Acts 15: 12-22

Written by kathleen on Sep 06, 2015 in - No Comments

Acts 15:12-22

Free from the Law

12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me:

They shared their first missionary journey. And how God worked such wonderful miracles among the Gentile people. And how many of the Gentiles came to a faith in Jesus Christ.

James had a few nick names such as “James the Just” because he was so righteous and “James the Camel-Kneed” because he spent so much time in prayer, this was the half brother of Jesus and the leader of the church at Jerusalem.

James steps in and wisely uses Peter’s Hebrew name because the debate centered on Jewish issues; and even though there had been much dispute, these men were willing to listen, and to be persuaded

14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.

This is an interesting phrase; God visited the Gentiles to take out a people for His name. There is a scripture in Luke where Jesus says that Jerusalem will be trodden under the foot of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. But then Paul in Romans eleven speaks about the fullness of the Gentiles coming in.

In other words, because God who knows all things and who is sovereign in all things has prophesied in the New Testament Scripture that the Gentiles who would believe were to receive the gospel and they were to be saved.

The Old Testament says nothing about Gentiles in the kingdom having to become Jews. It simply says in the Old Testament, the residue of men are going to seek the Lord, and all the nations, who call on His name are going to be saved.

Today God is still gathering from the Gentiles a people for His name and most bible scholars believe we are almost to the full quota and   it is just about time that the fullness of the Gentiles is complete.

At that point in the Biblical timeline of events; God will then take His church (the rapture) while He visits the world with judgment and as He deals with the Jewish nation for one more seven year cycle.

After that Jesus will return with His church and will establish God’s kingdom upon the earth.

I wonder if the last of the Gentiles being fulfilled will happen with the altar call today. Could the final completion be accomplished here today?

15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: 16 ‘After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up;

When James quotes the prophecy in Amos 9:11-12 about rebuilding the fallen tabernacle of David, it is possible that he remembers the Judaism of his day and how it had fallen down in the sense that it had rejected its Messiah. But now God wants to rebuild that work, focusing on a church made up of both Jew and Gentile.

The Apostle Paul addresses this subject in Romans 11:25–26  For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved,

When will the fullness of the Gentiles come? In Luke 21:24, Jesus said Jerusalem would be trodden down until the “times of the Gentiles” are fulfilled; this deals with the recovering of Jerusalem. But the fullness of the Gentiles is a different issue.

In 1967 Jerusalem was recaptured by Israel. Many believe this could be the “times of the Gentiles that were being fulfilled” in 1967. If this is so we are in overtime right now, due to God’s goodness and patience

What is the fullness of the Gentiles? It’s when the full number of Gentiles are saved. In other words, there is a Gentile somewhere on the earth who is the last one to be saved. When that person acknowledges Jesus Christ as Savior, the fullness of the Gentiles will be complete, and at that moment, we’ll be raptured.

The times of the Gentiles deals with Jerusalem; the fullness of the Gentiles deals with the last individual accepting Jesus Christ—which will usher in the Rapture and the completion of the Gentile Age.

We are told in Rev 4:1-3 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

So if you’re not yet saved—get saved! You could do us all a favor because you might be the last one! You see the Lord will wait until all one hundred are in the flock. He’ll leave the ninety-nine and search out the one, and when that last one is brought into the kingdom, the fullness of the Gentiles concludes and up we go.

Then when the time of the Gentiles is over, the Lord is going to turn again to the nation of Israel and the bible says all of Israel shall be saved. But notice it is after the time of the Gentiles.

As of now under Israeli rule, the city of Jerusalem has not been trodden down by the Gentiles for the last 48 years;

The Age of the Gentiles for the most part is complete; does that mean the Rapture is forty eight years late? No, it means we’re in overtime!

The Rapture is imminent. But the Lord has chosen to extend His grace for a short time more before ushering in the Tribulation.

The reason for overtime in this context as well as for today is:

17 So that the rest (residue) of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.’ 18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.

