Read: Acts 15:1-31
So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. (v. 3)
Paul’s first missionary journey was a tremendous success, and it had brought great joy because non-Jewish people, the Gentiles, were coming to faith in Jesus. Paul was fulfilling his calling by carrying God’s name “before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
But this did not sit well with some of the believers in Jerusalem. They believed that observing the law of Moses (Torah) and practicing circumcision still needed to be included in following Jesus. Basically it came down to the question, “Do Gentiles who become believers in Jesus have to become Jews first?” Paul had not been requiring that of his Gentile converts.
So the early church gathered, in what we have come to call the Jerusalem Council, to settle this matter. Peter, and then James, the brother of Jesus, both well-respected apostles, won the day and sided with Paul, stating that they were not willing to place a yoke on the necks of these new non-Jewish believers that even they, the Jews, had been unable to bear. Fortunately, the church realized early on what Paul would later put so eloquently in words: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). —John Koedyker
As you pray, thank God for saving us by his grace alone.