Teacher Notes

Bible Stories for Adults

The Jerusalem Council

Acts 15

Welcome and Announcements
    Next Week - Paul's Second Missionary Journey (Acts 16-18)
    Bible Words to Remember:
      If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32

Opening Prayer

The Targets (Acts 11:18)
    What responsibility did Jesus leave for the church and how extensive is it?
      Matthew 28:19 = To Go and make disciples of all nations
    What would be the most difficult part of this for the early Christians?
      Acts 10:28a = Making disciples of non-Jews
    Why was this so hard? = God had commanded Jews to stay separate from others
      Ezra 9:1a, 3, 6, 10-14 = Jews believed evils & problems were from accepting Gentiles

    How was the church pushed when they had not gone to other nations 11 years after Pentecost?
      Acts 11:4-5, 9-10 = God gave Peter a vision that Gentiles were no longer unclean
    How did the church react to Peter taking the gospel to Cornelius, a Roman centurion?
      Acts 11:1-3 = They were furious and scolded Peter for associating with uncircumcised
    How did this change after Peter explained how God had intervened?
      Acts 11:18 = They were thrilled with the news that salvation was even for the Gentiles

    Was this a significant change in God's plan?
      Galatians 3:8 = No, Salvation of Gentiles had been foretold throughout the Scriptures
    If the Scriptures had announced this, why didn't the Jews understand it?
      Ephesians 3:4-6 = It was a mystery hidden until Christ, they didn't have the NT like us
    What is one of Paul's many ways of summarizing this important truth?
      Romans 3:21-24, 29-30 = There is no difference, God is the God of Jews & Gentiles

First Steps (Acts 11:19-14:28)
    With this new understanding, did the church make a massive effort to evangelize the Gentiles?
      Acts 11:19-21 = Most went only to Jews, Some in Antioch went to Jews AND Greeks
    What did the central church in Jerusalem feel about the activities in Antioch?
      Acts 11:22-24 = Sent one of their best, Barnabas, to investigate & guide these new Christians
    What did Barnabas do when he found that the opportunity was too great for him to handle?
      Acts 11:25-26 = Went and brought Saul to help; they led for a year

    How was the love for others expressed by this church?
      Acts 11:27-30 = Sent gifts to Christians in Judea as help for predicted famine
    How did the outreach focus of this church in Antioch continue to grow?
      Acts 13:2-3 = They sent out their top leaders as missionaries
    What did Saul and Barnabas do after completing their journey? = (2 yrs, 1500 miles)
      Acts 14:26-28 = Reported success with Gentiles, stayed in Antioch a long time (2 yrs)

I Heard it on the Grapevine (Acts 13:13)
    How might the Christians in Jerusalem have heard about Paul's successes with Gentiles?
      Acts 12:25; 13:4-5, 13 = John Mark started on first journey, left in Perga
    Why did John Mark go to Jerusalem when he left?
      Acts 12:5, 7, 12 = The Jerusalem church met in his mother's house

Entrance Exam (Acts 15:1)
    Did the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem accept all of these new Gentile Christians?
      Acts 15:1 = Yes, but they said they needed to be circumcised to be Christian
    Why did the Jewish Christians feel circumcision was essential to be saved?
      Genesis 17:10, 14 = God commanded His people to be circumcised or be cut off
    But wasn't circumcision just for Jews? Were Gentiles also to be circumcised?
      Exodus 12:48 = Gentiles could become proselytes if circumcised & baptized (cleansed)
    Circumcise means to cut off, to separate

Real Circumcision (Romans 2:25-29)
    Did Paul, raised as a law-studied Pharisee, agree with this need for circumcision?
      Romans 2:25-27 = Only if you are perfect and obey all of God's other laws
    Since all have sinned, as Paul later explains, what circumcision is necessary?
      Romans 2:28-29 = Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit
    So why did God have the Old Testament Jews undergo circumcision?
      Romans 4:9-13 = As a sign of His covenant to save those made righteous by faith

    What had Jesus said about confusing God's old covenant with His new covenant?
      Luke 5:36-39 = It is like pouring new wine into old, dry wineskins - it ruins both
    What happened the moment Jesus died to emphasize that no people are to be cut off from God?
      Luke 23:44-46 = The huge curtain separating the Most Holy Place was torn in half

The Reaction (Acts 15:2-3)
    How did Paul and Barnabas react to the Judaizers pushing for all Christians to be circumcised?
      Galatians 2:4-5 = They did not give in for a moment and stood up for the truth
    How concerned were they that the mother church in Jerusalem may actually feel this way?
      Acts 15:2 = Enough to go to Jerusalem and set the matter straight
    What kind of proof did they bring with them?
      Galatians 2:1-3 = Titus, an uncircumcised Greek who was obviously saved
    How upsetting and distracting was this issue for Paul and Barnabas?
      Acts 15:3 = Enough to correct it, not enough to stop witnessing

