Circumcision of the Heart

In Your Bible: Acts 15: 1-35

Paul and Barnabas traveled through Asia Minor spreading the Gospel of Jesus. As Gentiles became believers, then the question arose, “Must they be circumcised?” The Council at Jerusalem challenged Paul and Barnabas concerning this. Gentile believers require circumcision of the heart – a new heart for God.

Establishing Churches

In Iconium Paul and Barnabas taught on the grace of God and miracles happened. In Lystra when Paul preached the Good News, he recognized a crippled man had faith to be healed yes, God healed this manIn Derbe they preached the Good News and made many disciples. In Antioch they encountered teachers from Judea who taught Gentile believers must be circumcised. Paul and Barnabas vigorously argued with these teachers from Judea

The Council in Jerusalem

The church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to settle this conflict.
As Paul and Barnabas came before the Council, they told them everything the Lord had done through them by the Holy Spirit for the Gentiles in Asia Minor. The Council listened quietly and respectfully. Then the Pharisees on the Council disagreed and asserted . . . “Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses (Acts 15: 5b NLT).

But James affirmed the Paul and Barnabas with this advice: Don’t make it difficult for Gentiles who turn to God. They need not be circumcised, but must abide by the following:

  • Abstain from eating food sacrificed to idols
  • Abstain from consuming blood or meat from strangled animals
  • Abstain from sexual immorality

James continued, “For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations” (Acts 15:21 NLT). The Council agreed with James and sent a letter with these instructions to the Gentile churches in Asia Minor.

New believers require circumcision of the heart – a new heart for God.

Prayer: Father, thank you for circumcising my heart. What a JOY to have a heart for you.

Questions: Paul writes that Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called (1 Cor 7:19,20 NIV). How does this resonate with what Peter, Paul, and Barnabas argued with the Council in Jerusalem? How does it reinforce the commandments rather than tradition?

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