Acts 15



Acts 15 narrates the resolution of a major dispute within the early church regarding the necessity of circumcision for Gentile believers. The Council of Jerusalem decides that Gentiles do not need to undergo circumcision but should follow certain guidelines for the sake of unity. This chapter highlights the importance of theological discussion, discernment, and the pursuit of unity within the diverse early Christian community.


  1. Dispute Over Circumcision (Acts 15:1-5): Some Jewish Christians from Judea come to Antioch and insist that Gentile believers must be circumcised according to Mosaic law to be saved. This creates a sharp dispute and disagreement between the two groups.
  2. The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6-21): To address the controversy, the apostles and elders convene a council in Jerusalem. After much debate, Peter speaks, emphasizing that God had accepted the Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit and that salvation is through faith. Paul and Barnabas share their experiences, and James proposes a resolution that Gentiles should not be burdened with circumcision but should abstain from certain practices to maintain unity with Jewish believers.
  3. Letter to the Gentile Believers (Acts 15:22-35): The council sends a letter to the Gentile believers, affirming their decision and encouraging them to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, blood, strangled animals, and sexual immorality. The letter is delivered by Judas and Silas, who also bring verbal encouragement to the Antioch church.
  4. Division Between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41): Paul proposes to Barnabas that they revisit the churches they had planted, but they disagree on whether to take John Mark with them. As a result, they part ways, with Barnabas taking Mark to Cyprus, and Paul choosing Silas as his companion.