THE STORY OF THE EARLY CHURCH
Verses preaching the "Gospel of Jesus"
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36.1 PETER and JAMES ADDRESS THE JERUSALEM CHURCH IN SUPPORT OF PAUL and BARNABAS
- After the First Missionary Journey, Paul and Barnabas travel to Jerusalem to question the need for Gentile converts to be circumcised and to observe the Law of Moses as Jews first, and Christians second. The apostle Peter supports them, reminding those present how the centurion Cornelius, a Gentile, received God's Holy Spirit. Then James, the brother of Jesus, adds his support through scripture, but proposes a set of simple rules for the guidance of Gentiles:
Acts 15:6-20 - The apostles and elders met (with Paul and Barnabas) to consider the matter. After an exhaustive enquiry Peter stood up and addressed them in these words: "Men and brothers, you know that from the earliest days God chose me as the one from whose lips the Gentiles should hear the Word and should believe it. Moreover, God who knows men's inmost thoughts has plainly shown that this is so, for when he had cleansed their hearts though their faith he gave the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles exactly as he did to us. Why then must you now strain the patience of God by trying to put on the shoulders of these disciples a burden which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Surely the fact is that it is by the grace of the Lord Jesus that we are saved by faith, just as they are!"
These words produced absolute silence, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul while they gave a detailed account of the signs and wonders which God had worked through them among the Gentiles (during their stay in Syrian Antioch and the First Missionary Journey).
James expresses the feeling of the meeting
Silence again followed their words and then James made this reply: "Men and brothers, listen to me. Symeon (Simon Peter) has shown how in the first place God chose a people (the Jews) from among the nations who should bear his name. This is in full agreement with what the prophets wrote, as in this scripture:
'After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord who does all these things. (Amos 9:11,12)
"I am firmly of the opinion that we should not put any additional obstacles before any Gentiles who are turning towards God. Instead, I think we should write to them telling them to avoid anything polluted by idols, sexual immorality, eating the meat of strangled animals, or tasting blood."
- Paul returns to Syrian Antioch, and shortly sets out on his Second Missionary Journey:
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate
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