The Center for
Messianic Learning 

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Unashamedly Pro-Israel
Irrevocably Zionist
“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)

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Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

For a glossary of unfamiliar terms, CLICK HERE. For assistance in
pronouncing Hebrew terms, a pronunciation guide is located HERE.

Sections of the Apostolic Writings
The Gospels and Acts • The “Pauline” Letters • General Letters • End Times

Introduction to the Gospels (Good News of the Kingdom) and Acts
Mattityahu (Matthew)  •  Mordichai (Mark)  •  Lukas (Luke)  • Yochanan (John)
Crucifixion Week ChronologyPassover and the Last Supper
3-Year Harmony of the Gospels1-Year Harmony of the Gospels  
Hitgalut (Revelation)  •  P’yilut HaShliyakim (Acts of the Emissaries)  •  The Chosen (Video Series)

Acts: Introductory Notes and Outline
Chapters:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14
15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28

P’yilut HaSh'liakim
The Acts of the Emissaries

~ 15 ~

[Syrian Antioch [MAP] About 49-50 CE]

V. The Jerusalem Council (15:1-35)

A. The Question: Can Gentiles Be Saved Without Formal Conversion (15:1)

1Some men came down from Y'hudah and weere teaching the brothers,[1a] “Unless you are circumcised in accordance with the custom of Moshe, you can’t be saved.”[1b]

B. Rav Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba Take the Question to the Messianic Beit Din (15:2-5)

 2After Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba had a major disagreement with them, they appointed Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba, plus a few others, to go up to Yerushalayim to the ShliachimEmissaries, Apostles[2a] and ZakenimElders about this question.[2b] 3Having been sent on their way by the assembly[GN], they passed through Phoenicia [MAP] and ShomronSamaria, [MAP] recounting in detail how the GoyimGentiles, non-Jews were turning to God, causing great joy among the brothers.

[Jerusalem [MAP] 50 CE]

 4When they arrived at Yerushalayim, they were welcomed by the assembly,  the Shliachim, and the Zakenim, and they reported everything that God had done through them.

5But some Believers from the sect of the P'rushimPharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and require them to keep the Torah of Moshe.”[5]

C. Kefa’s Testimony Before the Beit Din (15:6-11)

6The Shliachim and the Zakenim met to consider this matter. 7After much discussion, Kefa stood and said to them, “Brothers, you know that early on God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Goyim should hear the word of the Good News, and believe. 8And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving them Ruach HaKodeshthe Holy Spirit,[8] just like He did to us. 9He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10So why do you now want to test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the talmidm which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?[10] 11On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Yeshua,[11] just as they are.”

D.  Bar-Nabba’s and Rav Sha'ul’ Testimony Before the Beit Din (15:12)

12The entire assembly fell silent and listened to Bar-Nabba and Sha'ul describing all the signs and wonders God had done among the Goyim through them.

E. Ya'akov Announces the Decision (15:13-29)

1. The Outcalling of Gentiles Agrees with the Tanakh (15:13-18)

13After they had finished, Ya'akov answered, “Brothers, listen to me. 14Shim`on has reported how God first intervened to take from among the Goyim a people for His name. 15And the words of the prophets agree with this. As it is written,

16“After this, I will return;
and I will rebuild the fallen sukkahbooth, tent, temporary dwelling of David.
I will rebuild its ruins;
I will restore it.
17So that the rest of mankind may seek ADONAI;
That is, all the Goyim who have been called by My name,”
says ADONAI, Who does all these things.[17]
18All his works are known to God from eternity.’[18]

2. Gentiles Not Bound by Takanot, But Need to Learn Torah (15:19-22)

19“Therefore, it is my position that we don’t trouble those who are turning to God from among the Goyim, 20but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood.[20] For since ancient times, Moshe has those who teach him in every city, and every Shabbat he is red aloud in the synagogues.”[21]

22Then the Shliachim and the Zakenim, as well as the whole assembly, decided to choose men from among them and to send them to Antich with Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba: Y'hudah Bar-Sabba and Sila, both leaders among the brothers.

3. Beit Din Writes the Decision (15:23-27)

23They sent this letter with them:

“From the Shliachim and the Zakenim, your brothers. To the brothers among the Goyim in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings.

24It has come to our atention that some of our number, to whom we gave no such authorization, have troubled you with their words and unsettled your hearts. 25So we have unanimously decided to select some men and send them to you along with with our beloved Bar-Nabba and Sha'ul, 26men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach. 27We have therefore sent Y'hudah and Sila, who will tell you the same things in person that we have written.

4. Summary of the Decision (15:28-29)

 28It seemed good to Ruach HaKodesh — and to us —  to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things: 29to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these things, you will do well. Farewell.”

