Day 5 Read: Acts 15:7-11
And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
Reflect: Based on these verses, how would you describe Peter’s struggle with this issue? How does Paul’s teaching in Galatians 2:15-16 show its influence on Peter in this passage? Knowing Paul’s background as a Pharisee himself (Acts 26:5) and Peter’s desire to keep the law (Acts 10:14), how would their testimony carry the day?
Consider: Ever since the work of Christ on Calvary, God has made no difference between Jews and Gentiles as far as sin (Rom. 3:9, 22) or salvation (Rom. 10:9–13) are concerned. Sinners can have their hearts purified only by faith in Christ; salvation is not by keeping the Law (Acts 15:9). We would expect Peter to conclude his defense by saying, “They [the Gentiles] shall be saved even as we Jews,” but he said just the reverse! “We [Jews] shall be saved, even as they!”5
Respond: How have you been tempted to focus on your good works instead of God’s grace? How might you accidentally make it harder for a believer who has just turned to Christ? What rules might you be asking the new believer to follow that are not necessarily required of believers?
5 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 462.