Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches

Ministry Resources

ACTION IN ACTS  (PHASE  3)                                                                                  SESSION  4


      ACTS 15/1-40




The defense readiness condition (DEFCON) is an alert state of readiness regard to possible conflict. The lower the number (5 down to 1), the greater the likelihood of combat. In this instance the Church faces the very real possibility of a conflict that had the potential to split the Church so severely that it might never recover. Wisely, the Church at Antioch in Syria (where all this debate took place) decided to refer the matter to the “mother church” in Jerusalem.


The issue at hand revolved around whether we are saved by faith alone or by faith plus something else.



a. The Bible is emphatic that we are saved by grace plus nothing (eg Ephesians 2/8,9). Books like Galatians and Romans were primarily written to explain the Gospel of Grace.

b. But that doctrine is not our focus in this study. Our focus is how they handled differences.

c. These men from Jerusalem (14/2) taught “faith plus circumcision” was required for salvation.

d. Even today there are those who want to insist on something more than faith for us to be saved.

*Faith plus baptism          *Faith plus speaking in tongues



a. The “Antioch in Syria” was fast overtaking the central leadership role of the Jerusalem Church.

b. But, at this stage, the Apostles and Elders still had their headquarters at Jerusalem.

c. This critical issue was referred to the leaders (which makes the appointment of leaders so important)

Question:  Do your leaders have your confidence?  Are you OK with how they are recognised & appointed?



a. “…challenging God….”  In what ways were they doing that? (Did Peter remember Gamaliel’s advice  in Acts 5 “….fighting against God”

b. “…the yoke that we were unable to bear…” What was that?

c. v. 11 is Peter’s conclusion. To your mind has he made his point convincingly?

Observation: This is very important because most of the people we talk to today believe that they have to be “good enough” to be accepted by God.



a. They simply reported how God demonstrated His acceptance of the Gentiles – without circumcision.


[5] JAMES’ POSITION  ( vs.13-21). He appears to be the leader of the Jerusalem Church. He appeals to the Scriptures. His wisdom is recognised and they agree that a letter to be taken back to Antioch?


[6] THE LETTER  (Vs. 22-35) Question: What impresses you about the content of the letter?


 [7] THE SPLIT  (vs.36-41)

a. In Session 2 we anticipated a problem because John Mark left the team at Perga (13/13). What was just a statement of fact then becomes a focus for a vehement difference of opinion between Paul and Barnabas. Galatians 2/11-13 tells us of a full blown disagreement Paul had with Peter. It seems Paul was a feisty little character

 Question: How do you feel about Biblical characters – people of faith – arguing and going their separate ways? How should we handle differences as Christians? 

Download free ministry resources.
give us your feedback.