ISSL Reflections November 5 2023 Acts 15:1–11 Post 2

From where we stand in the history of the spread of the Christian religion, I think we know which side “won” this argument? Right?

What if it wasn’t resolved in the way it was?

Acts 15:1-11 (NRSVue)

Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of the gentiles and brought great joy to all the brothers and sisters. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers,you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us, and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

What was the mantra of the “believers who belonged to the sect of Pharisees” we see here?

“It is necessary … “
“… to be circumcised …” is necessary
“… to keep the law of Moses … “ is necessary”

You do see this disagreement was between two “sects” (or groups, or factions) of believers? It was not coming from those outside the fellowship of Christ followers.

What do you think was most important to this group of believers who wanted circumcision and keeping the law of Moses to be required for all Christ followers?

Take a moment to think about various groups (or factions or sects, or denominations or communities of Christ followers – pick the description you like) of Christ followers today and notice what divides them and what doctrines, or rituals, or practices or behaviors or dress is required as necessary and essential for Christ followers?


{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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