Acts 15:6-10
Acts 15:6 (KJB)
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
I guess this can be considered the first Church Council in history. The Elders and the Apostles had now gathered themselves together to look into the matter of whether a person had to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be saved. We must keep in mind that at this point in church history, none of the New Testament had been written yet. The only Scriptures they had were the Hebrew Scriptures containing the law of Moses. The church in Antioch had wanted this subject discussed because there were false teachers who were pushing this belief in their region and also in the regions where Paul and Barnabas had ministered. Once they reached a conclusion, they would be able to send it out to all the churches and lay this matter to rest.
Acts 15:7 (KJB)
And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
At the outset of this meeting there was much discussion on the matter. This was not a dispute of arguing but of basically a large question and answer session. This had gone on for a while so to prevent this meeting from turning into several groups with divergent beliefs which would only cause the meeting to become confusion, both sides were seriously investigating the issue. Then Peter stood up and began to speak about the fact that God had chosen them to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles and no doubt he was thinking about Cornelius and the others in the area of Caesarea where Peter had ministered. The word “hear” in the text means “hearing with understanding” which teaches us that the Gentiles which Peter went to were part of those who were ordained unto eternal life as we read in Acts 13:48. (Acts 13:48 KJV) And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Acts 15:8 (KJB)
And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
Peter now teaches them that it was God who knew the hearts of those He had predestined to save and that bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles was God’s plan and not his. God indwelled them in the person of the Holy Spirit just as He did the Jewish believers and the Apostles. By saving them, they became witnesses to the Gospel wherever they were. Cornelius became a testimony of the Gospel to all those he came in contact with, plus by being saved, they were witnesses of the truth of God. The Holy Spirit was the seal of their acceptance by God. (2 Cor 1:22 KJV) Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Acts 15:9 (KJB)
And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
Difference - Distinction
The lesson that Peter learned with Cornelius is that God is no respecter of persons and there is no social boundaries with the Gospel. Every single person who becomes saved, regardless of ethnicity, is equal in God’s sight because they have been truly cleansed by the blood of Christ. All true believers have been purified in Christ. Then as a fruit of the Holy Spirit indwelling them, they were given faith. (Gal 5:22 KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, It is interesting to note that the very subject being discussed in this chapter became the subject of the book of Galatians and it contains the fact that faith is a fruit of the Spirit which is given to all true believers.
Acts 15:10 (KJB)
Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
Tempt - Try or put to the test
Peter then asks the question of those who believed in circumcision for salvation. Why are you putting God to the test to try and force the disciples into having to keep the law for salvation? Peter then gives the reality that they were unable to keep the law and the fathers, or all those who came before them could not keep the law. God gave the different sacrifices to cover the sins of the people because they were constantly breaking the law and had to make atonement. True salvation is by Grace through the Lord Jesus Christ and to add something to His sacrifice, is to believe that one must add works because Christ’s sacrifice was incomplete.