Acts 15:6-31 is referred to as the ‘Jerusalem Council.’  These were the days of the early church and as many Gentiles were being saved, some of the Jewish believers wanted to put them under the Jewish law.  Verse 1 says, “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.”  Verse 5 says, “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”   No doubt, the question of the relation of the believing Gentiles to the Law and to circumcision had to be determined.  So, a council was convened to consider this matter.

Who was at this council?  Verse 2 tells us that Paul and Barnabas were there.  We see in verse 6 that ‘the apostles and elders’ were there.  Verse 7 says that Peter was there and verse 14 show us that James was there.  (The James mentioned here was the half-brother of the Lord Jesus.  James the Apostle had already been killed by Herod.  We read that account in Acts 12:1-2.)  So, there was a prestigious group of Godly men gathered together to seek to determine the Lord’s mind concerning the Gentile believers and the Law.  After much discussion, Peter spoke up and told how the Lord had used him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles so that they might be saved.  He said in verses 9-10 “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?”  What a remarkable statement!  The Jews had never been able to keep God’s Law, so why did they want to put the Gentiles under the Law?  Then Paul and Barnabas told how that they had witnessed miracles and signs the Lord worked among the Gentiles, indicating the Lord working among them.

After that, James spoke and reminded the council how that Simeon (Simon Peter) had been used first by the Lord to offer salvation to the Gentiles.  He told them that this was the fulfillment of prophesy and loosely quoted Amos 9:11-12.  It was undeniably obvious that the Gentiles, whom the Jews had historically hated, were now their brothers and sisters in Christ. James then said 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.”  This meant that they would not expect the Gentile believers to be put under the Law.  After all, the Law was for the Israelites.  In giving the Law to Moses, we read in Exodus 20:22, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel…”

The council did ask four things of the Gentiles who had turned to the Lord, “that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”  These things were not given because they were part of the Law, but because the pagans did these things, and thus they did not want the Gentiles to be doing the same things.  Although later, Paul would show how that eating meat that had been offered to idols (meat which could be bought very cheaply) was nothing to be concerned about. (1 Corinthians 8:4-13)  Paul did warn against offending someone’s conscience by doing things that might stumble them.  1 Corinthians 8:13, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”  So, here in the Jerusalem Council, since the majority of the Jewish believers were greatly offended by seeing someone eat meat that had been offered to idols, they were asked not to do it.

The saints had worked together well.  Several addressed the council with wise and encouraging words.  The Lord moved among them and gave them one mind.  The rest of the chapter shows how that this agreement was spread among believers everywhere.  (211.2)