God saves us by His mercy not our works
He causes great joy
1 And certain men who came down from Judea taught the brothers saying, unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved. 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great uprising and disputing with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them would go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And sent forward by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy to all the brothers. 4 And when they came to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and by the apostles and elders; and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up saying that it was necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you are saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not by works, lest any man should boast.
- 1 Corinthians 1:29-31 That no flesh boast about themselves in his presence. 30 But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.
God knows our hearts
He purifies them by faith
6 And the apostles and elders came together to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said to them, Men and brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among us that the Gentiles by my mouth would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the hearts bare witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did to us; 9 And made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 So why do you tempt God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither we or our fathers have been able to bear?
- Galatians 3:24 So the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Jesus saves us through His grace
God knows all His works from the beginning of the world
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we will be saved, even as they. 12 Then all of the multitude kept quiet and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring what miracles and wonders God had done among the Gentiles by them. 13 And after they had held their peace, James answered saying, Men and brothers, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And the words of the prophets agree with this; as it is written, 16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again its ruins and I will set it up: 17 That the rest of men might seek after the Lord and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, says the Lord, who does all these things. 18 God knows all his works from the beginning of the world.
- Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things in it, since he is Lord of heaven and earth does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped by men’s hands as though he needed any thing since he gives to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their times before appointed, and the boundaries of their habitation; 27 That they would seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after him, and find him, though he is not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being.
19 Therefore it is my judgment that we not trouble those who have turned to God from among the Gentiles: 20 But that we write to them that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For since ancient times Moses has those proclaiming him in every city, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. 22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church to send chosen men from them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brothers: 23 And they sent this letter by them; The apostles and elders and brothers send greeting to the brothers that are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24 Since we heard that certain ones who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls saying, You must be circumcised and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 25 It seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 Men that have risked their lives for the name/person of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who will also tell you the same things by mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us, to lay on you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That you abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which, if you keep yourselves, you will do well. Farewell.
- The best meat in town was at the heathen temples (1 Corinthians 8:10-13). But buying and eating it led others to believe you were worshipping there and so led them astray.
- Blood is to be avoided because it is the sign of the sacred covenant (Leviticus 17:14). It portrays God’s love poured forth for our sins.
- Titus 3:5-7 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 That being justified by his grace, we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
- Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
- Hosea 4:11 Whoredom and new wine take away the heart.
God keeps us by His grace
30 So when they were dismissed they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together they delivered the epistle: 31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brothers with many words and confirmed them. 33 And after they had stayed there a while, they were let go in peace from the brothers to the apostles. 34 But it pleased Silas to remain there. 35 Paul and Barnabas also continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. 36 And some days after this Paul said to Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brothers in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing. 37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John whose surname was Mark. 38 But Paul thought it not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and did not go with them to the work. 39 And the contention was so sharp between them that they separated from each other: so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 And Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed by the brothers to the grace of God. 41.And he went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, who has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace
- 1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra: and behold, a certain disciple was there named Timothy, the son of a woman who was a believing Jewess; but his father was a Greek: 2 Who was well spoken of by the brothers that were at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted him to go with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places: for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
- Circumcision isn’t necessary for salvation. But it was the sign of the covenant with God by faith. Paul was trying not to offend.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- 1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep that were ordained of the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. 5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
- 1 Corinthians 3:7 So then neither is he that plants any thing, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase.
The Holy Spirit forbid them to preach the word in Asia
6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit did not allow them. 8 And passing by Mysia they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; A man of Macedonia stood and begged him saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia and the next day to Neapolis; 12 And from there to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were staying in that city certain days. 13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was usually made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who assembled there.
The Lord opened Lydia’s heart
14 And a certain woman named Lydia heard us, a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God: whose heart the Lord opened, so that she attended to the things that were spoken by Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she sought us saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my home and stay there. And she urged us. 16 And as we went to prayer, a certain young girl possessed with a spirit of Python met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling: 17 She followed Paul and us and cried out saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, who show to us the way of salvation. 18 And she did this many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same moment.
- Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through your name.
