Believers are set free, from the Law of Moses - See Paul's First Missionary Journey - The Apostolic Council of Jerusalem in 50 AD
The Apostolic Council of Jerusalem in 50 AD
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel. For are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The Gospel Message is Questioned. Along his path, Paul preached the good news of the freedom in Christ Jesus, that we are justified by faith not works of the law and gentiles are grafted into this salvation (Galatians 3:18, 22, 24; Romans 3:28; 5:1). In Antioch, a few false prophets quickly came to pervert the gospel message, by trying to lead people back into captivity under the law of Moses, by saying gentiles had to be circumcised. And the people feared for their salvation. Paul was astonished upon his return to see how quickly they deserted him by turning to another gospel (Galatians 1:6). He continues, not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:7). He explains twice for emphasis, that even if an angel from heaven preaches another gospel, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9). Paul is concerned about this error in teaching for he knows, A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9) so believing just the smallest lie or deviance from the truth can affect your entire understanding of God.
The Law of Moses and the Gospel Message. The law of Moses was called a curse, for it enslaved everyone under judgment for sin and death, making people accountable to God, until Christ died on the cross to set man, Jew and gentile, free from the Law (Galatians 3:2, 10, 13, 19-25; 5:3-4; Romans 4:15; 7:23; 10:4; Hebrews 7:18-19; 8:7; 10:1; Philippians 3:9). The law was brought because of transgression (1 Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 3:19), for it gave knowledge of it (Romans 3:20; 7:7b, 21). Sin was dead, until the law brought it to life (Romans 7:8) for sin used the law against me to deceiving me, by arousing my sinful passions, which killed me (1 Corinthians 15:56; Romans 7:5; 9-11). A right standing with God is now available to all who believe and have faith in Jesus, which is the release from the charges of transgression under the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:22-25; 4:1-5; 5:3-4; Romans 7:4-5, 23, 9-11; 8:3-4; James 2:12). For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14).
Paul's 1st Missionary journey with barnabas
Paul's First Mission Trip. Antioch in Syria to Seleucia, sailed to Cyrus Island, at Salamis, going through until reaching Paphos, sailed to Perga in Pamphylia (where John Mark deserted them), to Antioch in Pisidia, to Iconium, fled to Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding country in Lycoania, back to Derbe, back to Lystra, back to Iconium, back to Antioch in Pisidia, back to Perga, over to Attalia, and sailed back to Antioch in Syria (Acts 13:1-6, 13-14, 51; 14:6, 19-21, 24-26).
Paul is Greeted in Jerusalem. The people are so troubled, they want for Paul to meet with the apostles and the elders to confirm that his doctrines are true (Acts 15:2-3). They backtrack their journey and head towards Jerusalem, by way of Phoenicia and Samaria. Upon arrival at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the apostles, elders and the church (Acts 15:3-4). Paul explains, false brothers secretly brought in - who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so they might bring us into slavery Galatians 2:4). He continues how they came from Judea to Antioch proclaiming gentiles need to be circumcised to be saved, and the disciples were deeply concerned about their salvation so they wanted him to verify the truthfulness of his doctrines with the apostles in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1-2; Acts 15:1-3, 31).
The Apostolic Council of Jerusalem. While at Jerusalem, they all meet to discuss the doctrine of being free from the law while under grace. Even at Jerusalem, while discussing it, some Pharisees rose us and said, It is necessary to circumcise them (gentiles) and to order them to keep the law of Moses (Acts 15:5). So now they lay claim that a gentile must become as a Jew and keep the entire law, not just one aspect of it. This is a critical matter, which needed resolved, early in church history. The apostles, elders, Paul and Barnabas gathered to resolve this matter (Acts 15:6), which is The Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, the first ecumenical council to occurred around 50 AD. True to Peter's character, he stood up first and declared himself a witness to truth, as God previously used his mouth to teach that gentiles would be included to hear the word, believe and receive the Holy Spirit with their hearts being cleansed by faith (Acts 10:9-48; Acts 15:7-9); while adding it i not wise to put God to the test on this issue, adding we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will (Acts 15:10-11). After this all the assembly fell silent, then Paul and Barnabas began tells them of the many signs and wonders of their 14 year ministry (Acts 15:12).
