Lesson 57: The Jerusalem Council Weighs the Evidence – Acts 15:12-18

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 57 from the sermon series "Acts" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



Peter presented such an unanswerable argument to the council that it left them speechless, and Paul began to speak (v.12). Since “the Jews require a sign” (ICor.1:22), Paul told them about the signs God wrought among the Gentiles. Since those miracles belonged to the Jews (Ps.74:9), and God never gave them to Gentiles, this was another strong argument!

But the official decision of the council had to come from James (Acts15:13), the Lord’s brother (Gal.1:19). He made the right decision (Acts 15:19)—but was it his to make? The Lord made Peter head of the kingdom church, so why did the church replace him with James? I believe it was because the wrath of God hadn’t fallen as Psalm 2:1-5 said it would, and when the church asked Peter why, he didn’t know, be-cause the mystery was revealed to Paul, not him (Eph.3:2,3).

So they picked James to lead them because he was big on the law (Acts 21:18,20). They figured if the Lord wasn’t coming back to conquer the world and set up the kingdom that Peter was always talking about, they’d return to the law that James was always talking about (Lu.16:16 cf.James1:25; 2:8,10,11, 12;4:11). James was so strong on the law that he even used the name “Simeon,” the law’s version of Simon Peter.

James said nothing about the miracles Paul mentioned be-cause, while Jews were impressed with signs, God told them to be more impressed with Scripture (Deut.13:1-3). He then quoted some Scripture from Amos 9:11 (Acts 15:15,16). What’s the tabernacle of David? Well, the wilderness tabernacle was a tent of skins with the glory of God inside—and so was the people of Israel! So the tabernacle of David that fell in the Old Testament, and needed to be built back up in the New Testament, was the people of Israel.

If you need help seeing that, consider that God promised to build David a house (IISam.7:2-11), a house that was connected to Solomon’s kingdom (v.12-16). So the fallen tabernacle of David is the people of Israel who lived in Solomon’s kingdom, the kingdom the Lord’ll “restore” at His 2nd coming (cf.Acts 1:6). We know this restoration will come in the kingdom, for that’s the context of Amos 9:11 (cf. v.12-15).

God didn’t plan to rebuild David’s tabernacle because He only wanted Jews to be saved. It was so “that” (Acts 15:17) the rest of men (the Gentiles) would seek Him. The prophets predicted they’d be drawn to Jerusalem to learn about God (Isa.2:2,3) by Israel’s “rising” from their fall (Isa.60:3-5). That will happen after the Tribulation. But in the meantime, Gentiles are getting saved through Israel’s fall (Rom. 11:11) according to the mystery, instead of according to prophecy.

That’s why James didn’t say what Paul was doing fulfilled Amos 9:11. He said it “agreed” with it (Acts 15:15). Peter could say that what Joel predicted “is” what he was seeing (Acts 2:16), but James couldn’t say that—especially since Amos predicted the Jews would “possess” the Gentiles in the kingdom (Amos 9:12 cf. Isa.60:10; 61:5). Gentiles will willingly enslave themselves to Jews in that day in gratitude for teaching them about God. But Paul’s ministry agreed with what God wanted all along, so James approved it.

But why would James say, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18)? I believe that statement shows that Paul told the council about the mystery, and how God knew from the beginning He’d save Gentiles without the law, but said nothing about it.

If you need more proof that God was thinking of us in Amos 9, verse 6 talks about the “stories” or levels of government in heaven that fell when Satan and his host disobeyed God—just like Solomon’s kingdom fell when they disobeyed God. Amos went on to talk about restoring David’s tabernacle in Solomon’s kingdom, but he said nothing about restoring those stories. Nobody did, until Paul was made an apostle!

A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: “The Jerusalem Council Weighs The Evidence” Acts 15:12-18

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