The Jerusalem church and its leaders made three important points in their letter.  First, they disassociated themselves from the circumcision party and, therefore, by clear implication, from the requirements of circumcision.  These men went out from us but without our authorization (RSV, “although we gave them no instructions”).  The unauthorized message, moreover, had disturbed their hearers (24, the verb is tarasso, “to trouble, upset, or throw into confusion,” interestingly, the very word which Paul uses of them in Galatians 1.7 and 5.10).  Secondly, they made it abundantly clear that the men they had now agreed to choose…and send… (25), namely Judas and Silas, did have their full approval and support.  They would not only deliver the letter, but also confirm, by word of mouth what it contained (27).  Thirdly, they enunciated their unanimous decision (made by the Holy Spirit and…us) not to burden Gentile converts with anything (certainly not with circumcision) beyond the following requirements (28), namely, the four specified abstentions, which we have already considered.  The letter’s conclusion, which expresses more a recommendation than a command, was: You will do well to avoid these things (29). – John R. W. Stott (1921-2011), from his 1990 commentary on the Book of Acts (at Acts 15.22-29)

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