Acts 15:19

ESV Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God,
NIV It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
NASB Therefore, it is my judgment that we do not cause trouble for those from the Gentiles who are turning to God,
CSB Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those among the Gentiles who turn to God,
NLT And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
KJV Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:

What does Acts 15:19 mean?

Jews in the time of the early church understand that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. They understand Christianity as the natural fulfillment of Judaism. Jewish Christians still consider themselves Jews and follow the Mosaic law. Those Pharisees who accepted Jesus as the Messiah have a more difficult time, however. Their former religion was heavily tied up in manmade rules and traditional restrictions (Mark 7:6–12). For that reason, they don't quite understand how salvation and forgiveness from God is through grace and not works. In addition, they want to be able to enjoy worshiping Jesus in a church while maintaining their high reputation in Jewish society (Matthew 23:5–7; Galatians 6:12). Seeking to solve both problems, some have been badgering Gentile Jesus-followers, telling them they must be circumcised and follow the Mosaic law (Acts 15:1, 5).

These Pharisees make the mistake of taking their message to the church in Syrian Antioch. Not only is the church the first with a significant number of Gentiles, but it's the home church of Barnabas and Paul, the evangelist to the Gentiles (Acts 11:19–26). Barnabas, Paul, and a few other representatives from Antioch have come to Jerusalem to get an official ruling from the first church. The issue has been hotly debated. Peter has reminded the council of the Holy Spirit descending on Cornelius and many other Gentiles who had not converted to Judaism. And James, the pastor of the Jerusalem church, has shown how Amos, Jeremiah, and Isaiah prophesied that God would call Gentiles to worship Him—to belong to Him—with no mention that they would convert to Judaism (Acts 15:2–18).

James concludes by reaffirming Peter's judgment. Peter had pointed out that not even the Jews could keep the Jewish law—how would it be fair to hold the Gentiles to the same standard (Acts 15:10–11)? Salvation is through faith in Christ, not works. "Trouble" is from the Greek root word parenochló …Ťeō and means "to cause trouble or annoy." Besides affirming the theological implications of what is necessary for salvation, James doesn't want the Jewish Christians, especially those who still considered themselves to be Pharisees, to harass the Gentiles.

But both sides need to make concessions. James goes on to say the council should tell the Gentile Jesus-followers to clean up their sexual and dietary habits, so Jews feel comfortable in their community (Acts 15:20). Likewise, in our own churches, it sometimes requires submissive sacrifice to live out Jesus' call to be the unified church (Galatians 3:26–28).
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