19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their profit was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace/court to the rulers, 20 And brought them to the magistrates saying, These men, being Jews, make much trouble in our city, 21 and teach customs that are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
God works mightily in persecution and suffering
22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded to flog them. 23 And when they had whipped them with many lashes, they threw them in prison, charging the jailor to guard them safely: 24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and locked their feet in the stocks. 25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them. 26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains unfastened. 27 And the keeper of the prison woke out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword to kill himself, assuming that the prisoners had fled. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice saying, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in and came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your house. 32 And they spoke to him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And the same hour of the night, he took them and washed their wounds; and immediately he was baptized with all his household.
God brings rejoicing and comfort
34 And when he had brought them into his house he set food before them and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. 35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent to the sergeants saying, Let those men go. 36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: so depart now and go in peace. 37 But Paul said to them, They have beaten us publicly without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now send us away secretly? No indeed; let them come themselves and bring us out. 38 And the sergeants told these words to the magistrates: and when they heard that they were Romans, they feared, 39 And they came and appealed to them and brought them out, and desired them to leave the city. 40 And they left the prison and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brothers, they comforted them, and departed.
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
God made the world that all might seek Him
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia they came to Thessalonica where there was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as was his custom, went in to them, and over three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating, that Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach to you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed and joined with Paul and Silas; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the prominent women. 5 But the disobeying Jews were moved with envy, and took wicked men, market-loafers, and gathered a mob and set the whole city in an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 And when they did not find them they drew Jason and certain brothers unto the rulers of the city crying out, These that have turned the world upside down have come here also; 7 Whom Jason has received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
- Revelation 17:14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken security of Jason and of the other, they let them go. 10 And the brothers immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night to Berea: who coming there went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These people were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily to see whether those things were so.
- Matthew 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also honorable women who were Greeks, and not a few men. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that Paul preached the word of God at Berea, they came here also, and stirred up the people. 14 And immediately the brothers sent Paul away to go to the sea: but Silas and Timothy stayed there. 15 And those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens: and receiving a commandment to Silas and Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible, they departed. 16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him,when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 17 So he reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue and with the devout people, and in the market daily with those that met with him. 18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? Others said, He seems to be a proclaimer of strange gods: because he preached to them Jesus, and the resurrection.
- Jeremiah10:10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to abide his indignation.
- John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, except by me.
- Isaiah 26:19 Your dead men will live; together with my dead body they will rise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth will cast out the dead.
19 And they took him, and brought him to the Areopagus saying, May we know what is this new doctrine that you speak of? 20 For you bring certain strange things to our ears: so we would know what these things mean. 21 (For all the Athenians and foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
- The Areopagus was Mars Hill, the highest court in Athens.
In God we live and move and have our being
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill and said, You men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by and saw your gods that you worship, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the one you ignorantly worship, him I declare to you. 24 God that made the world and all things in it, since that he is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, since he gives to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed and the boundaries of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain of your own poets have also said, For we are also his offspring. 29 Being then children of God, we should not think that the Godhead is like gold, or silver, or stone, carved by art and man's device.
- We are not statues made of gold and silver so why do we think God is like that? We are made in His image. Ezekiel 1:26-28 describes the glory of God.
- Galatians 3:26 For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
God will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus
He gave us assurance by raising Jesus from the dead
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to turn back to him: 31 Because he has appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; of which he has given assurance to all in that he has raised him from the dead. 32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear you again about this matter. 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However certain men clung to him, and believed: among which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
- Revelation 20:12-13 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13.And the sea gave up the dead in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
- 1 Corinthians 3: 11.For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12.Now if any man builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13.Every man's work will be shown: for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test every man's work of what sort it is. 14.If any man's work remains which he has built on, he will receive a reward. 15.If any man's work is burned, he will suffer loss: but he himself will be saved; yet so as by fire. 16.Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
SUMMARY: Acts 15-17
- God saves us by His mercy not our works
- He causes great joy
- God knows our hearts
- He purifies them by faith
- Jesus saves us through His grace
- God knows all His works from the beginning of the world
- God keeps us by His grace
- The Holy Spirit forbid them to preach the word in Asia
- The Lord opened Lydia’s heart
- God works mightily in persecution and suffering
- God brings rejoicing and comfort
- God made the world that all might seek Him
- In God we live and move and have our being
- God will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus
- He gave us assurance by raising Jesus from the dead