Acts 15:1-5
Acts 15:1 (KJB)
And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Once Paul and Barnabas had returned to the Antioch church, they had a brief respite and now the Gospel was being attacked in a different direction. One of the methods which Satan uses to dilute the Gospel of Grace is not to degrade it but to add works to it and then claim one cannot get saved unless they add certain works to it. In this case, there came some men from Judaea unto the church at Antioch and taught the regenerated Gentiles, the brethren, that in order for them to be saved, they must be circumcised according to the law of Moses. No one knows who these men were but no doubt Judaizers. This situation led to the Jerusalem conference which would eventually put the notion to rest that you must be circumcised for salvation. Paul wrote the book of Galatians on the very subject of mixing law and grace.
Acts 15:2 (KJB)
When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
Dissension - Disagreement or commotion
Disputation - Disputing, reasoning or argumentation
Paul and Barnabas had responded to these false teachers and their teachings. It was a point of contention with them because if circumcision was necessary for salvation, then that is saying the sacrifice of Christ was insufficient and salvation had to be completed by man. It turned into a serious matter, to the point it even caused a commotion among the brethren. Since salvation by Grace was something new, the new Christians were vulnerable to such additions because Moses comes out of the Hebrew Scriptures and not some extra-biblical source. Instead of continuing the debating to the point of commotion, it was suggested that they all go to Jerusalem and discuss this question with the Apostles and the Elders of that church. Even though to Paul, the answer was obvious, they had been dispatched by the church in Antioch to go to Jerusalem and hopefully put this matter to rest.
Acts 15:3 (KJB)
And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
Paul and Barnabas did not miss a chance to evangelize. On their way south from Antioch to Jerusalem, they had gone through the region of Phoenicia and through Samaria. They had begun to preach that God had been saving the Gentiles and this fact had caused great joy among those that heard them. Apparently the Judaizers who came to Antioch did not stop to preach in these areas since the question was not raised with them. These people were open to what God was doing among the Gentile nations and now Paul was here to tell them that salvation is possible for them too, just like it was in the regions Paul and Barnabas visited on their missionary journey. No longer was the Gospel limited to the nation of Israel, it was now going out to the world.
Acts 15:4 (KJB)
And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.
Received - Welcomed, received favorably
The Judaizers did not come back to the Jerusalem church with Paul. They probably continued on to retrace the steps where they preached in Lyaconia and Galatia to bring their teaching that one must be circumcised and then one can be saved. Paul and Barnabas were welcomed by the members and the Elders of the church at Jerusalem. They then went on to declare all things which God had done with them and what happened on their first missionary journey. Even though God assigns Christians individual ministries, it is not what the Christian does but it is always God working as a result of that ministry. It is Godís ministry, not ours.
Acts 15:5 (KJB)
But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Needful - Necessary
The time of fellowship did not last that long when a group of believing Pharisees had come to the conclusion that for one to be truly saved, they must not only be circumcised, but they also needed to keep the law of Moses. These Pharisees had not understood that Christianity stands alone and one is saved by grace through the cross of Christ without any additions or keeping of any type of laws or ceremonies. Whet they wanted to do was to make Christianity an addition to the law of Moses not realizing that the law was added to the promises. (Gal 3:19 KJV) Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. The law was added because of sin, not as a vehicle for salvation. There is nothing in the law of Moses which brings true salvation. The Pharisees still saw the law of Moses as central to their entire religion, even though they were believers. They did not understand salvation was by grace alone. This type of situation the Pharisees brought in is no different than those today who claim that we must do something for salvation such as water baptism or some kind of works.