“The residue of men” refers to those who are continuing to worship God. When God says there are Gentiles who are called by His name, He is saying they stay Gentiles. They are not Gentiles who have been made Jews. Therefore; James’ point is Gentiles do not need to become Jews and under the law to be saved!

A group of theologians have introduced a theory that God doesn’t really know exactly who’s going to be saved or what’s going to happen—that He’s kind of playing everything by ear as He goes along. Not true! When you get to heaven, God’s not going to say, “Oh, I’m glad you made it! I wasn’t sure you would.” No, James says God has known everything from the beginning of the world.

God in Isaiah declared. Isa 46:9-10 For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done,

God is omniscient-(all knowing)

This is one of the strongest apologetic statements as far as proving that the Bible is God’s word in the prophetic aspect in the Bible.

Stating how God shows things that are going to come long before they ever came. These prophecies in the Scriptures prove just what James declared here.  “Known to God from eternity are all His works”.

James’ conclusion:

19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

James  is saying “In light of the Gentile Age,”, “there are four things from which we should tell new believers to abstain”— one of which dealt with morality; the remaining three with sensitivity.    The moral issue was fornication. Because prior to Christianity; fornication was very common and accepted. But Christianity brought with it; faithfulness to the marriage vows and the prohibition of fornication.

The remaining three issues dealt with sensitivity because Jews were very sensitive about the issues of blood, strangulation, and meat offered to idols.

James says my suggestion is the way they resolve this dispute and this problem that has risen in the church as far as what relationship the Gentile believers would have to the Mosaic Law.

It is not necessary that they keep the ritual.  But that we should write to them that they abstain from the pollution of idols.

In those days most of the meat that the pagans ate they would take it to the temples of their gods and they would offer the sacrifices and a part of the meat was burnt on the altars to their gods. A part of it was kept by the priest and the rest of it they kept for themselves

Quite often the meat that you would buy in the market place was meat that had been offered first to idols and sold at cheap prices.. And so the suggestion is made that they should abstain from the pollution of idols. That is from eating meat that has been offered to idols.

The idea was to break down this barrier between Jew and Gentile in order that they might eat together.

To the gentiles he is suggesting that they sort of keep a little bit of Kosher in their preparation of their meat. Such as you thoroughly bleed the meat which was a part of the Kosher killing of the animals.

If you do this then the Jews can eat together with you. If you don’t do this then there could be a problem, if you’re eating because of the Jew and his conscience about these things.

For the Jews concerning things sacrificed to idols when you buy meat at the butcher shop, don’t ask the butcher if the meat was offered to an idol. Don’t ask him. Just buy it. Take it home and eat it and don’t ask any questions.

Because if you ask and he says, oh yes, then you know you might have trouble with your conscience when you eat it.

When you are invited to eat dinner with friends, again for conscience sake don’t ask them about the meat. Just eat what is set before you, asking no questions because it really doesn’t make that much difference.

As Christians today we are faced with many similar issues; concerning drinking, movies, smoking, or certain social activities. Every one of us is either a stepping-stone or a stumbling stone, as we either allow people to get closer to God by the way we live or cause them to stumble unnecessarily. In our freedom, we also need sensitivity; as spoken of in Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

We need to get away from our self centeredness and justification!

1 Cor 10:23-24 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

Now, had Paul and Barnabas come back and said well this is what they said, you know, we don’t have to worry about it.  We don’t have to be circumcised and all that and we don’t have to keep the law of Moses.

There would have been those who said, oh, they didn’t really say that. So they wisely sent some of the leaders from the church in Jerusalem to take the letter there. So that they couldn’t accuse Paul of forging a letter or whatever. These men would go and verbally confirm what was written in the letter and that the decision that they made came to through prayer and seeking God.

Today you don’t have to keep any religious laws or do any kind of good works to obtain salvation. For salvation comes from trusting Christ- and is within easy reach of each of us; in fact, it is as near as our own hearts and mouths.

For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that a person becomes right with God; and with your mouth you tell others of your faith; confirms your salvation.

As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.