[Syrian Antioch [MAP] About 50 CE]

F. Y'hudah and Silas go to Antioch with Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba (15:30-35)

30So when they were sent off, they went to Antioch, gathered the assembly, and  delivered the letter. 31When they had read it, the people rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32Y'hudah and Sila, who were prophets[32] themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with a lengthy message. 33After spendeing some time there, they were sent back with greetings from the brothers to the Shliachim. 34[34] 35But Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba stayed in Antioch, along with many others, teaching and proclaiming the word of the Lord.[35]

[Sha'ul’s letter to Galatia written, 50 CE]
[Mordichai (Mark) writes his Gospel Account, 50 CE]

VI. Second Missionary Journey (15:36-18:22) [50-54 CE]

A. Rav Sha'ul and Silas Depart; Bar-Nabba and Mordichai Go to Cyprus (15:36-41)

36Some time later Sha'ul said to Bar-Nabba, “Let’s go back and visit our brothers in every town where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, to see how they are doing.” 37Bar-Nabba wanted to take Yochanan (also called Mordichai) with them, 38but Sha'ul thought it best to not take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia, and didn’t stay with them to do the work. 39Their disagreement grew so severe that they parted company. Bar-Nabba took Modichai with him and sailed away to Kypros. [MAP] 40But Sha'ul chose Sila and left, after the brothers had committed them to the grace of ADONAI. 41He went through Syria [MAP] and Cilicia, [MAP] strengthening the Messianic Communities.

Chapter 16


 1a. The word for “brothers” here and where the context allows may also be correctly translated “brothers and sisters” or “siblings.” [RETURN]

 1b. Before the Jerusalem Council’s decision, most of the Jewish Believers assumed that salvation was available only to natural-born Jews and Prostelites. For a Goy (Gentile) to become a Jewish prostelite one would have to undergo a formal “conversion” process which involved foreswaring all prior religious affiliation or conviction, being circumcised for men, taking a Hebrew name, undergoing tevilah (immersion), and entering a process of Torah study. This was called being “born again” (as a Jew). Following this “conversion” they were considered Jews, no longer Gentiles. Before Cornelius, no Gentile had come to faith in Messiah and it was assumed this would always be the case. Regarding the identity of these “some men” see HERE. [RETURN]

 2a. The Emissaries and some other Elders in Jerusalem served as the Beit Din for the Messianic Community. All matters of Messianic halakhah had to be decided there. [RETURN]

 2b. See my extended comments on this chapter HERE. [RETURN]

  5. The Pharisees considered their takanot part of Torah, not just the five books of Moses. That belief continues today in traditional Judaism and even in a great many Messianic Assemblies. [RETURN]

  8. Ruach HaKodesh is not given to anyone who has not truly come to saving faith. [RETURN]

10. Contrary to the teaching of Gentile Christianity, Kefa was not refering to God’s loving instruction, Torah, as a burden. However, those who were insisting on “circumcision” for the new non-Jewish Believers were also expecting them to conform to their takanot, the entire “Traditions of the Elders,” the thousands of man-made additional rules, or so-called “fences” that had beed added to the 613 mitzvot (commandments) of Torah. These extra rules were burdensom indeed, and were often in direct contradiction to the Torah itself. It is these takanot that Yeshua Himself rejected. [RETURN]

11. Kefa was pointing out that faith in Messiah, not obedience to Torah, is what provides salvation. [RETURN]

17. Amos 9:11-12 [RETURN]

18. Isaiah 45:21 [RETURN]

20. Please note very carefully that these conditions are almost exactly the same as the conditions that had always been expected of the God-Fearers:

“But of the stranger it was expected thathe would forego the worship of idols (Leviticus 20:2; Ezekiel 14:7) and the practise of sorcery, incest, or other abominations (Leviticus 18:26), and that he would refrain from eating blood (Leviticus 17:10), from working on Sabbath (Exodus 20:10, Ex 23:12), from eating leavened bread on Pesach (Exodus 12:19), and from violating Yom ha-Kippurim (Leviticus 16:29). For other provisions concerning the stranger, or non-Jew (‘goi‘), see Leviticus 17:8; Lev 24:16,22; Numbers 15:14; Num 35:15; Deuteronomy 14:21; 16:11,14).” (“Gentile,”  Jewish Encyclopedia, accessed 4 November 2019)

In short, Ya`akov declared on behalf of the Council that the Goyim would be accepted into fellowship in exactly the same way that Goyim had always been accepted into fellowship — simply by acting in a manner that the Jewish people considered the “minimum requirements” for any civilized person. [RETURN]

21. Then Ya`akov added a comment that, in my opinion, has almost always been misinterpreted by Bible commentators who fail to recognize the historical fact that early Messianic Judaism was part and parcel of the synagogue: just as newly-born ethnic Jews are given an extended time under the weekly teaching of Moshe to learn what Torah expects of them, so would the newly “born-again” be given that same opportunity. The Goyim are not excused from following Torah, they are simply given time to learn Torah. [RETURN]

32. The Greek word προφῆται (prophētai) simply means “one who speaks for another,” so they were men who spoke for God, that is, “preachers.” [RETURN]

34. Some manuscripts add: “But it seemed good to Silas to stay there.” [RETURN]

35. Sha'ul may possibly have written his letter to Galatia to be delivered along with a copy of the letter from the Beit Din in Jerusalem. See my introductory notes on the letter to the Galatians. [RETURN]

Originally posted on Friday, 1 May 2020
Revised some text, added outline, dates, maps, and a few notes on Sunday, 13 June 2021

Page last updated on Monday, 22 August 2022 04:13 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return

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