The Apostle Paul: The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers

22 “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings” (Acts 15:22–23).

Following the reports by Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and James, the apostles and the elders of the Jerusalem Church, along with the entire church body, decided to compose and send a letter to the Church in Antioch. They chose leaders from within the congregation in Jerusalem, Judas and Silas, along with Paul and Barnabas to deliver the letter.

The letter was addressed to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. It was composed by both the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. Following a brief word of greeting, the letter was as follows.

24 “Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:24–29)

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “In the wording of the letter, the council works to right the wrong done by the Judaizers. The writer, presumably James, candidly admits that the source of the controversy was Jerusalem, but he notes that those who went to Antioch and there troubled the Gentiles spoke without authority. But the writer then notes the council’s four directives, which, he says, ‘seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us.’ The apostles, the elders, and the church were fully aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct them.”

 We must be on our guard to not allow any self-righteous works to be added to the message of the Gospel. While good works are an evidence of conversion (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26), they are not the basis for conversion. The fundamental foundation of the Gospel is the sinner’s deliverance from the penalty, power and presence of sin by God’s sovereign grace alone, through God given faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Soli deo Gloria!


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