Unburdened – The Sufficiency of Christ


This passage continues Luke’s description of the council of Christian leaders in Jerusalem. As the gospel went forth in power, the church was growing. And with growth came new issues that needed attention. This council was called to resolve the dispute regarding the insistence by some unauthorized teachers that Gentile believers must be circumcised and required to follow the laws and traditions of the Jews to be saved. Bottom line, the Council was trying to figure out what faith practices were necessary for its newest Gentile believers.

  • When have you experienced growing pains in your church or an organization you belong to? Was it hard to find a way to include what was new without losing the important traditions of old?


12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,

16  “‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will restore it,

17  that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’

19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. To whom did Barnabas and Paul ascribe the success of their missionary trip to the Gentiles (vs. 12)?
  2. How did their report relate to resolving the issue at hand (that the Gentile believers must be circumcised and required to keep the Law of Moses)?
  3. Upon whose words and corresponding actions did James base his judgment on the matter in verse 19?
  4. When have you imposed additional requirements on yourself or others to be a member of God’s family of believers? What were the results?


The testimony of Barnabas and Paul, like that of Peter before them, gave evidence of God’s acceptance of Gentile believers. Then James noted that God’s actions, through his disciples, were consistent with his words, through his prophet Amos, to include the Gentiles. This was sufficient for James to conclude that the Gentile believers should be accepted as equals without the added requirement of the Jewish laws. By refusing to take the easy and traditional position of his Jewish peers that the Gentiles were second-class citizens, James protected the truth of the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation and the growth of the church.

  • Prayerfully consider and ask God to remove any burdens from you that may stem from the unachievable goal of completely following the Law of Moses.
  • Praise the Lord that through his word and actions, he has preserved for you the gospel of salvation through grace and faith alone in Jesus Christ.