First, let us define what a Judaizer is.  The word Judaizer comes from a Greek verb meaning “to live according to Jewish customs.” The word appears in Galatians 2:14 in some translations where Paul describes how he confronted Peter for forcing Gentile Christians to try to live as Jews.  The Young’s Literal Translation tells us in Galatians 2:14, “But when I saw that they are not walking uprightly to the truth of the good news, I said to Peter before all, `If thou, being a Jew, in the manner of the nations dost live, and not in the manner of the Jews, how the nations dost thou COMPEL TO JUDAIZE?”  In the KJV, the verse says, “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to LIVE AS DO THE JEWS?”  Comparing these two translations shows us the meaning of a Judaizer.  They were Jewish people who insisted that Gentile converts live according to Jewish Law and tradition.

This was the issue which necessitated the Jerusalem Counsel we read about in Acts 15.  To begin, let’s read Acts 15:1-2, “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” 

Judaea was a province in the mountainous part of southern Israel.  Paul the Apostle wrote of this event in Galatians 2:1-10 and he describes these ‘certain men which came down from Judaea in verse 4, “And that because of FALSE BRETHREN UNAWARES brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.”  These unbelievers were trying to instruct the true Gentile believers how they should live…and demanded they “be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1).  These men were teaching that circumcision, as taught under the Law, must be performed in order to be saved.  Paul goes on to say in Galatians 2:5, “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”

In the Jerusalem Council, we hear from four prominent men of God.  We hear from Peter in Acts 15:7-11, “And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.”

In verse 12, we hear from Paul and Barnabas about the mighty works the Lord was doing among the Gentiles.  That says, “Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.”

In verses 13-20, we hear from James, the brother of the Lord Jesus.  He concludes in verses 19-20, “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” 

In verses 22-31, we read of the conclusion of the Jerusalem Council, and letters were sent to the varying churches to tell of these conclusions.  In part, the conclusion was “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.” (Verse 28).  Thus, the efforts of the Judaizers were stopped at the council.  However, even today, we find men who try to put us under the Law by insisting we keep Jewish customs such as circumcision, tithing, keeping the Sabbath, etc.  May we resist them, even as those men of God did in Jerusalem.  (CC)  (538.6)