I truly believe the historical book of Acts is like a string of firecrackers, one significant event exploding onto the scene on the heels of the one before.
Chapter 15 is no different. God turned the spread of the Gospel upside down when He called Paul to preach to the Gentiles. And of course, that caused a chain reaction of its own, which we now refer to as the Jerusalem Council.
The elders and apostles were faced with the question, “Now that the Gentiles are part of The Way, what do we do with them?” We can predict what the knee-jerk answer was. Isn’t that the human way? Default to what we know? “We’ve always done it that way.”
Then Peter stood up and gave one of his finest speeches with some great one-liners. He so nailed it! It was c-r-i-t-i-c-a-l to the spread of the Gospel and the formation of Christ’s Church that the status quo be challenged and modified. We have read over and over in the recounting of the Law and the Prophets that God had always intended to include Gentiles in His plan of salvation.
In preparation for the Jerusalem Council, God wisely gave Peter that vision and the experience at Cornelius’ house. Peter was convinced. He was changed. He had the arguments at the ready that would ultimately make this council so pivotal.
I always want to just leap up and applaud when Peter says, “…why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?” Score!
I’d love to hear your reactions to Peter’s speech and how the elders were changed. Do you think this gathering was significant? You might want to listen to the podcast and then let me know in the comments below.