Acts 15:8

ESV And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us,
NIV God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.
NASB And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;
CSB And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he also did to us.
NLT God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us.
KJV And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;

What does Acts 15:8 mean?

Peter is giving testimony to a council of leaders of the church in Jerusalem. In this group are many who sat under Jesus' teaching; the rest learned about Jesus from His twelve apostles. They are the most qualified theologians of the early Christian church.

Because of the council's authority, Paul and Barnabas have come to them to receive official guidance. The question is whether Gentiles must convert to the Jewish religion before they can follow the Jewish Messiah. They are convinced Gentiles need not be circumcised nor follow the Mosaic law, but a formal decision from the church in Jerusalem will go a long way in assuring those they minister to.

Peter has reminded the group that God allowed him to bring Jesus' offer of salvation to the first group of Gentiles (Acts 10). Cornelius was "a devout man who feared God" (Acts 10:2). This meant he was a Gentile who worshiped the Jewish God but was not a full proselyte: he was not circumcised and didn't rigidly follow Jewish festivals and sacrifices. Likely, his friends and family included some who paid even less attention to such details. But while Peter was explaining how Jesus died and rose again for the forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit fell on them. They hadn't been circumcised or even baptized. The Holy Spirit bore "witness" that they were chosen to be saved—right then and there.

In the Greek, this verse literally describes God as "heart-knower." This is from the Greek root word kardiognōstēs. God knows the desires, thoughts, feelings, and intentions of people. Only He is qualified to determine if the Gentiles' hearts are less worthy of His saving grace than the Jews (1 Samuel 16:7). Peter affirms that God makes no distinction (Acts 15:9), and neither should the Jewish church leadership.
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