The Trustworthiness of Paul's Ministry. At the Council meeting, Paul explained how he was given inspired revelation from Jesus Christ, not trained by the apostles, in order to establish his credibility (Galatians 1:11-12). Adding that after his conversion, he initially went to Arabia then Damascus; then he went to Jerusalem to join the apostles but they were afraid of him for they didn't believe in his conversion, even though Barnabas told them how boldly he preached at Damascus after his conversion, so he never saw any of them except James the brother of Jesus, but he preached among them disputing with the Hellenists, until they sought to kill him, and we know he only visited with Cephas for 15 days so he got out quickly, with him and Barnabas departing for Syria and Cilicia (Galatians 1:15-23; Acts 9:19-30). We also know from a letter to the Philippians, that Paul is absolutely confident in his ministry of grace and freedom of Jesus Christ, apart from the law, for he stated if anyone has a reason to boast in the flesh, he has more, for he was circumcised on the eighth day, a pure-blood citizen of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a real Hebrew of Hebrews meaning upstanding, was blameless in the righteousness under the law, even being a Pharisee with the strictest observance of the law, and having such a zeal for the law that he harshly persecuted the church (Philippians 3:4-6). But he states that this is nothing to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ, the Lord (Philippians 3:7-8). So Paul was a top-notch Jew living under the law, but he left it, by faith, to enter into God's grace, where he is free.
James Concludes the Council Meeting with His Comments. The apostles, elders and the church saw what God had done through Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:4; Galatians 2:7). After Paul finished speaking, James concludes the meeting by reminding them of Simeon's prophecy, at the temple, spoken over Jesus at the time of Mary's purification and his dedication when Simeon said, that a light of revelation would go to the gentiles (Acts 15:13-17). James concluded with his judgment being that gentile believers should not be troubled with the Law of Moses, but they are to keep a few ordinances: to abstain from things polluted with idols, sexual immorality, strangled meat and blood (Acts 15:19-20). In conclusion, it was accepted that gentiles do not have to live under the Law of Moses, the Torah, and do not require circumcision. Paul states, when the pillars, James and Cephas and John, perceived the grace given to him, they extended a right hand in fellowship to him and Barnabas; stating they should continue to go to the gentiles, while they go to the circumcised (Galatians 2:9).
They Are Sent With the Good News. Paul was found to be trustworthy in his teachings. The apostles, elders and the whole church choose, Judas called Barsabbas and Silas, from among them to go to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, to proclaim their finding of gentiles not being yoked by the law, in a written letter for the gentiles at Antioch and Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:22-23, 27; Galatians 2:9-10). They took the letter and read it, and the people rejoiced greatly (Acts 15:30-31). Judas and Silas, who were prophets, encouraged and strengthened the people (Acts 15:32), before Judas went on his way (Acts 15:33-34). Paul, Barnabas and Silas remained, in Antioch, awhile before departing (Acts 15:34-36). Having the good news, Paul wanted to go back and strengthen the faith of all the church plants he established.
A Dispute Enables Two Voyages on the 2nd Journey. Paul and Barnabas discussed their second journey to confirm the truth to the other churches they established. However, a sharp disagreement arose, between Paul and Barnabas, concerning John Mark, for he was a fellow helper (Acts 13:5) who deserted them upon arrival at Perga (Acts 13:14), and Paul would not travel with him again to the same places from where he defected (Acts 15:38). These were perilous voyages for Paul tells us how he was beaten with rods, stoned and shipwrecked as he traveled in weariness and painfulness, in hunger and thirst, often fasting, and in cold and nakedness; while being subjected to the perils of water and sea, robbers and heathens, even fellow countrymen and city folk, and false brethren (2 Corinthians 11:25-33). But we know that John Mark (who wrote the Gospel of Mark) is Barnabas' cousin (Colossians 4:10). So Barnabas and John Mark sailed for Cyprus (Acts 15:39), while Paul and Silas went to Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches (Acts 15:40-41). So the beauty is that what the enemy intended for evil, God used for good for now there are two voyages setting sail to strengthen the body of believers. Of which we can rejoice, because that message would later crossed yet another sea and made it all the way to us.
The Written Letter to Gentiles in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. (Acts 15:23-29 ESV).
Conclusion. The gospel message is one of freedom from the curse of the law, which was instituted to bind us to God under wrath initially, so that He could bind us to Him in righteousness and eternal life. We have been set free from dead works of the law so now we are free to live righteously, while still having our sinful flesh, so God can be glorified by us denying ourselves and denying our sinful passions and choosing God's will instead of our own. If you have received Christ, then you've been set free. Do not go back into slavery, now that you've been set free.
Dear heavenly Father, we ask that You would allow these words to sink into the fertile soil of our hearts so it can be firmly planted for this is the gospel message that leads to eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, our very salvation; led us Father from the curse of the law and protect our minds from the thoughts of chains that bind us to deed works of keeping the law; guide us into all truth and give us wisdom and discernment to keep and know Your truth. AMEN
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