Acts 15:30

View of the Virginia countryside from Montpelier.

Friday, 31 March 2023

So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. Acts 15:30

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

With the contents of the letter from the council having been recorded by Luke, the narrative continues, saying, “So when they were sent off.”

In the selection of those to go with Barnabas and Paul, preparations had to be made for their journey. With those taken care of, it can be assumed that some of the council saw them part of the way out of the city, or even out of the gates and for a short distance. It is a common gesture and would not have been missed on such an important journey.

Eventually, those remaining in Jerusalem would give their final goodbyes and turn back while the company making the journey would continue. Having been sent off in this manner, Luke next says, “they came to Antioch.”

The narrative brings them right back to where all the trouble began as was recorded in Acts 15:1. However, instead of leaving with a dilemma to be resolved, they are returning with an answer from the council concerning the matter.

It is certain that those of the church were anxiously waiting to hear how things went and were probably asking about the council’s decision. Instead of answering one person at a time though, it next says, “and when they had gathered the multitude together.”

The Greek is more succinct, “and having gathered the multitude.” Everyone was brought together for the word to be spoken forth at one time. By doing it this way, there would be vindication for Barnabas and Paul because the letter and the witnesses were there to validate the matter. That is seen in the final words of the verse, saying, “they delivered the letter.”

One can imagine anyone who sided with the Judaizers looking aghast at the hearing of the decision. And yet, if saved, they were saved by the blood of Christ, not adherence to the law. Their legalistic demands would now be exposed for what they were.

Life application: To this day, when someone challenges the legalism of the Hebrew Roots Movement adherents or that of fundamentalists in churches that heap up rule upon rule not found in Scripture, there are arrogant and even angry faces and accusations hurled out against them.

Sides are drawn up and churches are divided over such things. But there is a standard by which these matters can be determined, the Bible. One good way of exposing legalism is to simply ask, “Where does it say that in Scripture?”

For example, some churches impose petty little laws on the congregation. Your hair is too long, you should not be dancing, we do not approve of musical instruments in this church, etc. In such cases, ask them where Scripture imposes such a rule. The only one of the three mentioned that is even partially addressed is the length of a person’s hair, but even that is subjective. Paul, when addressing the issue, never gives a length. If the matter is not defined, then there is a reason for it.

The point is that we need to be prepared to challenge such nonsense. The way that is done is to know what the word says. There is freedom in Christ. He did not come to bind His people with a laundry list of pet peeves, nor did He come to provide His people with eternal insecurity.

Rather, those things that are not defined in Scripture are simply not important to our walk before the Lord. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in legalism. Stand firm on the freedom we are granted in Christ. Remember that such people abounded even during the time of the law. Jesus strongly rebuked such arrogance. How much more offensive is such an attitude when the grace of God has been poured out on His people through the giving of Jesus!

Lord God, thank You for the freedom we possess in Christ. Help us not to get caught up in legalism and strange teachings that do not profit our walk before You. Rather, may we live holy lives, guided by the words of Scripture without adding to them. Where there is freedom, may we live it out accordingly. Amen.