    Did Paul & Barnabas raise the circumcision issue as soon as they reached the Jerusalem church?
      Acts 15:4 = No, they first reported everything God had done through them
    Did the church leaders have any corrections for Paul's message and/or approach?
      Galatians 2:6-10 = No, they added nothing (v6) and agreed that P&B should go to Gentiles

The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:5-12)
    Who got the discussion moving on the circumcision issue?
      Acts 15:5-6 = A group of Pharisee Christians, The first recorded church council was held
    Who reminded the council that God had made it clear that Gentiles were accepted as they are?
      Acts 15:7-9 = Peter reminded them of his vision & experience with Cornelius (10 yrs)
    Did Peter now understand that God had made this new covenant apart from the law?
      Acts 15:10-11 = Yes, he warned against the yoke that no one can bear

    What other proof was given to the council besides the Cornelius story?
      Acts 15:12 = P&B's successes - Note that everyone was silent, Spirit was working
    Why did they tell about the miracles they did and not just the people who became Christians?
      Mark 16:20 = It confirmed that God was working through them

Pastor Speaks (Acts 15:12-18)
    With Peter busy as a local missionary, who had become the leader of the Jerusalem church?
      Acts 12:16-17 = James, Jesus' brother - a very devout person, called James the Just
    Had he been aware of Paul's calling and work?
      Galatians 1:18-19 = Yes, Paul had only seen Peter & James during his first visit to Jer.
    What did Pastor James think about what Peter, Paul and Barnabas were saying?
      Acts 15:13-14 = Said God took from the Gentiles a people for Himself (said of Jews)
    Did he feel this had always been part of God's plan?
      Acts 15:15-18 = Quoted from Amos out of the scroll called The Prophets

The Decision (Acts 15:19-21)
    What was Pastor James' conclusion from all of this evidence?
      Acts 15:19 = Same as Peter to not put an unnecessary yoke on their necks
    Did this mean that Christians were free to ignore God's law and act any way they wanted?
      Acts 15:20 = No, they should try to please God in what they do
    What did Paul think about telling the Gentiles they had to avoid sin?
      Romans 6:15-16, 22-23 = He agreed, we are freed from sin into righteousness

    Why was food that had been offered to idols prohibited?
      1 Corinthians 8:4, 7-13 = To avoid from causing a problem for another Christian
    Why was sexual immorality singled out among all other sins? = Sex was part of other religions
      1 Corinthians 6:18-20 = It is a sin against the temple of the Holy Spirit
    Why the command against eating meat with blood in it? (Strangling does not drain the blood)
      Genesis 9:3-4 = Commanded of Noah & descendants (all people) when meat allowed
    Why is the blood not to be eaten?
      Leviticus 17:10-11 = Life is in the blood, blood given to make atonement

    Should these regulations apply only in towns where Jews are found?
      Acts 15:21 = Yes, but Jews will be found everywhere

The Letter (Acts 15:22-29)
    How would the church tell the remote Christians this was their decision and not just Paul's?
      Acts 15:22 = They wrote a letter and sent it with Paul, Barnabas, Judas & Silas
    What important statement did they make at the beginning of the letter?
      Acts 15:23-24 = The men who started this mess did it themselves, not from the church
    How did they make it clear that Paul & Barnabas were on the right side?
      Acts 15:25-27 = Commended Paul & Barnabas and sent J&S to confirm verbally
    What instructions did they have for the Gentile Christians?
      Acts 15:28-29 = No restrictions but those James had suggested

The Response (Acts 15:30-36)
    How was this letter accepted?
      Acts 15:30-31 = The people were encouraged, the problem was resolved
    Did Judas and Silas leave as soon as the message had been given?
      Acts 15:32-34 = No, they stayed a while then returned
    What did Paul and Barnabas do then?
      Acts 15:35-36 = Stayed in Antioch a while, then decided to go on another journey

Peter Has a Relapse (Galatians 2:11-21)
    What happened during this time Paul spent in Antioch?
      Galatians 2:11 = Peter visited and Paul had to straighten him out
    What did Paul have to oppose Peter to his face about?
      Galatians 2:12-13 = He stopped fellowship with Gentiles when Jewish Christians came
    What did Paul say to straighten Peter out?
      Galatians 2:14-21 = He reminded him that we are all one in the faith of Christ
    Note: Galatians was written by Paul to counter problems spread by Judaizers

Closing Prayer

Copyright © 1998 by Kurt Rosenhagen

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