“And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”
King James Version (KJV)
15:1 Coming down from Judea - Perhaps to supply what they thought Paul and Barnabas had omitted.
Ac 15:1 The Question of Circumcision SUMMARY OF ACTS 15: The Judaizing Teachers at Antioch. Opposed by Paul and Barnabas. The Question Referred to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas Report to the Apostles and Elders Their Work. Among the Gentiles. Pharisees Insist That These Gentiles Must Be Circumcised. Paul and Barnabas Show How God Was with Them. The Judgment of James the Lord's Brother. His Views Accepted by All. The Apostolic Letter to the Gentile Christians. The Joy at Antioch When the Letter Is Read. Judas and Silas. Contention Between Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Silas. Certain men which came down from Judaea. This chapter records the first intimation of the great controversy that agitated the apostolic church, and of which we find traces in many of Paul's letters, the question whether Christianity was merely a development and a sort of culmination of Judaism, or was a New Dispensation that had supplanted the Old and taken its place. At first the Christians of Jerusalem and Judea remained strict Jews, still keeping the ordinances of Moses. The Samaritans converted by Philip were a circumcised people. The idea of the apostles, at first, seems to have been that Gentiles might become Christians, but must first be circumcised. It was a matter of astonishment to Peter and the brethren that he was required to baptize the Gentile Cornelius and his friends without circumcision. Then came the formation of the Gentile church at Antioch and the successful labors of Paul and Barnabas in western Asia. The influx of the Gentiles to the church, and their acceptance on the same terms as the old covenanted people of Jehovah, stirred those Jewish brethren of the more bigoted type to bitter opposition, and they began to send their teachers abroad with the declaration. Except ye be circumcised. . . . ye cannot be saved. Thus they came to Antioch; thus, at a later period, they disturbed the churches of Galatia and called out the Galatian letter. In order to destroy their influence, it was needful at once to settle whether they spoke the sentiment of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, and hence Paul and Barnabas were sent to lay this question before the great mother church. This caused the conference described in this chapter, spoken of in church history as "The Council of Jerusalem". The reader should form some idea of the importance of this question. It was none other than whether Christendom should be Jewish Christian, or delivered from the bondage of the Jewish law into the liberty of the children of God. Paul calls these "certain men" "false brethren" (Ga 2:4).