Council at Jerusalem

Study Guide

As the church at Antioch grows, they face growing tension between Jews and Gentiles. Leaders meet at Jerusalem to work through the issue, and they find that both Jews and Gentiles must make sacrifices to align their identities with Jesus and maintain unity in the church.
  1. The Jews had to humble themselves in order to receive the Gentiles into the church. When was the last time you engaged with someone significantly different from yourself? How did that affect you? How can you actively move to spend time with people who are different from you?

  2. The Gentiles had to humble themselves and change their lives in order to bring credibility to their faith. Consider the idea that you may have to sacrifice some freedoms in order to be an effective witness for Jesus. Where in your life might you need to limit your liberty in order to expand your ministry?

  3. There are many times when church leadership provides practical wisdom and insight into issues that are not clearly addressed in the Bible. Is it difficult for you to receive that instruction? Why or why not?

Key Points
  • As more Gentiles come to faith in Antioch, many Jewish leaders think they should be circumcised in order to join the church. This creates conflict, and a delegation of leaders meet at Jerusalem to make a decision.

  • The Jewish believers have faced some major shifts in their thinking and identity over the past several years. Ultimately, they must align with the truth that salvation is free and available to all—both Jew and Gentile.

  • Unity is most powerful where diversity is present. Both Jews and Gentiles need to make sacrifices in order to remain committed to one another as believers even when they disagree on some things.

  • The Jews must remember that they are not the standard for holiness. And the Gentiles must come under the authority of the church and change their lives in order to bring credibility to their faith.

  • Even though both Jews and Gentiles have to make sacrifices, the believers rejoice that church leadership has provided clear direction. So should we seek to preserve unity in the church.

Other Scripture References

Scripture: Acts 15:1-35