of the church, weighs in.

Proof in the eating

You’ve heard the expression, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. When Paul and Baranabas are sharing (v12), that is what’s happening. They are sharing, not about their own exploits and accomplishments but God’s. His call to welcome the Gentiles into the family, demonstrated by miracles and the Holy Spirit filling.

Righteous recommendation

James nicely summarizes the argument proposed by Barnabas and Paul and supported by Peter’s testimony regarding Cornelius. He anchors it in the truth of what God already prophesied through the prophets. He quotes from Amos 9:11-12. God has restored the house of (King) David so that all the nations can know that salvation belongs to the Lord. 

It’s worth noting that James very intentionally said, “take from them a people for himself” (v14). In this, he is, “thus (1) applying to Gentile Christians a designation formerly used of Israel alone and (2) agreeing with Peter that in the conversion of Cornelius God himself had taken the initiative for a direct Gentile ministry.” (Longenecker quoted in planobiblechapel.org)

He then pronounces judgment, as the leader. Note that he doesn’t “side with” Paul and Baranabas since that could have caused division. Rather, he states, by the Spirit, the truth that needs to be preached and practiced. The Gentiles don’t need to obey all these laws to be saved (implying circumcision, the specific law in question). He recommends some rules that they should follow and these are adopted by the assembly.


  • Are you amazed that God has created such a complex plan with so much detail across many generations and cultures. It’s one that He prophesied from the beginning and brings to fulfillment?! 
  • What can we learn about James’ summary? He was quite diplomatic it seems and effective – as we will see in the next passage.
Bannana pudding dessert. Image from Pxfuel.com

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