What does Acts 15:24 mean?
ESV: 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,
NIV: We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.
NASB: Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have confused you by their teaching, upsetting your souls,
CSB: Since we have heard that some without our authorization went out from us and troubled you with their words and unsettled your hearts,
NLT: 'We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them!
KJV: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
NKJV: Since we have heard that some 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—
Verse Commentary:
The church in Syrian Antioch had been the first to see a significant number of Gentiles come to a saving relationship with Jesus. When the church in Jerusalem heard, they sent Barnabas to investigate. Barnabas found that their faith was true, but they needed teaching. So, he sent to nearby Tarsus and brought over Paul to help (Acts 11:19–26). Once the church was well-established, Paul and Barnabas traveled to the island of Cyprus and up through central modern-day Asia Minor, planting churches that also included a mix of Gentiles and Jews (Acts 13—14). They then returned and reported their success.

Not too long after, Jewish Christians from the sect of the Pharisees arrive from Judea. Despite recognizing Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, they have a difficult time fully embracing the truth that Jesus provides salvation from sins through grace alone, not by obedience to the law they so love. In addition, they know if they socialize with Gentiles in the church, they will lose their social standing as Pharisees (Matthew 23:5–7; Galatians 6:12). They soon fight against the church, insisting that Gentiles must be circumcised and follow the Mosaic law—convert to Judaism—before they can follow the Jewish Messiah (Acts 15:1). The Pharisees are more concerned about their reputation than the fact their actions are "distort[ing] the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:7).

Paul, Barnabas, and a contingent from Antioch take the issue to the church in Jerusalem who agree with them, despite the interference of more Pharisees. Now, the council writes a letter to send back to Antioch and the churches Paul and Barnabas planted (Acts 15:2–23).

"Some persons" are the Pharisaical Jews. In other places, they are referred to as "the circumcision party" (Acts 11:2; Galatians 2:12; Titus 1:10) or "Judaizers." They so harass Paul and Barnabas' church plants in Galatia that Paul declares he wishes they would go all the way and emasculate themselves (Galatians 5:12).

The wording, "gone out from us," could indicate these are the same people Paul mentions in Galatians 2:11–14. In that event, Peter was visiting the church in Antioch when the Pharisees arrived and so shamed the Jews that Peter and Barnabas stopped eating with the Gentile Christians. Paul publicly corrected them. Paul identified the Pharisees as "certain men [who] came from James," meaning James, the half-brother of Jesus and pastor of the church in Jerusalem.

It isn't clear if the Jerusalem church is disavowing "some persons" or if they're disavowing some of what they said. Either way, they fully endorse the messengers Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas (Acts 15:25, 27).
Verse Context:
Acts 15:22–29 records probably the first or second letter sent by a Christian leader with instructions as to how the church should live. A possibly earlier message is what we now call the book of James. The council in Jerusalem has decided: Gentiles do not need to convert to Judaism to receive salvation from Jesus. They are, however, asked to make a few alterations to their dietary and sexual practices. This is not for salvation, but to maintain unity and community in the Jewish-Gentile church.
Chapter Summary:
Paul and Barnabas are in Syrian Antioch, home from their first missionary journey. Legalistic Christians from Jerusalem arrive and insist Gentiles must convert to Judaism. When negotiations fail, a delegation travels to Jerusalem to request clarification from Jesus' closest students. The leadership in Jerusalem agree with Paul and Barnabas. They write a letter that Gentiles should only make concessions, mostly dietary, which will ensure unity with the Jews in their congregation. After delivering the letter to Antioch, Paul takes Silas and Barnabas takes John Mark to share the letter to other churches they have planted.
Chapter Context:
Acts chapter 15 resembles Acts 11:1–18, where Peter testified before the leadership of the church in Jerusalem. His subject was how the Holy Spirit had fallen on uncircumcised and unbaptized Gentiles. Here Paul and Barnabas also testify that Gentiles are coming to faith in Jesus without being circumcised. The issue the leadership must decide is the extent Gentiles must be responsible to follow the Mosaic law. Their decision is that the Law is in no way required to be saved, but Gentiles should graciously make concessions so their Jewish brothers and sisters feel free to live in community. This forms a partial background to the rest of Paul's missionary journeys as explained in Acts.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 5/28/2024 1:04:53 AM
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