Acts 15:9-An Applied Theology

Acts 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

I recently began studying the book of Galatians, which gives a strong defense of Salvation by Grace through Faith instead of works. The Lord used Paul to write this book because Jews were teaching Gentiles you had to adopt the Jewish law in order to be saved 1.

Peter strongly stood against this false doctrine, knowing that now our relationship with God is based on faith instead of Nationality (Acts 10:34-35). Later when these unbelieving Jews came to Jerusalem (15:1) he gave a strong defense for Gentiles being saved, and not Jews alone (15:6-11).

Sadly though Paul knew Salvation was for all Doctrinally, his actions didn’t always match that belief practically.

A well known passage describes this hypocrisy of Peter

Gal. 2:11   But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

Peter was eating food with Gentiles that didn’t fit into the Old Testament dietary laws. But when men who were part of the “circumcision party” came from Jerusalem, he immediately stopped.

This wasn’t Peter excusing himself from the Gentiles to eat with the Jews. The word “withdrew” in this passage gives the idea of someone shrinking back, or sneaking backwards in a stealthy way. The word “separated” gives the idea of building divisions (walls) of separation.

Paul with his actions was clearly stating Gentiles had to live by the Jewish law in order to be saved.

Peter knew the law no longer had a hold on him (2:14) and Salvation only comes by faith not works (2:15-19). Yet for a brief moment he disconnected his theology from practice, and ended up affecting other members of the local Church (2:13).

The application is simple.

Theology cannot just impact the mind……

It must be applied to life.

  1. They were told you had to be circumcised in order to be saved

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