The Gentile Believers
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 4 Lesson 2 Wednesday
The lesson asks us to read Acts 15:5~29
5 Then some of those who had partaken of the Remedy and proclaimed loyalty to Christ, but were still stuck in their Pharisaical traditions, stood up and said, “The non-Jews must be circumcised, as the script given through Moses requires.” 6 The Lord’s ambassadors and mission leaders counseled together, considering this issue. 7 After a long discussion, Peter stood up and said, “Friends and co-workers in God’s cause, you know full well that some time ago God decided that the good news of his Remedy should be taken to the non-Jews by me, so that they might trust him and be healed. 8 God, who is concerned with the heart and knows their hearts well, poured the Holy Spirit upon these non-Jewish people–just as he did to us–thus confirming they were right with him. 9 God didn’t make any difference between us and them, who are of different ancestry, for he cleansed their hearts through their trust–not by some legal act or ritual. 10 So why are you trying to prove you know better than God by putting legal requirements and rituals on them, which will only enslave them like a yoke around their neck, and which neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No way! Don’t do it! We believe it is through the gracious Remedy of our Lord Jesus that we are healed, and so are they!” 12 The entire room remained silent. No one said a word as they listened to Paul and Barnabas tell of the miracles and wonders God had done among the non-Jews through them. 13 When they finished, James said, “Friends and co-workers for God, listen to me: 14 Simon has told us that God shows no racial preferences–but sees all humanity as one–and has healed non-Jews, bringing them back to unity with him. 15 The words of the Lord’s spokespersons agree, as it is written: 16 ‘After this I will come again and rebuild the fallen family of David. Though it is decayed and dying, I will be its Remedy, 17 so that the rest of humanity may come to me: yes, all the peoples of the world who desire my character restored in them. So says the Lord who accomplishes this 18 and has been making it known from ages past.’ 19 “Therefore, it is my judgment that we should not put obstacles in the way of the non-Jews who are turning to God and desire to partake of the Remedy. 20 Instead, let’s send them a letter advising them to live pure lives: to keep their hearts pure toward God and therefore avoid anything that leads the mind toward idols; to keep their relationships pure and therefore avoid all sexual impurity; and to keep their bodies pure by not eating blood, raw meat, or any meat from animals whose blood was not drained. 21 For these principles are the basis of what Moses taught; they have been preached in every city since his time, and read in the synagogues each Sabbath.” 22 Then the Lord’s ambassadors, along with team leaders and the entire spiritual health-care team, selected delegates of their own to accompany Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch. They chose Judas Barsabbas and Silas, who were both leaders among them. 23 They sent this letter with them:”We, the Lord’s ambassadors and team leaders, and fellow workers for God’s cause, send greetings to you, fellow members of the Lord’s spiritual health-care team in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. 24 It has come to our attention that some individuals came to you from our group, without our knowledge or authorization, and presented contradictory and burdensome ideas that have undermined your peace and security in the Lord. 25 Because of this, we met together and decided to send out authorized delegates to you, accompanied by our dear friends Barnabas and Paul– 26 men who, as you know, have risked their lives to reach people with the Remedy of the Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We are sending Judas Barsabbas and Silas to tell you face to face that the letter we are sending is genuine, and to answer any questions you may have. 28 The Holy Spirit helped us realize that it is best not to burden your spiritual treatment-plan with unnecessary rituals, but you will do well to enhance your transformation with the following guidelines: 29 You are to live pure lives–keep your hearts pure toward God by avoiding anything that leads the mind toward idols; keep your relationships pure by avoiding all sexual impurity; and keep your bodies pure by not eating blood, raw meat, or any meat from animals whose blood was not drained. You will be physically, spiritually and relationally healthier if you avoid these things. May all go well with you.”
What do these requirements in verse 29 have in common?
Which laws are being observed [Hint: it’s not the 10 Commandments]?
The conflict over observing the Jewish law and tradition could have destroyed the church, but thanks to the Holy Spirit it was resolved in a wonderful way.
- The Pharisees explained their point of view about how the Gentile should observe the Old Testament laws.
- Paul and Barnabas –supported by Peter– reported on the conversion of Gentiles to the Gospel and defended that they shouldn’t impose Jewish burdens to them.
- There was some discussion in the assembly and they reached a conclusion that benefited everybody.
Although Jewish believers weren’t to impose their rules and traditions on Gentiles, the council wanted to make sure that the Gentiles didn’t do things that would have been deemed offensive to the Jews who were united with them in Jesus.
From the bottom section:
“Could we, in some ways, be laying on people burdens that are not necessary but are more from tradition than divine command? If so, how?”
This from one of the founders of our church;
“The council which decided this case was composed of apostles and teachers who had been prominent in raising up the Jewish and Gentile Christian churches, with chosen delegates from various places. Elders from Jerusalem and deputies from Antioch were present, and the most influential churches were represented. The council moved in accordance with the dictates of enlightened judgment, and with the dignity of a church established by the divine will. As a result of their deliberations they all saw that God Himself had answered the question at issue by bestowing upon the Gentiles the Holy Ghost; and they realized that it was their part to follow the guidance of the Spirit.” E.G.W. (The Acts of the Apostles, cp. 19, p. 196)
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